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A 50th birthday celebration on the Gold Coast back in July was the catalyst for the debut win of Pop The Bubbles at Bathurst Gold Crown Paceway last Wednesday night. Nicki Inwood, Nicole Lavelle and Kellie Dunbar took time from Grant Inwood’s birthday bash to watch Amanda Turnbull’s Albion Park Group One win with Tact Tate and decided that they’d like to share the excitement of owning a successful horse. And it should be named after the pina coladas they happened to be drinking at the time. Things moved very quickly after that with fellow celebrant Jenny Turnbull straightaway making contact with Amanda, who explained that she’d been keeping an eye on a Sportswriter filly over in New Zealand, which would be just the ticket for the girls. By the time the group flew back to Sydney the next day, they owned the horse, and to make it even better, she was named Pop The Bubbles! A very close second at her Australian debut at Bathurst the previous Wednesday saw the four-year-old come in for strong support this week, and Steve Turnbull took full advantage of a favorable inside draw to lead throughout in the CO/C1 sprint that closed the Bathurst proceedings. There was never any doubt how the excited owners would celebrate the win, raising glasses of bubbly back in the clubhouse, in confirmation that the ownership caper was every bit as good as people said it was. The win completed a good night for the stable, which finished with three winners. Steve drove a double which began with Shandance in the C2 Club Menangle Country Series Heat, and Mitchell supplied the other win with the ‘death seat’ effort of Grosestar in the CO Where Horses Fly Heat. Robbie Morris and Dance For Glory scored a strong win in the fast class sprint, working early to find the death seat and applying plenty of pressure to the leader Thunder Dance , which broke on the home turn, leaving Dance For Glory well clear turning in. The winner was well down in grade from his recent Menangle runs and won accordingly. Mat Rue took a driving double for father-in-law Bernie Hewitt - a gutsy all the way win with Trunkey Digger in a CO sprint, after blistering early sections, and an equally tough win from the death seat, with Lady Swiss in the three-year-old class, for her second win in succession in this grade. Racecaller, Fred Hastings gave his Drive of the Night award to Tom Pay, aboard Havana Moon, for Gemma Rue, in a C1 sprint. Tom bided his time at the back end of the field during the early stages, bringing Havana Moon into the race at the turn and busting clear over the closing stages. With Penrith Rugby League supremo, Phil Gould a part-owner of the winner, and driver Tom Pay being a nephew of Canterbury Bulldogs coach Dean Pay, there was a real football feel to the race. Quite appropriate for September. TERRY NEIL

AFTER taking out her first state trainers’ premiership, leading horsewoman KerryAnn Turner has her sights on Bathurst tonight. The Menangle Park trainer is taking five horses across to the Western Districts including last start Newcastle winner Hannah Mae. Turner is also taking Hot Flush for another assault on the 1000m circuit after winning at that venue last month. Turner trained 161 winners in New South Wales last season, defeating 12-time premiership winner Steve Turnbull. Turnbull had won the five previous trainers’ premierships and has found the front in the first two weeks of the new season. Turnbull has power in numbers tonight with seven horses nominated including recent back-to-back winner Karloo Threeothree.   Harness tips Bathurst Best bet Race5: Aintnobettor (1) Aintnobettor produced a strong effort to win at this track last week in career best time of 1:58.0. He has drawn much more favourably and should lead all the way from this draw.   Bathurst next best Race 7: Cullens Desire (2) Cullens Desire has the early speed to capitalize off this draw. The filly was a very strong winner at Dubbo last start, spacing her rivals by more than 33m after working to the lead. She should be able to find the lead much easier tonight.   The Bathurst quaddie Race 5: 1 Race 6: 3-9-4 Race 7: 2-1 Race 8: 6-1 $12 for 100%     Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government.   HRNSW MEDIA CONTACT: AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

