TAYLA French continued her stunning metropolitan race form by steering a rejuvenated Brandlo Prince to an emphatic win on her home track at Bendigo on Saturday night.
With only one drive for the night, the 24-year-old from Heathcote was no chance of repeating her heroics from the previous Saturday at Geelong when she emerged with a double.
But French made her lone drive count by engineering a brilliant front-running win aboard the talented five-year-old trotting gelding.
Brandlo Prince, who is trained by former Bendigo trainer-driver Chris Svanosio, notched up career win number 12 at start 51, with his 8.7-metre victory over a class NR 70 to 100 field arguably a career-best.
With no previous reputation as a leader, the son of Orlando Vici and Bohemian Queen surprised even his driver by cruising to the front after finding himself three-wide after the start.
"I didn't actually really plan to get the front, but once I got to the front I was very happy with that position," French said post-race.
"It thought he'd be hard to beat (once he got there).
"I've never actually driven him in front, but when he was in front he felt like a different horse.
"I'll be pretty happy to say to Chris (Svanosio) when I get back to the stables that he felt enormous. That's the best he's ever felt when I've driven him.
"Maybe in front is the way to go."
Bracing for challenges, French set up the victory with a defining 28.4 third quarter, helping Brandlo Prince to steal a 10-metre break on his rivals at the home corner.
"Normally you pull the (ear) plugs on him about the 500m mark - I probably didn't really need to, but at the 200m mark I did it as a bit of a cautious thing to do," French said.
"Going past the bell I got a bit of a stiff neck, I was looking over my shoulder the whole time.
"I was sort of waiting for Nephew Of Sonoko, he went super last start and when I saw him peel out I decided to put the foot down and go a bit harder down the back and make it chase.
"I didn't expect to gap them as much as I did, but I can't be any more happier with his performance."
Havehorsewilltravel (Andy and Kate Gath) finished best of the rest, but was still well beaten, with The Penny Drop (Ray Harvey/Grant Campbell) snatching third.
Nephew Of Sonoko finished fifth for Sutton Grange trainer Leigh Graham, with the second Svanosio-trained runner Norquay well back in ninth.
It was the eighth time French has driven Brandlo Prince for two wins and two placings.
Their previous win was also at Bendigo on July 3 on the night French landed her first metropolitan double.
She claimed her second metro double last weekend at Geelong with wins on Azza and Chapter One.
French was joined on the winner's list late in the night by fellow Bendigo region drivers Jack Laugher and Shannon O'Sullivan.
The in-form trainer-driver combination of Julie Douglas and Laugher racked up more success with Would You Mind, while O'Sullivan teamed with trainer Lance Justice to take out the last race on the program with the six-year-old gelding Jean Luc.
Would You Mind, a four-year-old gelding, is part-owned by HDFNL league chairman Peter Cole has now won six of 26 starts for more than $72,000 in prizemoney.
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