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BIRTHDAY boy Gavin Fitzpatrick is no stranger to winning Group One races . . . he won a stack of them with former champion pacer Lombo Pocket Watch. Still he had cause to celebrate when ace filly Miss Halfpenny scored a fighting win in the first of today's Group Ones, the Sportswriter NSW Breeders Challenge Two-Year-Old Fillies' final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Not only was it Fitzpatrick's birthday but it was 'Group One' Gav's 1500th career winner as he had been frustratingly poised on 1499 winners for a couple of weeks. Miss Halfpenny changed all that when she dashed out of the gate when Kept In Play (James Rattray) surged straight to the lead. Fitzpatrick was not content to be stuck in the death seat and pushed on the take the lead as the field put away the first split of the mile in slick 27.3s. Luckily Fitzpatrick was able to back off the speed with a 30.6s split before upping the ante with a 28.7s third quarter as Cee Cee Ambro (Wayne Sullivan) began to mount a challenge on her outside. In the meantime Fitzy had Kept In Play trapped on his back and that filly never got a clear crack at them in the straight. With challengers closing in during the last 50m, Miss Halfpenny kept them all at bay to score by a half neck from Cee Cee Ambro with the fast-closing Delightful Jackie a nose away third in a 1:55.2 mile. "Gavin deserves that win, he has done all the work with this filly for the past three or four months," said trainer Paul Fitzpatrick. "He's earned all the credit and not just for the way he drove her today. "She's always been a beautiful filly and she did a marvellous job today." Breeder Matt Day was just as impressed as Miss Halfpenny gave him his first Group One success. And like Gavin, he'll be hoping there's plenty more to come.   Mandy Madern 3 1:39pm A ROCKNROLL DANCE NSW BREEDERS CHALLENGE TWO-YEAR-OLD COLTS & GELDINGS FINAL (GROUP 1) 1609M $125,000 2YO Colts and Geldings. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 HARDHITTER      Fr5 5 Emma Stewart Chris Alford   $ 2.90 fav  GS L INQADJ SWAB   BAY COLT 2 by MACH THREE CA out of GRACE ROBINSON (PERFECT ART USA)  Owner(s): S J Murray, F Crews, G Smith, D J Edwards, A Geraldene, The Graduate Group, John Anderson Group, L J Nattrass, K Murray, A Kennedy  Breeder(s): M E Gibson, Estate of John Leslie Gibson 2 LOCHINVAR ART      Fr4 4 Laura Crossland Luke McCarthy 2.50 $ 3.60   PRBT GS HUE OIR SWAB 3 MUSCLE FACTORY      Fr9 11 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 3.60 $ 4.60   PRBT 3WE WF INQADJ SWAB 4 SHOOBEE DOO      Fr6 6 Amanda Turnbull Amanda Turnbull 3.80 $ 10.30   PRBT 5 ANIMAL      Fr7 9 Amanda Turnbull Nathan Jack 10.40 $ 33.30   PRBT RAS 6 RAINBOW COMET      Fr10 12 Leigh Davis Jake Davis 13.80 $ 70.50   PRBT RAS 7 LEONIDAS      Fr1 1 Blake Fitzpatrick Blake Fitzpatrick 15.10 $ 6.20   PRBT 8 HURRICANE ROY      Fr8 10 Brad Hewitt Brad Hewitt 24.30 $ 43.70   VXBR NAR RAS 9 MAKE MINE MEMPHIS      Fr2 2 James Rattray James Rattray 29.20 $ 164.50   RR 10 MACH LE MORE      Fr3 3 Amanda Turnbull Mitch Turnbull 33.40 $ 150.90   RAS Scratchings   TSUNAMI CHARLIE 7 FIRST STRING 8 Track Rating: GOOD   Gross Time: 1:51:6 Mile Rate: 1:51:6 First Quarter: 28 Second Quarter: 29.7 Third Quarter: 26.8 Fourth Quarter: 27.1 Margins: 2.5m x 1.0m      

