Classy pacer Cool Water Paddy bounced back from a disappointing Victorian campaign to score a dominant win in a strong Free-For-All at Mowbray on Sunday night.
The Juanita McKenzie-trained five-year-old was untroubled to lead from barrier 3 and cruised home by almost 13m from his main rivals Scooterwillrev and Lip Reader.
Cool Water Paddy was a beaten favourite at two runs at Melton in June but was clearly not the horse he had been in Tasmania.
"He was well below his best and had a bit of a minor issue when he came back so we gave him a break," McKenzie said.
"He was probably ready to go a few weeks ago, but I waited because I had Watchmylips running in the open-class races."
Punters were confident the trainer made the right decision and, despite the quality of his opposition, backed Cool Water Paddy from $2.50 to $2.35 favourite.
Scooterwillrev was excellent first-up from a second row draw and Lip Reader ran home gamely after settling at the rear but they were never going to catch the leader when driver Ricky Duggan got away with sectionals of 33.8 and 30.7 before sprinting home in 28.3 and 27.4.
Melnrowley showed her customary grit to score a narrow win in the quickest of two heats of the $50,000 Bandbox Stakes.
The Craig Hayes-trained filly started from outside the front row and driver Gareth Rattray pressed forward to find the lead entering the back straight.
Last season's Sires Stake winner, who stifled betting at $1.35, just held on to beat outsider Most Perfect Major by a head in 2:01.8.
Barooga Rock started even shorter in the second heat after firming from $1.65 to $1.20 and, like Melnrowley, showed plenty of fight to get home by 2m but in a much slower 2:04.3.
The Ian Abraham-trained filly was headed off early by Nova Baxter but driver Natalee Emery regained the lead with about 1700m to travel.
Living On Prare was a gutsy second after racing in the death while Nova Baxter was close up third and is still looking for a run.
The two heats of the Globe Derby Stakes saw two easy all-the-way wins but nothing to suggest Longfellow doesn't have a stranglehold on the $50,000 final in a fortnight.
Longfellow, driven by Natalee Emery for leading Victorian trainer Emma Stewart, sat in the death before strolling to the front at the 600m and going on to win the first heat by almost 40m.
Rocknovertime, driven by Ricky Duggan for Old Beach trainer Paul Hill, led all the way to win the second heat by 11-1/2m.
Both were unextended but there was a notable difference in their overall times, with Longfellow recording 2:42.9 and Rocknovertime 2:44.6.
Longfellow was bred by the Rattray Family Trust and if he takes out the final it will be the sixth time in the past 10 years that family members have had some association with the winner.
Leading syndicator Denise Martin didn't have any luck with her two best Tasmanian horses Newhart and Deroche over the Melbourne spring carnival but produced a rising star at Flemington on Oaks Day.
Her three-year-old Chris Waller-trained filly Espiona demolished her rivals by 6-1/2 lengths in the listed Desirable Stakes at only her second start.
She was one of 10 winners for Melbourne Cup week for the all-conquering James McDonald.
Martin's company Star Thoroughbreds paid $190,000 for Espiona as a yearling and retains a share.
However Martin revealed the daughter of Extreme Choice didn't initially catch her eye at the 2020 Magic Millions sale on the Gold Coast.
"I thought originally she was a little small, like her dad, and I wasn't committed to buying her but then after another look, I fell in love with her," she said.
Martin said she had not owned a horse that had shown so much potential early in their career since her 2008 Golden Slipper winner Sebring.
"We have lofty ambitions for her," she said.
The Simons Carpet One Gold Collar, first run at White City in 1938, has always been won by a good young greyhound - many of the winners going on to bigger and better things.
And judging by the entrants for 2021, Monday night's final at Mowbray could well throw up some serious stars of the future.
Trainers Ben Englund and Gary Fahey each have thee runners in the Tasbred feature event.
Just May Be, a daughter of Sh Avatar and Social Sally trained by Fahey at Mangalore, has won three of her four starts and is two from two at the track and distance.
The Launceston Breeders Classic winner looks to have inherited her sire's strength, judging by the manner in which she went to the line in Hobart last start while defeating Self Control by 8-1/4 lengths in 26.14secs.
The one concern is that she has Rojo Diamond, a noted wide runner, drawn to her inside.
The Greyhound Recorder predicted market has Just May Be, who will exit from box three, at $4.00 behind Rojo Diamond at $2.50.
Wynburn Ruby, for Wynyard-based Englund, looks the top pick of the Wynburn trio and is quoted at $4.20.
She reportedly trialled in 29.52 at her first look around the track.
As is the case with Just May Be, the draw is the only concern. She will jump from box 7 and her supporters will want to see her go down to the rail as Wynburn Stroller (box 6) doesn't always go straight and could cause a bit of carnage.
Englund is chasing his third victory in the series and one of his previous winners was Wynburn Ruby's dam Wynburn Cutie in 2017.
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