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While harness racing driver Nathan Turnbull was unable to make it three consecutive Cathedral Parish Cup wins in succession on Friday night, he still had something to smile about at the Bathurst Paceway. It was the tough front-running performance that saw Theartofinfusion post his first win in over four months. Friday night marked the sixth edition of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's Cathedral Parish Night meeting, one at which trainer-driver Turnbull had enjoyed good success in the past. He won the 2017 and 2018 editions of the feature Cathedral Parish Cup with Sams The Master and Parramatta respectively. In this year's cup he only managed ninth driving $51 outsider Major Score for his trainer-father Steve Turnbull, but by that stage Nathan Turnbull had already enjoyed a success story. He watched on track side in the opening race - the MacKillop College Pace (1,730 metres) - as Jason Grimson drove Theartofinfusion to an impressive win. Going from barrier two as an $8 chance, Theartofinfusion managed to cross and take the lead then blazed through the opening quarter in 26.6 seconds. Theartofinfusion kept the tempo up, clocking 55.5 through the first half, and at the 400m he held a 3m lead over $2 favourite Juice Brodgen. Down the home straight they came at Theartofinfusion, Big Bill attacking along the sprint lane and Juice Brodgen on his outside. With 100m to go Big Bill poked his head in front, but Theartofinfusion managed one final kick. It was enough to hand him a narrow half head win in a 1:53.4 mile rate. While Nathan Turnbull missed out in the feature race, it was still a success story for the Turnbull family.  Jason Grimson   His younger brother Mitch Turnbull increased his lead in the Bathurst club's junior driver premiership as he won aboard Courtsinsession ($1.60 favourite) in the Cathedral Parish Cup (1,730m). It made it five wins from seven starts this season for the runner from Steve Turnbull's Radiant Lodge team. It was yet another tough run from the Art Major x Maudie gelding, who ran the entire final lap three-wide after going from barrier 10. He surged to the lead into the home turn, covering the third quarter of the mile in 27.6 second split.  Courtsinsession finished 3.7m clear of Misterfreeze ($6, Mat Rue), rating a hot 1:53.3.   By Anya Whitelaw   Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Josephine Brook has been a model of consistency for Robbie Clifford this season, but there is still one thing the harness racing trainer has yet to witness from his mare - a win. Across her 13 starts Josephine Brook has only twice finished outside the top three, with three of her runner-up performances seeing her cross the line less than two metres behind the victor. Clifford hopes that Wednesday night's Harness Racing NSW Rewards Series Final (1,730m) at the Bathurst Paceway will be the race where the five-year-old can finally break through.  If she can it would be her first victory since May 25, 2016. "It's just frustrating," Clifford admitted. "This will be the fifth Rewards Series Final for her this time in. She's been pretty consistent, that's for sure, and she's not doing anything wrong, she's just not finding the line in front. "She seems to be well graded in this series, but every final or series there just seem to be one or two that are coming through that are just that bit better than her." The Roll With Joe x Kassandra Brook mare qualified for Wednesday's final via a second placing in her Dubbo heat. That was from a second row draw, but for the 8.40pm decider she will go from the inside of the front with Tony Higgs in the gig after drawing barrier three. Clifford feels that will play in Josephine Brook's favour given the two runners he sees as the biggest threats - Wendy Turnbull's Walk On Kimmy and William Stubbs' Lovin Everyday - have drawn on the back row. "In her last final she drew okay and led, but she got run down in the finish. We'll be going forward with her again from this draw and then I guess just play it by ear from there," Clifford said. "The two main dangers, Wendy Turnbulll's and the one from Dubbo Mat Rue is driving, they were heat winners. They both led and won, but at least on Wednesday we'll start a cart in front of them."- By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

