It was a good day for Team Dennett at Barraba Racecourse on Saturday.
Amid the mammoth task of establishing a new home and stables, while also raising two young children, Tamworth trainer Melissa Dennett and her life and business partner, Brody Cummins, celebrated Dennett's first Barraba Cup triumph after Ballast's win.
The New Zealand-born trainer - who was a track rider at Gai Waterhouse's famed stables at Tulloch Lodge before moving to Tamworth - has 12 horses in work.
Over the past three months she, Cummins and Cummins' family have been setting up the couple's stables at the property they bought near Tamworth Regional Airport. The couple live there with Jayce, 2, and Hayley, seven months.
"So it's all been a big change," Dennett said. "It's a lot of work. So it was good to get some winners yesterday [Saturday]."
In the Barraba Cup, Tamworth apprentice Jackson Searle had to improvise after the plan to lead the $16,000 1400m feature went out the window, with the nine-year-old gelding beating the Terry Vidler-trained Terrius (Shane Arnold) by just over half a length.
The Peter Sinclair-trained Liberty Head (Brooke Stower) was two and a half lengths away in third place.
Two races earlier, Searle rode the Dennett-trained Unitary to victory in a class one handicap over 1200m.
She had previously never won a race at Barraba, where Cummins hails from.
"It was a good tough win in the Cup," she said of Ballast's 10th victory in 70 starts.
Searle, she said, "used his initiative" after the race plan was scrapped. The second-year apprentice also won the first two races at the six-race non-TAB meeting, abroad the Robert Bandy-trained Bayendi and the Jane Clement-trained Rapid Eagle.
Dennett said: "He's a level-headed kid, very well balanced and has a very good race brain."
Dennett also praised Cummins for his work with Ballast, whom she said was not "an easy horse to train". In fact, "he's a bit of an old sh*t of a horse".
She added: "That's the reason we got given the horse to train [last year], so Brody could ride him, because he's a handful. Brody's done a good job to get him to the races each time."
Ballast has career prize money of more than $156,000.
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