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Harness Racing NSW will interview Craig Cross and Belinda and Luke McCarthy about the training arrangements at Sydney’s most successful stable this week. Cross stepped down as trainer last Monday because of on-going problems with a leg he broke a couple years ago, with Belinda McCarthy taking over the team at the Cobbity property, including Hunter Cup runners King Of Swing, Alta Orlando and Star Galleria on Saturday. “Craig is in a lot of pain with his leg and is still part of the team, but he has been advised to take it easy, so Belinda has just taken back over control of the stable,” Luke McCarthy said. It comes as harness racing authorities around the country are set to test training arrangements in several stables.  

FORMER premier trainer Belinda McCarthy is back in the ‘hotseat’ at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight with 10 starters on the eight-race card. With last season’s premier trainer Craig Cross stepping down from the role, mainly due to his ongoing serious leg issues after being kicked by a horse, Belinda was happy to re-take the reins on the big team trained out of Cobbitty Lodge. In fact she admits she has been champing at the bit to get her team back after being kept busy looking after their stallions and fitting in stacks of bookings for mares. Of course, Belinda’s husband Luke is the No 1 driver for the team and besides those commitments finds himself in demand by outside stables whenever there is not one of his own stable’s runners. While the loss of the workaholic Cross from the team will be difficult, Belinda has an amazing strike rate as a trainer, with a win about one in every four starters, so the team will lose nothing with her taking over. Among her major wins as a trainer are the Miracle Mile (Baby Bling), Victoria Cup (For A Reason) as well as a string of other Group 1 successes. And she has certainly answered the call at the right time with the team going as well as it ever has. “I told everyone to be on their game as I want to keep up my strike rate,” she grinned. News that borders between New South Wales and Victoria are open will be music to the ears of Belinda and Luke who will head south with King Of Swing to tackle the $500,000 A. G. Hunter Cup at Melton on February 6. “We’re planning to go down there nice and early to make sure we have had our COVID-19 tests and are all clear to go,” she said. King Of Swing was one of three horses Belinda will take south of the border for the Grand Circuit event with Alta Orlando and Star Galleria also nominated. Despite the rave reviews that Lochinvar Art is now Australia’s best pacer, Belinda and Luke McCarthy would disagree. Belinda has declared ‘the King’ is going as well, if not better than last year when he stamped himself as a Miracle Mile winner and a champion. “We can’t wait for a crack at the big races as this horse just keeps going to another level,” she said.   HRNSW MEDIA | MICHAEL COURT

Nathan Purdon is "coming home" in the new season rejoining the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen harness racing stable after gaining valuable experience on both sides of the Tasman. Nathan has lived and breathed horses for a long time and his association with the champion mare ADORE ME from where he was never far away as a stropper throughout her career. But that was watching and Nathan never wanted to be just watching.  Nathan with his special fave Adore Me.  His first drive was a pointer to the future. He drove subsequent NZ Cup winner  Arden Rooney at Rangiora in a track record 3.09 for 2600m. It was a thrill but Nathan knew it was just the beginning and there was a long way to go, In 2015 he followed Mark's footsteps and headed to Australia for new opportunities. That began with Ian Gurney, trainer of Avonova who was a great supporter. Nathan won 28 of 114 drives on this stint in Brisbane.  "I was very lucky with the people I was associated with over there. Ian gave me every opportunity,  Luke and Belinda McCarthy got me some nice drives and then I had a good learning time with Greg and Skye Bond in Perth winning the Group 2 San Simeon Final at Gloucester Park. Then last year he hooked up with Dean Braun in Victoria but then when offered the opportunity to train and drive Ohoka Punter for the Brisbane carnival he was headed back north "where the opportunities for concession drivers are so good" Nathan realised his G1 dream earlier than even he thought he might, guiding Ohoka Punter to a lead up win in the Blacks a Fake beating Hectorjayjay and Ultimate Art in the rain at Albion Park. "Really unbelievable the way it happened. Obviously my biggest thrill in racing so far. I could hardly believe it " This year Nathan returned to New Zealand and took up an offer to work with Cran Dalgety's stable. "That was a great opportunity. Cran has given me every opportunity and I am really grateful for that support. It has meant a lot to me" Now it is back into the All Stars colours and Nathan looking to make his final mark in Junior Driver races. "I have one season left and I want to make the most of it, make my mark on the Junior scene" "But there will be plenty to do with the stable horses and driving those sort of animals in work is something that is obviously a big plus. But I will be just happy to learn a bit more from the old man. He knows a bit." And the next generation is there to learn as much as he can. Courtesy of All Stars Stables

