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Maitland father-and-son harness racing team Guy and Mitch Chapple believe Roclea Star is the best pacer in his NSW Breeders Challenge heat at Newcastle on Saturday night. Roclea Star will start from the widest barrier in nine in the two-year-old colts and geldings heat. Two 2YO fillies heats of the group 1 series will also be held. My Ultimate Bondi, for visiting trainer-driver Jarrod Alchin, was the favourite for the male heat after winning easily on debut at Newcastle on May 11 and drawing gate one. Roclea Star has the edge in experience after seven races for one win and a last-start second in the Gold Crown Yearling Sale Graduate Final at Bathurst in April 17. Guy Chapple, who will drive Roclea Star for his son, Mitch, was confident of a top-two finish and a place in semi-finals at Menangle. "He's the one to beat but I think mine is a better horse," Guy said of My Ultimate Bondi. "Mine's raced the best at Bathurst and had to sit outside the leader, and he might have to do the same this week. "But he certainly hasn't gone backwards. He's definitely improved since the freshen-up." Roclea Star has had no recent luck in barrier draws but Chapple was hoping for a better start from out wide. "It probably suits him out there because he's got a ton of gate speed and from the inside you can't muster that quickly," he said. "We'll go forward and we'll press to try and get the lead." In the second fillies heat, Chapple will fill in for the injured Andrew Bourke in driving long-shot Illgiveuadaisyaday for Chris Bourke. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

BARRIER draws will force reinsman Robert Morris to utilise all the driving skills he has at Penrith tonight. Having sat behind more than 1200 winners in his career, Morris admits luck will play a big role in any results he does achieve however believes he has the horsepower to help him. “It’s going to be a difficult night and I’m going to have to think through each drive,” Morris said. The Menangle Park reinsman’s first drive is with Stormont Star in race two. Trained by Morris’ wife KerryAnn Morris, Stormont Star has drawn inside the second row. “Barrier seven doesn’t look great on paper but if the barrier one horse [Rockn Brushgrove] comes out well, we should end up in a good position,” Morris said. “He will run a good race either way on what his work has been like. “His form does look a bit patchy of late but his work at home has been great. “We’ve freshened him up and changed his work around.” In the following race, Morris will sit behind last start winner Prophesy. The mare will have to overcome barrier nine to make it back-to-back wins at that track. “We’ve certainly found our groove with her now and she is probably my best chance of the night,” Morris said. “Her last couple of runs have been super and even though she has some missed placings next to her name, they have still been good runs.” Morris’ final drive for his wife on the night is behind the pacer Squire in race five. The gelding has drawn outside the front row in barrier six. “Squire is a really nice horse but it is going to be tough where he is drawn,” Morris said. “Benicio has drawn underneath him so I will most likely have to go back at the start and hope they are running hard in front to bring me into the race. “He is good enough to be there at the end.” Morris will also be competing at Newcastle’s TAB Carnival of Cups meeting tomorrow night before preparing for a number of drives at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. The 27-year-old has been driving across the state in recent weeks as well as interstate and is looking forward to having a rest this Sunday. “I’ve been travelling all over the place and even somehow ended up in Queensland last week for the Australian Pacing Gold and this Sunday will be my first day off in while so I’m looking forward to sleeping in,” Morris said. The hard work has paid off, however, with Morris already steering 62 winners this season, extending his overall total to 1245.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

IT WAS ‘crunch time’ in more ways than one at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday. With heats of the rich Australian Pacing Gold series being conducted, only the winners are guaranteed a berth in the Group One Final. The $350,000 decider is scheduled to be conducted at Albion Park on May 11. To trainer Rickie Alchin’s delight his representative - Crunch Time – was triumphant in his qualifier. “He went well…I’m very happy with him,” Alchin said. “I’ve always had a bit of an opinion of him, but he just hasn’t been performing as he should. “He’s been working like nice horse, but at Bathurst he didn’t race to his work. “I gave him a couple weeks off and changed work a bit and he put the right foot forward yesterday.” Driven by Alchin, Crunch Tim began quickly to lead from barrier four before being eased to take a trail behind the previously unbeaten Star Hunter during the middle stages. Gaining an opening along the pegs at the top of the home straight, the son of Somebeachsomewhere reclaimed the front in the shadows of the post to score by a neck from Star Hunter. Smooth Bath was two-and-a-half metres away third. Causing a major upset at $51 to register his second win from six starts, Crunch Time covered the mile in 1:53.3 with his time almost five seconds quicker than Spy Major in the following qualifier. Trained by John McCarthy and driven by his son Todd, Spy Major also registered a narrow victory over Ilikemebettor and Fifteen Aces.   APG Media

