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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

A win and a second placing from back marks in stands at Northam in recent weeks proved the ideal preparation for Texas Tara to contest the $20,250 Simmonds Steel Decorative Screens Handicap, a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The New Zealand-bred five-year-old was good value at $12.90 and was driven confidently by his part-owner and trainer Luke Edwards when he was successful by a nose in an exciting photo finish, holding on to defeat $61 outsider The Verandah, who flew home, out six wide.

Yankee Lincoln, the $2.50 favourite, set a solid pace after establishing a five-length lead over his nearest rival, Texas Tara, 400m after the start. Glenledi Chief, the 40m backmarker, sustained a strong burst from the rear to move to second at the 300m, but it was Texas Tara, getting off the pegs and keeping Glenledi Chief out wide, who got to the front on the home turn. Glenledi Chief battled on manfully to finish third.

Edwards said that he was quite happy to let Yankee Lincoln establish, and maintain, his considerable lead. “Sometimes Texas Tara needs time to find his feet and go through his gears,” he said. “It was probably a combination of keeping him comfortable and not doing too much work early, as well.

“Ideally, I wanted to be on a helmet, but you’ve got to keep Texas Tara in his gear as well. He’s not the easiest horse to drive. He went through a stage when he wouldn’t get away in stands. So, we went to mobiles before going back to stands off back marks in the country when he was getting away a lot better. He has had really bad feet problems, but they are not affecting him now.”

Texas Tara had two starts (both in stands) in New Zealand for one win, and he now has won four stands in WA. He is owned by Edwards in partnership with his main stable client Mel King and Bernard Mrozewski, and he now has raced 38 times for nine wins, nine placings and $61,564 in prizemoney.

His win on Friday night was his first in a metropolitan-class event. His half-brother Tango Tara was a winner at Mildura the previous Friday night which improved his record to 58 starts for 12 wins, 22 placings and stakes of $238,390.