THE old saying 'the early bird catches the worm,' certainly applies to Grafton trainer Greg Kilner and unbeaten two-year-old Charlee Bear.
Kilner still can't believe his luck in gaining Charlee Bear, a daughter of Choisir out of the Lucky Owners mare Baby Angel, at the Magic Million yearling sales.
Kilner continues the story behind the purchase.
"It was on a Sunday and I was with a mate (Joe Jeffries)," Kilner recalled. "We got there about 10am and Joe said he was off to get some coffees.
"She (Charlee Bear) was about the third horse to come through.
"They (auctioneers) started her off at $20,000. There were no bids so they went back to $1000. There was hardly anyone there.
"I was looking at her pedigree, which I liked, her mother is a half-sister to 10 winners including some good horses.
"Eventually I got her for only $4000. When Joe got back with the coffees I said 'I've bought a horse.' He replied 'geez you've only been here for five minutes.'
"If she had have gone through later in the day when there were a lot more people around I'm sure she would have gone for a lot more.
"I was lucky."
While luck was with Kilner, Charlee Bear has won two trials and race wins at Murwillumbah and Grafton, the same could not be said for Jeffries.
Kilner offered his mate a share in the filly but Jeffries declined saying he had other horses he had to get going before spending money on another one.
It could be a decision Jeffries will continue to regret.
The two-year-old filly is raced by Kilner, Charlie Dogget and Vicky Meyer.
Kilner said Charlee Bear, a big scopey filly with galloping ability to match, had improved since her last start dead heat win with Cogliere in a 1000m Country Plate at Grafton on January 24.
Cogliere has confirmed the merit of the form by finishing 1.5 lengths fourth in the $250,000 Inlgis Classic at Randwick on February 6.
"It was a month between runs at Grafton," Kilner said. "She's taken improvement from the run.
"I've only given her one good gallop but I'm happy with where she's at.
"She's been a perfect horse so far, never been one ounce of trouble. She's a good doer, never leaves an oat and while she is a lazy worker by herself she switches on when she works with another horse. To me that's a good sign."
This afternoon Charlee Bear contests the Coffs Harbour 2YO Country Plate (1007m) with Matthew McGuren in the saddle.