Henry Dwyer celebrated a dream introduction to the Group 1 club on Saturday, when Sonntag provided him with Queensland Derby success at Eagle Farm.

The Darley cast-off gave Caulfield-based Dwyer Group 1 success at his first attempt when he edged out another Victorian, Pinstripe Lane, in the $500,000 event.

The victory came less than a year after Dwyer, a former assistant trainer with Robert Smerdon and Robert Hickmott, returned from an overseas stint to start training in his own right and he admitted to feeling out of place after the race.

“I’m a bit guilty about it, too,” he said. “There’s that many good trainers out there that have tried to get a Group 1 runner, let alone a winner, and I’m here in 11 months.”

Dwyer triumped in the battle of the freshman Victorian trainers when his charge edged out Pinstripe Lane, who was Troy Corstens’ first Group 1 runner less than a week after taking over as Malua Racing’s head trainer.

Sonntag was forced to big deep to wear down the Corstens galloper, who raced outside the leader and took over early in the straight and looked strong at the 200m.

But Sonntag fought tenaciously to wear down the Damien Oliver-ridden Pinstripe Lane and struck the lead inside the 50m before scoring a head victory with Chad Schofield in the saddle.

The victory was the fourth Group 1 success for Schofield this season and just like the others – the Cox Plate aboard Shamus Award, Newmarket Handicap on Lankan Rupee and Champagne Stakes with Go Indy Go – it came aboard a horse he was riding for the first time.

Schofield said the race could not have worked out any better and was full of praise for Sonntag’s courage.

“We had a love run in the race, I was following what I thought hardest to beat in Pinstripe Lane, and he did everything for me,” Schofield said. “I just had to follow ‘Ollie’.

“I peeled him out quite early and got him rolling. Pinstripe Lane ran me off the course a bit down the straight but, gee, my bloke tried hard and he just kept winding up. It was a brave win.”

The Derby success was a fairytale result for the gelding, a son of Teofilo, who was a $58,000 buy at a tried horses sale.

But not long after being purchased he suffered a tendon sheath infection that first resulted in a 50/50 prognosis regarding whether he would live or die with no thought regarding whether he would make it to the track.

But once Dwyer got on top of the injury he set Sonntag for a return to the track and while he suggested to the owners he might make a Queensland Derby contender he never really thought he would get there.

“I’m just rapt to be here and happy to share it with some really good friends and great people,” he said.

“I said to the owners before he even raced for us, ‘I think this horse will stay, I don’t know whether he’s any good, but he’ll stay’.

“I just thought the best-case scenario, pie-in-the-sky sort of stuff, would be if we could get a runner in the Queensland Derby – not thinking it would happen, just trying to pump up the owners and think we haven’t wasted our money – and he’s just jumped every obstacle and got here.”

The Derby success was Sonntag’s third from five starts since joining Dwyer and the $320,000 first prize lifted his earnings to almost $386,495 – all but $3000 of which has been earned since going through the sale ring.

Sonntag’s victory was also a success for the Riding for the Disabled of Australia, who received five percent of his Derby earnings through an auction that was held in the lead up to the race meeting.

The full result of the Queensland Derby, plus the other events on the Eagle Farm card, are available via the link