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The first crop of yearlings by the harness racing superstar Auckland Reactor have hit the yearling sales throughout Australasia over the last six weeks and have been very well received by buyers on both sides of the Tasman. Mark Purdon has no sentimentality at all when it comes to buying horses, often overlooking close relatives of horses that have been superstars for the All Stars barn. Therefore to see Mark purchase three Auckland Reactors at the yearling sales in New Zealand was a very positive endorsement of the son of Mach Three as Mark Purdon is widely regarded as the best judge in the yearling sales market in Australasia. Today at the Bathurst Gold Crown Sale at the Bathurst Showgrounds, Auckland Reactor has three yearlings for sale and we will do a quick review of all of them. LOT 75 - Colt by Auckland Reactor from The Warp Legacy by Legacy Of Power The dam is a half sister to a former topliner in The Warp Drive 1:56.7 ($464,971) and she is from a very strong New Zealand family in Norice. This branch of the Norice family has been incredibly strong over the last 40 years and continues to produce elite level juveniles season after season who go on to be stars as aged horses. Two of the latest would be Caesars Folly 1:52.4 ($350,335) and O' Baby 1:54.8 ($333,034) and another three year old close up in this pedigree in Code Black 1:54.8 ($79,082) looks to have a very bright future. LOT 76  - A colt by Auckland Reactor from the Northern Lights mare in Lady Lara Lombo($51,120) The dam Lady Lara Lombo already has already produced three winners including  Lord Lombo1:56 ($211,961) and she is a half sister to ten winners including the outstanding Lombo Skyrider 1:50 ($841,611) The third dam is none other than the former Australian Broodmare Of The Year in Misty Maiden who is the dam of course of Lombo Pocket Watch 1:53.6 ($1,522,638) and the grand-dam of Suave Stuey Lombo 1:49.6 ($598,332) As a maternal family on a pedigree page it just doesn't read any better than Lot 76 and he should be keenly sought after by buyers. LOT 77  -  A colt by Auckland Reactor from the Panorama mare Aldebaran 1:55.6 ($154,289) The first foal from Aldebaran in The Hairy Huntsman 2:00.8 has already won three races to date so the mare is on her way in the broodmare barn. Aldebaran was a high class racemare in her own right and was a half sister to another speedy mare who raced in Queensland in Rodandthe Nights 1:55.4 The third dam Casino Wiper produced another very talented type in Play The Line 1:56.8 ($133,360) who won the Queensland Triad at four (Group 2). His pedigree page is not in the same league as that of Lot 76 but it has shown the ability to leave $100,000 winners which is a big plus. There are two other yearlings by first season sires in the Bathurst Gold Sale. LOT 119  -  A filly by We Will See 1:47.4 ($2,553,948) from the Artiscape mare I'M Off Limits. I'm Off Limits only has four foals old enough to race and has produced three winners to date including the high class race filly in Sally Fletcher 1:56.1 ($92,690) The grand dam Miss Burnside comes from a prolific New Zealand family which is noted for producing elite level fillies and mares. As you can see on the pedigree page another elite level filly in Carpenters Daughter 1:56.1 ($293,378) is closely related to Lot 119 LOT 28 -  A colt by Smiling Shard from the race winning Sports Town mare in Mylady Tess This colt is only the second foal produced by Mylady Tess who is a half sister to nine winners including such standout types as Heathbern Diamond 1:55.4 ($201,830), Turbo Tyson 1:56.4 ($143,527) and Mac Strike 2:00.6 ($126,195) to name just three. With all those winners up close in his pedigree, you would imagine that lot 28 has a big chance of adding to the great record his maternal family have established in the last 25 years Harnesslink Media

Tomorrows Bathurst Gold Crown Yearling Sale at the Bathurst Showgrounds is quite different to most of the other sales held throughout Australia each season. Most of the other sales have a heavy emphasis on the top end of the market where $50,000 yearlings become quite common. The best of the best breeding wise change hands but there is no guarantee they will be the best on the racetrack. The average trainer - driver and owner are shut out in the main at these sales and it is left to companies like Graeme Board to fill the gap in the market by running sales such as the Bathurst Gold Crown. This weekends catalogue is a great example of having yearlings to fit everyone's budget with all the elite sires represented along with stallions just getting established or having their first crop being sold this year. Courage Under Fire is enjoying a great run on both sides of the Tasman at the moment and he has six entries in tomorrows sale. The pick of them for us is Lot 82 which is being offered on behalf of Tony Dumesny. He is a colt from the former top racemare Edna Anne 1:55.4 ($105,811) and is her first foal. The second dam takes most of the pedigree page so he is very hard to fault on paper. Four Starzzz Shark is always great value for money at the yearling sales and tomorrow at Bathurst should be no exception. He has seven representatives in the sale and we think all seven have something to offer the buyers bench. All of them have plenty of well performed relatives close up on the pedigree page and anyone who has seen Lennytheshark or Frith dominate this season on the track is aware of the quality that Four Starzzz Shark can produce. Modern Art is another stallion who under sells at a lot of sales in Australia and it is a mystery to us why that is. He is closing in on 400 winners in Australia alone and stake earnings in excess of $14,440,000, yet he doesn't quite get the sale results his record would suggest he deserves. He has four yearlings in tomorrows sale and all have a touch of quality about them. Lot 51 appeals to us a lot as the colt for sale is the first foal from a full sister to the very smart Bo Jasper 1:57.9 ($168,436)  Aces N Sevens continues to churn out the winners to the point he now has over 305 on his card with stakes closing in on $13,500,000. He has twelve yearlings in tomorrows sale and they cover a wide cross section of mares but there should be something for everyone pockets amongst the twelve on offer. People tend to forget that Aces N Sevens has produced such stars as Excel Stride 1:50.3 ($769,464), Drumfire 1:49 ($628,739), Ananz 1:53.8 ($527,844) and Lettucerocku 1:52.6 ($489,004) to name just a few and there are bound to be some smart horses amongst a draft of twelve yearlings from such a proven sire With Rock N Roll Heaven having a handful of entries alongside Art Major (3), Roll With Joe (4) and Sportswriter(4), the elite sires are well represented but just maybe the value may come from the sires we have highlighted in this article. Harnesslink Media

