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DRIVER Mat Rue said “Joes Joy has a lot to learn but the filly is heading in the right direction” following her win in the RockNRoll Heaven Alabar Breeders Challenge Heat (1730m) at the Gold Crown Paceway last week. The Roll With Joe two-year-old filly found the front to secure a narrow win over the fast-finishing Olivia Shannon who also qualified for the Semi-Final at Menangle. ‘’She has plenty to learn and even though she’s had five starts, I’ll take her to Menangle for another hit out before the Semi-Final,’’said Rue. Gemma Rue trains the talented filly and it was family celebration of her 100th win as a trainer. Brad ‘’Hollywood’’ Hewitt says he can go close in the Semi-Final of the Alabar Breeders Challenge after a smart win in the first fillies heat. Aboard Dancelikeanangel ($9.50) Hewitt sat patiently behind the leader and she powered home impressively to win. ‘’She’s got a bit to lean but once running tonight, she was too good. I think she can run a top race in the Semi-Final,’’ he said. Rockin With Elvis ($2) also with Brad Hewitt is through to the Semi’s of the Alabar Challenge "He will be competitive in the Sem-Final." Rock Fisherman ($21) for Doug Hewitt also won a heat after an upset win in the first colts and gelding heat ‘’No surprise to see him win really …we thought he was improving the right way and he came home well." Rock Fisherman shot home off a strong pace by hot favourite Kalypso King who also qualifies despite being run down close to the line. Myra Dawn for Amanda Turnbull was very impressive in the Bedwells Feed Barn Pace. Off a brilliant Wagga Oaks win the mare took off round them and was far too good in the end.   Farren Hotham

CHRISTIANO Rose has sent out the first signs to Gold Crown candidates with a brave win in the Harness Racing NSW Pace at the Gold Crown Paceway at Bathurst on Wednesday. Bouncing off the arm over 1730m for the two-year-olds, Christiano Rose on the back of strong trials surged to the early lead challenged by Crunch Time and the pair made the running at a solid tempo. Trainer-driver Rickie Alchin soon had his talented Crunch Time pushing quickly to the lead with Chrisitiano Rose in hot pursuit. The sprint to the finish was enough for Christiano Rose to bravely get the lead and go on and win by five metres. Crunch Time stuck on gamely for secodn with Lord Heston finishing off well for third in a mile rate of 1.58.1 and the final quarter in 27.8 seconds. Reinsman Mat Rue said he was pleased with the Alta Christiano – Miss Aqua Blue filly. Zanadu produced a good front running exhibition in the three-year-old  again using good gate speed. Driver Colin McDowel piloting a victory in 28 seconds last quarters. "She’s going well and we’ll be looking at the NSW Oaks," he said. Eccentric hit the line well seven metres from the winner, Whata Reactor filling the minor prize . Rockin Marty rated a strong last quarter for Brad Hewitt in the other three-year-old pace making it back-to-back wins. Meanwhile, Lettucefirestar and Life Lavros couldn’t be split in the Group 10 Rugby League Pace, sparking a dead heat. Farren Hotham

FORMER Dubbo reinsman Tom Pay made it a successful trip home on Sunday driving a double at his former local track. Moving to Bathurst just shy of 12 months ago to work for the Mat and Gemma Rue stable, Pay was confident he would have a good day. His first win was a family affair driving the fancied JoanandI who is trained by his father Michael. Beginning out of barrier one the $1.90 favourite scored a comfortable all the way victory, winning her first race at only start number five. “I was confident in dad’s mare if she did everything right,” Pay said after the race. His next steer of the day was on the Monica Betts-trained Snoop Stride who is a regular drive of Pay’s. Although trained by Betts her daughter Phoebe spends most of her free time working the horses with ‘Snoop’ being the family favourite. “I knew it would be hard from the draw but after his last start at Penrith I was confident he’d be in the finish if the right run presented itself,” the 15-year-old said. After being taken off arm the eight-year-old gelding flew down the outside scoring a 2.8 metre victory defeating the consistent Steve Turnbull-trained Shandance NZ. “I knew Snoop would run an honest race but wasn’t sure if he’d win,” Pay said.  “Monica and Phoebe have been a great support throughout my driving career so it’s always nice to get a winner for them.” The move to Bathurst has proved to be a great opportunity for the young reinsman having been given driving opportunities from a number of trainers including Bernie Hewitt, Peter Bullock, Ashlee Grives and boss Gemma Rue. Already having driven half of his total wins from last season only nine weeks into the new one, the 2018/2019 season looks to be Pay’s best one yet.   AMY REES

