LYLE Chandler has started 2022 on the best possible note, claiming wins at different tracks with his only two New Year's Day runners.
Chandler, a horse industry journeyman who has now been training at Scone for two years, had Banju salute at Randwick's Kensington course before Purple Cup capped off Saturday's proceedings with victory at Gilgandra.
"It's taken a while to get going, but to actually have a highway winner was great and then two winners on the one day was fantastic," Chandler told the Newcastle Herald on Sunday.
"It was an incredible feeling. It takes all the bad days away and makes it all worthwhile. It's a cliché, but it's true."
Chandler was on course in Sydney to experience his first metropolitan winner while partner Emily was trackside some 400-odd kilometres north-west in country NSW on the same afternoon.
"My partner Emily was in Gilgandra with the other runner so I had to strap as well," he said.
"I roared him [Banju] all the way home. Walking through the grandstand later and one punter said to me 'geez you shouted that one home'. I said 'well a lot of work has gone into that one'. And I thought if you can't shout one home like that and enjoy it, you're probably in the wrong game."
Born and bred in South Africa, Chandler's childhood interest in horses has taken him around the world and after finishing as a "flying groom" almost a decade ago he landed in Australia with "$300 to my name".
Since then he's worked at various stables, including the likes of David Vandyke, Gai Waterhouse and John O'Shea, before relocating to the Upper Hunter at the end of 2019 and going out on his own.
Having dealt with drought and COVID, Chandler now has five career winners.
Five-year-old gelding Banju picked up the class 3 TAB Highway Handicap (1400 metres) while seven-year-old gelding Purple Cup got the job done in a Benchmark 50 Handicap (1100m).
"It was a huge performance [by Banju]," Chandler said.
"He was actually the first horse given to me, ended up being my first winner [back in February], and now he's my first big winner as well so it's really nice. It's also a good way to repay the owners for the loyalty and trust they've showed in me."
Meanwhile, Newcastle trainer Kris Lees also experienced a winning double on Saturday but across state lines with Strange Charm beating stablemate Kedah home at Brisbane's Doomben track and I Want One successful at Port Macquarie.
Scone apprentice jockey Reece Jones won with O'Shea's I Am Lethal at Kensington.
Elsewhere in terms of Hunter jockeys on Saturday - Newcastle-based apprentice Madi Derrick nabbed a Port Macquarie treble; Inverell was a happy hunting ground for Ashley Morgan (three), Madeline Owen (two) and Mikayla Weir (one); and Darryl McLellan struck twice at Tamworth.