Harness racing reinsman Gavin Fitzpatrick has won a number of the feature juvenile events in New South Wales, thanks largely to his association with Lombo Pocket Watch. During Lombo Pocket Watch's time with the Fitzpatrick stable, the talented grey started on 58 occasions and Fitzpatrick drove him 57 times, only jumping off the colt on one occasion, the Bathurst Gold Crown - a race Lombo Pocket Watch won narrowly. Ironically Fitzpatrick drove the stablemate Lombo Mandingo and he finished second, less than half a length behind Lombo Pocket Watch. "It was a big call to get off Lombo Pocket Watch in the Bathurst Gold Crown but Lombo Mandingo had drawn in front of Pocket Watch and at that stage Lombo Mandingo was a bit of a handful in his career and with Blake unavailable I took the drive on Mandingo," Fitzpatrick said. "Soon after the start Lombo Pocket Watch landed in the one-one and I remember thinking I'm on the wrong horse because I knew from there, Pocket Watch was going to win." Fitzpatrick is hoping to finally etch his name onto the Gold Crown trophy on Saturday night. He will take the drive on Weona Sizzler, an impressive heat winner trained by his father Paul. "Dad bought him at the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale in Sydney, we trained his mother Weona Badgirl and she was a handy filly that I drove when she finished third in the Victoria Oaks in 2008. "Weona Sizzler has always been our standout young horse, whether or not that is good enough to win on Saturday night is another matter but he's always shown he has had plenty of ability." Weona Sizzler has won two of his four career starts and Fitzpatrick was most impressed with his Gold Crown heat win because of the amount of work he was forced to do. "I was really pleased because it was the first time I had really asked him to work out of the gate and he hit the line strongly and ran away from them in the run to the finish. I think he is getting better and better with each run but Saturday night will be his biggest test so far. "I was happy to draw the front row and I'm going to have to go forward in the early stages because if I don't then I'm just about conceding defeat. He has drawn between the two favourites and that might turn out to be a really good gate." Fitzpatrick expects Astride and Bettor Be Gold to be the hardest to beat although he believes there are several other winning chances in the event. "They look the top two from the heats last week but I don't think there is a lot between the entire field to be honest and it will come down to luck in running. "After Bathurst it is off to the APG series and hopefully he continues on the upward spiral that he is on currently. There is ten days between Saturday and his next run which will be plenty of time to recover." Fitzpatrick's father Paul is no stranger to Bathurst success having won the 1996 Gold Tiara with Douglas Dream and the 2006 Gold Crown with Lombo Pocket Watch. Could the pattern continue in 2016? Find out on Saturday night at 9:23pm. For the complete race programme click here. Greg Hayes

A large crowd braved a cold wintery day for a very strong Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge Regional Finals meeting at the harness racing meeting at Bathurst on Sunday afternoon. The honours were evenly, and widely, distributed. Six $20,000 finals - for two, three and four-year-olds – saw six individual trainers and drivers, from all parts of the state, make it into the winner’s circle. The locals for once were winless, unless Amanda Turnbull’s Victorian winner was granted honorary local status. Merrywood Ruby ($2.10 favourite) took out the 2YO Fillies Final, her Sydney-based trainer Wayne Dimech revealing at the presentation that he’d set her for this race all season, after her older brother won the corresponding colts event last season. Gavin Fitzpatrick took the drive, and was impressed by the filly’s front-running effort. The Colts & Geldings division went to Bettor Together ($5.90), with Todd McCarthy, another century-maker in NSW this season, handling the colt for his brother Luke and sister-in-law Belinda, who were no doubt much warmer campaigning their horses in Queensland! Miss Nickels ($9.70) scored a well-deserved win for Goulburn visitor David Hewitt in the 3YO Fillies Final, after a string of recent places, including the Group 2 Breeders Challenge Blue Final. Hewitt didn’t wait for the sprint lane, coming clear turning in for a decisive win. Chumlee ($1.90 favourite) rounded out an outstanding visit home for Shepparton-based Amanda Turnbull, with a strong front-running win, his ninth overall, in the 3YO Colts/Geldings Final. His final quarter of 27.4 was slightly flattered by a strong tailwind in the home straight but impressive nonetheless. Junee visitor Trevor White brought three runners to the meeting and was pleasantly surprised when the one he rated least, Shes a Jackson ($27.50), took out the 4YO Mares Final. With four different leaders inside the first lap, White had the last run at them, and to make matters even better, he owns the Elsu daughter himself. James Rattray dictated terms from the front in the 4YO Entires/Geldings Final with Glencore ($4.00), after a very fast lead time, and though several runners looked a little unlucky over the final stages, he held on for the win. CEO John Dumesny and Board members Alex Smith and Graeme Kelly represented HRNSW at the meeting, and were joined in the presentations by western districts identity Lex Crosby, representing Breeders Challenge sponsor Peppertree Farm. Supporting races which book-ended the fixture were the 2YO, won by Junee visitor Boundtobemad (Steven Harris) and a 3YO, with Captain Charge Over NZ giving James Rattray a double for the day, on his second visit to the new track, from an equally chilly southern highlands base of Exeter. Greg Hayes