EXCEPTIONALLY-BRED filly Keep Rockin is well placed to join her famous mum on a Group One honour roll next month. Thanks to her victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle this afternoon Keep Rockin has earned a berth in the Australian Pacing Gold Final. The $350,000 decider is scheduled to be conducted at Albion Park on May 11. By Rock N Roll Heaven, Keep Rockin is from former outstanding filly Kept For Pleasure, which was retired with 19 wins and 10 seconds from 37 starts for earnings of $542,343. Kept For Pleasure, which has become a prolific producing broodmare, captured four Group Ones, including the 2007 APG Final at Albion Park. Keep Rockin is prepared by Michael Doltoff who trained Kept For Pleasure to secure the Final. “Her mum won the APG in Queensland so hopefully this filly can do it too,” Doltoff said. “She’s got her share of ability, but has a long way to go before she can be compared to her mother. “A win in the Final will certainly move her closer.” Driven by Michael Towers, Keep Rockin was eased away from barrier five to settle mid field as Michelle Lee Mac led and the five runners travelled in ‘Indian file’. Gaining the one-one trip along the back straight as Gee Gee Blinxs was taken to the ‘death seat’, Keep Rockin was angled three-wide at the top of the home straight before sprinting to a five-and-a-half metre win from the pacemaker. Gee Gee Blinxs fought on to be 18 metres away third. “She’s run second at her last three starts so has been building up to that,” Doltoff said. “After getting the kind of run she did she was always going to be hard to hold out.” Breaking her maiden at her sixth start, the two-year-old covered the mile in 1:56.4, with her time six-tenths of a second slower than Roscommon Rose in the following heat. Trained and driven by David Hewitt, the daughter of Art Major was two-back along the pegs from barrier four before gaining an opening halfway along the home straight. Unleashing a strong sprint Roscommon Rose grabbed the lead in the last stride to score by a head from Smooth Style, with Sheza Mamacita a half-neck away third. Unplaced upon debut, Roscommon Rose caused an upset as an $18 shot.   APG Media

THERE is a great tradition of racing in all three codes on Anzac Day. It is a day to remember and appreciate all those who gave their lives and in many cases their innocence and youth so that we can enjoy a life that we sometimes take for granted. There are many fantastic race meetings throughout the Australia and New Zealand and arguably the most significant race was the Forbes Diggers Cup won by the three-year-old Peter Bullock-trained and Amy Rees-driven Neville Shannon. The Forbes Diggers Trotting Club was formed on Monday July 6, 1953, by the Forbes sub branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airman’s Imperial League of Australia in a bid to help raise money for the building of the Forbes RSL club. Since then the Forbes RSL has been the major sponsor of the Club and the Forbes Diggers Cup, even if not the most valuable race on the Club’s program, is still by far the most significant. Prior to the running of the Diggers Cup a most moving Anzac ceremony was conducted on the track. Mounted horsemen and women carrying the flags from all three armed services accompanied by members of the Forbes Pony Club and a carriage paraded. The Ode was recited by Brian Jones from the Forbes RSL. The Last Post, surely the most moving music you will ever hear was played, before 12-year-old Forbes schoolgirl Sienna Carver sang the national anthem. The moment was certainly not lost on the good crowd on course. The spirit of the Anzacs was felt by all. The significance of the race was not lost by winning trainer Peter Bullock who said in his acceptance speech that the Forbes Diggers Cup is a race he has long wanted to win because of the history and aura around it. Club president Lex Crosby said it is the ambition of the Forbes Club to work hard to raise the profile and prizemoney of the Diggers Cup, eventually making it one of the most sought after races on the country calendar. We surely owe it to the Diggers.   Forbes HRC

