Day At The Track

Bathurst becomes an entirely different city

06:55 PM 14 Oct 2013 NZDT
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Premium Angus was quite impressive
Premium Angus was quite impressive

Bathurst becomes an entirely different city in the week leading up to the famed Bathurst 1000 “Great Race”. Thousands of visitors, street parades,and a lot of celebrity-spotting, all make for a buzz that you can actually feel.

Many of the visitors made it to last Wednesday’s harness meeting, to experience- or perhaps re-discover- horse power of that other kind. The meeting was part of the official program of community activities for Race Week, and free entry for those presenting car racing entry passes ensured a large crowd.

With races named for the competing teams up on the mountain, and winners’ sashes presented by visitors selected from the crowd, the fixture had an appropriate motor racing theme.

Cousins Emma and Amanda Turnbull scored driving doubles, in a demonstration of female capability that’s taken for granted in harness racing but quite foreign to motor racing.

Emma Turnbull’s double, maintaining an excellent strike-rate this year, came in the final two races, both for R 0 class, with Premium Angus and Queen Leianne. Both winners are trained by her mother Wendy.

Premium Angus ($8.90) was quite impressive, taking off three-wide coming to the bell and maintaining the run for the entire lap, including a sharp 28.4 third quarter. He was too strong for leader Sunnyside Magic and pegs runner Blazing Boris.

It was just the fourth start for the four-year-old son of Patirra, a handy mare for this stable which won 13 races including several at Harold Park.

Queen Leianne ($2.60 fav.) scored in contrasting style, setting a moderate tempo throughout, for an overall 2:04.4 rate, in defeating Tulhurst Daydreamer, three-wide from the bell, and Stylish Number.

The winner, a $3000 purchase for Winton Sanders at the 2011 Gold Crown Sale, was having just her third lifetime start. She’s a close relative of multiple Oaks and classics winner Yada Yada Yada.

Amanda Turnbull’s winners Pevensey and Mercy Mercy were provided by brother Josh and father Steve, respectively.

Pevensey ($2.20 fav.) occupied the death in the 2130 metres C0-C1 King of the Mountain Pace until obtaining cover at the 1300 metres point. She pulled out too many guns in the straight to hold off Hand For Tilly, which sat in the running line, and leader Why So Serious.

It was the third career win, but the first in six starts this term, for the half-sister to Dinki Di.

Mercy Mercy ($1.70 fav.) justified the decision of her owner and former trainer Belinda McCarthy to place the filly in easier country racing, when successful in a 3C0 sprint event. She led throughout, defeating Beau Savant which sat outside her all the way in a gallant effort, and Colonel Brook, one of three placegetters on the night for Ian Mutton/Robert Clifford.

Steve Turnbull completed a training double when he drove Hes Magic Red ($7.80 ) to a narrow and exciting win in the R4+ Erebus Motor Sport V8 Pace, over 2130 metres.

Leader The Wifes Calling was fighting strongly and looking likely to hang on, when she broke stride at the fifty-metres point, enabling Hes Magic Red, which had enjoyed the one-one throughout, to grab the lead and hold on in the night’s best finish from stablemates Western Spirit and Veracity Red.

Earlier in the meeting, On China Beach NZ ($4.10) made it two wins from three starts this season when she led throughout for trainer-driver Wayne Watterson in a C1-C2 mares class over 2130 metres. Jay Peez Knight and Miss Ellie Shannon, which formed the three-wide train, filled the placings. The speed was solid throughout, with a last half in 59.4 and the mile rate 2:01.

The daughter of Courage Under Fire has good gate speed, and a similar front-row draw should see her strongly fancied in this Friday’s $8,000 final for the mares.

Essayist ($11.30 , John O’Shea ) relished the blistering early pace of a 2130 metres R0-R3 Holden Racing Team Pace, coming off the pegs on the turn and running out a strong winner in a 2:00.6 mile rate.

Runner-up Giannis Bromac NZ, having its first Australian start, held on well for second after withstanding a sustained challenge early from Stevie Wander, and Crackerjack Jo came three-wide from the bell for third, maintaining its recent form.

Race week visitors from as far away as Geraldton, Perth, the Sunshine Coast, Buderim and Brisbane, got to present sashes to the winners, and then share some of their Bathurst history with an interested crowd. Some have made their pilgrimage to “The Mount” for many years, while a few were in Bathurst, finally, for the very first time.

They’ve all declared they’ll be certain starters for the trots this time next year.

Marianne Donnelly


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