Kempsey mare Markievicz ($3.90) may have a shot at a $100,000 Sydney Highway race after notching her second win in a row at Manning Valley Race Club's meeting at Taree on Tuesday.
The Barry Ratcliff trained four-year-old did it the hard way by coming from last, about a dozen lengths astern, to mow down her opposition to score by a length for jockey Matthew Bennett in the Horsepower Class 1 @ Maiden Plate over 1609m, one of two winners for him.
"She makes it hard for herself because at nearly every start she comes from last," Ratcliff said.
"She doesn't come out of the gates with her opposition but she certainly has a great finish.
"She has a great sprint and the jockey loves her.
"She has been tried over 2000 for a couple of fourths and later she may get her chance in a country cup over that distance.
"She has pulled up as good as gold and if everything goes right she will go to a Rosehill Highway race over 1500m in a couple of weeks."
Bennett's other win was on three-year-old filly Military Star ($3), trained at Hawkesbury by Karen Outrim, in the Mid Coast Automotive Group Maiden Plate over 1255m.
Outrim said she believed her horse would go well and it was "a good ride".
She bought the filly off the internet and she said "it is a cheeky type".
A surprising upgrade from soft to firm before the first race led to many track records over the unusual distances.
Gosford trainer Adam Duggan rarely travels north without grabbing a win and he did so with third race starter four-year-old gelding Sacred Delago in the Tooheys Maiden Handicap over 1408m.
He said the gelding was "a work in progress" and was improving all the time, blinkers being taken off this time after being put on at its previous start.
Lucky horses win at the winning post and not after because jockey Olivia Pickering had the misfortune of parting company just past the finish with winner Emphasis Squaw ($21), trained at Grafton by Shane Everson in the Banksia Turf Benchmark 58 Handicap Class 2 & Above 1005m.
Luckily she escaped injury and walked back to the winner's stall.
Taree's Ready To Chase, trained by Tony Ball, looked a chance halfway down the straight but had to settle for a close third and is close to a win.
Another Hawkesbury trainer, Terry Croft, made it a double for the area with five-year-old mare Testa's Flower ($7.50), ridden by Ashley Morgan, scoring in a close finish in the Kennards Hire Taree Class 1 Handicap over 1005m.
The run of this race was from Wauchope galloper Highbury ($13) returning from about 12 months off from injury, running a solid second and being set for the Country Championships.
Highburys' trainer Colt Prosser and jockey Kirk Matheson combined with well-backed three-year-old filly Little Prophet ($10 to $6) scoring by just under a length in the XXXX Gold Class 1 Handicap over 1308m.
Jockey Grant Buckley went into the Horsepower Benchnark 58 Handicap over 1408m with confidence in the Mark Minervini, Newcastle-trained five-year-old gelding Essoess ($6) and came home a short half-head winner.
Racing returns to Taree on Friday, January 28, with another top TAB meeting.
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