Devlann narrowly edged out Mishani Stealth to take the $16,000 Glen Innes Cup (1400m) on Saturday.
No more than 1/10 of a length separated the first and second place getters, with the Inverell-trained Devlann holding on in a tight finish.
Trainer Dean Smith said it was his family’s second Glen Innes Cup, after Simply Viv won in 2008.
“The plan was never to take Devlann to Glen Innes,” Smith said.
“I was going to take him to Randwick but the races there were too strong, and I’ve always liked racing horses at Glen Innes.”
I was going to take him to Randwick but the races there were too strong, and I’ve always liked racing horses at Glen Innes.Dean Smith
Jones said the six year-old chestnut gelding has entered a “purple patch of form,” and is eligible for the Country Championships at Scone.
“It’s a long range plan, and it’s also a long shot because you meet all the good Hunter horses there,” he said.
“But he’s a class 5 horse and he hasn’t had more than 20 starts, so he meets the criteria.”
The Country Championships take place in Scone on March 18.
Devlann comes from good stock, foal of the mare Excellent Ann.
“She won ten races, including an Inverell Cup and $150,000 in prizemoney,” Jones said.
“Devlann’s mother was arguably the best mare to ever come out of northern New South Wales.
The win comes at the end of a tough year for the Smith family and the racing community in the north-west.
Owner Patricia Smith thanked the winning jockey, Craig Franklin, while dedicating the Cup to “my late husband Stan Smith, who we lost in October, and the jockey Darren Jones”.
Jones was killed in a fall while racing at Warialda last April.
Trainer Dean Smith added his own tributes.
“It was a very emotional meeting today,” he said.
“Darren was probably the nicest person I ever met in my life.”
“I want to dedicate the win to Sheridan Jones and the Jones Family of Glen Innes, remembering what a great person and rider Darren was.”
In related news, Gunnedah Jockey Club’s Summer Cup meeting on Tuesday received a healthy 153 nominations.
The main races for the TAB meetings are the $20,000 MPC Earthmoving GJC Summer Cup (1600m) and the $20,000 Rediguard.com.au GJC Summer Stampede (1000m).
“It’s a great way to start 2018,” GJC secretary manager Mark Storey said.
He added: “Not only do we have good noms but the calibre of horse is good as well and we have good trainers from all over as well.”