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With seven nice drives at Albion Park on Saturday driver Brendan Barnes should inch closer to what will be his best season in the sulky. The talented 21-year-old is currently 15th on the national driving premiership with 78 wins and 126 placings from 440 drives (just over $512,000 in stakes). "I drove some nice horses when I worked in Sydney for a couple of years and managed to get 82 winners one season. I'm on track to beat that, which is very satisfying. It’s been a good season. I’m rapt," Barnes said. Last weekend Barnes drove three Jack Butler-trained standardbreds at the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival in New South Wales.  They were 2yo Pet Rock filly, Cut From Rock; 7yo Framework trotting mare, Spirit Walker; and 5yo Rock N Roll Heaven gelding, Rock With Sam. "It was an ordinary trip to be fair. On the Friday Cut From Rock went amiss in the third heat of the Gold Tiara, and then on Sunday Spirit Walker did well to finish second after galloping in the Trotters Cup. “But the Smooth Satin Cup (on Saturday) didn’t go our way. I hit a wheel with Rock With Sam and we finished last, and for that I copped a seven-day suspension - starting this Sunday,” Barnes said. But you can’t keep a good man down for too long, and the Morayfield State High School old-boy should embark on his week-long holiday with some good results on his home track on Saturday night. Barnes labelled the Ron Wells trained Smiling Armada (2) in race four as his best drive of the night. Ironically all six of his other drives are for Logan Village trainer, Jack Butler. Here’s what he had to say about the seven: Race 2: The Jack Butler trained ZARA'S DELIGHT (9): “She’s a nice little mare who won well for my brother (Hayden) here last Friday. One on the second row is not too bad a draw for her. If she can get some luck she will be running on." Race 3: The Jack Butler trained MACH SAM (3): “He has dropped back in grades the last couple - where he's drawn six both times. He has a bit of gait speed and could reach the front. If he can get there, or get a good sit from three, he can go close. He won by a big margin at Redcliffe a few (four) starts back." Race 4: The Ron Wells trained SMILING ARMADA (2): "This gelding has good gate speed and is a good front-runner. He comes into this race with a nice last start placing (third) on the track last start. II think he's an each-way bet in this. My best drive on Saturday." Race 5: The Jack Butler trained CASINO TOMMY (2): "He's also drawn well and has consistent form. He is racing a lot better recently. He's a fence horse and it might be hard to get across from two.  He will need luck, but could be thereabouts." Race 9: The Jack Butler trained MANDY KRIDEN (1): “She doesn't really have a lot of gate speed and can get a bit rough in her gait. She has been racing well of late and if she can get one last go at them she has the sprint to win. She has a lot of speed. A last quarter specialist." Race 10: The Jack Butler trained GEE UP NEDDY (9): "He's drawn one on the 10m line and he won't get much room back there. If he can get in the running line he will be flashing home though." Race 11: The Jack Butler trained PAY ME INTEREST: “Consistent pacer who is good enough to get some of it from the widest second row draw. Runner-up on this track in his last two starts."   Duane Ranger for Racing Queensland

In-form pacer Sams A Champ has run his final race on Australian soil. The Jack Butler prepared pacer has claimed three straight victories including the Redcliffe Christmas Cup followed by back to back Albion Park triumphs in recent weeks. But his form surge has caught the eye of several agents. And a deal has been struck which will see his future racing days completed in North America. “That was actually his last start for us last weekend and he won’t race again in Australia, he’s going straight to the States.” Butler said. During his past three victories, the Dawn Ofa New Day gelding has shown great versatility in which he led throughout at Redcliffe before coming from near last at Albion Park at his next start. Last week, in the Remembering ‘Hes Poplar’ Open Pace, he again showed his high gate speed and led throughout defeating in-form mare Our Millwood Maizie in a time of 1:55.1 for the 2138m distance. His final splits were covered in 27.8 and 26.9 seconds. “He went great but it came as no surprise given his two previous efforts, he’s right in the zone at the moment but it was nice to see him do it at the open class level. “We’ve always liked him and his overall record is very good so hopefully he carries this good form with him in North America for his new connections.” Sams A Champ has won 20 of his 80 starts while earning in excess of $120,000. He was raced by Harness Racing New South Wales Chairman, Mr. Rod Smith.   Chris Barsby

