Newcastle trainer Steve Hodge admits he was contemplating retirement for rising eight-year-old Dayarma on several occasions before the gelding rediscovered his best form this preparation.
Dayarma remained winless between October, 2015 and June this year, but has bounced back in great style to win his past two starts at Cessnock and Tamworth and is chasing a hat-trick at today’s eight-race Taree meeting.
Dayarma lines up in the MJR Accountants Benchmark 60 Hcp (1410m) and will again be ridden by jockey Serg Lisnyy.
"He went a long time without a win before he struck form again this prep and there were a few times during that period I thought about retiring him," Hodge said. "But, to be fair, there were a few times when he didn't have the best of luck in some of his races.
"He's certainly racing with a new lease on life at the moment. I can't put it down to anything in particular. He had a good spell and has come back really well this time. He ran well first-up when third at Cessnock (April 25) then had no luck at his next run at Kempsey (10th on May 7). I gave him a few weeks off after that to freshen him up, then he came out and won back-to-back at Cessnock and Tamworth."
Winless since winning at Scone on October 27, 2015, Dayarma came out to win a Benchmark 59 (1350m) on a heavy 9 at Cessnock on June 13, beating Celtic Trail by 1.5 lengths.
He then proved that win was no fluke by winning at his next start on a good 3 surface in a Benchmark 55 (1400) at Tamworth on June 24, beating Onslow by a half-length.
Dayarma clashes with both Celtic Trail and Onslow again at Taree on Monday.
"The win on a heavy 9 at Cessnock did surprise me a little as he hadn't performed that well in those conditions in the past, but the track that day was probably not a true heavy 9 - it was a heavy 9 just on some parts of the track," said Hodge.
The Taree track on Sunday was rated a heavy 8 but clear weather has seen it upgraded for today’s meeting.
"I'm very happy with the way he's racing at the moment - he's in-form, can handle soft ground and has drawn the rails, the shortest way home," said Hodge.
Local four-year-old Rainbow River will line up against Dayarma after missing out on a run at Rosehill on Saturday.
The Bob Milligan-trained Rainbow River was left stranded as an emergency in the TAB Highway Hcp (1800m) won by Itsa Fait Accompli.
A two-time winner at Taree, Rainbow River is coming off a last-start narrow defeat to $41 rank outsider Dorloter on a heavy 9 in a Port Macquarie Class 2 Hcp (1510m) on June 18.
Irish apprentice Louise Day has a great chance to land another winner for her boss, Newcastle trainer Kris Lees, when she partners last-start Cessnock winners Biscuit Time and What A Sister.
Day, who now claims 3kg, has ridden seven winners for the Lees stable after making her NSW debut in March. She began her Australian career previously working with Melbourne trainer Ciaron Maher.
Biscuit Time steps up in Monday's Hydra Hose Class 2 Hcp (1007m) after winning first-up on a heavy 10 in a Cessnock Maiden on June 13. What A Sister tackles the Eddie's Fresh Chickens Benchmark 55 (1257m) after bolting in by 3/3/4 lengths at the same Cessnock meeting.