The comeback of leading provincial hoop Scott Pollard gathered momentum, with the Kiama-based jockey booting home a winning double at Kembla Grange on Saturday.
Out of the saddle for almost a year after fracturing his wrist in a nasty fall on Gardner’s Pride last September, Pollard enjoyed his best day back at the races saluting aboard Gwenda Markwell’s Totally Devoted and Alesteem.
Now he has loftier ambitions like premierships on his mind.
‘‘I’m just starting to get going and feeling good riding and Gwenda’s team is just starting to fire again at the same time,’’ Pollard said. ‘‘Without her support I would be in a lot of trouble. I won the premiership here my first year out of my apprenticeship and I would like to win it again.’’
Markwell’s stunning recent surge at Kembla continued with a treble after Pedrinate thundered to a last-stride win in the final event of the day.
The race was laced with controversy after Regallic’s rider Dean Greville pleaded guilty to riding 1.2kg overweight on the runner-up, beaten a short head. He was suspended until January 19 taking into account a careless riding ban incurred at Canterbury on Friday night.
Pollard shared riding honours with Mitchell Bell, who racked up a winning double courtesy of Acropolis and Divine Influence.
It may have only been a maiden, but the barrier-to-box effort of Totally Devoted to take out the Maiden Plate (1000m) carried extra significance for a band of Illawarra Turf Club members who cheered home the speedy filly.
The three-year-old is the third horse in the past six weeks to have won under the ITC’s successful syndication scheme, which leases out horses to some of its members.
"Just with that one horse 40 or 50 people came to the races to watch it today,’’ ITC racing manager Michael Craig said.
Pollard predicted a bright future for Totally Devoted, who he said would have no problem getting over more ground when she matures.
‘‘Her best asset at the moment is so she’s green, but she begins out of the gates very quick and she’s got an electric turn of foot,’’ he said. ‘‘She can be wherever she needs to be in a race, accelerate when she needs to and it’s going to be a matter of getting her over the right distance.
‘‘I had to wait and give her something to fight against and hope it worked out. It worked out perfect in the end.’’
Bede Murray’s Stratifies ($10.60) quickened half-way down the long Kembla straight to loom as the winner, but Totally Devoted ($2.90) responded along the rails to edge out Clarry Conners’ Decision Made ($8.40) who split the locally-prepared pair.
The ITC’s flagship galloper, Darci Be Good, never shirked his task when third in the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm later in the day.
Paul Murray’s Alma’s Fury was edged out by All Legal, while another Kembla-trained horse in Merlin Mustang finished a close-up fifth.