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Courtesy of The Examiner

Neither the trainer or jockey had raced at the track before but that didn’t stop them winning Tuesday’s $20,000 Longford Cup with bold front-runner Hugo.

Although he has trained for many years, Broadmarsh-based Brendan McShane had never previously had a runner at the iconic country venue.

And, 19-year-old Victorian apprentice Alex Patis was also a first-time participant at the annual New Year’s Day meeting.

Hugo, a $7 chance, gave a bold display to hold out in-foal mare Geegees Goldengirl by a short head, with favourite Zatacla 1-¼ lengths away third.

Patis, who is on loan to Spreyton trainer Adam Trinder, was thrilled to record the biggest win of her short career.

“It’s pretty awesome to win my first cup on a day like this,” she said.

“I’ve only had three or four rides for Brendan but we’re starting to rack up a pretty good strike-rate.”

Patis said that Hugo was always going nicely.

“He traveled like a good horse,” she said. “They took him on rounding the home turn but he kept fighting to the line.”

McShane said winning the Longford Cup had sentimental value to his family.

“This will bring back special memories back for Dad (Walter) who brought a fair few horses here years ago,” the trainer said.

“I don’t think he ever won the cup.

“The last time I was here was with Dad’s horse Ticking Away who won a lot of big races but just couldn’t get around this track.”

In contrast, the tight circuit was perfect for eight-year-old Hugo.

“If ever there was a horse that was going to be suited by Longford, it’s this one,” McShane said.

“Then to get in the race with only 51 kilograms … it was a present.

“I didn’t think it was possible to find an apprentice that could ride that light.”

Pint-sized Patis can ride even lighter – at 49kg –  if need be.

Patis was the fourth apprentice in a row to win the Longford Cup, following in the footsteps of Sherry Barr, Stephanie Thornton and Teagan Voorham.

McShane will now consider a Devonport Cup start for Hugo while runner-up Geegees Goldengirl will probably head to the Brighton and Summer cups at Elwick.

Third placegetter Zatacla was the best-backed runner ($2.90 into $2.80) but raced a bit keenly and, after making a sharp forward move before the home turn, had little left to offer in the straight.

However, it was only his fourth run after a spell and he was jumping from 1400m to 1800m so he should be more race-hardened if he also goes to the Devonport Cup.

The field for next Wednesday’s $100,000 Devonport Cup will be finalised on Friday.