BRENT Stanley joined the ranks of Bendigo trainers heading into Wednesday's cup meeting on a high after landing a win at Benalla on Monday with Donndubhan.
The 2018 Bendigo Cup-winning trainer will have two runners on Bendigo Cup day, spearheaded by El Salto, who will be chasing a third straight victory following back-to-back successes at Echuca this month.
Now based on-course at Bendigo, Stanley opened his account for the week at Benalla, with Donndubhan making a strong return to racing to score a narrow and exciting win over the 1406m trip.
The seven-year-old gelding's victory helped seal a thrilling double for 20-year-old jockey Hannah Edgley, who broke through for her first career win just two races earlier.
Stanley, who rose to prominence by riding Arctic Scent to victory in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup in 1996 as a 16-year-old, was rapt to play his part in providing a winning opportunity to a jockey on the rise.
"She gave him a good ride ... he was a little tardy out and has taken a little advantage a little bit up the straight, but he kept kicking for her which was great," he said.
"I'm very proud to be able to give an apprentice a winner.
"She's never ever ridden work or trials or anything (for us). We took advantage of the 4kg claim, but we did do a bit of form and watched a few of her races and she hasn't made many mistakes.
"It's well deserved. It's only the bob of the heads that made the difference, but credit to Hannah, she had to keep him moving.
"With 62kg on his back, more than anything you have to stay balanced and keep the momentum going and she did that right."
Donndubhan, a dual-city winner in December 2019-January 2020, enhanced his record to six wins and eight placings from 33 starts for more than $180,000 in prize money.
While he is uncertain where the gelding will head next, Stanley hopes to eventually tread a path back to town.
"Once he gets to a mile and 1800m, that suits him down to the ground," he said.
"I think he's got another couple of wins in him over Christmas in town."
A brilliant lead-up to cup day for the Bendigo training fraternity has included Group 2 success for Josh Julius with Just Folk at Moonee Valley on Saturday, and wins for Kym Hann with King Dick at Echuca last Friday and Rod Symons with Luna Chara at St Arnaud on Sunday.
There was no containing the joy of Edgley, who brought up her maiden career win with her 11th race ride, before adding her second two races later aboard Donndubhan.
"I actually can't believe it ... when I passed the post I was like, "no, surely not." she said.
"He was just an amazing horse, he was just so persistent and he wasn't going to give up.
"I am going to have a coming back down to earth party, not a celebration party because I just can't believe it.
"I can't thank everyone around me enough - the support just means so much to me."
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