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There wasn't much sleep for harness racing driver Doug Hewitt on Saturday night but that mattered little after he drove a winning treble at Dubbo Paceway on Sunday afternoon. Hewitt had been at Menangle on Saturday night and had gone within metres of a second career Group 3 win. With many roads around the mountains being closed on the weekend due to snow and freezing conditions Hewitt was lucky to be able to make the trip from Bathurst to the city track, and he was equally lucky to make it home. He and his partner had to take some back roads but were back home close to 2am, before being up just four hours later to prepare for the trip to Dubbo. "It was a quick turnaround but it was worth it," he laughed. The treble at Dubbo not only made the lack of sleep worthwhile, it somewhat eased the pain of missing out on a win in Saturday's Group 3 Success Stud Ladyship Pace (1609m) with Make Mine Heaven by a half-head. Hewitt drove Infinity Beach and Rock Fisherman to victory for his father Bernie at Dubbo before steering Josh Turnbull's Bell River Boy to a shock victory. It continued his strong relationship with the Dubbo track, as what remains his only Group-level win being scored there last year. Sunday's treble was also that bit more special given he took out the day's two main races. After taking out the meeting's opening event, the TAB Odds and Evens 2YO Fillies Pace (1,720m), with Infinity Beach he scored victories in both the Lester Coffee Memorial (1720m) and the Garrads Rio Meteor Gig Final (2120m). The memorial event honours the memory of Lester Coffee, who is the father of well-know harness racing photographers Sharon and Amanda. "Rock Fisherman won that Coffee Memorial and that was pretty good because we've had a bit to do with those girls and they've looked after us so it was good to get the win and also because of the way he did it," Hewitt said. "He's coming back into form." Rock Fisherman was part of a winning treble for Doug Hewitt at Dubbo on Sunday. Photo: COFFEE PHOTOGRAPHY   Hewitt was in an awkward position behind leader Whiskiesonthebeach on the bend for home but Cloudin Up galloped from the death seat and provided Rock Fisherman with plenty of fresh air to make his charge. That was followed by a particularly strong win with Bell River Boy in the Garrads Rio Meteor Gig Final was particularly impressive. The $9.50 chance blitzed his rivals, winning by nearly 20m while still appearing he was doing nothing but taking a leisurely stroll late on. "Josh put me on last time and he stuck with me and he [Bell River Boy] has been a bit of a surprise packet," Hewitt said, the gelding having won four of 12 races since joining the Turnbull stables. "I thought there might be a big battle down the back and home straight but when I asked him he let down and found another gear. "Josh is away at the moment but even he was surprised how convincing it was and he was over the moon." Infinity Beach had earlier shrugged off a challenge on the home from Mercurius ($4, Justin Reynolds) to win comfortably in the first event as a $3.10 hope. Hewitt went close to a fourth win but he and and the Bernie-trained Lady Swiss ($5) were edged out by the Jake Davis-driven outsider Studleigh Sonny ($31) in the day's final event, the Goodtime Lodge Pace (2120m). By Nick Guthrie   Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal            

