‘Bush horse’ promises connections Picnic Champion Series success

The Brett Robb trained On A Promise is one of the favourites to win the NSWPRA Picnic Champion Series final at Coonamble on October 10. Photo: Racing Photography.

Dubbo galloper On A Promise is as country as they come. 

The six-year-old, owned predominantly by punters and racing tragics in Tullibigeal and Lake Cargelligo, was purchased out of the Dubbo yearling sales by Dean Hague and his cohort of colourful owners.

During his 33-start career, the Shrapnel gelding that is out of In A Tizz has won eight times, spending stints with the late George Wright, George Wright Junior, Rodney Robb before finally finding his place with Brett Robb

“We bought him out of the Dubbo yearling sales, and he is just a good bush horse,” Hague said. 

“He has had just over 30 starts for eight wins and he has given us a ride. We have people in on him from right out at Ivanhoe, people from Temora, Lake Cargelligo, Hillston and Tullibigeal.”

While in the care of Brett Robb, On a Promise has grown wings, winning six times from 16 starts and running a further seven placings.

The Dubbo galloper is arguably in career best form, winning three on end following a 15-week spell, starting out with a picnic victory at Coonamble when under the guidance of Maddy Wright over the 1100m back on August 7. 

The country nag was then in action at Gilgandra on August 28 – a community meeting – winning well over the 1200m with Clayton Gallagher in the saddle. 

On A Promise registered his best win to date at Narromine on Thursday, with Clayton Gallagher again in the saddle, and the pair stormed home to win the 1100m Benchmark 58 Handicap.

“To win three in a row back this spell and to win like that from barrier 16 at Narromine is a pretty fair effort,” Hague said.

“It’s fair to say we are all pretty excited at the moment and I think the town was pretty lively on Thursday afternoon after the win. He had the whole town on his back.”

Connections will now prepare for a trip to Coonamble on October 10, with Robb combining with leading picnic hoop Brent Evans as their galloper takes on the $50,000 NSW Picnic Racing Association Picnic Champion Series final. 

Only the top 12 picnic gallopers are eligible for the final, and with On A Promise managing wins at Gilgandra, Bedgerabong and Coonamble, along with minor placings at Forbes and Tottenham, it is no surprise he qualified second overall and is now one of, if not, the favourite to take out the feature event.

“12 months ago, someone mentioned the Picnic Championship and it was a bit of a dream and we never expected to get there, but now, it’s right in front of us and we are very excited,” Hague said. 

After his strong Narromine win, punters will likely gravitate to On A Promise come race day, and Hague said the ownership group were keeping a lid on their expectations. 

“We are quietly confident. Just to have a horse in the final is pretty exciting and Snow (Brett Robb) tells us he is working the best he has ever done,” Hague said. 

“Win, lose or draw, we will be altogether at Coonamble for the final and it is sure to be a big couple of days.”

Hague praised his trainer’s efforts in getting the best out of On a Promise, explaining Robb was a true ‘horseman’. 

“He is unbelievable. Snow is only a younger fella, but he is a really good horseman, you can see how he handles a horse, and you can see how much he cares,” Hague said. 

“He will be out here looking at yearlings that have never been handled and have them in the float in 10 minutes; his horsemanship is unreal.”

As far as what the next few weeks hold, Hague explained it was unlikely On A Promise would race ahead of the Coonamble final. 

“I think Snow’s plan is to freshen him up, probably give him a good gallop out and keep him right for the final,” Hague said. 

“That’s his plan, but we will leave that to him, and we will see what happens.”