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Through an era of new and richer juvenile races, the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival has successfully and proudly kept its place as a genuinely major event on the calendar. There’s lots of factors behind it, but passion is its backbone. The passion of the club, its key people, the local community and the passion of those of cover plenty of territory to be part of it as often as they can. And that passion shone brightly on what was truly a golden night for the Carnival at Bathurst last Saturday night. There were so many great stories, some really special performances and loads of emotion shown across the major finals. Passion oozed with abundance when a big group of largely Victorian-based owners – headed by the likes of Tom “Tara” Hogan, Fred Crews, Scott Whiteman, Mark Hunter, Gennaro “Spud” Sposato and others – snared their first Group 1 win with the exciting Idyllic (pictured) in the 3YO Gold Chalice final. The Clayton Tonkin-trained pacer had been placed in last year’s Gold Crown and, more recently, the Vicbred 2YO final at Group 1 level and richly deserved his gritty win. Having Tonkin and his partner Emma Stewart make Bathurst an annual event – they won the 2YO Gold Tiara with Joanna last year – is another big win for the Carnival. I first met Russell Jack at Bathurst in 1995 when he won the Gold Tiara with one of the best fillies I’ve seen, Yeronga Songbird. Jack won his first Tiara final since then when the superbly-bred Just Hope toyed with her rivals and Captains Queen gave him the quinella. Knowing Jack, snaring another Bathurst final will rank up with the proudest achievements of his career. And who could forget the victory salute from driver Darryl Perrot aboard Mister Rea in the Group 1 Gold Crown final itself. Sure it was Perrot’s first Group 1 win, but the salute was as much for Mister Rea’s trainer Ray Walker, something of a local legend in Temora, a Riverina town best known in harness circles as the former home of the great Paleface Adios, aka “Temora Terror.” There is a rich harness heritage in Temora and no doubt the town cheered as one when Mister Rea gave Walker his biggest moment in game. Respected NSW horseman Rickie Alchin summed-up the thoughts of many straight after the win when he tweeted: “Ray and Jane (Walker) have mentored a lot of people in the Riverina, including myself, and nobody deserves this more. (Mister Rea is) named after a very close friend of Ray’s who passed (away) too early. (It is) a great story … Temora will be buzzing tonight,” he said. Mister Rea first stamped his potential when he blazed a much quicker first half than King Of Swing on Miracle Mile night and still kept going to win the Group 2 Sapling Stakes in a 1min52.1sec mile. Although unbeaten in four starts, Mister Rea still looks raw and went roughly at times in the closing stages of the Bathurst victory. There’s every reason to think he’ll only keep improving.And then there was Anntonia, who despite some other great performances on the night, stole the show with her mesmerizing Group 1 3YO Gold Bracelet win. Better known as a sit-sprinter, the NSW Oaks winner blasted to the front from the pole and always looked in cruise control. She roared away to win by 15.6m and the time was phenomenal – a 1min52.1sec mile rate for 1730m, which broke the all-aged track record. And she seemed to win with plenty in hand. It capped a heck of a month for young Kiwi horseman Jack Trainor, who won his first two Group 1’s back on February 27 at Menangle with Anntonia in the NSW Oaks and Stylish Memphis in the Ladyship Mile. Long live Bathurst and all it brings to the sport. _____________________________________________________________________ THE Riverina theme continues this week when some of the stars of the sport step-out at Wagga tomorrow (Tuesday) night. It will be awesome to see big names like Wolf Stride, Maajida, Out To Play, Muscle Factory and Max Delight in action. Even Lochinvar Art would have been there except for his injury issues. It’s all because of the new NSW Riverina Championship series’ for four-year-old entires and geldings and another for four and five-year-old mares. The clash of the night looks to be the second entires and geldings heat (race three) where former Victoria Derby winner and now comeback hero Muscle Factory meets Miracle Mile contestant Out To Play. Muscle Factory, unbeaten in five runs on the comeback trail for new trainer Belinda McCarthy, has the advantage of a better draw (gate six), while Out To Play will start from the outside alley (eight) over 2270m. Out To Play will be on the quick back-up after contesting Sunday’s Group 2 Horsham Cup where he made good late ground and smashed the clock late from an impossible to finish fourth. Miracle Mile placegetter Wolf Stride, nominal favourite to win Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 final, should be too classy in his heat (race five) despite the outside draw. Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s best mare, Maajida, returns after a mystifying flop in the Ladyship Mile on February 26. She’s the class runner in her heat (race seven) and being the lone back row runner looks a plus.   Sky Racing - Adam Hamilton

