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Owners and trainers were unsure how long prizemoney cuts across the NSW harness racing industry would stay in place, due to uncertainty around COVID-19, but there's good news on the horizon. Bathurst's upcoming Wednesday meeting will be the first in the state to see prizemoney restored to pre-COVID levels after Harness Racing NSW announced they would roll back a 20 per cent statewide cut. From July 1 base prizemoney for category A and B meeting races will be restored to $6,500 and $6,000 respectively. HRNSW took the decision on May 11 to reduce prizemoney but will be the first harness racing jurisdiction to return base prizemoney. Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer said it's been a challenging period for connections but is hopeful it's only good news to come from this point on. "It's been a tough six weeks with the reduced prizemoney, trying to keep everyone happy within the industry," he said. "Most were still just happy to be racing but the prizemoney is the be all and end all so it's great having it back to where it was. Hopefully we can move forward from here." Those six weeks might have felt long to many in the industry but there were signs that it could have been a longer wait. "Early indications were, that with the reduction in TAB turnover, it could have been something which stayed in place for another six months," Dwyer said. "Things have turned around fairly quickly and it's a great boost for everyone to get it back so quickly. "I think a few horses did go out of work once the prizemoney levels dropped. I know ours nominations dropped from high 120s down into the 80s and 90s. Going into the start of a new racing season this might get a few horses back into work." Harness Racing NSW Chief Executive John Dumesny said there's still some time to go before everything can run at full capacity once again. This might get a few horses back into work. Danny Dwyer "Since April the participants in our industry have had to endure the restrictions of regionalisation and then from mid-May reduced prizemoney due to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic" he said. "Initial advices from our major wagering revenue provider Tabcorp in late March when their outlets were closed were alarming and drastic as we were told our revenue could be up to 50 per cent down on budget. "A raft of other austerity measures including significant cuts to HRNSW operations have been adopted and these will remain in place until such time as wagering revenue trends are proven to be improved." Bathurst's eight-race Wednesday meeting will see all races carry $6,630 in prizemoney. Alexander Grant Reprinted with permissin of The Western Advocate

It's amazing to see Pale Face Jo even racing after a horrific leg injury, but not only has he bounced back to full health, he's found himself in the harness racing winner's circle. As owner Billy Kitt gets ready to send the five-year-old over to Parkes for this Sunday's meeting he'll be doing so still on a high from the gelding's first career win at Bathurst last week. Kitt and trainer Nathan Turnbull put in day after day nursing Pale Face Jo back to health after he almost bled to death in a stable accident. And not only was he soon back racing, but at odds of $23 he scored an unlikely win when charging down Valenteeno right on the post under the guidance of Doug Hewitt. "It was the best feeling ever after what I've been through with the horse," Kitt said, celebrating his first win as an owner. "It's hard to believe he's still racing but for him to come out and win was unbelievable. All the hours we put into him paid off." Kitt had grave fears for Pale Face Jo when he found him collapsed in the stable. "I'd been away playing footy in Sydney ... and when I came back I found him laying there in the stable, saw a massive cut on his leg and blood everywhere. We got the vet out, and he'd ended up getting a star picket straight through his leg," he said. "Somehow it didn't end up hitting his tendons but the infection was pretty bad and they ended up putting him on a drip and he rose from the dead." Kitt and Turnbull chase two on the trot when Pale Face Jo goes around in the Our Antonia Rose Pace (1,660 metres). Kitt knows it's a step up for his gelding but is excited to see how he handles the track. "Nathan said his work's been solid. It's a tougher race, but that's when happens when you win," he said. "We're not sure how he'll handle it on the Parkes track, but he works well on The Lagoon track and that's only small.He should make a good account of himself." Dubbo trainers Lex Bramble, John Lew, Brad Peisley, Greg Pay, and Jacqui Ingham all have hopes in at Parkes. Racing starts at 1.03pm on Sunday. By Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of the Daily Liberal