PASSIONS Delight made a perfect debut for her new connections when she scored a gritty win in her return to Bathurst’s Gold Crown Paceway on Wednesday night. Leading throughout in a C1/C2 sprint, she threw in a 56.4s final half and dug deep to keep Life Lavros NZ a neck astern at the end of a testing home-straight contest. Sams Express rattled home late for a promising third. Trainer and part-owner (with Shane Caffyn) Ben Settree explained the circumstances that led to the Bettors Delight-Passions Promise mare making her way into his stable. “Mat Rue drove her to win the Tiara Gold Consolation here back in March last year, and knows the connections, so when she came on the market at the end of her three-year-old season a few months back, he straightaway let me know. “She’s beautifully bred, and should make a great broodmare when she’s finished racing.” Following those two Bathurst runs last year, she made her way into the APG, Vicbred and Breeders Crown 2YO finals, and then joined Danni Hill’s Adelaide stable for a fine three-year-old campaign that featured wins in the S.A. Oaks and the Port Pirie Derby. Ben Settree and the Moore family have a further reason to see this mare domiciled at their Bathurst breeding establishment : her dam Passions Promise was bred by them, sold for $26,000 at the 2009 Sydney APG Sale, and went on to win $272,345 in an outstanding career highlighted by her success in the Australasian Breeders Crown Final at two. Passions Delight mightn’t attain those lofty heights, but with earnings now approaching $100,000 and boasting her own Group 1, she’s a wonderful acquisition for Brooklyn Lodge. She should feel right at home there. Two Menangle country heats opened the Bathurst proceedings, with wins to $81 longshot Siotada  ( Steve Jones/ Michael Munro) in the C3/C4 grade, and Ominous Warning ( Peter Trevor-Jones/ John O’Shea ) in the C1 class. Both wins were classy, and the mile rate of 1:54.8 for the latter winner was a great testament to the quality of the track, coming after rainstorms had saturated Bathurst all afternoon. The two heats of the HRNSW Rewards Series didn’t produce such slick times, but the winners were quite impressive. Call Me Missy ( Nathan Hurst/ Angela Hedges) came from absolute last at the 400 metres mark to round up her rivals, with her own last half, somewhere south of 56 seconds, suggesting she’ll take some beating in next week’s $10,000 final. Sophie Brown ( Mark Fletcher/ Amanda Turnbull ) ran slightly faster overall time, with more even quarters, in coming from the one-one trail in her victory, and with a win and three places now from just six starts, she appears to be a professional, adaptable  type which can take advantage of the breaks that come her way. Eight different trainers and drivers were successful on the card, quite remarkable for this centre which is home to a number of large and very strong stables which frequently produce multiple winners. Next Wednesday’s meeting features heats of the Bedwells Feed Barn Star-Trek, one of the highlights of the spring racing up at Bathurst, with $10,000 semi-finals on October 31 and the $16,000 final on Friday November 9. Terry Neil

THE Bathurst Shootout Time Trials highlighted Wednesday night’s fixture at Gold Crown Paceway, the first of two meetings conducted during the world-famous Race Week at neighbouring Mount Panorama. On the eve of the Bathurst 1000 “Great Race” the 10 fastest cars from practice individually complete a flying lap of The Mount to determine their grid positions in Sunday’s race. Harness racing’s equivalent this week saw eight nominated pacers, up to M0 grade,  time-trial over a flying 1200 metres, their times determining gate positions for Friday’s $12,000 final. Izzy Watt, one of three to compete without the assistance of a galloping pacemaker, showed blistering speed for Mat Rue, completing  quarters in 26.3, 27.6 and 27.2 seconds repectively for an equivalent mile-rate of 1:48.7, to earn the coveted pole for Friday’s feature race. In doing so, he relegated Steve Turnbull’s Sabrage, the fastest of the first five triallists with a 1:50.9 mile rate, to gate two in the “dash for cash” come Friday. Remaining runners in Friday’s final, in barrier order, are: 3. Bradness Eldefuego ( Steve Turnbull ) 1:51.4 4. Our Chittybangbang NZ ( Chris Frisby ) 1:51.4 5. Smack Dab Shannon ( McKayler Barnes ) 1:51.7 6. Switowski ( Mitch Turnbull ) 1:52.6 7. Kapow Shannon ( Amy Rees ) 1:53.7 8. Wrangler Duke ( Trent Rue ) 1:56.8 The large and enthusiastic crowd of car racing visitors who came down from the mountain to enjoy a different kind of horse power were totally familiar with the time-trial concept, and indicated that they’ll be returning to see the final act play out on Friday night. It should be a fair-dinkum shootout, with no hostages taken.   Harness Racing New South Wales

