AS the rain and hail pelted down just minutes before the race, Goulburn trainer Jade McDonald was understandably nervous about Sefton's chances.
But despite finishing 11th of 13 on its only go on a heavy track two starts back, the three-year-old powered home from the back of the field to beat Cracking Dawn by one-and-a-half lengths in the Union Club Hotel Maiden Handicap (1200m) at Wagga on Sunday.
The Heavy 10 track made things a battle of the fittest and Sefton ($3.40) passed the test after in-form young jockey Tyler Schiller took him down the favourable ground on the outside to salute.
McDonald had a brief stint at Wagga before he headed to Melbourne to be a foreman for trainer John Sadler.
He is now based in Goulburn with three of his six horses in work. Although Sefton showed strong improvement with a third at Wagga last start, McDonald said the downpours on Saturday night and just before the race were concerning.
"I was a bit nervous as he's only had the one start on a heavy track before and that didn't work out very well," McDonald said.
"He always gets a bit lost up the straight and we knew he's a better horse than what he's shown. He finally got the job done today and is really starting to get the hang of it.
"I was out of the industry for a little while but you can never escape it once you're in it, you always find your way back.
"I did a lot of track riding for John Sadler but it's too far away from family. I learned a lot, he's a very capable trainer.
"He taught me about giving all the horses the attention they need, and all those little one per centers matter."
Wagga trainer Trevor Sutherland had a strong day after Jungle Book and Blazing Zone both extended their winning streaks to three.
Jungle Book ($5.50) defied a late betting drift to beat Roland Garros by two lengths in the Byrne Trailers Benchmark 66 Handicap (2000m), while Blazing Zone ($4) outlasted Bravado Lass in the George Carroll Kitchens and Joinery Benchmark 58 Handicap (1600m).
Jungle Book has remained in work for some time, but renowned larrikin Sutherland was unapologetic.
"He's just in good nick, he pig roots and squeals and plays all week and I don't want to change a thing at the moment," Sutherland said.
"I think a lot of people would go a lot better in life if they put their head down and worked, and stopped having spells. There's a fair few lazy pri**s out there.
"They're like us these old horses, if you keep them moving they don't have problems. The hardest part is getting a horse fit, not keeping them fit."
In other races John Kissick rode Joe Cleary-trained roughie Choccy Gaf ($31) to victory in the Bedrock Landscape Supplies Two-Year-Old Handicap (1200m), while Kruanui ($4.50) notched a second straight win for Wagga trainer Chris Heywood in the D and S Taber Electrical and Solar Benchmark 58 Handicap (1200m)