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The 2019 Gold Crown harness racing Carnival at Bathurst delivered like no other. It was the first time in history the three-year-old legs were lifted to Group 1 status, giving last night's Grand Final night four Group 1 races worth $100,000 each. And the class in horseflesh certainly delivered to match this prestige. The fairer sex kicked off the first of the Group 1 Finals with the Craig Cross-trained No Win No Feed winning the Yirribee Stud Gold Bracelet Final. By A Rocknroll Dance and out of the Art Major mare Designer Rose, No Win No Feed gave reinsman Todd McCarthy his second win on Gold Crown night after he won last year's Gold Chalice Final with Lifeonthebeach. No Win No Feed led throughout rating 1:55.5. "I was surprised how quick she left the arm," said McCarthy. "I put the foot down when her main rival got close and that was the telling move." The next Group 1 Final was the Apsley View Estate Gold Tiara that was won by Michelle Lee Mac. The daughter of Bettors Delight and Duets gave trainer Kerry McDowell her first Group1 success and gave veteran reinsman Colin McDowell his second success in the race after winning the inaugural edition in 1987 with Loves A Dance. "We had plenty of luck at the top of the lane," Colin McDowell said following the race. "She is a very good filly and have always had a good opinion of her." The two Group 1 Finals for the boys went to Victoria. Classy three-year-old Lochinvar Art was too strong in the Gold Chalice Final clocking 1:54.5 with David Moran in the sulky. The colt overcame the tricky draw of inside the second row and a mid-race move won the race. "I had to put him into the race when I did," said Moran. "He gives 100 per cent every time he goes around. "We will aim him at the Breeders Challenge series now." The action did not stop there, with promising two-year-old Jilliby Nitro making a statement with his decisive win in the Tooheys New Gold Crown Final. Driven by Jason Lee, the Bettors Delight/Kiewa Valley colt set a new race record when leading throughout and clocking a scintillating 1:53.8. "He copped a fair bit of mid-race pressure and stuck to his guns well in the run to the line," said Lee. "We will aim him at the Australian Pacing Gold now." For the full results from this Bathurst Gold Crown click on this link. AMANDA RANDO

If harness racing driver Anthony Frisby wasn't a believer in the superstition that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck before this year's Gold Crown Carnival, he certainly is now. Less than 24 hours after a black cat darted in front of his car when travelling home from the opening night of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's annual carnival, the Bathurst driver was plagued by bad luck. "I had a real good night. I had four drives and three gallopers," Frisby said. "I'm not even joking about this, but on the Friday night when we were coming home, a black cat ran out in front of us. Dad said 'Geeze, I hope that doesn't mean anything', after Saturday I said 'Dad, I think it meant something.' "Hopefully these bad things only happen in threes." Two of those runners who galloped - $1.45 favourite Krafty Bart and $6.50 chance Steele - were considered good prospects to win their 1,730 metre Gold Crown heats. However, Frisby did have one piece of good luck that evening. He drove the John Boserio trained Mistery Road to victory in his Gold Crown heat to qualify for the two-year-old colts and geldings decider. Frisby will now aim to drive Mistery Road to his fifth consecutive victory in Friday night's Group 1 final, but he explained the path to getting there was not an easy one. "Leading into the carnival we just had a torrid week with him, he had a couple of feet problems and a couple of days out, you couldn't ask for a worse week to have going into these sort of series. So we were pretty surprised he went as good as he did in his heat," Frisby said. "We are hoping we can improve him from his heat, but it doesn't matter what happens, he's made it. "Once that gate folds back we'll know what he's doing, see how he feels. It's going to be a very hard race to win, but we're very happy to have made it. Fingers crossed." The Mr Feelgood x Ashuras Gold colt will go from barrier seven in the decider and while it's a tough draw, Frisby will carry the confidence of a good season with him. He snagged second in the Inter Dominion Grand Final and picked up his first Group 1 winning drive with Our Uncle Sam. "It's one of those things, everyone wants to be in the grade all the time. I've just been blessed to have the right horses at the right time ... I've had a super, super year and hopefully it continues," he said. "It helps anyone's confidence to be honest, you're not stressing as much because you've been there and done it. You're a bit more relaxed and it helps to be relaxed as you can for the horses ... if you're uptight then the horse is going to be uptight." Frisby will also drive Uncle Jord in the three-year-old colts and geldings Gold Chalice Final for his trainer-father Chris. He will go from barrier eight and as such, is an long shot. "He'll need a lot of luck from there, a bit better draw and he might have been in it, but he's going okay," Frisby said. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Last year Bernie and Cath Hewitt were delighted to lay their hands on their maiden Gold Crown trophy, but now they have another career first to celebrate. The Bathurst Harness Racing Club has announced the Georges Plains couple as the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival honourees. The Hewitts are synonymous with the harness racing industry and undoubtedly had their greatest season last year with Group 1 success with College Chapel in the Gold Crown and Royal Story in the Breeders Challenge Finals. “My board’s selection of Bernie and Cath as the Gold Crown honourees for this year is a reward for their many years of service and dedication to the harness racing industry,” club president Wayne Barker said. “Any success in sport only comes about through sheer hard work and dedication to the cause and Bernie and Cath epitomise this, so it was a very easy decision for the board to select them this year as our honourees." Bernie Hewitt has trained and driven 1,400 winners since 1983 and rates Nikalong Shadow, Super Nik, Pretty Sassy and Read About Lexy as some of the best horses he has trained and driven. “I’ve been very fortunate to drive some great horses throughout my career. Nikalong Shadow was one of the best, he was trained by Dad, won 45 races and also contested the 1989 Inter Dominion in Perth. I have very fond memories of that year,” Hewitt said. “It seems such a long time ago now since I drove my very first winner, Smokey Comedy at Canberra back in the late 70s. "I would have only been out of school 12 months then, but that first win is something I’ll never forget. “This is a tough sport and a lot of long hours involved in the training and racing, however Cath and I love what we do and I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the love and support that Cath has given to me. Cath deserves the recognition as much as me.” The Hewitt family relocated to Bathurst in 2001 and had instant success, winning two Bathurst training and driving premierships. They eventually set up their home at Georges Plains, which now encompasses a magnificent establishment that can cater for up to 45 horses. “I have everything I need here at home. I can walk out the back door and basically start work straight away,” Hewitt said. “It is fantastic to see Jase, Doug and Gem all involved with harness racing. All three have been very successful in the training and driving ranks as well. I couldn’t be any more proud of them. “It’s was a shock to us both when we were informed of about the selection, and to be included in the list of Gold Crown Honourees, the who’s who of harness racing, it doesn’t get any better than that." By Danny Dwyer Reprinted with permission of The Central Western Daily

THE Bathurst Harness Racing Club has announced Bernie and Cath Hewitt as the Bathurst Gold Crown Honourees for 2019. Bernie and Cath Hewitt are synonymous names in the harness racing industry, and undoubtedly, had their greatest season last year with Group 1 success with College Chapel in the Bathurst Gold Crown and Royal Story in the Breeders Challenge Finals. “My Board’s selection of Bernie and Cath as the Gold Crown Honourees for this year is a reward for their many years of service and dedication to the harness racing industry,” Club President Wayne Barker said. “Any success in sport only comes about through sheer hard work and dedication to the cause and Bernie and Cath epitomise this, so it was a very easy decision for the Board to select them this year as our Honouree’s." Bernie has trained and driven 1400 winners since 1983 and rates Nikalong Shadow, Super Nik, Pretty Sassy and Read About Lexy as some of the best horses he has trained and driven throughout his career. “I’ve been very fortunate to drive some great horses throughout my career. Nikalong Shadow was one of the best, he was trained by Dad, won 45 races and also contested the 1989 Inter Dominion in Perth. I have very fond memories of that year,” Hewitt said. “It seems such a long time ago now since I drove my very first winner, Smokey Comedy at Canberra back in the late 70s. I would have only been out of school 12 months then, but that first win is something I’ll never forget.” “This is a tough sport and a lot of long hours involved in the training and racing, however, Cath and I love what we do and I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the love and support that Cath has given to me. Cath deserves the recognition as much as me,” Hewitt suggested. The Hewitt family relocated to Bathurst in 2001 and had instant success winning two Bathurst training and driving premierships.  They eventually set up their home at Georges Plain which now encompasses a magnificent establishment that can cater for up to 45 horses in training. “I have everything I need here at home. I can walk out the back door and basically start work straightaway,” Hewitt said. “My business has always been a family affair and it is fantastic to see Jase, Doug and Gem all involved with harness racing. All three, have been very successful in the training and driving ranks as well. I couldn’t be any more proud of them then I already am. “It’s was a shock to us both when we were informed of about the selection, and to  be included in the list of Gold Crown Honourees, the who’s who of harness racing, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Hewitt concluded. Bernie and Cath Hewitt will be formally acknowledged as 2109 Gold Crown Honouress on Thursday 28 March at the Bathurst RSL Club. Danny Dwyer