OWNER Steve Hunt spends his working life doing the driving duties on interstate trains, heading north to Sydney or south to Melbourne from Junee Station, near his Cootamundra hometown. After the stunning Australian debut of his part-owned two-year-old Obi One NZ, at Gold Crown Paceway Bathurst on Wednesday night, he might soon be making those trips as a passenger, to tackle the Victoria and New South Wales Derby races. What a capital idea! In the Betterthancheddar 2YO Pace, the McArdle gelding came out of the gate like the Southern Aurora, before handing up to Roger That which maintained the speed to run a lead time of 46.2 seconds. That’s an exceptionally quick lead time at Bathurst for any horse over the 2260 metres race distance, but especially so for two-year-olds having their first try at the distance. A first half in 60.1s was followed by a slick 28.6s third quarter as Brad Hewitt kept the leader running, but then Amanda Turnbull switched Obi One to the outside, rather than waiting for the sprint lane, and he roared away down the straight to win by an ever-increasing margin of 23 metres. His final sectional of 28.2s produced a mile rate of 1:56.1, seldom bettered by open-class horses at the circuit, and it completely obliterated the 2YO record of 2:01.7 set by Heavenly Shades three years ago. “There’s your Derby favourite !” was the admiring comment from Mat Rue as he headed out to the parade ring for the following race. The youngster had placed at his only NZ start back in June, and his breeder has retained a half-share in the horse, joining a number of Turnbull stable regulars in the new ownership. It was only last Friday that the horse arrived at Amanda Turnbull’s Lagoon stables. On Monday he had an easy outing in an experience trial to check out the track and mobile, and on Wednesday - remarkably just five days after saying goodbye to his Kiwi stablemates- he was winning in Oz. Mat Rue’s appraisal of the budding star was based on performance, but he would be equally enthusiastic about the youngster’s breeding : his grand-dam Fleet Vance is a half to Alldatglittersisgold, the dam of millionaire Bling It On and a wonderful mare in Baby Bling which Rue drove to success in a Miracle Mile. Steve Jones- whose 25-strong horse portfolio includes rising star Ellmers Image and this week’s ABC aspirant Our Positano - and his fellow owners look to have something special in their latest acquisition. In other news from the meeting, Mackayler Barnes took her season’s tally to 22 after a driving double - her first at her home track - with Stitched Up and Jedda Shannon, earning racecaller Fred Hastings’ Drive of the Night award for the latter. Her smile was bigger than ever. TERRY NEIL

Classy filly Callmequeenbee is headed to Brisbane. And it’s a hit/run mission for the Gr.2 $75,540 AQWA Constructions Queensland Oaks at Albion Park on July 14, the middle night of the winter carnival. Fresh from her Gr.1 placing in yesterday’s (Sunday) $150,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Final at TABCORP Park, Menangle behind Goodtime Heaven and Molly Kelly, connections have confirmed a northern raid. “We were thrilled by her effort and believe she’s got another big run left in her to close out her three-year-old season. She’s pulled up really well and was very bright today so we’re keen to have a throw at the stumps.” Regular reinsman Mat Rue said. Prepared at Bathurst by Gemma and Mat Rue, Callmequeenbee will take on star local fillies Fame Assured and Aqua Miss plus last start Redcliffe Oaks winner Sociable among others in the 2138m feature. The Shadow Play filly has won 5 of her 15 starts this season and connections will deliberately bypass this week’s Gr.3 $30,540 Egmont Park Stud South East Oaks, the traditional lead-up to next week’s feature event. “We won’t start her this weekend because it will just take the sharpness out of her for the main event, skipping this week just gives us that extra week to have her primed and we won’t have to hurry the travel. “Obviously we’d love a really good draw because she’s been a bit unlucky with some tricky gates this season, she can really follow a strong speed and that looks a given when looking at the quality of opposition headed that way. “The Dixon stable have two very good fillies while the New Zealand filly is also very capable given that she conquered the other pair last start.” Back in February, Callmequeenbee finished fourth in the Gr.1 $200,000 NSW Oaks at Menangle while Fame Assured could only manage 7thplacing. Brilliant filly Shez All Rock won the NSW Oaks. Chris Barsby

