Relief for Brown with win of Kiko

Cliff Brown was entitled to be a nervous wreck when saddling Kiko at Sandown after being entrusted with training the mare while her regular conditioner Jim Conlan recovers from knee surgery. 

There had been plenty of banter leading up to the Evergreen Turf Handicap (1200m) on Wednesday between Brown, Conlan and the mare's owner, Nick Turnbull, and the only way for Brown to come out on top was for Kiko to be victorious. 

That Kiko ($4) did under Blake Shinn, registering a three-quarter length victory over Ithadtobezou ($10), with Starianne ($10) a further 1-¼ length away third. 

Kiko salutes under Blake Shinn for stand-in trainer Cliff Brown; picture Racing Photos

Brown and Conlan have been longtime friends and Brown did not miss the opportunity to have a dig at Kiko's former trainer post-race. 

"We've improved her for sure," Brown said with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. "You could see the difference in her in the yard, but it was good to see her do it. She deserved it. 

"They've been at me all day, and anything less than victory was going to be disappointing, so a midweek win at Sandown, it's a complete relief." 

Kiko had won just once in 15 starts before starting this campaign with Conlan and has now added two victories and two second-place finishes from four runs since kicking off in May. 

The mare joined Brown after her previous start on June 19, when second at Sandown. 

"We're great mates and as soon as Jim's knee is right, she will go straight back," Brown said. "She came to me after her last run. She may have another run, she may not. It all depends." 

Brown trained a number of horses for Turnbull during his time in Singapore before returning to Australia, including Mister Yeoh who was a good money spinner for the Brown stable and his owner, while Conlan prepares the majority of the owner's horses in Melbourne. 

"He [Mister Yeoh] won more than $500,000 up in Singapore. He wasn't a bad horse," Brown said.