Athena's Lad wins on debut at Narromine for Michael Mulholland

ON THE WAY: Valree goes past the post to win at Narromine on Wednesday, a meeting which featured a number of surprises. Photo: ZAARKACHA MARLAN
ON THE WAY: Valree goes past the post to win at Narromine on Wednesday, a meeting which featured a number of surprises. Photo: ZAARKACHA MARLAN

This is the time of year where Country Championships contenders emerge and Michael Mulholland just might have one on his hands.

It's very early days but Athena's Lad showed plenty of promise when winning on debut for Mulholland in the Alan Lloyd Memorial Maiden Handicap (1300m) at Narromine on Wednesday.

Athena's Lad went into the event having had just the one trial for the Wellington trainer but showed a real turn of foot when storming down the extreme outside to win by more than a length at Narromine.

"He'll most likely have one more start and then a freshen up," Mulholland told Sky Thoroughbred Central after the win.

"We'll see how he goes and if he wins then we might go for the championships."

It was easy to see why Mulholland has a high opinion of the three-year-old gelding on Wednesday.

Sitting near last for much of the early stages after starting from out in gate 11, jockey Anthony Cavallo began to urge Athena's Lad on from the 800m mark.

He moved around the outside as the field began to round the bend for home and was within striking distance but the time they entered the straight.

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There was work to be done but the three-year-old did it will, going on to beat Brunela ($2.70 favourite) and Cloudless Sky ($17).

"He found the line really well," Mulholland said.

"He hasn't got a real lot of pace out of the gates. The horse is going to be better over more ground in time but it was just sit back, let him relax, and then see how he went."

Athena's Lad was somewhat of a surprise winner when saluting at $7.50 but that was nothing compared to some of the other early upsets.

Three of the four winners ran at double-digit odds and two of those were hometown hopes scoring long-awaited victories.

You Know Zon took out the day's first event for Justin Stanley in what was his 38th career start.

You Know Zon, a $21 hope, took out the Ag N Vet Maiden Plate (800m) when winning from Harabel ($21) and Electrostep ($10).

The fourth race of the day also saw a drought broken.

Bansuri ($15) took out the Narromine Shire Council Class 1 and Maiden Plate (1600m), having not won in 32 career starts leading in.

Trained at the track by Kylie Kennedy, Bansuri won from Ticket To El Aye ($26) and A Krupt Pick ($12).

It was a popular result for the locals as the top three placegetters are all Narromine-trained.

The Rushweld Engineering Open Handicap (1300m) was billed as the race of the day and in that one Rodney Northam claimed victory.

Northam's Valree ($6) had been racing in provincial events but dropped back in grade and proved too strong when running on from midfield to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

Desert Marshal ($3 favourite) and De La Hoya ($6) filled the placings.

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