The running of the harness racing Shop 2390 Narrabri Cup proved to be a popular win for locally trained pacer Kid Montana. Raced by Narrabri's Chris Shepherdson, Nathans Dicks, Charles Dicks, Garry Shepherdson, Peter Shepherdson and Neil Drysdale, Kid Montana claimed his third win on the trot at the Narrabri harness meeting on Easter Monday. "I think he breaks their hearts," was how part owner and trainer Peter Shepherdson summed up the win. "He has got a blistering sprint and he can go from last to first and put a gap on them - he (Kid Montana) loves doing that." The Narrabri HRC hosted their Carnival of Cups meeting on Easter Monday with a big crowd in attendance to witness the local pacer, who is trained on the track, take home the trophy. Kid Montana had a 14 metre win over another local pacer in Lexie Can Wait (Tom Ison) from the Jarred Hetherington stables. Darby Heights from the Weidemann stables was 11m away third. "We got lucky," stated reinsman Chris Shepherdson after the win. "But the horse does put his heart into the race every time he goes out and that is his main attribute. Hopefully he continues on." The result made it three wins in as many weeks for Kid Montana after taking out the DUCATS Earthmoving 4-year-old stakes (1609m) with a mile rate of 1.57.6 at the Armidale meeting on April 7. That was followed up with a feature win at the Narrabri lead-in meeting the previous Sunday when the Rock N Roll Heaven - Same Action gelding won the Wee Waa Cup (2160m) in 1.59.3 minutes. Tamworth reinsman Scotty-Jon Welsh handled the reins on that occasion with a 4.5 metre win over Dubbo pacer Koloura Flight (Bruce McKinnon). Kid Montana won the Narrabri Cup in a mile rate of 1.59.8 for 2160m with the four-year-old gelding clocking sectionals of 31.3 seconds; 32.4 seconds; 29.3 seconds and 27.7 seconds. "They went easier than what I thought," Chris Shepherdson said. "I thought there would be a fair bit of speed on in the race. I thought if he was good enough to go then (as the bell sounded) and win he was good enough." Shepherdson elected to make the race move before the bell sounded, sprinting from last and reeling in his opposition along the way, including his main danger - Lexie Can Wait - before sprinting away from the field. "He (Kid Montana) hit the front and kept trying to the line - it was a nice run," he said. "I went early mainly because of the speed in the race. It is hard to make up a lot of ground from the back but he hit the line well." "When I went down the back, I could see that Lexie Can Wait was stuck behind the leader (Rolamax) and couldn't get out." "I thought I better roll when I did as I felt he (Lexie Can Wait) had a bit to offer. I got the jump on him before he could get out." Kid Montana commenced his racing career as a three-year-old at Armidale back in March 2018 and has now recorded 11 wins and 11 placings from 38 race starts. "For everyone that does work around here at the track, and everyone puts in a lot of hours here, to get a result likes this makes it worthwhile," Chris Shepherdson added. For Club President and trainer of Kid Montana, Peter Shepherdson, the win rounded out a good weekend. "I'm over the moon to get a Wee Waa Cup and a Narrabri Cup. I have had a pretty special weekend as my son (Adam) got married to Jacinta on Saturday night and this (win) just tops it off very nicely," he said. "I have to thank Chris for his drive - I thought he went too early but that win certainly shows a good horse." Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

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  

Cometh the hour, cometh the (very young) man. That was Parade's first thought when he heard a terrific story from a couple of local harness racing identities this week. The identities made the long trek to Narrabri last weekend for a meeting and, as they explained to Parade, they had not long arrived when the PA system came to life and a very sheepish sounding official said he had an announcement to make. There had been a bit of a mix-up, he said, and the Narrabri club did not have a race caller for the meeting. "If there is anyone on the course who can call the races," the official said, almost as an afterthought, "will you please make yourself known." The first race, Parade is told, was run in near-silence - not only making it hard to follow the action on the track, but affecting the atmosphere. But when the second race started, the PA system came to life and a hesitant, uncertain, very young-sounding voice started to commentate. "Out in front is ... bringing up the rear is ..." In the absence of anyone else willing to step up and have a go, a young fellow, around 10 or so, had offered his services - and been gratefully accepted. Parade is told the young fellow called that race and the ones that followed, gaining confidence as he went and bringing some atmosphere back to a meeting that was in danger of not having any. As someone who could barely speak in front of his class when he was 10, Parade has nothing but admiration for the courageous young caller of Narrabri. Who knows, those on the course might have witnessed the debut of a star of the future. Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

