TWO thumbs up with a big smile - after an unlucky run in recent times it was fair to say Amy Rees enjoyed it when finding better fortune at the Bathurst Paceway on Wednesday night.
Rees snagged a winning double as she drove both Rocknroll Dude and Sams Express to victory, her skills in the gig plus some good luck combining well.
It was a change for the driver who was sidelined for more than three months after a horse stepped on her foot and broke it, was thrown from the gig in the second race after her return and was almost tipped out again at a Blayney meeting.
The Mat McCarthy trained Rocknroll Dude ($3.40) had to battle for the lead early after going from barrier one. But he held it then Rees was fortunate enough to be able to back off the tempo.
That 31.7 seconds second sectional set up Rocknroll Dude for the sprint home, winning by 1.3m over Alta Downs ($2.80 favourite).
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It was a trickier drive with the John O'Shea trained Sams Express ($4.40).
Having been caught wide after going from barrier seven, she dropped back to the rear of the field with the race caller noting "Sams Express is pulling double-time".
It left her around six lengths off the pace, but with then leader Coolie Kid setting a slow tempo, it worked in Rees' favour.
When $3.30 favourite Uncle Peter set off three-wide on the bell, it worked in her favour as well as Rees followed to give Sams Express a nice cart into it.
Sams Express went on to win by 1.7m over the favourite in a handy 1:59.2 mile rate.
"I thought they were both chances, but Sams Express just had to overcome the wide draw," Rees said.
"He's been knocking on the door in his first two starts back from a little break, he was quite unlucky both times, so it was good to get one with him.
"Rocknroll Dude had been trialling well, so I knew he'd give them a run for their money when he came up with the one barrier.
"It was very windy around the home bend, so I knew that would help me out a bit with Alta Downs having to come wide in the wind."