‘West is best’ as Brett Robb and Sizzle Minizzle wins Country Championships

Dubbo trainer Brett Robb gives the 2023 Country Championships trophy a kiss after Sam Clipperton (right) guided Sizzle Minizzle to victory in the $500,000 final at Royal Randwick on Saturday. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Sizzle Minizzle has delivered the Western Racing Association its first Country Championship winner, with the Dubbo galloper taking out the $500,000 feature at Royal Randwick on Saturday. 

Despite starting an $81 chance with some bookmakers, the Brett Robb-trained Sizzle Minizzle (Sam Clipperton) thrived on the heavy-eight surface, taking the inside running when defeating the Cody Morgan-trained Talbragar (James McDonald, $3.90) by two lengths while in third and 2.22 lengths back were the Matthew Kelley-trained I’ve Bean Tryin’ (Ellen Hennessy, $14). 

It was a shock result for many punters and racing fans, but Robb knew his three-year-old would only improve on his second to Listen to the Band in the Western Racing Association qualifier at Coonamble last month.  

“I knew I was coming here with a lot fitter horse than I had at Coonamble,” Robb said. 

“He missed out on a bit of work, and he was very brave at Coonamble for the work he had into him, and look, between now and then, I’ve been able to jam more work into him, and I knew I had a fitter horse.”

The wet weather didn’t miss Sydney, and Robb admitted that he had reservations about Sizzle Minizzle’s ability to handle a heavy Royal Randwick racecourse. 

“When I was getting in the truck to come here this morning at Penrith, and they rang me and said it was pouring down rain, and I got really nervous, as I didn’t think he could handle the wet, but he just showed he can,” Robb said. 

“He went around as a two-year-old at Scone on a wet track, and he ran well, but I didn’t think he got it through it that day, but look, the horse is still maturing, he is a really nice horse, and I’ve always liked the horse ever since I broke him in. 

“When I rode him for the first time, and I got off and rung Greg and said, ‘I think you’ve got a nice horse here’.

“He’s just taken slightly longer than we thought for the penny to drop. I think he had more improvement left in him, and I think we are going to have a lot of fun with him.”

The road to the Country Championships is challenging for trainers and their stables, and although a lot richer for the success, Robb was happy to have the 2023 edition of the race in his rear-view mirror.  

“I will be glad when this weekend is over because you are preparing horses for this race from a long time out,” Robb said. 

“At the start of it, I had six horses set for it, and in the end, I only had three. A lot of things go wrong, and as I said, it is a lot of work to get these horses here.”

Still, Robb and Sizzle Minizzle will return home as the toast of Dubbo, with the pair putting the town and the Western Racing Association on the map.