THERE may have been only five runners but the Tattsbet.Com Stakes at Mowbray last night did justice to its $100,000 stake.
It saw Tasmania's two outstanding mares Rebel Bride and Black N Tough fight out a thrilling finish, with Rebel Bride prevailing by only a short half-head.
They finished a length in front of gallant four-year-old Mister John with Sydney visitor Youthful Jack, unable to match the acceleration of the locals, in fourth place.
Stephen Maskiell made the winning move when he took Rebel Bride straight to the front from her outside barrier.
Brendon McCoull was content to sit outside him on Black N Tough.
Half way up the straight, Rebel Bride looked set for a comfortable win but Black N Tough lifted in the closing stages.
Leon Wells, who prepares both mares, said it was impossible to fault either.
``They are both stars,'' he said.
``Rebel Bride found plenty under pressure and, being a gross doer, she will be improved further by the run.
``And, Black N Tough's effort, coming back from 1600 metres at her previous start, was brilliant.
``She was really strong over the last 200m.
Chris Wickham, who owns both mares, was equally impressed.
``There's not a length between them and whatever gets the best run in the race will win,'' he said.
``We will keep them apart for a while now - Rebel Bride will go to the Bow Mistress then the Vamos Stakes and Black N Tough will run in the Thomas Lyons.''
BRENDON McCoull made amends for his narrow defeat on Black N Tough when he stormed home on smart filly Iggimacool to win the $30,000 TTC 1000 Guineas.
Iggimacool had to come wide on the home turn but was still able to run down heavily-backed favourite At The Weekend who also had to race wide for most of the 1600m.
Trainer Bill Ryan revealed after the race that connections of the winner had knocked backed a $100,000 offer for the filly earlier this season.
``It was a lot of money for a horse that was still eligible for class 1 so I'm really pleased for the owners that she's now won a good race,'' Ryan said.
``Hopefully, she can go on with it and prove competitive in the Strutt Stakes and Tasmanian Oaks.
``We've always thought she was up to that level.''
Third favourite Spinning Jenny, who finished fifth, was chopped out in the home straight and her rider Siggy Carr protested against both the second and third placegetters.
LONGFORD trainer John Blacker hasn't looked back since returning from Victoria and was in the winner's stall again after the Launceston Mitsubishi 3YO Maiden.
After being runner-up at his first two starts in Tasmania, Blacker's consistent colt Our Casanova broke through with a narrow win.
The trainer believes that the son of Statue Of Liberty can now go on with the job.
``It was a good win - he ran good time and fought on well after sitting outside the leader (Pisa Work),'' Blacker said.
``The two front-runners ran the quinella, with race fitness probably telling the story at the finish.''
Blacker's other runner, first-starter Digger's Dame - a well-bred filly that sold for $60,000 as a yearling - came from tailed-off last to finish fifth in an eye-catching performance.
WELL-BRED four-year-old Mister Baldock fulfilled the expectations of trainer Terry Roles when he won the Autubarn Benchmark 62 Handicap.
``He's out of a good stayer that I trained called Sinodal and I always thought that he could win a race over this distance (2100 metres),'' Roles said.
``We've always known that he had ability but he's got a stack of problems.
``Trying to work out his head is the biggest.''
Roles said that the secret to Mister Baldock was getting him to relax in his races and jockey David Pires achieved that goal last night.
``As a result, the horse was able to finish off well,'' the trainer said.
``He's only a lightly-framed horse so it is easy to over-train him but I have had to step up his work a bit lately because he's been getting above himself in condition.''
Most of the owners of Mister Baldock also raced Sinodal, a versatile mare whose 12 wins ranged from 1175m to 2400m.
The three placegetters in last night's race were all long odds, resulting in a $6400 trifecta on Tattsbet.
Len's Luck, the $3.60 favourite, had no luck and his unplaced run should be forgiven.