ELMORE'S Frank Barac had 'a hunch' last Thursday at Shepparton would be the night Madam Reactor put an end to a consistent run of placings and near misses.
But as the hobby trainer only too well knows, suspicions are not always confirmed.
Fortunately for him and wife Laura, he was on the money as the ever consistent chestnut mare produced her fifth career win from 46 starts.
A home-bred, it took Madam Reactor 12 starts to break her maiden, which she did in April of 2020 at Bendigo.
Since then she has won four more and been placed 14 times for earnings of $40,460.
The biggest yet indication of her potential arrived two starts before her Shepparton victory, when she finished second in the Vicbred Super Series 4YO Mares Bronze Pace at Bendigo on December 30, charging home late to be beaten by the narrowest of margins by Ozzie Sunshine.
While the race could easily have gone his way, Barac - ever the optimist - was able to quickly see the bright side.
"Josh (Aiken), who drove her, was a bit disappointed, he thought we might have just got it," he said.
"I had a look at the photo finish and both noses were on the line, but the other bugger might have been an inch or less in front of us.
"The angle on the track at Bendigo does come back and I thought we'd got it, but it wasn't to be.
"Anyways, we did pick up a nice cheque and we didn't have to wait long before getting a win at Shepparton."
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The daughter of Auckland Reactor and the mare Madam Altissimo, who won seven races and was placed 21 times for the Baracs, beat a handy field of NR 54 to 61 pacers.
Second in the race was the Julie Douglas-trained and Glenn Douglas-driven mare Whata Journey, who was chasing a fourth straight win.
Further down in the field, Bee Gee Cee (Brian and Cody Crossand) was chasing a third win in four starts, while Shaq (John and Ellen Tormey), like Whata Journey, was also targeting three straight wins.
Read more: Three in a row: Incredible Journey rolls on
"I was confident (the win) was coming, she's been a bit stiff the last couple - everything fell into place for us and she took advantage of it," Barac said.
"She went off the boil a bit a few months ago and I wasn't really sure what was happening.
"She was working alright, but it wasn't happening at the races; bad draws and not too much luck.
"We did a bit of soul-searching and gave her a few weeks off to recharge her, and since then she has just jumped out of the ground."
Barac praised the winning drive from Bailey McDonough in his first drive on the mare.
"Josh (Aiken) was supposed to drive her, but he was going away for a few days and he recommended Bailey," he said.
"He took the opportunity and did everything right for us.
"He's quite a nice young bloke and full of confidence - we couldn't have asked for more."
McDonough was quick to follow up by winning Sunday's Wedderburn Pacing Cup aboard Puntarno Stride.
Barac says he will now target a heat of the Lyn McPherson Breed for Speed Silver Series at Bendigo on February 10 with Madam Reactor.
Meanwhile, the Elmore trainer is looking forward to the return of Madam Reactor's little sister Madam Auckland.
The 23-start maiden (four placings) only recently returned to work after a three-month break, with Barac confident she can quickly knock over a win when she reaches the racetrack.
"She ran a couple of nice races at Wedderburn and Echuca and even her last one at Cobram, where she didn't get beat by much," he said.
Read more: Madam Reactor books rare tip to Melton
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