PROP-forwards in football teams are expected to “do the hard yards” up front, and that’s exactly how 21-year-old Jed Betts performs for the Bathurst Panthers first grade league side week in and week out during the season. After snatching victory in the dying seconds of last weekend’s sudden-death semi-final, Jed’s team is now just two matches away from making it to their second successive grand-final in the western districts competition. In what might well be an omen for the coming weeks, Jed steered Limbo Larry to a smart win at last night’s (Wednesday) Gold Crown Paceway meeting. Despite being just the fourth career win for this five-year-old son of the family’s  resident stallion Abercrombie Dexter (by Panorama), it took his earnings past $60,000 in a remarkably consistent  career of 148 starts which have included 37 placings. Now that’s “doing the hard yards “ in anyone’s language, and explains why Jed has a real fondness for “ATM”, his only horse which he also trains and drives. He led early in the C1 2260 metres event before handing up to Barkway Arnold which maintained a consistent tempo, and rather than wait for the sprint lane, he came to the outside to draw level with the leader halfway down the running before asserting himself close to the finish. It was a cool, calm performance - much like his team-mate’s winning field-goal out on the paddock a few days previously - and earned the laid-back, popular figure racecaller Craig Easey’s Drive of the Night award. There was much anticipation leading in to the HRNSW Guaranteed Two-Year-Old Pace, one of three races for juveniles on this final meeting of the Bathurst racing season. Obi One NZ had created an enormous impression in winning over the longer 2260 metres trip a week earlier, but was drawn on the outside over the sprint trip this time, with very strong opposition expected from Izzy Dagg NZ, a recent Addington winner which was a fine second in brilliant time at his Menangle debut last Saturday. As expected, Izzy Dagg led out of the gate, while Obi One did some work early to get around to the death seat. Chris Geary threw in a blistering 27.5s third quarter which gave him a little clear air turning in, and although Amanda Turnbull’s youngster didn’t shirk his task at all, he couldn’t quite match strides and finished five metres astern of the leader, whose winning mile rate of 1:55.6 was close to track record time. The name of the winner will be very familiar to football followers everywhere. Israel Dagg made his debut as an All Black in 2010, was part of the winning Rugby World Cup team the following year, and played a near-record number of games as full-back for the Silver Ferns, before switching to the wing in the last couple of seasons. He is revered in NZ rugby, as one of the finest players in recent years. He was a part-owner of the two-year-old named after himself, but now that he has signed to continue his career in Japan, he’s relinquished his ownership in the A Rocknroll Dance son. Both youngsters will now spell, with the classic races early in the New Year the targets for their respective trainers Tim Butt -himself a fine Rugby player, who spent time in Australia playing for the Western Reds - and Amanda Turnbull. The other 2YO events gave maiden wins to Kyle Shannon (Peter Bullock/Mackayler Barnes) and Kelli Frost (Blake Fitzpatrick/ Jack Trainor). Mackayler’s win was special because the horse was named for her father who passed away last year following a lengthy battle with cancer; Jack came back to scale declaring it was so cold out on the track that he couldn’t feel his hands, before admitting “I’m a bit ashamed to say that, because I’m a Kiwi!” If sympathy was owing to anyone on Wednesday night, it should have gone to the race stewards and the club officials, who contended with two lengthy delays - a nasty fall in the second race, which resulted in a dislocated shoulder for Cowra reinsman Darryl Davis who was transported to hospital, and then a generator failure which necessitated a 20 minute cooling-down period before the track lights could be switched on again. Everyone pitched in, particularly the trainers who managed to have their horses readied with the shortened gaps between races, and it was a commendable team effort. Just another way of “doing the hard yards.”   TERRY NEIL

A BITING westerly wind might have played its part in driving tactics but it didn’t diminish the bumper crowd in attendance following the highly successful Alabar Breeders Challenge Regional Finals at Bathurst on Sunday. And the outstanding race card, featuring six $30,000 Group 3 Finals provided a perfect opportunity for  the official re-naming of the complex -complete with an impressive new winning post - as “Gold Crown Paceway, Bathurst”. New South Wales Racing Minister Paul Toole was joined for that announcement by Harness Racing NSW Board members Rod Smith, Peter Nugent and Ken Brown,  Alan Galloway and Paul Robinson from series sponsor Alabar Bloodstock, HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny and Bathurst Club President Wayne Barker. No-one was sporting a wider smile at day’s end than HRNSW chairman Rod Smith. In large part from the outstanding success of the meetin, but made even more personally satisfying when Lexus With A View, which he co-owns with John Starr, took out the Auckland Reactor 3YO Colts and Geldings Final. Driver Sean Grayling and the Paul Fitzpatrick - trained gelding, followed Premier Joy across from a wide draw on the front line to initially occupy the 'death seat' outside that horse, and his tactics played out perfectly when Brads Luck, and subsequently  Squire, moved around to that position. He was content to remain in the trail for as long as possible, especially when the third quarter was dispatched in 27.5s - into that energy-sapping wind - before launching a strong run down the centre of the track to reel in Premier Joy and Squire close to the line. As with each of the finals, the race itself was extremely competitive and the winner boasted excellent bloodlines - by Somebeachsomewhere out of a NSW Broodmare of the Year in Panoramic Lady, whose eight winners, six in 1:55, include Derby winner Make Me Smile, Sires Stakes champion Cant Bluff Me and outstanding racemare Lady Lexus. Racing Minister Toole, in making the presentation, spoke of the absolute dedication shown by the Chairman who “turns up unannounced at race meetings big and small right around the state. His commitment to the harness racing industry is just outstanding.” Alabar principal Alan Galloway, on his first visit to the new Bathurst complex, was very impressed to learn about Smith’s Lexus-named horses, having driven against the likes of Craig Lowndes in motor-racing some years ago. Unsurprisingly, he did a lap of “The Mountain” and paid a visit to the Motor Racing Museum on this present visit. Finals winners were: Art Major 2YO Fillies - Taylors Mill ( Bernie Hewitt ), a very tough win, sitting in the death seat for most of the race, and a deserved one as well, placing fifth in the Group 1 final and fourth in the Blues final in her two previous starts. Betterthancheddar 2YO Colts and Geldings - Major Roll ( Stephen Maguire ), a lovely drive from the Mirrool ( near Narrandera ) reinsman, working into the race courtesy of a three-wide trail, to score his fifth win from eight lifetime starts. Shadow Play 3YO Fillies - Art Series (Amanda Turnbull for Steve ), another driver to obtain a three-wide trail in a race where the speed was on throughout, with the daughter of champion mare Sheezallattitude backing up to take the 2YO/3YO double for this series. Lincoln Royal 4YO Mares - Million Dollar Gem ( John O’Shea for Wagga trainer Brett Woodhouse ), a patient drive on the mare which took out the Honouree Stakes Final at this track back in March, and which brought up a double for Million Dollar Cam after the earlier win of Taylors Mill. Sunshine Beach  4YO Entires and Geldings - Geldof (Blake Jones for Ellen Bartley ), improved from an excellent third in the semi-final to lead throughout, in a 1:53 clip, easily the day’s quickest and outstanding in the conditions, for a most deserving Canberra owner-breeder Don Spedding. Congratulations to all the connections and breeders of the Regional champs, and to HRNSW and the Bathurst club whose staging of the event - down to gorgeous winners’ garlands and owners’wine packs with labels showing the horse’s victory - was first rate. Terry Neil