Harness Racing New South Wales Stewards today concluded the Inquiry into the presentation of VINNY CHASE to race at Tabcorp Park Menangle on 14 June 2016, when subsequent to it winning race 4 on that date a urine sample taken from it was found to contain the prohibited substances boldenone, nandrolone and 5 alpha – estran-3 beta, 17 alpha-diol. A further sample taken from the horse at its stables on 15 July 2016 also detected prohibited substances boldenone, nandrolone and 5 alpha – estran-3 beta, 17 alpha-diol. HRNSW Stewards convened an Inquiry into the substances being detected in the two urine samples on 28 September and 20 November 2016. Mrs McCarthy was issued with the following charges pursuant to the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR) on 28 September 2016: AHRR 190.  (1)  A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. (2)  If a horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1) the trainer of the horse is guilty of an offence. (4)  An offence under sub rule (2) or sub rule (3) is committed regardless of the circumstances in which the prohibited substance came to be present in or on the horse. AHRR 190A.          (1)  When a sample taken at any time from a horse being trained or cared for by a licensed person has detected in it any prohibited substance specified in sub-rule (2):- (a)  The trainer and any other person who was in charge of such horse at the relevant time shall be guilty of an offence.   On 20 November 2016, Mrs McCarthy, accompanied by her legal representatives Ms Valerie Heath of Counsel, Solicitor Mr Matthew Hammond and Professor Whittem, provided evidence and submissions in defence of the charges. On 15 December 2016, HRNSW found Mrs McCarthy guilty of both charges via a written decision. Submissions on the matter of penalty were invited and these were received by HRNSW on 30 January 2017. The submissions made the following points: That Mrs McCarthy was only the trainer of VINNY CHASE for some 20 clear days prior to the race in question; There is inconclusive evidence that Mrs McCarthy was responsible for the administration of the substances; That as the trainer of the horses Mrs McCarthy carries the absolute responsibility to ensure horses in her care are presented to race free of any prohibited substances; The specific nature of the substances detected; Mrs McCarthy’s clean record, the number of horses in her care, lack of motive; Supporting character references. HRNSW Stewards considered the submissions when balanced with an appropriate penalty in a disciplinary regime where the aim of this action is to ensure the integrity of the industry and for those associated with the industry to understand the consequences of their non-compliance with the Rules. The Stewards were also mindful of the following factors to determine penalty: The nature of the substance; The scientific evidence regarding the elimination of such substances; The HRNSW Penalty Guidelines; Mrs McCarthy’s licence and disciplinary record; The personal subjective factors relevant to Mrs McCarthy. Stewards have determined that Mrs McCarthy should be disqualified for a period of 12 months and fined $5000. The period of disqualification is backdated to 22 August 2016 the date upon which Mrs McCarthy was stood down pursuant to Rule 183. Acting under Rule 195 the Stewards further ordered that VINNY CHASE be disqualified as the winner of Race 4 at Tabcorp Park Menangle on 14 June 2016. Stewards further ordered that subject to Rule 190AA(4),  VINNY CHASE is not permitted to start in any race before 15 July 2017 and only after the production of an Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Clearing Certificate. MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 • GRAHAM LOCH | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600 •

