WAGGA trainer Tim Donnelly kicked off the Gold Cup carnival in the best possible fashion with a victory to the locals.
Donnelly's decision to run Participator ($26) on Thursday instead of Friday paid a big dividend as Mathew Cahill guided the colt to victory in the Audi Centre Wagga 2YO Showcase Handicap (1200m).
Participator was making his debut on Thursday and sat camped just off the speed before sprouting wings over the final 200 metres to down Verbek ($3.20) narrowly, with Mortal Witness ($5.00) a half length back in third.
Donnelly has a nice opinion of the two-year-old and was not shocked by the result.
"Everything went beautifully for him. That was the question mark, whether he was going to do everything right and he did do everything right," Donnelly said.
"He's a good horse. He's by a hot stallion, Contributor, and look, he's going to get better as he gets older. He's getting gelded next week and that will be the making of him."
Donnelly said a couple of key factors prompted him to roll the dice on Thursday, as opposed to waiting for an open-aged maiden on Friday.
"I just thought first crack at the track, seven runners, two-year-olds only, I thought the favourite might be vulnerable. I thought, blow it, we'll have a go," he said.
Participator, a purchase from a ready to run sale in New Zealand, is owned by a big group of Wagga owners.
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