Once she got her head in front, even though the other filly kicked on, she was never going to let it get past her.- Driver Natalee Emery on Bandbox Stakes winner Barooga Rock
Latrobe driver Natalee Emery achieved a career milestone at Mowbray on Sunday night when she landed a group 2 double.
And, it came on two horses she said she never expected to be driving.
Emery won the $50,000 Bandbox Stakes on Barooga Rock for Waterhouse trainer Ian Abraham and the $50,000 Globe Derby Stakes on Longfellow for Victorian trainer Emma Stewart.
"I'm really thankful to Ian and Emma for putting me on," she said.
Both horses started favourite but both had to work for their wins.
Tough filly Barooga Rock overcame a wide run over the last lap to score by just under a length.
Barooga Rock and the leader Nova Baxter staged a two-horse war over the last 450m and favourite-backers might have been worried when Nova Baxter refused to surrender.
But Emery wasn't.
"Once she got her head in front, even though the other filly kicked on, she was never going to let it get past her," Emery said.
"The only time I was worried was in the run when she wasn't on the bit like I thought she would have been.
"But she's a very relaxed filly and she just gets the job done.
"She's only little but she takes everything in her stride and I think that's the key to her."
Barooga Rock was bred by Abraham and his wife Vicki who also race her.
The family has enjoyed great success over many years with the 'Barooga' horses and, with five wins from eight starts, Barooga Rock is well on the way to being another topliner.
The third horse across the line, Living On Prare, was relegated to last for racing inside the marker pegs.
Longfellow was sent out at $1.12 in the Globe Derby and, although anyone game enough to take those odds might have had a momentary heart flutter when he took a while to shake off the leader, Emery again wasn't concerned.
"Not really," she said.
"He does seem to labour a little bit then, once you switch him on, he says 'OK, I need to do a job now' and he gets it done.
"I thought he went super."
Emery said it was always the plan to work around the field and settle in the death.
"It just keeps him out of trouble and keeps him happy," she said.
Longfellow had 6-1/2m to spare on the line over the leader Rocknovertime who ran a bold race with rank outsider Jack James sneaking into third at odds of $71.
Hes Apples has been an under-rated two-year-old according to driver Dylan Ford but he got his overdue feature-race win in the $15,000 Golden Slipper.
"I've always said he's been good - he just hasn't been tractable," Ford said after the Tammy Langley-trained gelding easily accounted for stablemate Pawnbrokers lad and Sports Illustrator.
"He's had issues getting through corners and things like that but he made up a lot of ground in those bigger races.
"He's got raw ability and he's pretty versatile."
Hes Apples raced in the death from the bell and eventually headed off leader Gethomeroy in the home straight.
"He looked flat on the corner but once he straightened he knew what it was about," Ford said.
Consistent mare Lavaughn completed a winning hat-trick in the $12,000 Shirley Martin Mother Of Pearl which may have earned her a trip away.
"There a couple of mares' races coming up in Melbourne so, if she pulls up well, we may send her over there for a bit of a sniff," trainer Conor Crook said.
Despite drawing barrier 2, Crook didn't rush the $1.70 favourite out of the gate, settling one-out, two back before taking off about 1200m out.
"They weren't going hard so I was happy to go around to the death," he said.
The leader Better Amour gave a good kick before Lavaughn drew clear to score by a length.
Gotta Good Reason made a memorable debut for Brighton trainer Mark Reggett when he won the $12,000 Doug Martin Danbury Park Cup at odds of $81.
The seven-year-old stepped to the front from barrier 2 for Conor Crook and was never headed as he scored his first win since March 2020.
He held out the fast-finishing Cool Water Paddy (20m) by 3m with favourite Ryley Major (30m) a further 3m away third after making an early move to the death.
Crook said he was only "a little bit" surprised by the win.
"I thought he was probably the pick of those off the front mark," Crook said.
"The 2600m probably brings the backmarkers into it but Mark was really confident with him.
"He jumped on the bunny and got cheap enough sections through the middle (stages).
"He did a really good job to find a kick at the top of the straight."
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