The Bathurst Gold Crown carnival is in full swing with the fillies qualifying for the Gold Tiara on Thursday night and the two year old colts and geldings get their opportunity this Saturday night. Greg Hayes from Harness Racing New South Wales has had a long look at the form for the meeting and has come up with the following selections. Greg’s best bet is appearing in race five – the first leg of the quaddie. Betabcool ran a gallant second behind Spare Me Days last week in the Young Cup and was able to beat home Australia’s best mare Frith. She has been plagued by poor draws of late and finally comes up with barrier one which should see her race in a forward position.  With the services of Amanda Turnbull, Betabcool looks a very strong chance. The next best according to Greg is the Peter Trevor-Jones trained Crackerjack Jo in race one. His one dimensional racing pattern does tend to see him charging home at the end of his races but from the second row draw he may be able to settle a little closer than normal. If the tempo is quicker than average, expect a strong finishing burst from Crackerjack Jo. BEST BET                             Race 5 Number 1 Betabcool NEXT BEST                          Race 1 Number 10 Crackerjack Jo GREG’s SUGGESTED QUADDIE LEG 1     1 Betabcool LEG 2     2 Bullet Stride, 7 Easter Jolt, 8 Always Flashing, 9 Sams Express LEG 3     4 Always Rockin, 5 Hes Bettor, 8 Maestro Bellini, 9 Atomic Red LEG 4     1 Greenngold, 3 Modern Beach, 5 Weona Sizzler, 7 Parisian Rockstar, 9 Rainbow Of Fire Greg Hayes

Heats of the Bathurst Gold Tiara were run on Thursday night  at Bathurst and the final field has been declared. Twelve runners will face the starter and two emergencies have also been declared. The barrier draw will take place at a function in Bathurst on Monday night and the group one race worth $100,000 will be run on Saturday night March 26. The final field pre-barrier draw DONT THINK TWICE  - JASON GRIMSON RUBIES FOR TASH    - BRUCE HARPLEY BELLIGERENCE    -      PETER RIXON JOYCES DESIRE   -      ALEX ALCHIN MILLWOOD DAISY -      CRAN DALGETY MIGHT AND MAIN   -     BERNIE HEWITT THE SECRET MOUSE (EM 2) - STEVE TURNBULL ROCKONBYE                 JOHN TAPP  M ALL COURAGE         PETER TREVOR-JONES CELEBRITY LOOK         JOHN TAPP FASTESTGIRLINTOWN -  DENNIS PICKER ROUSEY                             JASON GAFFNEY IM WITH LEXY (EM 1)   BERNIE HEWITT FLYING MOTH   -            TONY PEACOCK Greg Hayes

The 2016 Bathurst Gold Crown Yearling Sale will be conducted by Graeme Board & Company at the Bathurst Showground on Sunday, starting at 11am. The sale comprises 129 lots by 39 different sires including four-time leading juvenile sire Art Major and premiership-winning stallions in Sportswriter, Village Jasper, Armbro Operative and Aces N Sevens. Other well known stallions include Four Starzzz Shark, American Ideal, Courage Under Fire, Rock N Roll Heaven, Roll With Joe, Modern Art, Shadow Play, Elsu, Western Terror, Artistic Fella, Changeover, Million Dollar Cam and Always A Virgin. Adding interest to the sale will be the first-season sires represented for the first time including dual world champion We Will See ($2.5million), twice NZ Horse of the Year Auckland Reactor and former NZ 2YO of the Year Smiling Shard. The sale includes strong drafts from many of New South Wales’ most successful breeders, as well as leading vendors from Victoria and Western Australia. All yearlings sold on the day will be eligible for the Sales Graduate Pace for two-year-old colts and fillies to be held at Bathurst in February/March, carrying $18,000 finals.  Yearlings are also eligible for the Breeders Crown, Bathurst Gold Crown, NSW Breeders Challenge and Breeders Challenge Blue. Furthermore, 31 yearlings have been paid up for the rich Vicbred Super Sires series. For a catalogue or further information email or send an SMS to Graeme Board on 0408 636 273. Pedigrees can be downloaded from www.   Peter Wharton

Hunter Valley harness racing trainer Michael Formosa knows what it takes to win a feature race at Bathurst during the Gold Crown carnival. Formosa drove Shadow Runner to victory in last year's Gold Crown for trainer Sam Dimarco and was the trainer/driver of Ultimate Art when he won the same race in 2012. While Formosa started with six two-year-olds at the beginning of the season, only one remains in work and he is hoping that his lone youngster Rocknroll Emma can represent the stable successfully in the Bathurst Gold Tiara. The filly has had two starts and was driven on both occasions by freelance reinsman Brad Cowen but Formosa will take the filly's reins during the carnival. "The reason Brad (Cowen) has driven her at both of her race starts is that I was bringing two youngsters through together and because the other one was a bit of a handful I was doing all the work with it," Formosa said. "I've got a good opinion of the filly, she is raced by my first ever client Charlie Camilleri, he bred her and I've always thought she had ability but she lacked high speed. " "However, it has all started to come together at the right time because she now has developed the speed to go with the stamina." Reliving his past successes at Bathurst, Formosa believes he has the right type of two-year-old to win another feature. "Rocknroll Emma hasn't had as many starts as Ultimate Art or Shadow Runner but when you go into a series like this you know whether you have a realistic chance and I believe she is going to be a serious player." When Formosa won the 2012 Gold Crown with Ultimate Art his wife Kirsty was unable to be trackside as she was at a friend's wedding. Should Rocknroll Emma qualify for the Gold Tiara it is highly likely Kirsty will not be at Bathurst to watch the filly compete. "Kirsty and the kids headed off to Bathurst this morning (Tuesday) and I'm going to follow them later today." "he kids took their ponies with them and they will head off to Gunning for the mini trotting state championships in the middle of next week." "If I am needed at Bathurst then the girls will race at Gunning and I'll have to miss it but if I don't have anything in on Gold Crown night, then I might be able to head down to Gunning in time to watch them race." Formosa also confirmed Ultimate Art will remain in Queensland for the time being. The Inter Dominion finalist has hit form for trainer Shannon Price in Brisbane and Formosa is even considering asking the Queensland trainer to campaign the horse in Western Australia later in the year. "I'll just have to wait and see how everything works out but Thomas (Ultimate Art) has really hit his straps with Shannon, he can definitely stay there until the winter carnival and then I want to see him compete in the Western Australian Inter Dominion later in the year." "I need to have a chat to Shannon about it but I might even ask her to take him to Perth, I'll just have to wait and see." "Initially when I sent him to Queensland I was going to travel up and drive him in races at Albion Park but with Newcastle racing on Saturday nights I have been busy and Barton (Cockburn) has struck up a good relationship with him by the looks of it." The long trip from Formosa's property to Tabcorp Park Menangle was one of the main reasons Ultimate Art was sent to Queensland. "Thomas was playing up on the way home in the float and during the summer months when I would get him off the float when we got home he would be in a lather of sweat and then he would spend most of Sunday lying down so I thought it might be best to send him north where he would spend a lot less time on the float." "He's the new kid on the block up there and he is going extremely well, hopefully he can keep that form up until the big races during the winter." Greg Hayes

