A dramatic upsurge in the winning percentage of seven-year-old gelding Byzantium has been attributed to a stint of showjumping.
As of December 10 last year, the Bob Howe-trained hope had won just the five races from 49 career starts.
Fast forward just a few weeks and the record now stands at nine wins from 53 starts.
The latest win came at Parkes on Saturday, where Byzantium made it four straight victories by taking out the Hankook Tyres Benchmark 58 Handicap (1000m).
Given a dream run behind the leader Guiltless by Tony Cavallo, Byzantium ($4.40) kicked clear for a convincing win from Big Arjay (Clayton Gallagher, $4 favourite) while Guiltless (Michael Travers, $41) had to settle for third.
Cavallo later revealed that Byzantium had been taken showjumping by Brooke Howe, the daughter of the Mudgee trainer, and recently finished second in a big field at Hawkesbury.
"The showjumping has improved the strength of Byzantium which had previously been suspect at further than 900 metres, but is now winning over 1000 metres," Cavallo explained.
Byzantium competed a winning treble at Parkes for Cavallo, who had won the opening races on Bathurst gallopers Press Estate and Island Press.
Trained by Gayna Williams, Press Estate ($4.80) swept past the leaders in the straight and won the Parkes Farm Centre Maiden Plate (1600m) while the Dean Mirfin-trained Island Press ($2.90 favourite) shot clear turning for home and was an easy winner in the Coachman Hotel Punters Club Maiden Handicap (1200m).
Second leg of a double for Mirfin was Kimmylee (Mikayla Weir, $20), which overhauled No Debt (Clayton Gallagher, $2.30 fav.) to win by more than a length with Manadria (Elissa Meredith, $15) coming from last to finish third in the Parkes Services Club Class 2 Handicap (1400m).
Parkes trainer Sharon Jeffries and her jockey daughter Tiffany Jeffries often win at their local meeting and on Saturday it was with a rank outsider Nitty Gritty in the Telescope Tyres & Batteries Benchmark 58 Handicap (1600m).
Starting at $61, Nitty Gritty came from the back of the field to win by a head from Choosday Nights (Nick Heywood, $2.60) while Merdeka (Maddie Owen, $21) was a half-neck away third.
Making it two wins from three starts for Brett Robb, Dubbo filly Coopella (Gallagher, $2 fav.) produced a determined finish and wore down Jesta Diva (Kayla Nisbet, $6) to win by a long head in the Bob Skinner Painting & Decorating Benchmark 58 Handicap (1000m).
Gallagher was also aboard the Will Freedman-trained Celestial Doll ($1.50 fav.), which came from third on the turn to win the Services Club Open Handicap (1400m).
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