A smoke-filled sky and a number of scratchings from fire-affected areas provided a sobering backdrop to a very good Tier One meeting at Bathurst last Friday.
The meeting was sponsored by Golden Gait Stud, which has a long association with the Bathurst club. Their sponsorship sign, on the”Golden Gait” home turn, was the first of many which now proliferate at the track.
Amanda Turnbull’s treble gave her the undoubted driving honours for the night, but it’s fair to say that horses were the real stars, with a number of highly-promising types scoring in very impressive fashion.
McArdles Chance (Amanda Turnbull, for father Steve) led throughout in the opening C3-C4 2130 metres event, prevailing in a desperate finish from a courageous Reservation Road NZ, which sat outside it throughout, and trailer The Wifes Calling a sound third. The last half of 58.5 established the standard for the rest of the meeting.
Hayes and Kydd , winner of the second race, a C2 sprint class, looks to be well above average. He showed a blistering turn of foot to assume the lead after 400 metres, settled in the middle stages then scooted home in a 59.1 final half, from placegetters were Navarda Ace and Essayist.
It was win number 8 in 19 starts for the Armbro Operative four-year-old. His driver Murray Sullivan (for Jason Gaffney) indicated that the horse will most likely do his future racing at Menangle.
A strong field lined up in the feature race, the C1-C2 mares Express Post Stakes, over 2130 metres. Favourite Gabrielle Solis NZ (Nathan Hurst) led throughout, quickening to a last half of 58.2 in scoring easily from stablemate Imitate Life, which trailed her from the pole, and Two Striking.
With a record of 7 wins from just 11 starts, the four-year-old McArdle mare boasts fine breeding also, her dam being a Cullen grand-daughter of famous matron Sakuntala, making her a close relation of Iraklis and Monkey King, among others.
It might have come a week after the car races, but Toptenshootout was an impressive winner of the fourth, a 2130 metres C1 class. Bernie Hewitt bided his time in the running line and unleashed a sharp sprint approaching the turn to quickly put the race beyond doubt. Sassys A Kriden got home well to take second place, with Giannis Bromac NZ holding on well for third. The mile rate was 2:01.5, with a last half of 59.2 .
Bernie’s son Doug, a member of the Panthers Under-20s Grand-Final winning side, made a welcome return to the track where he drove mini-trotters and then his dad’s runners, before concentrating on his career in Rugby League. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to race driving at some point in the future.
Haka Shannon (Peter Bullock), last season’s Juvenile Horse-of-the-Year and Bathurst Gold Crown runner-up, justified his $1.20 quote by leading for most of the trip in a 2130 metres 3C0-3C1 event. Smack Dab Shannon made it a stable quinella, with pole runner Colonel Brook holding third spot throughout. The last half was a comfortable 58.9 .
The Bettors half-brother to Mach Beauty stripped in fine order for his first-up run this season, and will be aimed at a number of the better-class races on offer.
Denise and Jules (Amanda Turnbull, for Mark Butler) gave nothing else a chance in race six, a 3CO Fillies sprint event, dawdling through the first half in a pedestrian 66 seconds before zipping home in 58.7, with Princess Turf and Baked In The City taking the minor places, each for the first time.
The Courage Under Fire daughter is named for her owners, Denise Brien and Julie Smith. They previously raced Cruisin Carl, which was recently sold to Queensland, where he is racing in good form. This filly is a more than worthy replacement.
Amanda Turnbull completed her treble, and gave father Steve a training double, when Itdontmattertome ($1.40) led all the way in the 1730 metres C0 class seventh race. The last half of 57.2 was easily the fastest of the night. Marty Bee raced outside the lead throughout for second, with William Peter a distant third.
Owner Doug Lee entrusted the son of Mach Three to Steve Turnbull when he and wife Jodie made the move to Queensland earlier this year, and a Canola Cup heat win, and this latest effort, vindicate Doug’s decision.
Blissed By Datmuch (Keven Rivett) broke a sequence of four consecutive thirds with a stylish win in the final event, a C0 sprint class, from trailer Stylish Number, and debutant Sunny Guy which closed late. The winner sat midfield in the running line, and won with a lot in hand.
It seems fitting that a race named after Smooth Satin should be won by the trainer-driver of Rowleyalla. Those two horses, along with the mighty Hondo Grattan, are generally regarded as the three greatest Bathurst horses in the night trotting era.
Very fitting also, that the Bathurst Pick Six racebook tipping competition, which had jackpotted to a whopping $1200, should be won by a popular club stalwart in Jim O’Brien, who just happened to be celebrating his eighty-third birthday.
Many happy returns, Jim!
Bathurst Harness Racing Club