Make Mine Memphis signalled he's going to be one to watch come the Group 1 TAB Regional Championships Final after he cruised home to win in Wednesday night's harness racing heat at Bathurst Paceway. Bernie Hewitt's Make Mine Memphis ($1.90 favourite) broke his rivals hearts when he laid down a 26.9 third quarter and left all but Bettor Jiggle ($7, Nathan Turnbull) and Uncle Jord ($5.50, Anthony Frisby) for dead. But even those two runners couldn't stay with Make Mine Memphis forever. Hewitt hardly moved on his favourite as he opened up a 10 metre gap on the chasing duo with 200m to run. Make Mine Memphis breezed into the Group 1 final with a winning mile rate of 1:57:4. "When Anthony's horse came up - he's a really nice horse - I didn't want to let him get up on my horse so I let him slide down the back a little bit," Hewitt said. "That broke their hearts. He pulled up near the line. There was nothing around him and he just steadied right up. We're really happy with that one. I think if something did come up near him he certainly would have raced further." Make Mine Memphis had signalled his high-speed capabilities with a stunning 1:53.3 mile rate in his recent trial over the 1,730m. "That trial was nine days out from tonight's race and I wanted him to get a hit out like he was at the races, and that was an exceptional trial. It showed me he was on target," Hewitt said. "I'll see how he pulls up and he might get another start in before the final but I'll assess that tomorrow." Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of the Western Advocate

With a cheeky grin harness racing trainer/driver Steve Turnbull snatches the race cloth out of daughter Amanda's hand and takes them back to the racks while shaking his head. It's because she bolted down the inside to win Wednesday night's TAB Western Region Championship Heat 1 (2,260 metres) with Animal ($3.20), just as Steve had looked to have the win sewn up with Firestorm Red ($1.35 favourite). The two Turnbulls exchanged friendly banter in the stables post-race and the younger of them had a smile on her face throughout it all. And that's no surprise when you consider the ticket she just booked. Victory for Animal has earned him a place in the Group 1 $100,000 TAB Western Region Championship Final to be held later this month. Turnbull knew the draw would make for a tough heat but her runner turned up at his best. "I didn't think I'd be able to catch. He had the better draw and I was stuck on the fence," she said. "He raced so good. When he didn't pull I knew he'd get home. "He's always had a bit of ability but can overrace and that takes the sting out of him. Tonight he was pretty good. Once he found the helmet he relaxed straight away." Talent-wise there has always been very little between Animal and Firestorm Red but favouritism in Wednesday's heat fell to the latter courtesy of his favourable draw. After Cobbity Chic forced him to do some early work Firestorm Red eventually found the lead from gate five while Animal - off the second row - had to settle for three back on the pegs. Firestorm Red crossed into of Carramar Times Up to take up the running and Cobbity Chic pushed ahead to settle in the death seat. Animal raced in fourth with Enk Spot Shannon to his outside. Steve Turnbull began to ask questions of his rivals around the 400m mark. When he asked Firestorm Red to pick up the pace he quickly put on several lengths to Cobbity Chic and Carramar Times Up. The fading Cobbity Chic kept Animal boxed inside and that meant Amanda Turnbull would need the sprint lane to play the catch up game. Animal dived to the inside of Carramar Times up when the lane emerged but was giving up nearly 10 metres to the favourite. Steve Turnbull took a glance over his left shoulder at the 200m and could see Animal making a charge. In no time he would be looking at Animal racing ahead of him. Animal won the race by 1.1m and recorded a 1:59.2 mile rate. Firestorm Red, plus all other runners who failed to win, will get their second chance in the next round of heats. Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

