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Hunter-owned Group 1 winners Shadow Runner and Black Silhouette will race under top harness racing Sydney trainer Craig Cross after being transferred for different reasons. Brandy Hill trainer Sam Dimarco had guided the family-owned pacers which will start racing in the coming weeks for Cross. Shadow Runner won the Bathurst Gold Crown in 2015 but tendon injuries have stalled his career. He has not raced since September 2018 but has been treated in recent months using the water walkers at Cobbitty Equine Farm. Black Silhouette, the 2019 Newcastle horse of the year, was moved to access mares races at Menangle. She was unable to race there with Dimarco given the regionalisation restrictions to combat COVID-19. "It's no good going around every week against the good fast-class colts and geldings around here like Royal Gamble and The Black Prince," Dimarco said. "At least now she can go down there and race against her own sex in $14,000 to $20,000 races. And they will probably bring the best out in them anyway." Meanwhile, Harness Racing NSW announced on Friday a 20 per cent reduction in prizemoney from May 11 as part of cost-saving measures in the pandemic. HRNSW has also cut its operation costs, halted major infrastructure projects and ended the industry drought assistance program. Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Brandy Hill harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco believes a class-based draw will help put Black Silhouette in the mix for the group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge final after her close second in semi-finals at Menangle on Saturday night. Black Silhouette led from gate eight in a 26.7-second first quarter before Goodtime Heaven pipped her on the post by a head in 1:52. They will clash again in the June 30 decider at Menangle. "She looked like she was going to hold off the other horse all the away down the straight but she got her on the line," Dimarco said. "But we were very happy with the run. She ran 1:52 neat and the horse that beat her, she's a good horse. The other heat winner, Art Series, goes well as well, but she's going to be in it." Black Silhouette will start inside the 4YO mares heat winners in the class-based final draw. She was seventh in the three- and two-year-old Breeders Challenge deciders.  Sam Dimarco   Singleton trainer Aaron Goadsby's Mister Finnigan was sixth in the two-year-old male semi-finals to be an emergency for the final. Maitland's Mitch and Guy Chapple were last with Roclea Star in his semi-final. Morisset trainer Mark Callaghan had back-to-back wins at Menangle with Vega Star, which clocked 1:51:1 in the first. On Friday night at Newcastle, Robert Morris drove a winning treble with Plain Baby, Balraj and Awayovernight. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Brandy Hill harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco hopes reuniting Black Silhouette with Sydney driver Chris Geary at Newcastle International Paceway on Friday will help reinvigorate the four-year-old mare. Black Silhouette has been unable in 2019 to recapture the form that saw her named best filly and three-year-old at the 2017-18 Newcastle Harness Racing Club awards in October.   She has placed three times in 10 races during the last two months, resuming on December 29 from a spell that began in July.  Four of Black Silhouette's eight wins last season came with Geary on board and Dimarco thought this move could provide the spark. "She [Black Silhouette] was a very smart filly but she just hasn't come back as well as a mare," Dimarco said. "Hopefully having Chris [Geary] on board and reuniting them might make a difference."  Black Silhouette, which drew barrier 10 in the first (1609 metres) at Newcastle, combined with Geary to win a Gold Bracelet (2260m) heat in Bathurst last year but finished seventh in the final. Dimarco was successful at the same central NSW carnival in 2015 with two-year-old Shadow Runner claiming the group 1 Gold Crown (1730m). He wants to taste victory out west again next month but with another runner Miss Serendipity. After three trials, the untried two-year-old filly will race the eighth (1609m) at Newcastle with Geary in the gig and Dimarco's eyeing off the $100,000 Gold Tiara at Bathurst.  "Hopefully she [Miss Serendipity] can make a good impression," he said.      Geary has two other drives on Friday's card including Alabama Shakes, one of three for Roy Roots jnr in the fourth (1609m). Roots jnr will then head to Menangle for Miracle Mile night on Saturday with Miss Streisand in the group 1 NSW Oaks (2400m) and The Black Prince in the listed Alabar Stakes (2400m).     Last month's Newcastle Mile qualifier Yayas Hot Spot, trained by former Hunter pair Shane and Lauren Tritton, has drawn barrier four for the $1million Miracle Mile (1609m). By Josh Callinan Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald

Brandy Hill trainer Sam Dimarco’s hopes of getting Shadow Runner back to top-class competition were raised when the 2015 Bathurst Gold Crown champion had his first win in 13 months at Newcastle on Saturday night. With James Harding in the gig, Shadow Runner ($5.80) worked hard early from barrier eight to get the lead with a 27-second first quarter in race four.  The five-year-old gelding then held out fast-finishing 2017 Newcastle horse of the year Rockmemama, the $2 favourite, by a metre to win in 1.56 flat. It was Shadow Runner’s fifth start back from a year out with a leg injury. “I was really happy with the run,” Dimarco said. “He’s improving but he’s not 100 per cent yet. That was his fifth run back and he takes a while to get going. “We may just stay around Newcastle for a couple more runs and then take him to Menangle for the MOs, “Hopefully we can get him back to somewhere near where he was before the injury.” The win came on the same night three-year-old filly Black Silhouette, which is also owned by Dimarco’s daughter and Harness Racing NSW director Marissa Dimarco, qualified for another Evolution series final. She led the heat but was run down late by Gemma Rue’s Callmequeenbee. The pair will meet again in Saturday night’s final at Menangle “I biggest thrill for Marissa was Shadow Runner,” Sam said. “To get him back and win a race, even though it was only by a metre, he’s got it all in front of him if we can keep him sound.” It was also a big night for visiting driver Leigh Sutton, who took Polly Downing’s Elsie Gem, Clayton Harmey’s Yourblueyescrying and Tiarn Sutton’s Team Of Starzzz to victory. Meanwhile, former Keinbah-based team Shane and Lauren Tritton had a winning double at Menangle with two-time Newcastle horse of the year Mach Beauty and Franco Nelson. Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

So far she’s gone through the series unnoticed, but Black Silhouette is ready to step out of the shadows. That’s the call from harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco after his promising filly drew perfectly in Saturday night’s Ladbrokes Australian Pacing Gold Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Third in her heat at Menangle a fortnight ago, Black Silhouette was fourth in her semi won by unbeaten youngster Molly Kelly last weekend. With the daughter of Shadow Play to begin from the pole in the $322,000 decider, Dimarco is positive Black Silhouette is ready to surprise her more fancied rivals. “It’s great to get a draw like that with her,” Dimarco said. “Coming from there puts her right in the mix. “She has done a good job to get to the Final and has improved with every run. “Last week she pulled a little in the semi during that slow middle quarter, but with such a strong field this week, the pace should remain consistent, which will help her. “She’s come through the run in great order and has settled in well down here at Vince’s (Vallelonga) place. “I worked her this morning and she felt great. She’s ready to run a big race.” Owned by his wife Michelle, daughter Marissa, her partner Tim and his mother Norma, Black Silhouette found her way into Dimarco’s stable via prominent horseman Ricky Alchin. “Ricky bought her at the Sydney APG Sale and was preparing her for the Ready To Run Sale, but we bought her off him before that,” Dimarco explained. “Marissa picked her out and particularly liked her because she is by Shadow Play. “We won our first Group One with Shadow Runner, which is also by Shadow Play, so Marissa likes his stock.” APG Media

Last year’s Bathurst Gold Crown winner Shadow Runner should have been back at the races by now.  Harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco’s plans to trial the gelding in preparation for this Saturday night’s Simpson Memorial were thwarted on more than one occasion due to wet weather and therefore a decision was made to miss the three-year-old feature. Owner Marissa Dimarco confirmed Shadow Runner and stablemate Gotta Go Gold have been nominated for Saturday night at Newcastle but the heavy rain may cause another change in plans. “My property itself is fine as it is pretty high but we are flooded in, there’s water around us but we are pretty safe,” Marissa said. “Sadly Shadow Runner has missed another trial and can’t be worked today (Wednesday) because of the weather but Dad (Sam Dimarco) will make the final decision on whether both of the horses will start.” With heavy rain continuing to fall in the region, Marissa is concerned for other trainers as water levels continue to rise. “I know of a few people having problems around Raymond Terrace and I see Maitland is in trouble again after going through the flood last year, my thoughts are with those people at the moment.” While Gotta Go Gold made a successful racetrack return last month prior to Christmas, Shadow Runner is slightly behind schedule after putting on a lot of condition during his spell according to his trainer. “Shadow Runner was spoiled too much during his time off so it has taken me a little bit longer than I would have liked to have him fit,” Sam Dimarco said. “The plan initially was to have him back racing by now but he has now missed three trials because of the bad weather, there are plenty of options, they are both eligible for Bathurst again and the Breeders Challenge so everything should work out in the long run.” Shadow Runner won $88,225 in eight starts as a two year old and recorded a 1:53.6 mile when winning his semi final of the NSW Breeders Challenge in June. Greg Hayes

Harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco would have been a very happy man last night when his high class two year old Shadow Runner bounced back from his disqualification at his prior start by winning his semi-final of the New South Wales Breeders Challenge in a manner which suggested that Waikiki Beach won't have it all his own way in the final in a fortnight. Away well from barrier one for driver Michael Formosa, Shadow Runner settled three back on the inner as El Major set the tempo in front. Passing the 900 metres mark, Michael angled the son of Shadow Play into the running line and went up and sat on the wheel of El Major passing the 800 metres mark. When asked for an effort as they turned for home, Shadow Runner found plenty and sprinted away for an impressive victory. What added further merit to his effort apart from the winning time of 1:53.6 in the cool conditions was the closing sectionals of 55.4 and 27.1 which stamped the two year old as one high class race horse. Brought by Marissa Dimarco for her father to train when he was going through a particularly difficult time, the son of Shadow Play was recently the subject of a six figure offer. After much deliberation, Melissa decided to turn the offer down believing that the horse meant to much to the family to sell him.  "I can't sell Shadow Runner, he has been a very special horse for my family and I couldn't bring myself to sell him, he's not for sale." "Dad said with that sort of money I could go out and buy another yearling but it isn't about the money for me, the horses are my hobby," Marissa said The win took Shadow Runners earnings in his two year year to over $95,000 and he is now a live chance in the $125,000 final in two weeks. Harnesslink Media  

Marissa Dimarco, the owner of Bathurst Gold Crown winner Shadow Runner has knocked back a six figure offer for the two year old harness racing gelding. Shadow Runner finished first past the post in a heat of the Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge on Tuesday afternoon but was relegated to second after a protest by the connections of Match In Heaven was upheld by the stewards. Marissa admitted it had been a challenging week and to receive such a tempting offer made it even more stressful. "It was disappointing for us to lose the race on protest but I knew it was going to be a problem when I saw the race on replay, Shadow Runner moved up the track quite a bit," said Ms Dimarco. "Then to get a phone call from Dad (Sam, Shadow Runner's trainer) to say that someone had made an initial offer of $100,000 but was happy to negotiate a higher figure was quite a strange feeling." Sam Dimarco insisted his daughter consider the substantial offer but it didn't take the law firm partner long to make up her mind. "I can't sell Shadow Runner, he has been a very special horse for my family and I couldn't bring myself to sell him, he's not for sale. "Dad said with that sort of money I could go out and buy another yearling but it isn't about the money for me, the horses are my hobby." Shadow Runner has qualified for the semi finals of NSW Breeders Challenge on Saturday June 13. "There are some very nice horses in the series and Our Waikiki Beach looks the standout but it is nice to have a runner competing in the semi finals and hopefully he can get through to the final. "I made the trip down to Menangle from Newcastle for the heat on Tuesday and I will be there to watch the semi finals too." Marissa is confident her father can straighten out Shadow Runner before his next start. "Dad is working hard to correct him, he never runs out in track work but it is something he did do as a younger horse, I'm sure Dad will have him right. "Shadow Runner will go for a spell after he finishes his Breeders Challenge campaign and will have a good break before returning for his three year old season." Greg Hayes