All the talk was about Lennytheshark in the lead-up but it was a different flash of Perth-bound yellow that dropped harness racing jaws at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Belinda and Luke McCarthy’s Sydney raider, Bling It On, burst home late to clip the Australian Horse of the Year, winning in a 1:51.4 mile rate, just 0.6 of a second outside Cold Major’s track record. The win in the Olympus Feeds Smoken Up Sprint further swelled Bling It On’s seven-figure career stakes and come much to the joy of driver Luke McCarthy. “He’s been a great horse right from the start of his career,” McCarthy said. “He won the Breeders Crown as a two-year-old, he’s gone over a million dollars. We gave him a good spell, he’s only had the three runs back this time and we think he’s going as good as he’s ever gone.” McCarthy made a play for the front from gate six but soon eased back, with plenty of pace underneath him from Major Crocker, who found the front, and Exciteusinthecity. “There was a heap of speed early,” McCarthy said. “We came out as quick as them, but there was too much tempo underneath then so I just ducked in and thought I’d wait for Guaranteed to come around and try and get the back of him. He always takes you a long way and it worked out really good.” Gavin Lang looped Bling It On to take Guaranteed to the breeze, and then down the back straight Lennytheshark stepped out three-wide and the race was on in earnest. Major Crocker’s lead was gobbled up by Guaranteed and Lennytheshark by the turn while Bling It On lay in wait, having the last crack at Lennytheshark and grabbing David Aiken’s superstar on the line. “You are never confident you can get past Lenny because he is such a great horse,” McCarthy said post-race. “We’ve just been so happy with this guy, we are just glad to see him hit the line like that and hopefully he can hold the form for the Inter Dominion.” Bling It On is expected to fly to Perth later today, in addition to a host of Victoria’s topline horses, to contest the Inter Dominion, with heats on November 25, 29 and December 2, before the December 9 final. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Today, Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards, commenced an inquiry into a report from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that the substances boldenone, nandrolone and 5alpha-estran-3beta,17alpha-diol were detected in a post race urine sample collected from VINNY CHASE subsequent to that horse winning at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday, 14 June 2016. The “B” sample was confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Melbourne. The inquiry also considered a further report from the ARFL that the substances boldenone, nandrolone and 5alpha-estran-3beta,17alpha-diol were detected in an out of competition urine sample collected from VINNY CHASE at the registered training establishment of Mrs B McCarthy on 15 July 2016. Mrs McCarthy appeared and was represented by Solicitor Mr Matthew Hammond. Mrs McCarthy was issued with the following charges: Pursuant to AHRR 190 (1),(2) & (4), which reads; (1)  A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. (2)  If a horse is presented for a race otherwise than in accordance with sub rule (1) the trainer of the horse is guilty of an offence. (4)  An offence under sub rule (2) or sub rule (3) is committed regardless of the circumstances in which the prohibited substance came to be present in or on the horse. That as the registered she did present VINNY CHASE to race at Tabcorp Park Menangle on 14 June 2016 with prohibited substances in its system. Pursuant to AHRR 190A (1) (a); 1)  When a sample taken at any time from a horse being trained or cared for by a licensed person has detected in it any prohibited substance specified in sub-rule (2):- (a)  The trainer and any other person who was in charge of such horse at the relevant time shall be guilty of an offence.    That as the registered trainer at the relevant time on 15 July 2016, she did have VINNY CHASE in her care, when a urine sample upon anaylsis revealed it to contain prohibited substances in contravention of Rule 190A (2)(r). Mr Hammond on behalf of his client, Mrs McCarthy sought an adjournment to consider the charges and to provide further expert evidence.  Stewards adjourned the inquiry until 11am on Wednesday, 26 October 2016. 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 an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government.   Reid Sanders - CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER p: (02) 9722 6600 • e:   Vinny Chase at Tabcorp Park Menangle on 14 June 2016

