JOCKEY Blaike McDougall was carrying plenty of pressure before piloting Balmaceda to victory in Sunday's Benchmark 66 Handicap (2000m) at Murrumbidgee Turf Club.
Not only was he on the heavily-backed $2.30 favourite, but it was up to him to ensure Gosford trainer Tony Newing's 1000km round trip to watch his only runner on the card race wasn't in vain.
Newing's effort was justified when the four-year-old made his decisive move 800 metres from the finish to beat Baby Jack ($5.50) by almost two lengths, with $14 hope Gentleman Max third.
After Balmaceda finished fifth in a slowly-run race at Newcastle a fortnight ago, McDougall left nothing to chance by taking off after settling in a beautiful position just off the pace.
It was one of two wins for McDougall at Wagga, who also steered $2.60 favourite This Skilled Cat home for Craig Widdisonin the Maiden Handicap (1200m).
"I was instructed to do that (Balmaceda's) a horse that doesn't let down. If you hold him until the 400 he doesn't have much of a turn of foot, hence why I took off as early as I did," McDougall said.
"Nothing looked good enough to beat me, so I thought if I could pinch a couple of lengths they were never going to catch me."
Newing said Balmaceda's dominant display made the trip worthwhile.
"We're not afraid to travel for the right race," he said.
"We need to see if he can stay. I haven't seen it yet and I'm not convinced I saw it today, either."
Other race winners were Matthew Dale's Starskin ($1.90) in the Maiden Handicap (1200m), David Blundell's Whicker ($4.40) in the Maiden Plate (2000m), Wayne Carroll's Rock 'n' Roller ($3.30) in the Class 3 Handicap (1200m), Geoff Duryea's Kapover ($8.50) in the Benchmark 58 Handicap and Luke Pepper's Gold Touch ($2.15) in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1400m).