Day At The Track

Father of the bride has the final say

03:31 PM 15 Sep 2017 NZST
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Cobbity Cardio, Harness Racing
Cobbity Cardio winning at Bathurst last Wednesday night.

Bernie Hewitt, along with wife Cathy, will be the proudest of parents at next Monday’s wedding of their daughter Gemma to leading driver Mat Rue, but he cast all sentiment aside, and put them firmly in their place, when successful in the final race at Wednesday’s Group One Feeds Paceway meeting.

Just as Mat Rue, driving the Gemma Hewitt-trained Swift Bet, looked likely to score an all-the-way win in the C0 sprint, Hewitt charged home from the one-one with Cobbity Cardio for a strong win.

And with Just A Kool Joe working clear down the running, the young couple had to settle for the minor place.

There’ll be a very different script at next Monday’s ceremony, but perhaps the Port Douglas location, as well as all the regular “exes”,  figured in Bernie Hewitt’s reaction straight after his win: “ It’s okay for Gem and Mat, they’ve got all the time in the world to save up, but I’ve been going flat out the last few months to win as much as I can for this!”

Tongue-in-cheek, or even slightly serious, it was accompanied by a wide grin which indicated genuine delight that the family could enjoy a win in what was the very last race before they all headed north the following day.

A pre-wedding toast, from the father of the bride. Steve Martin couldn’t have done it any better!

If this final race was a triumph for age and cunning, the earlier results were in large part a testament to youth and promise, with Mitchell Turnbull scoring a driving treble, for three separate family members.

Lockton Luck, for brother Josh, resumed from a six-month break in a C2 Menangle Country Series heat, handing up to favourite My Bettor Bella NZ and reeling it in via the sprint lane, with a 27.4 second closing quarter to round out a 1:56.9 trip.

In the C4-C7 sprint that followed, last season’s Horse-of-the-Year Sportygal, for father Steve, combined with the Junior Driver-of-the-Year for a tough win from the death-seat, just edging out Gotta Bewitched NZ, which had the drop on it for most of the trip.

Those two winners started at each-way odds, in even fields, but that was certainly not the case with the final leg of the Mitch Turnbull treble.

Quaint Glen NZ, for sister Amanda, started at odds-on in the Kevin and Kay Seymour Celebrating 50 Years  mares class, and the Pay Me Christian daughter earned her Queensland owners a free service to either Hurrikane King Cole or Gotta Go Cullect with an easy front-running win, slipping home in 56.8 seconds under wraps.

Her youthful driver was naturally pleased by his treble, but especially so because it involved three other members of his close-knit family.

Other winners on a true winter’s night at Bathurst:

Panther Star, for Steve Jones and Nathan Hurst ( who earned the Drive-of-the-Night award from racecaller Anthony Manton), in a C0/C1 sprint, coming from a mile back and sustaining his effort right to the line in a very impressive win  for his Bathurst Panthers RL syndicate of owners;

Ring The Till NZ (Steve Turnbull), maintaining his unbeaten record in this country with another tough effort, working to the death in C2/C3 grade and pulling away easily in the straight, with a soft 27.9 final quarter. His Dubbo part-owner Jack Shanks is reliving some of the fun he enjoyed with a very good pacer named Quamby’s Pride, a Queensland Derby winner in 1980;

Cherry Sweet Peach, which won the C0  Menangle Where Horses Fly heat, Nathan Hoy cleverly dodging some home-straight disruption and coming with a strong run down the outside, to make up for her own bad luck with a flat tyre at her previous start;

Miss Ives, in a C0 sprint that also featured some home-straight confusion as several runners locked wheels. It didn’t affect this result, with trainer-driver Greg Rue  merely observing the chaos back over his shoulder as he took the death-seating mare to a clear-cut win.

This was a win for the uncle of-the-groom, and a nice lead-in to the father-of-the-bride.

Terry Neil


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