Today, Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) Stewards, acting under the provisions of Australian Harness Racing Rule 183, suspended the Trainer’s Licence of Mrs Belinda McCarthy after receiving advice from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that the substances boldenone, nandrolone and 5alpha-estran-3beta,17alpha-diol were detected in a post race urine sample collected from VINNY CHASE subsequent to that horse winning at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday, 14 June 2016. Mrs McCarthy was provided with an opportunity to make submissions to HRNSW as to why the provisions of AHRR 183 and AHRR 183A should not be imposed by 9am on Friday, 19 August 2016. Submissions were received. Acting under the provisions of Rule 183A, it was also determined that VINNY CHASE, the horse subject of the certificate, shall not be nominated or compete in any race until the outcome of an inquiry or investigation. In making these decisions, HRNSW took into account that AHRR 191 (1) provides that a single certificate of analysis by an approved laboratory shall constitute prima facie evidence of the presence of a prohibited substance. Stewards took into account the nature of the substances and that these substances are also prohibited at all times in the registered standardbred. HRNSW considered that in the interests of the industry it impose the suspension pending the outcome of the investigation and further analytical testing by HRNSW. Mrs McCarthy has not been charged with any breach of the Rules and has been advised of her rights of appeal against the imposition of Rule 183. HRNSW Stewards have commenced an investigation into this sample result, including further analytical samples collected from VINNY CHASE and an Inquiry will be scheduled in due course. 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 an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. Reid Sanders

It's no surprise to see leading harness racing owners Emilio and Mary Rosati in the winners’ circle on Breeders Challenge Day at Tabcorp Park Menangle. And beautifully-bred mare Sapphire Stride added to the fanfare when she scored a surprise win in today’s Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Group One for four-year-old mares. What did surprise, however, was the price: Sapphire Stride was sent out at the amazing odds of $36.20 on the TAB before leading most of the way to defeat Hey Porsha and Dolly Braveheart, scoring by a head in a 1:52.7 mile rate. Disappointment of the race was the $1.30 favourite Ameretto (Ash Grives), who settled down near last and couldn’t make up the ground in the straight before finishing a close fourth. In a field of young drivers, John McCarthy could probably be classed as a veteran, even though he’s only mid 50s, but he took Emilio Rosati’s advice and showed the youngsters a thing or two. “I thought she’d be quick out and I might struggle to get to the lead (from gate five),” said a jubilant McCarthy after scoring on the Belinda McCarthy-trained mare. “But they just didn’t come at me in the straight. “I was getting a bit tired near the line  . . . but so were they and she just kept boxing on.” McCarthy [senior] described Sapphire Stride as a nice mare: “We had a good barrier today and it might have been different if we didn’t and this win has made it really good for her as a broodmare later on. “Emilio said you go show them – and today we did.” Michael Howard

The 2016 Racing Queensland UBET winter carnival is fast approaching and in the coming weeks, Queensland harness broadcaster Chris Barsby will profile a number of major players vying for the top prizes. With 18 Black Type races on the program for the 2016 Winter Carnival, the carnival’s pinnacle in 2016 is the G1 Blacks A Fake, which now boasts an impressive $200,000 in stakes. The carnival spans from May 28 to July 30. Here’s a profile featuring a pacer that loves the state of Queensland and looks set to be a major player in all of the major open class events in July. Name: Bling It On Stable Name: Yank Age: 5yo stallion Owner: Harvey Kaplan, Sammy Kilgour, Peter & Zilla O’Shea, Tracy Lamb and Allan Fairley Trainer: Belinda McCarthy Driver: Luke McCarthy Prizemoney: $1,077,731 Biggest win: Gr.1 Queensland Derby, Gr.1 Gold Coast Cup, Gr.1 Australasian Breeders Crown 2yo Final Target: $50,000 Sunshine Sprint (July 9) and $200,000 Blacks A Fake (July 16) Trainer says: “He’s been an absolute delight from the day he entered our stable and he just continues to amaze us. The Brisbane winter carnival has been on our radar for some time because he just loves it up there, his record is just unbelievable and the UBET Picket Fence challenge makes strong appeal this year so we’re looking forward to being a part of this carnival.” Barsby says: “A rare type that has achieved at the highest level each and every year he has raced and his love affair for Queensland is well documented. Given the hard and relentless style of racing in Brisbane, he’s always going to be a major threat because of his brilliant acceleration and point to point speed. Expect him to be a serious player again this winter.”

