FOR a brief moment, Ballarat trainer Darren Weir thought he had won the $125,000 Wangoom Handicap and, as a result, a $43,000 Mercedes-Benz trainer's bonus.
"I started celebrating," Weir said moments after his comeback runner Wealth Princess was beaten by a half-head.
"I thought he had won. I feel like a dickhead."
The second-placing put Weir's charge for the car on hold until today. He won yesterday's opening race of the day to take his tally to four winners for the carnival - the number needed to be eligible for the prize.
But to claim the trainer's bonus, he needs to win either today's $250,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase or $200,000 Warr-nambool Cup. If his cup runner Magnifique Soleil wins the cup today, he will also take home the car and a further $40,000 bonus that was put up for any horse that could win Tuesday's open handicap and the cup. The near miss overshadowed Weir's training performance in getting Wealth Princess up for the Wangoom, the six-year-old's first start in almost two years after suffering two tendon injuries.
"He ran well," he said.
"The winner was too good."
Weir said he would send Wealth Princess to Queensland for the winter carnival.
Mount Gambier trainer Michael O'Leary was delighted with the run of his sprinter Glaneuse, which finished 1+ lengths away third. "I thought it would be a fraction too short for him and it was," O'Leary said.
"The 1400, that's his go."
O'Leary said he would steer the six-year-old towards the winter championship.