Day At The Track
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Harness racing driver Glenn McElhinney, a laid-back character, has won plenty of big races over the years - including successive Gold Crowns back in 2008/2009 - so his salute on passing the post with Beadman in a lowly C0 sprint at Gold Crown Paceway last Wednesday had everyone wondering. The  racebook form guide, which indicated that the Grinfromeartoear five-year-old had been unplaced in five lifetime starts and - get this - beaten by a combined 487 metres in this season’s three attempts, supplied part of the answer. And the rest of the puzzle was filled in when vetern Londonderry horseman Don Dopper, the horse’s owner-trainer-breeder, joined his driver for the trackside presentation. “Macca” was warm in his praise of a terrific training effort, which required not only changes of both gear and training workload, but patience on an industrial scale. “Don deserves the win so much - he’s never stopped believing in this horse, and he’s persevered when anyone else would have been tempted to give up on him.” It was a very patient, and careful, drive as well. McElhinney was content to park the horse mid-field in the running line from his ODM draw, keeping him under a tight hold when he gave signs of bobbling out of his gear before the turn, and only giving him his head when they straightened for home. The margin back to Da Power Bolt and Nicka Time was a widening eight metres. Dopper jogs his small team at home and fast-works on the big Hawkesbury training track, while his driver is based at Orchard Hills near Penrith, but geography is not the only thing they share. They’re both passionate, life-long supporters of the South Sydney league team. Don’s green and red sash racestrip, his Souths cap, and Macca’s assertion that it was “another great win for the Rabbitohs” suggested that the raised whip earlier on might have been, partly at least, in honour of  their beloved red-and-greens. And that was confirmed when Dopper threw in the fact that he’d watched the race from the area alongside the Clubhouse known (and signposted) as  “The Burrow”, in recognition of Bathurst C.E.O. Danny Dwyer, another Bunnies tragic. As the strains of “Glory, glory...” faded away into the night, spectators on course - regardless of their teams- recognised it as a fine training performance and a win that was richly deserved. On a rare night at Bathurst that saw nine individual trainers and drivers successful on the nine-event card, other winners were: In The Extreme (Aaron Garaty for Steve Jones) with a King Frost-class sprint to take out the Norm and Garth Harkham Memorial, and Belligerence ( Amanda Turnbull for Steve), which stuck to the markers from five back, to score a remarkable win in the John and Margaret Donnelly Memorial; Imthevillagestar (Justin Reynolds for grandfather Russell), deathseated in a C2 Encouragement Stakes, gaining Drive of the Night honours from Mitch Manners, and What A Jolt ( John O’Shea for Lester Hewitt), which led throughout in the fast class, rating a slick 1:56.5 over the testing 2260 metres distance; Brads Luck (Doug Hewitt for Bernie) leading throughout in the first 3YO sprint, on the back-up after racing on the grass at Orange three days earlier, with Castalong Shadow taking honours in the second division, for a very relieved Geoff Simpson, who is considering “that” operation for his Gold Crown-winning colt; Our Stella Rose, sprinting home well from the one-one in the earlier C0 sprint, the half-sister to class mare Aldebaran giving Neil Day his first win at the new Bathurst track, and Uncle Jord (Anthony Frisby for Chris) successful in the first 2YO race of the season at Bathurst, the graduate from last year‘s APG Sale looking sharp as he sprinted home in a 58.6s final half. Bathurst race again on Sunday February 18, when the annual Group 10 Rugby League Day comes to Gold Crown Paceway. Terry Neil

Adrian McElhinney has watched his older brother Glenn win countless races for years. Glenn McElhinney has been one of the state's leading harness racing drivers, steering more than 50 winners every season since 2001/02. On Monday afternoon at Fairfield Adrian got the chance to experience the winning feeling that his brother has enjoyed more than 1300 times in his career for the very first time when Elle Of A Horse won race six. McElhinney is a full time interstate truck driver and most of his time is spent on the highway rather than the paceway. "I love spending time with the horses and any spare time I do get I normally go to Peter Carson's and lend a hand, I've been doing it for years," McElhinney said. "I've been involved in harness racing for 37 years and to get the monkey off my back and win a race is a real thrill." Since the 1986/87 season McElhinney has only had 50 race drives and up until Monday, a second on Pocket Of Dreams at Penrith on May 3rd 2003 was his best result. "I didn't get beaten very far at all when I ran second at Penrith but that seems like a lifetime ago, I would love to be involved in the sport fulltime but the bills have to be paid so I drive trucks." "When I got the split up the inside on Monday, Elle Of A Horse raced through and when I was in front halfway up the straight I didn't know whether to laugh or cry but there was definitely a tear in my eye as I hit the line." McElhinney has now had three drives on Elle Of A Horse. "I've always had a bit of time for her, I have driven her in trackwork and she is now a mare that I am never going to forget." "I'm actually on holidays at the moment and don't have to go back to work until next week so the win is going to make it an even better break." Greg Hayes