Team McCarthy is looking forward to returning to Harness Racing in Brisbane. The adopted Queenslanders spent the best of a decade dominating the sport in the sunshine state before returning to their home state of New South Wales a few years ago. Now based at Cobbitty, Luke and Belinda McCarthy continue to lead the way with their big team of classy pacers and trotters. With the 2016 Brisbane winter carnival looming, the McCarthy clan plan on bringing a quality team of pacers north to be part of the UBET Picket Fence challenge. Headlining the team is millionaire pacer Bling It On while emerging star All Eyes On Us is also tipped to make the trip. And the stable could start arriving as early as next week. “We’ve got Admiral Bronski and he’s eligible for the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Triad 4yo Final next weekend and as long as he performs well this Saturday, he’ll be starting in Brisbane next week. We like the Picket Fence concept, we had a Racing Queensland representative approach us last week at Menangle and it sounds exciting and it should have people talking which is what the sport needs.” Luke McCarthy said. In a ground-breaking initiative, the UBET Picket Fence offers trainers and owners the chance to win a whopping $111,000 in bonuses for any horse that can win three races in a row during the eligible Queensland Winter Racing Carnival races between June 18 and July 16. To be eligible, a horse’s first two ‘Picket Fence’ victories must be obtained while racing in Queensland, leading up to the UBET Picket Fence finale night. The final ‘picket’ must be obtained by winning one of the four UBET Picket Fence finales on Blacks A Fake race night at Albion Park on Saturday, July 16. Bling It On starts this Saturday night in the Gr.2 $75,575 University Meat 4&5yo Championship at TABCORP Park, Melton following his luckless return last week in Sydney when 8th behind Popfromthebeach. “He starts in Melbourne this week and then returns to Sydney for the Len Smith Mile before we head to Brisbane for the winter carnival. We’ve got plenty of options for him so it’s exciting and he’s come back in top order and his record in Brisbane is just super. “All Eyes On Us is likely to trial next week and we see Brisbane as a good fit for him, we think he’s a really good horse and this is a perfect opportunity to dip his toe in the top level of racing. He’s fast and he’s strong and we’ll allow him to compete in one or two of the better races up there. “We’ll probably have around 4 to 6 horses in Brisbane during June and July at this point; we’ve got some horses that can run through their grades up there before returning to Sydney for the metropolitan racing.” UBET Picket Fence races will be held for 2YO, 3YO and Open Class pacers at Albion Park Harness Racing Club and Redcliffe Paceway, with the following bonuses offered: ·         $50,000 for the Blacks A Fake Picket Fence winner ·         $20,000 for the Queensland Derby Picket Fence winner ·         $20,500 for the QBRED Triad 2yo C&G Final Picket Fence winner ·         $20,500 for the QBRED Triad 2yo Fillies Final Picket Fence winner The carnival spans from May 28 to July 30. Chris Barsby

Talented Harness Racing reinsman Chris Geary has driven 93 winners this season and is set to become a member of the ‘100 club’ for the first time in his career.  Geary is currently enjoying his second full season of race driving and is third on the NSW State Drivers’ Premiership behind Todd McCarthy and Robbie Morris. Geary’s winning strike rate has improved dramatically this season and he believes there is a simple reason for the improvement. “I’m driving against a very strong calibre of driver in Sydney and that is a quick way to improve,” Geary said. “Once you start driving against those top drivers week in and week out it moulds you and you get a better perspective on racing.  It has also calmed me down a lot, I use to fall victim of putting too much pressure on myself because there was a bit of expectation there but now I’m just more relaxed and really enjoying the racing.” Geary is one of a number of young freelance drivers that have appeared in New South Wales in recent seasons and is steering more than his fair share of winners. “The more you do travel and the more you put yourself out there the more opportunities come your way.  There are plenty of long days and long nights travelling but that is the hardest part, the racing itself is probably the easiest thing. “Nine times out of ten a few of the freelance drivers will travel to a track together which does make things a whole lot easier and a lot less expensive for all of us.  I do think New South Wales is becoming much more accepting of freelance drivers whereas in the past a lot more trainers have been inclined to drive their own horses.” While Geary does a lot of driving for the Belinda McCarthy stable he has also struck a good partnership with Menangle trainer Darren McCall. “Darren’s team is absolutely flying at the moment and I can’t thank Darren and Karina enough for the opportunities they have given me.  Darren does a really good job with his horses and any advice he does give you then you must take it onboard. “His horses tend to be spot on and I just try to do my best and drive them accordingly.  We’ve been having a nice run at the moment, he’s got some nice new horses in the barn, they’re all firing and it makes my job a whole lot easier.” Greg Hayes HRNSW

