Day At The Track

I'd like to have a beer with Mick

03:34 PM 01 Sep 2017 NZST
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Karloo Damajor
Karloo Damajor wins for "Mick" at Bathurst last Wednesday night.

It would have been well after midnight when Barry and Rhonda Lew arrived back home to Dubbo after racing at Bathurst on Wednesday night but Ronnie Lew had one more visit to make before turning in for a well earned rest.

And that was to Karloo Mick’s headstone, close to the house in their back garden. She and Barry had “a yarn with Mick” earlier on, before setting off for the races, because it was 12 months to the day since his passing. Now, after scoring a double - and a third win for friend and travelling companion Peter Gavin- she wanted to say thanks to their champion and mate.

“I might go and sit on his headstone and have a beer with him!” enthused Ronnie.

The Lew double commenced with Karloo Damajor, which worked his way to the lead in the early stages of a 2260 metres fast class, off a quick lead time, before taking the field through an unusually slick middle half of 56.7 seconds, and fighting on strongly to hold off trailer Gotta Bewitched.

It brought up a hat-trick for the four-year-old Art Major son, with driver Mat Rue (who earned Anthony Manton’s Drive of the Night award) noting they’d been scored from a trail, the death seat and now the lead, to underline his versatility.

Three races later, it was the turn of Karloo Threeothree, in C4 class, after parking outside favourite Rocknroll Angel and showing plenty of Karloo Mick’s true grit to get the decision by a half-head margin.

The win took the Mach Three gelding’s record this term to six wins from 15 starts and, more importantly, it gave him Juvenile Horse of the Year honours at Bathurst in the last few strides of the season, much like his victory in the race itself.

In the following race, the first of two 3YO sprints, Peter Gavin’s lightly-raced Big Bill completed that Dubbo treble, and a Mat Rue driving treble,  by leading throughout.

The win took Rue to 99 wins for the season, and with drives in each of the remaining three races, with an especially strong chance in the last, the odds looked stacked in his favour to grab a ton for the third time.

Rue, a cricketing tragic, was not so sure, and commented after Big Bill’s win: ” I remember Michael Slater getting out on 99 so many times- I’m feeling pretty nervous right now!”

That proved to be something of a premonition.

He placed third, behind the death-seating Nicky Beau (Nathan Hurst for Mat McCarthy) in the second of the 3YO sprints; ran unplaced in the 2YO sprint taken out in superb fashion by Weona Luke (David Hewitt) which gave the field a start after an early gallop; and then led until the final strides in the last, a maiden, only to be collared on the line by Pretty Foxy, trained and driven by his uncle Greg Rue.

(Mat Rue subsequently drove two runners at Penrith on Thursday night - the final meeting of the season- for his future father-in-law Bernie Hewitt, getting that prized century in the opening race. A quick single to win, off the second last ball of the match?)

Angela Hedges had earlier scored an impressive win with the Nathan Hurst-trained Tulhurst Santanna in the C1-C2 Western Districts Championships Final.

She charged the three-year-old out of the gate to clear the field by the first turn, then eased the speed through the first half before sprinting again in a 28.2 third quarter, and held on stoutly in 28.9 seconds to hold off death-seater Lethal Promise and Hez Razor Sharp.

“He’s my favourite horse in the stable”, she declared, understandably given his excellent record of seven wins this season, including his last four in succession - “and this is a race I really wanted to win, to put Kevin in his place for giving me plenty of grief.”

Kevin Hurst, after the race, recalled the little Santanna Blue Chip weanling colt, at an Alabar Broodmare Sale, poking his head out through the fence for a pat, a subsequent bid that doubled his purchases on the day,  and many explanations to the family when he returned home!

He’s more than happy now, with how it all panned out.

Mitch Turnbull had his first race drive behind Write About Me (for brother Nathan) in the opening C0-C1 sprint, and blasted from the gate in an 8.0s lead time to lead throughout for an easy win, to complete his season in characteristic winning vein.

Ash Grives, on the other hand, is very accustomed to Isle Of Man, and in the earlier C4 class, drove him  the way that suits, running them along strongly with even quarters, and maintaining it right to the line as his opposition weakened. The perfect combination of a horse’s racing style and driver’s tactics, you’d have to say.

A full list of all the 2016/2017 Bathurst HRC premierships will be published in next week’s report.

by Terry Neil

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