HE was the man behind getting the Country Championships up and running at Wagga and on Saturday, Scott Sanbrook will be trying to win the race as an owner.
Sanbrook was chief executive at Murrumbidgee Turf Club when they held the inital Country Championships heat back in 2015.
While he has since moved on from the MTC, his passion for racing remains alive with a number of different roles in the industry.
On Saturday, he will be one of many part-owners cheering home the Chris Heywood-trained Blitzar in the $150,000 SDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m).
Sanbrook is looking forward to enjoying the experience as an owner.
"I love both sides. I love the administration side of things but it's more relaxing, you can go and have a day at the races and enjoy the social side of it," Sanbrook said.
"I've owned a lot of slow horses so it's a privilege to be a part of one that has plenty of ability. I've only got a very small interest in the horse but you still get just as much fun out of seeing them win."
Sanbrook knew the Country Championships was a winner from the outset.
"I think it would be fair to say the Country Championship concept was a winner from the get go. It didn't really take a lot of work to make it a success," he said.
"It really is one of the best initatives that anyone's come up with for the country.
"It probably took a little while for the trainers to cotton on to what it was all about but once they have, they have really embraced it, you can see they plan for it from year to year, to have a Championship runner. Any owner or trainer who has a horse that's won a race around here, they start turning their attention to the Championships."
Blitzar is an $8 chance with TAB. He ran ninth in the race last year, beaten 2.3 lengths behind Another One, when getting home strongly from well back in the field.
This time in he returned with a win in the Wagga Scamper (1000m) before a luckless second behind Halo Warrior in the preview last week.
Sanbrook is not getting too excited about Blitzar's chances.
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"It's obviously a difficult assignment to win the race, only because everybody does target it," he said.
"It's always going to be a difficult assignment but at the same time, it's what racing is all about. Racing's built on hopes and dreams and when you've got a Championship runner, that's all part of it.
"I'm a conservative person and I wasn't getting my hopes up this campaign that he'd be a Championships horse but he's proven in his two runs this time in that he deserves a crack at it. Beaten under three lengths last year and he seems to be going better this time around and I think Chris has done a fantastic job to get him peaking at the right time. He's always had faith in the horse and now the horse is really justifying those raps."
Blitzar won't be Sanbrook's only interest in the race. One of his roles in the industry is as jockey manager and his team will be well represented in the race.
He manages Nick Heywood (Another One), Richie Bensley (Snowbella) and Casey Waddell (Fifty Carats), while he is also assisting Fiona Sandkuhl (Tullaghan) and Jason Lyon (Power Me Up) at the moment.
"The thing about it is, you love to see everybody get a result. I really would. You've got a widespread interest in the race and you really want to see everyone do their best," he said.
"As much as I want to see Blitzar win, I want to see the whole lot of them ride good races. I'm fully committed to my jockeys and first and foremost I want to see them do well."
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