While harness racing driver Nathan Turnbull was unable to make it three consecutive Cathedral Parish Cup wins in succession on Friday night, he still had something to smile about at the Bathurst Paceway. It was the tough front-running performance that saw Theartofinfusion post his first win in over four months. Friday night marked the sixth edition of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's Cathedral Parish Night meeting, one at which trainer-driver Turnbull had enjoyed good success in the past. He won the 2017 and 2018 editions of the feature Cathedral Parish Cup with Sams The Master and Parramatta respectively. In this year's cup he only managed ninth driving $51 outsider Major Score for his trainer-father Steve Turnbull, but by that stage Nathan Turnbull had already enjoyed a success story. He watched on track side in the opening race - the MacKillop College Pace (1,730 metres) - as Jason Grimson drove Theartofinfusion to an impressive win. Going from barrier two as an $8 chance, Theartofinfusion managed to cross and take the lead then blazed through the opening quarter in 26.6 seconds. Theartofinfusion kept the tempo up, clocking 55.5 through the first half, and at the 400m he held a 3m lead over $2 favourite Juice Brodgen. Down the home straight they came at Theartofinfusion, Big Bill attacking along the sprint lane and Juice Brodgen on his outside. With 100m to go Big Bill poked his head in front, but Theartofinfusion managed one final kick. It was enough to hand him a narrow half head win in a 1:53.4 mile rate. While Nathan Turnbull missed out in the feature race, it was still a success story for the Turnbull family.  Jason Grimson   His younger brother Mitch Turnbull increased his lead in the Bathurst club's junior driver premiership as he won aboard Courtsinsession ($1.60 favourite) in the Cathedral Parish Cup (1,730m). It made it five wins from seven starts this season for the runner from Steve Turnbull's Radiant Lodge team. It was yet another tough run from the Art Major x Maudie gelding, who ran the entire final lap three-wide after going from barrier 10. He surged to the lead into the home turn, covering the third quarter of the mile in 27.6 second split.  Courtsinsession finished 3.7m clear of Misterfreeze ($6, Mat Rue), rating a hot 1:53.3.   By Anya Whitelaw   Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

The "go" button has been pressed on a harness racing $10 million project to completely transform a once popular Macarthur watering hole. A lengthy process to obtain all necessary development approvals has been finalised and tomorrow morning, weather permitting, builders and a bevy of construction workers will descend on the Horse and Jockey Inn site at Menangle Park. If all goes to plan, former patrons, other locals and Sydney day-trippers alike will be able to enjoy a beer at the new-look venue by the end of September. The makeover is stage one of Club Menangle's ambitious plan to build a large entertainment precinct from the Inn all the way back to Tabcorp Park.    The wait is almost over: The site of the old Horse and Jockey Inn which was bought by Club Menangle. Picture: Chris Lane   Eventually, the precinct will contain a second club, hotel, movie theatre, bowling alleys and an indoor sporting complex. The pub has not traded since 2015 when NSW Harness Racing bought the site. Club Menangle chief executive Bruce Christison said much effort had gone into ensuring the revamped venue would have broad appeal, with multiple dining and bar facilities able to cater for casual and formal gatherings. The kitchen will be set up to cater for 500 sit-down diners across a 200-seat function room, a formal restaurant and casual dining areas on the upper and lower terraces. "We've been focused on creating a destination venue without losing the country pub feel," he said. "In the past, the inn was weather challenged and if the weather was wet or cold people didn't come." Mr Christison said inclement weather wouldn't be a problem in the future with louvred roofs covering the outside terraced areas. Menangle Park is home now to just 257 people but planned housing development will bring thousands of people to the area within a few years, a detail not lost on Mr Christison who expects the new complex will be popular with new residents. "We will be there when the first houses in the new estates are built," he said. " Usually something like this comes a long time after residents move in." Mr Christison said historic Menangle House, located at the front of the site, would remain untouched and protected during construction works. He said possible future uses for Menangle House were being considered but no decision was likely for some time. "We will be guided by what our patrons and local residents want us to do," he said. "There are lots of ideas being thrown about, it could be a wine or whiskey bar, a day spa even a wonderful entrance to our function centre. Watch the videos below to experience a virtual walk though showing what the revamped venue will look like once complete. The Horse and Jockey Inn - new-look exterior   Horse and Jockey Inn - new-look interiors   By Roma Dickins   Reprinted with permission of The Camden Advertiser