The juggernaut that is Jack Trainor is poised to continue at the huge Bathurst Gold Crown meeting tomorrow (Saturday) night. The young former Kiwi horseman enjoyed not just a career but life-changing wave of success during the recent NSW Carnival of Miracles through the deeds of Stylish Memphis and Anntonia. On the same night, he won his first two Group 1 races with Stylish Memphis in the Ladyship Mile and Anntonia in the NSW Oaks. They say success breeds success and Trainor’s stocks have deservedly soared since. Now he’s picked-up the drive on NSW’s and one of Australia’s best three-year-old’s, Tasty Delight, when he shoots to defend his Bathurst “crown” on Saturday. Trainor also jumps back aboard Anntonia to chase another Group 1 win in the $100,000 Gold Bracelet final. She’s a heavily-backed $2.80 into $2.30 favourite from the pole. But much will depend on how quickly Trainor can get out from the pole and where she settles in the run. Tasty Delight, who first announced himself winning last year’s 2YO Bathurst Gold Crown final, will need lots of luck and a great Trainor drive to overcome the worst possible draw – outside the back row. As good as he looked in his heat win Wednesday night, he’s only $3.80 third favourite from the draw. Star Victorian raider Idyllic ($2.50, gate six) and emerging local He Aint Fakin ($3, gate three) – who also both won their heats – make for a fantastic stoush in the Chalice final. In the Bracelet, last year’s 2YO Gold Tiara winner Joanna looks Anntonia’s main danger, but she does have a wide draw (gate eight) to overcome. The other major player is last season’s NSW Breeders Challenge 2YO winner Soho Almasi, who returned from a spell for trainer Mick Stanley and driver Luke McCarthy to easily win her heat. Soho Almasi boasts stunning early speed and may be the leader from gate five. The two headline races – he 2YO finals – both have odds-on favourites after the barrier draws. In the Group 1 Gold Crown final, the exciting Mister Rea is $1.80 from the pole to stretch his unbeaten run to four wins. Hardest for him to beat will be the Stewart/Tonkin trained Lightning Dan, who is unbeaten in two runs but has looked very green and erratic in the process. “We’re expecting him to go a light straighter this week,” Clayton Tonkin said. “He’s learning from the experience and we’ve made a few gear changes. He’ll run a great race.” Trainer Russell Jack qualified three fillies for the Group 1 Gold Tiara final, but his major chances is the heavily-backed likely leader Just Hope ($1.50, gate two). Star local Silk Cloud, who has shown electric speed in two wins from just three starts, has been best-backed ($10 into $7.50, gate six) to upstage Just Hope. ________________________________________________________________________ As strong as the Emma Stewart/Clayton Tonkin factor is at Bathurst, it is at least a powerful at Sunday’s ripper Horsham Cup meeting. In the $60,000 Group 2 Cup itself, Stewart/Tonkin have the five of the 10 runners and four of the first five in betting. Heading the way is exciting four-year-old Mach Dan, who is up in grade, but drawn well and primed by two easy wins back from a spell. Greg Sugars takes the reins and he’s $1.70 from gate two. Miracle Mile contestant Out To Play steps out for the first time since contesting that race and he’s $3.70 gate 10 with Kate Gath aboard. Like A Wildfire (Leigh Sutton to drive, $7.50) and Fourbigmen (James Herbertson, $16) are their other key runners. In the Horsham Trotters’ Cup, Andy and Kate Gath’s latest exciting Kiwi import Globe Trekker has been smashed from $6 into $2.60 on the strength of his only Aussie run netting an easy win. Globe Trekker has the front mark (one), while main danger Well Defined, who has already won four Victorian country trotting cups this season, is $2.90 from a 20m handicap.   by Adam Hamilton

