A 15-YEAR winning association continued at Grafton yesterday when Year Of The Tiger led throughout to win the Coutts Crossing Cup September 7 Benchmark 60 Hcp (1000m).

The six-year-old sprinter is trained by Brett Bellamy at Coffs Harbour and owned and bred by Lyndhurst Stud Farm.

"I've trained for Lyndhurst for 15 plus years," Bellamy said. "My main association has been through Merrill Kruger's two sons, Jeff and Griffith.

"Over the years we've had plenty of luck together."

Bellamy trained Year Of The Tiger's dam, Pacific Quest.

"It's nice for the mare to get one that can gallop," Bellamy said. "She was a decent mare but had knee issues.

"A few of her foals were sent overseas but I had a colt by her that looked to be pretty good but he died of colitis, got the scours.

"Year Of The Tiger has had a lot of problems, issues over time but he's been pretty consistent.

"He's only a lightly framed fella."

Taken straight to the front from the inside barrier, Year Of The Tiger ($2.70) defeated Ocean Journey ($15) with locally-trained Curly Mac ($5.50) third.

"The inside gate is a huge advantage in these sort of races and having the speed to use it is another big advantage," Bellamy said. "I didn't do much with him since his last run at Murwillumbah. I tend to space his races."

Bellamy said the son of Hidden Dragon with a record of three wins and 11 placing's from 20 starts would have his next start in The Newmarket (1000m) at Ballina on September 13.

The win was the second leg of a winning double for jockey Raymond Spokes.

Spokes saluted aboard Castlemagne King in the CRJC Premiership Winners Benchmark 66 Hcp (2200m).

For a peculiar reason some horses seem to excel on a particular racetrack. In the case of tough stayer Castlemagne King his track of preference is Grafton.

Seven of the eight-year-old's 11 wins have come at Grafton.

"He loves Grafton. He's a very good horse here," trainer Basil Ryan said. "I thought he was unlucky (third) in the Taree Cup last start.

"Nothing hit the line harder than him behind Gazza Guru."

Castlemagne King rarely works on the track.

"He goes to the beach every day," Ryan pointed out. "He's been a good old horse for us."

The $1.60 favourite Special Miss, trained by Hunter Kilner, couldn't match Castlemagne King ($4) in the home straight but wanted to lay out down the running which didn't help her cause.



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