OVER THE LINE: Melinda Graham rides Royal Lover ($1.80 favourite) to a win in the Benchmark 55 Handicap (1200m) at the Ballina Jockey Club TAB meeting yesterday.
OVER THE LINE: Melinda Graham rides Royal Lover ($1.80 favourite) to a win in the Benchmark 55 Handicap (1200m) at the Ballina Jockey Club TAB meeting yesterday. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Phelps finally on the road to success

BALLINA trainer Steven Phelps admits he was close to pulling the pin on Nujooloo Road at the Ballina Jockey Club TAB meeting yesterday.

However, the eight-year-old stormed home in a photo finish in the $15,000 Benchmark 55 Handicap (1900m).

"I love this bloke. I'll definitely keep him around now," Phelps said. "He is a good little horse, that's for sure.

"I think I've had about seventh fourths (placed finishes), so this was needed."

Nujooloo Road ($9) finished a nose ahead of Popstar Pete ($3.50 equal favourite) with the Kevin Nipperess-trained St Edition ($8) in third.

The horse has now had five of its seven career wins at Ballina.

It was coming off an eighth-placed finish in a Benchmark 70 Handicap (2200m) on the Gold Coast last month.

"I haven't had him on the track since the Gold Coast run," Phelps said. "We've been walking him in the salt water. You just need to keep him fresh to get the best out of him."

Earlier, Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn had consecutive wins in maiden handicap races.

There is a non-TAB meeting at the Tweed River Jockey Club today.



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