An intriguing barrier draw has thrown the Slater Gartrell Sports Western Gateway Classic into the melting pot at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but crack New Zealand-bred three-year-olds Beaudiene Boaz and Kiwi Legend should enhance their reputations and their prospects in the WA Derby by fighting out the finish of the $50,000 group 2 feature event. The random draw did neither any favours, with Beaudiene Boaz drawing out wide at No. 6 on the front line in the 2536m race and Kiwi Legend No. 3 on the back line. Denny Crane, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, drew the prized No. 1 barrier and Tact Major, prepared by Gary Hall sen., is favourably drawn at No. 2. Both geldings possess good gate speed and are capable of setting the pace and proving hard to beat. However, the Mike Reed-trained Kiwi Legend was so impressive at his Australian debut when Mark Reed drove the 11/2 chance to a superb all-the-way victory over Military Master and All Aussie Boy at a 1.54.7 rate in a Derby Prelude last Friday night that astute punters are sure to support him with confidence, despite his back-line draw. That was Kiwi Legend’s third start in a race, and he has yet to be extended in winning all three. The back-line draw should prove no great handicap to Kiwi Legend, who showed his class at his debut when he came from 13th at the bell to score an easy win over 2400m at Wyndham on February 1 when he sped over the final 400m in 27.1sec. Kiwi Legend ended Beaudiene Boaz’s winning sequence of seven when that pacer started at 3/1 on and worked hard in the breeze before he began to hang in approaching the back straight in the final circuit of last week’s race. Soon after that he met with severe interference when Kiwi Legend shifted up the track. Beaudiene Boaz then gave ground over the concluding stages and finished in eighth position, 13 lengths behind Kiwi Legend. Reinsman Gary Hall jun. informed the stewards that he eased Beaudiene Boaz down in the final stages after the colt had dropped the bit and was reluctant to race competitively. Beaudiene Boaz won with such authority at his previous seven starts that it is difficult to visualise him not bouncing back with a vengeance and fighting out the finish this week. Hall sen. is full of hope that Beaudiene Boaz will give him his fourth win in the Western Gateway after scoring with The Falcon Strike (2001), Alta Christiano (2013) and Elegant Christian (2014). Clint Hall drove Elegant Christian to an all-the-way victory from the No. 1 barrier and he is hoping to repeat the dose this week with Tact Major, who has won at three of his six starts. Tact Major can improve on his fifth behind Kiwi Legend last when he met with interference in the back straight in the final lap after enjoying an ideal passage, one-out and one-back. Denny Crane should be prominent from his inside barrier. He raced wide early from barrier four last week, was restrained to the rear and did not show up when ninth last week. He has won at seven of his 18 starts and can do much better. The Ross Olivieri-trained Military Master should be prominent from the inside of the back line. He started from the same barrier in last week’s Derby prelude before racing three back on the pegs and finishing determinedly to be second to Kiwi Legend. Blythwood trainer Gary Elson has a high opinion of Red Hot Major and the colt should be prominent from barrier four on the front line. The only filly in the event is the Jesse Moore-trained Tricky Styx, a winner at eight of her 15 starts. She will start from No. 5 on the front line and possesses a powerful finishing burst. But she faces a stern test against the colts and geldings. John of Arc poised to atone Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. has six of the nine runners in the Slater Gartrell Sports Midland Super Store Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he looks certain to win with John of Arc, the lowest assessed horse in the field. John of Arc is the least experienced runner in the field, with 16 starts for ten wins and four seconds. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old has an M 0 classification, but he should prove far too good for his rivals, three of which are on an M1 mark, four on an M2 mark and one (Notabadexcuse) on an M3 mark. There were excuses for John of Arc’s shock defeat at 5/2 on when a close and most unlucky second to the frontrunning Meet George Jetson last Friday night. John of Arc was having his first start for nine months and he enjoyed a perfect passage in the one-out, one-back position. But he was hemmed in for most of the final circuit before Gary Hall jun. got him into the clear approaching the home turn. John of Arc then contacted a wheel of another runner just before the home turn, raced roughly and lost momentum before charging home, four wide, to fail by one metre to overhaul Meet George Jetson. This week John of Arc will start from barrier three on the front line and should prove too classy for the opposition, which includes stablemate Mohegan Sun, who was a smart all-the-way first-up winner over The Court Jester last Friday fortnight before racing in seventh position and finishing ninth behind Smokey The Bandit last Friday night. Ken Casellas