MONDAY'S Bathurst Harness Racing Club meeting will be used as a means to spread awareness of the Autism Community Network's cause. The day came together thanks to the work of Autism Community Network's community engagement coordinator Amie Bateup, who has a proud history with the Bathurst harness industry. Bateup, a former harness driver and sister to current trainer Ashlee Grives, said it was wonderful to receive the full support of Bathurst Harness Racing to put the day together. "We want to spread out services into the Central West and given the relationships that I have with harness racing, and having the races on TV, I thought it would be a great way to hopefully get the word out there," she said. "They've allowed us to effectively take over the race meeting, naming races after what we see fit, that create inclusion and awareness of autism." Some of those names being used for the races include Paralympic swimmer Mitchell Kilduff and ACN president Warren Thompson. With Bateup's son Phoenix being on the spectrum it's a day that has added meaning for her. "I'd taken time off my full-time role to help with his development, spending four months at home with him. There had been some major breakthroughs and changes then we got the diagnosis. "I was lying in bed one night thinking 'I need to get back to work', and then this job come about. It's crazy that I get paid to do what I do because I'm learning so much about it, which in turns helps him develop. "We'd love to bring our organisation to town and venture through the whole Central West if we can. Everything we do is for free. It's a service focused on both the children and also their carers." Grives said the meeting promotes an important cause to get behind. "It's something close to our family at the moment. Harness racing is a great way to reach out for these things, so I'm more than happy to be on board and do my part," she said. Monday's seven race meeting at Bathurst starts from 2.05pm. Being the first Bathurst event since the Gold Crown Carnival's conclusion, the meeting is dominated by two and three-year-old events. The Autism Community Network's awareness campaign is also being carried over into Tuesday's meeting at Menangle. For those looking to reach out to Autism Community Network or learn more about their services visit autismcommunity.org.au "We've got 1500 families that we currently support and Bathurst is the next place that we're trying to tackle," Bateup said. By Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

If harness racing driver Anthony Frisby wasn't a believer in the superstition that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck before this year's Gold Crown Carnival, he certainly is now. Less than 24 hours after a black cat darted in front of his car when travelling home from the opening night of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's annual carnival, the Bathurst driver was plagued by bad luck. "I had a real good night. I had four drives and three gallopers," Frisby said. "I'm not even joking about this, but on the Friday night when we were coming home, a black cat ran out in front of us. Dad said 'Geeze, I hope that doesn't mean anything', after Saturday I said 'Dad, I think it meant something.' "Hopefully these bad things only happen in threes." Two of those runners who galloped - $1.45 favourite Krafty Bart and $6.50 chance Steele - were considered good prospects to win their 1,730 metre Gold Crown heats. However, Frisby did have one piece of good luck that evening. He drove the John Boserio trained Mistery Road to victory in his Gold Crown heat to qualify for the two-year-old colts and geldings decider. Frisby will now aim to drive Mistery Road to his fifth consecutive victory in Friday night's Group 1 final, but he explained the path to getting there was not an easy one. "Leading into the carnival we just had a torrid week with him, he had a couple of feet problems and a couple of days out, you couldn't ask for a worse week to have going into these sort of series. So we were pretty surprised he went as good as he did in his heat," Frisby said. "We are hoping we can improve him from his heat, but it doesn't matter what happens, he's made it. "Once that gate folds back we'll know what he's doing, see how he feels. It's going to be a very hard race to win, but we're very happy to have made it. Fingers crossed." The Mr Feelgood x Ashuras Gold colt will go from barrier seven in the decider and while it's a tough draw, Frisby will carry the confidence of a good season with him. He snagged second in the Inter Dominion Grand Final and picked up his first Group 1 winning drive with Our Uncle Sam. "It's one of those things, everyone wants to be in the grade all the time. I've just been blessed to have the right horses at the right time ... I've had a super, super year and hopefully it continues," he said. "It helps anyone's confidence to be honest, you're not stressing as much because you've been there and done it. You're a bit more relaxed and it helps to be relaxed as you can for the horses ... if you're uptight then the horse is going to be uptight." Frisby will also drive Uncle Jord in the three-year-old colts and geldings Gold Chalice Final for his trainer-father Chris. He will go from barrier eight and as such, is an long shot. "He'll need a lot of luck from there, a bit better draw and he might have been in it, but he's going okay," Frisby said. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