THE biggest challenge for spectators and especially the breeding buffs among them at Wednesday’s Breeders Challenge Regional semi-finals at Gold Crown Paceway was deciding just which horses to keep their eyes on. Depth in the form lines, and absolute quality of the bloodlines, made for an engrossing night, and the qualifiers that made it through have ensured that Sunday afternoon’s Breeders Challenge Regional Finals - six $30,000 (Group 3) races for two, three and four-year-olds - will be the richest, and best, meeting at the track outside the iconic Gold Crown. A bumper crowd, from right across the state, is expected. Luke McCarthy was faced with a decision - difficult, but no doubt enjoyable- after driving all three winners of the Three-Year-Old Fillies semi-finals. Island Banner, a Rock N Roll Heaven daughter of N.Z. Cup-winning Mainland Banner, looked sharp in leading most of the journey in semi one; Love My Sister, the Art Major daughter of millionaire Fleur De Lil, was perfectly positioned before gaining the upper hand over a gallant Prophesy; and Dixirosalie, a Heaven daughter of Blacks A Fake’s half-sister, maintained a picket fence formline in taking out the third. The first two are from the Craig Cross- McCarthy stable (and sported the new Cobbitty Equine Farm blue, white and black livery), while Dixirosalie came north from the Shaun McNaulty stable at Kennington, in northern Victoria, to take in the series. Other leading stables were represented among Wednesday’s semi-final winners, and despite varying draws on Sunday, look to have very strong prospects of taking out a Group Three. Qualifiers for the three-year-old males were taken out by Premier Joy (the Somebeach half-brother to Australian 2YO of the Year Captain Joy), Michael Towers for Michael Doltoff’s Sloys team, and by Bracken Sky, for Sydney visitor Blake Fitzpatrick, no stranger to Group glory at Bathurst. Prominent owner John Starr backed up from Bracken Sky for a second win, in the Four-Year-Old male division, with Joes Star Of Mia, for Amanda and Steve Turnbull, the night’s slickest trip in 1:53.9, and the other semi saw an all-the-way win for grandfather-grandson combination Jim and Jake Bates. It was career win 15 for a delighted driver, and earned him racecaller Craig Easey’s Drive of the Night award. Make Mine Heaven, from champion racemare Make Mine Cullen, made a perfect start in the Bernie Hewitt stable by reeling in runaway leader Im All Courage in the first Four-Year-Old Mares qualifier (Bernie getting his double with a 2YO win by We Salute You in the last), with the second one going to Yourblueyescrying, Todd McCarthy for Hunter Valley trainer Clayton Harmey, which came with a rush. A wonderful 10-race card at Bathurst Gold Crown Paceway on Sunday gets underway at 12.16 p.m. with the first of six successive Group Threes speeding away from the gate at 1:52 . Terry Neil

THAT maxim was well illustrated at last Wednesday night’s Bathurst Gold Crown Paceway meeting where three of the six winners extended their winning streaks. Shandance NZ, the well-bred and magnificently-conformed Art Major filly that bloodstock agent Stu Valentine wasn’t able to sell, made it four-on-the-trot here in Australia with a sterling win against C1 company, setting the tone for the evening’s winners. An outstanding drive by Mitch Turnbull, working clear of a three-fence possie to storm down the outside, also set the standard for the night, and racecaller Luke Marlow didn’t spot a more-deserving effort for the Drive-of-the-Night award. “I just hope Dad stays up in  Queensland a bit longer, so I can keep the drive on her and some of the others," commented Mitch, grinning like a pleased winner and definitely not tongue-in-cheek. Take another couple of weeks, Steve! Ominous Warning (John O’Shea for Peter Trevor-Jones ) racked up his third successive win, leading for most of the 2260 metres Reward Series final heat, after O’Shea utilised his high speed to easily loop the field mid-way through the first lap. From there, it was a virtual procession, and  the eight-metres margin back to Walk On Kimmy and the chasing pack could have been extended had O’Shea elected to ease his grip. The six-year-old has spent almost three years, in total, on the sidelines from a series of leg injuries, and his record of nine wins from just 19 starts is just reward to his connections for their patience and persistence. In the night’s fast-class, Mitch Turnbull got his driving double, when Smithstars Lexus scored his third successive Bathurst win, charging late out wide to just grab big sister Amanda on Hidden Courage and Im Cool Harry, which must be getting sick of the sight of the winner after being run down by him in all three recent starts. It was win number 17 from 71 starts for the son of Broodmare of the Year Panoramic Lady, and took his earnings over the $100,000 mark. The other driving double of the meeting went to Jason Turnbull, with Miss Rodriguez (for Wayne White ) in C2-C3 grade, and his mother Wendy’s runner Rock Bottom NZ, in a 3YO sprint. Miss Rodriguez relished the fast pace, with a 56.7s middle half, and was able to get a tag into the race behind Bernie Hewitt’s Our Little Digger, just getting the bob in on the line from that horse, with Bradness Eldefuego holding on remarkably well for third after racing three-wide without cover for the last lap. Rock Bottom NZ led throughout, dashing home in 27.7s for a 1:57.7 win, putting behind him a string of three successive second placings after a debut win when he first arrived from New Zealand. He looks a real prospect, and has the breeding to match - by Bettors, from classy Sands A Flyin  racemare Whanau, making him a full-brother to prolific winner Mabrook and a half to good Bathurst pacer Skirmish. Amanda Turnbull broke a surprising run of outs on her home track with the good win of the family-owned Smooth Cash in the 2YO sprint that closed the meeting. The half-brother to a real family favourite in $300,000 earner Runaway Red, Smooth Cash missed away and settled last, before coming with a strong run to grab last-start winner Rainbow Comet right on the line. It was a courageous effort by the horse, and a deft, delicate touch from the driver. Bathurst race twice in the coming week, with Wednesday’s heats leading into Sunday’s NSW Breeders Challenge Regional Finals. Terry Neil