Lagoon harness racing trainer Nathan Turnbull has been looking forward to the Gold Chalice series at the Alabar Gold Crown Carnival with his promising three-year-old Sams The Master, the current track record-holder at Group One Feeds Paceway at Bathurst. But following the win of Sams Express in the $18,000 Sales Graduate Final at the track last Wednesday, he and owner Rod Smith will have more than a passing interest in the 2YO Colts and Geldings Gold Crown, hoping to improve on the older Sam's  desperately close third in last year's final. Play it again Sam, just a tiny bit better. Sams Express ($13.40 ) was positioned in the one-one by Steve Turnbull, and after the leader Lockton Luck tried to break up the field with a sharp 28.2 third quarter, Sams Express asserted his authority on straightening, and outstayed favourite Machgower, which had tracked him throughout, and Outta Crossgar, which came along the sprint lane for a good third. The closing quarter of 29.7 completed a mile rate of 1:57.9 for the 1730 metres trip By Dawn Ofa New Day from a half-sister to APG champion Rosa Mach, he was a $10,500 purchase by Smith at last year's Bathurst Sale, and his win will no doubt draw attention to his Artistic Fella half-brother, an early lot in the 2016 sale, to be held this coming Sunday. Fastestgirlintown ($1.50 favourite ) led throughout for Dennis Picker to score easily in the corresponding fillies final last Wednesday, zipping home in 57.0 seconds for her last half, to match that 1:57.9 overall mile rate. On the pegs proved the place to be, with The Secrt Mouse finishing strongly from three back to just edge out trailer Begoodorbegoodatit for second. The Sportswriter filly was a $13,000 buy last year, and the win brought off a notable double for her dam Bushy Tail, whose previous foal Bright Eyed was successful in the same race last season. Fastestgirlintown takes a record of three wins from four starts into Thursday's Gold Tiara heats, and there's no doubt she'll be very competitive in the series. Her Crookwell connections, who had a deal of fun in naming her, will be hoping she's not just the quickest from that town, but the swiftest at Bathurst also. Two additional 2YO races were run on Wednesday, to cater for connections requiring the necessary start before the Crown series. They were won by Rainbow On Fire ($6.40, Steve Turnbull, who made it a treble with Dillon in the following race ), and San Domino ($1.30 favourite, Ben Settree/ Mat Rue ), who matched the 1:57.6 mile rate of that winner, in a dominant display. In the opening C1-C2 event, won by Geoff Simpson's tough customer Puffnstuff ($9.00), a nasty fall resulted in popular reinswoman Casey Williams being transported to hospital for precautionary X-Rays. Clerk-of-the-course Tony Hagney displayed wonderful horsemanship and courage in extracting the driverless The Escape Plan from the field, to impress on everyone just how vital that role is, and how we should never take it for granted. Bathurst HRC officials were delighted by the strong entries for the Crown and Tiara, with a total of 140 youngsters paid up, well in excess of last year's figures, and a pleasant surprise in these days of declining foal numbers. Numbers for the Chalice and Bracelet 3YO series are a touch lower this year, with 76 final payments, but they're not lacking for class - last year's Crown and Tiara winners Shadow Runner and Pixies Parlour are back to defend their titles, and they'll face strong challenges from the likes of Charlaval, Power Of Red, Fouroeight, Sams The Master, Art Mistress, Cherry Mahoney, and a number of others. "The best week in harness racing" gets underway on Wednesday night, with heats of the Honouree Stakes, followed by Tiara heats Thursday and Crown heats on Saturday, then Chalice and Bracelet  heats on Monday, Ladies Night Wednesday and the bumper Finals Night on Saturday week, featuring the Group One Crown and Tiara finals, and the Group Finals for the Chalice and Bracelet. The Gold Crown Yearling Sale takes place next Sunday, and the Honourees Dinner( for the McCarthy family ) on Tuesday night, plus the Golf Day and the Cocktail Party, both on Thursday, complete a wonderful time in the home of juvenile racing. Terry Neil