Sunday evening provided a great many firsts for trainer Madison Reynolds at the Dubbo Harness Racing track. Reynold's newest horse Tophut Johny took out it's first win in the very first race back at the Dubbo track since the lockdown lifted and brother Jordan Reynolds picked up his first win in his first appearance in the sulky for Madison's stable. "It went really good, we were all very happy with how everything ended up panning out," Reynolds said of his and his brother's efforts. While Madison had entered the race meet confident of a good showing for both his horses, it was Johny that the trainer was less sure about, but those concerns were quickly put to rest by the inexperienced starter. "We got outside of the leader a lot easier than what we thought we were going to and once we got there, it turned out we were pretty confident about our chances actually," Reynolds said. "I was happy with the performance, but we don't want to get to ahead of ourselves, he started off well and worked and we couldn't really ask for anything more right now." Tophut Johny beat out Mat Rue's Riverside Gift and the red hot favourite in Nathan Turnbull's Linx Downs in what Reynolds terms as 'the perfect family affair'. "It was definitely good for all of us, he's bred by us and his mother was bred by us, so it was good to get a win with all of us involved," Reynolds said. "It was really good for Jordan to get the win with him as well, he does most of the work with him, so it was a good way to see him get paid back. "It was the first time that I've had Jordan actually drive one of my horses and he did great, he did everything right for both of them." The effort will likely have won Tophut Johny a rest and a lay-up, with the horse expected to return in two weeks time in Dubbo, rather than at next weekend's Parkes fixture as originally anticipated. Joanandi, Reynold's other horse in the mix at the meeting, will still head to Parkes, with a number of changes in mind to improve on a disappointing placing later down the race card, finishing up in ninth place out of the ten competitors in the Ray Tobin Signs Pace. "There's a couple of things we change for her and we can fix those up and she should be good to go," Reynolds said. It's a tricky balancing act for the stable, with Reynolds currently having the two horses in any real shape to work at the moment, after a long and bruising lockdown period put him in the unenviable position of turning out horses. "At the moment, we've really only got those two here racing, but we're in that position right now where we've got to take what we can get while the racing's in our own backyard," Reynolds said. "I'll back her up in Parkes next weekend, but with him being such a little horse and sitting in the deck first up, I think it's best to give him the week off and race him fortnightly for now." "If we had more horses at the moment we'd be looking to spread them around and get more done, but right now at the moment, we're working with what we've got and the racing that's available." Also joining Tophut Johny in the winner's circle on Sunday evening was the Greg Pay trained Bid for Stardom, who took out the Crampton's Carpet Pace as one of the favourites after Nathan Turnbull's Dontch See It tired after an early lead. By Daniel Shirkie Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal

Long-time Dubbo trainers are reacting with relief following the agreement between Harness Racing NSW and the state authorities to allow the Dubbo track to re-open. Many of Dubbo's trainers and owners have been forced to turn out horses as the cloud of uncertainty hung over the sport's near future in the Central West, with travel costs and tough competition forcing them to make hard decisions. But now, on Sunday, racing will be returning to home turf, with a number of locals lining up to represent at the first event back at home since the lockdown measures saw the track closed for safety reasons. Trainer Madison Reynolds says the timing couldn't have been more perfect for him and his developing stable, as another lengthy trek to Bathurst had been pencilled in for this weekend before news came through that the Dubbo track would be open and racing once again. "It's worked out perfectly well for me to be fair, my two horses I've got in were really ready for a start this weekend and I'd planned out the trip to Bathurst, but obviously, it's always much better to be racing right here in my own backyard," Reynolds said. Reynolds' representatives this weekend, Joanandi and Tophut Johny, are both desperate to stretch their legs, with a run in Tamworth for Joanandi the only start either have seen since Dubbo's track closed. "They're both still going really good at the moment you can't really fault them, they're not the highest rated horses as you'd expect, but I'd be disappointed if either one didn't at least pick up a cheque," Reynolds said. "Tophut Johny is having his first run for me, he's had three months off, my mother owns him and my brother's sent him to me, he'll improve off the run, I expect him to go good." "The other one, the mare, she should be thereabouts, I'd be pretty disappointed if she wasn't right there with them." Reynolds isn't the only one grateful to be giving his horses a start at home, with James Sutton also returning to home turf just in time for a hopefully productive tilt with Yarraman Bella in the Agriwield Pace (2120m). "It's great to be back in Dubbo, there's been a fair bit of hard travel, even for someone who travels a lot for their day job, having travel to somewhere like Bathurst and then pack up, turn around and be ready for work the next day is difficult," Sutton said. "But I think it'll be good on Sunday, I've got a pretty good draw with Bella, I'm pretty happy, she wasn't quite fit enough in her last run, but I've got her spot on for this one so it should be good." By Daniel Shirkie Reprinted with permission of the Daily Liberal

