Nobody wanted to accept responsibility for it, but the Christmas coffers of one lucky punter are well and truly overflowing after Fair Nation landed a plunge at Kembla Grange yesterday.
Shopped for as much as $4.60 in early fixed odds betting with TAB Sportsbet, the locally-prepared gelding was sent out a red-hot favourite after attracting one sizeable bet of $20,000 at $3.80. Ironically, the punters' money that Fair Nation carried yesterday monstered the $1500 connections paid for him after he was almost left without a home at the end of the 2010 Magic Millions sales.
"I don't know who had the plunge, but I hope they send a sling," trainer Paul Murray quipped. "I hope they send a ham at least."
Fair Nation wasn't the only horse well tried, with last-start winner Looney Lill also the subject of a $20,000 bet at $4.60. She weakened late to finish third.
The Class 2 Handicap (1600 metres) could have almost been renamed the Kembla Grange Stakes with the first five horses across the line all prepared in Wollongong.
Benefiting from a typically bullish ride from Jeff Penza, the "bread and butter" Fair Nation collared Looney Lill and Kerry Parker's Monsieur Marceau ($11.90) in the final 150 metres to speed away and win by one-and-a-half lengths.
"He's been knocking on the door his last couple of starts and I still reckon he'll get 2000 metres," Murray said. "He just relaxes in his races.
"I thought he nearly would have won last start, but dad's horse just got the better of him."