Hawkesbury trainer Terry Croft ended the year on a winning note when No Escape shed his maiden status at Gosford on New Year’s Eve.
The $3 joint favourite bounced back from a scare at his previous outing to score at his 10th start.
Perfectly ridden by apprentice Rachel King, No Escape got the upper hand in the closing stages to beat front-runner Paris For Me ($4) in the Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1200m).
The other joint favourite Kool Vinnie finished third after never appearing likely to pick up the first two placegetters in the run home.
No Escape, a four-year-old by Shellscrape, was found to have blood in his offside nostril after finishing third to Aanvoerder at his home track in a 1300m Maiden on December 4.
He then had to either trial or gallop to stewards’ satisfaction, and did the latter to gain a clearance to resume racing.
No Escape was Croft’s first starter at Gosford in the current season and the gelding didn’t let him down at his fourth run this time in.
“He has been handicapped by ordinary barriers at his last couple of starts,” Croft said.
“It was a different story this time from a good alley.
“He is no superstar but is going to be better suited over a bit more distance.”
No Escape was Croft’s third winner this season; his previous being Colonial Reign at Forbes on August 1 and again at Hawkesbury on November 26.
It was fitting he should end the calendar year on a triumphant note after sadly losing his best horse, Vite Loni, on the same day Colonial Reign scored at Forbes.
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Jason Attard finished third with Shalmaneser ($6) in Tuesday’s Listed Tattersalls Cup (2400m) at Royal Randwick.