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This Friday night will mark the 16th running of the harness racing Oberon Community Pace Race Meeting at Bathurst. The meeting is always well-supported by the Oberon community and is ranked in the top five of all meetings conducted by the Bathurst Harness Racing Club throughout the year. The feature race on the night will be the $13,000 Elgas/Mawhoods Mitre 10 Oberon Cup.  The Ray Mawhood part-owned gelding Saloon Passage will be looking to improve on his third placing in last year’s cup and will be coming into the race in good form for his trainer/driver Nathan Hurst. The race has been dominated by the lady drivers over the past five years, Amanda Turnbull winning the last four cups and Ashlee Grives winning one. The meeting will also feature the popular men versus horse race featuring local boys Jackson Brien and Josh Rivett taking on the challenge. There will be a charity lamb auction with all proceeds going to Ronald McDonald House in Orange. There will be live entertainment between races, a jumping castle for the children and fine food. There are also a number of entrants in the Princess of the Paceway competition. “It’s always a great night and one the club loves to run each year,” club president Wayne Barker said.  “The first race is at 6pm and I would like to see as many of the Oberon community as possible there to support the charity and to just have a great night out.” Reprinted with permission of The Oberon Review

Doubles from leading stables and wins by high- profile horses made for an interesting evening, but they all took a back seat to a win by an Oberon teenager at last Wednesday's Group One Feeds Paceway Bathurst harness racing meeting. Holly Newson scored her first driving win, with outsider Sky Falcon NZ in a C3/C5 sprint, and the reaction from the crowd, particularly a large Oberon supporters group that rushed to the fence to celebrate, gave it the feel of a Gold Crown or Tiara win. Every young driver's debut win is a memorable occasion, but this one seemed unusually special. Newson led early with the Wade Judd-trained gelding before handing up, and after a sweet trip in the trail, she angled into the sprint lane, balanced up, then drove desperately to poke through in the last couple of strides, just edging out Black Poles which loomed up late in the straight. The familiar description " a winning smile " doesn't adequately convey the look on Holly's face as she brought her first winner back to scale. If the look was utter delight, her dedication of the win - " to my boyfriend, who passed away just recently "  - indicated the full significance of the moment, and the reason for the crowd reaction. Jack Fenton, her boyfriend, had been Holly's constant companion at the races and her biggest supporter, along with her parents Tim and Vic. He and a mate died in a car accident not far from Oberon, just as Holly was dealing with all the stresses of her HSC examinations.  Through all of this, Holly has displayed a remarkable resilience and maturity well beyond her years, and won herself many admirers from her town and the wider harness racing community. To cap off a memorable night, she picked up racecaller Mitch Manners'  Drive Of The Night award, for a performance that was classy in every way. Those other winners referred to at the top of this story were: Uncle Peter, in C1 grade, and Our Uncle Sam in a 3YO sprint, for Chris and Anthony Frisby, both leading throughout, the latter in 1:55.8 with a 56.4 last half. The stable had a frustrating time of it on Carnival of Cups Boxing Night, but made up for it here Strawberry Stride NZ, in a 3YO Fillies sprint,  and Comet Stride in C 0 company, for Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy, who indicated plans to start Strawberry Stride, a magnificently-bred filly which cost a cool $165K at the 2015 NZ sales, in the upcoming Raith Memorial after her all-the-way win here Sams The Master, the shortest-priced winner of the meeting at $1.30 in a C2 sprint, and the biggest winning margin of 19 metres, after closing quarters of 27.0 and 27.7 seconds for a sharp 1:55.1 rate, with trainer-driver Nathan Turnbull confirming plans to head to a Chariots of Fire heat, via the Tom Hewitt Memorial coming up at Goulburn Puffnstuff, in a C1-backed conditioned sprint, for Geoff Simpson and claiming driver Mitch Turnbull, who had no hesitation in working the well-graded gelding to the death seat, and using his staying ability to score his ninth win, taking him past $50K in stakes. Bathurst race again on Friday, January 20, with the popular Oberon Community Cup night, but last Wednesday was an Oberon night as well, and one of those times you feel privileged to be part of harness racing. by Terry Neil

