SHE missed out on saddling up on two runners she had a soft spot for, but Wellington jockey Kath Bell-Pitomac still had reason to smile at Tyers Park on Friday afternoon.
It was because affable 37-year-old rode a winner in the first race of the Bathurst Thoroughbred Racing meeting, getting the job done on $4.40 chance Old Harbour.
That win for Wellington trainer Michael Mulholland eased the disappointment of seeing two horses she'd hope to ride for Bathurst's Gayna Williams - Deponent and Griffin's Gaze - scratched.
"I lost a couple of my favourites today, there's a couple of horses I really like and a couple of them were in today, so when they were scratched it was like 'Oh come on'," she said.
"But I got the first one there so that's really good."
Having started out as a member multiple Group 1 winning trainer John O'Shea's team, then having two starts for Craig Ritchie's stables, Old Harbour came under the guidance of Mulholland earlier this year.
He then ran an eighth on debut, got a four-week freshen up and placed a handy second at Orange earlier this month.
After starting slowly from barrier 10 in the JB Civil Concreting Maiden Handicap (1,100 metres) at Tyers Park, Old Harbour made up good ground to travel just off the pace in fifth. He then launched along the rails down the straight.
He went on to win by almost half a length over Premier Award ($17), while early leader She'll Be Apples ($4.40) ran third.
"He's a horse that we've liked him since we got him, but he's a little bit awkward and still learning things," she said.
"So it was nice he got to were he did and travelled well behind the leaders. I had to have a think about the turn, whether I was going to come out or wait for a run. I got the run on the fence and we stayed there.
"He sort of sat back midfield last time and finished off well, so the plan was to try and do the same again. We've had no luck with the barriers, so it was nice everything went to plan.
"Today was just checking to see if he could do the 1,100 and see how he pulls up afterwards. So hopefully he can keep going along and going through his grades."