There were two State of Origin events to choose from, for Bathurst district followers on Wednesday evening. Most opted for the comfort of the lounge room and the television, to watch the Rugby League version taking place at the MCG ; only the participants, plus a small band of owners and true-blue diehards, fronted up for the nine-race program at Gold Crown Paceway. The final four races of the night were for maiden two-year-olds, and with preference given to NSW Breeders Challenge-eligible juveniles, there was an added state-of-origin feel to the meeting. All four races, in fact, were taken out by the NSW-bred youngsters. Mat Rue won the two fillies events, the Peter Bullock-trained Merci Shannon producing a brilliant sprint to overpower her five rivals and, two races later, Soundslikeart (trained by his wife Gemma) taking the sprint lane home to a narrow victory. The two-year-old double completed a driving treble on the night for Rue, after an earlier all-the-way win  in a 2260 metres C3 with the Dennis Picker-trained Rave On Rabbits. That Rabbitohs race name, and the sets of green and red racing colours he wore with it and later with Merci Shannon, added to the unmistakeable footie feeling of the meeting. The colts and geldings divisions were taken out by Jake Davis with Nifty Studleigh, trained by his dad Leigh, and Lord Denzel for another son/father combination in Doug and Bernie Hewitt. Both powered home from back in the field for convincing wins. For Doug Hewitt, the win completed a driving double at the book-ends of the meeting, after a win by Trunkey Digger in C1 grade,  a race that set the pattern of close finishes for the night, with a wall of horses across the track. And for Bernie it completed a training treble, his other winner coming in the second event, a 3YO sprint, where Cobbity Chic (Blake Hewitt) got up in the last stride for that narrowest of margins, a short half-head. The other winners mid-meeting were El Gran Senor NZ ( Nathan Turnbull for Steve) in the fast-class, producing a sub-1:56 last half for a brillant win, and Modern Attitude in a C1 sprint, with Dennis Picker bringing the half-brother to Intrude through in the sprint lane for a narrow but impressive victory. The six successful drivers all selected the Blues as the winners of that MCG event, with three prizes subsequently needed for Blake Hewitt, Nathan Turnbull and Dennis Picker, who each correctly nominated a winning margin of 10 points. And the domination of the Bathurst young guns over their older, more experienced, rivals appropriately matched the win of those NSW debutants against the more battle-hardened Maroons. To complete the analogy, four of those drivers have very strong footballing pedigrees: Doug Hewitt is currently the captain-coach of the Bathurst Panthers in the Group 10 Premier League; Blake Hewitt plays for the Panthers, and has previously represented NSW Country; Dennis Picker previously played for the Raiders and the Bathurst Panthers, while Jake Davis represented the Panthers and Western Division before switching recently to Rugby Union. There mightn’t have been “quite” eighty-seven thousand at Gold Crown Paceway this week but it’s fair to say that, as with the other event south of the border, footie was the winner. TERRY NEIL

The Carnival of Cups will head to the Central West this Sunday afternoon when the Peak Hill Harness Racing Club is gearing up to stage a mammoth program with prizemoney in excess of $70,000 on offer. Club President, Wayne Rosser said that his committee has left no stone unturned to ensure that the historic Club puts on a great day of racing for its feature meeting of the year. “This is the biggest event that is staged in our small town each year, so it means a lot to the community of Peak Hill. We will be hosting a number of leading horsemen and women along with some very smart horses”, Rosser said. “All I heard from those who participated at our race meeting last weekend were positives about how great the track is and how well the day went off which is very satisfying to me and my committee”. Eight races are programmed for this Sunday with the features being the Peak Hill ex Services and Citizens Club Final, two qualifying heats of the Tabcorp Park Menangle Country Series and the Kriden Park Drivers Invitational. “This year we wanted to get some of our local reins people involved in the Drivers Invitational and we have five men facing off against five ladies which will ensure a keen contest”. “And we are really grateful with the support given to us by HRNSW Chairman Rod Smith who is not only sponsoring the race but has also allowed us to set the criteria for the Invitational”, Rosser concluded. Emma Turnbull will contest the Invitational with the right form on the board having landed a winning double at Peak Hill last Sunday. She will be joined in the female ranks by defending champion, Melissa Hawke from Canberra, Broken Hill Cup winning driver, Kasey Hocking, McKayler Barnes, winner of our first Lady Drivers event in 2016 and the very competitive Angela Hedges from Bathurst. Top freelance reinsman, Mat Rue heads the male drivers line-up along with leading Forbes reinsman, Murray Sullivan, Murringo horseman, Nathan Hoy, top Bathurst junior driver, Mitch Turnbull and the talented Parkes horseman, Robert Harris who when at the top of his game was a regular in the winner’s circle at Harold Park. Trainers are encouraged to support the Drivers Invitational, a penalty free event that carries $10,000 in stakes. Nominations close at 9.30am on Wednesday morning.   HRNSW

