THE group one-winning training partnership of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig has surged to the lead of the Southern District Racing Association (SDRA) trainer's premiership.
A winning double at Corowa on Tuesday moved the Euroa-based team to the lead, one ahead of Wagga trainer Trevor Sutherland approaching the halfway point of the season.
Tom Dabernig revealed the surge up the premiership was no coincidence with the powerful operation making a decision to send more horses across the border in recent times.
"We have found that travelling across the border suits us and it's a relatively easy trip," Dabernig said.
"Tracks like Wagga and Albury are nicely shaped tracks. In the past when we went from Melbourne to NSW, some horses had trouble adjusting to that way of going but we find they're happy and have adjusted well to those tracks.
"We've also linked with Blaike McDougall as well and he's been going well. We do our own form as well but his knowledge of these tracks has been very good...so we've been tapping into his knowledge and when we're in form and he's in form, it's a pretty good combination."
The Hayes-Dabernig team expect to continue regular trips to the SDRA and hope to maintain their results.
"We're enjoying it," Dabernig said.
"Where we were initially dipping our feet in the water, we're now going there with a bit of confidence."
TUMUT Turf Club will use it's first TAB meeting in 19 years to raise funds for those affected by the bushfires.
All going well, Tumut will race on Saturday. It will be the club's first TAB meeting in 19 years, after the races were originally postponed from January 4.
Entry will be a gold coin donation with all funds raised to go directly to the Community Foundation for Tumut Region Dunns Road bushfire appeal.
Goulburn trainers Emma and Lucy Longmire, of Twin Star Racing, have already kicked the fundraising off with a donation of $500.
The club has received 85 nominations for the six-race card with fields to be out on Thursday.
The $15,000 Ray White Tumut Mile (1600m) is the feature event and has attracted the likes of Great Glen, Contaminated, Let It Roll and Tobermory.
Great Glen has been given the top weight of 61 kilograms.
Southern District chief steward Jason Schulz said the meeting will proceed as planned and a decision on the smoke, should one need to be made, will happen on Saturday morning.
The club have organised plenty of entertainment for the whole family on the day.
WAGGA trainer Wayne Carroll was happy with the return of Rock 'N' Roller at the trials last week.
Rock 'N' Roller was one of several Country Championships hopefuls that trialled after the last at Murrumbidgee Turf Club last Thursday.
Rock 'N' Roller was ridden by Blaike McDougall and came from last on the turn to finish a close third.
Carroll will send Rock 'N' Roller to the $40,000 TAB Federal Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m) at Canberra on Friday week.
"He'll go there and then we'll reassess what he needs before the Championships," Carroll said.
"He's a better horse kept fresh."
The $150,000 SDRA Country Championships Qualifier will be held at Albury on February 22.
Carroll also had Lady Mironton return to the stables this week after a brief freshen up after her second placing in the Ted Ryder Cup.
Carroll will give the mare every opportunity to run in the $200,000 Wagga Gold Cup (2000m) in May.
ALBURY trainer Donna Scott is happy with the way Bennelong Dancer has returned this preparation.
The SDRA Country Championships Qualifier defending champion won the trial at Corowa on Tuesday.
It was her first public hit-out after a brief, yet disappointing, campaign earlier this season.
The six-year-old mare is being set for a third crack at the Country Championships after running second in the 2018 heat, and then winning the Albury edition last year.
She also went on to run third in the $500,000 final last year, after finishing fourth the year before.
While she was up against predominantly maidens in the trial, Scott was happy with what she produced.
"I was happy. It's always hard in trials like that against a lot of unraced ones," Scott said.
"She did all that was asked of her. I'm a lot happier with her this prep than I was last time. Last prep was a learning curve but I'm really happy with her."
Bennelong Dancer was ridden to victory by Danielle Scott in the trial.
Scott has now several options to weigh up as she prepares Bennelong Dancer's path to the Albury qualifier.
She had a lead-up run picked out at Caulfield on February 1 but is also considering heading to the Championships Preview at Albury on February 4, or going in fresh on the back of another trial.
Meantime, stablemate Lord Von Costa will run at Flemington on Saturday.
After resuming with a good second at Flemington last month, Lord Von Costa will contest the $125,000 Benchmark 84 Handicap (1200m) with Blaike McDougall in the saddle.
FORMER top jockey John Kissick loved every minute of his return to the trials at Wagga last week.
Kissick returned to the trials after more than three years on the sidelines after suffering a fractured spine riding a steer.
It might only have been a trial, but Kissick immediately tasted that winning feeling, claiming victory on the Trevor Sutherland-trained Real Key.
Kissick rode another four trials at Tatura on Tuesday and maintains his goal of returning to race riding in March.
"Yeah I loved it," Kissick said.
"It confirmed it's what I still want to do and that I've got the fire in the belly to get out there and compete.
"All going well, I'd hope to be back by March."
TALENTED Corowa mare News Girl made a rare public appearance in the Southern District on Tuesday.
News Girl had an exhibition gallop in between races at Corowa on Tuesday.
The four-year-old mare impressed on her home track ahead of her next assignment at Caulfield on Saturday week, January 25.
MAN Of Peace provided another highlight for connections with a second Saturday city win last Saturday.
The former Wagga galloper led all the way to capture the $125,000 Benchmark 78 Handicap (1500m).
CRAIG Widdison's four-year-old Banger broke through for a midweek metropolitan win at Sandown last week.
Widdison is a regular in the Southern District despite training across the border at Wodonga.
The gelding was bred by Kooringal Stud with stud manager Angus Lamont in the ownership.
Saturday: Tumut (TAB)
Tuesday: Wagga (TAB)
Saturday: Junee (TAB)
Tuesday: Young (TAB)