Dubbo Harness Racing Club president Len Edwards has welcomed a decision by the state government and Harness Racing NSW's governing body that will see competitors hit the track in Dubbo much sooner than originally expected. According to Edwards, the original guidance for Harness Racing in Dubbo had been to expect a wait until September before races would be able to resume, but horses will be back on track this month after restrictions were eased. "It's good news, it's great news at the moment, originally they advised us we could be back on June 7, but now that's going to be June 14," Edwards said. Instead, Parkes will begin operating against on June 7 in a move that Edwards considers a coup for locally placed trainers who had been forced to travel to Bathurst or further afield to get in track time during the COVID-19 lockdown. "It's very positive news, it's definitely good for some of our local trainers; they had to make a lot of tough decisions and some had to turn their horses out, but it's good for the trainers in general to hear this," Edwards said. "Dubbo and Parkes will be able to travel to each other, so it suits the Western district really well for our trainers and it's been a very difficult position they've been in for quite a while." "We were originally given that September date and a lot of the guys turned their horses out on the back of that, you can't be training horses week after week and not getting a run from them." While Edwards is confident the races will go ahead, he's less sure about exactly what form they'll take, with fewer starts expected at each event. "Hopefully we'll be able to commence and satisfy a full slate, but I don't think we'll get eight races at each meeting, maybe six or seven, but we'll be proceeding with racing," Edwards said. "It'd be nice to start back with a bit of a bang, but I think those eight race meetings and fields won't be going until later, right now we're focused on getting back to racing and satisfying the horses in this western area, that's our main objective." Edwards said it was difficult for trainers looking for competitive races to compete while also factoring in long travel times, and said that it was 'reasonable' for trainers to have competitive races available. "It'll certainly help everyone a lot, especially with us all being in the doldrums for that long, we haven't raced since the end of February, it's a long time to go without racing," Edwards said. Racing stewards will be on hand to ensure that all the protocols put in place with regards to lockdown rules are followed and Edwards and his staff have already met with officials to plan out their restriction measures and how to apply social distancing rules. "We're implementing the full protocal that's been set down by Harness Racing NSW and we're going to see representatives in Bathurst in order to better educate ourselves about how best to implement the other protocols required," Edwards said. "It's all been put to us and we're being guided by the rules and restrictions put out by the Department of Health the racing body." Edwards said it was important for the track to maintain standards as they conduct races in the future. By Daniel Shirkie Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal

After the impact of COVID-19 on sporting fixtures around the country, racing seemed to be one of the few ventures that would carry on, ableit heavily modified, throughout the year. But the Dubbo track has been sitting unused after all racing was shifted to Bathurst as part of the ongoing fight, in a decree handed down by the Harness Racing NSW board. "We've got no races and no trials, so it's just the problem we've got, we've just now been given access for outside and local trainers to come in and do fast work on the track," Edwards said. "Now they've agreed to let them come in and do fast work, but adhere to all the regulations with regards to distance and the other measures we need to observe to ensure safety." Edwards says the decision, while understandable, has put the Dubbo club 'right behind' and has had huge impacts on trainers and drivers locally. "You're not able to race unless you want to go to Bathurst, that's a really big travel with a lot of cost, so it's a problem even without all the other, different things that are happening right now," Edwards said. "It's difficult to run back and forth to Bathurst all the time, we could have been racing here at Dubbo or Parkes, all the races that we had allocated to us have now gone to Bathurst and Parkes are in the same boat." While the decision ultimately, is necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Edwards says the knock-on effects couldn't have come at a worse time for the club itself. "This time of the year is when the whole bulk of the racing is on, we've lost a big meeting we were supposed to have Easter Saturday night and now we had to postpone those until the end of the year, so we're hoping we'll be able to have those at some point," Edwards said. "There's a couple of good races we had planned for Easter Saturday night, hopefully we'll see them return at the end of the year." The situation has also put strain on trainers. "Some guys have turned their horses out, some are perservering and hoping it clears up soon, there's really no way of knowing when it's going to end at the moment," Edwards said. "Soon, hopefully, we'll be able to proceed and do something, but with the NRL coming back and football clubs, we might be able to have harness racing in some format to keep things going here." "There's so many if, buts and maybes after a race, so it's just what racing is. No one knows, no one can forecast when or what's going to happen." By Daniel Shirkie Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal

In what was a Turnbull-dominated meeting at Dubbo last Sunday, with seven of the eight races being won by a Turnbull driver, Mckayler Barnes emerged to take out race six aboard pacer Enk Spot Shannon. Trained by Peter Bullock, the five-year-old gelding was able to notch up his 10th career win making it three wins in a row and four from his last five starts. Out of those 10 victories, Barnes has partnered the gelding on seven occasions. “He’s racing in great form at the moment,” Barnes said. “He can be one of those horses who puts in a good run one week and then goes off the next, but lately he just seems to be getting stronger and stronger.” Having to dodge carnage at the start of the race, the pair settled in the one-out-two-back position before taking off three-wide at the bell. Proving too strong for rivals, Enk Spot Shannon hit the lead half-way down the straight, defeating the unlucky Ziggy Rocks who was unable to obtain a clear run. A Deja-vu quinella for the two runners, mimicking the results of last time they met at Bathurst two weeks earlier. Taking out a Country Series Heat last week, the Million Dollar Cam USA gelding is headed to Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday to contest in the final. Barnes will also be contesting in the Indigenous Drivers Invitational on the same day. Meanwhile, Amanda Turnbull was in impressive form driving five winners for the day with brothers Mitch and Nathan taking out the remaining two races on the program. Amanda also notched up a training double with runners Ranieri NZ and Tact Bess NZ and scored a quinella when Isobel Ross steered home Convair Hustler NZ to run second to the latter, unable to hold off the fast finishing stable-mate.   Amy Rees

HE had barely even led a horse four years ago and now young reinsman Travis Bullock is one of the newest drivers to grace the winners’ circle. Last Sunday an excited Bullock threw a celebratory punch in the air after the final race at Dubbo when securing his first winning drive behind pacer Lorenzo Shannon. Having only had his licence to drive for one month, the Bullock was thrilled to be able to share the win with his father Peter who trains the six-year-old gelding. “It meant a lot getting my first winner, especially having Dad there to witness it,” Bullock said. Believing his drive was a real contender in the race, Bullock hoped he could muster enough speed early to hold the front. “I was hoping I could hold the lead, I felt that leading would give him his best chance at winning.” Bullock was right, after being able to hold the front easily the pair ran along making it a battle of the fittest to score comfortably in the swift 1:58.7 mile rate. Entering into the home straight in front Bullock was confident he’s back straight bulrush had won him the race. “I didn’t want to get too excited but I could tell that he (Lorenzo Shannon) still had plenty in the tank and was going to be hard to run down,” he said. Bullock was still on ‘cloud nine’ days later, it is this pure enjoyment that harness racing is about. With the ultimate goal being to eventually set up his own stable back in Tamworth one day, Bullock is looking forward to continuing his journey with the horses and seeing where it takes him.   Amy Rees

With not many drives coming his way of late, harness racing driver James Sutton is eager to make the most of any chance he gets at the moment. He did exactly that on Sunday at Dubbo Paceway, and his win with Yarraman Bella was even more special than most. The two-year-old filly is one the Dubbo trainer-driver bought himself at the Bathurst yearling sales last year and is the first horse he's done all the work with himself in order to get to the track. She showed promise without placing when building her fitness in the first two starts of her career, but led from start to finish on Sunday when winning the Harness Racing NSW Guaranteed Two Year Old Pace (2120m). "She's the first yearling I've bought. I went there (to Bathurst) to buy one but ended up buying two," Sutton said, "It's the first horse I've done everything with from scratch and it makes it much more enjoyable to win. "Young horses can be tricky to work with but what I'm doing must be working." The win may have come in Yarraman Bella's third career start, but it had been some time in the making. Sutton first tested the filly in a trial at his home track in January, and while she finished first when racing many older horses that day she didn't come through unscathed. A muscle issue in one of her shoulders saw her sent to the paddock for four months and Sutton was eager to praise the work done by the Tophut Equine Centre as Yarraman Bella built strength in the water walker facility there. It showed on Sunday, in a longer event than many other two-year-old races, as Yarraman Bella got to the lead quickly from barrier one and controlled proceedings throughout. Backed from $13 into $4.40 pre-race, Sutton's hope used the inside to her advantage as she took the lead early ahead of $2.90 favourite Mammals Prince.  WINNING FEELING: James Sutton (left) feels Yarraman Bella is a horse with "plenty of upside".  COFFEE PHOTOGRAPHY   Mammals Prince, driven by Mat Rue, settled third on the outside early on after She Owns The Day ($3.30) pushed up along the pegs to trail the leader. The order barely changed before the final lap, where The Donny ($7) made a brief charge on the outside before dropping out of contention again. Sutton, in his only drive for the day, led into the turn for home and after taking a good look over his shoulder controlled the race still before motoring home late to secure the win in a mile-rate of 2:04:07. "Two-year-old's don't often race over that distance," Sutton said. "I knew they'd let me go pretty slow up-front and then I quickened it up and was able to hold the favourite on my back. "I didn't really let go until the final 20 (metres) so she had plenty in the tank." Yarraman Bella won by 3.6m from the Katie Jenner-trained She Owns The Day while Stilton ($8.50) finished strong down the outside to come home third for trainer-driver Malcolm Hutchings. Sutton said a trip to Victoria is on the cards for Yarraman Bella, with the bonuses on offer for two-year-olds south of the border. But he added the filly is still battling a minor sinus issue that will need to be treated before any trip. By Nick Guthrie Reprinted with permission of the Daily Liberal

