Rodney Robb out to continue Bourke love affair

Rodney Robb. Photo: Racing photography.

During his storied training career, Rodney Robb has ‘made a good living’ racing in the country.

While he only has ten horses in work these days, he still travels all over the place with his team and will trek north to Bourke on Sunday.  

Over the years, he’s won countless feature races at Bourke, recording an incredible 63 wins at a 22.3% strike rate, which includes preparing four winners at their 2023 meeting

“It is a happy hunting ground,” Robb told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“You can easily see why you would want to go to these places; I’ve got ten in work, and I’m taking eight there. If Enngonia, Louth, Tottenham, or any of those places were racing, I’d have eight in there, too.

“In the first four years of my training career at Cobar, I always headed that way, and I am big on supporting these clubs.”

Robb, who, over the years, has had owners ask why he didn’t race more often in the city, explained that attending community race days gave him the satisfaction he needed as a trainer. 

“I remember a long time ago, I took two horses to Canterbury, and they both won; it was Letza Star and Drought Breaker,” Robb said. 

“I would have shaken hands with three people that day, and the owner shook my hand twice.

“I got in the car and went straight home, and then I was out at Coolabah that Saturday and trained two more winners, and I would have shaken hands with 50-80 people. 

“There was good money at Canterbury, but it was appreciated at Coolabah and meant a lot more winning there.”

With Bourke a happy hunting ground, Robb will have two good chances in the Splashe Cola Rice’s Back O Bourke Cordials Harry Hart Memorial Picnic Cup (1600m). 

Michael Gray will jump aboard Nannu, and Anthony Williams will ride Red Impulse.

“I think both are a chance, and both horses will have to be ridden the best to win,” Robb said. 

Nannu was recently in the care of Rodney’s son, Brett, and connections gave the four-year-old a chance to qualify for next month’s Country Championships final. 

A winner in the 1200m Class Two Handicap at Gilgandra on January 7, he eventually ran sixth to Elson Boy in the $150,000 Country Championships qualifier at Coonamble on March 17.

Nannu was shipped back to Rodney and will resume for the stable in Sunday’s $12,000 feature, but the Nyngan galloper, who will carry 70 kg, hasn’t been missed by the handicappers. 

“Nannu has drawn off the track and is yet to get over a mile with us,” Robb said. 

“The owner sent him to Brett to try his hand in the Championships, but he’s back here now.

“He’s got beat four-and-a-half lengths in the championships at Coonamble, and he’s got a lot of weight.”

Stablemate Red Impulse isn’t without a chance, with the eight-time winner placing in the Bedgerabong and Condobolin Picnic Cups in February. 

Last time out, she finished fourth to Tupou in the Tottenham Picnic Cup, but with only 65.5kg on the seven-year-old’s back, Robb thinks she is a knockout chance. 

“She is a real trier, and I’m keen to see her on the Bourke track,” Robb said.

“I said to Tony (Williams) last month that Bourke will suit her, and if she gets the suck run and they all go out and want to lead, she is a big chance.”

It’s a stacked Bourke Picnic Cup, with Connie Greig taking four chances, including Picnic Cup specialist Linden Tree (Leandro Ribeiro) and the in-form Kalpana (Izzy Neale).

Jane Clement has arguably the horse to beat in the form of Toulon Factor (Eloise Drews), and Robb believes it will be a good race.

“Connie’s horses are hard to beat, and she is a good, competitive trainer; she has a good rider in Leandro,” Robb said. 

“My horses are chances, but they’ll need good rides to win.”

As far as his best chance on the five-race Bourke program, Robb believes Hamoon Sky is the one to beat in the 800m Maiden Plate.

There are only five horses in the race, and Hamoon Sky (Maddison Wright) will be joined by stablemates Party Stop (Anthony Williams) and Our Little Zoe (N/A). 

“He’s the best of my lot,” Robb said. 

“Yeah, he’s drawn five of five and hasn’t raced in six months, but he can gallop a little bit. 

“The reason he’s going is that the owner hasn’t been to Bourke before, and he wants to have a look and race a horse there.”

Considering there is some good racing about over the Easter holiday period, and with Lightning Ridge hosting their non-TAB Meeting on Saturday, the Bourke program has held up well, boasting some really good picnic fields. 

Part and parcel of the Back O’ Bourke Easter Festival, the race meeting headlines a big four days for the town. 

Race one jumps at 1.40 pm, and for more on the race day, click here.