HANDS AND HEELS: Glen Colless (nearest camera) closes on the finish line aboard Spatha in this year’s $30,000 Iris Nielsen Open Hcp.
HANDS AND HEELS: Glen Colless (nearest camera) closes on the finish line aboard Spatha in this year’s $30,000 Iris Nielsen Open Hcp. Stuart Turner

Spatha is genuine favourite in Iris Nielson race

STEVE Parmenter admitted nerves almost got the better of him before this year's $30,000 Iris Nielsen Open Handicap at Ballina - but he needn't have worried.

Co-owner Parmenter saw his charge Spatha justify its $1.50 favouritism with a superb run to capture yesterday's 1400m race.

Jockey Glen Colless maintained his fine recent form to oversee a late charge for the gelding, trained by Gold Coast-based Maryann Brosnan.

Parmenter could not hide his glee at capturing one of the Northern Rivers' biggest races of the year - especially as he had suffered from some big time pre-race jitters.

"I think I had about 14 nervous trips to the toilet before the race," he said with a grin.

"I was pretty nervous. He got a little further back than we hoped.

"It was absolutely fantastic to see him come home first."

Power Receiver led for the first half of the race and was still in charge at the turn.

But he faded, with Spatha taking victory by a neck ahead of Agent Blue (Second) and third-placed Lassila.

It was a fifth win in 26 outings for the horse and another good day for Colless, who has enjoyed double victories at both Murwillumbah and Ipswich already this month.

"We had a fair few expectations for the horse, " Parmenter said.

"The good thing is that he can go with the pace or he can come from behind and get the win."

Gold Coast-based Parmenter has owned the horse with mate John Elliott for about a year.

He has a part or full share in about a dozen horses and says it is real labour of love.

"What drives me? I guess it's the hope of getting that great one - the one that will win big," he said.

"The wins sometimes feel few and far between but when you get one like today, it's a great feeling.

"I would say to anyone thinking about owning a horse, 'get some friends together, get a good trainer - and give it a go'."

Parmenter thanked Brosnan for her work with the horse and everyone involved with the race.

The best local finisher was After Baron, trained by Casino's Neil Creighton, who finished fifth.

The meeting was held in honour of the pioneering female jockey Iris Nielsen .



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