APPRENTICE Elyce Smith claimed a career highlight with a daring ride to snatch the $85,000 Townsville Cup (2000m) on August 14.
Riding Shiranda (Bernardini USA-Permeate GB) for Mackay-based trainer John Manzelmann, Smith refused to surrender in a crowded finish as they scraped home.
Shiranda ($7.50) had a nose to spare over the runner-up Tunero ($21) with Kuttamurra Al ($13) another half length back, third.
It was Shiranda's 10th win at his 44th start and the $48,800 winning cheque pushed his raceday pay beyond $230,000.
But things might have been different.
After beginning smartly Shiranda settled down in fourth spot behind Follow Suit, striding smoothly.
However, he was pushed wide as the field rounded the first turn and Smith worked overtime to get the gelding back on track.
They regained composure before the halfway mark and Shiranda bowled along behind the leading division.
Just before the final bend, Smith set Shiranda alight and they ranged alongside Follow Suit with Kuttamurra Al pressing on the outside.
Shiranda took the lead with about 300m remaining and stuck gamely to his guns despite a flashing, late burst by Tunero.
Shiranda, once part of the Darren Weir stable in regional Victoria, joined the Manzelmann stable in December, 2018.
Lately he has been a busy campaigner, managing successive thirds in Rockhampton on July 7 and 17 before banking a win and place cheque from consecutive Mackay runs on July 21 and 31.
He finished unplaced over a middle distance at Doomben on August 8 in final lead-up to Townsville.
Smith's victory continues an amazing run. She has been a stellar performer in central Queensland and at an Emerald meeting in April rode an astonishing six winners on the program.
Former bushie Deadly Choices (Golden Snake-Magic Idol) had rivals wait for him before the $65,000 Cleveland Bay Handicap (1300m) and then gave them a galloping lesson.
He was ridden by Nathan Day,
Deadly Choices, previously trained by Damien Finter, was a problem to load into the barriers and forced a delay to the start of the feature sprint.
But in the home straight he gave nothing a chance as he stormed to the wire, proving best by two lengths with Langhro and Drumbeat's Choice running second and third, respectively.