Fresh from his maiden Group 1 training victory with Bacardi Hurricane in Saturday night's Need For Speed Prince Final at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton, Jarrod Alchin is contemplating whether to start the three-year-old trotter in Thursday's Bathurst Gold Coronet. Alchin will not risk the lightly raced trotter with so many feature races remaining in the season and will determine later in the week whether the son of Bacardi Lindy will make the trip to Bathurst. "Bacardi Hurricane is in the Gold Coronet, he travelled back from Melbourne to Sydney on Monday and I'll see how he pulls up," Alchin said. "At this stage he'll go around but he'll want to travel home well because he's still got the Foundation Final, The Flying Mile and the NSW Trotters Derby just across the road coming up." Alchin thanked the connections of Bacardi Hurricane for being patient and believes their decision to spell the trotter as a two year old has been the making of him. "He had all the ability in the world as a two year old but to their credit the owners listened to me and we just tipped him out. In the long run that has done him the world of good, to look at him now he is still pretty immature and whatever he is doing at the moment he will improve on. "I've been friends with the Munday family for quite a few years since I moved to Menangle about twelve or thirteen years ago. To get my first group one as a trainer for them was very special." Alchin also praised his younger brother Alex who played a big role in Saturday night's success. Alex Alchin has been in Victoria for the past month in preparation for last Saturday night and also trained a winner at Melton with Cyclone Lucky Seven winning a Group 3. "Alex is going to go a long way, he has worked for all of the big trainers in Sydney like John and Luke McCarthy and Paul Fitzpatrick. Nothing gets missed, so when I thought about sending a team to Victoria I didn't hesitate to send Alex down with them. "Alex is going to make a great trainer in his own right. It depends on what he decides to do but I think he's going to go out on his own and try to get a team together. I know he'll be very successful at it because he is so professional." Greg Hayes

Gold is not the only thing that binds the two “BHRC” harness racing clubs, Bendigo and Bathurst together. There are many surprising similarities between the two regional cities and clubs: Edward Hargreaves discovered a 'grain of gold' in a billabong near Bathurst in 1851 sparking the NSW gold rush, while alluvial gold was discovered along the banks of the Bendigo Creek in 1851 and resulted in a major gold rush Bendigo with 110,000 residents and  Bathurst with  42,000 are both major regional centres, with Bendigo 150km and Bathurst 200km from their state capitals Bendigo and Bathurst both began night trotting racing a year apart: Bathurst 1953, Bendigo 1954 Both clubs hold a large number of TAB meetings annually  with Bathurst  running 50 race meetings and  Bendigo conducting 34 in 2015 Both were once the home of the famous Cobb and Co coach service. Cobb and Co’s first services began in 1854 between Melbourne and Bendigo. James Rutherford (also the breeder of legendary sire Globe Derby) shifted the headquarters and  10 coaches and nearly 100 horses from Bendigo district to Bathurst in 1862, where a massive coach building factory was built Juvenile stakes racing was developed by both clubs: The Bathurst Gold Crown commenced in1987 while Bendigo developed the Breeders’ Crown in 1998 before it was taken over by HRV to become the Australasian Breeders’ Crown. Bendigo marketing manager Brendan Baker and Bathurst CEO Danny Dwyer have developed a joint initiative where the two BHRCs will become sister clubs. They see many opportunities for sharing of ideas, tourism opportunities around the Bathurst Gold Crown and the return to Bendigo of the Australasian Breeders Crown semi-finals. Both cities also host major annual events including the Bathurst 1000 car race and the Bendigo Easter Fair Carnival. Both Brendan Baker and Danny Dwyer see many benefits to the clubs and the communities from the establishment of sister club relationships: Sister club signage that will be seen during Sky Racing coverage of races from both tracks Reciprocal membership rights Promotion of the clubs in monthly club newsletters, to members, owners, trainers and drivers In-house marketing to promote each venue. This could involve yearly joint race dates with accommodation options for people visiting each city either for harness racing or holidays The clubs to organise a Gold Crown Tour and a Bendigo Pacing Cup Tour Two chances for “Dual Club” meetings that race on the same dates. In 2016 it is May 18 and June 22. Promotion through the Harness Racing Australia website with press releases and stories. Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Harness racing will once again take centre stage in Bathurst shortly with the Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival, the best couple of weeks in harness racing for those who love juvenile racing and having a good time, set to commence on Wednesday, March 16. As in previous years, there will be a Bathurst Gold Crown Yearling Sale held in conjunction with the racing carnival which is being held this year on Sunday the 20th of March at the Bathurst Showgrounds. A total of 124 yearlings have been catalogued for the sale (after withdrawals) and unlike a lot of the other sales held during the year, this sale caters for a wide cross section of the harness racing industry. Buyers should have no trouble finding a suitable horse to fit their budget from the catalogue as there are yearlings on offer by the leading sires right on down to a series of sires trying to get established in today's competitive stallion environment. Elite sires such as Art Major, Christian Cullen, Courage Under Fire, American Ideal, Rock N Roll Heaven and Four Starzzz Shark all have representatives in the sale and some of those yearlings would not have been out of place in the recent Australian Pacing Gold Yearling sales. But there is also a good representation of stallions who only have a handful of crops on the ground and are now just starting to show up such as Shadow Play , Always A Virgin and Major In Art to name just a few. The first season sire Roll With Joe has a couple of handy two year old winners already in Joes Star Of Mia and I"m With Lexy and his five yearlings being offered should attract plenty of interest.  The sires who have their first crops at the yearling sales this year have a sprinkling of yearlings throughout the catalogue with a lot of the interest in that area been around the three Auckland Reactors being offered along with a couple by the son of Western Hanover in We Will See. Unlike the other sales this year, buyers have a great opportunity at the Bathurst Yearling Sale to find a horse in the catalogue that fits their budget. Looking at the catalogue, there is a solid group of yearling colts that should easily breach the $10,000 mark and last years colt average of $9,556 looks like it may rise this year. Overall the catalogue has a lot of depth to it and that should see a good bench of buyers present on Sunday week. Harnesslink Media