He might have 'dawdled' early on, but when the harness racing four-year-old Hot Embers hit the top of the home straight at Dubbo on Sunday he was firing. The John O'Shea, Bathurst trained four-year-old zipped away from his rivals in the Harness Racing New South Wales Rewards Series Final (2,120 metres) to post a commanding all the way win. Hot Embers, with Amanda Turnbull in the gig, finished 10.7m clear of his nearest rival as he showed why he was the hot $1.45 favourite for the decider. A week earlier in his heat at Parkes, the Courage Under For x Our Super Party four-year-old sat in the death seat before forging to the lead mid-way down the home straight. This time his win was assured earlier. From barrier six Hot Embers punched on into the lead early in the decider, but once in front Turnbull eased off with the favourite. Hot Embers was able to pinch splits of 32.9 and 30.8 seconds for the first two quarters of the last mile, yet he still led by a length over stablemate Jo Jo Zip on the bell. Down the back straight for the final time Turnbull urged Hot Embers to up the tempo and he responded as the field strung out behind him. He then found another gear at the top of the straight, clocking a 29.4 final sectional as he notched up the fourth win of his career in a 2:03.5 mile rate. It was the 10th win of the season for O'Shea's stable and Turnbull's 138th winning drive in NSW for 2018-19. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Young harness racing trainer Rodney Blythe is hoping for some luck this Easter with stablemates Hello Miss Kitty and Monterei Duke racing on Easter Saturday at Dubbo. Blythe's trained Hello Miss Kitty will line up in the Freechoice and Fitware Pace (1720m) aiming for her fifth career win in start number 36. The five-year-old is chasing her first victory since October last year when she won over 1755m at Wagga in a mile rate of 2.02.2. Blyhte will take the reins leaving gate four in the nine horse race. She'll likely find competition from Nathan Hurst's-trained last start winner Peggyville, while Bernie Hewitt's Ima Black Beauty has drawn nicely in gate two. Monterei Duke will race in the West Dubbo IGA Pace (2120m).  The four-year-old gelding has been a consistent performer for Blythe. While he's only had one win in 20 starts, he's registered eight minor placings including back-to-back second place finishes recently at the Riverina Paceway at Wagga. Racing at Dubbo on Saturday starts at 5.37pm. Reprinted with permission of The Young Witness  

