"He shouldn't settle too far away, you don't want to be too close, fourth or fifth, maybe, hopefully one off."
That's what Ken Dunbar told Sky Racing in the lead up to his tilt with Alaskan Aura in the Sign Vision Dubbo Maiden Handicap on Monday and those words proved unfortunately prophetic for the favourite, who settled in at third behind early leaders Laino and Alpine Royal before taking an early lead.
While Dunbar had the early race pegged as an easier offering for Alaskan Aura (2.60, favourite), the strongly favoured local horse was beaten by a head by More Spice ($3.20).
The eventual winner from Scone battled down the straight with Alaskan Aura and pulled away at the last moment, finishing a half a length ahead of the local and snatching back a win after a shaky start.
The Scott Singleton trained horse was so nervous that at one point it seemed like the mare wouldn't even feature in the race, repeatedly refusing to enter the barrier and holding up proceedings.
But that nervous energy paid off for the four year old, finding plenty of kick along the last stretch to spur the upset.
"That is just her, she's got a funny temperament, she'll just get to thinking and her mind will start going, but she's quite tough and she can cope with a bit of racing," Singleton told Sky Racing of his horse's mood after the win.
"She does usually want a bit further to be any good, but she found the right race today, she's come back a little better than she was and she goes pretty good in the 1000m and up to the 1400m."
Singleton says that the search will now begin for what he calls 'suitable targets' for the winner, rather than 'easy races'.
Jockey Quayde Krogh told Sky Racing that the result was more or less what was anticipated after More Spice's earlier performances in Dubbo, but the method of getting there surprised him.
"Last start here she was huge over a 1000m, she got back and ran it home, it was meant to be the same today, but she ran it home early and she just showed she had a lot to give," Krogh said.
"I think we were travelling better than Kenny [Dunbar], but she's got a few quirks, maybe a bit further for her next time and maybe some blinkers on and I think she'll go far."