FIVE-YEAR-OLD mare Royal Bluff has tested the patience of punters but her trainer Glenn Stevenson has never given up hope.
At her 16th start at Spreyton on Saturday, she finally justified Stevenson's faith with a strong win in the Maiden Plate.
"I told her owner that she was working too well to still be a maiden and I'd be amazed if she didn't run first or second," the trainer said.
"She's always shown ability but every time we've had her right she's drawn a bad barrier."
Royal Bluff drew nicely on Saturday and apprentice Erhan Kacmaz gave her a dream run behind the leader before hitting the front half way up the straight and drawing clear.
"She got a nice cart into the race behind my other runner (Sapphire Storm) but it was still a good effort," Stevenson said.
"I'm rapt that she's finally won a race for Bob Dickson who is a good owner and a good bloke."
Stevenson made it a double on his home track when Classic Outlaw, ridden by Georgie Catania, finished strongly to win the Benchmark 72 Handicap.
In a race that changed complexion quickly over the last 100 metres, the leaders got swamped as Classic Outlaw, O'Reilly's Geegee and Gotta Have Faith all stormed to the line.
It was a mixed day for the Blacker brothers, Troy and John.
Troy produced an impressive winner in Tennessee Drive, a five-year-old unbeaten in two starts.
However he was disappointed that Dream Roller was a late scratching by order of the course vet after sustaining a small graze to his forehead.
John also had his problems, suffering a back seizure while sitting in the grandstand early in the day.
He required medical treatment and the third race had to be delayed, as he had four runners that needed to be saddled.