BY A NOSTRIL: Cathy Chapman-trained Howick (yellow cap, inside) gets the win in a head-bobbing duel in the 3YO Maiden Plate.
BY A NOSTRIL: Cathy Chapman-trained Howick (yellow cap, inside) gets the win in a head-bobbing duel in the 3YO Maiden Plate. Matthew Elkerton

Promising filly punches through to win in a photo finish

RACING: Burgeoning three-year-old filly Howick has secured the perfect start to her new life under Southgate trainer Cathy Chapman with a photo finish win at Grafton yesterday.

Ridden by Grafton jockey Matt Paget, who said the Ford & Dougherty Property Maclean 3YO Maiden Plate (1006m) was simply a "trial run" for the filly, Howick settled just off the pace on the inside rail before making a move down the straight.

She battled tooth and nail with I'm On The Prowl out of the Paddy Cunningham stable at Glen Innes, before stealing the victory with a head bob on the line.

"I didn't think I was going to beat the one I was chasing," Paget said. "I was about ready to go straight past it, but we ran out of fuel with about 50m to go.

"I just tried to glide along and just got the young girl to dig a bit deeper and we got there on the bob."

Colt Prosser-trained Aqua Chimera loomed large late in the run to finish a head away in third place.

Howick was a well-backed favourite heading into the race at $3 with plenty of punters seeing a bright future for the filly.

And while she is only a small galloper, Paget says what she lacks in size, she makes up for in heart.

"She has got ability, she is not very tall and not very wide," he said. "She has a lot of maturing to do in her head and in herself but that will come as she starts to push out to the 1400m and travels better."

The filly was only recently transferred to Chapman from the David Kelly yard and has impressed her new trainer from day dot.

Despite going into the race a little under-prepared, Chapman had no doubts in the diminutive mare.

"She is a very smart little filly but she is a bit of a madam," Chapman said. "She is very temperamental, but she tries hard and she has a big a heart.

"It was a really good run, Matt rode her very well.

"She needs a little bit more racing and little bit more experience. We will just have to see how she pulls up after this run, and then work out what is next."

It was a local trifecta to kick off proceedings at the CRJC's Christmas Cup race day yesterday with fellow Grafton trainers Wayne Lawson and John Shelton scoring wins in the second and third race respectively.

Lawson's four-year-old gelding Dominant Crown made it two wins on the trot for this preparation in the Valley Signs & Printing Benchmark 60 Handicap (1006m), much to the delight of his group of local owners.

While Shelton's veteran stayer Towkash returned to the winner's circle after putting in a late dash to the line in the Westlawn Insurance Brokers Benchmark 60 Hcp (2210m).

Full results in tomorrow.

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