Lucienne wins Narromine Flying for Nyngan-based trainer Rodney Robb

TOO GOOD: Apprentice jockey Grace Willoughby salutes to the crowd after winning Monday's Narromine Flying with Lucienne. Photo: ZAARKACHA MARLAN
TOO GOOD: Apprentice jockey Grace Willoughby salutes to the crowd after winning Monday's Narromine Flying with Lucienne. Photo: ZAARKACHA MARLAN

In the lead-up to the 2018 Country Championships heat at Dubbo, Rodney Robb felt there wasn't any more improvement in Lucienne.

But jump forward a year and the mare has gone from strength to strength, leading Robb to state the now five-year-old has never raced better.

Lucienne backed up a win at Dubbo Turf Club last time out with another win on Monday, taking out the Narromine Flying (1100m) for the Nyngan-based trainer.

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In what was an open and evenly-contested sprint event, apprentice jockey Grace Wiiloughby worked Lucienne into a gap from midfield at the top of the straight and went on to score in a thrilling finish.

Lucienne ($5.50 equal favourite) worked her way to the front midway down the straight and then was forced to dip deep as Star of Zizou ($6) and Gadfly ($6) surged on her outside while Tattinger ($21) lunged along the rails.

But Robb's hope hung on, continuing her strong form this time out.

"She's having the best preparation we've had with her," Robb told Sky Thorughbred Central after the victory.

"Even last preparation she was an honest mare but just had no luck."

Robb was also full of praise for Willoughby, who wasn't originally meant to have the ride.

The apprentice got a late call-up after original hoop Wendy Peel was involved in Sunday's horror five-horse fall at Tamworth.

While Willoughby took the ride and scored a win, Peel spent Monday undergoing surgery to repair a fracture dislocation of her right shoulder and will now be out of the saddle for at least three months.

"This girl rode her really well," Robb said 

"If she rides around this area a bit more she'll get more rides."

ALL SMILES: A delighted Grace Willoughby chats with trainer Rodney Robb after Monday's win. Photo: ZAARKACHA MARLAN

ALL SMILES: A delighted Grace Willoughby chats with trainer Rodney Robb after Monday's win. Photo: ZAARKACHA MARLAN

The win for Lucienne takes her record to seven victories and nine minor placings in 34 starts.

The result was one of two wins Robb had at Narromine on Saturday.

In a meeting which was transferred to Narromine at late notice after Coonamble's drought-affected track was ruled not up to scratch, Robb also won with Star Express.

With Mathew Cahill in the saddle, Star Express saluted as a $3.10 favourite in the 2DU/ZOO FM Maiden Plate (1300m).

Robb described the four-year-old gelding as "pretty immature" after he won in his ninth career start.

Ashley Morgan was the lone jockey to finish with a winning double.