POPULAR Bathurst horseman Darryl ‘Darb’ Munro had plenty of reasons to celebrate after the exciting win of Keeping it Real at his home track on Wednesday. Driving the three-year-old Armbro Operative filly for his suspended brother Michael, he scored a literal last-stride win in the 2260 metres C0 class Bathurst Toyota Pace, which saw the first five horses finish within a metre-and-a-half of each other. Munro settled towards the tail of the field, tracked Neil Day’s Classic Grange through the race and made his run with that horse as they straightened in, the two of them collaring leader and race favourite Trunkey Digger, right on the line. To add to the very busy photo, Family Ambition came hard along the sprint-lane to stake a claim and Lucky Nutter, which had death-seated throughout, fought on strongly to be right in the mix. It was as close a finish as you would want to see. It was a delighted Darryl Munro that made his way back for the race presentation. The highly-experienced horseman, who learned his craft working for Tony Turnbull at The Lagoon  for many years, hasn’t done much race-driving at all in recent years, concentrating instead on breaking-in and educating young horses for other trainers from his base at the  Bathurst Showgrounds. He is highly regarded in this role. Not only was it his first win on the new Bathurst track ( which opened in late 2014 ), it was his first win anywhere for at least that long. “I’m struggling to actually remember my last win- I think it might have been at Orange, before they moved to the new grass track, with Wicker Veejay. It would have to be three or four years back, for sure,” he speculated. A check of the records reveals that  particular win with Wicker Veejay came back in November 2011, almost seven years ago. A case of ‘it just seemed like yesterday’ or perhaps ‘time flies while you’re having fun’ ? Either way, many of us will readily relate to Darb’s memory lapse and forgive it ! “When I drove this filly last week for Michael, I quite enjoyed just hopping in to take the reins - I quite like this freelancing caper, I thought. Now, I’m even more certain that it’s a great idea,” he laughed. And to complete an already satisfying night, he was the recipient of racecaller Craig Easey’s Drive of the Night award, for his perfectly-timed effort. Other winners: C C Jones NZ, in 3YO class, and Cherry Stride in C2-C3 grade, for Kerryann Turner, sharing the night’s best time of 1:56.6 , the latter winner blasting home in a 27.1s quarter to extend Kerryann’s  lead over Steve Turnbull in the NSW trainers’ premiership Shandance NZ, in a C1 sprint, and Smithstars Lexus in the 2260 metres fast-class, for Steve and Mitch Turnbull, both horses repeating their wins of a week earlier, and the former maintaining her undefeated record since crossing the ditch Rainbow Comet, all-the-way  in 2YO class, for Leigh and Jake Davis, a third win in 13 starts for the strapping Grin colt, which found this a big drop in class from the “1:51 and change” Breeders Challenge final, which was a memorable first Group 1 experience for his young driver Lifes A Jungle, leading throughout for Bernie Hewitt in a second 3YO sprint reduced to just four runners following withdrawals, and the race providing a perfect hit-out for the filly in preparation for Saturday evening’s Breeders Challenge Blue Final at Menangle. Terry Neil

There were two State of Origin events to choose from, for Bathurst district followers on Wednesday evening. Most opted for the comfort of the lounge room and the television, to watch the Rugby League version taking place at the MCG ; only the participants, plus a small band of owners and true-blue diehards, fronted up for the nine-race program at Gold Crown Paceway. The final four races of the night were for maiden two-year-olds, and with preference given to NSW Breeders Challenge-eligible juveniles, there was an added state-of-origin feel to the meeting. All four races, in fact, were taken out by the NSW-bred youngsters. Mat Rue won the two fillies events, the Peter Bullock-trained Merci Shannon producing a brilliant sprint to overpower her five rivals and, two races later, Soundslikeart (trained by his wife Gemma) taking the sprint lane home to a narrow victory. The two-year-old double completed a driving treble on the night for Rue, after an earlier all-the-way win  in a 2260 metres C3 with the Dennis Picker-trained Rave On Rabbits. That Rabbitohs race name, and the sets of green and red racing colours he wore with it and later with Merci Shannon, added to the unmistakeable footie feeling of the meeting. The colts and geldings divisions were taken out by Jake Davis with Nifty Studleigh, trained by his dad Leigh, and Lord Denzel for another son/father combination in Doug and Bernie Hewitt. Both powered home from back in the field for convincing wins. For Doug Hewitt, the win completed a driving double at the book-ends of the meeting, after a win by Trunkey Digger in C1 grade,  a race that set the pattern of close finishes for the night, with a wall of horses across the track. And for Bernie it completed a training treble, his other winner coming in the second event, a 3YO sprint, where Cobbity Chic (Blake Hewitt) got up in the last stride for that narrowest of margins, a short half-head. The other winners mid-meeting were El Gran Senor NZ ( Nathan Turnbull for Steve) in the fast-class, producing a sub-1:56 last half for a brillant win, and Modern Attitude in a C1 sprint, with Dennis Picker bringing the half-brother to Intrude through in the sprint lane for a narrow but impressive victory. The six successful drivers all selected the Blues as the winners of that MCG event, with three prizes subsequently needed for Blake Hewitt, Nathan Turnbull and Dennis Picker, who each correctly nominated a winning margin of 10 points. And the domination of the Bathurst young guns over their older, more experienced, rivals appropriately matched the win of those NSW debutants against the more battle-hardened Maroons. To complete the analogy, four of those drivers have very strong footballing pedigrees: Doug Hewitt is currently the captain-coach of the Bathurst Panthers in the Group 10 Premier League; Blake Hewitt plays for the Panthers, and has previously represented NSW Country; Dennis Picker previously played for the Raiders and the Bathurst Panthers, while Jake Davis represented the Panthers and Western Division before switching recently to Rugby Union. There mightn’t have been “quite” eighty-seven thousand at Gold Crown Paceway this week but it’s fair to say that, as with the other event south of the border, footie was the winner. TERRY NEIL

