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MONDAY: August 5, 2019: TERRY Croft’s association with the Forbes Cup meeting gained further momentum today when he clinched Hawkesbury’s first winner of the new season.

Croft, who prepared seven winners last season (including a city victory with No Escape at Rosehill Gardens in June), won the Maiden Handicap (1600m) with $4 favorite Rose Of War.

The Declaration Of War four-year-old gave the Hawkesbury trainer his fourth winner in the last six runnings of the popular annual meeting.

Croft finished fourth with Slippery Eel in a restricted race in 2012, and the same horse finished fifth a year later in the 1600m Cup.

He scored with Four Suns in 2014, Colonial Reign in 2016 and then No Escape in 2017.

He returned to Forbes last year with the latter horse, who finished seventh to Willy White Socks in the Cup as a $2.50 favorite.

Though Rose Of War had been placed only three times previously (each of them seconds) in 16 starts, Croft felt the Forbes assignment was suitable on a firmer surface.

“She had a couple of runs on soft tracks before a short break, and they didn’t suit her,” he said.

Rose Of War had support at good odds ($14 to $9.50) when fifth to Saintly Sunrise – who subsequently ran an excellent fifth in a stronger 1600m Class 2 Handicap at the Coffs Harbour Cup carnival last Thursday - in a Wyong 3YO Maiden (1600m) on July 23.

“She took improvement from that run, and dropped back to a country Maiden,” Croft said.

An $8000 purchase at the Inglis 2017 Scone yearling sale, Rose Of War has more than repaid that initial outlay, her Forbes victory lifting her earnings to $33,680.

Croft recalled Hunter apprentice Mikayla Weir to ride the mare – and she didn’t let him down.

Weir, who partnered Rose Of War when narrowly beaten in a Mudgee Maiden (1400m) on April 21, didn’t bustle her and brought her from last at the 800m to overpower her rivals in the straight.

She beat Opera Tickets ($4.40) and Circus Train ($16), and the Croft-Weir combination nearly brought off a double with Colonial Reign, who just failed to overhaul favorite Real Key ($1.85) in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1400m).

. HOOFNOTE: Croft’s successes at the Forbes Cup aside, there was a sad downside to the 2016 meeting even though he won a race that year with Colonial Reign.

His Cup favorite Vite Loni went amiss during the race, and had to be euthanised.