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Bathurst trainer Chris Frisby has had plenty of highs and lows in the sport of harness racing - but he admits a win with Our Uncle Sam in the Group 3 Shirley Turnbull Memorial on Saturday night was more than a little emotional. "The Shirley Turnbull is the race everyone in Bathurst wants to win because of who the Turnbulls are, and because everyone knew and loved Shirley - it's always a bit of an emotional race and for me this win was a bit of a tear-jerker," Frisby said. "Shirley was a lovely lady and Tony (legendary Bathurst trainer Anthony Turnbull, who is now 90) was there on Saturday night. I had a bit of a yarn with him before the race - it was just an unforgettable night." Although Frisby previously won the 2795 metre feature (with Dinki Di 15 years ago) Saturday night's win, courtesy of a super drive by Frisby's son Anthony, was a case of "third time lucky" for Our Uncle Sam (Sportswriter - Rooftop Fairy (Village Jasper). To watch the video replay click here. The six-year-old finished a close third in the Shirley Turnbull in 2018 behind Our Triple Play (Brad Hewitt) and came frustratingly close 12 months ago with a 1.6 metre second behind Alta Orlando (Craig Cross). Frisby's ride with his star pacer Our Uncle Sam has been nothing short of a fairytale. Chris and Anthony Frisby after their emotional win in the Shirley Turnbull Memorial The pacer was purchased as a yearling as one of the final two lots at the Bathurst Gold Crown Yearling Sale of 2015 - in Frisby's parlance, "a wormy scrawny, hairy little bastard"! "But I did like him, the way I do my buying and breeding. I was still there at the end and just threw in a couple of bids, and ended up with him for $3500," he said. "AD and Shirley's grandson Josh (Turnbull) broke him in, and Josh didn't mind him, and the horse has just kept on improving all the time." Our Uncle Sam has racked up 22 wins from 94 starts, for a bankroll of $647,000. "He has been an unbelievable little horse for me - he's been my milking cow!" Frisby joked. "He's taken me all over the country and to New Zealand and I've met some absolutely brilliant people because of him." At Group One level, Our Uncle Sam finished runner-up in the 2018 InterDominion and 2019 Hunter Cup behind Tiger Tara, and in 2019 won the Bohemia Crystal free-for-all and Platinum Projex Free For All. The trophy presentation at the Shirley Turnbull Memorial The well-travelled pacer, owned by Frisby's wife Judy and Anthony's father-in-law Peter Delaney, is again being set to head south next week. "It's a lot easier to make some plans now that the authorities are doing the programming again - for a while there I seemed to be easing up on them when I should have been working them and then working them along when there was nothing around," Frisby said. "But we will head down to Melbourne and stay for a month or so and go to Melton and the Bendigo and Shepparton Cups and see how we go," he said. "I know the race on Saturday perhaps wasn't quite as strong as it has been in other years, but I'm still pretty happy with where he is at and he's paid for himself to go down now. It's only his third run back this campaign, and he does take a few runs to be at his best. "I had a lot of trouble with his feet when we went to Queensland earlier in the year. He had a big abscess break out and it's left him missing part of the side of his hoof. I took him to Carl O'Dwyer (Kilmore farrier, trainer and horse-shoe manufacturer) and Carl made him up some special shoes and shod him for me. He's a lovely man and brilliant to watch at work. Sam was okay before I took him to Carl, but he's even better now." Frisby's southern campaign leaves a team of 17 in work at home, in the capable hands of Anthony and staff Ronnie Jones and Phoebe Betts. "That will definitely keep them busy because after they finish working ours, they've all got their other jobs to go to. I'm lucky to be able to know they're in good hands, though." Frisby is also keenly watching the progress of Our Uncle Sam's young full brother, which he purchased at the 2019 yearling sales. "But we had to pay $30,000 for him! He's a nice sort, though, a hand or so bigger than Sam. He hurt himself and he's just coming back into work now, so we'll wait and see." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A special horse, a special race and a special night. It was little wonder Phoebe Betts wore a huge grin on her face after steering Snoop Stride to success in the harness racing annual Ray and Olive McCarthy Memorial (1,730 metres) at the Bathurst Paceway on Saturday night. A feature of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's annual Boxing Day meeting, the McCarthy Memorial has been won by the likes of John and Luke McCarthy and Steve Turnbull in years past. Betts was delighted to join that list thanks to a nine-year-old gelding that she has a soft spot for. "It was pretty special to win on a night like this, it is my favourite meeting at Bathurst. So yeah, it was pretty special and he's a pretty special horse too," she said. The veteran of the race as he lined up for his 276th career start, Snoop Stride was rated as a $15 chance after drawing barrier six. After the green light was given he was caught wide early, so Betts opted to whip him up around the outside and Snoop Stride responded. He rushed up to eye-ball leader Four For The Road as the bell sounded, that pair kicking away from the chasing pack. Not quite having enough speed to cross Four For The Road to take up front spot, Betts ducked Snoop Stride into the trail. With 600m to go Amused put on a burst of speed to pressure on the outside of Four For The Road, while at the same time the gap between the leader and Snoop Stride widened. Betts admitted she was a little worried if Snoop Stride would be able to muster the speed he needed in the run home after the work he had done earlier. But as it turned out, she need not have been concerned.  VICTORY: Veteran Snoop Stride notched up yet another career win on Saturday night and it was one of his most special ones given it came in the Ray and Olive McCarthy Memorial. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK   Betts waited for the inside run to come down the home straight and once in the clear, Snoop Stride unleashed his sprint. He hit the front with around 100m to go. Snoop Stride went on to by 1.6m over Amused ($12, Cameron Hart) with Idle Hands ($51, Doug Hewitt) a further 2.6m back in third. The winning mile rate was a handy 1:57.6. It was the 25th win of Snoop Stride's career and one Betts is sure to remember for some time. "He done a bit of work, I was a bit worried, I thought he might be a bit vulnerable because he doesn't like doing much work, but yeah it paid off, he went good," Betts said. "I sort of thought when I was travelling on the turn sitting on the leader's back I thought he'd be pretty hard to beat then. He got the run."  YOU BEAUTY: Phoebe Betts gathers with her family, friends, Santa and members of the McCarthy family for the winners' photo. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK   Amongst those offering applause as Phoebe Betts brought Snoop Stride back to the presentation area was her mother Monica Betts. Just as Phoebe enjoyed the win, so too did her mother who trains the Stonebridge Regal x Our Vittoria gelding. "That was lovely, I knew Ray and Olive really well and grew up with some of the kids and went to school with them, so that was beautiful. I'm very frigging excited," she said. Like her daughter she admitted to some nervous moments as the field headed down the back straight for the final time, but she was delighted with the outcome and the drive. "I was bit worried over the back, he sort of dropped off a bit, but he always has a go," she said. "He's been a lovely horse and it was a good drive. It was great for her [Phoebe] to win it, she's done a great job with him." While winning with Snoop Stride was the clear highlight of the evening for Phoebe Betts, the meeting also marked the first time she had driven in a Group race. She steered the Chris Frisby trained Aphorism in the Group 3 Shirley Turnbull Memorial.  Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Following a last start win, Menangle-based harness racing trainer KerryAnn Morris is hoping her three-year-old filly Aalesund can continue her consistent run of form on Wednesday night. Morris has Aalesund ($4.50) entered for the first heat of the Bathurst RSL Club Soldier Saddle (1730 metres) at the Bathurst Paceway, having won at Menangle in her last start on Tuesday, December 8. Morris believes the race is a suitable one for her filly. "She's actually been racing really well at Menangle and she's been racing really consistently, so we'll be taking her up to Bathurst because that race looked quite suitable for her," she said. "Hopefully she can run another good race for us." After drawing barrier five in the front row, Morris said the draw isn't ideal, but believe she's versatile enough to adapt. "She's got some gate speed she can use or she can come from behind, so it would've been nicer if she drew closer to the