Dumbleyung-bred and part-owned galloper Willow River is a rising star of the Great Southern, recording back-to-back wins at the Percy Spencer Racecourse in Albany on Monday. Trained by Albany’s Rebecca Wallrodt, the four-year-old mare was bred in Dumbleyung by Haydn Edwards. Willow River began her career with Perth trainer Jim Taylor before moving to the Great Southern just over a year ago. “Haydn Edwards bred her in Dumbleyung and he got some of his mates into the ownership,” Wallrodt said. “The horse wasn’t going to well for Jim Taylor and I knew a few of the owners, so they gave me a chance to train her.” Willow River has relished the switch, notching all five career wins and two minor placings since coming to Wallrodt. “We have always known she had a lot of ability and how talented she is,” she said. “She is a very hard horse, but she hasn’t fully settled yet and she still gets wound up. “It’s all starting to come together but she settled a lot better on Monday.” The mare by Maschino sat three deep the trip and was the widest runner around the turn but proved too strong for her rivals to take the Graham Manley Auto Repairs Handicap (1100m), winning by more than a length for jockey Alan Kennedy. “She is almost ready for a spell; we will let her tell us over the next couple of days what’s next,” Wallrodt said. “She won’t go to town this preparation but definitely next season she will. “I think she can win a Saturday race in town and is an absolute star in the making.” Wagin trainer Angela Smith also tasted success on the seven-race card with Family Connection. The five-year-old mare jumped at $26 for jockey Jerry Noske, who put her in the box seat in running before switching to the cutaway in the straight. They wore down favourite Triggerfish in the final 100m to take out the Great Southern Equine Veterinary Handicap (1600m). Smith has had a strong season in the Great Southern, producing five winners.