TWO of Bathurst’s ‘salt of the earth’ characters Michael Munro and Tony Higgs are set to take on the 'big boys' at this Saturday night’s multiple Group One Bathurst Gold Crown Grand Final Series. Neither Higgs nor Munro have driven in either of the two-year-old Group One finals for nearly 20 years, but that has not been for lack of trying.  Higgs trains the tough as teak two year old filly, Silk Cloud, who came from the widest barrier of all in the heat to claim a late victory over the highly fancied Oppenheimer Blue.  Higgs last appearance in a Tiara final with Hannah Mackenzie in 2002 who went on to win the Group 2 Bathurst Gold Bracelet in 2003. Silk Cloud has again drawn out in barrier six, but Higgs expects her to be right in the final. “She is as tough as they come for a young horse and she just keeps getting better and better every start, so yes I think she can claim the big prize,” Higgs said.  Michael Munro claimed his coveted Bathurst Gold Crown Grand Final spot when his horse Take Out won his heat in fine style last Friday night (March 19) at the Paceway Like Higgs, Munro has not had a horse in any of the big two year old final series for a long time, but is very excited about the prospects of Take Out. “He has drawn the inside of the second row, but I will be following out the race favourite, Mister Rea, so I should get a pretty good run," Munro said. “And with big races like this you never know how things will unfold as heads are turned for home, but I know Take Out will be right in the fight.”  If either Higgs or Munro, or even both, can claim the big prizes on Saturday night the celebrations in Bathurst are certain to go on for quite some time. Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer said: “While we love having the leading stables from all over the country and our area competing in our Carnival, it's always something special when one of our smaller local trainers can take them on and win one of the big ones. “And grabbing the opportunity to support smaller trainers like Tony Higgs and Michael Munro in their battle, is just another reason for the people of the Western Districts to get out to the Paceway on Saturday night and cheer them, and all the other locals, on.   “I can guarantee anyone who comes is in for a night full of fun, entertainment, excitement, colour and maybe a local victory or two,” Dwyer concluded.    BATHURST HRC

The first major final on the 2021 Bathurst Harness Racing Club calendar will take place on Wednesday night and Nathan Turnbull will be hoping to drive a winner for his sister Amanda. Turnbull has the drive for Allset, a New Zealand pacer that came across the Ditch towards the end of last year, trained by Amanda Turnbull and owned by Jenny Turnbull. He got his first experience with the four-year-old bay gelding with track work on Sunday and believes he's shaping up nicely for the 1730-metre final. "Amanda got in contact with me on Saturday and said to do some track worth with him on Sunday because he's a bit of a rat bag," he said. "Everything is ticking over well and he's got a good chance in the final. He worked well. "He's got a couple of tricks and he's a bit difficult to drive but since he's come here, he won his trial and then won well the other night. "We just need a bit of luck in running on the night and I think he's a good chance to get some money." The four-year-old bay gelding has drawn barrier two in the second row and has been backed in at $8 odds, next to red-hot favourite Bundoran, who will be driven by Amanda Turnbull, having drawn barrier one in the second row. Amanda Turnbull has a third starter on the night Wattlebank Lass ($3), who will be driven by Isobel Ross from barrier eight. Nathan Turnbull believes the barrier draw for Allset is "not the end of the world". "Obviously it would be better if we drew the front row, to have a better shot of getting to the front because he led in his trial and led the other night," he said. "It's not the end of the world and it's probably good back there then out wide, so we can follow through. If they're going hard enough, we'll stay in. If not and they ease up, we might be able to get around." Turnbull expects race-favourite Bundoran to be the horse to beat in the final. "Probably both of the other two Amanda has you'll have to watch. Wattlebank Lass has drawn out wide and then the one she's stuck with [Bundoran], you can take that one as a bit of a tip because she'd be driving the best one out of her chances," he said. "It probably got the trickiest of all the draws, inside in the second row. That helps us out a little bit." With plenty of history, Turnbull said it's a "pleasure" to featuring in one of Bathurst Harness Racing Club's major annual finals. "It's always a pleasure to race in any of the bigger races we have at Bathurst throughout the year," he said. "It's something you're honoured to be a part of it and to have a drive is even extra special. Since moving to Australia, Allset has won three races from five starts. By Bradley Jurd Reprinted with permission of the Western Advocate

Well-known Bathurst harness racing trainer-driver Mat Rue took the sport to a new level this week with a live commentary—from his race sulky seat. Rue provided a comprehensive pre-race analysis of the Reliance Bank Pace, which was race two on the program of the local meeting. He then gave an insight with his thoughts on how the race might pan out and his tactics with his own pacer Goodtime Hero. And when the mobile barrier left, it all went to plan as Rue took an early lead before handing up to the race favorite The Grogfather. Rue continues his commentary throughout the race, but found himself in a world of pain as The Grogfather started struggling a bit earlier than he thought. However he found daylight up the home straight and Goodtime Hero went to the line with a handy break. It was the first of four winners for the night for Rue—a feat he’s performed numerous times, including twice at Saturday night meetings at Menangle. His best effort has been five winners on a card. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

