At a time when there is so much interest in Australian Rules football grand finals, it was appropriate that the man considered South Australia’s most brilliant, was celebrating a success in one of his passions.
Triple Magarey Medallist Barrie Robran is a part-owner of Mighty Sam, winner of Schweppes Australia Entires and Geldings Pace (1800m) at Globe Derby Park on Monday.
The win was also a birthday present for Robran who turned 68 three days earlier.
Robran, and wife Taimi, were on course to see Mighty Sam sprint strongly down the outside in the home straight to grab a long head win.
“This is so unexpected,” Robran said. “I’m speechless, it is just such a thrill.
“We came out today to support Mighty Sam but never expected this.
“It was a wonderful drive by David (Smith) and Toby (Ryan) always has him looking tremendous.”
A $5.50 chance Mighty Sam responded to David Smith’s urging to score a long head win from Hardly A Grin ($3.20) with Whata Special ($77.70) a metre away third.
Robran explained he had loved harness racing since a schoolboy in Whyalla.
“The chap who lived next door to me in Whyalla trained a few horses and I often went to meetings when they were held in the town.
“Then when I came to Adelaide I boarded with Harley Hammond, Bob’s father, and he owned some horses, one I remember was Kerford Raider.
“On Friday nights we often went to Wayville, and all my life I have loved coming out to the trots when I have had a chance.”
Although he has loved the sport, Mighty Sam is the first horse he has owned.
Robran shares ownership with another legend, former Advertiser photographer Barry O’Brien, whose daughter Lisa is a harness driver and thoroughbred trainer and her husband is Toby Ryan, Mighty Sam’s trainer.
The champion footballer also explained there was a meaning behind the five-year-old’s name.
“Sam is after a good friend Sam Leaker, who had just passed away, and who was a chief executive of harness racing for many years. Sam always waved lyrical about Im Themightyquinn who won three Inter Dominions so hence the name.
“Mighty Sam has only won three races, the other two were back in January so it has been a long time between drinks but he has had a lot of throat issues which have stopped him from realising his ability.”
Toby Ryan said he hoped the gelding could win a few more for his connections.
“Barrie’s right, the horse’s throat issues have not helped.
“Today everything fell into place getting a good run one-out, one-back, and with good speed down the back he was able to get out and sprint home.
“That was a perfect scenario. He needs to get good cover with a bit of speed on and the chance to sprint home up the home straight – it is rarely going to happen that way unfortunately.”
Images- Graham Fischer