This year’s Gold Crown was finally done and dusted with the running of the Graeme Board & Co Sales Graduate 2YO Final at last Friday’s Bathurst Gold Crown Paceway. Shoobee Doo (Shoobees Place) didn’t disappoint punters who made him a raging $1.20 favourite by demolishing his rivals, working to the 'death seat' at the bell and taking charge down the back before putting an ever-increasing gap on the field, to score by 28 metres. Racecaller Anthony Manton’s description -  “They’re in one race and he’s in a different postcode!” - was colourful but not far off the mark. After a solid opening half in 58.8 seconds, trainer-driver Amanda Turnbull settled the issue with a 27.6s third quarter, and then cruised home in 29.9s to complete the 1:55.9 outing. Double Bliss, for Leigh Sutton, did best of the rest, with Bernie Hewitt’s Taylors Mill completing the placings, and earning a $5,000 bonus for her connections for being the first filly home . The winner was purchased for $16,500 at last year’s Gold Crown Sale, and has had big wraps on him since he first trialled. He ran fourth in his Gold Crown heat after missing away, and second in the Gold Consolation, before an easy win in the prelude to this final several weeks ago. Amanda will likely aim him at the upcoming Breeders Challenge series, where he will be highly competitive, especially on the wide open stretches of Menangle. She concedes that he is badly in need of “that” operation to mend his wayward behaviour, but is reluctant to do it “because he’s such a good-looking type,” suggesting that she holds very high hopes for him, both on and off the racetrack. Bathurst’s leading driver made it a 2YO double when she drove father Steve’s filly Casuarina Belmer to a good win in the final race, positioning the Courage Under Fire daughter in the one-one and proving just a bit too good for leader Bettor Jiggle, with the last half of the 2:00.9 trip covered in 57.8 seconds. Menangle trainer-driver KerryAnn Turner has enjoyed many successes at Bathurst, such as her 2016 Shirley Turnbull win with Aztec Bromac, but it’s certain she’s never had a night quite like the one she enjoyed last Friday. When she led throughout with I Am Serengetti NZ in a C2-C4 sprint, she was joined on-track by a boisterous but good-natured bucks party group, the race sponsors, who declared that if she won a double, they’d extend her an invite to the wedding. Four races on, in the Hareness Breeders NSW C0-C1 Ladyship Pace, KerryAnn led throughout with short-priced favourite Redbank Addi, with a final half of 58.5s for a 1:56.5 mile. They didn’t make it onto the track this time, but the bucks party chanted her name long and loud, and the normally reserved KerryAnn couldn’t stop grinning as she paraded the winner. Perhaps she was beginning to wonder about that wedding invitation? But wait, there’s more... and you know where this is heading, don’t you? A further invitation followed from the young bucks - all bar one of them, at any rate - that if KerryAnn could make it a treble, she’d  score an invite to, you guessed it, the honeymoon! Now that makes getting an invite into the Miracle Mile, which KerryAnn achieved with Charlaval this year,  seem pretty tame, doesn’t it? The hero of the moment wasn’t deterred by this novel, and rather alarming, prospect and with the chant of “KerryAnn, KerryAnn” echoing loud around the grounds, she drove desperately to score in a heart-stopping finish with race favourite Stormont Star  in the following race, a C0 sprint. KerryAnn’s gracious “no thanks” to her invites was assumed by all parties, but the good nature of the barracking, and her reaction to it, made for plenty of fun. Other winners on a rather memorable night: Pay Me Overs NZ (Trevor Munday for James Rando), all the way in a Garrards Dubbo Golden Gig heat, rating 1:56.7 to set the bar for a night of quick times despite the very cold conditions Stitched Up (Blake Hewitt for Dennis Picker), an even quicker 1:55.7 run, with the Courage Under Fire son (and lookalike) scoring his first win in nine runs this term Star Writer (Nathan Turnbull), breaking a string of minor places with a fast-finishing victory in the fast-class, a slick 1:54.8 run, the first leg of a training double for Steve Turnbull Hes Chiming ( John O’Shea for Lester Hewitt), leading throughout in 3YO class and just holding on after wobbling out near the line, his second win in three race starts. Bathurst race again on May 9, when racing reverts to the winter timetable of Wednesday nights. Terry Neil

