First Division returned to the races a winner on Tuesday, running down the favourite to score over 1000m at Ballarat.

Favourite, Emilia Romagna, controlled the race and kicked in the straight but was challenged and run down by First Division in the closing stages.

First Division’s victory was her third from just ten starts and trainer Maddie Raymond is looking forward to the preparation ahead.

“Absolutely rapt with her performance today. Last prep she was quite a difficult mare and she’s really settled. We gave her a nice break and she’s come back big and strong,” Maddie said post-race.

“I actually expected her to be a little bit more forward in the running but she’s more mature now. And she’s settling and she’s showed that today.

“She’ll be better on ground probably a little bit softer as well so I think she’s going to be in for a really nice preparation as we head into the time of year where the tracks will suit her even more and importantly, she’ll improve off the runs as well,” Maddie added.

The victory was jockey Declan Bates first winner back after injuring his ankle in January.  Bates returned to the saddle at Warrnambool on Wednesday and didn’t have to wait long to snare a win.

“Maddie seemed very confident beforehand which gave me confidence because she’s a very, very good horse woman. So, when she tells you they are going good you know they are going to be quite competitive,” Bates said.

First Division is a 4-year-old mare by Rich Enuff out of the Dubai Destination mare, Zerprise Us All.

She was purchased by Roll The Dice & John Foote Bloodstock at the 2020 Adelaide Magic Millions Yearling Sale for $75,000.

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