BATHURST horsewoman Stephanie Burley will be hoping to snare her first win for the season at her local track tonight.  Burley has only had one drive this season and she will add to that tonight.  Originally, Burley had two horses nominated, however, Im Jimmy James has been scratched from Race 3, a heat of the Menangle Country Series.  This gelding provided Burley with her last winner.  Burley’s only drive tonight now is on Havana in Race 7, a mare she also owns.  Burley drove five winners last season, which extended her overall record to 14 wins.  As a trainer, the 25-year-old has had seven winners.  Burley began training in July 2017 and her first horse was Our Emancipation.   This pacer provided Burley with her first win as a trainer and gave her five wins overall. iForm Bathurst best bet Race 7: Shes All Smiles (5) Looks the one to beat changing stables showing noticeable improvement at Penrith. Bathurst next best Race 5: The Mustang (7) Makes his presence felt following a tidy effort in the Temora Cup when striking early trouble. Play the exotics The Bathurst Quaddie Race 5: 3-8-4 Race 6: 3-2-1 Race 7: 5-7-2 Race 8: 4-8-3 $81 for 100%

Bathurst Harness Racing Club's best of the best for the 2019-20 season were celebrated recently as the year came to a close, with Bernie Hewitt and Amanda Turnbull taking home the top trainer and driver awards respectively. Hewitt finished his season with 66 wins at the Bathurst track while Turnbull once again took out the driver's award with 60 victories, despite missing the back end of the season while in Victoria. Chris Frisby's Aphorism was the Horse of the Year winner thanks to his seven successes at home while the ever dominant Art Major was the top sire of the season with 31 Bathurst victors. "We're very happy to have won that award. Chris and Anthony have done a fantastic job along with all of their staff at home," Aphorism's owner Ben Settree said. "Fran Hausfeld bred the horse and she's still involved with the horse and for her to win that is a big thrill too. We're delighted to have that honour." Aphorism went on a hot streak at Bathurst across May and June where he claimed four wins in the space of five races. In the strike rate awards Frisby came out as the top trainer with one winner every four races while Turnbull claimed the same honours in the driver's battle with a winning effort every 3.9 drives. Amy Rees claimed her first award at the club as her 20 wins for 2019-20 saw her named the Junior Driver of the Year. Rees was surprised by the honour but was quick to play down her efforts, believing the COVID-19 affected season favoured her statistically. "I wasn't really paying too much attention to the numbers, to be honest, but I felt at the time that I was having a pretty good season," she said. "With COVID it meant we were pretty much racing at Bathurst for a lot of the time and I still had my claim while a lot of other junior drivers couldn't travel. Ash [Grives] was also pregnant so I was driving for her team as well, which was helpful because I got a few winners with her too. "I feel that if we had continued counting into the extended season [until the end of December] then Justin Reynolds definitely would have caught me because he was having a great end to the year. I'd say he'll be a top candidate for grabbing that award this season." Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate    

THE Bathurst Gold Crown will be the largest Carnival in regional Australia again in 2021. With four Group 1 races guaranteed, the finals will remain at $100,000 each. More than $600,000 in prizemoney will be on offer across five meetings in two weeks. All kicking off on Wednesday March 17, the Gold Crown Carnival will continue on March 19, March 22, March 24 and culminate on March 27. At that final meeting will be the Group 1 Gold Crown and Gold Tiara finals for the two-year-old colts and geldings and also the fillies, respectively. Also will be the Group 1 Gold Chalice and Gold Bracelet for the three-year-old colts and geldings and also the fillies, respectively. Whilst the two-year-old finals have held $100,000 in stakes consistently since 2005, the three-year-old finals were boosted to $100,000 in 2019 and Harness Racing New South Wales Chief Executive John Dumesny is proud that this can be maintained for 2021. “Whilst COVID caused constraint in the funding of feature races in 2020 the outlook for the coming year is improved and with such, the support of Group 1 races in all regions can be confirmed,” Dumesny said. “The Gold Crown Carnival was the first of its kind across Australia and remains the only one outside of the major track in any state. “The succession of Bathurst Club Committees and Chief Executives over the past three decades must be admired for the effort for building the Carnival into what it is now with four Group 1 events.”   Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival dates: Wednesday March 17 – Gold Tiara Heats Friday March 19 – Gold Crown Heats Monday March 22 – Gold Chalice and Bracelet Heats Wednesday March 24 – Hondo Grattan & Rowleyalla Sprints and Lombo La Fe Fe Vase Saturday March 27 – Gold Crown Carnival Finals   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 CONTACT FOR THIS MATTER: SHAUN SNUDDEN | Manager Industry Development   HRNSW MEDIA

