TO SAY Heathcote's O'Sullivan family and the previous connections of Neangar Guy have had to be patient would be an understatement.
But there's plenty of optimism in better times ahead following the six-year-old pacer's drought-breaking win on Ballarat Pacing Cup night last Saturday.
Trained by Rothacker medallist Jim O'Sullivan and driven by daughter Shannon O'Sullivan, Neangar Guy was having his 10th start for the stable after being leased out by the Bartels family.
The gelding's win was only the second of his career and first since May 2017 - a gap of 978 days - albeit that statistic is a tad misleading.
Neangar Guy did not race for the 813 of those days, between his last start for Kenneth Bartlels in July 2017 up until his first for the O'Sullivans in October 2019.
"We've only had him for around six months after getting him from the Bartels family," explained Shannon O'Sullivan.
"Dad actually shoed him for the family, but he always liked him and thought he could be a nice horse.
"He pretty much had two years off before we got him. The Bartels' grandson used to train him and he was a bit busy with work, so by the time he was ready to race he could never get him to the track.
"We were lucky to get him. It's been really exciting to see what he can do.
"Driving him, he's really surprised me. His run at Shepparton (on Christmas Eve) was his first start over the mile for us. I came from last, three-wide, just before the 600m and he got to the front, but just got pipped.
"He went 1.56 for the journey and I seriously did not think he could go that quick, so he's really surprised me with what ability he's got."
Adding to the family connection, the horse is raced by mother Terresa O'Sullivan.
While it might have taken a little longer than anticipated to get a win with Neangar Guy, the gelding has been reasonably consistent in his return to racing, being placed four times in nine starts and only once finishing further back than fifth.
O'Sullivan credited a recent gear change as a key factor in his improved form.
"We've changed a bit of his gear and taken the hopples and he has improved lengths. He feels like a better horse," she said.
"He such a lovely horse and a real character. He reminds me of a teenager.
"He's got a lot of attitude and likes to bite and nibble and he likes to be the boss. And he can be lazy.
"But on the track he doesn't do anything wrong, he doesn't gallop or doing anything wrong like that He's pretty switched on.
"It's just great that he's finally broken through for a win for us - we knew it he could do it. He's been knocking on the door with those seconds and thirds.
"Hopefully he goes on with it."
Wins aboard Neangar Guy and the Susan Hunter-trained Monash at Wedderburn on Sunday continued a good month for the 20-year-old reinswoman, who has notched up 34 career wins in just over two years of driving.
They came on the heels of success at Warragul on January 13 with It's the Emblem and Fly Cheval at Tabcorp Park Melton on May 9.
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