Recent harness racing Gold Crown and Tiara contenders are among the starters for this Wednesday night’s Graeme Board And Co Sales Graduate Heats. Gold Tiara fourth place finisher and Pink Bonnet placegetter Ally Rogan looks set to start a raging favourite for the fillies heat. The Dennis Picker-trained filly broke at the start of the Group 1 feature and fought hard to get herself back in the race. Amanda Turnbull’s Gold Crown Gold Consolation runner-up Shoobee Doo and Gemma Rue’s Gold Crown Bronze Consolation winner Carribean Jack look to be the leading hopes in the colts and geldings heat. “Dennis’ filly galloped in the Tiara final and hadn’t really done much wrong before that. She ran really well in the heat and they had big expectations for her in that final so she’ll be the one to beat,” Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer said. “Amanda’s horse did a few things wrong early in his heat … but in the consolation race put in a tough run for second so he’s looking like the one to watch.” The Bathurst heats are open to horses purchased at last year’s Gold Crown Yearling Sales.  The races have normally been held as a prelude to the Gold Crown Carnival but this season have shifted to a post-carnival position. “This year we decided to run it after the carnival, after consulting with trainers, to allow us to hopefully get more horses paying up for the race,” Dwyer said. “It was getting a bit congested in the lead up to the carnival in previous years.” The nine race meeting starts at 5.12pm. By Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

The Rugby League team Parramatta Eels have struggled so far but their equine namesake is having no such problems, making it two wins from his last three starts when he scored in the fast-class sprint at the harness racing Gold Crown Paceway last Friday. In the G.J. & A.D. Turnbull Cup, the feature event at the annual Cathedral Parish Race Night, A.D.’s grandson Nathan was content to bide his time in the running line for as long as possible into the straight, before unleashing his horse’s customary big sprint. Just as Parramatta and Saloon Passage, which had raced in the death throughout, knuckled down in a stride-for-stride battle to the wire, Turnbull could hear a rather ominous sound growing louder to his outside. “Oh no, here she comes,” he couldn’t help thinking, as his sister Amanda charged into his vision, with an even bigger sprint behind Star Writer, turning it into a three-horse contest as they hit the line. Opinions in the crowd were quite divided, as they were among the drivers themselves, but the scoreboard showed a win for Parramatta, in the centre, from the fast-finishing kid sister, with Saloon Passage, which did all the work in the 1:53.4 trip, deserving better than the minor place. An unwell Tony Turnbull was represented at the race presentation by HRNSW Board member Peter Nugent, who was joined by the NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole, Bathurst Mayor Graeme Hanger and Bishop Michael McKenna, from Saints Michael and John Cathedral in Bathurst. There was a Turnbull in the presentation group, however, with Parramatta’s owner Jenny Turnbull delighted to receive the gold cup from Bishop McKenna. “All of us in the family just love this horse, he’s so honest and kind, and never puts in a bad effort,” she responded. This fourth win for the season, and number 17 in a career of 77 starts, took the McArdle gelding’s earnings past the $150,000 mark. It was deserved for the owner as well, with Jenny and Steve having sponsored the earlier St Stanislaus College Pace. The Stannies old boy took driving honours on the night, leading throughout with his own runner Always Rockin in a C1 sprint, and later using all his guile to coax a very reluctant Major Studleigh across the line for trainer Monica Betts in a maiden sprint. Minister Toole had some welcome news for the club, and the large crowd watching on, announcing a NSW Government grant of $100,000 for the construction of a playground adjacent to the clubhouse, to cater for the increasing number of children who attend the complex as part of family groups. There was a definite focus on youth at the meeting. Students from local Catholic schools were involved in race presentations, and the crowd enjoyed a number of mini-trot races and a hugely popular novelty race, which saw eight of the younger male drivers (who are themselves graduates of the mini-trotting movement) towing the next generation of race drivers - Dwyers, Betts, Frisbys and a swag of Turnbulls - in a home straight sprint. Doug Hewitt and Ella Turnbull held on for the win, just holding off Jed Betts who towed his whip-wielding sister Phoebe. Doug, the youthful captain-coach of the Bathurst Panthers first grade league team, was adamant afterwards that he couldn’t possibly let Betts, a forward, beat him home or he would never live it down. At the conclusion of the mini-trot races, the youngsters received their trophies from Doug’s parents Bernie and Cath Hewitt, who then surprised them with movie vouchers (with all the works) as a thank you for all the support and congratulations for their recent Gold Crown win with College Chapel. It was a lovely gesture. Footnote: Races for this Wednesday’s meeting have been named for Ben and Jack Hagney, Jason Davis and Craig, Hudson and McCoy White, the local ‘sparkies’ whose efforts restored the power and saved the Gold Crown Finals Night from a postponement. BATHURST MEDIA