The first of the harness racing features at Menangle for the two year olds this season was held last night with the running of the $40,800 Sapling Stakes. Queensland visitor Major Buddy was all the rage with punters after a series of outstanding trial runs but he was no match on the night for the locals who really turned it on for so early in the two year old calendar. As the gate left Gavin Fitzpatrick shot Salty Robyn to the front from barrier two but he was hotly challenged early in the piece by Bettermatch with Steve Maguire in the bike from barrier seven. These two eyeballed each other for the first 400 in a swift 26.6 before Steve took a hold of Bettormatch and they buttoned off the speed. Debutante runner Born To Rocknroll with John McCarthy in the bike settled into the one by one after 400 metres from barrier five as Salty Robyn kept up a solid tempo. A second quarter of  29.8 and a third quarter of 28.3 from Salty Robyn meant the back runners faced mission impossible as they turned for home. Salty Robyn went for home by two with Bettermatch and Born To Rocknroll coming at him the whole length of the straight and in the shadows of the finishing line Bettormatch stuck his head out for an outstanding win. A short half head away were both Salty Robyn and Born To Rocknroll who the judge couldn't separate for second. With the last quarter being run in 28.9, the mile was cut out in a very quick 1:53.6. For Bettermatch it was his fourth win on end and he remained unbeaten this season. Trainer Col Thomas had one word to describe the feeling straight after the race. " Awesome, really awesome, I am really very proud." " That is the biggest race winner I have ever trained." "He fired up a bit tonight which is not like him." "He is a colt but he is so quiet at home he never gets out of second gear," Col said Col was quick to heap praise on owner Robbie Wakeman who helps him out with his small team. " Robbie is at home every morning at 6:30 to help me work the team and back at 2:00 in the afternoon to help out again." "He does most of the work with Bettermatch and deserves a lot of the credit," Col said. A colt by the ill fated son of Bettor's Delight in Kenneth J, Bettermatch is from the racewinning New Zealand bred  Live Or Die mare in Matchme who is from a half sister to two former topliners in Bolton Byrd and Melton Monarch for noted New Zealand breeder Jim Dalgety. Bettermatch has two immediate goals in the next few weeks. " He can come back here in ten days for the Simpson Memorial and then we will head to Bathurst." "I would really love to win a Group One with him," Col said. The first three home last night all went super and if that is the standard of two year old racing this season, then we have some great racing to look forward to. Harnesslink Media  

