Jockey Jesse Graham guides Chilli Zaim to the line ahead of Excellent Morning to win the fifth at Lismore yesterday.
Jockey Jesse Graham guides Chilli Zaim to the line ahead of Excellent Morning to win the fifth at Lismore yesterday. Ross Kendall

Back in form after a 10 year spell

JOCKEY Anthony Townsend enjoyed a fairytale return to racing at Lismore yesterday but was edged out in the run to the line in the $15,000 LJ Hooker Evans Head Benchmark (1516m).

Making his first race appearance after a 10-year hiatus, Townsend guided Harada Tat Tat to the front in the straight but had to settle for third behind stablemate Restricted and Kyspeil respectively.

"I was pretty excited, it was a good ride," Townsend said. "The horse kicked on the turn and had the lead for a stride or two.

"We went hard in the first part, it was hard to run to the line."

Townsend's appearance was among the many highlights of yesterday's bumper seven-race program for course manager Scott James who described the conditions as "just about perfect" for racing.

James said crowd numbers were above expectations and the track was in great condition, "going into a four, so was just about perfect".

James said Townsend's ride for local trainer Daniel Bowen, who also trained the winner, was a popular performance.

Locals also featured prominently in the Class 2 Handicap (1400m).

Anne Boony, trained by Owen Glue and ridden by Peter Graham finished second behind My Boy Louie while the Lee Crowther-trained Waterford King, with Danny Piesley in the saddle, finished fourth.

The day's feature event, the Evans Head Cup (1516m) was won by Dictatorship with Little Long Horn second ahead of Cap Bianco.

Meanwhile, Townsend said he planned to continue riding after enjoying his return to the track where he began riding as a 15-year-old.

"I will ease back into race riding and while I don't want to set the world on fire I would like to ride my share of winners," he said.

Townsend began his apprenticeship in Casino with his uncle Stephen Randall before linking with Sydney trainer Mick Hood.

He developed into one of Sydney's best apprentices and won premierships at Wyong and Gosford before pulling up.

Townsend said he had returned to race after fielding a call from close friend and horse trainer Neville Phelps.

"He had a lot of horses coming through and he needed a hand," Townsend said. "He has been good to me.

"I had been working for forestry but when racing is in your blood it stays there and when Neville rang it was an opportunity too good to refuse."