Dubbo trainer Brett Robb was nearly speechless after Great Buy won the Western District Country Championships qualifier at Coonamble on Sunday and booked a spot at the final at Royal Randwick.
Trained locally by Robb, Great Buy outraced several other Dubbo hopefuls to take out the $150,000 Newhaven Park Country Championship Qualifier (1400m) in strong style.
Following the race, Robb was understandably lost for words when speaking to Sky Thoroughbred Central about the win.
"I don't know what to say, it's been a big year," he said.
"I thought it was a big win when we won the Picnic Championship but this is a different feeling."
After drawing barrier 12, Great Buy ($4) got a strong start out of the gate something which Robb said was always the plan for the five-year-old gelding.
I thought it was a big win when we won the Picnic Championship but this is a different feeling.- Brett Robb
"I thought they handed the lead up pretty early, we were always going to go forward and try to get the lead early," he said.
"I thought we got it pretty easy and once he got it I thought we'd be hard to beat."
Great Buy led the field heading around the final bend onto the straight before the Clint Lundholm-trained Amulet Street ($3.60) looked to make a move but Robb's horse showed too much speed as jockey Michael Heagney put the foot down.
The gelding proceeded to power alongside the rail and away from Amulet Street to take the win by two lengths ahead of the latter. Lundholm's Ferus ($6) finished back in third place, more than five lengths behind the winner.
While well-known and highly rated jockey Hugh Bowman rode in the main race on Sunday, Robb admitted he was pleased to stick by Heagney for the race.
"A lot of people were telling me I was mad but he is a good honest jockey," he said.
"He's a good bloke, he is a good mate of mine so I'm glad I stuck with him."
Even after drawing a wide barrier, Heagney also told Sky Thoroughbred Central he knew he was in for a good ride early in the race.
"The draw was a bit of a worry but he has got plenty of gate speed," he said.
"He began real quick and he crossed them easy, he got to the fence and travelled nice."
Heagney credited Great Buy's speed early and knows the horse had another few gears left to go to in him.
"I thought I was because he relaxed on the circle and strained it with his ears pricked," he said.
"So I thought he is going to give me a good kick this horse here and he did. He was strong to the line."
While the Country Championship final at Royal Randwick is just under two weeks away, Heagney is confident Great Buy could be a contender, regardless of the conditions.
"If he can draw well, he is going to be up on the speed," he said.
"If it happens to be a soft track, he handles the wet as well. He's got a few things in his favour."
The Country Championships final at Royal Randwick will be held on April 2 with just two horses left to be added to the field.
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