Horsewoman KerryAnn Turner scored what she describes as "my biggest win as a driver" after taking out the Kriden Investments Shirley Turnbull Memorial, feature event at Monday's hugely successful TAB.COM.AU Carnival of Cups harness racing meeting at Bathurst's Group One Feeds Paceway. She gave Aztec Bromac NZ a lovely trip in the running line and brought the five-year-old with a strong run down the centre of the track to hold off Blazin N Cullen, one of three John McCarthy runners in the event, with Freyberg running on well for the minor prize. After an anxious wait of several minutes while stewards checked the run home for possible interference in the sprint lane, it was a relieved and chuffed trainer-driver who joined a big gathering of equally delighted Turnbull family members for a presentation which is always one of the highlights of the Bathurst racing season. Club president Wayne Barker welcomed the Turnbull family, race sponsor Rod Smith and HRNSW Chairman Graham Kelly spoke about the significance of the race and the meeting, then the legend himself, "A. D.", kept the big crowd hanging on his every word as he reflected on the success enjoyed by females in racing now - he's a big fan - and how different it was back in his hey-day. It's always lovely to observe the affection and respect of the crowd, and particularly the younger family members, for this celebrated figure. They mightn't have kept the race "in the family" this year - as a $53,000 Group Two, it's increasingly difficult to win - but it was a very good night for the Turnbull clan. Mitchell, Steve and Amanda each picked up driving wins with Hey Porsha, Star Writer and Parramatta respectively, with Parramatta rating 1:53.3 to equal the track record which Amanda already owned with El Fuego. Jason and Emma Turnbull had grabbed a double and a win, respectively, at the lead-up meeting several days earlier, and they were keen to line up for their own special pic with "Grandfather" before they assisted him from the track. And in accepting the traditional driver's trophy from the Turnbulls, KerryAnn - who took a training double after Robbie Morris' earlier win with Kleened Out - reflected on her own family's involvement in what is, everywhere, one of the true family sports. An equally large family group gathered on the track for the presentation of the Ray and Olive McCarthy Memorial, taken out by last season's Tiara winner Dont Think Twice, first up since the Breeders Challenge final in June. Jason Grimson controlled the race from the start, and the Operative daughter came her last half in 56 seconds flat, to defeat the late-closing Hez All Courage and death-seater Alpine Stride. It was a highly impressive return by a filly who's being set for the Oaks races and of course, a return trip to Bathurst to defend her Tiara success in the Gold Bracelet next March. John McCarthy spoke on behalf of his family, whose representatives included Andrew, John and Narelle's U.S. based son who is back home for a few months. Andrew's little boy Finn looked right at home in his specially-tailored blue-and-green driving silks. The other winners on a most exciting night's racing were: Arma The Gun (Brad Hewitt, from yet another well-known racing family), pulling out a big sprint to collar favourite Sams The Master in C2/C3 grade, for his seventh win in 10 starts. He's possibly headed towards the Chariots of Fire, along with the runner-up. Takara Truffle NZ (Guy Chapple for Aaron Goadsby), much too strong in a fillies/ mares sprint, slipping home in 56.3 seconds, and heading on an Oaks campaign in coming months, after wins at five of her six career starts. Fouroeight (Mat Rue), surviving a very tough run to reach the death then roaring away over the closing stages of the final event, a C0 sprint (56.2 last half), to confirm his reputation as a serious racehorse. Another who's likely to be given his chance in the Chariots. Earlier in the night, HRNSW chairman Graham Kelly and steward Michael Zarb were on hand to present the first stable accreditation pass to be issued anywhere in Australia - allowing someone under 14 years of age access to the stables - to nine-year-old Jett Turnbull, son of trainer-driver Nathan. Jett had passed his exam with the stewards earlier in the day. Perfect timing, you'd have to say, on a Family Night that Shirley Turnbull would be proud of. by Terry Neil

For Eglinton horseman Nathan Hurst winning Monday night's Group Two Shirley Turnbull Memorial at Bathurst's TAB.COM.AU Carnival of Cups harness racing meeting would be a dream come true. Having grown up in the Western Districts, the 36-year-old has the strongest chance he has ever had to win his local feature race. His pacer Saloon Passage has been racing in career best form and is the $6.50 second favourite with TAB Fixed Odds for the time-honoured event. "This is our main top-grade race in the west and it would be great to be able to win it," Hurst said. "We've had a few runners in the race before over the years but have never gone close." Hurst will also be 'flying the flag' for the region too as Saloon Passage is just one of two horses in the feature that are trained nearby. The last local horse to win the Shirley Turnbull Memorial was Slick Bromac in 2009 which was trained and driven by Steve Turnbull, whose late mother is the feature's namesake. Since then, however, the McCarthy family have dominated the race having won four of the last five editions. And tradition could continue as trainer John McCarthy has a three-pronged attack in the race which includes the $2.50 favourite Allblack Stride. "It's a pretty strong race, particularly the back-row, but Allblack Stride is the biggest danger," Hurst said. "He sat outside of us last week and ran a pretty big race and looks the one to beat again." Saloon Passage led at Tabcorp Park Menangle last Saturday night and after racing outside the leader, Allblack Stride won with more than a metre to spare over the pacemaker rating 1:51.1. For their next clash Allblack Stride has drawn barrier 11 while Saloon Passage will carry the number eight saddlecloth. "The draw isn't too bad, we will end up coming out of barrier six with the removal of the two emergencies," Hurst said. "We couldn't be happier with our bloke heading into the race." Saloon Passage has not missed a placing in his last five starts. "He has been racing consistently well in the free-for-all grade," Hurst said. "We were rapt with his run in the Treuer Memorial at Bankstown . . . it was one of his best runs of the season. "He's matured a lot this preparation." The six-year-old has secured 22 wins and 23 placings in 67 starts earning his connections $211,500. Collectively this field has earned almost $2.6million in prizemoney. Outside of the two fancies the McCarthy-trained Cyclone Kate and the Michael Langdon-trained Clancys Fobwatch are $8 equal third favourites. Both pacers are last-star winners at Menangle.   AMANDA RANDO