Tomorrow night’s Harness Breeders Victoria Make Mine Cullen will see a crack field of harness racing mares do battle at Tabcorp Park Melton. Cobbitty trainer Belinda McCarthy will line up My Willow, who is likely to start a pronounced favourite, but a trio from the Eastman camp at Shelbourne will be out to spoil the Sydneysider’s party. Larry Eastman has Milly Perez and Ponder Girl engaged, while wife Lynette has recent stable acquisition Highview Ember in action. “Her normal racing pattern is to take a trail at some stage so she will be driven that way. Whether she can zip the pole marker (Wow She’s Smooth) I’m not sure but I’ll leave that up to the master (driver Gavin Lang),” he said. Ponder Girl was a fast-finishing third in the Silver Chalice behind Starburst Girl last time out and Eastman is desperately hoping there is speed on throughout for her to play a role. “The barrier draw hurt her last week but she went really well. She is back on track and in good form. She will run really well again, in fact I am sure she will. If we can get some genuine tempo in the race it’s not beyond her to get home over them,” Eastman said. “She has always had above-average ability. We have looked after her as she has a few little issues soundness wise early on. She has just been a mare that has taken her time but now we are starting to get the rewards.” For Highview Ember, the new girl on the block, it’s a case of so far, so good. “She has taken to our system of training really well. She seems to be improving with each run. Even though it is a horror barrier, barrier seven, it certainly wouldn’t surprise us if she ran well,” Eastman said. “She is one of those mares who could just keep getting better. It probably isn’t her sort of race on Saturday night from that draw in that field but don’t underestimate her going forward.” Matt Jackson Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 07 May 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 07 May 2016

Luke and Belinda McCarthy are one of the strongest partnerships in Australian harness racing. The McCarthy stable trained its 1000th winner on Wednesday night at Bathurst when Bullet Stride scored. It is a milestone that the couple are proud of with Luke training 440 of the winners and Belinda the remaining 560. Luke began training in the 2002/03 season with Belinda taking over in 2012/13. The stable enjoyed its best season in 2011/12 when training 217 winners. The Cobbitty property where the McCarthy's call home is state of the art and Luke confirmed they had pumped a lot of money into it. "Everything we have earned since we have moved to Sydney has gone straight into the property and when we reached the milestone it makes all of the hard work worthwhile," Luke McCarthy said. "The stable is well represented at Menangle this Saturday night and hopefully we can have a good night with so many big races being run." The McCarthy stable will have three runners in the Group 2 Carousel with Kept Under Wraps the leading chance. "Kept Under Wraps has been set for this race and while he has drawn awkwardly I'll be looking to get off the inside as soon as possible and from there I will look to put him into the race. Admiral Bronski has hit his straps at the right time and looks well placed off the front row. "Tintinara needs to keep on improving but I think she has done a good job since she has arrived from New Zealand. From her draw she will need a bit of luck and a solid speed. I think Cyclone Kate and Alotbettor are the two horse to beat." Frith will compete in the Bulli Pacers Cup and McCarthy is expecting another solid performance. "She just keeps on improving, her run last start was super and she is on target for a trip to Melbourne for the Queen Of The Pacific. The plan is to take her to the Newcastle Mile and then that will give us two weeks to have her right for Melbourne. "I am driving She Envy for David Aiken in the Australian Pacing Gold final, she needs to be at her best and have a bit of luck to win it but she is an improving filly and I don't think she will be all that far away at the finish. High Rolling has got a nice draw but I think Petacular seems to be the forgotten horse in the race, she was very impressive last week in the semi final." Greg Hayes