THE Bathurst Harness Racing Club played host to coaching staff and players from the Panthers and St Pats Rugby League Football Clubs on Sunday afternoon. Formerly known as Group 10 Day, the meeting was very entertaining both on and off the race track with the highlight on the 10-race program being the Group 10 Rugby League Cup. Run over the 2260 metre journey, the small field didn’t disappoint as the fireworks went on from the outset. Bernie Hewitt was able to fire royally bred mare Make Mine Heaven ($2.50) out of gate three to cross the second elect Coolie Kid ($4.60) who was the likely leader as he had drawn inside the favourite. But after just 500 metres, driver Mitch Turnbull was having no part in allowing Hewitt to dictate terms and he came off the pegs to challenge strongly and take up the running. From there, Turnbull was taking no prisoners as he reeled off sub 30 second quarters. Leaving the back, Hewitt moved off Coolie Kid’s back to challenge and it was clearly evident that the leader was a spent force. Coolie Kid tried in vain to raise another effort but at the top of the lane, Make Mine Heaven sailed on by and Hewitt surged the mare to the line, scoring convincingly by almost 16 metres to post a 1.55-mile rate. Stablemate, Royal Story ($5, Scott Hewitt) who had sat back at the tail of the field for most of the trip got to the line strongly to finish second while Karloo Damajor ($15, Mat Rue) was aided by a soft run on the pegs and snuck into third just ahead of the tiring Coolie Kid. In his post-race interview, Bernie Hewitt said he was pleased with where the daughter of champion racemare Make Mine Cullen and Rock N Roll Heaven was at in her preparation and said that he would head back to Menangle with her on Saturday night. Make Mine Heaven has now raced on 28 occasions, winning eight races and placing six times, amassing more than $73,000 along the way. Sydney trainer, driver Michael Muscat took the honours on Sunday with a double aboard Ferdinand in the Ben Flick Memorial and Delilaah in the Bathurst Panthers Under 18’s League Tag Pace. Ferdinand ($1.85) was brave in his win as he worked forward early from his wide draw to eventually find the death chair and he simply proved far superior, going on the score by almost five metres in a 1.55.7-mile rating. Delilaah was returning to Bathurst for the first time since taking out the Star Trek Final back in November and the $2.25 favourite didn’t let her supporters down, leading throughout and cruising to victory with five and a half metres to spare. She posted a smart time of 1.55.2 in defeating Im Cool Harry (Nathan Xuereb). Third placed Misterfreeze (Tom Pay) was having his first run for the Gemma and Mat Rue camp and is one to put down in the black book as he flooded home from near last and appeared to be a touch unlucky. Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s next meeting is a midweek (Wednesday) fixture on February 27 where the feature race will be the $10,000 HRNSW Rewards Series Final. Craig Dumesny

VETERAN horseman Colin McDowell set the Bathurst track alight Wednesday night and in driving rain, wound back the clock with a powerful race-to-race double in partnership with top trainer Kerry McDowell. Their five-year-old gelding Shanocon ($9.80) never looked likely. He was back in the field behind ($1.80) Im All Courage but as they blazed for home the pacer by Bettor Delight stormed home down the outside to win the Get Well Soon Belly Pace (1730m) by a half neck with the favourite I’m All Courage a gritty second and Sams Express third. The overall time of 2.03.07 backed up by some blistering sectionals. The finish by Shanocon surprised the race caller Fred Hastings saying ‘’Wow he came further back then Walla Walla to win that.’’ Colin was just as surprised: ‘’ I was pretty surprised myself, he just unleashed," he said. Not long later McDowell brought out Zanadu who had not race since February. The Bettor Delight filly out of Glenferrie Shuffle was a $1.70 favourite and had won on debut at Newcastle. The three-year-old bay used gate speed to punch to the lead and despite a quality field it contained pressure and pace. Zanadu stepped on the electricity in the third quarter posting a brisk sectional which set up a thrilling finish but McDowell had the horse full of running staving off the last second challenge from Gold Rocks and Hammer time Harley to win the HRNSW Guaranteed Fillies Pace. ‘’Gee it set some pretty fast sectionals," Colin said ‘’ We’re setting her for the Gold Chalice in March here, she’ll go well.’’ Former New Zealand pacer Coolie Kid was facing a big test in the Get Well Soon Monica Pace (2260m), punters sent out Dream to Share as a $3.80 favourite but Mitch Turnbull was full of horse. The four-year-old gelding by Mach Three skirted the outside and rushed home in a powerful burst to stave off the fast finishing Imthevillagestar and Studleigh Kristen. ‘’I knew he was going well and he did finish brilliantly,’’ driver Mitch Turnbull said trackside for trainer Steve Turnbull. Coolie Kid’s ($4.00) 94-year-old part owner Jack Shanks was excited, he sat and cheered as his pacer ran home for it’s fifth consecutive win. Mr Shanks owns a property near Gilgandra in the central west. Fouroeight also starred Wednesday night for a pleased Mat Rue. The smart Bathurst driver waited patiently and then let rip with a blistering turn of foot to down