Young reinsman Mitch Turnbull scored his first hometown harness racing feature and brother Josh continued on his recent winning run when they combined to take out last Friday's Bathurst RSL Soldiers Saddle Final at Group One Feeds Paceway. Bacchus Raucous ($8.20) stayed out of the early speed burn before working his way around the field to the ‘death seat’ from where Mitchell maintained a strong even tempo with the Kenneth J gelding, before slipping into top gear over a final quarter of 28.8 seconds and a winning mile rate of 1:58.7 for the 2260m trip. Angela Hedges brought Ned Pepper with a well-timed run to fight out a very close finish and Hey Porsha finished strongly to grab the minor place. The winner is raced by Jess Turnbull, wife of the trainer, and close friends Pete Crennan and Nigel Frisby, and it was a delighted group of connections and children who celebrated the win trackside. Mitch was quick to acknowledge the training effort of his brother, commenting " there were 110 problems with him when we got him from the sales" - a $7,500 buy at the 2013 Gold Crown Sale - " but Josh has just about got him sorted now, and he's racing very consistently." It will be interesting to follow his progress as he seeks to match the record of previous Soldiers Saddle winners such as Saint William, Avonnova and Saloon Passage. Doubles and trebles were the order of the meeting, with a further driving win for Mitch Turnbull, a training double for Chris Frisby, and a training/driving treble for Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy in the final three races of the night. Mitch warmed up for the feature by scoring a last-stride win with War Dan Apollo ($2.90 favourite, for father Steve in the C3-C5 third, coming from well back in a very strongly run race. Isle Of Man was a gallant second, after a tough trip. Chris Frisby's double came in the opening races, with Alpha Styx ($1.90 favourite, Anthony Frisby) in C1-C2 class, tagging up three-wide and running down leader Soeur De Lyse which had kicked well clear on straightening and then Uncle John ($2.20 favourite, Jason Grimson) in the Soldiers Saddle Consolation, showing his customary toughness by sitting in the ‘death eat’ and defying Wicker Maister which was posted three-wide to run him down. Mach Doro and a pair of maiden three-year-olds in Alpine Stride and Olive Stride made up the Craig Cross/ Luke McCarthy treble, in quite contrasting styles. Mach Doro ($1.40 favourite) was allowed to bide his time at the tail of the field in the 2260m fast class before Luke set him alight just after the bell and he charged to the lead as they entered the back straight, maintaining the speed in a brilliant 27.3 third quarter, and then hanging on grimly to outstay Im Cool Harry which came again after being headed. It was a brilliant drive, on a horse his driver rates very highly, and which may return for the Shirley Turnbull Memorial on Boxing Night. Alpine Stride ($5.80) led all-the-way in a 2260m C0 grade, and Olive Stride ($25.50) which used the sprint lane to score by the proverbial nose in a 3C0 sprint, maintained their parallel career paths in winning. They commenced racing on the same night back in March, had their second runs just a week apart in April, then spelled at owner Emilio Rosati's property for about five months before resuming here together, with happy results. Alpine Stride boasts champion mare Tailamade Lombo as his dam, while Olive Stride recalls the name of another champion in Luke's grandmother, who will be honoured in the Ray and Olive McCarthy Memorial at the Boxing Night feature meeting. Luke would have been tickled by this win. A very big crowd attended Friday's meeting, with a number of Christmas parties in full swing in different parts of the venue, and Peter Turnbull making his annual visit as Santa Claus to distribute lollies to the kids. They all know Santa's alter ego, and check with him during the night what time he'll be donning the red and white clobber! And on that note, Happy Christmas to everyone in harness racing from the management and staff of Bathurst HRC. By Terry Neil

