When reflecting on the career of his champion trotter, owner Greg Mitchell is just proud to have been on the journey with Our Overanova and is glad he will be in great care now that his racing days are over.
The 11-year-old bowed out in the best possible way on Saturday night at Albion Park, going out a winner in the second last race of the evening – that victory his 64th of his amazing career, of which 51 occurred at that track.
The voice of Queensland harness racing Chris Barsby summed up Our Overanova’s career achievements perfectly as he crossed the finish line again with leading driver Grant Dixon, quickly remarking about the trotters “big heart”.
“He is going to do it, out he goes a winner,” Barsby said of the trotter that is regarded one of the best Queensland has ever seen.
“Our Overanova that’s it, final start, he bows out in a great way, as a winner, what a trotter he has been.
“What a fitting way to end a career and what a career it has been.”
Mitchell, who owns the son of Monarchy with wife Sharon, could not be at Albion Park to see their stalwart bow out but savoured the special occasion at home.
Gold Coast businessman-Mitchell picked out Our Overanova from New Zealand after just eight starts in his emerging career, then a three-year-old with one win on his resume at that stage, before he added another 63 in Australia.
“We were so proud of him, what he has had to endure for such a long time with his handicaps, for him to keep turning up every week as he did,” Mitchell said.
“We got a bit of luck on Saturday night with the other horse galloping away, but Grant and I have been talking for the last little while and the thinking was if we happened to nab another win, we would be putting him straight out.
“Things worked out as they should of for him in the end.
“There is nothing wrong with the horse, he is fit, healthy and is about to turn 12, he has never been healthier and could keep racing but just off his big handicaps, we could not keep doing it to him, he has been too good to us.”
On Saturday evening, he overcame a 40 metre handicap to get up and salute one final time.
The multiple winner of the Queensland Trotter of the Year at the TAB Queensland Harness Awards also held several track records at Albion Park.
In retirement, the Mitchell and Dixon team have devised a plan for their special trotter to remain at the leading trainer’s property, with an eye to Our Overanova helping educate youngster trotters who are just learning their craft.
“Well looked after” is how Mitchell, who owns a team of 30 horses in harness, described it.
“I think Grant and Trista love the horse as much as we do,” Mitchell said.
“They look forward to every time they get to work him, he has never let us down.
“He has been a superstar really.
“We never expected him to reach the heights that he has with us but he has done a magnificent job.
“You would never dream of what we have got with him.”
With 64 triumphs to his name, it must be hard to select a favourite but two races stand out above the rest for Mitchell.
He identified the first Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship victory in 2014, at Group 2 level, as a highlight – with another win in that feature race to follow in 2017.
And it was a defeat in the Group 2 Cranbourne Cup of 2015 that also stood out in Mitchell’s eyes, running super, he says, and should have won, but was just beaten a head by Foray.
Mitchell also marvelled at Our Overanova’s versatility, winning all around Australia for three different trainers, but he saved his best for Dixon, who was his main trainer across the journey.