a fast finishing Izzy Watt and Heza Bromac. ‘’I knew he was a run short in the Shirley Turnbull Memorial (where he finished a very strong fourth) but he was right tonight and there’s a lot more to come,’’ Rue said The Rock N Roll Heaven four-year-old impressed the crowd. The Rue’s grabbing a unique quinella. Lagom, enhanced Amanda Turnbull premiership ambitions with a thorough win in the 1730m Ladyship Pace. ‘’He was tough and strong, good win,’’ she said. Top line reinsman Bernie Hewitt began quickly and dominated The For A Reason Pace with Crossfirehall, ‘’He used good gate speed and he was always going to be hard to beat in front," he said. Favourite Volaticus opened the night with a strong win in the Stu Valentine 4 Bloodstock Insurance Pace  (1730m) with a strong front running display for Cameron Hart ‘’ He was good and very tough,’’ he said. Jason Turnbull was awarded drive of the night with Cambo Blaster ($3.00 favourite). He took the three-year-old in the Ballinger Transport Pace to the outside and rushed to the front near the line to win for Wendy Turnbull. ‘’We all impressed with him, that was a really good run.’’ Farren Hotham

PASSIONS Delight made a perfect debut for her new connections when she scored a gritty win in her return to Bathurst’s Gold Crown Paceway on Wednesday night. Leading throughout in a C1/C2 sprint, she threw in a 56.4s final half and dug deep to keep Life Lavros NZ a neck astern at the end of a testing home-straight contest. Sams Express rattled home late for a promising third. Trainer and part-owner (with Shane Caffyn) Ben Settree explained the circumstances that led to the Bettors Delight-Passions Promise mare making her way into his stable. “Mat Rue drove her to win the Tiara Gold Consolation here back in March last year, and knows the connections, so when she came on the market at the end of her three-year-old season a few months back, he straightaway let me know. “She’s beautifully bred, and should make a great broodmare when she’s finished racing.” Following those two Bathurst runs last year, she made her way into the APG, Vicbred and Breeders Crown 2YO finals, and then joined Danni Hill’s Adelaide stable for a fine three-year-old campaign that featured wins in the S.A. Oaks and the Port Pirie Derby. Ben Settree and the Moore family have a further reason to see this mare domiciled at their Bathurst breeding establishment : her dam Passions Promise was bred by them, sold for $26,000 at the 2009 Sydney APG Sale, and went on to win $272,345 in an outstanding career highlighted by her success in the Australasian Breeders Crown Final at two. Passions Delight mightn’t attain those lofty heights, but with earnings now approaching $100,000 and boasting her own Group 1, she’s a wonderful acquisition for Brooklyn Lodge. She should feel right at home there. Two Menangle country heats opened the Bathurst proceedings, with wins to $81 longshot Siotada  ( Steve Jones/ Michael Munro) in the C3/C4 grade, and Ominous Warning ( Peter Trevor-Jones/ John O’Shea ) in the C1 class. Both wins were classy, and the mile rate of 1:54.8 for the latter winner was a great testament to the quality of the track, coming after rainstorms had saturated Bathurst all afternoon. The two heats of the HRNSW Rewards Series didn’t produce such slick times, but the winners were quite impressive. Call Me Missy ( Nathan Hurst/ Angela Hedges) came from absolute last at the 400 metres mark to round up her rivals, with her own last half, somewhere south of 56 seconds, suggesting she’ll take some beating in next week’s $10,000 final. Sophie Brown ( Mark Fletcher/ Amanda Turnbull ) ran slightly faster overall time, with more even quarters, in coming from the one-one trail in her victory, and with a win and three places now from just six starts, she appears to be a professional, adaptable  type which can take advantage of the breaks that come her way. Eight different trainers and drivers were successful on the card, quite remarkable for this centre which is home to a number of large and very strong stables which frequently produce multiple winners. Next Wednesday’s meeting features heats of the Bedwells Feed Barn Star-Trek, one of the highlights of the spring racing up at Bathurst, with $10,000 semi-finals on October 31 and the $16,000 final on Friday November 9. Terry Neil