Bathurst trainer Chris Frisby has had plenty of highs and lows in the sport of harness racing - but he admits a win with Our Uncle Sam in the Group 3 Shirley Turnbull Memorial on Saturday night was more than a little emotional. "The Shirley Turnbull is the race everyone in Bathurst wants to win because of who the Turnbulls are, and because everyone knew and loved Shirley - it's always a bit of an emotional race and for me this win was a bit of a tear-jerker," Frisby said. "Shirley was a lovely lady and Tony (legendary Bathurst trainer Anthony Turnbull, who is now 90) was there on Saturday night. I had a bit of a yarn with him before the race - it was just an unforgettable night." Although Frisby previously won the 2795 metre feature (with Dinki Di 15 years ago) Saturday night's win, courtesy of a super drive by Frisby's son Anthony, was a case of "third time lucky" for Our Uncle Sam (Sportswriter - Rooftop Fairy (Village Jasper). To watch the video replay click here. The six-year-old finished a close third in the Shirley Turnbull in 2018 behind Our Triple Play (Brad Hewitt) and came frustratingly close 12 months ago with a 1.6 metre second behind Alta Orlando (Craig Cross). Frisby's ride with his star pacer Our Uncle Sam has been nothing short of a fairytale. Chris and Anthony Frisby after their emotional win in the Shirley Turnbull Memorial The pacer was purchased as a yearling as one of the final two lots at the Bathurst Gold Crown Yearling Sale of 2015 - in Frisby's parlance, "a wormy scrawny, hairy little bastard"! "But I did like him, the way I do my buying and breeding. I was still there at the end and just threw in a couple of bids, and ended up with him for $3500," he said. "AD and Shirley's grandson Josh (Turnbull) broke him in, and Josh didn't mind him, and the horse has just kept on improving all the time." Our Uncle Sam has racked up 22 wins from 94 starts, for a bankroll of $647,000. "He has been an unbelievable little horse for me - he's been my milking cow!" Frisby joked. "He's taken me all over the country and to New Zealand and I've met some absolutely brilliant people because of him." At Group One level, Our Uncle Sam finished runner-up in the 2018 InterDominion and 2019 Hunter Cup behind Tiger Tara, and in 2019 won the Bohemia Crystal free-for-all and Platinum Projex Free For All. The trophy presentation at the Shirley Turnbull Memorial The well-travelled pacer, owned by Frisby's wife Judy and Anthony's father-in-law Peter Delaney, is again being set to head south next week. "It's a lot easier to make some plans now that the authorities are doing the programming again - for a while there I seemed to be easing up on them when I should have been working them and then working them along when there was nothing around," Frisby said. "But we will head down to Melbourne and stay for a month or so and go to Melton and the Bendigo and Shepparton Cups and see how we go," he said. "I know the race on Saturday perhaps wasn't quite as strong as it has been in other years, but I'm still pretty happy with where he is at and he's paid for himself to go down now. It's only his third run back this campaign, and he does take a few runs to be at his best. "I had a lot of trouble with his feet when we went to Queensland earlier in the year. He had a big abscess break out and it's left him missing part of the side of his hoof. I took him to Carl O'Dwyer (Kilmore farrier, trainer and horse-shoe manufacturer) and Carl made him up some special shoes and shod him for me. He's a lovely man and brilliant to watch at work. Sam was okay before I took him to Carl, but he's even better now." Frisby's southern campaign leaves a team of 17 in work at home, in the capable hands of Anthony and staff Ronnie Jones and Phoebe Betts. "That will definitely keep them busy because after they finish working ours, they've all got their other jobs to go to. I'm lucky to be able to know they're in good hands, though." Frisby is also keenly watching the progress of Our Uncle Sam's young full brother, which he purchased at the 2019 yearling sales. "But we had to pay $30,000 for him! He's a nice sort, though, a hand or so bigger than Sam. He hurt himself and he's just coming back into work now, so we'll wait and see." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