There might have been a smaller crowd, cooler conditions, and mostly "bread and butter" races compared to the recent Gold Crown carnival, but Friday's  harness racing fixture at Group 1 Feeds Bathurst Paceway certainly didn't lack for excitement, with a number of desperately close finishes. This was especially so in the feature Western Districts Oaks, where favourites Pixies Parlour and Rainbow Flash staged a good old-fashioned stoush the length of the home straight, necessitating a long delay before the judges found the narrowest of margins for Rainbow Flash ($2.70, Robbie Morris for Kerryann Turner) The battle continued into the stewards' room, Amanda Turnbull lodging a protest alleging that Rainbow Flash (which had sat outside her from the mile ) had forced Pixies Parlour down inside the marker pegs on the point of the home turn. After a lengthy delay, stewards dismissed the protest, allowing the Santanna Blue Chip daughter to maintain her unbeaten record in three runs at Bathurst.Mile rate for the 2260 metres event was a very pedestrian 2:00.6, after a very slow lead time and first quarter, but things got very urgent soon after, with a sharp 27.6 third quarter and then 29.2 for that stirring final section of the race. Positions were somewhat reversed in the following fast-class event, when Morris attempted to lead throughout on favourite Franco Tiago NZ, chasing four straight wins, and fought off Turnbull's runner Heza Thrill NZ, which had moved to the death mid-race. Mat Rue aboard Kenny Dee Dee ($4.90, for Bernie Hewitt ) took the opportunity for a cart into the race on the back of Heza Thrill, and ranged up in the shadows of the post to just get over the top of the other two. With the final three quarters all dispatched in sub 29s, the mile rate was a quick 1:57.3 for the 2260 metres. It was win number 15 for the Speed King five-year-old, bringing up a total of 56 wins for the progeny of his dam Beat The Clock, which connections purchased cheaply some years ago from Queensland breeder Stan Fyfe. The mare was humanely put down recently, but has been a wonderful producer for her proud owners Bob Boyd and Deirdre Masters. Both Robbie Morris and Amanda Turnbull scored driving doubles at the meeting, as did concession reinsman Chris Geary. Turnbull's earlier winner was Star Writer ($3.10, for father Steve ) which tracked three-wide over the final quick half of a C2-C4 class, for a very gutsy win in 1:58.8, and Morris picked up his second win in the 2YO final event, with Brobenah Boy ($6.20, for Bernie Hewitt ) leading throughout and dashing home in 27.8 for his first win at start number four. Geary's double came in the opening races, both for Belinda McCarthy. Somepartysomewhere ($3.80 ) took advantage of an early scrimmage in the 3YO event to find the front before dashing home in 57.2 seconds for his second win in succession, to remain unbeaten this season. Imnoracinggal NZ ($2.60 ) belied her name with the night's easiest win, by a mere 22.5 metres, in C1 company, Geary making a well-judged move after the bell to wrest the lead from runners feeling the pinch after a lead time of 45.3 seconds, the fastest so far at the track. Overall mile rate was 1:56.6, seldom bettered for the testing 2260 metres run at Bathurst. Geary currently sits in third place in the NSW driving ranks, behind Todd McCarthy and Robbie Morris, with more than 70 winners, but is reluctant to talk about his chances of cracking a century. In his current form, and getting drives from strong stables, he must be a good chance. Castlereagh trainer Anthony Simiana missed his double when Franco Tiago got nabbed in that fast-class race later in the night, but was delighted earlier on when Walkabout Creek ($5.40, Wes Komorowski ) made it a hat-trick of wins since his recent purchase, in a conditioned class heat of the Dubbo Golden Gig. With the speed on throughout, he came three-wide from the half for a tough win, in 1:55.6 for the sprint trip. A beautifully-bred son of Somebeachsomewhere from fine racemare Trudee, he still displays some poor manners but has improved under Simiana's care and by working with other horses. There was no tougher win on Friday than that of the Steve Turnbull-trained and driven Sabrage NZ ($1.70 ), on debut in Oz and posted three-wide for a long way in C0 class, before eventually finding the death seat. Steve Turnbull  didn't think he'd got up in the photo from Summer Money, but his relief was tempered with some anxiety about his youngster having a gut-buster first-up. Everyone at Bathurst is well used to the sight of female drivers weighing in first, but it was refreshing to see a female steward, Annie Carruthers, checking the runners and signalling the all-clear after one of the races on Friday. Her seniors on the stewards panel tell me the young cadet is showing a lot of promise, and is only a couple of months off being ready to take charge of a race meeting. Great to see, and with a surname the same as Australia's first world boxing champ, she's sure to handle whatever comes her way! Terry Neil