It would have been understandable if harness racing trainer Bernie Hewitt was a nervous man when he woke up last Saturday. His impressive colt College Chapel was the odds-on favourite to take the Bathurst Gold Crown Final that night – and, in doing so, to end Hewitt’s long drought at the Gold Crown Carnival - but the trainer was experienced enough to know the victory was far from assured. As it turned out, College Chapel took the lead early that evening and never looked back to give Hewitt his first win in the Gold Crown as a trainer-driver – and it’s a triumph he says the whole family has been enjoying. Hewitt had finished second as a trainer four times and three times as a driver in almost two decades of competing in Bathurst’s premier Group 1 harness racing carnival. “There were a few placings along the way, but it’s really pleasing to win,” he said. “For instance, Steve [Turnbull] has been at it his whole life and he’s been going since 1987. He’s won one as a driver, but as the state’s leading trainer and Australia’s leading trainer, he hasn’t won one [as a trainer].  “It shows you how hard it is to win one of the local Group 1 races.”  The win had been a long time in the making for Hewitt, who trained pacers at Crookwell before he moved to Bathurst in the early 2000s. He made the move to Bathurst with his wife Kath and children Jason, Doug and Gemma after being offered a job to train horses for Peter and Marie Neil.  “We trained out of Jimmy Turnbull stables at The Lagoon, so we started there and that’s why we came up,” he said. “Peter had about a dozen horses to train and I had a few myself.”  Hewitt trained for the Neils for several years before he started training for himself. Born on a property, Hewitt has been around horses and livestock his whole life.  He now lives on a property at Georges Plains, where there are almost 60 horses on the property at one time, with 35 to 40 in work.  “We always trained horses before school and when we left school, we always trained horses before we went to work,” Hewitt said. “We’ve been at it our whole lives. I’ve got my older brother Mark, then my next brother David, then myself and then my sister Jenna.  “The whole family is involved in training and a lot of them are driving. We’re all very close and we help each other out when we can. “A lot of them have worked here [at the Georges Plains property] on their way through, doing a year’s apprentice.  “It’s been good to see them achieving and going well.”  It’s a team effort down at Hewitt’s stable, with his son Doug, wife Kath and a staff of three helping him train the horses. “We really enjoy each other and support each other in their triumphs. It’s all very good to have the family involved, travelling together to the races instead of having too many vehicles.  “It’s more a family triumph than just our own. It’s great for [College Chapel] and we want to see him go well.  “As far as Kath and I are concerned and Dougy, it’s just great to have the whole family involved.” While Hewitt and his family have enjoyed the win and will continue to enjoy it, he’ll keep training his pacers as per usual. “I think we’re enjoying it and getting better bred horses and we’re getting stronger types of horses,” he said. “We’re probably training a few too many at the moment, but we have to work through them and give them a chance. “If they’re not going too well, we’ll keep looking for better ones and that’s the idea of them. Move them on, sell them on and keep the buying and the breeding going and get this type of horse – College Chapel. “It may not happen, but you’ll never know if you don’t keep trying.”  By Bradley Jurd Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

He started the Gold Crown Carnival by driving to victory in the quickest mile rate ever seen at the Bathurst Paceway, but harness racing driver Todd McCarthy finished it in even better fashion. He finished it with a Group 2 Gold Chalice trophy. It was not the first time the Bathurst native had tasted success at Group level, but when Lifeonthebeach snatched victory in the three-year-old colts and geldings decider, it marked his first major Gold Crown Carnival win. “It’s a good one to get,” McCarthy said. Nine days earlier McCarthy had picked up victory in the second race of the carnival with Mista Lombo in a scorching 1:52.4 mile rate. Saturday night’s win with the gelding his father John McCarthy trains at Cobbitty was not quite as quick, but Lifeonthebeach’s 1:55.5 winning mile rate was only just outside the three-year-old record for the 2,260 metres trip. It was Bernie Hewitt’s Mackeral who set the pace early in the Gold Chalice final as he used his barrier one draw to advantage and took the lead. Mackeral had beaten Lifeonthebeach by a comfortable 13.1m in their heat earlier in the week, so McCarthy knew he had to be wary. On the bell McCarthy had his $17.80 chance in fifth – three back on the pegs – before peeling out of the trail following a hot 27.7 seconds third quarter. He came five wide down the home straight and grabbed victory by a head over War Dan ($20.40, Nathan Jack). It was the fifth win from 16 starts for Lifeonthebeach. Todd McCarthy’s older brother Luke claimed third aboard $2.60 favourite Code Bailey for Lemnos trainer Ross Pike. “We had a little bit of luck and the draw [barrier 10] panned out perfect for us,” McCarthy said. “Just being able to show him daylight at the top of the straight there, he’s got a great 200 metres and he found the line terrific. “Around the turn he was labouring a little bit and I wasn’t too sure how he was travelling, but he’s one that always gives you everything he’s got and he sure did that tonight.” By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

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