CARRYING the name ‘McCarthy’ in harness racing is a hard act to uphold, but that does not faze Mathew McCarthy. His father Ray enjoyed considerable success with the smart juvenile, Greentree Dancer. McCarthy’s brother John began his career in Bathurst and went on to become one of the best trainer-drivers in Queensland while his sons Luke, Andy and Todd are presently amongst the best drivers in the world. “Yeah, I have to say I am pretty proud of the boys. They have all done well for themselves,” said McCarthy. “Still, I am quite satisfied with my lot in life.  “I am currently working just two horses at my Perthville base and I love my work-life balance.”  McCarthy works for Bathurst Regional Council, outdoors as a truck driver, among other activities. “My role gives me quite a deal of diversity and flexibility,” he said. “When you work for a council in your hometown, it gives you a great deal of satisfaction seeing the fruits of your labor, which are enjoyed by the community in which you live. “Both of the horses that I have in work are going really well at the moment.  “The Weekend is a gelding that has been with me for just a short time.  “When I got him, I put him in the paddock for a spell and he has done a bit too well. “He came back into work with plenty of condition on him, so it took a while to get him back to the racetrack.” But it came as no shock to McCarthy when The Weekend stormed home at juicy odds ($34) to win at Bathurst last week in a qualifying heat of the Club Dubbo Golden Gig. “His work in the lead-up to last week’s race pleased me so I did rate him a good chance,” said McCarthy. “He will head to Dubbo on Friday for the Final and I am hoping for a good draw.  “He will need his fair share of luck, so here’s hoping.”  At Bathurst on Wednesday, McCarthy has Pacman Hammer contesting (Race 4) and to be driven by his good mate, Jake Davis. “Jake knows all of my horses so well and always drives for me when he can,” he said. “I have been friends with his family for as long as I can remember.” Pacman Hammer was only beaten by a metre last start and McCarthy was pleased with the run.   HRNSW MEDIA

Talented Tamworth harness racing driver Madi Young is off on a working holiday. Twenty-two-year-old Madi plans to campaign with a small team of horses for at least a month, training out of a base in Bathurst. "It may turn out that I'm down there for a little longer-we'll just see how it works out and go from there," she said. "The 1000-metre track is great and will suit most of our horses. And then there's also Parkes and Dubbo meetings which are just two hours away. "Our team will be spearheaded by Royal Admiral. We haven't had him long, but he's been consistent, and I won with him two starts ago at Tamworth." The annual "Central West Winter Exodus" of Bathurst local trainers and drivers to Queensland is in full swing, and no doubt Madi, who is still eligible for a three-point junior claim, is hoping she might also pick up some outside drives. "I love Bathurst because I won there at my very first drive at the track but spending some time down there will also mean we get to spend less time on the road for a while," she said. "It takes us at least five hours to drive from Tamworth to compete at the Bathurst meetings. It's a long way and certainly gets tiring, particularly on the return leg if you don't do any good! "Bathurst has meetings programmed for Wednesday nights for quite a while so the regular racing is a big plus." Madi won the 2018 NSW Rising Stars Championship and has already represented her State. She has also served in the role of ambassador for the NSW Owners Association. This season she has driven 11 winners and 46 placings. She landed the 100th winner of her career last week when scoring narrowly at her home track with Helix (Bettors Delight-Belfry Lady (In The Pocket) for trainer Stacie Elliott. "That was exciting, and I've had two more since so I hope it continues," she said. Madi is a former champion mini trot driver and obtained her harness racing driver's licence soon after celebrating her 16th birthday. "I grew up in the Shoalhaven area where the closest tracks were Goulburn and Menangle, probably two hours away. I ended up working in Menangle for a couple of years and learnt a lot," she said. "Down there I had stints with about three trainers and they all had different ways-but they all worked." Madi said her most memorable win was at Menangle when she landed bay gelding Islandspecialmajor for visiting Victorian trainer Brent Lilley. "He was an outsider in a metro $14,000 event in April last year and I think he started at 30/1," she said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

