VETERAN galloper Lockmar has won his first race for more than two years by claiming the Carrathool Cup with a breezy run on Saturday.
The Trevor Sutherland-trained nine-year-old was untroubled, leading all the way to take the $14,500 prize in the feature race and finishing a whopping nine-and-a-half lengths in front.
Sutherland entered Lockmar into the lower-grade race in an attempt to get the gelding back on track, having struggled since returning from a tendon injury that kept him out of racing for 12 months.
The decision has worked wonders for Sutherland, who now has hopes of Lockmar returning to his best form after the drought-breaking triumph on Carrathool's iconic dirt track.
"They told me he'd never race again," he said.
"It's been a lot of work to get him back but I was confident in the horse and where he was at.
"He just needed a few runs to regain his confidence in his leg.
"I'm super-happy with the way he went and pulled up, and went about it. It's a great effort and credit to him."
The heavy favourite for the 1400m race, Lockmar jumped straight into the lead and was only two lengths in front on the bend, but stormed home to complete a dream run, leaving second-placed Minou and third Zellemsee in his dust.
Sutherland was full of praise for apprentice jockey Brooke Sweeney, who rode the veteran to perfection after some sage pre-race advice.
"He's a lovely old horse, he knows what he's doing and like a lot of them old horses, you talk to them and work in their mind," he said.
"You don't have to flog them or bash them, it doesn't work.
"Like I said to Brooke, 'you just talk to him, you just click him up and tell him to go when you want. He'll do everything you want'.
"She listened and she rode him brilliantly, well done to her."
Sutherland said he was yet to decide on where Lockmar would go from here, but was confident the program to come will suit him nicely.
"At his peak he can go with anything in all the better races," he said.
"We haven't picked anything just yet but there's lots of options with carnivals in Albury, Canberra and Wagga coming up."
Griffith apprentice jockey Chynna Marston was set for a run in the Carrathool Cup but her horse Artistic was a late scratching after playing up in the barriers.
But Marston did finish a winner after riding Gino D'Altorio's Imposing Vein to a tight victory in the third race, finishing a length-and-a-half clear of Dane Sweeper and Ahorsecalledmexico.
The day got off to a cracking start for Sutherland's stable after Loves to Listen and Totally Alert won the first two races of the day.
"She's a work in progress," Sutherland said of Loves to Listen.
"We gave her a little break but since then she's run two third-places and won yesterday.
"She's pulled up well, well-behaved - she's a mare that'll just go on from strength to strength as she gets older."
Meanwhile, in the races Carrathool is perhaps better known for - the Jackeroo Sprint and the Jilleroo Dash - the winners were Harry Robinson and Ua Ravu.
Despite a lower-than-expected attendance, with many punters no doubt turned off by the scorching heat, Sutherland said he was pleased to see the Carrathool Jockey Club back on its feet after three abandonments in the last four years.
"The track was in great order, they did really well with that and everyone involved deserves a lot of praise," he said.
"It's great for the club, the stewards and the jockeys.
"The crowd might have been down a little bit but it picked up in the late afternoon."