For anyone who'd been out of the country and lost track of time, last Wednesday's Bathurst meeting, with four heats of the Graeme Board & Co Sale Graduate Race, sent out a very clear reminder. The Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival, the best couple of weeks in harness racing for those who love juvenile racing and having a good time, is upon us again, set to commence on Wednesday, March 16. And if the line-ups and the performances in Wednesday's Graduate heats - for horses purchased at last year's Gold Crown Yearling Sale, and sustained for the race - are anything to go by, this year's carnival will be as good as ever. Dennis Picker purchased three yearlings at Bathurst last year, and lived up to his name by taking out two of the heats, one for either sex, with the others falling to Hunter visitor Aaron Goadsby and David Harris from Parkes. Fleur De Neige ($4.30, Jason Turnbull/ Goadsby ) won the first fillies heat, sitting in the one-one and running on well to score narrowly from Morgnmindy and The Secret Mouse, rating 1:59.5 for the 1730 metres, with a last half in 58.1 seconds. A half-sister to a Queensland Triad winner in Tipsy Tollgater, by Million Dollar Cam, she was a $5,000 buy last year, and her connections are already well ahead, with this week's $18,200 final in prospect. Fastestgirlintown ($2.50 favourite ) took out the second heat, with Dennis Picker controlling the speed from the death seat, lifting the tempo in a 57.6 seconds last half, for a 2:00.1 mile rate. Tatibye trailed the lead and got clear for second, and Rousey ran on impressively for third. The winner, a Sportswriter half-sister to a $100K winner in Strong Sapphire, fetched $13,000 at the sale, and had won on debut in a heat of the HBNSW Princess Series at Wagga. Outtacrossgar ($2.70 favourite, David Harris Jr ) made it a double for the progeny of Sportswriter, when he took an inside run to burst clear in the first colts/geldings heat, run at a brisk 1:57.5 rate, with a 56.8 final half. The placing so were filled by Megs Monaro, which raced three back on the inner, and leader Lockton Luck. There's a strong Gold Crown connection here, the $16,500 sales buy being from a half-sister to the 2005 Gold Tiara winner Boa Vista Lombo. He's now two-from -two at the track, but for the Harris family it's been a tough time, with David Harris Sr passing away just the morning after this win, after a long battle with illness. The horse named for their father's Irish village will be a strong sentimental favourite when he returns to the track for the Gold Crown heats on Saturday, 19th March. Dennis Picker's driving double was completed in the second colts/geldings heat, with Machgower ($1.80 favourite ) scoring comfortably from leader I'm Major Harry and death-seater Sam's Express, quickening home in 58.3 seconds, off a slow first half. The overall mile rate of 2:01 was quite moderate, but the placegetters were all on debut and will improve off that. Machgower, a Mach Three from Canola Cup winner Aldebaran, which eventually took a 1:55 and $150K record, brought the top price of $33,000 at last year's sale. His three-quarter brother, by Auckland Reactor, should attract plenty of attention at this year's sale on Sunday, 20th March. Incredibly, there was a fifth 2YO race last Wednesday, taken out by Conviction ($4.50 ), which delivered a dream start in harness racing for the Sloane family, who've enjoyed plenty of success in the galloping code with the classy Navy Seal. Conviction ( a son of For A Reason, bought from last year's sale but not aimed at the sales race ), was highly impressive in leading throughout and easily holding off the short-priced favourite San Domino, rating 1:56.6 and dashing home in 55.9 seconds. He was the second leg of a training/driving double for Steve Turnbull, whose earlier winner was The Space Invader ($4.50 ), which produced his customary determined finish to win the C1-C3 Western Districts Championships Final. Regular Bathurst visitors Kerryann Turner and Robbie Morris combined for a double with Rainbow Flash in the  HBNSW 3YO Fillies Princess Series heat, and with close-relation Si Nardore in C0 grade, while Dennis Picker achieved a training treble, courtesy of Hard To Hear ( Ellen Rixon ) in a 2260 metres C3-C4 race earlier in the night. When the curtain fell on last year's Gold Crown carnival, the first at the new Bathurst complex, many faced the prospect of a long, tedious year before they could enjoy it once more. It's just a few sleeps now! by Terry Neil  

Harness Racing New South Wales was saddened to learn of the passing of respected Parkes horseman David Harris at the age of 74. His family migrated from Ireland to Australia but David's link to Ireland always remained strong. David's last horse Outta Crossgar was named after the small village in Northern Ireland where his family originated. Outta Crossgar won a heat of the Graeme Board & Co Sales Series at Bathurst Raceway last night, only hours before David passed away. He raced the unbeaten youngster with sons Robert, Darren and David Junior, daughter Belinda and her husband Scott Cusach and good friend Kevin Hogan. David drove at the first night trotting meeting in Parkes and has been associated with many successful horses such as Atari Boy, Sharp Warrior and Express Girl. David is survived by his wife Lorraine. Harness Racing New South Wales                                  

