From the mud, to the beach to the big stage.
That is the journey that has taken Kiwis Greg and Nina Hope from battling trainers on the circuit to the winners' circle at Melton on Breeders Crown day yesterday.
The Canterbury couple trained their first group one winner when Quite A Moment upset local hero Blitzthemcalder in the A$95,000 3-year-old trot at the ABC meeting.
For the Hopes, glamour days like yesterday used to be something they watched on television from afar as they prepared a team of lower-grade scrubbers, but that all started to change two years ago when they dedicated themselves to beach training.
That saw them quickly turn castoffs into cash and with that came some better-bred horses, and this season, appearances at major racedays.
"We used to battle around, doing a lot of pre-training for other people and something like this was just a dream," said Greg Hope.
"And it is that much more special because the owners of this filly have been with us a long time, right from the start."
Hope says results like yesterday should prove to plenty of other battling trainers that their luck can turn. "Of course, I admire all the top trainers but sometimes it comes down to the horses you get and because of the beach training we are getting better horses these days."
While it was their first group one, for fellow Kiwi trainer Gareth Dixon yesterday's victory with Carpenters Daughter was almost a homecoming.
Some of Dixon's biggest wins have come in Australia, including two early Breeders Crown trot finals with Super Command.
After a tough season in New Zealand, Dixon gave owners a reminder of his skills, peaking Carpenters Daughter for her final and a perfect drive from John Caldow did the rest.
A mare dogged by seasonal problems, Carpenters Daughter has now sealed her future broodmare career.
While punters were stunned by her win, the hottest favourite in Breeders Crown history hardly raised a sweat winning his A$175,000 3-year-old final.
Kiwi colt Bit Of A Legend started at the minimum price of $1.04 on the tote and won untested by 9.5m, driver Dexter Dunn let him cruise down the home straight after he had put 15m on his rivals at the 300m mark. While his final was decimated by withdrawals of key rivals, Bit Of A Legend has developed into a world class 3-year-old and it will be interesting to see how far he goes in open class, where his pony-like size can be a disadvantage.
While New Zealand-owned or training horses won four of yesterday's nine group ones, the most hyped contest of the day went to Team McCarthy, who quinellaed the A$302,000 two-year-old male final with Bling It On and Lettucerockthem.
They led and trailed and that gave no chance to the Barry Purdon-trained pair of Sky Major and Maxim, who were brave in third and fourth.
Earlier, Harness Jewels winner One Over Da Moon settled for second in the juvenile trot after coming from 30m from favourite I'm Stately.