The 2016-17 harness racing season might only be in its infancy, but The Lagoon driver Mitch Turnbull is most certainly satisfied with his progress thus far. While still a concession driver, Turnbull sits third in the Harness Racing NSW drivers’ premiership with 16 wins and 11 placings. The latest of those wins came at the Bathurst Paceway on Wednesday night when he took out the Ian Mutton Get Well Soon Pace (1,730 metres) with War Dan Apollo. The $4 favourite got the lead from barrier three and was softened up along the way by Idunknow ($9.20), but showed enough strength to kick away down the home straight. The Steve Turnbull trained gelding won by 7m over Athols Last Safari ($17.10) in a 1:57.4 mile rate. “He’s going real well, it probably nearly might have suited him to run that quick,” Mitch Turnbull said.  “I appreciate everyone who is putting me on, I’m getting some nice ones to drive.” Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate  

Twenty-year-old Kiwi expatriate Steph Burley experienced the thrill of her first driving win at Bathurst's harness racing twilight meeting on Wednesday and enjoyed the experience so much that she backed up for a second success in the very next race. Both winners were trained by Steve Turnbull, father of her boyfriend Mitchell and her boss for the past few months, and were part of a four-win haul by the leading trainer. The special first win came behind Our Emancipation with Burley revving up the three-year-old Real Desire filly from a wide draw to find the lead into the first turn, remaining in front for the 2660m race. To make it even more special, the filly is owned by her Auckland-based parents Mark and Heather, a fact appreciated and noted by Steve Turnbull after one of his wins later in the meeting. Heather was on the phone soon after the win to pass on parental congratulations, and later on it was the turn of Mitch Turnbull, even further away in Perth, where he'll be for the next month or so . . . he managed a win with his very first drive in the west, at Pinjarra two days earlier, making it a rather special time for the young couple. And though she wasn't aware of it till the following day, her poised performance earned her the Drive-of-the-Night award from race caller Mitch Manners, who thought she rated the winner to absolute perfection. Half –an-hour later, it was back to the winners' circle again, this time with the aptly-named Oh I Am The One, after a contrasting but equally skilful drive, positioning the Gotta Go Cullen gelding in the one-one trail before getting the bob in right on the line in a desperately close finish. When it was suggested at the presentation that "You're starting to make a habit of this," her "I hope so" response was both spontaneous and understandable. Stephanie might have had to wait about twelve months since her debut drive - a second behind Global View at Menangle - to finally secure that first win, but now she's done it, and gone one more for good measure. Steve Turnbull drove the other two winners from his stable, Sabrage and Gentleman Red, while Ashlee Grives also scored a driving double at the meeting with Platinum Roulette in the fast-class and Zibibbo in a Three-Year-Old Fillies sprint. Vergels Girl continued a great winning run for the Connolly family from Carcoar by leading throughout - her third win this season - while Lexy Can Wait, for Bernie Hewitt, appreciated a drop in class to score a last-stride win in the corresponding male division. Rains continue to flood the Bathurst region. Hopefully "the winter of our discontent" will soon give way to "glorious summer". Amanda Rando

It was never in doubt that the youngest of four children that Mitch Turnbull would end up with a career in harness racing.   The son of 2002 Inter Dominion winner Steve Turnbull was born and bred into the industry in 1996 and it wasn’t long after that he started getting his hands dirty around the stables. In 2012 Mitch left Kelso High to fulfill his passion full-time in hope to one day follow in his Dad’s footsteps.   So far, Mitchell has driven a winner for each of his siblings Nathan, Josh, Amanda and her partner Nathan Jack, and has enjoyed many victories at his home track Bathurst.   In 2014 Mitchell was invited to compete in the Rising Stars Series in which he won the final race on Zenable who had the ninth fastest time for the season, clocking 1:51.1. Using the prestigious replay of the Inter Dominion when his Dad’s horse Smooth Satin sailed to victory as inspiration, Mitch has ambitions to one day be on the other side of the fence driving in the exact same race. The Western Districts young talent admits that his biggest influence is his father and he is inspired by his work every day, hoping to one day make and break records around Australasia driving and training horses.   Best horses driven: Runaway Red and Usane Flash Birthplace: Bathurst Favorite color: Red and blue How would people describe you: Weird, entertaining and charismatic Favorite food: Mum’s roast Megan Gale or Megan Fox? – Steph Burley   By Ashlea Brennan