It's a sad fact that the inaugural Million Dollar Pace won't be taking place in 2020 due to the coronavirus but the Regional Championships, to be held in its place, is going to be quite the spectacle for harness racing fans. Harness Racing NSW recently released their top five selections for the upcoming $100,000 Regional Championships at Bathurst Paceway, based on iForm ratings. The Bathurst-trained quintet of Animal, College Chapel, Life Lavros, Make Mine Memphis and Shoobee Doo are the best-rated chances for the event. They each boast strong claims at the race - targeted at horses with a national rating between 60 and 70 - should they front up. Group 2 Southern Cross Series champion Animal has been a consistent performer for his trainer Amanda Turnbull and the only two times he's missed a placing in the past two seasons has been due to breaking stride. If Bernie Hewitt's Gold Crown winner College Chapel can rediscover his two-year-old form then he'll be one to watch. College Chapel has undergone battles with asthma since his Gold Crown victory and it kept him away from the race track for 10 months. Hewitt has confidence College Chapel is back on track, past the peak of his breathing issues, and poised to be a strong chance for the $100,000 event. The Georges Plains trainer has the Gold Crown champion well rated for the race "I've been waiting for this race to come along," he said. Bathurst plays host to the $100,000 Group 1 Western Regional Championships final on May 20. Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of Cowra Guardian

She struck gold in the nation's capital but Jiggy Rhythm is out to do the same on her home track this Wednesday night at Bathurst Paceway. The Sportswriter mare has been racing as well as she's ever done this preparation for Bathurst trainer Arthur Clancy, who drove her to a long awaited win at Canberra last month. She was unlucky to miss out on a placing in her two races since then at Bathurst, but Clancy is hopeful this Wednesday's Bedwell's Food Barn Pace (2,260 metres) will be a return to the top. Jiggy Rhythm not only drops back down in grade but she has the chance to stick close to the leader's tail thanks to a start from the inside row. With how well the mare has been working lately, and the chance to be right on the speed, Clancy said Jiggy Rythmn has a strong shot on Wednesday. "She's racing pretty well at the moment. The two runs she's had here since Canberra were equally as good. The race coming up is over the longer distance and she's been finding the line, so the distance shouldn't worry her," he said. "The draw looks perfect for her, it just depends on what the number one does. Groovy Shannon has gate speed and young Travis Bullock likes to run them along. "It should let her latch onto the back. At worst she'd be three on the fence and shouldn't be doing a great deal of work in the running." The recent fourth and fifth placings look average on paper for Jiggy Rhythm but given the work she had to do in the run for home Clancy said it doesn't quite tell the complete picture. "I put it down to the sectionals," he said. "The got away with slow sectionals early and in the middle stages then they've come home in 59 or so, and she's had to make up ground from a reasonable way back and she was still finding the line reasonably well. "That seems to be the pattern that she's in at the moment." A trip back to Canberra could be some time away for Clancy and his mare thanks to the regionalisation put in place by Harness Racing NSW to combat the spread of coronavirus. But Bathurst Paceway is a familiar strip of race track for Jiggy Rhythm, and Clancy doesn't mind staying at home for the time being. "It's not too big a deal. It benefits the Bathurst trainers, there's no doubt about that, in particular when you're trying to place your horse," he said. "The disadvantage of Bathurst is that the big stables are quite strong and they've got depth down the line, so it's always hard to win here. "Sometimes you can go to somewhere like Dubbo and Parkes in a lesser meeting and maybe find weaker opposition, but if you get beaten at Bathurst you lick your wounds and it's only 15 minutes until you're back home," he laughed. Wednesday's race shapes up as a strong betting affair, as plenty of runners boast winning claims, including the likes of Groovy Shannon, Limbo Larry, Zermatt and A True Sensation. Dubbo trainer Barry Lew will be in action at Bathurst with Karloo Bodacious in the first event, which is at 5.12pm.   By Alexander Grant   Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal        

