Bush trainer Mick Smith and jockey Nathan Berry were left to ponder what might have been after a freak incident at Canterbury on Wednesday.
Berry's mount Money Never Sleeps was declared a non-runner in the State Of Origin Live At Rosehill Gardens Handicap (1550m) after the field jumped without Berry and his mount.
"It's going in my book as one of 100 ways not to get to the races," said Smith, who trains a small team at Queanbeyan on the outskirts of Canberra.
"I was supremely confident today. It's quite bizarre. That doesn't happen very often.
"We'd been cracking since four o'clock this morning waiting for this."
Berry had stood out of the saddle as the barrier blanket was adjusted on the well-backed Money Never Sleeps who was getting stirred up in the gates.
He was just about to sit back down when starter Bill Dale let the field go.
It was the first time in his almost four decades in racing that Dale can recall such an incident
"I don't think I've ever started them without someone on the horse," Dale said of the mix-up.
Earlier in the day, in-form apprentice Blake Spriggs was lucky to escape injury after falling in the opening event on two-year-old Jingle All The Way.
Spriggs was attended to by medical staff after feeling some pain in his back and was stood down from the rest of the meeting.
But he later declared he would be fit to ride at Wyong on Thursday.
"I'm lucky to be able to walk away," Spriggs said.
"I'm a little bit stiff and sore but I'm OK."
Sydney's leading jockey Hugh Bowman missed the meeting due to illness while Kerrin McEvoy was stood down during the afternoon when he succumbed to the winter bug.
McEvoy missed the winning ride on the Peter Snowden-trained Pectin in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1250m).
Meanwhile, trainer Gai Waterhouse notched another two-year-old win for the season with the well-bred Rex Is A Star.
The pint-sized filly showed she had a good motor as she stormed home along the inside to take out the Bowermans Office Furniture Handicap (1100m) by a length.
"She's a very well bred filly so to get a city win with her so early is important," said Waterhouse's stable representative Mark Newnham.
Rex Is A Star is by Encosta De Lago out of Sliding Cube who is a sister to Redoute's Choice.