Special win for O'Çonnor at Winton
By Jonny Turner
It wasn’t just the wait that made Ambro Ameigo’s win at Winton on Saturday special.
The 12-year-old sat parked for much of race 1 before scoring in style to break a winless run that stretched back to 2017.
Trainer Kath O’Connor was delighted that her veteran trotter was able to work back to his best form after such a lengthy break from racing.
But she wished her sisters were there to share the victory with her.
“He had four years away from racing and during that time I lost both of my sisters – Shona and Marie,” O’Connor said.
“They used to call us the three amigos – they both followed him, too.”
“It is pretty special that he was able to do it today.”
Hoof issues are the reason Ambro Ameigo has spent so much time on the sidelines.
“He has had a lot of feet issues – he was out four years with his feet,” Connor said.
“Every time I would work him up he would go sore again.”
“But he is the sort of horse that you have got to work him.”
“If he is not in work he is in trouble.”
With his hoof issues a chance of returning at any time, O’Connor was thrilled that Ambro Ameigo got the opportunity to clinch a victory while he is sound.
“It is such a relief, he is a day-by-day proposition, so every start he has you can’t waste it.”
“For the horse to get that win, he deserves it.”
O’Connor credited farrier Richard Collier for helping keep Ambro Ameigo’s hooves in winning shape.
The trainer also had no hesitation in crediting driver Rory McIlwrick for his part in guiding Ambro Ameigo back to the winner’s circle.
The trotter can be tricky at times – as seen in his last start gallop at Ascot Park – but he has barely put a foot wrong when McIlwrick has been in the sulky.
“Sometimes he can be a bit spooky – with his galloping.”
“But putting Rory on has made all the difference – he just loves Rory.”
Though Ambro Ameigo has worked into some of the best form of his career recently, O’Connor is considering retiring the trotter.
“I am not sure what is next.”
“I was actually going to put him out now – the retirement paddock is calling.”
O’Connor races Ambro Ameigo with daughter Serenity and the trotter is one of just two horses the trainer has in work at Knapdale.
Rory McIlwrick clinched a winning double at Winton on Saturday when driving another Eastern Southland trained horse to victory.
The reinsman had to do plenty of manoeuvring to get Captain Starlight into the clear in race 9 – both in the middle stages and on the home turn.
But once he did, the seven-year-old let down nicely to score for owner-trainer Allan McVicar.