A GROUP 1 dream has come true for young reinsman Nathan Xuereb. The 22-year-old has booked not only his first Group 1 drive but two at Bathurst’s Gold Crown Carnival tomorrow night. Having recently achieved the feat of driving 100 winners, this season is certainly becoming one Xuereb will cherish for a long time. “It’s very exciting to have two Group 1 drives,” Xuereb said. “This is something everyone aspires to and to not only get one but two horses qualify for Group 1 races is a dream come true.” Xuereb’s first taste of Group 1 driving will come when he partners Bella Clare in the Gold Bracelet Final. The filly is trained by Xuereb’s father Michael and has drawn barrier one for the feature. “She is a lovely filly that had to do more work in her heat than what I wanted her to do . . . I was still happy with her fourth-placed effort, she wasn’t beaten far,” Xuereb said. “This week it’s a different story, she has the draw and she won’t have to do any work. “They will definitely know she is there. “I just brought her in from the paddock and she is feeling pretty well within herself.” Xuereb will have his next Group 1 drive a race later when he drives the Katie McGill-trained Katalytic in the Gold Tiara Final. Also giving McGill her first Group 1 starter as a trainer, Katalytic has drawn barrier seven for the $100,000 test. “The draw hasn’t made it easy for her but she goes well and truly deserves her place in the Final,” Xuereb said. “I’ll have to drive her quiet and if the speed is on, she will definitely be thereabouts.” Before Xuereb heads across the Blue Mountains again, the Londonderry-based horseman will drive for his father at Penrith tonight who has Sams Cam (5) and Redbelly Jack (6) engaged in race five. Xuereb will drive Sams Cam while Josh Gallagher has been nominated to drive the latter. Xuereb trains a handful of horses with his father whilst also working as a farrier for big stables including that of Craig Cross. “I was very fortunate that Craig put me on as a farrier at a young age,” Xuereb said. “I have been fortunate enough to shoe great horses like For A Reason, Bling It On and Mach Doro. “I’ve had a lot of glory shoeing horses like that and when Bling It On won the Hunter Cup it gave me a huge thrill, just as much if I drove him to win the race. “I love what I do.”   Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government. HRNSW MEDIA CONTACT: AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  arando@hrnsw.com.au •  @Amanda_Rando

