BENDIGO trainer Alex Ashwood laid the perfect foundation for an exciting end to 2021 by scoring a double at Tuesday night's harness racing meeting at Shepparton.
The 27-year-old trainer-driver struck early in the night by steering the seven-year-old gelding Mister Rebel to victory in the third race and followed up by adding another two races later with Fashion Passion.
A solid night all-around included a second with Talent Agent and a fourth with Casino Barry.
Another double catapulted Ashwood to 60 winners for the season from 158 starters at the impressive strike rate of 33.7 per cent.
The young gun is hoping there is something big still to come in 2021, with a trio of his horses engaged at Friday night's blockbuster Vicbred Super Series finals meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton.
Ashwood has Parisian Artiste chasing victory in the $100,000 three-year-old trotting colts and gelding final following his impressive heat victory at Maryborough on December 20, while La Serena and Roquefort Cheese will contest the respective finals of the $100,000 four-year-old mares and four-year-old trotting mares.
Tayla French will take the reins behind both Parisian Artiste and La Serena, while Ashwood will drive Roquefort Cheese.
Wins for both Fashion Passion and Mister Rebel at Shepparton have given the stable a nice shot of confidence heading into New Year's Eve at Melton.
"They're both horses on easy marks and are going through their grades quite nicely and had good draws and were up to standard," Ashwood said of the winning pair.
"I think going forward they will (both) win a couple more races.
"Fashion Passion got away with murder last night (Tuesday) and pulled up like he'd never gone around, so he should back up pretty quick and hopefully win another straight away.
"Mister Rebel has probably been here for two or three months now and he's just been ticking along.
"He's an old horse, who on his day is more than capable, but on his off day, just put a line through his run and re-set and go again.
"He was on his best last night and was good.
"It does give you some confidence (going into the Vicbreds). It's always good building up onto a big night like that. If the horses are all going good in the barn it gives you a bit of confidence.
"Everything is ticking along pretty good and going into Friday night things couldn't be any better."
Tuesday night's win made it three in a row for Fashion Passion since his arrival in Bendigo from New South Wales, following victories earlier in the month at Mildura and last start at Melton.
The four-year-old mare has now won five of 44 career starts and been placed nine times.
Mister Rebel boosted his career record to 13 wins from 132 starts with 15 minor placings.
The Ashwood team will have one runner at Hamilton on Thursday afternoon with the two-year-old filly Jaimee looking to break her maiden at start number three, before the three-year-old filly Tay Tay aims for victory in the Vicbred Super Series Silver Final at Bendigo on Thursday night.
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