fence, but we've got to take what we've been given," she said. "She should surely run another good race. "She's raced in some bigger races, but she's probably not up to at this stage in her career. In the class she's been racing in, she's definitely been very consistent and can hold her own. "As she gets a bit older, hopefully she'll get a bit stronger and that breeds tends to do that. Hopefully she can turn out to be a nice mare." Aalesund is one of 10 starters drawn for the first heat of the evening at 7.03pm, with the David Hewitt trained and driven Racing Sea the favourite, backed at $2.25 odds. Hewitt also has the favourite in the second heat of the evening, starting at 8pm, in Roscommon Rose ($2.75), however, Scott Hewitt will drive the bay filly. The first of the nine-race meeting gets underway at 6.37pm. By Bradley Jurd Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Notching up his 300th career win as a driver at his home track steering a horse trained by his father - it was certainly a fitting moment for harness racing driver Mitch Turnbull. Eight years after he made his driving debut, Turnbull brought up the milestone at the Bathurst Paceway last Wednesday aboard $1.20 favourite Major Braken. From barrier six aboard the two-year-old gelding trained at The Lagoon by his father Steve, Mitch Turnbull hunted forward and easily found the lead. He eased the pace off in the middle stages before asking the favourite to give, Major Bracken clocking a 27.6 seconds final sectional to win by 3.3 meters. The run reminded Turnbull of his first winning drive at the old showground paceway on November 14, 2012 aboard Rainbow Thunder. "That win was pretty similar to the 300th drive because I led easy, went slow then sprinted home and no-one could get near me," Turnbull said. With his grandfather Tony 'AD' Turnbull Australia's leading trainer six times, his uncles, aunties, cousins, parents and older siblings involved in harness racing, Mitch Turnbull always aimed to follow in their footsteps. He's in the main driven for his father Steve - 203 of his wins coming aboard his horses - so that win 300 came with a member of the Radiant Lodge team was fitting. "Steve has supported me right through and a majority of my wins have been for Steve as a trainer, so it was good to get done there," he said. "I left school earlier, at the end of Year 9, to work for Steve and have worked for him right through. Usually every year I like to get away from about a month, I've travelled to Perth, Victoria and Queensland, but I've always come back to Steve and he's always looked after me, he's taught me everything I know." While Turnbull rates his Group 2 win aboard Warrawee Drinking in a NSW Breeders Challenge True Blue Series final as one of his favourite moments thus far, in the main he enjoys any success on his home track. He's had 121 of them. "I was fortunate about a month ago to win a Group 2 race at Menangle, so that was a nice surprise, but I do really enjoy driving at Bathurst on a Wednesday night and getting wins there because it's home," he said. "I had a horse, Courtsinsession, that I was driving for 12 months straight and it was just a super horse and that helped me out a lot because he was so competitive. "It gave me a lot of confidence because he had some good wins and I was able to travel him down to Melbourne, which was a good trip. He only run fourth [in the Free For All], but it was good to do something different." As for whether or not he intends to follow in the footsteps of his siblings Nathan, Josh and Amanda and train his own team, Mitch thinks that will probably happen in time. But for now he's more than happy to keep driving for his father. "I probably will [train] one day, but the moment I'm flat out with Steve and helping him, that's how how I'd rather it be anyway," he said. "I'd rather work for Steve rather than have the pressures of training, I can enjoy and learn from him." Pressure is something Turnbull said he doesn't really feel and he's happy enough with his siblings being more in the spotlight than himself. "None of that really bothers me, I only really feel pressure if I have a nice horse in a big race, but Amanda has always been the number one and it hasn't really fazed me if I'm number two or three as long as I get the odd winner," he said. "It is nice to beat them, but in saying that Amanda and Nathan and Josh have supported me and taught me a lot." By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

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

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