That strong finish was maintained with a treble at last Wednesday’s Bathurst meeting.
Joannie Pony ($4.50) was reined by his nephew, the in-formScotty Hewitt, who brought the mare with a well-timed run in the C1 sprint, right over the top of favourite Polished Rocks, who tried very hard, and Queen Khawaja.
The last half was covered in 59.8 but the overall mile rate of 1:59.9, good under winter conditions,was the result of unrelenting pace in the first part of the event.
Hewitt completed his good night’s work by driving the winners of two of the final three races.
Famous Fella ($3.60) came from well back in a 3C0 sprint to overhaul death-seating Kyalla Tee Jay and Monica’s Magic, which had enjoyed the one-one trail.
The last half was run in a minute flat.
The winner was a smart two-year-old last season, placing fifth in the Crown final won by All Black Stride NZ, but his only success this term had been in Restricted company.
He will try to pick up that hardest win – the second 3YO – before heading for a break.
Bernie’s wife Cathy shares in the ownership of Famous Fella, but she would have been even more impressed by the result of the following race.
Pass The Magic ($4.00) was an easy all the way winner of a 2C0-2C2 Fillies sprint and better still hers is the only name on the ownership papers.
A Menangle winner earlier in the season, she’d been unlucky in some of her recent starts, but a smart 59.5 last half gave an indication of the ability of the daughter of Passmaster Hanover.
Asked to comment on his wife’s ownership double,Bernie ‘s thoughts turned to a possible roast dinner.
Hopefully so, with a cuddle thrown in for good measure!
Ashlee Siejka is another trainer putting in the big strides in the latter part of the season, and she was rewarded with a double at the meeting.
Red Vee Hanover, $2.70 favourite in a very strong C 2 over 2130 metres, justified the support by sitting outside the lead and opening up a clear break on the turn before holding on narrowly from his stablemate Packnplenty, which got an inside run close to the line.
Smack Dab Shannon held on for third.
With the first half run in a pedestrian 64 seconds, the speed came on over the final lap, which took just 58.4 seconds, adding merit to the win, the first this season for the five-year-old.
“He didn’t go as well as we’d hoped early in the season, with illnesses and a few injuries, but now that he’s struck some form, we hope he can keep it going,” was the trainer driver’s assessment after the race.
Our Miss Kathryn NZ ($3.30 ) brought up the Siejka double in the following race, a 2130 metres C3 – C6, and like the earlier win, it was achieved sitting outside the lead, throwing in a very quick third
quarter – 28.3 in this case – and out staying her rivals down the running.
The overall mile rate was 2:02.4 .
The winner races for Siejka’s partner Ryan Grives, who’s had a dream introduction to harness racing, with wins by this mare and by promising juvenile Ameretto.
Time for Ryan to check out that baked dinner recipe?
Amanda Turnbull was yet another to grab a driving double in successive races, hers coming in the middle of the meeting, sandwiched between the Siejka and Hewitt efforts.
Padabing Stride ($2.30 favourite, for father Steve) deserved his win in a C 0 sprint sponsored by his owners the Rosati family.
After working round the field to the death, he controlled the race, for a clear win from leader Kapow Shannon and trailer Lawsons Way.
Lacking high speed, the Village Jasper four-year-old is usually required to race from the death, and had been runner-up at his previous three starts when driven in that fashion.
His driver reckons “he’s like a big, gangly kid, still growing up, and working it all out.
Long Hot Summer ($2.90 ) recently joined Josh Turnbull’s team from the Dean Cernovskis stable, and grabbed his second win for the season in a 3CO sprint, prevailing in a slogging finish from death-seat runner Noahs Ark ( a half to earlier winner Red Vee Hanover) and Puffnstuff.
Like his sire Metropolitan, the winner is a big strong type, and he is yet to grow into himself.
When the starter released the field in the opening C0 – C1 sprint, eventually taken out by The Rag Doll ($3.90, Jarrod Alchin / Colin McDowell ) an electrical malfunction prevented the on-course broadcast and the crowd had the strange, almost surreal, experience of watching the race in total silence.
This lasted till the final turn, when things changed suddenly- the din of drivers all yelling at their horses was a novel, and dramatic experience normally hidden by the commentary.
No-one would willingly do without Kevin Thompson’s fine race calls, but this enforced silence gave everyone at the track some insight into just what goes on at the business end of a race.
Amy Day kept up her Bathurst strike-rate with a deserved win by Audrey Maree in the final race, an R 0 sprint.
The four-year-old mare has been a model of consistency this season, with 8 places from 12 starts prior to this maiden win.
Coopers Beach Boy and Tim McGee filled the minor placings.
Bathurst HRC has announced two important dates for the diary –September 21 for the final meeting at the Bathurst Showgrounds track, and October 19 for the opening at the new Mt Panorama complex.
They’ll both be huge milestones - for the club, for Bathurst and the Western Districts, and for harness racing in New South Wales.
More about these special days, in coming weeks.
By Terry Neil