After running sixth in a heat of the group three Gold Chalice at Bathurst last month, Mighty Joe for Grenfell harness racing trainer Mark Hewitt bounced back to form with a harness racing victory at Bathurst on Saturday. Mighty Joe took out the Dubbo Caltex Petroleum Pace (1730m) at Bathurst in emphatic fashion to produce a happy Easter gift for Hewitt. With Hewitt taking the reins, Mighty Joe moved from gate three to take up the lead by the bell lap. With his rivals only a neck away on the turn, Mighty Joe went for home and left his competition behind to post a winner's mile rate of 2:01.0. While it was only his third win, he did find support in the betting and started as a $3.70 chance. It was only his second outing since finishing sixth in a heat of group three Gold Chalice at Bathurst last month. He's been consistent of late having now registered two wins as well as five minor placings from 11 starts this season. The son of Roll With Joe (USA) debuted in March last year and has had 19 starts. To watch the video replay click here Meanwhile, Young harness racing trainer Rick Burnett collected the chocolates with Uroc Skinny Jeans winning at Wagga on Easter Sunday. The three-year-old filly proved too good in the Daily Advertiser Pace (2270m) registering a thumping 19.1m margin victory over second placed Smokin Tally ($23). Driver Jessica Prior worked Uroc Skinny Jeans across from the outside gate to lead early and it's where she stayed for the entire journey. She opened up a huge margin between her and the opponents at the top of the bend ahead of the final straight. The battle for the minor placings was far behind as Uroc Skinny Jeans passed the post to clock an impressive winner's mile rate of 1:56.7. It was just the filly's third career win and second win this season after victory at Canberra during February, however she was backed heavily by punters and started as the $1.30 race favourite. The daughter of Mach Three made amends for galloping at the start and costing herself any chance last time out coming off a fifth in the group one Gold Bracelet at Bathurst last month. To watch the video replay click here Racing at Wagga returns Friday, while racing at Bathurst is Wednesday and Friday. Reprinted with permission of The Grenfell Record

He might not be a favourite with the harness racing punters, but Doug and Bernie Hewitt are certainly fans of The Mustang. On Saturday night at the Bathurst Paceway, The Mustang delivered the father-son trainer-driver combination win number seven in his 21st career start. He did not do it as favourite - he saluted as the $5.50 second elect - but that's a familiar scenario for The Mustang. The three-year-old Changeover x Afalcons Dash gelding has been favourite just once in his last 10 starts. "He's always been under-rated, they bet $8 around him and we thought he was a really good chance again," Georges Plains trainer Bernie Hewitt said. "He's got brilliant gate speed, he only does what he has too, but he went good. They keep buttering the odds up, but we didn't mind and the owners didn't mind. "As Dougie said, if you have a look at his mile rate on a cold, windy night, terrible conditions, he smashed everything else on the program. We are really happy with him." That brilliant gate speed was on show in the Happy Easter Pace (1,730 metres) as The Mustang zipped away from barrier four to take the lead. Behind him the short-priced $1.35 favourite Gotta Party Doll had found the one-one and in the end it came down to a battle between that pair. Amanda Turnbull made her move with Gotta Party Doll inside the 400 and as they charged down the straight, The Mustang was under real threat. But as the post loomed The Mustang kicked again and held on to win by a half-neck in a 1:57.6 mile rate. It made it a race-to-race double for the Hewitt stable as Bernie Hewitt had steered Dukkah to victory in the Dubbo Harness Racing Club Pace (2,260m) half-an-hour earlier. Dukkah ($2.60) had some luck after $1.85 favourite Yarraman Bella locked wheels with Terryrama when battling for the lead early on and galloped. But his run had merit too, the Art Major x Ima Spicey Lombo gelding winning by 9.6m. Both horses will now be put in the paddock and the trainer hopes by the time they return, the current racing restrictions in place due to the coronavirus will have eased. "They're both three-year-olds and slipping through their grades pretty quick," Hewitt said. "They're both capable of sort of going on to bigger and better things, so we are just going to give them a couple of months spell now. "Hopefully by the time they're back and fit, they can go to their better respect races. Duke, he's a New South Wales Breeders Challenge horse and The Mustang is Vic Bred eligible, we are not sure what is going on down there yet."   By Anya Whitelaw   Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Bathurst Paceway will play host to one of the new $100,000 Regional Championships Finals to replace the inaugural Million Dollar Pace, which Harness Racing NSW had to cancel due to the coronavirus. Racing has still been able to go ahead despite the virus but due to the recent regionalisation changes which came into affect on April 1 there is no way for trainers outside of the metropolitan zone to attend a meeting at Menangle, where the million dollar event would have been held. As a compromise HRNSW created four separate Regional Championships to be held on the major track in each region - Bathurst (Western), Wagga (Riverina), Newcastle (Hunter) and Menangle (Metro). It adds a Group 1 event to the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's calendar for the first time outside of the Gold Crown Carnival. The Lagoon trainer Steve Turnbull was on board with the changes. "It's a good solution. It's hard times we're going through. It was something to look forward to but that's just the way things are at the moment," he said. "Even the gallopers are cutting their prizemoney down a lot. It's a shame but at least this series still gives people a hope of earning some money. "We have a few horses we were looking at for the race but we'll still be giving it go and see what happens. "It is a shame to lose the atmosphere you get at the track but we're pressing along and we're lucky that we're able to keep racing while this is all going on." HRNSW chief executive John Dumesny said it was about giving trainers the chance to place their horses in a series, after having set them specifically for the now abandoned Million Dollar Pace. "Whilst we have lost other races from the calendar because of the required regionalisation within NSW and the closing of State borders which limited opportunities for all horses these Regional Championships will deliver to our participants - owners, trainers and drivers," he said. "The Championships dates have been held to the schedule previously set for the Million Dollar Pace so the training of horses specifically set for that race Series is not affected." The original entry conditions for the event remain in place. The series is still restricted to four-year-olds and above who must be both Australian-bred pacers and have had five starts in their region since February. Each of the four regions will host two rounds of heats with a maximum of five heats per round. Prizemoney for the heats will be $9500. Each Region will also run a $14,500 consolation event alongside of the Group 1 Finals on the same night. Metropolitan heats will commence at Menangle on May 5; Western Districts heats at Bathurst commence on May 6; Riverina heats commence May 8 and the Hunter heats commence at Newcastle on May 9. Bathurst will be the first track to host its final and consolation races, which are both set to take place on Wednesday, May 20. Reprinted with permission of the Oberon Review

