Todd Smart picked up a winning double in Albury on Tuesday to the delight of local connections.
Kelvedon Road started at the skinny price of $1.30 and lived up to his pre-race billing to win comfortably.
The local connections, however, would have been a bit concerned when their galloper missed the start to trail a field strung out by leader Strawberry Swing.
Kelvedon Road was still a good six or seven lengths from the front at the 600m but jockey Matthew Cahill was rapidly making up ground.
By the time they rolled into the straight there was only going to be one winner, with Cahill barely moving on the favourite as he left the field in his wake to score all too easily by almost three lengths.
Third up this campaign having recorded a couple of seconds in his previous two starts, Kelvedon Road delivered on his potential.
Smart said the galloper has some maturing to do, and was weighing up whether to send him to the paddock or give the three-year-old Star Witness gelding one more run.
“He’ll be a much better horse in six months’ time,” Smart said. “He might have another run in him this time in, but no more than that. He has some maturing to do, but when that happens he’ll turn into a nice horse.”
Picked up for $17,000 at a Ready to Run sale, Kelvedon Road has already repaid his connections, with more than $30,000 in the bank. Smart expects his horse to go onto better things.
While Kelvedon Road started the shortest price at Albury, Tobermory was the longest priced winner on the card when the seven-year-old lumped 62kgs to win the Benchmark 66 (1000m).
In an impressive training feat, Smart had Tobermory ready to win despite a year-long absence from the track.
Paying $18 for the win, Tobermory settled with only a couple behind him but worked around the field at the 600m amid a strong pace by Concrete.
Tobermory then jumped out of the ground late to win by almost half a length to cap a terrific comeback.
Smart was understandably happy with the performance.
“To carry 62kgs on his back after 12 months out, it’s a massive effort,” Smart said. “He’s come back bigger and better. He’s had some issues and we put him in the paddock for 12 months, but we did plenty of work knowing we had to get him fit first up.”
The owners were given some confidence by the trainer, with Smart telling connections he was confident of a top three finish.
Smart will be fishing around for another country start for his galloper, but may instead be headed for the city.
“I’d love to find him one more start in the bush, but his rating is getting up,” he said. “We’ll see what we can find.”
Smart’s next focus is the Canberra Acton meeting on Friday, where he’s set to have at least five runners, including last start winner Eurosay.
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For the second week, a David Blundell galloper that appeared set for victory was edged out of the win.
Shafty ($4.80) came home nicely with Richard Bensley on board in the 1400m maiden at Narrandera on Saturday, but fell by the narrowest of margins to Scorch the Turf ($4.60, Michael Travers).
Shafty started from the inside barrier and settled just off the leaders before Bensley brought the four year old into the race at the top of the straight.
Shafty drew up alongside Scorch the Turf in the final 50m and looked set to grab the lead, only to finish second by the official margin of 0.01 lengths.
Shafty carried top weight of 59kgs and followed up a fifth at Gundagai at the beginning of August.