THE month of March is welcomed for those cooler autumn temperatures but it also announces that the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival, with its highly popular mix of racing and social activities, is upon us again. Two-year-olds have been strutting their stuff at most Gold Crown Paceway meetings since the New Year, and two “baby races” at last Wednesday’s fixture provided something of a warm-up act for the full program of two-year-old racing in late March. First String (Craig Cross/Luke McCarthy) justified the wraps on him by leading throughout in the first  of these races, gradually increasing the tempo to closing quarters of 28 seconds for a commendable 1:57.8 mile rate, at his racing debut. The Roll With Joe colt, a $43,000 purchase  at the Sydney APG Sale for some of the Fleur De Lil connections, is Gold Crown bound, with Luke McCarthy commenting that it was a sensible option to bring him up to Bathurst for a run on the track before the Crown heats. Runner-up Shoobee Doo (Steve/Mitch Turnbull), a $16,500 buy from last year’s Gold Crown Sale, ran on strongly for a promising second to confirm good trial form, and Chris Be Quick (Gemma/ Mat Rue), a $32,500 purchase at Sydney last year, trailed the leader throughout to hold down third, for his second successive placing. In the second two-year-old race Caribbean Jack (Gemma/Mat Rue) enjoyed a nice trail behind the lead and showed good race sense to go through on the inside in scoring a last-stride win, home in 57.8s for a 1:58.7 mile rate. He’d been a touch unlucky when third on debut, and with further improvement should acquit himself well during the carnival. The Caribbean Blaster son was a $5,500 buy at the Bathurst Sale last year, runner-up Our Uncle Jim (Chris/Anthony Frisby) is a homebred, and Firestorm Red (Steve Turnbull), which held on well for third after a tough run outside the lead, was a $60,000 purchase at the Melbourne APG Sale for the “Red Man” Rob Davis. Caribbean Jack’s win completed a double for the Rues, after the all-the-way win in C2 grade by Trilight Brigade NZ, the Bettors mare scoring her sixth win from her last 9 starts, dashing home in 27.6s to street her rivals. Most impressive performance of the meeting was clearly that of Parramatta NZ, which led for most of the fast-class sprint, home in 55.9s to complete the 1730 metres in a 1:53.8 rate, just over a second off the track record set by Better Than Max during last year’s carnival. Off the track, the highlight of the evening was the draw for naming rights for the carnival’s  Group One feature races, the Gold Tiara and Gold Crown, for 24 local and national sponsors who had signed up for sponsorship packages at this year’s carnival. This year’s features will be known as the Mitavite Gold Tiara, and the Kings Hotel Bathurst Gold Crown. They will be the first 2YO Group One races of the Australian season, and the highlights of a magnificent night’s racing on Easter Saturday, March 31.   TERRY NEIL