Saturday's Bathurst Gold Crown final might be run over 1,730 metres, but the victor of the harness racing Group 1 decider could very well be determined in the opening strides. When the barrier draw for the $100,000 two-year-old colts and geldings final was conducted on Monday night, it set up a tantalising battle for the the lead once the barriers fold back. Surprise finalist Tactical Response, a $49 heat winner, will go from barrier one for the first time in his career for Leeton trainer-driver Wayne Sullivan. Barriers two and three were drawn by the emergencies, but if they are scratched as expected, it will shuffle the three favourites for the Gold Crown final – Animal, Abouttime and College Chapel - into barriers two, three and four respectively. The first two of that pair are part of Nathan Jack’s Lemnos team, while College Chapel is from the stable of Georges Plains trainer-driver Bernie Hewitt. “Tactical Response has draw barrier one and when you look at his prior starts, he’s had two off the back row and then drew seven, so he’s a bit of an unknown from there,” Bathurst Harness Racing Club chief executive officer Danny Dwyer said. “It will be a real tactical battle at the start. Both Animal and Abouttime have won races leading and College Chapel won a Group 3 at Menangle sitting in the death seat, so it will be interesting. “The draw certainly plays into the hands of the three favourites and I think Nathan Jack holds a bit of a key with two of those horses.” Hewitt has previously won the Gold Bracelet final with Read About Lexy, but has never before taken out one of the carnival’s two-year-old deciders. Dwyer feels that College Chapel gives him a genuine chance to change that. The other Bathurst hopeful, Chris Frisby’s Uncle Jord, will also get his chance from barrier 10. “I think Bernie would’ve been happy to draw anywhere from one to four. College Chapel can lead or sit, so he’s certainly not one dimensional and he’s got the runs on the board,” Dwyer said. “He [Uncle Jord] can sit back and follow the pace, drawing two off the back row he doesn’t have to look for a position. “If Animal pushes on in front he could even end up in the one-one.” When it comes to the two-year-old fillies Group 1 Gold Tiara final, it is the Michael Stanley trained-driven Desirable Stride who has drawn barrier one and should hold favouritism. Still, Dwyer thinks that Cawdor trainer Paul Fitzpatrick can have a big say in how the 1,730m trip unfolds give his stablemates Supersonic Rainbow and Miss Halfpenny will follow each other out. “Desirable Stride was the pre-post favourite in the tiara before the barrier draw, so I think that will only be further enhanced now,” he said. “She had two starts for the one win and a second and while she was run down in her heat admittedly, that heat was the fastest, so you’d like to think she’ll be improved by the run. “I think Paul Fitzpatrick holds the key to the race as to where his two horses end up, then the rest of the field. “It’s just a question now of where Ally Rogan ends up from barrier four.” Hammertime Harley has drawn barrier three for Georges Plains trainer Gemma Hewitt. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate    

WITH more than 50 years involvement in the harness racing industry it is fair to say that Geoff Simpson is experienced, yet even a trainer-driver who has been around as long as he has could not have imagined what it was like to win the Gold Crown final. Simpson was there when the Bathurst Harness Racing Club first staged the Gold Crown Carnival – he even drove in the Gold Crown final for two-year-old colts and geldings. Last year, 31 years after that inaugural final, Simpson took out the feature Group 1 feature with a colt called Castalong Shadow. He had not really rated his Shadow Play x Leslie Jay hopeful a chance of winning, but an even bigger shock than the upset victory for Simpson was the response he got. “When we went across the line it didn’t really sink in, but then we got further down the track and Mat Rue congratulated me and shook my hand, then when we pulled up another driver congratulated me, I thought, ‘Geeze we’ve won this thing’,” Simpson said. “Then to come back and get that reception. I’ve watched some really good races and the reception the winners got – I think my reception outdone all of them. It took me a little by surprise the reception, not being a high profile driver, but it was really appreciated. Geoff Simpson “To win the race and have the response we got from people in the industry, it was fantastic. People I hadn’t heard from in years and years but that I’ve know for ages, they were ringing up and I got letters and cards from people. “I got a letter from Colin Watts, he’s a very respected man in the industry, congratulating me and Tony Turnbull came around and congratulated me after the race. I’m very appreciative, getting that acknowledgement of my little horse. “It took me a little by surprise the reception, not being a high profile driver, but it was really appreciated.” Castalong Shadow went on to finish his two-year-old season with a record of four wins and three seconds from nine starts, a Group 3 Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial victory following the Gold Crown triumph. It saw more accolades come for the humble Lithgow trainer-driver. “He won the two-year-old colt and gelding of the year and he won the overall two-year-old of the year too,” he said. This year Simpson and Castalong Shadow will return to the carnival, this time to contest the Gold Chalice series for three-year-old colts and geldings. It features a $55,000 Group 2 final. Simpson knows his colt will face stiff competition in Monday’s heats, but no matter what happens, he will always carry with him the memories of the night he won the Gold Crown. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Traditionally, the Bathurst Harness Racing Club has offered some fantastic major prizes as part of the Gold Crown Carnival, and this year is no exception. Lucky punters will have a chance to relax and enjoy five nights accommodation at The Club Villas, Seminyak in Bali. To enter, racegoers must purchase a racebook during the carnival, complete the enclosed entry form and put it in the barrel near the presentation area at the track.  To win, the ticket holder must be at the track on Gold Crown Carnival finals night, Saturday, March 31, when the major prize is drawn.  To enjoy the accomodation at this four-star resort in the one-bedroom, private pool villa the lucky racegoers must book their trip with Panorama Cruise and Travel and head to Bali between June 1 and November 1, 2018. (The cost of airfares is at the winner’s expense.)   So, head to the Gold Crown Carnival to enjoy all the harness racing action and cross your fingers for Bali! By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate  

“G’DAY mate, how’s it going?” It is a greeting that Ian Warren has offered countless times over the years as he has welcomed patrons to Bathurst Harness Racing Club meetings. Whether it be on a sweltering summer evening, chilly winter night or when he is forced to don wet weather gear, Warren always has a smile and friendly word to offer patrons as they come through the gate. He will have plenty of greetings to offer over the next week as he mans the gate during the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival, the time he spends helping to raise money for the Lions Club of Bathurst. “I joined Lions in 1995 and I’ve been doing the trots gates virtually ever since,” Warren said. “We do the football gates in Bathurst as well and Central West football gates, but it [Gold Crown finals night] is the busiest time of the year here. “I will do it as long as I can hopefully. One reason I still do it is because I am the only one silly enough, but now I’ve got a few friends to help me, for three or four years I did it by myself. “I like doing it because I’ve seen what the results are, I’ve seen where the money you raise goes.” While Warren does not seek any recognition for what he does, last year the Bathurst Harness Club decided to nominate him for a Harness Racing NSW Club Volunteer Appreciation Award. It is a big thing for Bathurst every year … I always try and watch the Gold Crown, you just watch and hope you back the winner. Ian Warren It was an award he won, but other than admitting the nomination and the trophy were “pretty nice”, Warren tries to downplay his efforts. He is just happy to go about his job and come the Gold Crown Carnival finals night, Warren hopes to take in some of the action and pick a winner as well. It is one time of year when he tries to take in some of the on track action before heading home. “It is a big thing for Bathurst every year … I always try and watch the Gold Crown, you just watch and hope you back the winner,” he laughed. “Nowadays I don’t watch a lot of the races – I’m usually hungry by the time I finish and go home for dinner – but before I got married, I used to live in Orange and we used to come down every Saturday night to the Showground. I quite like harness racing. “I followed Hondo Grattan and Smooth Satin, the good ones. I used to come every night when they were running around.” As for those coming through the gate at the Bathurst Paceway, Warren admits while he knows the faces, he may not always recall the names. “I know a fair few of the characters, they come through the gate and say ‘Hello Ian’ and I’ll say hello back to them, but I don’t know all their names,” he said. But in fairness to the volunteer, most people only know him as Ian or by his nickname ‘Tiny’. They know him as that friendly bloke who has been greeting them at the gate for years. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Come for the heart pounding harness racing, but make sure you enjoy all that Bathurst has to offer with the inaugural Harness The History Of Bathurst Tour.  The tour will run in conjunction with the 2018 Gold Crown Carnival and will include stops where you get backstage style access to events such as the yearling sale, as well as opportunities to learn about the dramatic and sometimes tragic history of Bathurst  –  Australia’s oldest inland settlement  –  and the surrounding areas.    Whether you are a visitor to the region or a local, the tour will have something for everyone. Head out on a day trip to unique places such as Mayfield Gardens, Abercrombie House, Hill End and other local points of interest.  Guests can tailor the package to their needs. Of course, access to all dinners, receptions, races, and other must-see events is included. So, why not harness the excitement of the carnival and enjoy the wonders of the district? Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate Call Panorama Cruise and Travel on 02 6331 7044.  

