Tired of the drought and intent on trying his hand full-time at the thoroughbred game, Brett Thompson was a happy man even before his "Gulgong Grey" won under the bright lights of Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Walking the track with Black Caviar's trainer, Peter Moody, was always going to be good enough for him.
Said Thompson: "We went down there and walked the track earlier and looked up at the crowd and said, 'Did you ever think we would be here the night before the Cox Plate walking the track at Moonee Valley? How good is this?' "
That Slate On Edge, jokingly dubbed the "Gulgong Grey" by his trainer in reference to Gunsynd, known as the "Goondiwindi Grey", won the greys' race on Cox Plate eve only made it even sweeter.
Thompson dove into the professional ranks 2½ years ago, leaving behind the frustration of the farming game and life as a publican at nearby Mudgee to concentrate on the horses.
His stock has risen, both figuratively and literally, in that time. He now has 40 horses on the books as opposed to four when establishing the family-run stable.
"I was a shearing contractor and a farmer," Thompson said. "I sold my farms because I was sick of the drought so I bought a hotel in Mudgee and got it going, and then I sold it. Then I sold my shearing run and my wife said, 'what are you going to do?'
"I had bought a horse called Hewentwhoosh and broke him in and won the big Scone challenge with him as a hobby trainer. I said, 'I'm going to have a crack at training full-time'.
"And it's all because of hard work from everybody – my staff, my kids, my wife – they all work for me. I appreciate all of [my owners, too] … they're all bush owners who work and race horses for the fun of it."
Thompson will stay in Melbourne to run Slate On Edge in the popular greys' race on Victoria Oaks day.
"I'm a bush trainer with bush owners," he said. "What's one month out of your life when you might not get another chance to have a crack?"