Tiarn McElhinney joined an elite group of harness racing drivers when she scored with The Watch Dog at Penrith recently. Daughter of popular freelance driver Glenn McElhinney, Tiarn reined The Watch Dog – which she also trains - to victory at her first drive. After trailing the leader, Sterlo, The Watch Dog was pushed through the inside as the front runner drifted away from the pegs along the back straight, only to be checked as the gap closed. Showing maturity beyond her years, Tiarn didn’t panic as she quickly settled the son of Kenneth J back into his stride. With the gap reopening during the latter stages, The Watch Dog sprinted along the ‘saloon passage’ to score by a neck from Hey Your Lucky, with Yongala Den a metre-and-a-half away third. “The leader rolled off the inside and the horse wanted to take a run that wasn't completely there and he became unbalanced,” McElhinney explained. “To his credit, he got down and chased hard and when a full gap appeared on the inside at the top of the straight he was able to take it. “Looking at the replay, we were pretty lucky to stay on our feet, Dad told me that he had to look away when it was happening and had a few choice words to say, but in the end it turned out ok.” Given the close finish, McElhinney stated she didn’t realise she’d won the race until being congratulated by other drivers, but quickly warmed to the winning feeling.” “You can’t buy the feeling of driving a winner, but I didn't know that I had won because when I went past the post I was sure that Roly Smith had beaten me,” McElhinney said. “As we were pulling up Blake Fitzpatrick said well done and I said something like yeah it was nice to get my first drive out of the way. “He said, ‘no, I think you won it’ and by the time we got back I heard Fred Hastings announcing the numbers and it was then that it started to sink in.” McElhinney began trail driving last November, but elected to wait until the beginning of the season to make her racing debut. “I think I had 10 trial drives between April and July, but decided to wait for my first race drive,” McElhinney declared. “When I first started training horses I wasn't sure whether I wanted to drive in races, but the more I drove track work, the more I knew I wanted to drive in races and I really enjoy it." GREG HAYES  

