Westlink and Sons Of Bourke are the first confirmed runners in the $500,000 Country Championship final at Randwick after their one-two finish in the first qualifying heat at Dubbo.
The $2.90 favourite in Sunday’s 1400m-race, Westlink was ridden by Adam Hyeronimus who put him in clear running in the straight where he surged away from his rivals to beat Sons Of Bourke ($8.50) by 3-1/4 lengths.
The winner is trained at Dubbo by Darren Hyde who had two other winners at the meeting.
“This is my biggest moment. I’m speechless,” Hyde told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
“Adam gave him a gun ride and at the 1000 (metres) I thought we were home.”
The Sydney-based Hyeronimus has already snared one big country feature, the $1.3 million Kosciuszko in October aboard Belflyer for Grafton trainer John Shelton.
Hyeronimus said he had to bide his time to secure a clear run on Westlink.
“The horses around me were going slow but I was confident I’d get a run,” he said.
“Full credit to Darren. He’s a very nice horse.”
Sons Of Bourke’s trainer Clint Lundholm was equally thrilled and pleased to see the horse run out the distance.
“Our only concern was the 1400,” he said.
“He was three-wide and finished it off so we’re happy.
“It’s my first runner at the Championships. We’ve had no luck before but we will be there this year.”
The first two horses in each regional heat qualify for the final on April 6 with the next qualifying heat at Port Macquarie in a week.