The Lagoon harness racing trainer Ben Settree knows it would take a minor miracle for Aphorism to win Saturday night’s Gold Chalice final for him, but he will still head to the Bathurst Paceway as a man with hope. Aside from having Aphorism in action in the Group 2 decider for three-year-old colts and geldings, Settree will have a link to a host of other runners in action on the last night of the 2018 Gold Crown Carnival. He and his wife Melanie, plus her parents Doug and Janet Moore from the Brooklyn Lodge stud will be amongst the breeders hoping for success at the Bathurst Paceway. “Twenty runners across the two and three-year-old races were born and raised at Brooklyn Lodge,” Settree said. “It’s a real testament to Brooklyn Lodge’s ability to raise quality horses.” A three-year-old Well Said x Mes To Tsepi gelding, Aphorism was lucky to sneak into the Gold Chalice final after placing fourth in his heat on Monday. That was his first run since saluting at Bathurst on February 21. Given his preparation for the carnival was less than ideal, Settree was delighted to see him qualify. But after drawing barrier 12, the trainer knows he will need a lot of luck once more to feature. “It’s a big thrill, he’s a nice horse. He had a little virus about four weeks back, so he missed a lot of runs and he was always going to be a little bit vulnerable in the heats, but he’s trained on terrific since Monday,” he said. “He’s a handy horse, there’s no question, it’s just a shame we had that little setback a month or so back which cost us a couple of runs as he’s a horse that needs hard racing to maintain fitness.  “We knew we were behind the eight-ball going into the heats, and drawing 12 didn’t make it any easier.” The horse which won the 2,260 metres Gold Chalice heat Aphorism contested – Bernie Hewitt’s Mackeral – is the runner Settree is tipping to prevail on Saturday night. He will go from barrier one and as of Friday afternoon, held $2.25 favouritism. “Mackeral is going to be terribly hard to beat from that draw, he’ll probably find the front and be hard to run down, but look, we’re just looking for an improved performance,” Settree said. “Bernie’s in for a big night, he’s going to have the favourite in the Gold Crown too, he could possibly win three or four races on finals night which is a hell of an achievement.  “It would give me great pleasure to see Bernie and his owners win the Gold Crown, his family work ridiculously hard in harness racing and it would be nice to see them get a just reward for the amount they put into it.” By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Riverina harness racing driver Blake Jones had initially planned to spend the Easter long weekend attending a wedding, but after springing a surprise at the Bathurst Paceway his plans could change. Jones is now thinking about driving in the Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s Group 1 Gold Tiara final on Saturday night. In the heats for the two-year-old fillies series last Friday night, Jones surprised not only punters, but himself as well when he steered $57.70 outsider Writeaboutjess to victory. “I’m meant to be going to a mate’s wedding. I wasn’t over confident of making the final on any of them, so I’d RSVP’d and everything,” Jones said. “So I’ll be calling him … I think he’ll understand, he’s pretty good.” Trained at Jindera by Lyn Hancock, two-year-old Sportswriter filly Writeaboutjess had one prior start before heading to Bathurst. That race saw her break in the score up and she ended up tailing off on the final lap to finish last in a field of eight. That effort not only saw her at long odds for her 1,730 metres Gold Tiara heat, but given a barrier 10 draw. Still, Jones was happy enough to jump in the gig after being offered the drive. “I remember watching her first trial at Albury, I was pretty impressed with her and I thought they might have had a nice one. I got the phone call through the week to ask would I drive her because I was already down here to drive a couple of others,” he said. “I was quite happy to jump on.” Writeaboutjess’ rivals included the Michael Stanley trained and driven Desirable Stride, an impressive first-start winner who had drawn barrier one. She held $1.20 favouritism and Jones admitted he thought she would win. Stanley guided the favourite to the lead and after she peeled off a 27.7 seconds third sectional and opened up a lead of some 10m, Jones’ hopes of victory faded even further. But into the home straight the favourite tired and Writeaboutjess swooped down the outside to pinch victory by a short half head. “As soon as the fields came out, in all honesty I didn’t think anything would beat the favourite given the way it went first up in Victoria. I thought we were just running for placings then,” Jones said. “Even when I pulled out I thought it was a bit far ahead to catch, I thought maybe we could run into a place, but it was surprising we got there. “She was a bit sort of funny early, she is still learning a bit, she’d only had the one race start. But once she settled in on the horse’s back, she drove pretty good after that. “I didn’t think I was going to get there, then right on the line I thought I might have got in.” By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Central Western Daily  