THE powerhouse Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin made an immediate splash at the big Bathurst Gold Carnival. Joanna, a filly raced by Danny Zavitsanos and named after his wife, looked fantastic winning her heat of the Gold Tiara series last night. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere sat parked for Amanda Turnbull, but switched into another gear at the top of the straight to win running away by 9.3m in a 1min56.9sec mile rate and 56.7sec last half. Stewart also won the fifth heat with Dangerous Hand and grabbed third spot in heat four win No Motive. Captaintreacherous filly Dangerous Hand made it two wins from as many starts when she overcame a back row draw to win in a 1min58.4sec mile rate. One of her biggest dangers to Stewart’s star pair will be the North American-owned Girl From Oz, who was an outsider winning the Pink Bonnet, but started a $1.28 favourite and won her Tiara heat by 30.2m in a 1min56.4sec mile rate for 1730m. Stewart and Tonkin have two of the key runners in the Gold Crown heats for two-year-old colts and geldings tomorrow (Friday) night. Tonkin’s Idyllic ran second to Stewart’s Ideal Dan when both were on debut at Melton and the pair line-up at Bathurst. Idyllic will need to be good to overcome the back row (gate 10) in the fourth heat where My Buzz Lightning (gate four) and Rickoshay (five) are the other major players. Ideal Dan will take beating despite a wide draw (gate seven) in heat six. His major rivals are Jarrod Alchin’s Feels Lika Boss (gate one) and The Grogfather (four). ____________________________________________________________________________________________ AUSTRALIA’S most exciting young trotter, Elite Stride, adds to the star factor at Bathurst. The regally-bred Anthony Butt-trained trotter will be a commanding favourite to make it four wins from five starts in the Gold Coronet. Elite Stride, owned and bred by Emilio and Mary Rosati, landed what be the first of many Group 1 wins when he powered home by 23.5m in a 1min55.8sec mile rate for 1720m in the Need For Speed Prince final at Melton on February 29.   By Adam Hamilton

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

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