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Howlett springs double surprise at Canberra

Date

Lee Gaskin

Hall trainer Bernie Howlett had double the reason to celebrate with a pair of winners at Thoroughbred Park on Sunday.

Howlett won the second of the seven-race card with Party Dress in the Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m) followed by Rochere's upset win in the Maiden Plate (1000m) in the next event.

Party Dress ($7.40) was brilliantly ridden by apprentice Winona Costin to hold off Satisfies and One More Grand.

It was the seventh win from 16 starts for the four-year-old mare, taking her career prizemoney above $87,000.

Party Dress won her first three starts, all at Canberra, last year, but Sunday's victory was her first since August after a second on the Acton synthetic track and a fourth at Warwick Farm in October.

''We're just trying to place her where we think she can win races,'' Howlett said. ''She's unfortunately crept up in the benchmark and it makes it hard.

Even more surprising was the first-up form of Rochere ($19.20), the three-year-old gelding helping out bookmakers with a stunning upset.

Apprentice Taylor Lovelock-Wiggins came from the widest barrier to hit the line in front of Moral Victory and Law Of The Land.

''He's got a bit of upside to him,'' Howlett said. ''He's been placed in his only barrier trial so he had shown ability, that's for sure.''

Outsiders reigned from the opening race as Candy Tuft ($6.10) won the Class 2 Handicap (1400m) for trainers Barbara Joseph and Paul Jones.

Mugga Malley ($14.90) continued to leave punters frustrated, jockey Richard Bensley doing a great job as a late riding change to win the Class 1 Handicap (1200m) for trainer Aaron Clarke.

Punters finally had something to smile about when odds-on favourite Hold Me Closer ($1.60) took out the Maiden Plate (1300m),

Roughie St Emilion ($15.90) broke through for his first win in nine starts in the Benchmark 60 Handicap (1600m).

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