EMOTIONAL scenes followed Jason Maskiell's freakish comeback win on debutant Apache Son in the Maiden Plate at Mowbray yesterday.
The former leading apprentice put the most difficult period of his life behind him as he came from a seemingly hopeless position to land the money with his first ride for 10 months.
Maskiell has been sidelined by personal problems and a lengthy suspension, and some members of his family were reduced to tears by his successful return.
It came in exceptional circumstances, as Apache Son, the heavily backed favourite, was tailed off last in the early stages and looked a forlorn hope.
``He got checked at the start - they really sandwiched him, which is why he got so far back,'' Maskiell said.
``He worked his way back into the race quite nicely but, even well into the home straight, I thought the best he could do was run second.
``But he dug deep.''
Apache Son collared the leader Memo, who was three lengths in front at the 100 metres, and raced away to win easily.
``We always knew the horse had talent,'' Maskiell said.
``He's still very immature but we thought if he brought his A game to the races he'd be hard to beat because it was a pretty weak field.''
It was a fitting result, as Maskiell has been working for Spreyton trainer Vicki Rhind since making his comeback and she prepared the winner.
Maskiell intends to ride in Tasmania until at least the end of the season before returning to Victoria, where he was the leading apprentice and second on the senior jockeys' table in 2009-10.
Patience pays: Longford trainer Ed Pressnell was rewarded for his patience with a troublesome mare when Our Lieveling won the Class 1 Plate.
It was the former jockey's first win as a trainer.
Pressnell said Our Lieveling had been in half a dozen stables during her 20-start career.
``No one could get her to the races - she's broken down about three times,'' he said.
``And they couldn't get anyone to ride her either.
``She'd flip over backwards.
``At one stage I think she was pretty much marked `never to race again'.''
Pressnell said he had persevered with the mare because he knew she had ability.
``It's taken two years for me to get her act together,'' he said.
``And about 14 starts to educate her and work out what she likes.''
Pressnell, 42, has worked in racing for most of his adult life.
He was based on the Sunshine Coast before moving to Tasmania.
As a jockey, he rode work for the likes of Lee Freedman and Bart Cummings and he's dabbled in pretraining, breaking and educating horses.
``A while ago, I figured it was about time I tried to make a few dollars for myself, so I started training my own horses,'' he said.
``This mare is the only one I've got racing but I've got a couple of two-year-olds as well.
``I'm waiting for them to grow.''
Our Lieveling was well ridden by Justin Haitana and defied her long odds by scoring by almost five lengths.
Key to success: Trainer Leon Wells was left marvelling at the performance of Key Of The Nile after she overcame extreme difficulties to win the Bill Dunstone Memorial.
``She was stood on her head at the 600m - it was a massive effort to still win,'' Wells said.
Key Of The Nile is one of several horses sent to Wells by Victorian trainers Brian Johnston and Fran Houlahan, and their third recent winner.
They've also had success with Alice Alice and Unoaked (twice).
``This one is not a bad little galloper,'' Wells said.
``There's nothing of her - she's only 15 hands - but she hasn't run a bad race since she's been here.
``These horses get a little drop in grade when they come to Tasmania, yet can still race for very similar prizemoney to Victoria.''
Wells said the two-kilogram claim for apprentice Rasit Yetimova was a big advantage for a small horse.
``It always helps, especially in winter,'' he said.