TRANQUIL Black was the star as racing resumed on Saturday with a strong 13-race card featuring three heats of the Grafton to Lismore Fifth Grade Series.
The Sandy Robertson-trained Black set the standard for the night when winning the Village Green Hotel Heat.
He recorded 23.18 on November 7 but - with the benefit of almost a month’s break - never gave his opposition a sniff.
He could not be caught by the Neil Falls-trained Genista Apache for a 23.04-second, two-and-a-half-length win.
Kulu Royal, trained by John Clarson, was another to impress, winning the Nature Vet Heat.
Appreciating the drop in grades Royal bounced from box two to beat the Des Winters-trained Baby Bond by four-and-three-quarter lengths in 23.07 seconds, leaving punters wondering what happened in his previous 23 winless Grafton starts.
The Rick Godwin-trained Rich Character resumed from a six-month break to win the Grafton Radio Taxi’s Heat, staying wide to claim a five-length win in 23.21 seconds, ahead of Kevin Inglis’ London Lee.
Kulu Royal was the first of a winning double for trainer Clarson, with Kulu Flame snatching victory in the Rod’s Mini Excavation Hire Third and Fourth Grade from box seven.
She worked into second place on the back straight before railing inside Super Toll to speed away by three-and-three-quarter lengths in 27.59 seconds, the equal best time of the day.
This time was also clocked by the John Free-trained Phantom Smiles when he won the Singh Bus Services Fifth Grade from box three by three-and-a-quarter lengths.
He was the first of a winning double for his trainer as Free won the Anne Hunter Accountants First Grade with Smiling Shiraz, beating another Free runner, Brad Rail, by a neck in 27.79 seconds.
Local trainer Ken Neave produced two maidens who look to have more wins in store.
Belles Nightmare claimed the District Brake and Steering Maiden by three lengths in 23.52 seconds, then Young Mister Grace put up a really strong performance to clinch the Highland Pet Foods Maiden.
Young Mister Grace was outside the leader before railing strongly to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths in 23.74 seconds to give Ken and Bridget Neave a winning double.
Current Beaurepaires Trainer of the Year leader Gary Smith had to wait until the last race, the City Centre Newsagency Fourth Grade, to win with Orara Jack by seven-and-a-quarter lengths in 23.04 seconds.
Visiting trainer Roger Green went home with a winner by two lengths when Hanson Shiraz (27.62 seconds) led all the way in the Bailey and Gough Fifth Grade.
Lotsa Dazzle, for trainer Bob Cooke, won the Calstar Bearings Maiden by three-and-three-quarter lengths in 23.61 seconds.
Greg Hancock’s Cee Ya Dude won the Hessions Auto Parts and Accessories Maiden, seven lengths clear in 23.54 seconds.
Our Promise, trained by Gavin Lowe, finished best to win the Westlawn Finance Maiden over 480m by one-and-three-quarter lengths in 28.19 seconds.