Day At The Track

Bathurst Friday night review

06:48 AM 04 Nov 2013 NZDT
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Saloon Passage
Saloon Passage

Bathurst’s Star Trek series has been won by some very good restricted-class horses which have gone on to become familiar names, the likes of Caesar Blue Chip, Frosty Castle, Smooth Dixie and Cheri Cullen.

Three heats of the 2013 series, sponsored by Empire Stallions, were keenly contested at last Wednesday’s meeting, and the winners look well up to the high standard seen over the years.

Lochinver (Ash Siejka, $4.70) , a brilliant winner of the first of two C1 heats over 2130 metres, started at inflated odds, with Gabrielle Solis expected to dominate from its pole draw. But that mare dropped out mid-race after suffering from heart fibrillation, and Lochinver raced away for a convincing win despite sitting in the death, with a last half of 57.6 and an impressive 1:59.8 mile rate.

Sassys A Kriden, in the one-one throughout, and Beetson, which pulled hard behind the leader, finished well astern of the winner but have qualified for the $12,000 final.

Rod Smith’s Kriden Investments went one better in the second heat, for C2 class, when Sammys A Kriden (Jack Butler/Amanda Turnbull $1.80 fav.), first-up since the Gold Chalice heats in March, led throughout. The four-year-old sprinted up the back in 28.6 but slowed to a 30.7 final quarter, allowing the trailers Essayist and Scots Legacy to close within a
couple of metres.

The same trainer-driver combination was successful in the final heat, for C2 class, with the promising Sky Falcon NZ, which started at prohibitive odds of $1.04 on the strength of a good Canola Cup heat win. He finished down the track, after galloping, in that final when equal favourite with the eventual winner Holy Camp Clive. 

Sky Falcon’s mile rate of 2:02.7 was slowest of the three heats, but he did it comfortably in the lead and his final half of 58.4 could easily have been bettered. El Mega ran on well from mid-field for second, with Blissed By Datmuch holding on behind the leader for third, and a spot in the final.

Owners Bernie McMullen and Dan Richardson, newcomers to harness-racing ownership, are having a great run with the Falcon Seelster four-year-old, who scored his fourth win since arriving in Australia midway through last season.

Amanda Turnbull’s decision on which of the heat winners to drive in the final will come down to the all-important barrier draw.

Away from the heats, easily the most impressive winner at the meeting was Saloon Passage NZ ($1.40), having its first run on this side of the Tasman for Nathan Hurst in a 3C0 sprint event. 

Once he found clear air from his inside second row draw, Hurst had no hesitation in searching for the lead, after which he set the cruise control for an ever-widening 17 metres margin. Mattjestic Star came three-wide over the final lap, and Luda Can Dance trailed the leader. The last half was a soft 58.0 seconds.

The Elsu gelding, one of four to race successfully this year for Hurst, who’s become the go-to trainer for that breed, races for a syndicate formed by Ray and Margaret Mawhood following their purchase of the horse after an impressive New Zealand debut six weeks ago. They’re going to have lots of fun with him.

A good night got even better for the Mawhood/Hurst team, when they took out the final race, an R 0 class over 2130 metres, with Caesars Hall ($6.40 ). The four-year-old scored his maiden win at start number five, leading throughout to defeat death-seating Phil The Tooth and the unlucky Famous Spirit, which lost a lot of ground after an early mistake.

Ashlee Siejka took a training double, her second winner achieved with Platinum Roulette ( Amie Bateup, $2.80 fav.), which led from seven in an R1-R3 2130 metres event to defeat peg-runners Art Appreciation and Always Bad.. It was Amie’s first drive on the Bettors gelding, a close relation to Jack That’s Gold and Henrik Zetterburg, both $100,000 winners for the
stable.

Feel The Courage (Steve Turnbull, $5.20) lived up to his name somewhat, with a three-wide trip over the final lap in a 2130 metres C 0 class, to stick his head out right on the line for a win over stablemate Fire Eclipse and trailer William Peter. He may not be the easiest horse to drive, but being by Courage and with a grand-dam by Pure Steel, it’s no surprise that
he’s tough.

Another winner to exemplify her name was Makin Memories (Pat McCarthy/Jason Turnbull $1.80 ), successful on debut in an R 0 over the 2130 metres trip, from outside the lead. Coolamingal and Bundaburra, which raced behind the winner in the running line, filled the places.

Pat and Ros McCarthy bred the Trump Casino mare with Pat’s mother Ollie, who died earlier this year. Ollie had been adamant that Pat should persevere with the mare, and this win was a perfect testament to a wise and much-loved lady. It would have meant a great deal to the entire McCarthy family.

Bathurst race again next Friday night, the Tier One meeting highlighted by the Star-Trek Final.

Marianne Donnelly

Bathurst Harness Racing Club


 

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