With the end of the season only just over four weeks away it is no surprise to see some trainers and drivers in New South Wales reaching milestones. Driver Gavin Fitzpatrick recently brought up his 100th winner in the sulky for the season, Belinda McCarthy made it consecutive seasons of training 100 winners and KerryAnn Turner was able to join the 100 club on Saturday night as a driver when Fernleigh Renegade won at Tabcorp Park Menangle. "It was really nice to bring up 100 winners as a driver on the weekend and it is actually something I would never get the opportunity to do because Robbie (Morris) does most of the driving for our stable," Turner said. "But with Robbie on the sidelines with his injured leg it gave me a few more opportunities late in the season and I have been able to get to the magical 100." Turner was full of praise for the support she had received from her owners and family. "I couldn't have driven all those winners without the support of all of the owners we have. Obviously we have been having a good run lately and July has been a pretty good month because I also was able to train a couple of Gr. 2 winners in the Breeders Challenge Blue Finals." "Also both Robbie's family and my family have been great, it really has been a team effort and all the hard work has really paid off." With Robbie Morris due back from injury in the short term, Turner is happy to take a back seat when it comes to the race driving. "Yes definitely, it will be good to have Rob back because I much prefer the training side of things to the driving, don't get me wrong I enjoy the driving but I just get a bigger thrill out of the training of the horses." "With a month of the season still left it would be nice to get another 10 winners or so but I will just have to see how everything unfolds over the next few weeks." By Greg Hayes (Harness Racing Australia)

Harness racing reinsman Gavin Fitzpatrick looks set to bring up another century of winners in a season in his home state of New South Wales        .  The son of leading trainer Paul Fitzpatrick has 97 winners for the season and has two good drives at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. "I'm pretty sure I have got to the 100 winners three or four times in the past but I haven't done it for a couple of years," Fitzpatrick said. "Dad is working the same size team as he has in the past but we have just had a really good season, there is a lot of nice horses in the stable that started on good marks and have worked their way through the grades which obviously helps kick along my tally because I don't do a lot of outside driving." Fitzpatrick will drive Breeders Crown placegetter Rogers Passion in race three on Saturday night and was very pleased with her first up performance. "Her run at Penrith was very good, she got a long way back and made up a lot of ground and it was her first run back for a couple of months so I think she should take a lot of benefit from that." "She is paid up for the Breeders Crown this season and she did run second behind Frith in the three year old fillies final last year but we will just see how she progresses at this stage." In race one on Saturday night Fitzpatrick will drive Swift Exit. "He's been racing very well at Penrith and it will be his first run back at Menangle in quite a while. Saturday night will be a little bit harder but if he holds his form he shouldn't be too far away." Fitzpatrick also confirmed that Ocean Diva will not go to Queensland and will now be aimed at the Breeders Crown in Victoria. By Greg Hayes (Courtesy of Harness Racing NSW)  

SELDOM does a big harness racing raceday go by at Tabcorp Park Menangle without Belinda and Luke McCarthy figuring in the spotlight. They were at their best again on Sunday when promising filly Bamako Mali took out the $100,000 Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge Two-Year-Old Fillies’ Final. While this daughter of Art Major has been on the road a lot this season, Bamako Mali continues to give her best and trainer Belinda McCarthy and breeder Paul Kahlfeldt feel there could be more Group One wins in store for her. Taken straight to the front by leading reinsman Luke McCarthy, Bamako Mali didn’t get a lot of peace from Bathurst Gold Tiara winner, now her stablemate, Makes Every Scents, who sat outside her in the run. Still there were apparent dangers with Ameretto (Ash Siejka) poised behind her on the fence and Sally Fletcher (Gavin Fitzpatrick) poised with a one-one trail. Turning for home it looked a race in four as all three challenged Bamako Mali. When Ameretto gained a run along the pegs she looked likely to run her down while $3.10 favourite Sally Fletcher was also winding up out wide while Makes Every Scents continued to battle on in the centre. Yet Bamako Mali held them all at bay to win in a 1:56.5 mile rate, outlasting Ameretto and Sally Fletcher to win by 1.4m after a 57-second final half. Bamako Mali   By Michael Court (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)      

This week on Trots TV we catch up with TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Champion Sydney ambassadors Stephanie Rice, Seryn Adams, Amanda Turnbull and Sammy Kilgour. Also Sky Racing's Fred Hastings speaks with Gavin Fitzpatrick in regards to his drive on Fly Like An Eagle in Saturday night's Group 1 Treuer Memorial at Bankstown. Looking to advertise on Trots TV? Please contact Dale Walker on 02 9722 6600 for further information. Providing a fresh view on harness racing in New South Wales.    

