You won’t see any cricket played at Bathurst during the winter months- except for the indoor variety – but as the racing season winds down, centuries and double centuries are occupying the thoughts of some followers and, particularly, leading participants.
Amanda Turnbull looks odds-on to repeat last year’s “double ton” driving performance, while dad Steve is making a determined effort to achieve the same score in the training ranks. Nathan Hurst is just a handful of wins from a well-earned training century, and after a slow start, John O’Shea has worked his way into the mid-eighties in driving wins, and is some chance of achieving triple figures as well.
What a remarkable achievement it will be for Bathurst harness racing should all reach those milestones. John O’Shea followed up his recent “five-for” with a double last Wednesday, with Queen Khawaja for Canowindra trainer Ken Rue in C0 company, and his own stable runner Vergels Girl in 2YO company.
From the inside gate, O’Shea gave Queen Khawaja ($2.80 favourite) the run of the race behind leader Embellished, and the five-year-old mare finished too well for that horse, with death- seating Gatling Silver holding on for third.
The winner is from a half-sister to another of Anne Lamb’s breed – a fella named Smooth Satin . Kennny Rue doesn’t have the same ambitions for this girl, but would have enjoyed this third win. Vergels Girl ($3.30) had been racing well in much stronger Breeders Challenge company than the field she was opposing here, and O”Shea drove her aggressively from outside the second line to take the lead in the early stages, skip clear on the turn then hold on from favourite Gentleman Red, which came again close to the line. Flip Wilson NZ maintained its consistent form with a third from outside the lead.
Steve and Amanda Turnbull didn’t crack it for a win until the final event, with Padabing Stride ($1.60 favourite) much too strong for his R0-R1 Competitive Stakes rivals, sitting in the death and drawing away for a soft win from leader Meredith Rose and trailer Carla Dream.
It might have been a frustrating and disappointing night for the leading stable as they chased down their targets, but as reported elsewhere in this edition, things would soon improve markedly, with Steve training four at Wagga two days later, and Amanda driving her second Group One winner at Melton last Saturday.
Other winners on the night were:
Lifes Easy ($2.80 favourite) for Amy Day, in a C0 Tabcorp Menangle Where Horses Fly heat, where the Life Sign mare finished strongly from the running-line with a 59.0 last half. Amy will have a shorter and smoother trip up the highway for the rich final at the end of the month.
Crackerjack Jo ($5.70) for Robbie Clifford and trainer Peter Trevor- Jones, in a C2-C3 sprint. The winner got clear late to get up right on the post, with a very impressive 57.7 final half. Robbie Clifford is having a deal of success as a catch-driver this season, and says he’s enjoying his opportunities.
Giannis Bromac NZ ($2.30 favourite), a very “soft” winner for Emma Turnbull and trainer Wayne Watterson, in a C1 Tabcorp Park Menangle Where Horses Fly heat. She’d been working the track down at home, and her driver, who’s having a terrific run this season, was very impressed by the ease of the win.
Truly Miss Terious NZ ($47.60) belied its price with the night’s biggest winning margin of 13 metres in a heat of the C1-C2 Penrith Mayors Cup, for Jason Turnbull. Trainer Wendy supplied the quinella in the race, through runner-up Likeallofus. The winner will not start at those inflated odds in tonight’s Cup final at Penrith.
Hells A Coming ($3.40 favourite) for West Wyalong visitor Peter Birks and driver Scott Hewitt, made up for a close second at her last start at this track, with a good win from the one-one in 3C0- 3C1 Fillies class. It was the third win from just eight starts for the filly, and completed a good night for the western visitors who had an earlier placing with Coopers Beach Boy.
News that the lighting towers have been positioned at the new Mt Panorama track was the talking point among locals and visitors at the meeting. The interest and excitement is building.