EMMY'S Our Girl ($8.50) gave Todd Howlett's mother, Geraldine, a late birthday present when she led all the way for Mikayla Weir to win the $40,000 John Deere-PVM Country Maiden (1000m) at Muswellbrook on Sunday.
Last November, the Muswellbrook-based trainer gave his mum a share in the mare as a birthday gift.
"It was a lovely surprise from Todd," she said.
"He is doing so well as a trainer, we are so proud of him."
Weir elected to go straight to the lead, which left Howlett momentarily worried.
"That wasn't what I was expecting but I told Mikayla to ride her as she saw fit and it turned out to be the right move," he said.
"We set her specifically for this race."
Emmy's Girl was having her fifth start but her second back from a spell following a sixth at Coffs Harbour.
"She is not a big mare so it took her time to develop and strengthen up," Howlett said.
"She was cruising in front and never looked like getting beaten."
Emmy's Our Girl had a commanding lead half way down the straight before Moscow Mistress ($12) set out after the winner and failed to catch her by a long neck.
Howlett was back at the winner's circle in the following race, the Pirtek Muswellbrook Benchmark 58 (1450m) when stayer Yuralla Boy ($51) resumed to give claiming apprentice Liam Blanch his third winner.
"Liam has been texting me for some time asking me to give him a ride and I decided this horse need some relief from the 64.5kg he was given," he said.
"I am surprised as anyone with this win but this horse does like a wet track and Liam rode him really well.
"There is a 2100m race at Tamworth I was going to run him in but I might have to reconsider it now."
Blanch let Yuralla Boy settle in second place on the fence then went to the lead on the turn to win by one and a quarter lengths from Tribuna (Jay Ford).
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