Harness racing duo Barry Lew and Mat Rue have what the former calls a “gentleman’s agreement” when it comes to their relationship on the track. Putting it simply, find a winner, any winner. “If he’s got a better drive than my horse in the field, than take it,” Lew reveals. So when fields for Sunday’s Group 10-themed afternoon meeting at the Bathurst Harness Racing Club came out and Rue was down for drives on both Lew’s Karloo Threeothree and, his wife, Gemma Rue’s Izzy Watt, in the Orange CYMS Group 10 Rugby League Cup, the battle to find a winner started well before the scheduled 4.53pm jump on Sunday afternoon. Despite Rue occupying the sulky in all bar two of Karloo Threeothree’s 28 starts, Lew thought he was no chance of booking the highly rate driver on Sunday – not up against Rue’s wife, Gemma. “I only go for the best drivers,” Lew said on Thursday. “But if he’s got a ride better than mine on Sunday, he should take it. Matt’s a really good form student. “He’d be the man to talk, though,” Lew added. “The horse is working brilliantly. He’s drawn a bit awkward, but over the longer trip that won’t matter all too much.” As it turns on, Rue agrees. In a bid to find that winner, Rue was confirmed as the driver for Lew’s four-year-old bay gelding on Friday morning, with an eye on the class four or better feature’s $8480 purse. Lew was hopeful the Rue-Karloo combination will learn from the race’s heats last week, with Karloothreeothree trapped wide in a run that netted the pair a fifth-place finish. “It’s a pretty good field,” Lew, 65, said. “Before (the heats at Bathurst he) ran convincingly, he was really impressive in a win at Dubbo. “But, as I said, this is another really good field. You get those Sydney trainers and drivers bringing a few up (to Bathurst) and they’re all hard to beat.” Karloo Threeothree has been drawn barrier 10 for Sunday’s final, but with “a brilliant turn of foot”, Lew isn’t concerned over the 2260 metre journey. All nine of Sunday’s paces are named after Group 10 clubs, with the first, the Bathurst Panthers Club 2YO Pace starting at 12.50pm. Nick McGrath Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Redbelly Jack will be strongly fancied to complete a clean-sweep of this year‘s Soldiers Saddle Series in Friday’s $15,000 final at Bathurst Gold Crown Paceway, after another outstanding win in last week’s semi-finals. Driver Nathan Xuereb, for father Michael, again allowed the Rock N Roll Heaven four-year-old  to settle at the tail of the field from his second-row draw, and he was still last passing the 600 metres before setting the horse alight at that point. Four and five wide around the final turn is not the best place to be at Bathurst, as the leaders often kick at that point, but he again showed an exceptional brand of speed to range up to a gallant Double Encounter, which had led up the three-wide train, to score narrowly but easily. While the tactics might have appeared very different to the last lap “go for broke” charge in the previous week’s heat, in reality they were very similar, reliant on that high speed that enables Redbelly Jack to come from virtually anywhere in the field if he enjoys clear running. Double Encounter was brave in edging death-seater Might And Main for second, and Studleigh Kristen ran on well for fourth to qualify for the final, along with Eliza Dushku and Hez All Courage. John O’Shea handled the driving duties for Amanda Turnbull with the second semi-final winner Dream To Share NZ, sprinting well from mid-field to easily account for Zaras Choice and Sonny Studleigh, rating 1:57.7 for the sprint distance with a 58.7 final half. He’s hopeful of retaining the final drive with the Kenneth J five-year-old, a horse he’s formed a good association with, winning twice this season and placing at every other run. “He’s a lovely horse to drive, with no bad habits and a real genuine attitude. I really like him,” was J.T’s post-race assessment. Others to make it through to the final from this race were Little Bit Dusty and Taylors Reason, from the Bernie Hewitt stable which will have four runners, and Presidential Dude. O’Shea backed up for a driving double in the following C2 race when leading throughout on What A Jolt, for Lester Hewitt, a previous UDR trainer in the Bathurst premiership and very successful with his small team. The Village Jolt four-year-old maintained a strong tempo, with all quarters sub-30s for a 1:57.3 mile rate, in taking his record to six wins from 12 career starts, four of those wins coming in his last six starts. Lucy Lamb (Mat Rue for father Ken) came with a wet sail to score running away in a C3-C5 sprint, after some anxious moments for her driver who opted for a spot four back on the pegs, and who was in some danger of not finding clear room after working into the running line around the final turn. Fortunately the run did come after straightening, and the Flightpath daughter did the rest, easily putting away leader What A Curtainraiser and death-seating Smithstars Lexus for her second success in what had been a rather mixed season. “We’ve been teaching her to race from off the speed,” Mat Rue commented, “ and she seems to be getting the hang of it now. I’ve got to admit, that decision to head to the pegs after the start wasn’t looking too clever when I got held up between runners on the bend, and I wasn’t looking forward to explaining to Dad after, but now I won’t have to! An orphan foal, she was raised among a paddock of lambs at the Lambs - Wayne and Anne’s Golden Gait Stud, that is - and was christened “Lucy the lamb” as a consequence. That became her racing name after Ken Rue acquired her from the stud. The resilience that enabled her to overcome a tough start in life has also helped her cope with a lung disease and very brittle front feet, necessitating being shod every second week. Little wonder that she’s one of the more popular horses racing in the western districts at the moment. If she settles in her races, there will be many more wins, and fans, in the future. Other winners at this meeting were Always Mysterious in C0-C1 grade, driver Justin Reynolds repeating the successful tactics of Nathan Xuereb in the previous race by coming with one late run to score easily, and Steve Turnbull’s all-the-way effort with Shadow Hunter  in C0 class, the maiden win after a string of places for the half to Tiara winner Pixies Parlour. The Bathurst RSL-sponsored Soldiers Saddle Final will be the highlight of a strong card at this Friday’s Bathurst Gold Crown Paceway meeting. Terry Neil

Barrier draws mean so much in harness racing, and that was the case again on Friday night when Nyngan-trained mare Bulgari Rose was successful in the Gerard Yeo Memorial Pace (2120m) at Dubbo Paceway. With members of the Yeo family trackside, leading driver Mat Rue was at his absolute best as he guided the four-year-old Mach Three (CAN) x Cartier (USA) mare to an all-the-way win in the feature, just lasting to win in a driving three-way finish. Bulgari Rose ($2.40 fav) was able to hold the lead early, and it was a lead she wouldn’t relinquish. After strolling through the first two quarters of the last mile in splits of 33.3s and 32.5s, Bulgari Rose slipped through the third quarter in 30.7s. It ensured she had enough in the tank to fly home over the last 400m in 28.7s, enough to hold off Village Angel ($8.30, McKayler Barnes) by a half-neck. Son Of A Virgin ($9.80, Mark Hewitt) was a further neck away in third place in a race where the mile rate was 2:03.9. The other main race on the card, the Dubbo RSL Club and Resort Final (2120m) also saw an all-the-way winner in the form of She’s A Ranger. Trained at Forbes by Adam Bellach, and with Angela Hedges in the gig, the $1.90 favourite shot away from her rivals at the 400m mark to beat Miss Ives ($14.30, Greg Rue) by more than 11 metres. Shazam Shannon ($23.00, McKayler Barnes) was a further six metres away in third position. Dubbo Harness Racing Club’s next meeting will be held at the Showground Paceway on Wednesday, November 15. By Ben Walker Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal

