COROWA sprinter Front Page announced he's back at his best with a devastating victory in the $200,000 Wagga Town Plate (1200m) on Thursday.
Geoff Duryea had been trying to win the Wagga Town Plate for 50 years, firstly as a jockey, then a trainer, and finally ticked it off his bucket list in front of a big crowd at Murrumbidgee Turf Club.
But relief was the overwhelming emotion for Duryea, as the four and a quarter length Town Plate romp proved his stable star was back in business.
The talented five-year-old had been restricted to just four starts in close to two years due to injury, twice being scratched in the week of the $1.3 million Kosciusko.
The money arrived for Front Page, who was backed into favouritism at $3.80, and it proved right as the Corowa visitor looked on from the moment the gates opened.
In a Southern District trifecta, the Mitch Beer-trained Mnementh ($71) ran home into second place, with hometown hope Another One ($4.00) a gallant third.
It was also a special homecoming for apprentice jockey Tyler Schiller, of Young, who produced a faultless ride on Front Page to win his first Town Plate.
Duryea was simply relieved to see his stable star back and firing.
"It's good but I'm more relieved for everyone that he's bounced back," Duryea said.
"Considering how much money everyone's spent, all the people that have helped get him there.
"I knew we had him right everywhere but it was just about his mind, if he'd let down. I said to the guys, if he finds his right form they won't beat him, but, he's got to be smart in the mind and everything.
"I was sitting with my wife (Maureen) and at the 600 I said, 'we're home' here."
Front Page burst onto the scene as a three-year-old, winning the listed Creswick Stakes at Flemington in dominant fashion, prompting connections to knock back more than a million dollars for the horse.
He then was struck down by consecutive setbacks and Duryea feared he might not ever get the real Front Page back.
"Plenty of times," he said.
"I didn't have any doubts in him, I just had a doubt about his head but he erased them the way he jumped, where he settled and at the 600 I said to Maureen 'we're home here' and he was, he was cantering.
"He has a very high cruising speed but when he lets down, he can sprint on the back of that."
Schiller was pumped to win a Wagga Town Plate.
"So good. To win the Albury Cup last month and now the Town Plate this month, around this area, coming back here it's been so good for my career and it's so good to win," Schiller said.
"Geoff's been a great man. He's only given me limited rides but what he has given me is quality, like that horse today. I was very appreciative to get the ride.
"The way he put the others away, he's a very classy horse."
Front Page became the first Southern District horse since Allez Cheval in 2000 to win the Wagga Town Plate.
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