Day At The Track

Rainbow over Bathurst

03:45 PM 13 Apr 2016 NZST
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Rainbow Flash
Rainbow Flash narrowly defeating Pixies Parlour in the Western District Oaks.

There might have been a smaller crowd, cooler conditions, and mostly "bread and butter" races compared to the recent Gold Crown carnival, but Friday's  harness racing fixture at Group 1 Feeds Bathurst Paceway certainly didn't lack for excitement, with a number of desperately close finishes.

This was especially so in the feature Western Districts Oaks, where favourites Pixies Parlour and Rainbow Flash staged a good old-fashioned stoush the length of the home straight, necessitating a long delay before the judges found the narrowest of margins for Rainbow Flash ($2.70, Robbie Morris for Kerryann Turner)

The battle continued into the stewards' room, Amanda Turnbull lodging a protest alleging that Rainbow Flash (which had sat outside her from the mile ) had forced Pixies Parlour down inside the marker pegs on the point of the home turn.

After a lengthy delay, stewards dismissed the protest, allowing the Santanna Blue Chip daughter to maintain her unbeaten record in three runs at Bathurst.Mile rate for the 2260 metres event was a very pedestrian 2:00.6, after a very slow lead time and first quarter, but things got very urgent soon after, with a sharp 27.6 third quarter and then 29.2 for that stirring final section of the race.

Positions were somewhat reversed in the following fast-class event, when Morris attempted to lead throughout on favourite Franco Tiago NZ, chasing four straight wins, and fought off Turnbull's runner Heza Thrill NZ, which had moved to the death mid-race.

Mat Rue aboard Kenny Dee Dee ($4.90, for Bernie Hewitt ) took the opportunity for a cart into the race on the back of Heza Thrill, and ranged up in the shadows of the post to just get over the top of the other two. With the final three quarters all dispatched in sub 29s, the mile rate was a quick 1:57.3 for the 2260 metres.

It was win number 15 for the Speed King five-year-old, bringing up a total of 56 wins for the progeny of his dam Beat The Clock, which connections purchased cheaply some years ago from Queensland breeder Stan Fyfe. The mare was humanely put down recently, but has been a wonderful producer for her proud owners Bob Boyd and Deirdre Masters.

Both Robbie Morris and Amanda Turnbull scored driving doubles at the meeting, as did concession reinsman Chris Geary.

Turnbull's earlier winner was Star Writer ($3.10, for father Steve ) which tracked three-wide over the final quick half of a C2-C4 class, for a very gutsy win in 1:58.8, and Morris picked up his second win in the 2YO final event, with Brobenah Boy ($6.20, for Bernie Hewitt ) leading throughout and dashing home in 27.8 for his first win at start number four.

Geary's double came in the opening races, both for Belinda McCarthy. Somepartysomewhere ($3.80 ) took advantage of an early scrimmage in the 3YO event to find the front before dashing home in 57.2 seconds for his second win in succession, to remain unbeaten this season.

Imnoracinggal NZ ($2.60 ) belied her name with the night's easiest win, by a mere 22.5 metres, in C1 company, Geary making a well-judged move after the bell to wrest the lead from runners feeling the pinch after a lead time of 45.3 seconds, the fastest so far at the track. Overall mile rate was 1:56.6, seldom bettered for the testing 2260 metres run at Bathurst.

Geary currently sits in third place in the NSW driving ranks, behind Todd McCarthy and Robbie Morris, with more than 70 winners, but is reluctant to talk about his chances of cracking a century. In his current form, and getting drives from strong stables, he must be a good chance.

Castlereagh trainer Anthony Simiana missed his double when Franco Tiago got nabbed in that fast-class race later in the night, but was delighted earlier on when Walkabout Creek ($5.40, Wes Komorowski ) made it a hat-trick of wins since his recent purchase, in a conditioned class heat of the Dubbo Golden Gig. With the speed on throughout, he came three-wide from the half for a tough win, in 1:55.6 for the sprint trip.

A beautifully-bred son of Somebeachsomewhere from fine racemare Trudee, he still displays some poor manners but has improved under Simiana's care and by working with other horses.

There was no tougher win on Friday than that of the Steve Turnbull-trained and driven Sabrage NZ ($1.70 ), on debut in Oz and posted three-wide for a long way in C0 class, before eventually finding the death seat. Steve Turnbull  didn't think he'd got up in the photo from Summer Money, but his relief was tempered with some anxiety about his youngster having a gut-buster first-up.

Everyone at Bathurst is well used to the sight of female drivers weighing in first, but it was refreshing to see a female steward, Annie Carruthers, checking the runners and signalling the all-clear after one of the races on Friday.

Her seniors on the stewards panel tell me the young cadet is showing a lot of promise, and is only a couple of months off being ready to take charge of a race meeting.

Great to see, and with a surname the same as Australia's first world boxing champ, she's sure to handle whatever comes her way!

Terry Neil

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