Dennis Picker's successful week got even better when he backed up from a Goulburn Cup victory on Australia Day to take out the fast-class harness racing event at Bathurst the following night. And it was also a double celebration for Crookwell owner and friend, Pat Bourke, who races both Condagen and  the Bathurst winner Hard To Hear. Hard To Hear had joined Picker's stable at Bigga, mid-way between Bathurst and Goulburn, just a week earlier, after Picker had driven him in a race at Canberra, but his quote of $22 suggested that he wouldn't trouble Left Neglected, drawn the pole and shooting for three straight wins at the track. Picker crossed to the lead from the jump, and after enjoying a very soft lead section and first half of  63.1 seconds, he increased the tempo turning into the back the last time, with the final quarters dispatched in 28.5 and 27.6, for a mile rate a touch slower than 2:00 for the 2260 metres distance. The race itself was far more exciting than those bare facts and figures would suggest. Nathan Turnbull on Left Neglected was clearly happy to wait for the sprint lane, and once balanced up, he came very quickly, looking certain to grab the leader, who eye-balled the challenger to his near side and fought really hard to the line. Majority opinion, that the outside horse had just held on, was confirmed after a short delay, with the margin officially a half-head. Picker is one of the hardest workers in the sport, training a twenty-plus team on the farm at Bigga, assisted by his parents Grant and Jenna, and covering plenty of miles in all directions to race them. On Monday, he made the near-two hour trip to Bathurst to trial some of his babies, followed by a similar outing to Goulburn on Australia Day, and then back to Bathurst on Wednesday. He comes from a family with strong footballing connections, and his Breeders Crown champion of two seasons ago, Just Kala, was raced by his brother Joe, a South Sydney first-grader previously with the Canberra Raiders. One of the other Bathurst winners on Wednesday has a strong link to football, though from a different code. Comekissmequick NZ ($3.70, Kerryann Turner/ Robbie Morris ), which led throughout in a C0 sprint, with a last half in 58.4, is raced by a group which includes several players from the Western Sydney Giants team. One of them, Heath Shaw, the club vice-captain, has had an illustrious career in AFL, playing a number of years with Collingwood before coming north to the Giants in 2014. Last season, he was named as a member of the All-Australian team, a wonderful honour. So, has Robbie Morris switched allegiance, and adopted Aussie Rules as his new winter sport? His admission to telling a few fibs to the owners about his new-found interest in their game, suggests that Rugby League, and the Wests-Tigers outfit based at Cambelltown, is still his go! Mitchell Turnbull bagged a driving double with two of his father's team, The Space Invader ($16.10)  in the opening C1-C2 event, and Casino Tommy ($7.80) getting the protest decision after an eventful 3C0-3C2 fifth race. The Space Invader sat back in the one-one as Karloo Ten Seventy worked hard outside leader Puffnstuff, and then came with a strong sprint in the closing stages to reel in that horse for a promising win at just his second run back this season. Casino Tommy had done plenty of work in the death, and still had plenty to offer when it moved up to challenge odds-on favourite Art Mistress about a hundred metres from the finish. Art Mistress shifted out suddenly at this point, hampering the challenger before straightening and crossing the line first. Though the margin between Art Mistress and Casino Tommy was a sizeable metre and a quarter, stewards were fairly quick to uphold Mitchell Turnbull's protest, and reverse the placings, to complete the reinsman's double. Skirmish ($1.40 favourite ) increased his lead in the Horse of the Year and Juvenile Horse of the Year premierships with a front-running win in C1-C2 grade, his fifth win from nine starts at the track this season. The win earned praise from driver Emma Turnbull, who believes the Mach Three gelding is getting better with each run, adding " he does just what he has to do when another horse comes at him. He's very tough." It was also a belated birthday present for trainer Peter Bullock, who turned sixty last week, and had to settle for a desperately close second with the horse on that occasion. You didn't have to wait too long to make up for it, Peter. Jason Turnbull steered Glee Bromac NZ ($4.60, for his mother Wendy) to consecutive wins at home, in a  C4-backed  sprint, sitting behind leader Zelus and ousprinting him, with consistent quarters producing a respectable 1:57.4 mile rate. Wendy Turnbull is challenging Bernie Hewitt for second place on the Trainers Premiership at Bathurst, with her Lagoon stable enjoying its best season for a number of years. In the final race of the night,a C0-C1 sprint,  Mod Conns ($43.50, Jess Prior/ Terry Powter ) sat outside the lead from the start, before hitting the front halfway down the running and then desperately fighting off the challenge of from Better With Bourbon NZ, which switched back to the inside. A short half-head was the margin. As the earlier win by Hard To Hear had demonstrated, getting into the sprint lane doesn't guarantee success, it just provides the opportunity, if your horse is fast enough. Orange HRC is staging its two meetings at neighbouring Bathurst this season, because of track problems, with the "warm-up" on Sunday February 7, and the Carnival of Cups meeting on February 14. They are part of a busy February at Group One Feeds Paceway, with feature meetings set down for Sunday February 21 ( Group 10 Rugby League Day) and Friday February 26 ( the popular Cathedral Parish Night). Harness Racing New South Wales

The Oberon Cup, feature event at the annual Oberon Community Night harness racing meeting at Bathurst, might have to be renamed "Amanda's Race" following last Friday's edition at Group One Feeds Paceway. Amanda Turnbull scored her fourth successive win in the race, and her fifth in the last seven years, when leading throughout with the classy Mouse In The House ($2.20 favourite), trained by her father Steve. First up since a fine third behind Kept Under Wraps in the Breeders Challenge 3YO Final last June,  the promising Four Starzzz Shark gelding was given a nice trail behind Stormont Czar from the outset, but when a number of challengers loomed out wide turning for home, his driver was confronted with the decision to wait for the sprint lane, or come away from the markers. She chose the latter, and then somehow found the narrowest of gaps to aim at, bursting through near the line to get up in a thrilling finish, with just a metre and short half head margins back to Condagen, which used the sprint lane she'd vacated, and Saloon Passage, which had worked forward to the death seat. At the presentation, a clearly chuffed Amanda Turnbull admitted she was unaware that she'd now won four successive Cups, and five of the 15 contested since the race began back in 2002. And while it mightn't rate as highly as winning streaks by Washakie - five successive Treuer Memorials - and three successive Inters for "Blackie" and  "Sandy", the race is nevertheless a prestigious country feature, and it's a driving record that she's entitled to be proud of. Mouse In The House took his earnings past the $100,000 mark for his proud connections. Part-owner John Dwyer paid tribute to the Turnbulls for the success they've enjoyed so far, and indicated that the horse will now be aimed towards the Chariots Of Fire at next month's Miracle Mile carnival. Amanda further made it a night to remember, by driving four of the eight winners at the meeting. Star Writer ($2.00 favourite, for her father) trailed the leader and finished strongly to score easily in a C2 sprint; Left Neglected ($1.90 favourite, for brother Nathan) led throughout in C3-C5 class for successive wins at the track; and her own runner Eye See Diamonds, a clear favourite, led throughout in a C0 sprint, the half-sister to Two Eye See scoring her third win from six starts, all this season at three. The very large crowd at the meeting were unanimous that they'd seen a future top liner in action, following a dynamic win by Match In Heaven ($1.40 favourite, Paul/Blake Fitzpatrick) in the first of two 3YO sprints. He cleared last-start winner Fouroeight at the start, settled in the middle stages, then scooted away in a brilliant 27.6 final quarter, against a strong headwind which had troubled runners all evening, for a mile rate of 1:56.7, easily the fastest of the meeting. A son of Somebeachsomewhere, out of a $100K-winning Artsplace daughter of champion racemare Under Cover Lover, he was first up on Friday, after winning three of his six starts at two and several close placings behind the champion juvenile Our Waikiki Beach, which co-incidentally resumed with a Menangle win earlier that afternoon. Blake Fitzpatrick said after the race that it was unclear whether the colt, a real speedy type, would head to the Victorian Derby heats, or wait for his hometown Derby, the final to be run on Miracle Mile day on Sunday, 28 February. His return bouts with Mark Purdon's star will be worth the wait. Other winners at the meeting were: Old Jack Cambo ($3.10 favourite, Wendy/ Emma Turnbull, in C0 class), sprinting over the top of his rivals; Village Witch ($7.80, Josh Powderly/Jason Grimson, in C2 grade), taking an inside run to come clear for an easy win; and Imthevillagestar (Russ Reynolds/ Robbie Morris, in the second 3YO sprint), his first win at start ten, and the sole Oberon-trained winner on "their" night. In the annual horse-versus-humans novelty race, Steve Turnbull's Cruisinonthe Big Ern was too slick for the two-man relay of Kurt Booth and Tyler Hughes, to maintain Steve's winning streak in that race that stretches back even further than Amanda's record. Auctions and raffles during the evening raised approximately $3,000 for this year's nominated charity, Ronald McDonald House, in another wonderful demonstration of the spirit that makes chilly Oberon one of the warmest communities anywhere. by Terry Neil