With the Pepper Tree Farm Breeders Challenge finals just over six weeks away it is no surprise to see a number of the leading chances hitting the track in preparation for the rich Gr. 1 events.     The two year old colts and geldings division will be dominated by the unbeaten Our Waikiki Beach and he returned to the trials at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday with a win in a time of 1:55.8.   A number of his main rivals have also trialled this week with Bathurst Gold Crown placegetter Sams The Master winning at Bathurst on Monday.   The son of Tell All proved too strong for Bathurst Gold Tiara winner Pixies Parlour in the trial rating 1:59.3 for the mile.   Hunter Valley trainer Sam Dimarco also welcomed back his two talented two year olds at the Newcastle trials on Wednesday night with Gold Crown winner Shadow Runner and Gotta Go Gold winning.    Dimarco is eyeing off the Breeders Challenge heats at Newcastle on Friday May 22nd with his well performed pair.   “Both of them did what was expected on Wednesday night and it should have topped them off nicely for Friday week,” said Dimarco.   “The weather wasn’t great so the times weren’t all that important but Gotta Go Gold won in 2:03 while Shadow Runner recorded 2:02.4 in his trial win.”   Dimarco confirmed the recent wet weather had affected their preparations.   “I wasn’t knocked around like some people were with damage to their properties and tracks but because of the rain and the amount of water around it meant that my horses couldn’t work for about four or five days so it set me back a little bit.   “The pair had only been back in work for a few days when the storm hit so I just had to stop and start again, I gave them a few weeks off after the Gold Crown and it has helped I think.”   Gotta Go Gold has grown more than Shadow Runner during the short break.   “The little fellow (Gotta Go Gold) definitely grew during the break and I’m really happy with how the big horse (Shadow Runner) is looking too, I’m looking forward to the Breeders Challenge."   “As soon as the series is over they will both go out for a longer spell, somewhere in the vicinity of two to three months.”   Dimarco’s daughter Marissa owns both but did not look to buy another after the family’s success at Bathurst.   “I tied her hands behind her back at the sales, she doesn’t need any others at the moment especially with these two horses doing such a good job."    “Marissa has some broodmares and will breed a couple in the short term, I think that will keep her busy for a little while.”   The first of the Pepper Tree Farm Breeders Challenge heats for the two year old colts and geldings will be conducted at Wagga on Saturday night.    The Col Thomas trained Bettermatch will race the smart Emma Stewart prepared Kingofthestars.   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

Life has been tough for astute harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco in recent times, but he has every reason to smile at the moment. Battling depression, Dimarco returned to the industry last year and has enjoyed a sensational rate of success. Leading the charge is boom youngster Shadow Runner, which is unbeaten from four starts, including the Bathurst Gold Crown. Driven by Michael Formosa, Shadow Runner worked hard from his second row draw before scoring by a short half-head from Karloo Damajor. In a ‘blanket finish’, Sams The Master was a half-head away third. “It got tight at the finish, but he got there, which is the main thing,” Dimarco said. “I’m rapt, couldn’t be happier. “That’s my first Group One win and to share it with my daughter Marissa, who owns Shadow Runner is amazing.” Covering the last half in 57.2 seconds, Shadow Runner rated a brilliant 1:55.7 for the 1730-metre trip, smashing the race record set by Jaccka Taurus in 1999 by 2.4 seconds. To be given a brief let-up, the gelded son of Shadow Play will then be set for the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge. “He is already bucking around in the paddock and ready to go again,” Dimarco said. “You wouldn’t even know he’d raced on the weekend. “I will give him an easy week, then get ready for the Breeders’ Challenge.” PAUL COURTS

Since being opened last October, Bathurst’s 1000-metre harness racing circuit has been widely praised. In fact, highly respected horseman Luke McCarthy referred to the track as the best of its size in Australia and early results suggest it could well be the fairest track too.  While many would consider front row barrier draws over the 1730 metres a big advantage, statistics compiled by Harness Racing New South Wales dispel the common belief. Although there is only a relatively small sample size for the statistics, the data makes for interesting reading.  A total of 83 races have been run at Bathurst over 1730 metres since the track opened, with 10 the most successful barrier.  Barrier Starts Wins % 1             83          9              10.8          2 83 7 8.4 3 83 9 10.8 4 83 5 6 5 83 9 10.8 6 83 9 10.8 7 77 8 10.4 8 46 5 10.9 9 72 4 5.6 10 60 10 16.7 11 48 5 10.4 12 26 3 11.5 13 9 0 0.0 So which trainers are smiling now?  Hunter Valley trainer Sam Dimarco’s stable representative Shadow Runner was the fastest qualifier after a comfortable victory in his heat and has drawn 10 in the Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown. TAB has the son of Shadow Play listed as the second favourite at $4.20 behind the Col Thomas-trained Bettermatch $1.50. In the Slingsby Holdings Gold Tiara, Art Mistress has drawn barrier 10 as a $51 chance. Two fillies dominate the market, with Three Squared the favourite at $2.30 while the Steve Turnbull-trained Pixies Parlour is the $2.80 second pick.  TAB Media Manager Adam Hamilton reports the favourites in both races have been supported, but there have been runners backed to beat them. “In the Gold Tiara there was some money for Three Squared when the markets first went up, but that has dried up a little bit and there has been good support for the stablemate Soho Madeleine,” Hamilton said. “Pixies Parlour has been very solid in the market at $2.80, but we are expecting money for Three Squared as the race gets closer.” “Bettermatch has eased slightly from $1.40 out to $1.50, which doesn’t surprise me, because while he won his heat, I think a little bit of gloss came off him when he wasn’t as impressive as everyone was expecting.” HRNSW Media

