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    Tears of joy after hometown victory Tears of joy after hometown victory

    CURLY JAMES - Photo HRV

    THERE were tears of joy and scenes of jubilation as Curly James provided 19-year-old trainer Courtney Laker with the biggest moment of her young... Tears of joy after hometown victory

    THERE were tears of joy and scenes of jubilation as Curly James provided 19-year-old trainer Courtney Laker with the biggest moment of her young career on Saturday night.

    Laker, from Kialla, was celebrating a special hometown feature success when Curly James dived late and grabbed long-time leader Kanena Provlima to win the Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup.

    In a race full of action, it was Laker’s six-year-old who received the run of the race behind Kanena Provlima and then reeled him in along the home straight to score in a photo.

    “I can’t even describe the emotions,” Laker, whose only horse is Curly James, said. “I’m so excited. The pressure and the relief and just the achievement to get Curly up to this day is just unbelievable.

    “To have my first horse, training my first season and to have a horse like Curly is just absolutely amazing.

    “I obviously can’t thank my dad, my nana and everyone that’s involved in this horse (enough). It makes my dreams come true.”

    It was also a special triumph for reinsman David Moran, who claimed his second Shepparton Gold Cup after winning it in 2021 with superstar pacer Lochinvar Art.

    “Courtney’s only a young girl doing a great job, so for her and her family to get a horse like this, it’s terrific,” he said.

    “They’ve put a lot of time, a lot of money into the industry and they’re great people so it’s very special.”

    Last weekend’s Bendigo Pacing Cup winner Max Delight made a mid-race move, but couldn’t find the spot outside the leader and was eventually pulled up out of the event.

    Kanena Provlima’s stablemate Petes Said So finished third, with the KerryAnn Morris-trained pair running great races during their interstate raid.

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