With his first metropolitan winner under his belt, young NSW harness racing driver Justin Reynolds now wants to "tick another box" tonight. Reynolds, 20, of Oberon, on the edge of the famous Blue Mountains, has been booked for five drives at nearby Bathurst and only needs one more winner to go to a career milestone of 50. "I'm on some long shots, but if I can give them an easy time, they could surprise. One of them has winning form and a few of the others have been recent placegetters," he said. Reynolds, who has been driving for a little over three years, broke his metropolitan maiden status with four-year-old gelding Kanena Provlima (A Rocknroll Dance-Mes Ti Tsepi (In The Pocket) at the Menangle meeting last Saturday week. "It was pretty exciting because the pacer is trained at The Lagoon, near Bathurst, by Ben Settree. We just held on by a narrow margin after leading all the way," Reynolds said. "Although I won on the horse at its previous start at Dubbo, I was so lucky to get the drive. I only picked it up because Anthony Frisby, who normally drives him at city meetings, is away in Queensland," he said. "He paid $15 for the win which I thought was a 'bit overs'! His form read okay, and we travelled down thinking that he certainly had some claims. "I have had one other Menangle victory-but it was a country Tuesday meeting. I landed Jerulas Grin for hobby trainer Wayne White, who lives in the same town as us." Reynolds last year competed around the State in the NSW Rising Stars driving competition, finishing third, and is showing he's certainly a young man to keep an eye on in the future. Justin Reynolds on the track at Parkes earlier this year      --Clarinda Park Photography He is the third generation of the Reynolds family to be involved in harness racing, following his father David and grandfather Russell into the sport. "When I was probably about 12 years old, I would give my grandfather a hand. He would get me to clean out the boxes. Then a bit later, he let me to do some of the fast work," he said. "Now I work in with dad and between us we do six to eight horses. It can be busy at times because dad also works for the State Forests, and I have a part-time laborer's job at Spark Electricals. "They are very good and give me time off to drive at trots meetings, but I am hoping to get an electrician apprenticeship with them one day."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Owners and trainers were unsure how long prizemoney cuts across the NSW harness racing industry would stay in place, due to uncertainty around COVID-19, but there's good news on the horizon. Bathurst's upcoming Wednesday meeting will be the first in the state to see prizemoney restored to pre-COVID levels after Harness Racing NSW announced they would roll back a 20 per cent statewide cut. From July 1 base prizemoney for category A and B meeting races will be restored to $6,500 and $6,000 respectively. HRNSW took the decision on May 11 to reduce prizemoney but will be the first harness racing jurisdiction to return base prizemoney. Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer said it's been a challenging period for connections but is hopeful it's only good news to come from this point on. "It's been a tough six weeks with the reduced prizemoney, trying to keep everyone happy within the industry," he said. "Most were still just happy to be racing but the prizemoney is the be all and end all so it's great having it back to where it was. Hopefully we can move forward from here." Those six weeks might have felt long to many in the industry but there were signs that it could have been a longer wait. "Early indications were, that with the reduction in TAB turnover, it could have been something which stayed in place for another six months," Dwyer said. "Things have turned around fairly quickly and it's a great boost for everyone to get it back so quickly. "I think a few horses did go out of work once the prizemoney levels dropped. I know ours nominations dropped from high 120s down into the 80s and 90s. Going into the start of a new racing season this might get a few horses back into work." Harness Racing NSW Chief Executive John Dumesny said there's still some time to go before everything can run at full capacity once again. This might get a few horses back into work. Danny Dwyer "Since April the participants in our industry have had to endure the restrictions of regionalisation and then from mid-May reduced prizemoney due to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic" he said. "Initial advices from our major wagering revenue provider Tabcorp in late March when their outlets were closed were alarming and drastic as we were told our revenue could be up to 50 per cent down on budget. "A raft of other austerity measures including significant cuts to HRNSW operations have been adopted and these will remain in place until such time as wagering revenue trends are proven to be improved." Bathurst's eight-race Wednesday meeting will see all races carry $6,630 in prizemoney. Alexander Grant Reprinted with permissin of The Western Advocate

