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Popular trainer Ross McDonald was in the thoughts of all at Mornington a day after his death when promising filly Belle Melba raced to a sentimental victory.

Trained by McDonald’s son Clinton, Belle Melba kept her perfect record intact as she raced to a comfortable two length win as the odds-on favourite in Wednesday’s Birrell Motors Group Plate.

Clinton McDonald’s daughter Ali represented the stable at Mornington and paid tribute to her grandfather, saying the family would keep going as it is what he would have wanted.

“He told us to keep going,” Ali McDonald said.

“He wouldn’t want us to sook and if it was him, he would come out here for sure and just keep going with everything. So we’re trying to do the same.”

She said the outpouring of support and the amount of tributes for her grandfather had been overwhelming.

“Everyone was really nice and really thoughtful so reading them (the tributes) was really refreshing,” she said.

Ross McDonald, who died on Tuesday after a battle with ill health, trained a number of top class horses during his career including Caulfield Cup winners Tristarc and Imposera and the seven-time Group One winner and 2007/08 Australian Horse of the Year Weekend Hussler.

McDonald’s funeral is on Tuesday and Ali McDonald said she hoped it would be a celebration of his life.

Apprentice Tom Sadler, who rode Belle Melba, said the McDonald family had been a great help to him since he moved to Caulfield this year.

“I actually went and saw Ross for about an hour on Friday in the Epworth Hospital and had a really good chat to him and got to appreciate what a knockabout character he was but also how long he’s been in racing, and all the horses and trainers he talked about,” Salder said.

“It was a great insight. It’s terribly sad that he’s passed but I was really lucky that I could go and get that time with him.”

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