United Nations International Day of People with Disability   Sydney’s Bankstown Paceway harness racing club will mark the United Nations International Day of People with Disability (on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013) by partnering with Sylvanvale Disability Services and Civic Lifestyles to host the Inaugural Accessibility Art Exhibition, No Barriers, in the Phil Lopez OBE Grandstand on Group 1 M. H. Treuer Memorial Gala Race Night, Saturday, December 7th, 2013.   ‘United Nations International Day of People with Disability plays an important role in promoting the inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of life – and Bankstown Paceway is elated to join with Sylvanvale Disability Services and Civic Lifestyles in commemorating the abilities and achievements of people with disability,’ Bankstown Paceway director Andrew Ho told Harnesslink.   ‘The International Day of People with Disability provides an opportunity for each and every one of us to increase our awareness of disability and to reflect on the barriers to accessibility,’ Mr Ho said.   ‘No Barriers: The Inaugural Accessibility Art Exhibition at Bankstown Paceway is about all of us recognising and celebrating the achievements of people with disability in our community, continuing our mission to break down barriers for people with disability and opening the doors for an inclusive society through our shared passion for art and the sport of harness racing,’ Mr Ho added.   The Inaugural Accessibility Art Exhibition, No Barriers, will be held in the Phil Lopez OBE Grandstand, Bankstown Paceway, 178 Eldridge Road, Bankstown, on Group 1 M. H. Treuer Memorial Gala Race Night, Saturday, December 7th, 2013, from 5.00 pm.  Entry is free.   A race night dinner at Bankstown Paceway featuring performances from the cast of The Burning Log Comedy Theatre Restaurant, hosted by Sylvanvale Disability Services and Civic Lifestyles, will also be held on the night.  Bookings can be made by calling 1300 843 564 or 1300 THE LOG.   Day and night racing returns to Bankstown Paceway   ‘Afternoon harness racing – as well as the spectacle of night racing under the ribbon of light – will return to Condell Park’s Bankstown Paceway trotting track for the Allied Express Summer Carnival of Harness Racing which begins on Monday afternoon, December 2nd, 2013,’ Bankstown Paceway director Andrew Ho has told Harnesslink.   ‘This will be followed by the historic 30th Anniversary Group 1 M. H. Treuer Memorial Gala Race Night on Saturday, December 7th, 2013, Sydney Christmas Cup on Monday, December 16th, 2013, Elvis Birthday Race Day on Friday, January 3rd, 2014, Year of the Horse Race Day on Monday, February 3rd, 2014, and Cancer Council Relay for Life Race Day on Friday, February 28th, 2014,’ Mr Ho said.   ‘Harness racing’s “King of Condell Park”, dual Bankstown Paceway annual drivers premiership winner Josh Willick, hopes to make it three years in row – taking an early lead in the 2013/14 season following his breathtaking five race wins during the Bankstown City Council Cup Carnival of Harness Racing,’ he said.   ‘The 2008 Grand Circuit race winning driver and the only Condell Park resident in a generation to personally claim the coveted Group 1 M. H. Treuer Memorial trophy (with Robin Hood) has been named “Driver of the Year” for the last two seasons – after defeating his Ellis Street neighbour, triple Group 1 race winning driver Lauren Panella.   ‘The Condell Park dad currently leads the 2013/14 drivers premiership on seventeen points from his five race wins and one placing.   ‘He is followed by last year’s state drivers premiership winner Amanda Turnbull on fourteen points from her two wins and four placings,  former Bankstown Paceway board member Glenn McElhinney on eleven points from his three wins and one placing, Colin McDowell and David Morris on eight points each, Steve Turnbull on six points, Jim Douglass, Blake Fitzpatrick and Robert Morris on five points each, and Kylie Barnes and Mat Rue on three points each,’ Mr Ho added.   Racecourse entry is free for all harness race meetings at Condell Park’s Bankstown Paceway, 178 Eldridge Road, Bankstown, which will be held on the following days during the Allied Express Summer Carnival of Harness Racing: Monday 2 December 2013 – Race 1 at 1.39 pm (Gates open at 11 am) – M. H. Treuer Memorial Prelude Race Day (Day Race Meeting); SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER 2013 – Race 1 at 6.10 pm (Gates open at 5 pm) – 30TH ANNIVERSARY GROUP 1 M. H. TREUER MEMORIAL GALA RACE NIGHT (NIGHT RACE MEETING); Monday 16 December 2013 – Race 1 at 1.39 pm (Gates open at 11 am) – Christmas Cup Race Day (Day Race Meeting); Friday 3 January 2014 – Race 1 at 2.04 pm – Elvis Birthday Race Day (Day Race Meeting); Monday 3 February 2014 – Race 1 after 1 pm – Year of the Horse New Year Cup Race Day (Day Race Meeting); and Friday 28 February 2014 – Race 1 after 1 pm – Cancer Council Relay for Life Race Day (Day Race Meeting). Bookings for race day lunch and race night dining packages can be made at admin@bankstownpaceway.com.au or on 02 9708 4111.   By Megan J Lavender  

‘Harness racing’s “King of Condell Park”, dual Bankstown Paceway annual drivers premiership winner Josh Willick, hopes to make it three years in row – taking an early lead in the 2013/14 season following his breathtaking five race wins during the Bankstown City Council Cup Carnival of Harness Racing,’ Bankstown Paceway president Les Bentley has told Harnesslink. ‘The 2008 Grand Circuit race winning driver and the only Condell Park resident in a generation to personally claim the coveted Group 1 M. H. Treuer Memorial trophy (with Robin Hood) has been named “Driver of the Year” for the last two seasons – after defeating his Ellis Street neighbour, triple Group 1 race winning driver Lauren Panella,’ Mr Bentley said. ‘The Condell Park dad currently leads the 2013/14 drivers premiership on seventeen points from his five race wins and one placing,’ the president said. ‘He is followed by last year’s state drivers premiership winner Amanda Turnbull on fourteen points from her two wins and four placings, former Bankstown Paceway board member Glenn McElhinney on eleven points from his three wins and one placing, Colin McDowell and David Morris on eight points each, Steve Turnbull on six points, Jim Douglass, Blake Fitzpatrick and Robert Morris on five points each, and Kylie Barnes and Mat Rue on three points each,’ Mr Bentley added. Photo: The King of Condell Park, 2011/12 and 2012/13 Bankstown Paceway Driver of the Year Joshua Willick, claims victory in the Allied Express Pace with five year old brown gelding Ambush Prince for trainer Dean McDowell. Megan J. Lavender

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