Bathurst Harness Racing Club has attempted in recent times to extend its identity and appeal beyond that well-established Gold Crown brand, with feature meetings aimed at local parish groups, rugby league clubs and the like.
Last Wednesday’s fixture included a Harness Breeders NSW – sponsored “Go Girlfriend Series” heat, but when former Bathurst, and now N.Z. based, commentator Mark McNamara got up to a bit of mischief, by paying for naming rights for a fillies race on the card, the meeting then became, unofficially, Girlfriends Night at the Trots.
Toby Inwood Is Looking For A Girlfriend Three Year Old Fillies Pace, named as a stir against a likeable young driver who works for the family of McNamara’s good mate Jason Turnbull, remarkably finished in a dead-heat, with good sport Inwood more than happy to celebrate with a pair of four-legged fillies following the event.
Santastic Princess ($14.30, Mickael Muscat for father Bill) and Shes So Foxy (($2.00 favourite, John O’Shea for Lester Hewitt) provided a perfect result and perfect names for such an event, relegating Artista Lombo to third, ahead of other interesting monikers like Modern Admirer, Pretty ideal and Hells A Coming. The shared win was the second leg of a double for the Muscat stable. They took out the opening race, a C1 sprint, with recent stable arrival Just Read My Mind NZ ($5.80), sitting in the running line and enjoying the strong tempo which produced a 2:00 mile rate. Front-running pair Written In Red and Prince Raymac fought on well to fill the minors.
On the other side of the McNamara “gee-up” came the “official” girlfriend event, the HBNSW Go Girlfriend Series heat, for C1-C3 Mares.
Highview Aria NZ ($12.70) gave Steve Turnbull the first leg of a training double, when Amanda brought it with a well-timed run from the one-one, with a narrow margin back to Our Miss Kathryn NZ, which led the three-wide train over the final lap. Both qualify for the $20,000 Tabcorp Park Menangle final this Saturday.
Ben Settree, representing HBNSW at the presentation, spoke about the merit of a series such as this which provides increased opportunities for fillies and mares to compete against their own sex. So say all of us!
Other winners from the meeting were: Burra Sullivan ($2.60 favourite, Nathan Hurst) , leading all the way in a 2130 metres C3-C4, the fourth win this season for the Armbro Operative four-year-old. The 58.3 last half was the quickest on a very cold night, and the placegetters were Packnplenty and
Kenny Cracker ($3.20 favourite, Michael Day Jr), impressive in sitting outside the lead in a 3C0 sprint in its first run for the Kevin Powderly stable from Young. Leader Flightee Deedee and Tulhurst
Stacey, which trailed the winner, filled the minor placings. This race was named for the Bathurst HRC Stallion Tender. It remains open till August 29, and provides the opportunity to secure services to leading sires Art Major and Mach Three, and exciting newcomer A Rocknroll Dance, at well below the advertised service fee, if in fact services remain available.
Boundtobewild, the longshot of the night at $17.90 for Anthony Winnell and trainer Peter Reid, produced a very strong finish when clear of the markers to run out an easy winner of a 2C0-2C1
Fillies sprint, from fellow pegs-runners Asitshouldbe and Mah Koo Loo Queen.
Having just her fourth race start, the winner is still very green but clearly has lots of raw ability. With a name like hers, she might be just the ticket if Toby Inwood is still without a girlfriend this time next season!
Bevendale Boy ($2.20 favourite, Sam Hewitt for father David, and owner Daniel Hewitt) , most impressive in working to the death in a 2130 metres 2C0 event, from where the son of Art Official controlled the race and ran out a narrow but soft winner, from last-start winner The Only Child and Gentleman Red.
This was his first win at start eleven, but he’s been racing well against much stronger company, and is likely to tackle the Breeders Challenge regional series in coming weeks.
Polished Rocks ($2.20 favourite, Steve Turnbull), the second leg of his training double, when he sat outside leader and runner-up Sweet Ava NZ in C0 sprint, to record his third successive win.
Three nights later, he raced in the $50,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Blue Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle, finishing just behind the placegetters over the testing 2400 metres , to further shake off his former reputation as just a speedy type.
Bathurst race each Wednesday throughout July.
By Terry Neil
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