“Here’s Don’t Think Twice in hot dispute, going back to the inside Celebrity Look and to the outside Fastestgirlintown, the leader is Don’t Think Twice inch-by-inch cutting back the margin, Fastestgirlintown, but Don’t Think Twice is in front - wins the Tiara! Don’t Think Twice goes home to score . . . what a moment for young Jason Grimson – Group 1 Glory!” – Fred Hastings. This was the call that made dreams come true for 22-year-old Jason Grimson as he trained and drove his first Group 1 race at only his sixth start as a trainer. In March 2015 a local group of well-known breeders imbedded their trust into Jason when they gave him their yearling to break in.  A year later he proved himself when his two-year-old broke the fillies track record at Bathurst in the Group 1 Gold Tiara Final. Having spent time riding track work for galloping trainer John McGregor, Jason made the transition from saddle to sulky following in his dad’s footsteps.   Jason’s dad, Colin Grimson, had over 280 winners during his career and tasted success with horses like Double Identity.    This success runs through the family as not only has Jason taken on harness racing full-time with immediate success, he also made an impression with local representative teams in rugby league. With all of his accomplishments thus far, Jason has ambitions to move from the Riverina to the Metropolitan area in the future.   Currently working for one of his biggest influences in the industry, trainer Josh Powderly, Jason has plans to train a couple of horses at a time. Don’t Think Twice has drawn seven and is one of the early fancies in this Sunday’s Group 1 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Two-Year-Old Fillies feature.      Age: 22 Birthday: 16/07/1993 Birthplace: Bowral Football team: Newcastle Knights Best horse driven: Don’t Think Twice Biggest pet hate: Driving in the rain Jennifer Hawkins or Miranda Kerr: Jennifer Hawkins In a fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed? – Phone / iPad   Ashlea Brennan

Following the endless commitment to fight against the use of illegal substances, Harness Racing New South Wales collected over 40 samples from horses around Bathurst on Monday. Samples were taken at stables and from horses competing at the Bathurst trials. HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny confirmed the controlling body would continue to provide confidence to participants and punters using a number of different strategies. "HRNSW will continue to implement strong equine drug control procedures to ensure that all horses are competing on their merits. The integrity of the sport is crucial to its success and all stakeholders should be confident in the strategies being taken," Mr Dumesny said. Greg Hayes

Luke and Belinda McCarthy are one of the strongest partnerships in Australian harness racing. The McCarthy stable trained its 1000th winner on Wednesday night at Bathurst when Bullet Stride scored. It is a milestone that the couple are proud of with Luke training 440 of the winners and Belinda the remaining 560. Luke began training in the 2002/03 season with Belinda taking over in 2012/13. The stable enjoyed its best season in 2011/12 when training 217 winners. The Cobbitty property where the McCarthy's call home is state of the art and Luke confirmed they had pumped a lot of money into it. "Everything we have earned since we have moved to Sydney has gone straight into the property and when we reached the milestone it makes all of the hard work worthwhile," Luke McCarthy said. "The stable is well represented at Menangle this Saturday night and hopefully we can have a good night with so many big races being run." The McCarthy stable will have three runners in the Group 2 Carousel with Kept Under Wraps the leading chance. "Kept Under Wraps has been set for this race and while he has drawn awkwardly I'll be looking to get off the inside as soon as possible and from there I will look to put him into the race. Admiral Bronski has hit his straps at the right time and looks well placed off the front row. "Tintinara needs to keep on improving but I think she has done a good job since she has arrived from New Zealand. From her draw she will need a bit of luck and a solid speed. I think Cyclone Kate and Alotbettor are the two horse to beat." Frith will compete in the Bulli Pacers Cup and McCarthy is expecting another solid performance. "She just keeps on improving, her run last start was super and she is on target for a trip to Melbourne for the Queen Of The Pacific. The plan is to take her to the Newcastle Mile and then that will give us two weeks to have her right for Melbourne. "I am driving She Envy for David Aiken in the Australian Pacing Gold final, she needs to be at her best and have a bit of luck to win it but she is an improving filly and I don't think she will be all that far away at the finish. High Rolling has got a nice draw but I think Petacular seems to be the forgotten horse in the race, she was very impressive last week in the semi final." Greg Hayes