Bernie Hewitt, along with wife Cathy, will be the proudest of parents at next Monday’s wedding of their daughter Gemma to leading driver Mat Rue, but he cast all sentiment aside, and put them firmly in their place, when successful in the final race at Wednesday’s Group One Feeds Paceway meeting. Just as Mat Rue, driving the Gemma Hewitt-trained Swift Bet, looked likely to score an all-the-way win in the C0 sprint, Hewitt charged home from the one-one with Cobbity Cardio for a strong win. And with Just A Kool Joe working clear down the running, the young couple had to settle for the minor place. There’ll be a very different script at next Monday’s ceremony, but perhaps the Port Douglas location, as well as all the regular “exes”,  figured in Bernie Hewitt’s reaction straight after his win: “ It’s okay for Gem and Mat, they’ve got all the time in the world to save up, but I’ve been going flat out the last few months to win as much as I can for this!” Tongue-in-cheek, or even slightly serious, it was accompanied by a wide grin which indicated genuine delight that the family could enjoy a win in what was the very last race before they all headed north the following day. A pre-wedding toast, from the father of the bride. Steve Martin couldn’t have done it any better! If this final race was a triumph for age and cunning, the earlier results were in large part a testament to youth and promise, with Mitchell Turnbull scoring a driving treble, for three separate family members. Lockton Luck, for brother Josh, resumed from a six-month break in a C2 Menangle Country Series heat, handing up to favourite My Bettor Bella NZ and reeling it in via the sprint lane, with a 27.4 second closing quarter to round out a 1:56.9 trip. In the C4-C7 sprint that followed, last season’s Horse-of-the-Year Sportygal, for father Steve, combined with the Junior Driver-of-the-Year for a tough win from the death-seat, just edging out Gotta Bewitched NZ, which had the drop on it for most of the trip. Those two winners started at each-way odds, in even fields, but that was certainly not the case with the final leg of the Mitch Turnbull treble. Quaint Glen NZ, for sister Amanda, started at odds-on in the Kevin and Kay Seymour Celebrating 50 Years  mares class, and the Pay Me Christian daughter earned her Queensland owners a free service to either Hurrikane King Cole or Gotta Go Cullect with an easy front-running win, slipping home in 56.8 seconds under wraps. Her youthful driver was naturally pleased by his treble, but especially so because it involved three other members of his close-knit family. Other winners on a true winter’s night at Bathurst: Panther Star, for Steve Jones and Nathan Hurst ( who earned the Drive-of-the-Night award from racecaller Anthony Manton), in a C0/C1 sprint, coming from a mile back and sustaining his effort right to the line in a very impressive win  for his Bathurst Panthers RL syndicate of owners; Ring The Till NZ (Steve Turnbull), maintaining his unbeaten record in this country with another tough effort, working to the death in C2/C3 grade and pulling away easily in the straight, with a soft 27.9 final quarter. His Dubbo part-owner Jack Shanks is reliving some of the fun he enjoyed with a very good pacer named Quamby’s Pride, a Queensland Derby winner in 1980; Cherry Sweet Peach, which won the C0  Menangle Where Horses Fly heat, Nathan Hoy cleverly dodging some home-straight disruption and coming with a strong run down the outside, to make up for her own bad luck with a flat tyre at her previous start; Miss Ives, in a C0 sprint that also featured some home-straight confusion as several runners locked wheels. It didn’t affect this result, with trainer-driver Greg Rue  merely observing the chaos back over his shoulder as he took the death-seating mare to a clear-cut win. This was a win for the uncle of-the-groom, and a nice lead-in to the father-of-the-bride. Terry Neil  

