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Wests Tigers star Chris Lawrence laps up Saturday success with Dark Eyes at Rosehill

CHRIS Lawrence is hoping the return to winning form of his three-year-old Dark Eyes coincides with the Wests Tigers charge to the NRL finals.

Dark Eyes showed real spirit and resolve to take out the At The Races Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday and part-owner Lawrence called on his Tigers teammates to do the same.

“We can definitely make the finals,’’ said Lawrence, the Tigers vice-captain and 183-game veteran. “For us, it is all about putting a few wins together. Our problem this season is we can be inconsistent. If we can put two or three weeks of good footy together and build some momentum then we can make the finals.’’

Wests Tigers are 11th on the NRL ladder but are only two wins outside the top eight. With his footy team having the bye this weekend, Lawrence had the opportunity to be trackside at Rosehill to watch Dark Eyes.

“It is good when our bye coincides with a Saturday where I have a horse racing, I can enjoy the day more, especially if you get a winner,’’ Lawrence said.

“I’ve raced horses for the last five years, just small shares in syndicates with Scott Darby (of Darby Racing) and the boys. It’s all a bit of fun.’’

Dark Eyes dug deep to edge out his rivals on Saturday.

Hall of Fame trainer Gai Waterhouse returned from her European holiday a few days ago and was straight back among the winners with Dark Eyes — although the gelding’s success did provide racing’s first lady with a problem.

“I’m a Tigers supporter now — unless they play Luke’s team!’’ Waterhouse said in reference to her son-in-law and Sydney Roosters legend Luke Ricketson.

Waterhouse predicted this won’t be Dark Eyes’ last win either the $7.50 chance scored by a neck from So Willie ($11) with a long neck to early leader Kingsguard ($5 favourite).

Dark Eyes had finished unplaced at his last two starts but Waterhouse believes Saturday’s win could be the makings of the rising four-year-old.

Gai Waterhouse didn’t take long to get back in the winner’s circle on Saturday after returning from her annual European holiday last week.

“He lost the plot at Canterbury last start,’’ Waterhouse said of Dark Eyes’s fifth behind Art Nouveau. But I think the 1250m was too short for him and he appreciated getting out to 1500m today. This is his third win from only nine starts and he is a horse with ability.

“I’ll just try to take him through the grades into the new season but now he has struck form hopefully he can keep winning.’’

Lawrence is also a part-owner of juvenile filly Flame Of Love which ran fourth in a Kembla Grange maiden on Saturday about an hour after Dark Eyes won at Rosehill.

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