October 12, 2001 seems so long ago to Hunter Valley harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco.  On that Friday evening Dimarco geared up talented pacer Bills Bingo for the first race at Harold Park. Bills Bingo started favourite in the race but locked wheels and ran last…it was the last time Dimarco took a horse to the races for more than a decade. After some major health issues that kept Dimarco away from the sport, including a battle with depression, it was fitting he returned on Valentines Day, February 14th 2014.  He loved his horses and through the support and love from his daughter Marissa, Dimarco was back doing what made him feel good. Fast forward to this week and Dimarco is about to enjoy a thrill many trainers never get to experience.  Dimarco will have two runners - Gotta Go Gold and Shadow Runner - in Saturday night’s Group One Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown, with both owned by Marissa. “Marissa is very keen on the horses,” Dimarco said. “She has a few broodmares and breeds a couple every season, but has always had a love for the horses since she was a young child. “We went out to Brooklyn Lodge last year, and when she picked the two of them out, I asked her which trainer she was going to send them to and she told me she wanted me to train them. “She wanted to help me and thought the horses would do that.” Shadow Runner was super impressive winning his heat by 11 metres last weekend, while Gotta Go Gold had to work a bit harder to record his five-metre win…something the son of Gotta Go Cullect has become accustomed to. “Rickie Alchin broke them both in and told us they would both make it, so we took them home and spelled them at a property at Wyee,” Dimarco said. “But we got a call to say Gotta Go Gold wasn’t very well and looked to be suffering from colic. “We raced to see him and he looked to be in a bad way. The vets were treating him for colic, but he wasn’t improving, so took him to an equine hospital in Newcastle and they did some investigations and worked out he had a blockage in his intestine.” After discussions with a surgeon about the operation, Sam and Marissa contacted Alchin to see whether he thought it was worth spending $10,000 to try and save him. “We put Rickie on the spot and he suggested we try and save him and I know Marissa would have had him operated on no matter what the cost,” Dimarco said. Gotta Go Gold debuted last month and was an impressive winner at Newcastle winning by more than 25 metres. “He has only been beaten once and that was when Shadow Runner proved too strong for him at Newcastle,” Dimarco said. “He is very speedy, but probably isn’t as strong as Shadow Runner. “Shadow Runner has won all three starts, but his biggest test is going to be this Saturday night in the Final.” At Monday night’s barrier draw neither freshman fared wellm with Gotta Go Gold drawing barrier sevenm while Shadow Runner has drawn gate 10. HRNSW Media

Shadow Runner has certainly created quite the impression in his short harness racing career to date. A winner on debut by over 50 metres, the son of Shadow Play then won in 1:56 at his second start. On Saturday night he could not have been any more impressive when winning the fifth heat of the Bathurst Gold Crown in 1:55.7 – the fastest time of the night. After starting from the outside of the front line, Shadow Runner was taken back by driver Michael Formosa and settled last. Coming home three and four wide, Shadow Runner hit the front half way down the home straight and went on to win comfortably by 11 metres. The Sam Dimarco trainee’s three starts have now resulted in three wins by a combined margin of 71 metres! Bred by K & A Hipkins, Shadow Runner is the third foal of the Astreos mare Ayabacana. He comes from the second Southern Hemisphere crop of the Little Brown Jug winner Shadow Play 1:47.8 - $1,559,822. Harnesslink Media

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