It's amazing to see Pale Face Jo even racing after a horrific leg injury, but not only has he bounced back to full health, he's found himself in the harness racing winner's circle. As owner Billy Kitt gets ready to send the five-year-old over to Parkes for this Sunday's meeting he'll be doing so still on a high from the gelding's first career win at Bathurst last week. Kitt and trainer Nathan Turnbull put in day after day nursing Pale Face Jo back to health after he almost bled to death in a stable accident. And not only was he soon back racing, but at odds of $23 he scored an unlikely win when charging down Valenteeno right on the post under the guidance of Doug Hewitt. "It was the best feeling ever after what I've been through with the horse," Kitt said, celebrating his first win as an owner. "It's hard to believe he's still racing but for him to come out and win was unbelievable. All the hours we put into him paid off." Kitt had grave fears for Pale Face Jo when he found him collapsed in the stable. "I'd been away playing footy in Sydney ... and when I came back I found him laying there in the stable, saw a massive cut on his leg and blood everywhere. We got the vet out, and he'd ended up getting a star picket straight through his leg," he said. "Somehow it didn't end up hitting his tendons but the infection was pretty bad and they ended up putting him on a drip and he rose from the dead." Kitt and Turnbull chase two on the trot when Pale Face Jo goes around in the Our Antonia Rose Pace (1,660 metres). Kitt knows it's a step up for his gelding but is excited to see how he handles the track. "Nathan said his work's been solid. It's a tougher race, but that's when happens when you win," he said. "We're not sure how he'll handle it on the Parkes track, but he works well on The Lagoon track and that's only small.He should make a good account of himself." Dubbo trainers Lex Bramble, John Lew, Brad Peisley, Greg Pay, and Jacqui Ingham all have hopes in at Parkes. Racing starts at 1.03pm on Sunday. By Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of the Daily Liberal

Racing loves stories about those who strike gold but in trainer Malcolm Hutchings’s extraordinary story it is quite literally true. Because when the Western Districts of NSW harness trainer scored the first group one of his career with Terryrama at Bathurst last night (Wednesday) he wasn’t at the track, he was working down a gold mine. Like so many small-time harness trainers the 62-year-old mixes working horses with something that actually pays the bills, in Hutchings’s case that is driving a truck at the gold mine 25kms north of Parkes. It is no-phones allowed workplace so Hutchings had no idea his son Brett had partnered the 80-1 winner in the $100,000 Western Region Championship until he was able to telephone home during a break two hours after the race. “I couldn’t believe it, it was a hell of a thrill,” says Hutchings. “I got back on the radio when I went back to work and told people we had had a winner and they were pretty stoked for me. “Then I told them it wasn’t an ordinary winner, it was a group one and the winner gets $52,500 and they all started cheering and congratulating me on the radio. That was pretty special.” Hutchings usually works nights straight in the mine so the training is a family affair. Brett, who was driving his 101st winner in the group one success, found Terryrama online and he was only for sale because his previous trainer got sick of trying to teach him to pace. “I liked his breeding but thought something must be wrong with him and it turned out he could be a real handful,” says Brett. “But my brother Mitch, who works for the council here, wanted a horse so they paid $800 for him and he is now owned by his fiance Sara. They are buying a house so this couldn’t have come at a better time.” Now Terryrama is developing a brain to match his motor he could even take Team Hutchings to Victoria for Vicbred series there while Brett thinks he will be even better suited to the giant Menangle track when state-wide racing returns. But while Malcolm Hutchings may be the horse trainer who struck gold twice in one night, they party differently in the Hutchings house. “None of us drink so it won’t be that sort of party,” says Brett. “But it means so much to us. Dad came down to the stables when he got home at 7.30am this morning and it was a great moment for us all. “But then he had to go to bed,” he laughs. The regional series finals moves to Wagga on Friday where potential superstar Whereyabinboppin is the hot favourite for their final while both Menangle and Newcastle host $100,000 finals on Saturday night.   Michael Guerin

He's Rock Bottom by name, but when it comes to the current form of Wendy Turnbull's harness racing five-year-old rock bottom is far from an accurate appraisal. The Bettors Delight x Whanau gelding is in hot form and come Wednesday night's Bathurst Harness Racing Club meeting, will be chasing a third consecutive victory. In his last six starts for the The Lagoon trainer, Rock Bottom has only once placed outside the top two. That was when he broke in the Honouree Stakes Final. This season overall Rock Bottom's record reads four wins and three minor placings from 10 starts. The most recent of those victories came last week in a career best 1:54.4 mile rate at Bathurst with regular driver Jason Turnbull in the gig. He was four back in the running line early before Turnbull produced a smart piece of driving to secure the one-one as the bell sounded. Rock Bottom then came three wide through the final bend and on balancing ran down $1.35 favourite Animal - the Amanda Turnbull trained runner touted as one of the main contenders for the upcoming Western Regional Championships. Rock Bottom got home in a 28.3 seconds split to win by 4.7m. This Wednesday night Rock Bottom will have to contend with a barrier eight draw. However, he has good gate speed and is a chance to cross for the lead. Alta Equus, Mister Magic Man and Bid For Red shape as his major threats in the Vale Len Nelan Pace (1,730 metres), which is set for 6.36pm. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

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