BRETT Scott has been to hell and back again.
The Mornington, Victoria-based trainer is five weeks removed from a 10-week stint in hospital, in an induced coma, after he was kicked in the head by a horse in March.
He persisted in recovery, found his feet back at his stable and somehow made it to Warrnambool to watch jockey Will Gordon storm The Statesman to a famous Sovereign Resort Galleywood Hurdle triumph over the Aaron Purcell-trained Instigator and Peter Chow-trained Robbie's Star on Wednesday in Victoria's south western coastal town of Warranambool.
Short-priced favourite Saunter Boy, trained out of the red-hot Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable, led for much of the race but faded to finish midfield.
I'm not working like I was. My wife, Kylie, we've worked together for years. She was thrown in the deep-end when I got hurt and got taken straight away.Brett Scott
"It's been really difficult for me. Just being here and talking to people, catching up with people that I knew years ago (has been great)," Scott said.
"We're saying how good Warrnambool is and how I'm going now. It's just good to be back in racing.
"It's what I looked forward to, especially given the situation I was in. I didn't think I'd be here to be honest, as I am now, but I am."
Scott said the road to recovery had been long and tenuous.
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"When I got home, things were difficult, getting back into work mode again," he said.
"I'm not working like I was. My wife, Kylie, we've worked together for years. She was thrown in the deep-end when I got hurt and got taken straight away.
"She had to stand up along with my daughter and they've done a great job. We've also had a lot of help with other people, too, in the racing industry.
"I couldn't have been happier getting home when I did, because it was overdue, and (Kylie) has just been fantastic. I wasn't sure she was going to handle it to be honest."
Will Gordon's ride drew praise from Scott, a former jumps jockey-cum-trainer.
"It was good, yeah. We weren't too sure about where he'd end up in the run, but there was always going to be a fair bit of pressure in the race," he said.
"The thing with this horse, just ride him where he's comfortable.
"I said make sure that you're in a position at the 1000-metre mark that you don't have to make up a lot of ground.
"So you want to be there, but not doing anything. That's what he did - he was looking for runs and he got through the last and it was a great result, a great ride."
To make the victory more special, the Galleywood Hurdle was a race Scott could never win as a jockey.
As a trainer, he's hoping his maiden triumph is the first of many in the prestigious feature over 3200 metres.
"It's fantastic. For me, as a jockey, I would've been over the moon to win it which I couldn't do," Scott said.
"It was one race that just kept going by me. I ran second in it twice, but I just couldn't win this race.
"And obviously with all these years of training, all I want to do is win a Galleywood, and it's finally happened here.
"(Will) did something I couldn't do. Everything has gone along perfectly and I'm so happy to be here again."
He also reserved plaudits for the horse - a three-year-old gelding sired by Irish galloper Zoffany and out of Chelsey Jane - for its effort.
The Statesman has won six from 40 starts, collecting four seconds and 10 thirds en route to $321,393 in prizemoney.
"I was so happy with this horse, going right through. He ran second at Pakenham to the favourite (on April 18) and I thought 'he's got to be a chance'," Scott said.
Gordon said he was delighted to secure the victory for Scott and connections.
"Unbelievable. I just wanted to get a winner more for Scotty and the family," he said.
"They must have been through a tough time recently and just a massive credit to the whole family.
"Scotty for bouncing back, Kylie for picking up the pieces, Tyler and just everyone back at home who supported them. Unbelievable."
The New Zealand-born hoop said he found the race tough to analyse.
"It was a race that I couldn't really work out on paper what was going to happen so I said to Scotty before I went out that I wouldn't mind snagging back from that gate and save ground following the fancies in the race - Steve (Pateman) on Saunter Boy, Clayton (Douglas) on The Midnight Shift.
"Scotty, being the true champion, said 'you just do what you want, mate'."
The Statesman, a $17 roughie, sent the packed-out Warrnambool into raptures as it approached the finishing line in front.
Gordon described the reception as "unbelievable".
"I knew Steve's horse was jumping out alright so I thought I'd just bide my time here and cut up on the inside. Geez he was strong late," he said.
"It's my second feature race (win) but this one is at the top."
The result is the latest accolade to Scott's decorated racing resume.
As a jumps jockey, he won the historic Grand Annual Steeplechase four times.
His first came on Foxboy, in 1996, his second on The Sundance Kid in 1997, his third Frankoo Verymuch in 2005 and his fourth aboard Real tonic in 2006. He also won three Brierly Steeplechases.
BRAIDON SMALL (second on Instigator)
"I never had much room in a couple of stages of the race. That issue caused Instigator not to show his brilliance. He's a brilliant jumper. He hit the line strong. I was happy with his run. I'm confident he'll win a few major hurdle races before the end of this season."
RONAN SHORT (third on Robbie's Star)
"It was a huge run. He just needed it a bit wetter. He's in for a good jumping season if the tracks get really wet."
STEVEN PATEMAN (fourth on Saunter Boy)
"He jumped poorly."
PAUL HAMBLIN (fifth on Double Bluff)
"We were caught up for room on a couple of occasions. He jumped well."
AARON LYNCH (sixth on Britannicus)
"He got to the front probably a bit earlier than I wanted and when I was there I just had to keep on going."
DARRYL HORNER (seventh on Mr One Eleven)
"He's an honest jumper and will be competitive in minor races later in the season."
AARON KURU (eighth on Coleridge)
"He got a bit crowded in the run."
TOM RYAN (ninth on Blood And Sand)
"It was not a bad effort."
CLAYTON DOUGLAS (10th on The Midnight Shift)