By Tony White
A phone call last year was enough to finally jog the memory of affable Grafton identity Ron Skinner.
Three Skinner-owned horses, bred at Minamurra Stud, Glen Innes, had been sitting idle in a paddock atop of the tablelands for the best part of a couple of years.
"I had two geldings and a mare in a bush paddock on the tablelands," Skinner said.
"One day a bloke rang and said you've got a couple of fat horses sitting out here.
"He laughed I'm getting too old and suggested I come out and pick them up.
"The mare was too old to worry about but I brought the others home to another paddock ... and they just got fatter.
"I'd had business commitments, was busy and just forgot about them."
One of the 'fatties' was a gelding named Skinz Hope.
After a preparation late last year when the gelding went shin sore, the son of Full and By was put back in work by local trainer Bruce Swan.
Following a debut third to Natural Destiny at Coffs Harbour on August 2, Skinz Hope came out yesterday and led all the way to win the Gold On Tap Maiden (1100m) ridden by top Gold Coast jockey Chris Whitley.
Skinner races the gelding with Grafton optometrist Eddie Clack and Clarence River Jockey Club director and pest controller Garry McCormick.
Now a five-year-old, Skinz Hope looks to have a future, albeit a shortened one, following his belated start to a racing career.
"He's still got a bit to learn, but he's brave," Swan said after Skinz Hope hung on to beat the favourite Gold Reign narrowly.
"I think he's got a bit of a future."
Skinner's bad memory was all but forgotten as the happy connections celebrated the win.
"The only reason they stayed in the paddock was me and my mistakes," Skinner said.
Swan, who saddled up three horses yesterday, later celebrated a winning double when Final Objective won the Good As Gold Class 1 Hcp (1200m).
The five-year-old entire by Keltrice overcame a wide barrier to romp home over the latter stages for a clear cut win over Carsons Road.
Bonville-based owner Ron Saunder continued a fabulous run of wins when the Ken Lantry-trained Saskarla won the Han Premium Light Maiden (1100m).
Saskarla, by Mr Henrysee out of Shady Stream, is a half-sister to Queanbeyan Group One winning sprint sensation and last year's Ramornie winner, Takeover Target.
Saunder recently returned from a highly successful foray to the Alice Springs and Darwin Cup carnivals.
Saunder-owned horses, under Warren trainer Merv Rumble, won seven races during the two carnivals including Swepscay, winner of the Toyota Cup and the feature sprint on Darwin Cup day.