BIG THRILL: Tegan Harrison rides Epic Terra to a win in the Iris Nielsen Handicap (1405m) at Ballina yesterday.
BIG THRILL: Tegan Harrison rides Epic Terra to a win in the Iris Nielsen Handicap (1405m) at Ballina yesterday. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Faith pays dividends at Ballina's all-women race

HE was the horse they nearly got rid of - but now Lennox Head co-owner Bob Watson is counting the rewards of his faith.

Epic Terra, trained by Murwillumbah's Matthew Dunn, captured yesterday's $55,000 Paul Nielsen Fabrication and Hydraulics Iris Nielsen Handicap (1405m) at the Ballina Jockey Club.

The four-year-old made a late charge to seal the win by a third of a length from the runner-up Cap Vilano.

Watson, who unsuccessfully attempted to sell the horse during its development due to a questionable attitude to training, was delighted with the victory.

"This is my home track, so this is a big thrill for me," he said.

"He is a bit of a bugger, but Matthew has trained him well.

"I am very excited."

The $5 shot, ridden by Tegan Harrison, came from out wide early on and surged ahead in the final stages to claim the triumph.

Haslington, trained by home-town hope Danny Bowen, was among the pacesetters at the 650m mark but faded as the pace picked up.

Favourite Symposium led early but the $4.80 shot faltered badly to finish last of the 14 runners.

Watson praised Grafton-based jockey Harrison for overseeing the win, although he admitted it had been a nervy watch.

"My heart was certainly beating rapidly," he said.

"It looked like he was going to lose it, but I knew he could kick home if he kept with them.

"Tegan rode him very well. I was pleased we got her (as jockey) as the horses seem to ride well with her.

"He is a pretty ordinary looking horse, but he has a big heart."

It was the gelding's 11th placing from 14 starts and followed up a notable victory over 1400m on the Gold Coast on New Year's Day.

With four wins, the galloper could become one to watch on metropolitan tracks.

"Let's hope so," Watson, a former trainer himself who owns the horse with son Nick, said.

"Matthew looks after five horses of mine and he is absolutely fantastic.

"He is a thinker and always looking to try different things.

"He has done his job well."

My Private Dancer (Cassie Schmidt) made it a hat-trick of recent wins at Ballina in the $15,000 Lady Jockeys Hall of Fame Benchmark 60 Handicap (1605m).

The five-year-old gelding, which won for home trainer Stephen Lee as a $5 shot, has won at each of the past three meetings on its home track since Boxing Day.

Home trainer Terry McCarthy also secured a win with Lola's Choice in the $15,000 Taylor's Wines 3yo Maiden Plate (1005m).

The next meeting at Ballina ison Saturday, February 23.