PLENTY of good judges will agree the O’Connell Hotel is one of the best kept secrets in the region.
And amongst the good food, cold beer and vintage pub serenity, there’s been an even better kept secret cleaning up in a good paddock out the back.
Robs Deal, owned by a syndicate based out of the O’Connell Hotel, claimed victory in the $3000 The Rural Centre Pace yesterday at the Highlands Paceway, storming down the home straight to win by a neck in the 1880 metre pace.
Trainer-driver Emma Turnbull was rapt with the win.
She said as much following the race.
But her excitement was dwarfed by that of co-owner John Turner.
“We’re having a ball with him,” Turner beamed, just one part of the large syndicate.
“He’s just a lovely, beautiful horse. It’s just a syndicate from the O’Connell Hotel, there’s about 10 or 12 of us in it. It’s his third win for us and we’re having a ball with him. We’re having a great time.
“We’ve had trotters previously but there’s a few in the syndicate and this is their first horse, it’s just a shame they weren’t here to grab this beautiful win.”
Leading out in the 1880 metre race, Captain Barbosa started well and, from the outset, looked to be in control of race.
Turning onto the back straight, Sweetsweetlove emerged as Captain Barbosa’s main rival and the two pacers battled it out for the majority of the next lap until, with 600 metres to go, the eventual winner rose to the occasion.
Leading a pack swarming round the outside of the final turn, Robs Deal and Bluechip Brave ran two and three wide respectively with the Emma Turnbull-trained Robs Deal edging ahead for the win by the narrowest of margins.
Bluechip Brave ran second while Captain Barbosa, the trotter on the inside heading into the final turn, finished third and Toumaitou the best of the rest in fourth.
Turner was rapt with the win, just the gelding’s third in 27 starts, after the race.
Part of the syndicate for two seasons, Turner was on hand to watch his $11.40 chance steam home round the outside past the heavily backed Captain Barbosa ($4.90) and another good value bet in Bluechip Brave ($11.40).
The $2.30 favourite, Trikala, never really challenged the front runners.
Turner always thought his bay gelding was a good shot at chalking up another win.
“I thought he had a good chance, and like I said, he’s been a beautiful horse, Emma (Turnbull) does a great job with him,” he said.
“We’re absolutely stoked with him.”