Faith pays dividends at Ballina's all-women race
HE was the horse they nearly got rid of - but now Lennox Head co-owner Bob Watson is counting the rewards of his faith.
Epic Terra, trained by Murwillumbah's Matthew Dunn, captured yesterday's $55,000 Paul Nielsen Fabrication and Hydraulics Iris Nielsen Handicap (1405m) at the Ballina Jockey Club.
The four-year-old made a late charge to seal the win by a third of a length from the runner-up Cap Vilano.
Watson, who unsuccessfully attempted to sell the horse during its development due to a questionable attitude to training, was delighted with the victory.
"This is my home track, so this is a big thrill for me," he said.
"He is a bit of a bugger, but Matthew has trained him well.
"I am very excited."
The $5 shot, ridden by Tegan Harrison, came from out wide early on and surged ahead in the final stages to claim the triumph.
Haslington, trained by home-town hope Danny Bowen, was among the pacesetters at the 650m mark but faded as the pace picked up.
Favourite Symposium led early but the $4.80 shot faltered badly to finish last of the 14 runners.
Watson praised Grafton-based jockey Harrison for overseeing the win, although he admitted it had been a nervy watch.
"My heart was certainly beating rapidly," he said.
"It looked like he was going to lose it, but I knew he could kick home if he kept with them.
"Tegan rode him very well. I was pleased we got her (as jockey) as the horses seem to ride well with her.
"He is a pretty ordinary looking horse, but he has a big heart."
It was the gelding's 11th placing from 14 starts and followed up a notable victory over 1400m on the Gold Coast on New Year's Day.
With four wins, the galloper could become one to watch on metropolitan tracks.
"Let's hope so," Watson, a former trainer himself who owns the horse with son Nick, said.
"Matthew looks after five horses of mine and he is absolutely fantastic.
"He is a thinker and always looking to try different things.
"He has done his job well."
My Private Dancer (Cassie Schmidt) made it a hat-trick of recent wins at Ballina in the $15,000 Lady Jockeys Hall of Fame Benchmark 60 Handicap (1605m).
The five-year-old gelding, which won for home trainer Stephen Lee as a $5 shot, has won at each of the past three meetings on its home track since Boxing Day.
Home trainer Terry McCarthy also secured a win with Lola's Choice in the $15,000 Taylor's Wines 3yo Maiden Plate (1005m).
The next meeting at Ballina ison Saturday, February 23.