Memories of the late cricketer Phillip Hughes were recalled when Fouroeight scored his first win at the Group One Feeds  restricted-class harness racing meeting at Bathurst last Tuesday. The three-year-old gets his name from the official test number allocated when Hughes was first selected - he became the four hundred and eighth player to represent Australia since test cricket was first played - which Hughes proudly sported on his shirt, under the coat-of -arms. Since Hughes' tragic death, that number has become iconic in Australian cricket, and even among the wider community. Many cricketers, at all levels, now sport the number on their clothing, footwear or equipment. The Rock N Roll Heaven two-year-old had entered Rue's stable round about the time of the tragedy, in late November 2014, and Rue, very deeply touched by the death, was quick to ask owner Tony Pace if he could add a name to the list about to be submitted. "Tony was happy for me to do that - he's a terrific owner, who never bothers me about anything, and goes along with whatever I decide for his horses - and even though it went down as sixth out of a possible six names, that was the one we got. I think it was just meant to be," he recalls. Tuesday's win might have been the gelding's first, but his $1.20 starting price was no surprise. He'd placed at all five previous runs, three last season including a Gold Crown Consolation, and twice recently, including the McCarthy Memorial race on Boxing Night. After holding the lead from his inside gate, Rue was able to get away with a comfortable first half in 62.7 seconds, before upping the ante over the final half in 55.4 seconds, for an overall mile rate of 1:57.5, seemingly with plenty in reserve. His winning margin, over first starter Whiskey Blaze and So Kool Master, was 24 metres, just a touch more than the length of a cricket pitch.  "Marvellous," Richie would have declared. The all-the-way win of Glee Bromac NZ ($6.00), the second leg of a Wendy Turnbull training double in the opening two events, also prompted some memories, much closer to home this time, when driver Jason Turnbull spoke about the December 15 birth of a daughter to himself and partner Donna Russell. Named Georgia Dale, she carries the same initials as Jason's late father Greg, and perpetuates the "Dale" middle name borne by his famous grandfather "A.D " , father Greg, and Jason himself. Each time Jason and older sister Emma warm up before a race, or return to scale after a placing, they pass in front of the infield semaphore, which is officially the "Greg Turnbull Memorial" at the track. G.D. is keeping a good eye on them. Emma, who's battling it out with Mat Rue for the driving premiership at Bathurst this season, took out the opening race, an RO sprint, with Yearn For You ($29.70 ) which produced a barnstorming finish to score his second lifetime win, and the first in 10 starts this season. Then in race three, following Jason's win, she backed up again, with Our Braxton NZ ($5.60, for Lester Hewitt), sitting in the death throughout the R1 sprint to score a tough win, home in 27.5 and 29.8, for win four in six lifetime starts. She almost made it a treble in race four, but had to settle for a close second, driving the Peter Bullock-trained Skirmish, behind Left Neglected ($7.70, Nathan Turnbull ) in the R2/R3 "fast class" of the night. Left Neglected set off three-wide from the half-mile, tracked up by Skirmish, and pulled out plenty in the run home, for an impressive win in the night's fastest time, a 1:54.8 rate. His trainer-driver was expecting a good run from the close relation to Blacks A Fake, after several strong trials, but was nonetheless pleased by the performance. Count Montecristo ($20.30, Tony Higgs ) ended a fourteen-month long losing sequence, when he came from mid-field with a strong finish to take out an R2-backed conditioned sprint, giving his trainer-driver just his second win at the new Bathurst track, the previous win for both of them coming on Melbourne Cup day in 2014. Even sectionals added up to a moderate 2:00.1 mile rate. Brian and Margaret Bradley, who stood stallions at their "Myola Park Stud" for a number of years, were represented by the winner of the 2260 metres R0 seventh race, Slice of Paradise ($4.30 favourite, Amy Day). The lightly-raced Mach Three son continued the improvement shown in a couple of recent placings, coming with a strong sprint from mid-field. Resounding cheers were heard down at the Coolamon farm. Cherry Mahoney ($1.60 favourite, Steve Turnbull ) commenced her sophomore year in winning fashion, leading early before handing up and then coming wide in the straight for an authoritative win in the final event, rating 1:58.1 over the sprint course. The daughter of Breeders Challenge champion Bonnie Mahoney, and a Tiara heat winner last season, she had improved her race manners after a number of trials leading into this race, but her driver wasn't prepared to chance the sprint lane with her, preferring to pull her out turning for home to give her plenty of room. Once she balanced up, she had the race in her keeping. Bathurst races again next Friday night, with the annual Oberon Community Cup Night certain to draw a very big crowd, for some high-class racing headed by the Cup, and plenty of novelty events and auctions to raise money for Ronald McDonald House. It's always one of the most enjoyable nights of the season. by Terry Neil

