Nagambie’s Linc Sullivan knows a winner when he sees one.
He knows it even better when he is the one training the winner.
Or, in Sullivan’s case, the winners.
On February 1, his maiden three-year-old Geneva Diva took out a $22000 three-year-old fillies maiden plate over 1112m at Kilmore.
It was only the second start for the lightly-raced horse — her first outing at Yarra Glen had her sent out at 100-1.
But the bookies were not making the same mistake again after she finished second there.
At Kilmore, the Nagambie-bred and owned horse started at 9-2 ($4.40) and finished ahead of super trainers Darren Weir and Chris Waller, whose horses ran second and third, respectively.
Sullivan is just as good on the football field — he was a player in Nagambie’s 2010 premiership side in the Kyabram District Football League.
As the senior coach he has steered the Lakers to the past two premierships (and a third one in 2014), ensuring his football charges are becoming as unbackable as his racehorses.
‘‘I broke Geneva Diva in for Rosie Netherall, its breeder and owner, and we made a decision not to race her as a two-year-old,’’ Sullivan said.
‘‘Her sire (Hard Spun) had a brilliant career in the US, including a second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, so there is some genuine distance potential in her,’’ he said.
‘‘But her dam Beltija is a sprinter, so I guess we will have to see how she pans out.
‘‘For now though, we will be sticking to sprint distances until she matures fully. She’s not a big horse, but she is very strong.
‘‘We’re not getting carried away though; it was only a maiden win.’’
Sullivan said Geneva Diva was already back in the paddock and would spend a couple more weeks there before finding her next start.
He said the horse had ‘‘tremendous’’ gate speed, was able to ease back in the middle stages of a race and then turn on a big finish.
‘‘It didn’t hurt to have Luke Nolen in the saddle either, and it would be good to get him for future rides,’’ Sullivan said.
‘‘There was daylight between her and the minor placings when she hit the line.’’
He said he had always held an opinion of the filly since breaking her in.
‘‘She’s had three preps and has improved in each of them. When she comes back in, we’ll look at some three-year-old races with her.’’
He has six horses in work at his Tatura stables — plus more than 20 pre-trainers and horses being broken in.
When not in the horse yard or at the track; Sullivan is preparing for his sixth year as coach of Nagambie.
He played for Tatura, South Bendigo and Nagambie — putting together almost 300 senior games — before being ‘‘talked into’’ coaching. And it becomes a pretty tough gig when he combines the two through the pre-season — it often means leaving home in Nagambie at 3.30am and not getting home until 8.30pm (or thereabouts).
‘‘It does stretch your time a bit,’’ he said.
‘‘I am Nagambie born and bred and when I returned home in 2007 getting back into football here was inevitable, I just wasn’t expecting the coaching role.’’
If three flags in five years is the measure of someone who was not serious, the rest of the league must be glad it is only a part-time role.