Astute Adelaide-based harness racing trainer Greg Norman decided two months ago to target a country cup 500 kilometres away in outback New South Wales – and now he’s already planning to go back again next year.   Norman, based at Two Wells and private trainer for A.B and T. Cormack Racing Pty Ltd, believed his four-year-old gelding The Deal (American Ideal-Tamara Hall (Real Desire) would be perfect for the rich Rocky Baker Memorial Cup at Broken Hill’s Carnival of Cups meeting last Friday night.   “I was aware the track was pretty tight at 605 metres, but despite The Deal being a big horse, I was very confident he would have no problems handling it at all,” Norman said.   And that proved to be the case – although stable followers may have had their hearts in their mouths briefly when The Deal shied at the finish line with one lap to go.   The Deal shifted up the track and a cheer went up from the big crowd because it allowed their home-town pin-up horse (and $1.90 favorite) Bettatobelucky to kick up on the inside.   Bettatobelucky became a joint leader, setting up the prospect of a sentimental win for trainer, local legend Don Pimm, who hasn’t been well of late.   However, The Deal, under hard driving by Jamie Williams, kicked back in the final lap, getting the upper hand to score impressively from Bettatobelucky in a new track record of 2.02-8 for 2500m trip.   “The horse has been going great this year. He scored at Cobram in January and then back home at Globe Derby Park last month and he’s been placed in five of his six other starts,” Norman said.   “We decided to set him for the Broken Hill Cup race because the $14,000 on offer for a C1-C3 class was unreal,” he said.   “We’ve already pencilled in the event for next year, but we’ll just have to see what suitable horses we have at the time.”   Reinsman Jamie Williams made the trip to Broken Hill with one of the part owners Adam Cormack and a friend, but Norman himself missed the meeting due to campaigning a team of three in Victoria.   “But I’ll be making sure I get a seat next trip – they celebrated fairly long into the night and from all accounts they enjoyed themselves the following day at the big St Pat’s Gallops meeting. I was reasonably envious I can tell you!”   Norman has so far had two runners during this Victorian campaign with Belladonna Girl being 5th at Melton and Edwin Bromac finishing 4th at Boort. Three-year-old Cee Cee In America will compete in the opening race at Kilmore on Wednesday night.   “We are chasing Vicbred bonuses with the three of them and how long we stay will obviously depend on their performances,” he said.   Despite missing the Broken Hill trip, Norman had fond memories of a successful hit-and-run mission “about 30 years ago”.   “A friend of mine in Geoff Lehmann lived up there at the time and invited me to drive one of his horses. Geoff worked at the mines and was just a hobby trainer, but I was able to land the money for him with Amber Alto,” he said.   “I do recall the track being small and it’s quite unique nowadays, I guess. But there’s plenty of people who have similar sized circuits that they train on at home.”   Norman said while The Deal found no problems with the Broken Hill track, his half-sister in Cowgirlsnlace didn’t handle it so well.   “She did finish second, but she got on one rein for most of the trip and Jamie told me he had problems steering her. The horse is a midget compared to The Deal, but it just goes to show that size plays no part in how they run on a tight track,” he said.   “I was thrilled to see Jamie land the cup. He’s a great worker at the stables for me.”   Williams was a highly sought-after driver many years ago when John and Lisa Justice had a powerful team going in Adelaide.   “He was their third-string driver,” Norman said.   “When they left to relocate to Victoria, Jamie went out of the game for a while. He recently got his first winner for six years so now with the Broken Hill success we could say he’s on a roll!”   The Broken Hill Cup is presented (L-R) by Jensen Baker (Rocky Baker's son and owner of Carbine Chemicals) to Adam Cormack, owner of The Deal, driver Jamie Williams and stable supporter Brendan Martin    -photo Coffee Photography and Framing, Dubbo   Norman has 14 in work and is enjoying his association with Terry Cormack and his sons Adam and Ben.   Broken Hill president Tracey Robinson said official estimates put the huge cup-night crowd at around 2000.   “But that’s only people through the gates – not children, who get in free, and there were a lot – and not pass-holders and sponsors, so it was a fantastic result,” she said.   “The betting turnovers won’t be known for a couple of weeks, but the betting ring certainly seemed busy.   “It was fantastic to have Harness Racing NSW CEO John Dumesny on course again, as were chairman Rodney Smith and Director Ken Brown.   “We were excited to be able to show them, not just tell them, how vibrant the sport of harness racing is in Broken Hill, how much community support and energy there is around it, and in particular what a fantastic event the cup is.”   Broken Hill Demo Club Pace trophy presentation with (L-R) Amelia Butler (representing sponsor the Broken Hill Democratic Club), HRNSW CEO John Dumesny, Heseversoclever stable representative Christie Rogers and Coral Ford ( Demo Club)      -photo Coffee Photography and Framing, Dubbo   The opening two events at Broken Hill saw female drivers in the limelight with local Cassie Robinson successful on Rapacious (who equalled the track record) for Don Pimm and visiting SA reinswoman Kaela Hryhorec scoring an impressive win on Serene Change, prepared locally by popular Broken Hill trainer Darren McInnes.   American Beau gave Ray “Raz” Slater success in the last race of the night. Frequent Broken Hill visitor, David Vozlic, from Mildura, was successful with Magic In Her Moves. Another Sunraysia trainer in Boris Devcic, made a rare trip to “the Hill” to score an all-the-way win in the $7500 Demo Club Pace with six-year-old gelding Heseversoclever, who scooted over the 1900m trip in a fast 2.00-1.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

Last year Bernie and Cath Hewitt were delighted to lay their hands on their maiden Gold Crown trophy, but now they have another career first to celebrate. The Bathurst Harness Racing Club has announced the Georges Plains couple as the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival honourees. The Hewitts are synonymous with the harness racing industry and undoubtedly had their greatest season last year with Group 1 success with College Chapel in the Gold Crown and Royal Story in the Breeders Challenge Finals. “My board’s selection of Bernie and Cath as the Gold Crown honourees for this year is a reward for their many years of service and dedication to the harness racing industry,” club president Wayne Barker said. “Any success in sport only comes about through sheer hard work and dedication to the cause and Bernie and Cath epitomise this, so it was a very easy decision for the board to select them this year as our honourees." Bernie Hewitt has trained and driven 1,400 winners since 1983 and rates Nikalong Shadow, Super Nik, Pretty Sassy and Read About Lexy as some of the best horses he has trained and driven. “I’ve been very fortunate to drive some great horses throughout my career. Nikalong Shadow was one of the best, he was trained by Dad, won 45 races and also contested the 1989 Inter Dominion in Perth. I have very fond memories of that year,” Hewitt said. “It seems such a long time ago now since I drove my very first winner, Smokey Comedy at Canberra back in the late 70s. "I would have only been out of school 12 months then, but that first win is something I’ll never forget. “This is a tough sport and a lot of long hours involved in the training and racing, however Cath and I love what we do and I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the love and support that Cath has given to me. Cath deserves the recognition as much as me.” The Hewitt family relocated to Bathurst in 2001 and had instant success, winning two Bathurst training and driving premierships. They eventually set up their home at Georges Plains, which now encompasses a magnificent establishment that can cater for up to 45 horses. “I have everything I need here at home. I can walk out the back door and basically start work straight away,” Hewitt said. “It is fantastic to see Jase, Doug and Gem all involved with harness racing. All three have been very successful in the training and driving ranks as well. I couldn’t be any more proud of them. “It’s was a shock to us both when we were informed of about the selection, and to be included in the list of Gold Crown Honourees, the who’s who of harness racing, it doesn’t get any better than that." By Danny Dwyer Reprinted with permission of The Central Western Daily

