RACING: With Grafton racing in recess over the hot period, it has been the annual pilgrimage to the highway for most Grafton-based trainers in search of a winner and some have already had success.
Jason Reilly was first to the winner's circle when rejuvenated sprinter Knight Templar made it two wins on the bounce at the Murwillumbah pre- Christmas meeting.
Ridden by Belinda Hodder, Knight Templar made it two wins from as many starts this preparation when he led throughout on the rain- affected track to score an easy win in the Christmas Sprint over 1200m.
It was the 10th overall win for the gelding but to give an indication of just how well he is going at the moment it was his first on a heavy track.
Cathy Chapman made a quick return to the winner's enclosure when the heavily supported Super Shoes scored a strong win at the Gold Coast in a Class 1 1200m.
Ridden by Ryan Wiggins the gelding settled well back in the field before Wiggins weaved a passage through the field to grab the lead right on the line and get the judges' decision.
Judging by the strength of the win and the confident support in the betting ring there may be more wins in store for the son of Husson.
Kasie Stanley has been riding in the best form of her senior career and showed plenty of vigour to win in the final stride on the Greg Howells-prepared Jaylo at Coffs Harbour in the 3YO Maiden 1300m.
The daughter of Helmet was having just her fourth run for the yard since making the trip north from Victoria but had to overcome a very tricky gate.
Stanley made light work of the barrier and had the filly settled one off the fence in sixth spot before the first turn was reached.
She then got on her bike coming to the turn and started to make ground but hit a flat spot when involved in a bumping duel at the 300m.
Once balanced Jaylo worked all the way to the post to get up in a busy five-horse finish.
The final pre Christmas winner for Grafton came just last Friday at Lismore when the Dwayne Schmidt trained Lucy In Disguise got up in the shadows of the post to score in the F&M Maiden 1200m.
Ridden by Cassandra Schmidt Lucy In Disguise was forced to go back to last in the small field which is not the most favourable position at Lismore but the only alternative was to be trapped three deep throughout and Schmidt Jnr. was having none of that.
Coming to the home turn Schmidt began a long run from the rear and took almost every inch of the Lismore straight to reel in the leaders and score a solid win.
It was just the second appearance for Lucy In Disguise for the Dwayne Schmidt yard who like the Howells winner a week earlier had been purchased from Victoria before heading north.