It would have been well after midnight when Barry and Rhonda Lew arrived back home to Dubbo after racing at Bathurst on Wednesday night but Ronnie Lew had one more visit to make before turning in for a well earned rest. And that was to Karloo Mick’s headstone, close to the house in their back garden. She and Barry had “a yarn with Mick” earlier on, before setting off for the races, because it was 12 months to the day since his passing. Now, after scoring a double - and a third win for friend and travelling companion Peter Gavin- she wanted to say thanks to their champion and mate. “I might go and sit on his headstone and have a beer with him!” enthused Ronnie. The Lew double commenced with Karloo Damajor, which worked his way to the lead in the early stages of a 2260 metres fast class, off a quick lead time, before taking the field through an unusually slick middle half of 56.7 seconds, and fighting on strongly to hold off trailer Gotta Bewitched. It brought up a hat-trick for the four-year-old Art Major son, with driver Mat Rue (who earned Anthony Manton’s Drive of the Night award) noting they’d been scored from a trail, the death seat and now the lead, to underline his versatility. Three races later, it was the turn of Karloo Threeothree, in C4 class, after parking outside favourite Rocknroll Angel and showing plenty of Karloo Mick’s true grit to get the decision by a half-head margin. The win took the Mach Three gelding’s record this term to six wins from 15 starts and, more importantly, it gave him Juvenile Horse of the Year honours at Bathurst in the last few strides of the season, much like his victory in the race itself. In the following race, the first of two 3YO sprints, Peter Gavin’s lightly-raced Big Bill completed that Dubbo treble, and a Mat Rue driving treble,  by leading throughout. The win took Rue to 99 wins for the season, and with drives in each of the remaining three races, with an especially strong chance in the last, the odds looked stacked in his favour to grab a ton for the third time. Rue, a cricketing tragic, was not so sure, and commented after Big Bill’s win: ” I remember Michael Slater getting out on 99 so many times- I’m feeling pretty nervous right now!” That proved to be something of a premonition. He placed third, behind the death-seating Nicky Beau (Nathan Hurst for Mat McCarthy) in the second of the 3YO sprints; ran unplaced in the 2YO sprint taken out in superb fashion by Weona Luke (David Hewitt) which gave the field a start after an early gallop; and then led until the final strides in the last, a maiden, only to be collared on the line by Pretty Foxy, trained and driven by his uncle Greg Rue. (Mat Rue subsequently drove two runners at Penrith on Thursday night - the final meeting of the season- for his future father-in-law Bernie Hewitt, getting that prized century in the opening race. A quick single to win, off the second last ball of the match?) Angela Hedges had earlier scored an impressive win with the Nathan Hurst-trained Tulhurst Santanna in the C1-C2 Western Districts Championships Final. She charged the three-year-old out of the gate to clear the field by the first turn, then eased the speed through the first half before sprinting again in a 28.2 third quarter, and held on stoutly in 28.9 seconds to hold off death-seater Lethal Promise and Hez Razor Sharp. “He’s my favourite horse in the stable”, she declared, understandably given his excellent record of seven wins this season, including his last four in succession - “and this is a race I really wanted to win, to put Kevin in his place for giving me plenty of grief.” Kevin Hurst, after the race, recalled the little Santanna Blue Chip weanling colt, at an Alabar Broodmare Sale, poking his head out through the fence for a pat, a subsequent bid that doubled his purchases on the day,  and many explanations to the family when he returned home! He’s more than happy now, with how it all panned out. Mitch Turnbull had his first race drive behind Write About Me (for brother Nathan) in the opening C0-C1 sprint, and blasted from the gate in an 8.0s lead time to lead throughout for an easy win, to complete his season in characteristic winning vein. Ash Grives, on the other hand, is very accustomed to Isle Of Man, and in the earlier C4 class, drove him  the way that suits, running them along strongly with even quarters, and maintaining it right to the line as his opposition weakened. The perfect combination of a horse’s racing style and driver’s tactics, you’d have to say. A full list of all the 2016/2017 Bathurst HRC premierships will be published in next week’s report. by Terry Neil

Seven wins in nine days – that is the task ahead of George’s Plains harness racing reinsman Mat Rue as he pushes to crack 100 winning drives in New South Wales this season. While Rue has enjoyed plenty of success in the gig, having eclipsed 500 career wins in January last year, the 100 winning drives in a season is a milestone he has only previously reached twice. Rue first did it in season 2011-12 when he saluted on 110 occasions, while last season was his best yet with 113 victories in the gig. Now, as the end of season 2016-17 looms, that magic 100 mark is again in reach for the talented reinsman. After steering four winners at the Dubbo Paceway on Sunday, he took his tally to 93. Lethal Promise continued his fine form in one of the day’s main events, a heat of the Western District Championship (2,120 metres), while he guided Long Way Home to a hugely impressive maiden win for Dubbo trainer Amanda Coffee. He also scored with Im Ok in the day’s main event for Bernie Hewitt and $12.40 chance Irish Priest later in the day. Rue lavished praise on the Hewitt-trained Lethal Promise, whose consistent form has him looming large for the Western District Championship Final at Bathurst on August 30. “I think he’s a really strong chance,” he said of the final. “He’s a really nice horse. His last 10 or so starts he’s been going really good and there’s been a lot of strong efforts. “He copped plenty of pressure and at 1:59, that was easily the quickest mile rate of the day, but if someone had come at him late I think he still had more to offer.”   Mat Rue's win with Lethal Promise on Sunday. On Wednesday night Rue has six chances at the Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s meeting to add to his tally of wins, and in a good sign, all but one of those runners finished in the top three in their last start.     Mat Rue's win with the Amanda Coffee-trained Long Way Home. He will once more steer Im Ok, one of his Dubbo winners, for Hewitt. This time the pair will combine in the Western Districts Sapling Stakes (2,260m). The Rock N Roll Heaven x Shikari Lombo gelding will go from barrier three. The first race of Wednesday’s meeting at the Bathurst Paceway gets underway at 5.06pm. By Nick Guthrie and Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of the Western Advocate

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