Lisa Allpress found the way to break her dry spell - team up with an old friend.
The upset win for Blood Brotha in the Group 2 Pacific Jewellers Wellington Cup has surprised both Whangaehu trainer Raymond Connors and jockey Allpress as she finally got victory number 997 on her way to becoming the first woman to reach 1000 New Zealand career wins.
And it was a thrilling run at Trentham on Saturday afternoon for Blood Brotha to add the Wellington Cup to his two New Zealand Cup wins at Riccarton.
Allpress had the 7-year-old Danzighill gelding up there with a chance for most of the 2400m race, challenging for the lead at the head of the straight.
The Wanganui pair had to see off the late dash on the inside coming from Vinnie Colgan on the back of Dolmabache and then the fast-finishing Annie Higgins, ridden by Leith Innes, to claim the top mark of the $200,000 purse.
The win is the eighth for the Wanganui stayer from 45 starts and takes him past the half-million dollar mark in prizemoney.
Foremost on Connors' mind has been preparing Blood Brotha for the Auckland Cup in March at Ellerslie, so Saturday's unexpected victory was a "great result".
"We were just lucky really. You try to have him ready for every race. I just thought Auckland was more his distance.
"It was a just a nice, positive run that had him there. When it's close like that, it was a good ride."
For Allpress, who in her last 20-odd starts had several top three finishes but was frustrated she just could not nail "the elusive wins", the Cup victory was a wonderful surprise on "just a good, honest horse". "I didn't think he was a huge chance because that's not the race he was set for, but it just shows that class comes through."
She will definitely be on Blood Brotha for the Auckland Cup, as well as the Avondale Cup a few weeks before as Connors looks to complete preparations. "I'll ride him wherever he goes, a Travelling Wilbury really."
Connors said it was clear after inspecting Blood Brotha yesterday that his champion had given a massive effort. The hope is to get him recovered now for the big races coming up in Auckland.
"He's obviously tried really hard. Hopefully he can keep trying hard," Connors said.
For Allpress, now only three away from those 1000 New Zealand wins, a bit of confidence is back. She was racing last night in Auckland and with meetings at Whakatane today, Hawke's Bay on Wednesday and Christchurch next weekend, the record will surely fall.
The 37-year-old says what has helped is her recent decision to go out alone again rather than have a manager. Making her own decisions means she can talk with trainers about accepting certain rides but declining others if her experience tells her the track or conditions make victory unlikely.
It is not always a pleasant business, as she must now catch the heat a manager would absorb if people get upset when Allpress turns their horse down.
However, "loyalty doesn't also pay the mortgage", and Allpress says she would rather use her own judgement to make honest assessments to find her best chances.