Six local harness racing identities were honoured and lovingly recalled when the Memorial Night fixture took place at Bathurst Gold Crown Paceway last Wednesday. The meeting has become firmly established in recent years as one of the summer highlights, particularly for families and friends of those honoured, who gather in numbers to pay respect and relive some family harness history. This year’s races honoured trainer-drivers Keith Colley and B. J. (Jim) Turnbull, owners John Clayton and Don & Alfreda Callan, and administrators Harold Lonard and Kevin Dougherty. The  “old” track on the Bathurst Showgrounds is the common backdrop for the race book biographies which told some of their histories. All of them would doubtless be impressed with the new complex “up on the hill” at Mount Panorama. Keith Colley’s horses carried the “Swift” prefix, so it was fitting that the winner of the C2 race named for him, Master Benny (Jason Turnbull for Wayne White) , should set the standard for the night, with a 1:55.5 mile rate for the sprint trip. With the first half run in a gut-busting 56.7s , Master Benny hopped onto the three-wide train down the back the final time and got the better of Rockn And Rolln close to home for a good win, impressing his trainer with his ability to back up well within a few days. Warren Lonard, whose father Harold served as the Bathurst Trotting Club secretary for a remarkable 35 years until the mid-‘eighties, was elated when his lone horse Our Wall Street Wolf NZ (Anthony Frisby, for trainer Chris) took out his dad’s race, in a tough staying performance. Second-up from a six-month break, the McArdle son sat parked for the last mile of the 2260 metres C3 event, and showed Harold Leonard-type tenacity to get up for a good win, the best of his seven to date, and certainly the most emotion-charged. John Clayton, whose namesake Little Digger chased home Our Wall Street Wolf in the second, would have approved of the winning drive behind Presidential Dude ( Justin Reynolds, for father David ) in “his” race, the 2260 metres C0/C1 third. Reynolds rated the Presidential Ball four-year-old perfectly, quickening down the back in 28.4s to keep his rivals off the bit, and maintaining his advantage in a 28.7s final quarter for a 1:59.4 mile rate. It was win number 11 for the ever-improving Oberon teenager. Mitch Turnbull maintained his lead in the Junior Drivers Premiership when he brought his father’s runner Star Writer with a strong sprint to take out  the 2260 metres fast-class Don & Alfreda Callan  Memorial, after a nice trip mid-field in the running line. The speed was on throughout, with a first half in 59s and final quarters of 27.9s and 28.6s producing an impressive mile rate of 1:55.9s for the longer trip. A fast-finishing second in the race was Mister Haywood, raced by Harriett Bourke, daughter of the Callans and the lady who makes dress rugs for Bathurst and many other race clubs. The blue-and-white one she lovingly made for this race almost got to go back home with her, but it will match the colour scheme of winning owner John Starr. Graham Betts drove Browns Creek Boy confidently to score an easy win in the B.J.Turnbull C0 class sprint, taking up the running at the 1200 metres point and sprinting home in 58.3s for a 1:58.2 mile rate. It earned him Drive of the Night honours from Fred Hastings. A large group of family and friends listened as Terry Turnbull spoke of pride in that Turnbull name, and the family spirit that makes the Turnbulls the keenest of rivals on the track and good friends and supporters away from it. Kevin Doherty, a long-time President and a Life Member of the Bathurst HRC, was an unassuming type who wanted no fuss, a quality shared by Kerryann Turner, trainer-driver of Major Lucky NZ which led throughout for the night’s easiest win in the 3C0/3C1 Doherty Memorial. Blistering last quarters of 27.7s and 28.2s meant the race was over a long way from the line, but it was noteworthy that Gold Crown champion Castalong Shadow, which has struggled somewhat in his races this time in, seemed to find another gear to be getting home strongly, albeit a long way from the runaway winner, who is rated highly by his trainer. It should be pointed out that , with only enough horses for six races at the meeting, the Memorial races for John & Margaret Donnelly, and Norm & Garth Harkham, will be staged at the next Bathurst meeting on February 7. Terry Neil

It was a humble six-race affair at Bathurst last Wednesday but the presence of Harness Racing New South Wales Chairman Rod Smith, fellow Board member Peter Nugent and NSW Minister for Racing Paul Toole had everyone wondering if they were caught up in a Groundhog Day re-run of the Carnival of Cups meeting held on Boxing Day. No such worries. All was soon explained, when they participated in the race presentations and celebratory photographs for the first two races, not as invited guests but as winning owners. Rod Smith has named many of his horses after family, with the familiar “Kriden” prefix deriving from daughters Kirsty and Denae and, more recently, there have been lots of “Sams” and “Zaras” in recognition of his grand-children. Grand Zara (Amy Rees for John O’Shea) was one of three such Zaras in the 3CO opening race, and she came with a strong sprint to account for Doctor Somes, with Zaras Dance grabbing the minor end of the prizemoney. It was the first run in seven months for the well-bred youngster, whose dam is an Art Major half-sister to millionaire Caribbean Blaster. That long break helped account for her generous starting price of $16.90, in a market dominated by Scarlet Babe, which was put out of play after a scrimmage in the early stages of the race. There were two happy sets of grandparents following this race. The enjoyment trackside at Bathurst was shared at suburban Cawdor, near Menangle, by (co-owner) Lynn and Paul Fitzpatrick, with their son Blake’s daughter Zara one of the two grand-kids making up the name of the winner. A grand result all round, wouldn’t you say? Carla's Angel (Gemma/ Mat Rue) scored a similar win in the C0 second, coming from the running line to edge out Panther Star and Star Play, and the Rock N Roll Heaven daughter was first-up in almost nine months. Mat Rue went into some detail to explain that the mare has been quite difficult to train, and get back to the races, and for that reason he was particularly grateful to her new owners, who had bought in on his recommendation when she came on the market. Asked whether they were first-time owners, he replied that just one of them was, and then couldn’t keep his straight face any longer as the group of them, who had quietly made their way down to the presentation area and been listening closely, indicated their presence by coming forward for a photo. Board member Peter Nugent was accompanied by the Racing Minister (and local Member) Paul Toole and by club life-member John Brien, who’s raced many good winners over a lifetime in the sport. Also part of the ownership group but absent this time was Shane Gilchrist, the local Toyota dealer. They were naturally in very good spirits as they joked their way off the track, Paul Toole agreeing with the suggestion that the night was shaping up as Board Members Night at the Paceway, and that being appointed as a Board member was a sure-fire way to own a winner! There would undoubtedly have been lots of sledging at the winning owners during the course of the night, but there were plenty of congratulations too, and more than a few comments about the reassurance and “good look” of the industry’s decision-makers being involved at the grass-roots level. Other winners at the meeting: Poppy Cee (Wendy/Emma Turnbull) which used the sprint lane to good effect in an M1-backed fast class sprint, a particularly sentimental win for Parkes owner Geoff Cole, whose mum Dot was laid to rest just after Christmas after a long illness. The Browning Blue Chip gelding, named for his late father Russell, continued the grandparent theme of the opening The two divisions of the C2-backed sprint, giving Steve Turnbull a training double, were taken out  by El Gran Señor NZ , with Mitch Turnbull working to the lead at the bell and holding on strongly in a 57.3 final half, and by Destiny Warrior (Amanda) , which controlled the race from the start, despite pulling pretty hard throughout. Both started as short-priced favourites. Shannonstheman (Mackayler Barnes for Peter Bullock)  in the 2260 metres maiden closing race, working to the lead and roaring away over the closing stages for the night’s easiest win, suggesting that the Rocknroll Hanover/Artsplace son might finally be learning his craft and living up to his breeding. Bathurst HRC will race again on Friday week, January 19, when the annual Oberon Night, featuring the $13,000 Oberon Cup and lots of charity fundraising, will take centre stage. Terry Neil