There might have been a smaller crowd, cooler conditions, and mostly "bread and butter" races compared to the recent Gold Crown carnival, but Friday's  harness racing fixture at Group 1 Feeds Bathurst Paceway certainly didn't lack for excitement, with a number of desperately close finishes. This was especially so in the feature Western Districts Oaks, where favourites Pixies Parlour and Rainbow Flash staged a good old-fashioned stoush the length of the home straight, necessitating a long delay before the judges found the narrowest of margins for Rainbow Flash ($2.70, Robbie Morris for Kerryann Turner) The battle continued into the stewards' room, Amanda Turnbull lodging a protest alleging that Rainbow Flash (which had sat outside her from the mile ) had forced Pixies Parlour down inside the marker pegs on the point of the home turn. After a lengthy delay, stewards dismissed the protest, allowing the Santanna Blue Chip daughter to maintain her unbeaten record in three runs at Bathurst.Mile rate for the 2260 metres event was a very pedestrian 2:00.6, after a very slow lead time and first quarter, but things got very urgent soon after, with a sharp 27.6 third quarter and then 29.2 for that stirring final section of the race. Positions were somewhat reversed in the following fast-class event, when Morris attempted to lead throughout on favourite Franco Tiago NZ, chasing four straight wins, and fought off Turnbull's runner Heza Thrill NZ, which had moved to the death mid-race. Mat Rue aboard Kenny Dee Dee ($4.90, for Bernie Hewitt ) took the opportunity for a cart into the race on the back of Heza Thrill, and ranged up in the shadows of the post to just get over the top of the other two. With the final three quarters all dispatched in sub 29s, the mile rate was a quick 1:57.3 for the 2260 metres. It was win number 15 for the Speed King five-year-old, bringing up a total of 56 wins for the progeny of his dam Beat The Clock, which connections purchased cheaply some years ago from Queensland breeder Stan Fyfe. The mare was humanely put down recently, but has been a wonderful producer for her proud owners Bob Boyd and Deirdre Masters. Both Robbie Morris and Amanda Turnbull scored driving doubles at the meeting, as did concession reinsman Chris Geary. Turnbull's earlier winner was Star Writer ($3.10, for father Steve ) which tracked three-wide over the final quick half of a C2-C4 class, for a very gutsy win in 1:58.8, and Morris picked up his second win in the 2YO final event, with Brobenah Boy ($6.20, for Bernie Hewitt ) leading throughout and dashing home in 27.8 for his first win at start number four. Geary's double came in the opening races, both for Belinda McCarthy. Somepartysomewhere ($3.80 ) took advantage of an early scrimmage in the 3YO event to find the front before dashing home in 57.2 seconds for his second win in succession, to remain unbeaten this season. Imnoracinggal NZ ($2.60 ) belied her name with the night's easiest win, by a mere 22.5 metres, in C1 company, Geary making a well-judged move after the bell to wrest the lead from runners feeling the pinch after a lead time of 45.3 seconds, the fastest so far at the track. Overall mile rate was 1:56.6, seldom bettered for the testing 2260 metres run at Bathurst. Geary currently sits in third place in the NSW driving ranks, behind Todd McCarthy and Robbie Morris, with more than 70 winners, but is reluctant to talk about his chances of cracking a century. In his current form, and getting drives from strong stables, he must be a good chance. Castlereagh trainer Anthony Simiana missed his double when Franco Tiago got nabbed in that fast-class race later in the night, but was delighted earlier on when Walkabout Creek ($5.40, Wes Komorowski ) made it a hat-trick of wins since his recent purchase, in a conditioned class heat of the Dubbo Golden Gig. With the speed on throughout, he came three-wide from the half for a tough win, in 1:55.6 for the sprint trip. A beautifully-bred son of Somebeachsomewhere from fine racemare Trudee, he still displays some poor manners but has improved under Simiana's care and by working with other horses. There was no tougher win on Friday than that of the Steve Turnbull-trained and driven Sabrage NZ ($1.70 ), on debut in Oz and posted three-wide for a long way in C0 class, before eventually finding the death seat. Steve Turnbull  didn't think he'd got up in the photo from Summer Money, but his relief was tempered with some anxiety about his youngster having a gut-buster first-up. Everyone at Bathurst is well used to the sight of female drivers weighing in first, but it was refreshing to see a female steward, Annie Carruthers, checking the runners and signalling the all-clear after one of the races on Friday. Her seniors on the stewards panel tell me the young cadet is showing a lot of promise, and is only a couple of months off being ready to take charge of a race meeting. Great to see, and with a surname the same as Australia's first world boxing champ, she's sure to handle whatever comes her way! Terry Neil

