Gamble pays off

CHAMPION Queanbeyan trainer Frank Cleary made the perfect seek and destroy mission to Cowra when his promising filly Rustle of Silk won the Cowra Rotary Maiden Plate over 950 metres on Saturday.

With just the one horse making the journey for the stable, Cleary was confident his bay three-year-old had the goods to make the trip worthwhile heading home with a 100 per cent winning record on the day.

"I can safely say, every horse we saddled up today won," he said.

"She's been working really well. We bought her in Melbourne and she's had a couple of nice races in provincials and her work since coming up here has improved each week.

"We saw a 950m race here and thought that was ideal for her."

Wollongong-based jockey Troy Phillips pushed forward from the jump and controlled the tempo on the rails before bursting clear in the straight to win by three lengths in 55.46 seconds from Nullaar (Tiffany Jeffries) with the Danny Parsons-trained Eenie Gran two and a quarter lengths further back.

Cleary said dragging Phillips out of virtual retirement for the ride paid dividends.

"When she drew the one alley, I thought I'd call Troy and put him on a winner and you know what, no-one could have ridden her any better.

"He rode her great - balanced up, nursed her around the turn and kicked clear in the run for home. You can't ride her much better than that."

Cleary believes his filly could have the makings to run against stiffer opposition in the future.

"She's well-bred [Street Boss (USA) x Mirror Image], but you never know until you throw them in the deep end what they can do," he said.

"We'll probably run her at Queanbeyan on the third of March - there's an 1100m - and just see what steps she takes and, if she progresses any further, I might look for a mid-week in town."

With a Golden Slipper, Magic Millions and Black Opal winners on his resume, Cleary boasts an enviable training record over his forty years in the business, but is enjoying his downsized operation.

"I'm really happy with her. The family own her - we bought her off Contract Racing - and we can just take her wherever we want to go," he said.

"If we want to go to the Bedgerebong Picnics we can and have a bit of fun. That's what racing's about in the country.

"I've had my days in the city but I'm enjoying it just as much coming here."

Cleary heaped praise on the curators for their excellent preparation of a track rated a good three in trying times.

"The track is magnificent," he said. "I went and had a walk on it when we arrived and said 'Jeez, this is unbelievable', particularly in the drought we're having, they've done a wonderful job."

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