When Charlaval takes to the Bathurst Paceway track on Tuesday night in the Shirley Turnbull Memorial, the five-year-old bay harness racing gelding will bring up his 50th career start. Robbie Morris will be in the gig for the KerryAnn Turner-trained gelding and is confident that Charlaval will perform well in the iconic Bathurst pace. “He’s going really well. This is his first season where he’s kind of stepped into the big league,” he said. “He’s looking to equip himself really well. He’s starting to acclimatise. “He’s drawn one, so he’s definitely a chance.”  In his last start at Menangle on December 16, Charlaval finished just 0.1 metres behind Bling It On, who will start as red-hot favourite in Tuesday’s memorial at $1.70.  “You go to any race to win but Bling It On is a serious horse. He’s coming back from a serious injury and his runs since coming back from that injury has been enormous,” he said. Morris said it was great to be apart of one of Bathurst’s key race meetings. “The Turnbull family are a great family in harness racing,” he said. “They’ve got the pristine that goes along with them. “Any race that is for any Turnbull is a race you want to win. It’s something great to be a part of.” Quality-wise, Morris is aware of the strong field he is going up against. “Blazin N Cullen has been a good horse for a number of years,” he said. “Admiral Bronski is lowly assessed but he’s last three or four races have been handy.”  Charlaval has won 16 races, finished second 15 times and claimed three thirds.  By Bradley Jurd Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

A three-time Group 1 winner, Inter Dominion finalist and a harness racing career that’s hauled in $1.6 million in prizemoney. It’s fair to say that Bling It On brings an intimidating record into Tuesday night’s Group 2 Shirley Turnbull Memorial (2,970 metres) at Bathurst Paceway. Bling It On is set to start a red hot favourite for a race he won two years ago in dominant fashion. Even a start from widest on the second row will be unlikely to deter many punters from backing the Craig Cross-trained horse, who ran a career best mile rate of 1:50.8 in his latest run at Menangle. Bling It On’s driver Luke McCarthy is no stranger to success in the $50,000 event, winning two of the last three editions. This year the race has been bumped up over 700 metres in distance to add a new level of endurance and tactical variety. The race has once again brought a classy field to Bathurst, but the big question is whether any challengers can hunt down Cross’ champion runner. “It’s been a race that Luke McCarthy has always aimed to get a drive in, given the family’s close friendship with the Turnbulls. He always ensures he’ll be there,” Bathurst Harness Racing CEO Danny Dwyer said. “From what I’ve heard the Shirley Turnbull Memorial was always on the cards for Bling It On. He’s coming into this with impressive form too. He’s won his last three starts in quick times at Menangle. “I think he’d be hard pressed to come into this race with better form than what he’s showing right now. It’s a really great field he’s coming up against, but he’s going to be hard to beat.” Among the impressive list of challengers is former Breeders Challenge champion Charlaval (Robbie Morris), Treuer Memorial winner My General Lee (Josh Willick) plus Bling It On’s in-form stablemate Admiral Bronski (Todd McCarthy). Charlaval has the opportunity to take control of the race out of gate one, with trainer KerryAnn Turner aiming to defend her Shirley Turnbull Memorial crown she won last year with Aztec Bromac. Turner’s win denied Luke McCarthy, driving favourite Allblack Stride, the chance to win his third straight memorial. Charlaval finished just a short half head away from Bling It On last start. My General Lee showed his credentials in a strong Treuer Memorial victory, leading from start to finish. Like Bling It On, stablemate Admiral Bronski comes to Bathurst with three straight wins to his name. His success in the recent Group 3 Christmas Gift makes him an enticing each-way hope for punters. Dwyer said the step up to 2,970m will add plenty of intrigue to the event. “The club made the decision to increase the race length from 2,260m just to change things up, and perhaps give an opportunity for more mid-race moves to happen,” he said. “From the draw I think Charlaval will get a nice run and go close to the lead. Then you’ve got a horse like Blazin N Cullen who might not be in the best of form at the moment, but he’s had some strong results at Menangle.” The Shirley Turnbull Memorial is the sixth race on the program, with the feature to start at 9.10pm. By Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal

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