STAWELL - Dane Smith has brought up his first win since obtaining his horse trainer's licence with Get Out Of Town taking out the Avoca Cup last Saturday.
It was a thrilling win for Stawell-based trainer and owner Dane, his wife Heidi and Heidi's father, Bruce Blenheim, who also has a share in the six year old gelding.
Dane has had his trainer's licence just over 12 months and Get Out Of Town, affectionately known as 'Ernie' around the stable, also notched up his first win since August 2012.
Ernie was purchased by Dane for his wife on her birthday in August 2011 and the gelding was previously trained by Caulfield-based Mick Price.
Dane and Heidi Smith have been living in Stawell for 18 months and Saturday's win was reward for lots of hard work with their beloved Ernie.
The couple used to live in Bayswater and would get up at 2.30am every morning to travel to Caulfield, where they both worked horses.
They then shifted to Stawell, where Heidi grew up and rented a barn from Johnny Oates at the racecourse, however Ernie lives out at their property between Stawell and Concongella.
"It's terrific," Dane said of winning the Avoca Cup.
"It's what we came up to do and we're very happy with the result."
Ridden by Nikita McLean, Get Out Of Town settled near the rear of the field, but found an opening along the rails and started to improve from the 600 metre mark.
The six year old hit the front with about 100 metres to go and pulled away to win the Cup by a length and a half in front of Mister Cool.
"It was a strong win," Dane said.
"We were quietly confident heading into the race, and our goal is now the Ararat Cup on November 10.
"He'll more than likely go to St Arnaud (tomorrow), he pulled up well."
Dane was going to visit St Arnaud on Wednesday to inspect the track ahead of tomorrow's Cup day meeting, and said that if he does run, Get Out Of Town has a good chance of winning.
"He should be a handy chance for sure. It'll be a similar field to Avoca, and winning form's good form."
There haven't been any problems with Get Out Of Town since he came to Stawell.
"We just have to maintain him, he's very sound. Don't overwork him and he's good," Dane said.
"We've been able to use the swimming pool this preparation. Last summer, it was too low.
"We take him down to the pool at the racetrack. He always swam at Caulfield and coming from living in the Caulfield environment all his life to the bush has made a big difference too."
While Dane is Get Out Of Town's trainer, his wife Heidi oversees the day-to-day duties with him.
"I ride him every day and I strap him. Since the day we got him, I took over and treat him like my fifth child," she said.
"He really is a lovely natured horse. He fires up a bit, but it's nice for racehorses to do that."
The Smith stable consists of six horses, including Ernie and although bookmakers offered juicy odds of $9 for Sunday's win, Heidi says it's not about the money for the family.
"It's just about the confidence it gives this horse," she said.
"Plus the atmosphere was awesome."