A strong connection between two famous families was further cemented when they each took the harness racing honours in the other's memorial race at Bathurst's Carnival of Cups meeting on Boxing Night. Bling It On, for Luke and Belinda McCarthy, dominated in the feature Group 2 Shirley Turnbull Memorial, an hour or so after Nathan Turnbull had been successful in the Ray and Olive McCarthy Memorial, with promising three-year-old Sams The Master. The Turnbull and McCarthy families have been strong racetrack rivals but firm friends for three generations now, from Tony and Ray, and then sons Steve and John, through to the current generation of Nathan, Josh, Amanda and Mitch, and Luke, Andrew and Todd.  How fitting that the races named for such well-loved figures, responsible for these modern dynasties, should be won by their grandchildren. Bling It On, as a $2.10 favourite, was expected to win the Shirley Turnbull Memorial, but the manner of the victory - by 16 metres, in near-record time of 1:56.3 for the 2260 metres - drew spontaneous applause from the bumper crowd. Much of that was for Luke McCarthy's drive, which was an absolute masterclass. Confronted with a tricky inside draw on the second line, he negotiated a passage off the markers going into the first turn, and then launched a blistering sprint in the back straight the first time to seize the lead, leaving main rival Keayang Steamer no option but to work to the death seat to stay in touch with him. He opened the field up down the back straight the final time, and closed out with a 28.1 quarter, with seemingly something in reserve. It was a superlative performance, from horse and driver, and took the five-year-old's earnings to $975K, with a number of rich plums such as the Victoria Cup and the Miracle Mile on his agenda over the next eight weeks. Sams The Master mightn't occupy such dizzy heights - so far, at least - but his performance to lead all the way in a very strong Ray and Olive McCarthy Memorial for three-year-olds, was highly impressive. Turnbull took him straight to the front, parking Luke McCarthy on odds-on favourite Born To Rocknroll, a move that proved decisive, when he held on strongly in a last half of 56.6 seconds to hold that combination at bay by almost three metres. The win was quite a thrill for owner and Board member Rod Smith, whose Kriden Park establishment was the sponsor of the subsequent Shirley Turnbull Memorial, in yet another link between the two races, and families. At the presentation, unfortunately conducted in driving rain which saw a large contingent of McCarthy family members sheltering under brollies and race rugs, Nathan Turnbull recounted a story of an earlier "race" between himself and Luke. On their annual winter holidays racing horses in Queensland, Steve Turnbull and John McCarthy allowed their boys, then barely teenagers, to drive fast work around the Tweed Heads track. They held no concerns, because the horses weren't very good, and they figured the boys would be a little bit frightened anyway. But the further the workout went, the faster they went, to the point where both dads were too scared to look, turning away as their boys raced into a tight home turn. From which they emerged safely. Nathan remembers the story with evident pleasure, and it's one that Steve and John have both told over the years, but it surely marks the moment when both of them knew, if they'd ever had any doubts that their boys would be following in their footsteps. Getting back to Bathurst on Boxing Night, for that annual reunion, is important for the McCarthy’s, and to win the feature race (for the third year in succession) as well as several others, made this year quite special. Luke and Belinda achieved a treble, their other winners All Eyes On Us ($3.80, in a C4 Turnbull Memorial consolation) and Downunder Stride ($1.20 favourite, in C0 grade ) delivering a double to  Emilio Rosati, and several co-owners in that  first-named winner. John McCarthy scored with Cyclone Kate NZ ($1.30 favourite, in C1/C2 class), first up in Australia and headed towards a possible Ladyship Mile campaign, which doesn't look beyond her judging by her easy 1:54.1 effort, on a night where curator Tony Hagney produced a brilliant race strip despite sometimes appalling conditions. And Todd McCarthy was in on the act as well, with Webb Ellis NZ ($5.50, for Kevin Pizzuto, in C2/C3 grade ), the fifth successive win for the four-year-old, taking advantage of the sprint lane to nab Amanda Turnbull on Happy To Go. Revenge came for Amanda in the sixth, the second C4 Turnbull consolation, when she dashed Intransit ($5.50, for Steve ) into the trailing spot vacated by Todd just before straightening, to use the sprint lane to overhaul his runner Epaulette very close to the line. Another Turnbull/McCarthy result, five out of the first six races, and the Bling It On display in the following race capped off a special night for these iconic Bathurst clans. Hewitt is another name familiar to everyone who follows the sport, and brothers David and Mark grabbed a Carnival of Cups win. Our Nero Star NZ (4.90 ) sat in the death seat before running away with a C1 sprint, at just her second Australian run, to maintain David Hewitt as the leading strike rate trainer at Bathurst this season. It was a nice consolation for losing Sweet Molly OShea NZ, through injury, from the feature race. Mark Hewitt was able to put the frustration of assorted injuries which have restricted Sport Report's career to date, when the $5.80 chance came with a strong run to take out a C0 Ladyship sprint, recording her fourth win from just five starts. Mark plays down his success, achieved with just a small team, and is especially successful at getting juveniles up and going. Another of the smaller stables to get among the spoils on a big night was the Portland (near Lithgow ) team of Ray and Brett Field, with $69 outsider Jimmy Jasper, in C1 company. Brett sprinted home out wide to plenty of loud support from the crowd, which at that late stage unfortunately didn't include his family who'd been dispatched home earlier because of the wet conditions. Hopefully they caught the win on Sky. So it was a night that had just about everything: outstanding fields; some brilliant training and driving performances; unkind weather but a top racing surface and consistently fast times; and a massive crowd that got right into the action. And above all else, confirmation of the view that harness racing is the ultimate family sport. by Terry Neil

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