MILLIONAIRE owner Lloyd Williams was no match for a Jindera trainer Don Ross, who overcame the odds to win the Wagga Gold Cup in 1987.
Sordon Lad was the only horse in the stable of owner-trainer Ross when he won Wagga's most prestigious race.
It was reported in The Daily Advertiser that "the batter and the struggler" conquered Williams and champion jockey Darren Gauci, but 81-year-old Ross prefers to be known as a hobby trainer.
"It was only a hobby for me - I was retired and wanted something to do so I started training a couple of horses," Ross said.
"But I always had a nice horse."
Ross missed watching one of the biggest wins of his career, unable to gain a vantage point to see Sordon Lad hold off Williams' All Spades to win by a neck.
"We lead all the way and they caught us half way up the straight and we fought it out to the line and I was lucky enough to get the head bob in," Ross said.
"I actually didn't see the race as I was making my way up into the grandstand and was having a bit of trouble getting up there.
"By the time I got up there the race was run and I just happened to turn around to somebody and asked who won it and they said 'Sordon Lad' so I didn't see the finish of it."
Despite missing the finish, Ross shed a joyous tear after the victory for the pet he had reared from a foal with wife Shirley.
"It was pretty exciting as I am only an owner-trainer and to win something like a Wagga Cup was pretty big," Ross said.
"At that time I only had the one horse in work so it was quite good.
"We had only just been beaten by a head in the Albury Cup in his previous start and he hadn't had a start in six weeks.
"People rode him off, he was about 20-1 and no one gave him a chance."
Being the only horse in his stable Ross was able give the five-year-old a very hands on approach, preferring to walk and swim the gelding.
"I spends four hours with him a day walking and swimming him," Ross told The Daily Advertiser in 1987.
"He only sees the saddle a few times a week."
Sordon Lad had a real connection with jockey Don Calder, who had rode the gelding 1½ kilograms over after struggling to get down to 50½ kilograms.
The then 24-year-old Calder had struggled throughout his career, but Ross knew he was the man for the job.
"Donny Calder was the only jockey to win on that horse - not too many jockeys ever got a ride either," Ross said.
"He wasn't ridden the way he should be been in the Albury Cup when Graham Power rode him so I wanted Donny to ride him.
"I went to the stewards and asked permission for Donny to ride him over which they agreed to."
Ross bought Sordon Lad of friend Brian Miller when he was a foal - looking to find a country cup winner.
"All I wanted to do was race around here and win some country cups so I wrote away to a breeding expert for some information," Ross said.
"He wrote a letter telling he to go to Shiftmar at Khancoban and this friend of mine had this horse by Shiftmar so I bought it off him as a foal and reared him on my place."
After his Wagga Gold Cup triumph Sordon Lad continued his career as a country cups horse with victory in the Wangaratta Cup following earlier success in the Benalla and Corowa cups, but one thing missing from his resume is a city win.
"He went on to win something like 15 races and at that time old Jack Freyer told me that (Sordon Lad) and another he owned where the only two horses that had won $100,000 but not win in the city - just in the country," Ross said.
"To win $100,000 back in those days just in the country was something really good."
Approaching his 80s Ross decided to give the racing game away two years ago but until then always had one or two horses in his Jindera stable.
Ross' last horse was Donilly Lad who won 13 races around the Southern District Racing Association from 2005 to 2010.
Although he had fond memories of Sordon Lad he rates Softly Lad as the best horse he had.
Ross won six races in Melbourne with Softly Lad and also enjoyed success in Sydney in the 1970s.
It wasn't just in the racing game where he excelled, with Ross first making a name for himself as an Australian Rules footballer.
Ross won a premiership for Footscray in 1954, won the Charles Sutton Medal as the club's best and fairest in 1956, was the club's vice-captain and played 129 VFL games for the club between 1952 and 1958, mainly as a centreman.