TAREE trainer Bob Milligan had good reason to smile with the win of newcomer three-year-old filly Charmebaby ($7) on a day of disappointments for fellow Taree trainers at Manning Valley Race Club's TAB meeting at Taree on Monday.
The Charm Spirit (IRE) filly had four starts and a handy barrier trial on May 11 for a Hawkesbury training partnership before it was sold for $14,000 to Milligan.
"They did all the hard work when the owner decided to sell it as he thought it wasn't up to city class," said Milligan's son, Glen, who with family and four new owners formed a syndicate to race her.
Glen's wife, Vicky, thought Charmebaby put in winning trackwork in the last week and it duly won by a quarter of a length in the De Bortoli Wines Maiden Handicap over 1000m in the hands of Taree jockey Matthew Bennett.
"There is nothing wrong with the filly's attitude and it got to the line real good from mid-field."
Taree trainer Tony Ball was hoping for a day to springboard his team into better races but could be forgiven for feeling deflated.
His hope, four-year-old gelding Senatorial, for a start in the $100,000 Taree Cup over 2000m on August 23 was having its first start from a spell and finished ninth at odds of $9, 8.5 lengths behind Gosford gelding Dashing 'N' Daring ($4.20), trained by Kylie Gavenlock and ridden by Grant Buckley, in the Saxby's Soft Drink CG & E Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1400m.
The winner's strapper Adam Dowling said the five-year-old winner was new to the stable but was getting stronger with racing.
Senatorial hadn't won first-up before, probably preferred better ground and will get better over more ground.
Big things were expected of Ball's Makuba which had won two of its past three starts and was backed sensationally from $7.50 to start favourite at $2.70 in the TAB Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1000m.
It finished eighth, beaten 9.6 lengths, behind In A Step ($8.50), trained at Coffs Harbour by Brett Dodson and ridden by apprentice jockey Kyle Wilson Taylor, it leading all the way to score by just under a length.
"She is very fast...and if she can get to the lead she has a kick," Dodson said.
"She has been hard to place with her weights but she is looking at Grafton next run."
Ball must have had some satisfaction with newcomer Boom Queen finishing fourth in the race whereas his other hope Modify in the Super Dry 2.5 Maiden Plate over 1250m was an emergency and failed to get a start on the soft 6 rated track.
This race was won by Newcastle's Syncline ($1.20), which romped home by nearly six lengths for trainer Kris Lees and jockey Andrew Gibbons.
Four-year-old Port Macquarie gelding Honovi ($6.50), trained by Matthew McCudden and ridden by Luke Rolls, sat outside the leader until entering the straight and then dashed to a length win in the Tooheys Extra Dry Maiden over 1600m.
The win followed three placings and was the result of the gelding's fitness level and a great ride.
A nose was enough margin for Port Macquarie Pierro mare Havana Storm ($3.60) making it two wins in a row for trainer Neil Godbolt in the XXXX Gold F & M Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1400m.
It gave visiting jockey Alysha Collett her first win at her first visit to Taree.
Godbolt said Havana Storm "is off to be a mum", probably with former top galloper So You Think.
"I didn't think she could win on the turn but she is all heart...she tries hard."
Punters backed three-year-old gelding Fantasy Eagle, trained at Wyong by Allan Denham and ridden by Rory Hutchings, from $2.70 to $2.05 and it duly saluted by just under a length in the Iron Jack Class 1 Handicap over 1250m.
"Next time in he will be a better horse," Denham said.