BET Bet trainer Ray Cross has seen and done plenty in a lifetime's worth of involvement in harness racing.
But even at 83, he's not averse to the odd first in the sport.
The former Queenslander, who settled in central Victoria with wife Janelle about three years ago, was able to tick off one of those firsts at Tabcorp Park Melton last week.
Wins with the mares Jessicas Story and Countess Chiron - both by the sire Imperial Count - delivered Cross his first double at Victorian harness racing headquarters.
While he headed to Melton confident, but not overly expectant his pair of trotters could get the job done, the octogenarian was just as equally pleased to see the races go ahead.
"It was that wet here at Maryborough that I'd worked the horses hard, but not as hard as I'd like to have," he said.
"I really thought by midday the trots would be called off it was so cold and wet, but down there it was beautiful.
"Countess Chiron was favourite in the paper and the other mare was only paying $5, so I was confident they would go alright."
Cross was particularly chuffed to see Countess Chiron back on the winner's list.
The now five-year-old mare showed some real class in her three-year-old season, but following a five-month break, struggled for much of her four-year-old year.
"We've had a bit of trouble with her of late, but she's come good again," Cross said.
"In early days, she was very fast out the gate and she inevitably drew the front line every time and just raced straight to the front.
"Even the late Gavin Lang used to remark how brilliant she was.
"When we spelled her and brought her back and she was in a higher class, we said 'you've got to learn to take a sit' and she said 'no I'm not'.
"She's pretty intelligent and it was quite a battle to get her to drop the bit and take a sit; when you get up in class, you can't get away with leading and winning every race.
"It took a fair while to convince her this is how it happens."
By contrast, Jessicas Story is a dead-set late developer.
Last week's win was the four-year-old's third in 44 starts.
"When we moved down here three years ago, she wasn't broken in. We did that down here," Cross said.
"So, while we were buying a place and setting up, she had to be on the back-burner a bit.
"But she's a lovely sensible mare. She'll never be a real fast horse, but she's pretty honest."
Both winners were driven by Anthony Butt.
With Countess Chiron engaged in the last race at Melton at 10.24am, it was a long excursion for Cross, who did not arrive home until nearly 2am.
The double made it well and truly worth it.
Jessicas Story will line up again in the opening race at Bendigo's Lord's Raceway this Friday night, while her stable-mate Whos Countin will run at Ballarat on Thursday night.
Cross, who has four horses currently in work, and all of them trotters, said he was loving the involvement as much as ever.
"I can't sit around, mate," he said.
"But Janelle, she is my backbone."
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