Courtney Pace was back to business as usual at Woolamai on Saturday.
The reigning picnic jockey premier had been experiencing an uncharacteristically long drought in the saddle heading into the Woolamai Cup meeting.
In her defence, she was still training winners during those four winless weeks.
But Pace was back to her winning ways at Woolamai, claiming a hat-trick of wins including the day’s feature, the Alex Scott & Staff Woolamai Cup.
The cup race itself was a killer, with a capacity field stacked with quality picnic campaigners including a couple of past winners in Keep Happy and Lardner Lou.
Anita Bell took Diamond the Lad to the lead before the first turn and stretched the field out down the back of the course.
Pace, meanwhile, was happy to travel three wide at the rear of the field on Riley’s Rocket.
Deb Waymouth led the charge at the home turn on Keep Happy, while Healesville Cup winner Sommernachtstraum lifted from well back to charge down the outside.
It was a duel to the line between the German import and Riley’s Rocket, but Paul Kramer’s gelding did just enough to hold off the charging German by a nose.
It was Pace’s third win of the day — and third in succession. She had saluted on a pair of Kelvin Southey runners in races three and four.
My Running Mate picked up a fifth win of the picnic season to keep pace with Team Waymouth’s Ten Times, the winner of race one, in the hunt for picnic horse of the year.
Both horses have five wins, but Ten Times has the better strike rate, having done it in just six starts.
Pace delivered Southey a second win for the day on Lightning Tiara, a recent transfer from Mount Gambier trainer Chris Oxlade, in race four.
Aside from Pace’s exploits, the day’s most impressive effort belonged to Ray Caldwell’s resurgent stayer Mr Gogarty in the last on the card.
The horse, who hadn’t won a race in more than two years, now has three wins in succession and all of them at Woolamai.
Saturday’s effort was over 2300 metres and he never looked in danger, recording a win that was the mirror image of his first effort at Woolamai last month.
Maddison Morris has now had two rides on Mr Gogarty for a combined winning margin of 24½ lengths.
The picnic circuit heads into the hills this weekend for Saturday’s Buchan Cup.