The field for this years $102,000 Golden Tiara at Bathurst was very even with the harness racing favourite Belligerence a healthy $3:30 shot while a few of the other heat winners in Don't Think Twice, Joyces Desire, Millwood Daisy were also well supported but at good odds. Joyces Desire led early before handing up to Flying Moth as the the first quarter was cut out in a quick 26.5. At this point Flying Moth seemed to lose the plot just a touch,running up the track and disruppting half the field but she certainly wasn't helped by her driver Damian Wilson who was jumping up and down in the cart like it was a bouncy castle which certainly didn't help Flying Moth. Somehow after all that, Flying Moth came down in front but was pressured and passed by Millwood Daisy soon after passing the 500 metres mark. In the meantime Dont Think Twice had taken off three wide from well back in the field and set off after Millwood Daisy. Pushed four wide off the back straight, Dont Think Twice continued to make ground and as she straightened for home she had Millwood Daisy in her sights. Halfway up the straight she grabbed the leader and then had the strength left to hold out the late challengers of both the Fastestgirlintown and Belligerence. It was a huge performance by the daughter of Armbro Operative who was off the track most of the way from her wide second line draw but still had the temerity to keep the chasers at bay. Dont Tink Twice paced the 1730 metres in 2:04.9, a mile rate of 1:56.2 with closing sectionals of 58.7 and 30.1. It must have been a very special moment for her young 22 year old trainer driver Jason Grimson with Dont Think Twice the only horse he has in work taking out a Group 1 race as prestegious as the Gold Tiara at Bathhurst. The win in the Gold Tiara was her second win at just her fourth lifetime start and took Dont Think Twices's earnings over the $54,000 mark. Dont Think Twice is the second winner from the Pacific Rocket mare in Nickalong Bouevard 1:57.1 ($52,835) with the first winner being the very smart Jokers To The Right 1:53.8 ($96,618) so plenty of nice horses up close in the pedigree. It may take a few days for the enormity of what he has done to sink in but Jason Grimson will always be able to check the honour roll at Bathurst if he needs a reminder of what he has achieved. Harnesslink Media

Bruce Harpley has been involved in harness racing longer than he cares to remember. He has enjoyed success at the highest level in the industry but confirmed two-year-old filly Rubies For Tash had shown him another side to the sport he loves and lives for. Up until the birth of the daughter of Courage Under Fire, Harpley never had any interest in watching a foal develop into a racehorse. However after Harley and his wife Tash bred the filly he found himself paying more attention to the young foal. "It is the first time we've bred and had around from the time she was born, I've never been one of those trainers who takes too much notice of a horse developing a character and traits but it has been different with Rubies For Tash, I've really enjoyed watching her develop," Harpley said. "We bought the filly's mother Roses For Tash and she was a good mare for us." " She was by Brioso Hanover, won a few races at Harold Park and now has produced this filly that I think will do a really good job during her career." Rubies For Tash has always showed ability and Harpley isn't surprised she has made such a good start to her racing career. "From early on she was a bit bossy with the other foals which I liked about her." "Trevor and Judy Rutland broke her in for me, I remember them saying speed is definitely not going to be an issue for her and I had the same opinion when I had my first drive of her." "When she had her first race start she showed a great turn of foot off a very slow speed and that got me pretty excited because that normally means there is something special inside." While barrier fourteen will mean Rubies For Tash will have to produce something special to win, Harpley believes the bigger Bathurst track will help. "If you drew outside the second row on the old Bathurst track the task would have been impossible but on the bigger track you have the option of saving them up for one last shot at the leaders and the barrier draw will mean I will have to do that." "I love two-year-old racing, the older horses just fill a gap between the crops of youngsters coming through my stable." "The babies are like a blank canvas - you don't know whether you are going to create a Picasso, a Ken Done or a picture that a four-year-old child could draw with crayons." "That is the beauty of preparing young horses, you go on the ride with them," Bruce said. Harpley is not labelling a particular rival the hardest to beat and is quick to acknowledge all of the fillies in Saturday's Gold Tiara have earned their spot in the final. "The draw has made the race very interesting and a leading trainer like Cran Dalgety wouldn't have sent Millwood Daisy over from New Zealand if he didn't think she could win, but I reckon there would be several other trainers going into the race that think with the right luck they can win."  "Rubies For Tash is eligible for the Breeders Challenge and the Breeders Crown later in the season, I'm not going to ask too much of her but I do think she is going to improve as she continues to develop," Bruce said. The Slingsby Holdings Gold Tiara is race five on Saturday night and is scheduled to being at 8:20pm. Greg Hayes

