WATCH THIS SPACE: Toto swoops spoils at Grafton
THERE was plenty of buzz about Toto after the three-year-old romped home to win the $40,000 Jacaranda Hotel Country Showcase Maiden Plate by a length at Grafton on Wednesday.
But it wasn't by how much, but rather how, the $1.90 favourite ridden by Grant Buckley achieved the win that got chins wagging, having badly missed the start of the 1000m sprint.
Emotional owner and breeder Peter Cruickshank praised Muswellbrook trainer Todd Howlett's efforts to bring the gelding back from a tendon injury.
"There's a lot of hype about it him and when he missed the start again, I'm sorry I did swear quite profoundly," said Mr Cruickshank, who bred the Manhatten Rain from Outofafrika gelding from his Wollombi farm.
"He's a lovely horse, he's going to be a very smart horse.
"To win that race the way he won it, that tells you what type of horse he is. Let the horse do the talking, not me. But it's very exciting, let me tell you.
"Special thanks goes to Todd because he did a tendon, and we gave him 14 months off. Todd and the people on the ground back at the stables at Singleton, they've done an absolute great job with this bloke, and it's full credit to Todd and the groundstaff."
It was the second race in a row Toto had a poor start with a similar mishap in his long-awaited return to racing on June 20 at Scone, where he managed to recover to finish second behind Remlaps Gem.
Somewhat overshadowed by Toto's glorious showing was an equally impressive effort by runner up Crackerjack Kenny ($21, Belinda Hodder). Immediately after Toto missed the start, Crackerjack Kenny dropped off the pace sharply and had even more groud to recover, before launching a late charge of the heels of Toto to relegate the pace setter Marshall Dillon ($4.80, Matt McGuren) to third.