Bargain filly Charlee Bear has already proved to be a very shrewd investment and Grafton trainer Greg Kilner thinks she can add to her excellent record when she resumes at Ballina on Friday.
By Choisir out of the unraced Lucky Owners mare Baby Angel, Charlee Bear was bought for just $4000 at the 2015 Magic Millions sale.
Charlee Bear quickly proved herself a winner on the Northern Rivers tracks, winning five races from six starts during her two-year-old season. Overall, the filly has won five of eight starts and collected a tick over $70,000 in prizemoney.
She resumes in Friday's Domesday Standing At Aquis Farm Benchmark 60 Hcp (1000m) and apprentice Nori Masuda, who claims 1.5kg, takes the ride.
Charlee Bear is living proof that bargains can be picked up at the major yearling sales if you are in the right place at the right time.
"I went out to the Magic Millions sale on the Sunday morning with a mate," recalls Kilner. "While he went for a coffee, this Choisir filly came into the ring - I think she was the fifth or sixth lot of the morning. I liked the look of her but thought she'd go for between $20,000 and $30,000. There was only one other bloke sitting in the stand and the auctioneer had to start off at $1000 before he got a bid. I put my hand up and got her for $4000 - I couldn't believe it!"
Charlee Bear showed ability from the start and on the strength of two barrier trial wins was sent out the $1.30 favourite when she made a winning debut at Murwillumbah on 27 December 2015.
She then reeled off three straight wins at Grafton before suffering her first defeat when a 2.6 length fourth to Spot The Diff at Doomben on 2 April last year.
Charlee Bear then won at Kempsey to finish her two-year-old season with five wins from six starts.
She opened her three-year-old season with a second to Love A Rose at Doomben on 10 August but was spelled after her next start at the same track on 27 August when unplaced behind Ringo's A Rockstar over 1110m.
Charlee Bear trialed recently at Ballina, finishing second, and Kilner had considered giving her another trial before she resumed.
"I was pleased with her Ballina trial but now wish I'd given her another trial at Coffs Harbour - she might be shade underdone for her first-up run," he said. "But I think she'll run very well over the 1000m and Friday's race against older, more seasoned horses will give me a guide on where she's at as so far she's only won two-year-old races."
After Friday, Kilner may consider another Brisbane start for the filly or even a crack at the Queen Of The North at Port Macquarie on 3 February.
Friday's nine-race Ballina program also features the Tab.com.au January Hcp (1400m) where locally-trained galloper Oltre Finito looks a great chance of posting his first win since coming from Victoria.
Formerly trained in Melbourne by Mark Kavanagh, Oltre Finito has had three starts for Ballina trainer Stephen Lee and looks ready to break through after his last-start second to Dream Habit in the Xmas Cup (1400m) at Lismore on 23 December.
Oltre Finito again clashes with Dream Habit on Friday but has a 1.5kg pull in the weights this time.
Race two on Friday's meeting is named the Farewell Graeme Birney Maiden Plate in honour of the well-known Ballina jockey-turned-trainer who is retiring from the training ranks.
Birney and his wife Sue have been a successful team in the Northern Rivers for many years.
The rail will be in the true position on Friday and the track is currently rated a good 4.