COUNTESS Chiron's win over the in-form Lola Devereaux at Lord's Raceway last Thursday might be classed as an upset by some harness racing enthusiasts, but it certainly wasn't by the filly's trainer Ray Cross.
Despite finishing behind Lola Devereaux twice in her past three starts, the Carisbrook trainer was always confident his emerging trotter could turn the tables on the Anthony Crossland-trained three-year-old.
"She's a bit smarter than the average bear, Cross said about Countess Chiron, who took 22 starts to break her maiden status, but now has two wins and a second from her past three starts.
"Hopefully she will go on with it.
"The week before when we ran second to her (Lola Devereaux), I think the writing was on the wall and I thought our next run we would knock her off. I was confident."
Lola Devereaux was aiming to become the first Central region horse to win four straight races under the regional racing format but had to be content for second placing
Countess Chiron is the fifth of five foals from Kumbya to record a race win, prompting Cross to label the filly as 'no fluke'.
"Honey Please (11 wins and 12 placings from 68 starts) and Someones Singing, who has also won races down here and in Queensland, are both half-sisters," he said.
"And Pretty Little Lucy is also a half-sister."
Other horses in his small stable include Calvert Hot Shot, Ima Calvert Rose and Whos Countin.
A victory with Countess Chiron marked nearly 12 months since Cross and wife Janelle made the move to central Victoria from Queensland.
The veteran trainer spent the previous two years travelling in between the two states with a team of horses on working holidays.
The Crosses are relishing the increased opportunities for square-gaiters in their adopted state of Victoria.
"We love it here ..... there' very little racing for trotters or square gaiters in Queensland, it's generally all pacers," Cross said.
"We bred these horses and there's nowhere in Queensland to race them until they are mature horses.
"Most of the horses who race in Queensland have all been brought across from New Zealand and they are handicap horses.
"They do have some good trotting races in Queensland, but not many. There might only be one one week and some weeks two, but they are virtually all open horses.
"It's a different world for horses in Victoria - we've had our fair share of success."
We love it here ..... there' very little racing for trotters or square gaiters in Queensland, it's generally all pacers.Ray Cross
While their stable virtually comprises all square-gaiters, Cross' biggest successes came with the pacer Keen Edge, who won 27 races from 91 starts for more than $135,000 in the late 1980s.
The horse held two world records as a four-year-old at Albion Park.
Driven at various stages this preparation by Michael Bellman, Lisa Miles, Rod Lakey and Peter Sanderson, Countess Chiron has been partnered at her past two runs by Nigel Milne, who was able to overcome an early setback in Thursday's race to run their ragged rivals and record a convincing win.
"Nigel has had a fair bit more experience than most people realise," Cross said.
"He drove in his first trial over in New Zealand when he was 14 and I knew him when we came down here three years ago when Honey Please was a two-year-old.
"When harness racing got shut down to regions last month, I first went to Rod Lakey, who is also a good driver.
"I gave Rod a winning drive in Queensland when he was only a young lad."
Cross has Countess Chiron nominated for Thursday night's meeting at Lord's Raceway.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.