One of the best SEW Eurodrive Miracle Miles in recent years now looks a formality on Saturday week after some of harness racing’s big guns set their sights on winning this weekend’s $100,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Sprint at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Boom former Kiwi Ideal Scott will line up against former Miracle Mile winners Smoken Up and Baby Bling as well as New Zealand Cup improvers Fly Like An Eagle and Caribbean Blaster over the Miracle Mile track and distance in an effort to earn automatic qualification for the elite sprint. Those already qualified or invited to contest the big race are Beautide, Im Victorious, Christen Me, Terror To Love and Saturday night’s Coca-Cola Sprint winner Restrepo. Saturday night’s winner earns an automatic invitation – while the losing connections will have to cross their fingers and hope the directors of the NSW Harness Racing Club are feeling generous. The field, in barrier order, for this weekend’s Group One Cordina Sprint is: No. HORSE DRIVER 1 Mister Presley (2nd em) 2 Abettorpunt                       Matthew Craven 3 Fly Like An Eagle             Gavin Fitzpatrick 4 Ideal Scott                         Luke McCarthy 5 Gaius Caesar                   Darren Binskin 6 Field Officer (1st em)       Grant Dixon 7 Forever Gold                      Darren Weeks 8 Mach Beauty                      Mark Jones 9 Caribbean Blaster            Kate Gath 10 Terrorway                         John McCarthy 11 Smoken Up                     Lance Justice 12 Baby Bling                       Mat Rue By Sean Vella  

‘Australia’s leading harness racing families will contest a “Grease is the Word” themed Drivers Invitational Pacing Event at Sydney’s Bankstown Paceway this Friday night (23 August 2013) as part of the Bankstown City Cup Carnival of Harness Racing,’ Bankstown Paceway director Andrew Ho announced this morning. ‘A literal who’s who of Australian harness racing’s oldest and most established families – representing well over 400 years of racing history – will contest the penalty free event for C1 to C3 class standardbred horses at the Condell Park trotting track this Friday night,’ Mr Ho said. ‘Thanks to the support of our carnival partners, Bankstown City Council and Allied Express, Bankstown Paceway is very pleased to announce today that the following reinsmen and reinswomen have accepted our invitations to take part in this unique equine event: Ross Adams, Seryn Adams, Blake Fitzpatrick, Gavin Fitzpatrick, David Morris, Robert Morris, Lauren Panella, Amanda Turnbull, Steve Turnbull and Joshua Willick,’ he said. ‘Nominations for equine participants in the event close at 11 am today,’ Mr Ho added. The Allied Express Grease Lightning Drivers Invitational Pacing Event will be held at Sydney’s Bankstown Paceway, 178 Eldridge Road, Bankstown, on Friday, August 23rd, 2013, as part of the Bankstown City Cup Carnival of Harness Racing. Gates open at 5.30 pm and the first race will commence at 6.30 pm. Racecourse entry is free. Andrew Ho  

It has been nearly seven years since harness racing driver Gavin Fitzpatrick won an Australian Pacing Gold Final for two year olds at Albion Park behind the freakish colt Lombo Pocket Watch. This Saturday night he will return to Brisbane in an attempt to win another APG Final, but this time he will drive a two year old filly called Eye Catching.

In the countdown to TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Grand Final day we catch up with Gavin Fitzpatrick who speaks highly of Pub Blitz's chances in the big one.

With regular harness racing driver Jimmy Douglass sidelined through suspension, Gavin Fitzpatrick has been handed the reins for exciting four year old Scandalman in the Hondo Grattan Stakes at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night (February 16).

Sydney harness racing reinsman Gavin Fitzpatrick has competed in a number of feature races in Victoria during his career, tasting success in several with Lombo Pocket Watch but will have his first drive in the time honoured Hunter Cup this Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Fitzpatrick is looking forward to the challenge and believes Pub Blitz is a realistic hope in a very open race.

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