This year had already been one to remember for Madi Young but the up-and-coming harness racing driver added a couple more moments to her ever-expanding highlights reel at Dubbo on Boxing Day. Young drove a double at the annual Boxing Day meeting at Dubbo Harness Racing Club, both for trainers who have helped her during her rapid rise in the sport. Young took out the Western Plains Granite Pace (1720m) early on with Alabama Ace for Rodney Lemon and later in the night she saluted with Playing Arkabella, trained by her stepfather Greg Coney. The double was special, but it’s just one big moment in a 2018 which saw Young claim the Harness Racing NSW Rising Star Series while she also acted as an ambassador for the NSW Standardbred Owners Association. “I’ve been lucky enough to win rising stars and be ambassador for the owners association. I’ll be in the rising stars again next year so I’ve had a pretty good run,” she said at Dubbo. “I’ve had a few really good opportunities and it’s been a really good 12 months.” Young showed her talents on Wednesday night when guiding Alabama Ace to a classy win in the Western Plains Granite Pace. Hometown hope Medonc ($17) got away well from gate five and took the lead just outside Alabama Ace ($1.70 favourite), with Young happy to take a sit on the inside from gate one. Medonc continued to lead as the field got the bell for the final lap while Shadow Dealer ($5) was producing an incredibly tough run three wide. Young took control down the back staright as Medonc faded but Shadow Dealer continued to push despite all his work and moved into second. It was all about Alabama Ace though and after dealing with some strong pace early he still had the quality to kick clear late and win by a dominant 9.4m from the fast-finishing Tayla Studleigh ($6.50) while Punters Delight ($23) ran home for third. “He’s more over the distance type of horse and when there was only one lap to go he was plugging along like there was still an extra lap,” Young said. “But I gave him a liven up down the back on the last lap and he felt really good and did pretty easily. He gave me a good fell the whole way and there was really no point in time where I thought he was going to get beat.” The result continued a strong run of form for the nine-year-old Alabama Ace. Trained at Wyalong by Lemon, the gelding has now scored back-to-back wins after a second-placed finish at Junee. “He won last start and went really good. Let’s hope he doesn’t go through grades too quick,” Young said, before praising the work of Lemon. “I’ve been driving for him for a while and when I can’t get there he drives them himself. “I’ve probably won about seven races for him and he does a really good job.” Young scored her second win in the night’s seventh race, Playing Arkabella ($2.60 favourite) scoring by a comfortable 6.8m for trainer Coney. By Nick Guthrie Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal

There was a point when Studleigh Kristen was almost retired as concerns around her ability as a two-year-old began to pile up. But harness racing trainer Leigh Davis was persuaded by his father Ray, who owned the mare, to stick with her. It’s proved a smart decision as Studleigh Kristen has gone on to carve out a handy career for the Davis team and she scored her 10th career win at Dubbo Harness Racing Club on Wednesday night. With Jake Davis, Leigh’s son, again doing the driving the six-year-old produced a strong run to take out the Yeo Family Penrith Panthers Pace (2120m). “She’s my pop’s favourite horse,” Jake said after the win. “As a two-year-old she was sacked and she was going but Ray kept her and lucky he did. We’ve won a few with her and she’s a nice little mare who’s going well.” Studleigh Kristen went into the event after a third-placed finish at Young but she was drawn perfectly at Dubbo and after getting away well from gate two she settled second behind Lorenzo Shannon ($10). Jason Turnbull did a fine job in getting Master Benny ($6) into third spot on the inside after starting out wide but he struggled to find any room to move behind the leader. Pre-race favourite Faster Blaster ($2.90) sat at the very back of the field but after getting the bell he began to make a move forward. Lorenzo Shannon was under all sorts of pressure up front as Studleigh Kristen continued to sit steady under Davis. Alabama Tyson ($7) launched an almighty charge from deep along the inside and threatened but Davis made his move as they rounded the bend for home and went on to win by 3.8m from Rodney Lemon’s hope while Master Benny was third. As a horse that always finishes well, Davis is often forced to sit deep with Studleigh Kristen in the field and make a move late but that wasn’t the case in Wednesday’s win. “She lacks a bit of gate speed but she got out of the gate well and (gate) two is the best draw for her,” the winning driver said. “She always sprints home. She’s a tough horse.” The Yeo Family Penrith Panthers Pace was one of the night’s highlights. Current Panthers Isaah Yeo and Kaide Ellis were at the track and brought with them a signed Penrith jersey which was raffled off. The winners of the raffle had a big night, and the same went for the Davis’. Five horses made the trip to Dubbo, a large number for the Davis team. ​Based at Browns Creek near Orange, the Davis’ currently have about 15 horses in work and they finished Boxing Day with a double after Rays Choice ($4.40 equal favourite) took out the TAB Pace (1720m). By Nick Guthrie Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal

Australian Pacing Gold purchase Atomic Red is predicted to have little trouble returning to the harness racing winners’ circle in Dubbo tomorrow night. Runner-up in the Carousel Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle a fortnight ago, Atomic Red won his previous start by 32 metres in 1:53.6. This time around the Steve Turnbull-trained entire is set to contest the Dubbo City Cup, where he has drawn to lead throughout from barrier three. As such the son of Rocknroll Hanover has been installed a $1.45 favourite. “It’s not a bad draw for him,” Turnbull said. “I reckon Amanda (Turnbull, driver) will let him run along at an even clip. “I wouldn’t say he is very speedy, but he is tough. His last three quarters when beaten were 27.8, 27.1 and 27.6 over 2300 metres. “When one his rivals are sitting right on him it can make him vulnerable.” Turnbull believes the biggest threat to that vulnerability is likely to come in the shape of veteran pacer Ultimate Art, which will begin from the outside of the second row. “Ultimate Art is the main danger,” Turnbull said. “He can sprint home pretty quickly and coming from back could give him that opportunity. “That said, Atomic Red is in great shape. He was doing bit of bucking around today, but think they may also have just been to keep warm!” APG Media

Harness racing will focus on Dubbo on Friday night with the massive racing program for the Carnival of Cups meeting, with two Tamworth pacers contesting the $12,000 Club Dubbo Garrard’s Golden Gig Series Final. Mini Masterpiece, from the David Munsie stables, has drawn the nine barrier after the mare won the fourth heat of the series at Tamworth last Friday night.  Bassey, from the Sam Ison stables, has drawn barrier 10. Bassey finished second to Mini Masterpiece in the heat. Mini Masterpiece has won from both the eight and nine barrier while Bassey has won from the seven and nine barriers, and is expected to put in a strong showing in the feature. The winning trainer will receive a gold gig and the reinsman a $250 “pot of gold”, which takes the race value to just over $20,000. Ison also has Seventhirtyseven engaged in the Furneys Horseland Pace, and Pirates Pearl in the Garrard’s Horse and Hound Pace.   Tamworth trainer Richard Williams has The Puritan engaged in the $20,000 Quamby’s Stayers Dubbo Regional City Council Cup. The horse has drawn the five barrier and is looking for three wins on the trot.  This will be only the fourth start for the Williams stables with the The Puritan, who will come up against Ultimate Art from the Michael Formosa stables. The Newcastle meeting on Saturday night will also see plenty of locals in action, with Limousine Livia looking to score a berth at Menangle when she contests the opening event, the Club Menangle Where Horses Fly Pace. Len Simon and his granddaughter Maddison Simon are also ready to compete with Dark Side, Mammals Rockstar and Itz Platinum Plus. Tony Missen has Maz and Smokinapipe engaged while his two-year-old Onahi Delight will make his racing debut.  Ernie Mabbott will head back down with Tralee Rocks looking for a win. Mitch Faulkner has Gottashopearly, Somebeach N Clovelly and Onedin Highlander. So as you can see, there is plenty to keep your eyes on Newcastle. AND for all those TV buffs who take an interest in Married At First Sight, you will know the name Anthony Manton. Well, word is Manton has gone back to his first true love and is doing great – no shock there. Manton is a race caller for SKY Racing and will soon head to Sweden to call the world’s biggest trotting race – the Elitlopp, which Aussie mare Maori Time will contest. He is also enjoying success as an owner with his pacer Angel In White, who had her fourth win on the trot last week at Menangle, going 1.52.7 for 1609m.  Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