Country New South Wales harness racing trainer-driver Danny Gibson has always had a bit of a fascination with the famous Silver City mining town of Broken Hill. “It’s probably because we live at a small town called Elrington, near Cessnock (2 hrs north of Sydney) and there’s mining history there,” Gibson said. “It’s a little different to Broken Hill because it’s known for coal, but the similarities are there. At Elrington, though, there’s been a shift over the years because a decline in mining has seen a huge growth in the wine industry.” The other attraction to the ‘Hill was Gibson’s inquisitiveness regarding the town’s tight 602 metre harness racing track, regarded as the smallest in the country. “I’ll have to be honest and say that racing some of our horses at Broken Hill and meeting the local people ended up being on my ‘bucket list’ of things to do,” Gibson laughed. So, when he got two weeks’ holidays from his employment with a hydrocarbon company coinciding with the Broken Hill Carnival of Cups, it was obvious where Gibson and his wife Janelle were headed. Danny and Janelle Gibson They couldn’t have scripted it any better, scoring an all-the-way win with seven-year-old mare Evils Afoot (Live or Die-Smooth Idol (Smooth Fella USA) in the $3000 Seymour Ladyship Pace, one of the features at last Saturday night’s lead-up meeting to the cup. “It was a big surprise because she put on her nervous pre-race performance and that’s never a good sign,” Gibson said. “I was in two minds whether to go forward from the two alley because she had nearly run her race beforehand with all her antics, but I thought ‘what the heck’ and sent her to the lead. “We just lasted, but that’s all you have to do. “It was her first win in 33 starts and she took to the tight circuit like a duck to water!” Gibson said winning the event brought a welcome bonus, in the form of a free stallion service donated by generous supporters Kevin and Kay Seymour. “The main part of the trip, which took 13 hours all up, was to take a break and have a holiday.  We’ve done that and thoroughly enjoyed every minute,” he said. “We’ve found the trots people to be fantastic, but that also goes right across the board. Everywhere we’ve gone around the town we’ve found everyone to be great.” Local horseman Alan Rennie is playing host to the visiting horses, who are “right at home” being trained out of paddocks. Gibson said he was accustomed to driving on small tracks. “I’ve been in the game all my life.  My father Brian raced horses and when I started driving in the 70s, some of the clubs like Tamworth, Maitland and even Newcastle had little tracks,” he said. “Tamworth was special because that’s where I got my first winner during the 1975 Easter Carnival.” But without doubt a huge highlight of Gibson’s career was winning the final of an Indigenous Drivers’ series, transferring his small-track specialist skills to the wide expanses of the 1400-metre Menagle circuit. “I think it was around 2009 when I had my first drive at that track, and it was amazing,” Gibson said. “The horses don’t feel like they are going around corners and they also don’t feel they are going as quick as they are. “I’ll never forget that particular race because it provided me with a win in 1.54-7 - the first time I’d ever run a sub-1.55. That was certainly a huge thrill,” Gibson said. The Gibson team will be at Broken Hill’s only TAB meeting for the season on Friday night (featuring Sky Channel coverage) with last start winner Evils Afoot and traveling companion Kenny Rees (Major In Art-Straight Left). But win, lose or draw, you can bet Danny and Janelle are sure to be talking about their trip to the Silver City for many years to come. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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