DRIVERS Mitchell Turnbull and Trent Rue played the leading roles in the three-act drama - otherwise known as the Bathurst Shootout Final - that played out before an appreciative and vocal crowd right into horsepower, at Gold Crown Paceway on Friday night. The $12,000 final was the much-anticipated highlight of the mini-carnival held in conjunction with the famous Bathurst 1000 Race Week conducted at Mount Panorama, close by the Paceway’s home turn. Act One of the drama consisted of the two preceding races, a fast-class and a C1 sprint, both events taken out in accomplished fashion by Mitchell Turnbull with Smithstars Lexus and Grosestar, respectively. Smithstars Lexus enjoyed a lovely trail behind favourite Royal Story, Mitchell biding his time before angling into the sprint lane and reaching the lead in the shadows of the post for a copybook win. It continued his strong association in recent months with a horse he nominates as his favourite, not just for their six wins in that time but also because “ he’s such a perfect, easy horse to drive.” Grosestar crossed favourite Lets Pop The Bubbles NZ at the start, poured the pressure on through a 56.6s final half, and found plenty when needed to hold that horse close to the line, with Mitchell’s salute indicating his delight at getting the win against big sister Amanda. Act One finished on a light-hearted note, with Mitch speculating that John Starr, prominent real-estate figure and the owner of both horses, might like to give him the keys to a house rather than a Christmas card this year. That mood suddenly darkened at the start of the Shootout Final. The mobile had delivered the field at a very quick clip to the top of the home straight for the 1200 metres dash, with most -but not all - of them looking for a flying start. Just after release, Switowski, drawn out in six, leapt very extravagantly out of his gear and hit the deck, throwing Mitchell Turnbull out of the bike and into a somersault with pike that would do a gymnast proud. Back to earth with a thud, quite literally, for Mitchell. With his horse back on its feet and beginning to take off up the straight, Mitch sprinted to intercept him, blocking his escape, and when the horse wheeled and headed the other way, he was able to grab him finally, keeping control of one very panicky horse until he was joined by one of the clerks.  Stewards activated the no-race siren, and the field was assisted to a stop by the other clerk over at the home turn. The young reinsman’s outstanding horsemanship - along with his quick thinking and concern for the rest of the field -  was praised by everyone who watched the drama unfold, particularly fellow trainers and drivers who appreciated just how badly it all could have turned out. Switowski failed to pass a vet’s examination and was withdrawn from the subsequent re-run, but in a nice touch, Mitch Turnbull’s horsemanship earned him the Drive-of-the-Night award from racecaller Craig Easey. After all that excitement, and a 20-minute delay, Act Three might easily have fizzled out to be a real anti-climax. It proved to be far from that. Trent Rue, drawn the outside with Wrangler Duke, had been able to see what happened to Switowski, managed to get past him safely, and then didn’t push his horse at all, believing that the race might indeed be called off. That, in fact, had been his intention all along, and explained why he’d deliberately run a slow time-trial two nights earlier, knowing that with only eight triallists he was guaranteed a start, and from the outside, he could drop his horse out of the early speed and save him. He adopted exactly the same tactics in the re-run, dropping out and sitting at the tail of the field as Our Chittybangbang NZ flew the arm to cross Izzy Watt before the corner, with Sabrage NZ gaining the one-one trail when Bradness Eldefuego worked forward to the death. Quarters of 26.8s and 28.6s , and this for the second time in 20 minutes, left the leaders vulnerable, and they appeared to be out on their feet as they straightened, which is when Wrangler Duke and Kapow Shannon ( Amy Rees, drawn in six), the fresh horses on the scene, made their runs down the centre of the track.  Wrangler Duke won, seemingly with something in reserve, and Sabrage fought on doggedly to retain third place. The final quarter of 30.0s - for an overall time of 1:25.4 and a mile rate of 1:54.7- was the slowest, and indicated just what a slogging finish it was. Full marks to Trent Rue, who conceived a plan for the race and executed it perfectly, notwithstanding that circumstances might have played right into his hands. He trains the horse for himself, wife Amy, and Amy’s  parents Tony and Colleen Hagney. It was a delighted group, complete with the grandkids, which celebrated their biggest win with Gary and Barry Rogers, whose Gary Rogers  Racing Team was represented in the Top Ten Shootout over on the mountain the following day. Tony Hagney is track curator at Gold Crown Paceway and, along with his brother Michael, also serves as a clerk-of-the-course. He wouldn’t have had any time during that incident-charged first run to observe his horse, but the wide grin on his face at the presentation suggested that things panned out perfectly the second time around. As a famous playwright might have put it, All’s Well That Ends Well. TERRY NEIL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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