After making consecutive harness racing finals of the Red Ochre Fillies and Mares Classic in 2016 and 2017, Jason Turnbull is pretty confident Miss Rodriguez can do enough to make it a third when the 2018 heats jump on Wednesday. But after that, the six-year-old bay mare’s going to need a bit of luck. Miss Rodriguez will start five wide on the front row in Wednesday night’s 2120 metre second heat at the Dubbo Harness Racing Club and despite the eight-pacer field being “a pretty strong” one Turnbull says there’s no reason his chance can’t get the job done. The top five from each heat progresses through to the Red Ochre final. “She gets around Dubbo good and she’s won over the trip before. She’s versatile. She can come with a run or do it tough, we’ll just have to see how it’s run,” he said. “Looking at it, the eight, the two, the three and the one and the four … that’s a few, isn’t it. It’s pretty even, really. “But with the right trip she’ll handle herself.” Turnbull rattled off more than half the field as genuine contenders to emerge from the heat, but Mark Callaghan’s Guptas Cullen, or the three as Turnbull put it, looks one of the best along side trainer-driver Amanda Turnbull’s My Bettor Bella. Finishing the final in fourth behind Ima Mystery Girl in 2017 after running a place behind 2016 champion Maudie Mombassa the year before, Turnbull, who has driven Miss Rodriguez in 47 of her 60 starts, said a third crack at the final would be a dream of his and the owner, Wayne White. “I’m hoping to qualify, she’s going good,” he said. “She’s had two runs back from a spell, the first back in Bathurst was good and then the second one was creditable at Menagle. “It’s always been the owners’ dream to win the final.” As hard as that will be, though, Turnbull says. “She’s struggled in the final but I can’t see why she won’t make it,” he continued. “She got locked away on the pegs year before last and couldn’t get past and Emma (Turnbull) was driving last year so I’m not sure what happened there. “But we’re happy with her at the moment.” The first of the Red Ochre heats starts at 6.09pm before Miss Rodriguez and the second heat begins at 6.39pm. Nick McGrath Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal    

Bobs Farm harness racing trainer Geoff Harding loves coming to Dubbo but needed to secure a couple of winners to make it worth the 400-kilometre trip. He got exactly that on Tuesday night as he grabbed three winners during the Boxing Night meeting at Dubbo Harness Racing Club. Rocknlachlan, Sackheim, and Strathlachlan Andy all saluted while Trijet also came home in third. Harding said they had come expecting some success. “It’s too far to come for just a joy ride,” he said. “I reckon Dubbo’s a great little half-mile track and it’s even better when you win on it.” The night couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Harding.  His son Matthew was in the gig for the $3500 Radio 2DU/Zoo FM Pace (1720 metres) for three-year-olds and older, with Rocknlachlan proving far too strong for the rest. The three-year-old gelding started from barrier four as the $2.10 favourite ahead of the Wayne Grey-trained and driven Shadow Dealer at $2.50. Shadow Dealer and Bee Bee Elle ($32.90) took the early lead, while the younger Harding was content to sit behind and take it easy. They covered the first half of the last mile in 60.4 seconds before Barry Lew’s Karloo Jonno ($84) tried to get in on the action. As they greeted the bell he went three-wide but wasn’t able to get around the leaders before the bend. He had to do plenty of work and along the back straight his challenge began to fade. At the same time, Rocknlachlan’s was only just beginning. He moved three wide as they came onot the home straight and raced away to claim a comfortable victory by 4.5 metres in a mile rate of 2:00.2. Shadow Dealer was second ahead of Michael Pay’s I’m Super Sophie ($12). Harding’s second runner Ruffalo ($16) just missed out on a placing. “We thought he could win,” his trainer said afterwards.  “He had a good run. Hopefully he can keep improving. If he improves a bit more he might make a handy horse.” Harding said he was preparing the Rock N Roll Heaven x Strathlachlan Kay progent for the Evolution Race Series at Newcastle. The meeting got better as Sackheim won the Ron Hoy Memorial (1720m) as a $1.80 favourite, ahead of Shazam Shannon ($10.90) and Barkway Arnold ($3.80). Harding’s treble came with Strathlachlan Andy’s victory as $1.30 favourite in the Tab.com.au Pace (1720m), beating Koloura Flight ($50.40) and Smart Major ($28.70) to the post. By Mark Rayner  

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