Benalla-trained If You Will set his home track alight on Friday to win the $18000 DKM Builders Handicap over 1606m.
A previous start winner at Albury seven days earlier, the four-year-old gelding jumped well, found itself in front and rider Jamie Mott decided to go for broke.
He took up the running and the horse did the rest and never really looked troubled.
The horse has had 21 starts — the first half of its career was with Darren Weir before being swapped to Benalla’s Russell Osborne last year — and has finally hit a purple patch after a three-week spell to be freshened.
In seven days it has picked up $37600 to more than double its career earnings to $68147 and on Friday at Benalla started the ninth on the card as 6/1 favourite in a very open betting affair.
Speaking after the race, Osborne said it had been good to have someone with Mott’s experience on board for the win.
‘‘It was Jamie’s first ride on If You Will and it always helps to have someone who will make decisions as the race unfolds,’’ Osborne said.
‘‘Before the start I did suggest he try and sit midfield with some cover but he got a little bit closer than that,’’ he laughed.
‘‘But you can’t complain about the result — If You Will is a bit one-paced but I think the further we go with him in race length the better he will be.
‘‘He started his career with a first-up win and the owners had hopes of him being a city horse but he just never really lived up to that — he was born and bred here so they brought him home to see if he could pick up a few wins.
‘‘But on the back of this he will probably go to Wangaratta at the weekend for the cup carnival there in a BM64 race.’’
Mott said following his good win at Albury the horse had done really well to back up at Benalla.
He agreed with Osborne his initial plan of running in the middle of the field was the idea but on settling after the jump he found himself in front.
‘‘He came out of the gate really well and I was able to get across quite easily and take up the running,’’ Mott said.
‘‘He bowled along nicely and once we straightened he just proved too strong for them all.’’
In the 10th and last race of the day it was another go to whoa winner with Mossbelle in the $20000 Ryan & McNulty Sawmillers Class 1 Handicap over 1206m.
Mossbelle wasn’t first out of the gate from barrier seven but as the field settled he quickly picked up his pace and got room to move across and take the lead.
He led into the straight and, although he looked to be tiring, fought-off challenges all the way to the finish and went strongly to the line.
Some people had faith in the lightly-raced four-year-old mare as she was backed from 13/1 to 11/1 and despite a tendency to roll on the turn into the home straight won by a length.
It was her second start back from a 26-week spell.
Reid Balfour, representing trainer Robbie Griffiths, said the horse took off with a flyer and jockey Jye McNeil was confident enough to keep her in front.
‘‘She has strengthened up now she is a bit older, and is shaping as a solid and durable horse,’’ Balfour said.
McNeil said: “It was good to win after her last start at Ballarat, where she finished fourth, and with the benefit of that run she didn’t disappoint me.’’
It was a good day for McNeil, he also won the fifth race (the $22000 Comfort Inn Benalla Plate over 1406m) on Immaculate Secret.
Earlier in the eighth race, the $18000 Bet365 Handicap over 2406m, trainer Jody Thompson showed she had made some inspired decisions when her horse Snake Cavern swept to victory after an outstanding ride by Daniel Stackhouse.
Thompson had earlier scratched the horse from a 2000m run at Kyneton and had entered him for Ballarat on Sunday.
Before deciding to bite the bullet and start him a BM58 at Benalla where punters sent him out at 11/2.
Thompson said the horse had drawn bad gates in five of his six past starts — and still had the widest gate (nine) in the Benalla race.
‘‘I’m just glad for the horse; he deserved to win a race,’’ Thompson said.
‘‘Daniel placed him well around fourth, with some cover; and the way he won was an 11/10 ride,’’ she said.
‘‘He is due for a spell but he pulled up really well after Bendigo and we’ll see how he pulls up after this.
‘‘The racing seems to have toughened him up — the more he’s doing the better he’s going.’’
Stackhouse said he had no fixed race plans until the field jumped and he could see what happened.
‘‘But he came out well so I was happy to stay up there near and see how things went,’’ he said.
‘‘This horse hasn’t had a lot of luck in recent runs so I decided we might make some of our own.
‘‘Once the field straightened we started to move forward and when one horse shifted out a bit we had a gap and when he got free he held them off.’’
Regan Bayliss was another rider to end the day with a winning double — both for Cranbourne trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young.
He started with the fourth (the $22000 Specsavers Benalla Plate) on Semari and then steered Here Comes Lenni home in the sixth (the $22000 Benalla Timber Products over 1406m).