WAGGA trainer Trevor Sutherland believes the best is still in front of him despite taking out a sixth Southern District Racing Association (SDRA) premiership this week.
Sutherland took out the title for a sixth time, finishing with 46 winners in the SDRA and was 20 wins clear of his nearest rival.
The powerful Hayes-Dabernig stable finished second, ahead of Mitchell Beer and Phil Sweeney in a tie for third.
Sutherland was happy to claim another SDRA title, as well as finish in the top five in NSW country, after such a disrupted year.
"It ended up being a good year considering what we had to go through," Sutherland said.
"We ended up with 47.5 winners so it was outstanding considering we lost 20 or so meetings that we would normally go to as well. I think last year we got 51 or 50, a few years ago I got 55 or 56 but it was a bit of a changeover year too.
"Our better year should be this year really. It was a good solid year considering the bushfires and COVID. We're just surviving so we're going alright."
Sutherland rated Demanding Mo's win in the Albury Guineas as the highlight of the season, in a race where he also grabbed third with La Sante.
But it is the future that has Sutherland most excited. He is looking forward to what the next 12 months will bring.
"It's a bit of a dawn of a new era," he said.
"I think Jungle Book won six this season, Real Key's won five from 11, which is an outstanding year. He's a serious racehorse now. They talk about Kosciuszko horses well he certainly wouldn't be out of place in a race like that. He seems to be sliding under the radar.
"The babies I've got coming through are outstanding. I've got a half brother to Power Alert there who I've nominated for the Slipper.
"Like everything, it's hard work but it's been good, the team have all pulled their weight this year. The horses have chipped away, we've got our routine which seems to work and the same staff, who have been sticking by me, so it's good."
Trevor Sutherland 46
Mitch Beer 25
Phil Sweeney 25
Gary Colvin 16
BORDER-based jockey Blaike McDougall has been left to wonder what could have been despite winning the SDRA jockey's premiership for a second straight season.
McDougall rode 59 of his 139 winners for the season in the SDRA, edging out talented apprentice Tyler Schiller by three to win the title.
But it was his second placing in the NSW statewide premiership that frustrates him. McDougall led until Tuesday when Andrew Gibbons overtook him to take the title with three days to spare.
It occurred while McDougall is stuck on the sidelines as part of a six-week suspension.
"Yeah every day, I'd check his results, I'd check his rides. I knew he'd catch me, something quite dramatic would have had to have happened for him not to catch me but you know what, I'm a big believer that things happen for a reason," McDougall said.
"It's not as if I fell off and got injured, it was a self-inflicted suspension and when I got suspended I knew my punishment was not that I got suspended, it was that I was going to lose rides and lose this state premiership.
"I've taken a lot out of it don't you worry. It's very disappointing, I've worked so hard this season and to finish like this, I won't lie, it took me a couple of weeks to get over it. I was pretty down."
Despite being edged out for the statewide premiership, McDougall was happy to land the SDRA title again.
"It feels good. I still wasn't fully committed to it this year," he said.
"Obviously when COVID come around, I started to ride up in Sydney a bit and that's when Tyler caught back up. I made a costly mistake and got suspended for the last six weeks of the season so it was nice to still hold on for the win that's for sure."
McDougall said the highlight of his season was representing the Hayes-Dabernig stable at the Tasmanian carnival, where he struck it for group three success aboard Zargos.
"My highlight this season would be cementing that association with Hayes' stable and then getting the opportunity to go down as their stable rider at the Tasmania carnival," he said.
"The group three winner was just a bonus. The highlight was just to be chosen to go down their for it."
Schiller won the SDRA apprentice jockey's premiership.
B McDougall 59
T Schiller (a) 56
B Loy 40
S Miller 26
K Nisbet 23
A RIVERINA syndicate have been left shattered by the carnage that took place at Rosehill last Saturday.
The Yenda Hotel Racing syndicate owned 10 per cent of the Danny Williams-trained Hot 'N' Hazy that had to be euthanised after falling in the opening race at Rosehill.
Hot 'N' Hazy won on debut at Wagga in February and was having his second start in the $125,000 2YO Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill, when he was brought crashing down in the home straight as a result of interference.
Williams had labelled the two-year-old as the most promising racehorse he'd trained in the past 10 years and tuned up for the metropolitan start with a 14-length trial win over 800m at Goulburn last week, when ridden by Nick Heywood.
The syndciate have been left shattered by what unfolded and are in the process of penning a letter to Racing NSW.
ALBURY'S Mitch Beer has been forced to take out a visiting trainer's licence in Victoria to look after his horses stranded on the other side of the border.
Beer has 22 horses spelling in Victoria that he is unable to have returned to his Albury stable due to the border closure.
Beer hoped Racing NSW would come up with a solution but he has now been forced to make other arrangements.
He will have the horses trained at Leneva Park by a Victorian-based staff member that had been on maternity leave.
"Racing NSW are remaining strong in their stance that no horses are allowed to cross the border," Beer told The Border Mail.
"So I've decided to take out a visitors trainers licence and train from Leneva Park.
"I'm still not allowed to enter Victoria and fortunately one of my staff who was on maternity leave is going to return to work and train the horses.
"I hope to have eight horses working at Leneva Park by Monday and build on it from there."
TALENTED jockey John Kissick hopes to be back at the races in the next two to three weeks.
Kissick has taken some time off to freshen up before embarking on the new season.
The two-time SDRA premiership winner has moved his base to Wagga while he is unable to get home to Wangaratta due to COVID restrictions.
WELL-performed stayer Run Hoff Run is set to be retired.
Run Hoff Run ran his last race at Narrandera last Sunday and has returned home to Graeme Mathieson, who bred and raced the horse.
Run Hoff Run won nice races and finished in the minor placings on a further 12 occasions from 71 starts, earning $141,000.
Aside from stints with Nick Olive and Terry Butts, Run Hoff Run spent the majority of his time with Trevor Sutherland.
"For a horse who wasn't that blessed with ability, he did a good job," Sutherland said.
Sunday: Wagga (TAB)
Friday: Wagga (TAB)
Tuesday: Leeton (TAB)
Sunday: Temora (TAB)