After more than 12 months away from the race track, whiz Clifford Park sprinter Silver Scholar returned with a bold comeback victory yesterday.
Silver Scholar ($5) defied his long absence from racing with a sparkling first-up performance in the XXXX Gold Benchmark 80 Handicap (1050m) for trainer Christine McAppion.
The seven-year-old bounded straight to the lead from barrier one for apprentice Melody O'Brien to set up an all-the-way victory.
Despite beginning to tire over the final 100 metres, Silver Scholar had enough in hand to see off Bannett ($13) to score by a neck.
Reilly Blue ($5) also ran home solidly to be length away third.
Yesterday's win was Silver Scholar's eighth from 11 starts on the Clifford Park Cushion Track.h
The Canadian Silver gelding was transferred to leading trainer Michael Nolan by McAppion and his part owner Peter O'Sullivan after his previous Clifford Park start last October.
But after being sidelined with a leg injury, Silver Scholar eventually returned to McAppion's care.
O'Sullivan admitted not knowing what to expect first-up from Silver Scholar after his long absence.
"He's been back in work with Chris now for 11 weeks, but we didn't really know what to expect today," O'Sullivan said.
"He had a 650-metre jumpout last week but that's all he had coming into the race.
"He had a lot of weight as well, even with Mel's claim, but he really raced like we know he can."
Game five-year-old Angelus Belle raced herself into the mix for a possible New Year feature tilt with a well-deserved win yesterday.
Angelus Belle claimed her third home-track victory for trainer Tony Sears with a trademark performance in the Brisbane Bloodstock Class 3 Handicap (1200m).
The $2 favourite was given a box-seat run by apprentice Geoff Goold before forging clear on straightening to score by a length.
Fast Lover ($4.40) was doing his best work late for second with Ain't She Sweet ($4.20) also finding the line strongly, a head away third.
Angelus Belle is raced by former Toowoomba Turf Club committee members Col Zeller and Ray Anderson, Doug Maynard, Dave Giesemann, Errol Giesemann, Luke Boulus and Charlie Lloyd-Jones.
She was a $30,000 Magic Millions buy and was purchased on the initial recommendation by former leading Clifford Park trainer Michael Flanigan.
"Michael was the person who first suggested we have a look at her," Zeller said.
"She has a nice pedigree.
"Her mother is a half sister to Black Dakota and Blue Pill who Michael had so much success with.
"The strength of this mare is her honesty. She gives 100 per cent every start and really deserved another win again today.
"She's probably a bit more mature now as a five-year-old.
"Twelve months ago she was a bit fizzy, but she's a lot more settled now.
"If she does well after this run we might even consider a start for her in next month's fillies and mares feature race here."