The Bathurst Gold Crown carnival will always remain a special event for harness racing trainer John Tapp. When Chariot King won the 2009 Gold Crown, the victory provided Tapp with his first group one win as a trainer, an achievement he could never have imagined when he first became involved with harness racing many years ago. It has been seven years since Tapp has competed at the Bathurst carnival but after his two fillies, Rockonbye and Celebrity Look qualified for Saturday's Gold Tiara, he is hoping to add another group one feature to his impressive training record. "The two different fillies have two vastly different stories, Rockonbye is owned by a syndicate of ten people, has been the most laid back two-year-old filly I have ever had but I can see her starting to change and the penny might have dropped with her while Celebrity Look is owned and raced by Fran Hausfeld and is a true professional," Tapp said. Rockonbye was purchased at the 2015 Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sales for $17,000 by Tapp and he quickly went about selling shares in the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover. "I got caught in the euphoria for the sons and daughters of Rocknroll Hanover, every trainer was trying to buy them and when she came into the ring she just had this great presence about her, it was like a calmness and a strut you would expect from a broodmare not a yearling walking into a sales ring.' "Seven of her ten owners were members of my tour to the Little Brown Jug in 2014.' 'We all sat down one evening towards the end of the tour and someone suggested we form a syndicate so I went to the sale, looking for something that might suit them." 'Another of Rockonbye's owners is Peter Welsh, the major shareholder in Chariot King.' "Peter hasn't been in a horse since Chariot King so it was nice to see him get involved again and my horse dentist Alan Griffis is another one of the owners in her," John said Rockonbye will be driven by Rebecca Brown on Saturday night in the Gold Tiara. Brown was given the option of driving either filly after she drove them both in their respective heats and will be competing in her first group one race. "Rebecca has made massive improvements as a driver and importantly her best asset is that she is unflappable especially when she's in a bit of traffic." " I gave Bec the choice and informed Jim Douglass he would be driving the other filly." "Jimmy has become my stable driver over the years and drove Chariot King to several wins and he will suit Celebrity Look," John said. Tapp is hoping Celebrity Look can repeat the effort of her great grandmother Wiling Whiz after she won the Gold Tiara in 1988. Both Celebrity Look and Willing Whiz finished second in their Tiara heats. "Dennis Wilson drove Willing Whiz to victory, I'm not sure if this has happened before in the Tiara but it would be an interesting piece for the history buffs." "I hope Celebrity Look runs a great race for Fran Hausfeld, she is a wonderful lady who has bred and raced dozens of horses." "Fran rang me out of the blue one day and told me she had two yearlings, she wanted to race one herself and lease one out to some friends of mine." "Fran was very adamant that I decide which of the yearlings was better and that I lease the better one to my friends and she would race the other. It was a wonderful offer from Fran and it would be great to see her rewarded," John said The other yearling was a colt by Somebeachsomewhere who was named Secluded Beach and he competed in a heat of the Gold Crown on Saturday night. When asked to split his pair, Tapp reluctantly sided with Rockonbye. "Rockonbye might have the edge on Celebrity Look, I gave Rockonbye a hopple up on Sunday and she's always been half asleep in her track work but last weekend she was totally different, I actually thought I might have harnessed up the wrong horse! "The penny has really dropped with Rockonbye, but to get two fillies into the Tiara is a great result for the small team who work with me." "My stable foreman Ross Adams has done a lot of work with both of the fillies, his expertise, skill and judgement have been vital to their results." "My wife Ann continues to be a great help and Katie McGill has been helping out four days a week while at university." "It really has been a team effort," John said. Greg Hayes

Heats of the Bathurst Gold Crown were run on Saturday night and the final field has been declared. Twelve harness racing runners will face the starter and two emergencies have also been declared. The barrier draw for the Bathurst Gold Crown and Gold Tiara will take place tonight at the race meeting. The barrier draw for the Tiara will be conducted after race one while the draw for the Crown will take place after the second event. Both finals are $100,000 group one events. The final field pre-barrier draw for the Bathurst Gold Crown   ASTRIDE BELINDA MCCARTHY WEONA SIZZLER PAUL FITZPATRICK WARDAN EXPRESS AMANDA TURNBULL AWESOME STRIDE BELINDA MCCARTHY RAVE ON RABBITS DENNIS PICKER PERSIMMON TREVOR WHITE SAN DOMINO (EM 2) BEN SETTREE GREENNGOLD AMANDA TURNBULL CONVICTION STEVE TURNBULL EXPRESS BOMBER MARK HEWITT SAMS EXPRESS NATHAN TURNBULL ALWAYS ROCKIN GLENN WILMOT MODERN BEACH (EM 1) GEOFF HARDING BETTOR BE GOLD JOHN MCCARTHY   Greg Hayes

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