Day At The Track

Geoff Simpson wins the Gold Crown Final

10:38 AM 26 Mar 2017 NZDT
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Castalong Shadow Castalong Shadow
Castalong Shadow for Lithgow trainer/driver Geoff Simpson takes out the Bathurst Gold Crown. Geoff drove in the first Bathurst Gold Crown Final 31 years ago. The Trots is an everlasting industry.
NSW Photo
Owners Betty and Geoff Simpson were delighted to win Saturday night's Gold Crown Final with Castalong Shadow.
Chris Seabrook Photo

IT is often said that good things come to those who wait – and boy was Geoff Simpson’s wait rewarded with a good thing. Thirty-one years after the Lithgow trainer-driver took part in the first staging of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s Gold Crown series, he got his hands on the coveted trophy.

He did it with a $24.70 outsider called Castalong Shadow and the 1:55.2 winning mile rate was the fastest in crown history.

It was far different expression on his face than Simpson wore after the inaugural Gold Crown Final for two-year-old colts and geldings in 1987. 

In that decider his chance Too Rich finished 37 metres off the pace in ninth.

“I waited long enough,” Simpson said. “Since Lithgow shut this has been my home track, so I am very grateful to win this race. It means everything to me.”

While Simpson could not have dreamed of a better finish to the Group 1 final, the 1,730 metres trip was not all smooth sailing.

His start from barrier six was not the best, but Simpson was able to duck across to the pegs.

There he found himself in the trail behind Maximus Red.

As the bell sounded hot $1.10 favourite Divine State – a horse who had already twice beaten Castalong Shadow – rolled up to take the lead, shuffling Simpson back into third.

After a hot 56.4 seconds first half of the last mile, Divine State managed to put two lengths on the chasing pack. At that point Simpson thought the ‘Team Tritton’ gelding would go on to win.

“I thought I might still battle on and get a place when I saw it go,” Simpson admitted.

But Castalong Shadow did more than just snag a minor placing.

Both Maximus Red and Castalong Shadow gave again and not only caught the favourite, but ran straight past him.

Castalong Shadow continued to give and went on to win by 7¼m, the Shadow Play x Leslie Jay colt taking his record to three wins from five starts.

In a local trifecta, the Bernie Hewitt trained, Mat Rue driven Mackeral ($50.70) found the line well to place second, with 4m back to Steve Turnbull’s Maximus Red ($9.50) with Amanda Turnbull in the gig.

“I missed the start actually, he got out a little bit slow. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because Amanda’s horse and that one of Tritton’s went pretty hard in the first bit,” Simpson said.

By Anya Whitelaw

Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

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