Gulgong in central NSW is not a renowned Harness Racing town and Royal Ascot in the UK is a long way from Bathurst Paceway but both these places play an important part into the likely favourite for the 2018 edition of the Bathurst Gold Crown. The two-year-old colt named College Chapel has started three times to date for two impressive wins including a 1.52.6 demolition of his opposition in the Group Three Sapling Stakes at Menangle on 24th February. The story of his Gulgong based owners Gary and Margaret Meredith is an intriguing one and an inspiration for anyone else contemplating an entry into ownership of a Standardbred. Margaret Meredith is a lifelong resident of Gulgong , a 30 minute drive north of Mudgee   -   Gary Meredith grew up in the Campbelltown region  [ near Menangle ]  when it was very much a rural area.   Prior going to secondary school each day Gary and a mate headed to Warwick Farm to muck out boxes for a Thoroughbred trainer. School wasn’t big on Gary’s list of priorities in life , but horses were so for the next few years he enjoyed toiling with both Standardbreds  [ at Frank Willis’s stables  ]  and Thoroughbreds at Kirkham Stud,  a prominent Stud at Wagga and finally accompanied the 1972 Golden Slipper winner  John’s Hope to  Guntawang Stud at Gulgong. Well once settled in Gulgong , love blossomed between Gary and Margaret and in 1979 they bought a supermarket in the town and so horses disappeared from Gary’s life  ……    but not forever. On 24th March 2013 , Gary and Margaret decided to drive up to Bathurst for the annual Graeme Board Bathurst Yearling Sale.    After studying the catalogue , Gary decided they would bid for Lot 63 , a colt by the little known Sire Gold Dust Beach but from a No Nukes mare, who was from an Albatross mare. Whilst waiting for this colt to enter the auction ring , Margaret spotted what she thought was a “ drop dead gorgeous “ looking filly and asked Gary to come and cast his eye over her. “ We’re here to buy a colt  “  replied Gary , but he did agree with his wife’s judgment and so Lot 22 , a Modern Art / Sheb Ace filly, became the property of the Merediths on the fall of the hammer. “ I thought she looked like Marilyn Monroe reincarnated as a horse and so eventually named her Allnight Kiss “ said Gary recently.   “ I’m not sure if my wife was that impressed with the name but once the filly started winning races Margaret agreed it was a good name “. So that day commenced a charmed run for the Gulgong couple.  Gary also purchased his Lot 63 for just $2,000 and named him Allnight Raid. Allnight Kiss and Allnight Raid have won almost $150,000 between them and Allnight Raid is now retired to the Meredith farm on the outskirts of Gulgong. Then in early 2014 Gary and Margaret noticed a beautifully bred mare advertised for Sale on the HRA website Trading Ring.   Her name was Meljoy and she was by the highly successful stallion Village Jasper from an Australian Broodmare of the Year Intrude.   Following a quick trip to Peppertree Farm at Cowra to inspect her, Meljoy was added to the Meredith equine portfolio. A further visit in 2015 to the Annual Bathurst Yearling Sale resulted in Gary and Margaret purchasing Lot 77, an Always A Virgin filly for $14,000. Now named Royal Story, she provided Gary and Margaret and highly respected trainer Bernie Hewitt with their first Group One winner when she was victorious in the Breeders Challenge Final for three Year Old fillies at Menangle in June last year. So back to Meljoy , who was in foal to Roll With Joe when purchased by the Merediths.  She did foal in November 2014 but that foal later died in a stable accident in early 2015   -   an accident that shattered the couple. After Meljoy foaled in late November , Gary decided he wanted to breed her again even though it was getting late into the breeding season and thought that a Direct Scooter sireline Stallion would suit this daughter of Intrude perfectly. Mach Three was the stallion of choice and even though he was advertised as Fully Booked ,  Alabar Bloodstock were able to supply semen and so Meljoy was bred on 19th December 2014. Then on 30th November the following year a smallish but lovely colt foal arrived. “He looked like a good horse right from the beginning and eventually broke in like a really good horse  “ said Gary recently. When questioned about his name of COLLEGE CHAPEL , Gary replied “As mentioned previously I was involved in the Thoroughbred Industry quite heavily when I was younger and still followed the racing in both hemispheres. In the mid 1990’s there was a brilliant sprinter racing in England and Ireland called College Chapel and so I named my Standardbred foal after this European horse.  He was trained by the doyen of trainers, Vincent O’Brien and eventually became a shuttle stallion between Europe and New Zealand “. So now a two year old colt trained by Bernie Hewitt , but named after a high class horse who raced at Royal Ascot , is ready to set the the Bathurst track alight and give his owners a Gold Crown. By the way Bernie, this two year old colt is “ Bred in the Purple “ so your task now is to  “ do a Vincent O’Brien “  and turn the Aussie COLLEGE CHAPEL into a Stallion prospect. Bathurst Media

The final nominations for this month’s Bathurst Gold Crown and Bathurst Gold Tiara harness racing series have taken a huge leap. In what is a tremendous show of industry confidence in the race series final noms have increased by 14 per cent (from 116 in 2017 to 132 in 2018). The 32nd running of the prestigious series will get underway at the Bathurst Paceway on Friday March 23 with the running of the heats of the Gold Tiara. Opening night will be followed by four more exciting race meetings, a huge yearling sale, the Mayoral Dinner, a wide variety of social functions and a golf day in what is always a challenging week for participants and visitors alike. The series will come to it’s magical conclusion with the running of two Group 1 finals (Bathurst Gold Crown and Bathurst Gold Tiara) and two Group 3 Finals (Bathurst Gold Bracelet and Bathurst Gold Chalice) on Saturday March 31. Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer was naturally delighted with the boost in numbers. "Any race series that has been running for as long as we have needs to work really hard to retain industry interest and support," he said. "The Club has been talking to all of our key stakeholders about what we need to do to maintain that interest and clearly the initiatives we are outing in place are working." Dwyer thought the introduction in particular of an Early Bird Payment Scheme has given the final numbers a good kick along. He also thought the recent huge announcement from Harness Racing NSW had made a significant difference. "Even though the $200,000 boost from Harness Racing NSW does not kick into next year’s series, it was another huge vote of confidence in what we are trying to do here at Bathurst," Danny said. "It was an announcement that lifted the buzz around this Carnival even further and it was an announcement that everyone involved in the industry greatly appreciated." And so with about a week to go it is fair to say that all roads will soon be leading to Bathurst.