When Emilio and Mary Rosati bought trotting mare Real Babe at the 2012 Harrisburg Harness Racing Mixed Sale, the plan was for the daughter of Donato Hanover to continue racing in the USA before heading to Australia to become a mother.  As a two and three year old she won $223,478 for trainer Ray Schnittker before she was bought by Emilio and Mary and transferred to trainer Mark Harder. The mare has won eleven races since the purchase and thirteen in total with a career best mile of 1:52.2.  After starting her Australian career with Jayne Davies in Victoria, the mare hasn’t raced for more than a year and is now under the care of .Belinda McCarthy  Real Babe will make her Sydney debut on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle and Emilio Rosati is looking forward to seeing her race again. “My wife Mary loves trotters and in 2012 when we were at Harrisburg, I said to her you won’t find a better bred trotter so we bought her to race and then breed with,” Rosati said. “She had three starts in Victoria but she wasn’t right so we had her looked at by the vets and she was diagnosed with a soft palate. She has had an operation to try and help with the problem and we also had an embryo taken from her and put into a surrogate mare last year as well.” Real Babe trialled on Monday at Menangle finishing second and ran a personal time of 1:56.4. “I think she is going to improve off the run on Saturday night but in saying that she will be competitive, Belinda and Luke are very happy with her and I’m looking forward to seeing her race again. “I’m not sure how long Mary and I will keep her racing for, I wait for my horses to tell me when they’ve had enough and then I retire them.  If she is still racing well then she will continue on past the next breeding season and we would look at taking another embryo from her.” Rosati is still enjoying the thrill of breeding and owning this year’s Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown winner Astride.  The colt by Somebeachsomewhere will be set for the Breeders Challenge later in the season and is enjoying a quiet break. “I’ve won some good races as an owner but to win the Gold Crown with a horse that we’ve bred is very exciting for us and is something that we will hope to do into the future. “My broodmares and the foals get everything they need and get looked after really well, I’m expecting to breed some nice horses going forward because I have some of the best broodmares in the country.” Rosati confirmed Real Babe will join his band of broodmares when her racing days are over. “That’s where she will end up but hopefully she wins a few more races on the track first!” Greg Hayes

Belinda and Luke McCarthy are closing in on 1000 training winners as the couple continue to be a major force across New South Wales. Belinda McCarthy trained a treble at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night continuing the harness racing stable's strong form and combined they have trained 987 winners. While the NSW training premiership has been dominated by Steve Turnbull and Shane Tritton for the past two years, the McCarthy stable has reappeared as a serious title contender. With seven months of the season completed, Belinda McCarthy has trained 90 winners with leader Steve Turnbull on 91. Luke McCarthy had his first runner as a trainer on 31 January 2003 and surprisingly in the next seven years trained just seven individual horses. Those seven horses were Slipnslide, Montana Moonlite, Fleur De Lil, Treasure Hunter, Barjea, Washakie and For a Reason. Combined they won 90 races in the first seven years of Luke's training career. Since then Belinda and Luke have combined to win 897 races and therefore have averaged more than twelve winners per month after 31 January 2010.    LUKE BELINDA TOTAL Starters 1216 2206 3422 Winners 440 547 987 Placings 324 593 917 Prizemoney $6,991,114 $9,703,918 $16,695,032 Gr. 1 winners 17 25 42 Belinda and Luke are full of praise for the owners that have supported them over the years and hope that the winners will continue to flow. “We are proud of what we have achieved.  In the early days in Brisbane I didn’t train many and just had a couple at any one time,” Luke said. “The last four or so years since we’ve come to Sydney we’ve been really busy and it has been an unbelievable run.  We have been lucky enough to train some nice horses like Slipnslide, Mr Feelgood, Fleur De Lil and in more recent years Bling It On. “We’ll just keep working and hopefully we’ll keep coming up with the winners but a large part of the success comes from great owners and great staff.” Greg Hayes

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