The wait was long and patience was needed  but the four two-year-old races which concluded the 10-event harness racing program at Gold Crown Paceway on Wednesday were worth the wait and whetted the appetite for next week’s carnival. While three of the winners had previous race experience, a fourth winner and a number of the debutants showed that they will acquit themselves well in their respective heats next Friday and Saturday. Dennis Picker ( who completed a double at the meeting with Showem Simon in a C0 class sprint) produced the Bathurst sale purchase Ally Rogan in outstanding condition for the first of two 2YO fillies sprints, the Pet Rock daughter showing class to win easily, despite sitting outside the lead for much of the race. She’s now unbeaten in two runs at the track, with a tough placing at Menangle sandwiched between those runs, and will have plenty of admirers in Friday’s Tiara heat. Im All Starzzz (Casey/ Aaron Williams) and Frankies Tooth ( Graham Bullock/Mitch Turnbull) did everything right to complete the placings, and Taylors Mill (Bernie Hewitt) went into everyone’s black book after missing away, making up a conservative 80 metres and having the cheek to box on strongly in the middle of the chasing pack. It was some run. Six debutants scored up in the second fillies sprint, and they filled the placings. Sweet Heart Bella (David/ Brad Hewitt) led throughout, with a brilliant last half in 56.5s, to account for Write About Lexy ( Bernie Hewitt) and Sports Story (Bernie/Doug Hewitt), to make it a family trifecta. The daughter of Mr Feelgood hadn’t trialled, or even been away from the Hewitt stables, before this road trip. She’s apparently highly strung - she was given 7 days R and R, and then 9 days work to fit her for this successful debut - but she also possesses very high speed, and is one to watch in the series. A homebred, she’s from the unraced Justanotherpoorboy daughter Cinderella Girl. Could she be the Cinderella story of this year’s Tiara? The final two races, for the 2YO colts and geldings, were first-out and first-home affairs for the short-priced favourites. Shoobee Doo(Steve/Amanda Turnbull) , a $16,500 buy at last year’s Bathurst sale from the impressive first crop of Shoobees Place, had rattled home for a fine second on debut two weeks earlier, and again showed high speed to open up a gap on his opposition, with a 27.6s closing quarter for a 1:58.8 mile rate. Chris Be Quick (Gemma/ Mat Rue ) maintained his consistent record, placing at each of his four starts now, and My Ultimate Major (Jarrod Alchin) made it consecutive thirds after chasing hard throughout. Both placegetters are honest, foolproof types, but the winner looks to be a cut above them, and capable of making it through to a Crown final. And so to the last, where Bernie Hewitt’s boom colt College Chapel, the astounding 1:52.6 Sapling Stakes winner on Miracle Mile night, was making his hometown debut. Steve Turnbull’s Firestorm Red led briefly, before Hewitt took over on the money-back favourite, quickening to a 28.9s quarter down the back and looking likely to burst away on straightening, before Turnbull closed the gap and chased him hard right to the line, in a brilliant 27.1s final quarter, for a 1:56.9 mile rate. Hit The Track (Josh/Mitch Turnbull) held down third spot, but was no match for the first pair. Bernie Hewitt, who possibly got a minor scare when Firestorm Red came at him in the straight, was still pleased that his Mach Three colt got the solid workout he needed after missing out on a race at Menangle a week earlier. He plans to keep his charge up to the mark by starting him in the Bathurst trials on Monday, in preparation for Saturday’s heat, where he is sure to again start a warm favourite. Firestorm Red has impressed at both his starts and if he continues to improve, even a little, then he will come right into contention in the series. Other winners, on a night dominated by the babies, were: Castalong Shadow, last year’s Crown champ, in 3YO grade; Imthevillagestar, earning Drive of the Night for Justin Reynolds; Always Rockin, a deserved winner after recent seconds; Good Boy Oliver, now to aim up at the Honouree Stakes over the carnival; Crackerjack Jo, holding off Beetson for a stable quinella in the fast-class, and Showem Simon. Track curator Tony Hagney has the Gold Crown Paceway surface in lightning fast condition, with three sub1:55 wins during the night. The 2YO record of 1:54.7 could  well go by the board at this year’s  carnival.    

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