Jack Butler has made another flyer to the new season. Fresh from another century season during the 2017/18 term, his third straight, the former Bathurst horseman has jumped out of the blocks quickly and currently leads the way in the Sunshine State. Boasting 11 victories from his 34 starters to date, Butler is hungry to reach triple figures again. Butler has tallied seasons of 110, 119 and 111; he is now firmly established in the top bracket of trainers in Queensland. And he has a number of good chances again this weekend. Butler will take a team of 7 pacers to Albion Park this Saturday night. “If I was to nominate my best chance I would have to say Mandy Kriden, the mare is absolutely flying at presently and looks well suited against her opposition this weekend. Her past three wins have been really impressive in different ways so I’m confident she’ll race well again.” Butler said. Based at Logan Village on the south side of Brisbane, Butler has severely cut numbers with the change in season and is now working a team of 25. At one point last season, the numbers swelled to over 40. A season highlight last season was evergreen performer Markey Oh Markey taking the $20,630 Flashing Red Handicap at Albion Park; the stable stalwart is a last start winner and lines up in the Remembering Speed Ace Open this weekend. Markey Oh Markey takes on the likes of Ohoka Punter, Bodhi Tree, Glenferrie Hood and Alleluia in the 1660m event. “He’s a great old performer and he’s back in good form again, this week looks a lot tougher but he’s drawn the rail and can fill a place. When he won the Flashing Red, it was a great feeling because he’s been part of the stable ever since we made the permanent move up here. “The century probably took a little longer and was a little harder compared to previous seasons but we got there in the end and it’s very satisfying. Tara (wife) and Chloe (daughter) play such an integral part of my success while having Brendan (Barnes – driver) back is great because I believe in his ability. “I’m looking forward to the season ahead, it will be a challenge again and hopefully we can generate some new clients and stock and keep building on what we achieved so far. Chloe is likely to make her driving debut at some point this season which will be exciting, here’s hoping for another century.” Butler enjoyed good success with pacers and trotters last season and has a number of new trotters in his care. Chris Barsby

Multiple feature race winning harness racing mare Barynya is bound for North America. But this time it’s official. Several months ago, it seemed destined the classy daughter of Blissfull Hall was headed north but ultimately the deal fell through leaving connections to weigh up their options. Barynya was then based in Sydney with Paul Fitzpatrick and owners Lloyd and Judith Whish-Wilson elected to send the former Australian three-year-old Filly of the Year to Queensland where she was placed in the care of former Bathurst based horseman Jack Butler. It was a winning move because Barynya found her winning groove and excelled during the recent Brisbane winter carnival. Feature race victories came via the Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes at Albion Park and the Garrards Patrons Purse at Redcliffe. In her final start of the season, Barynya finished an unlucky 7th in the Redcliffe Cup. Negotiations have continued through respected Perth based agent Frank Ranaldi and a deal was struck which will see the mare leave Australian shores this weekend. In fact, Barynya will be on the same flight as Five Card Draw, another high profile pacer recently sold through Ranaldi to North American interests.  “Anna will do an awesome job up there, her record proves that she is all class and capable of racing and competing with the very best, she raced on all sized tracks and took on the boys with good success.” Butler said. “Obviously it’s disappointing to see her go but this is a business and I understand the decision that’s been made. I’ve really enjoyed working with her and I believe her best win for me was the triumph at Redcliffe in the Patrons Purse, she rated fast time and beat some pretty handy types that night.” Butler added. Barynya won 19 of her 49 starts while amassing more than $330,000 in prizemoney. Her biggest success came via the 2014 Gr.1 $150,000 Victoria Oaks at Melton. Given the recent success the ‘downunder’ mares have shared on the racetracks spread throughout North America, many believe Barynya has the right profile to continue that trend. Mares that have performed incredibly well recently include Sell A Bit, Al Raza, Secret’s Out, Jungle Genie, Ginger Spice and Sheeza Shark among others. Another high quality mare that has recently been sold to North American interests is triple Gr.1 winner Nike Franco. by Chris Barsby

Harness racing trainer Jack Butler is hoping to end his unbelievable season with a bang. The former Bathurst horseman made the move to Brisbane around 18 months ago, relocating his entire family and business to the sunshine state and the astute horseman hasn’t looked back. Butler purchased the property of another former Bathurst based horseman in John McCarthy at Logan Village, mid-way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, a fully established training property that was once the home of champion pacers like Be Good Johnny, Slipnslide, Mr Feelgood and Fleur De Lil just to name a few. And he was determined to hit the ground running. “It was quite daunting at first, moving Tara (wife) and the kids plus the business to a foreign place but I’ve been to Queensland so many times before, I kind of knew what to expect but when you’re training on a different track, times can be a little hard to sort out while the horses are adjusting to their new environment. It took some time but we’re all sorted now and we love it.” Butler said. Last Friday night at Redcliffe, the Butler trained Barynya won the Listed $25,000 Chris Garrard’s Patrons Purse when leading throughout defeating Applause and Bio Marinus. But it was case of double celebration. Not only did Barynya provide Butler with another feature race success following her recent victory in the Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes at Albion Park during the winter carnival, the victory also notched his 100th training success in Queensland for the season. “I’m not into all the stats but it’s a nice achievement and extra rewarding to do it winning a feature event like that, the mare is going really well and it was a race I thought she had a good shot at so it worked out nicely. “I’ve had good success at Redcliffe this season so it was fitting that I got the milestone at this track, most of the horses that have entered my stable have started at Redcliffe before progressing to Albion Park. Let’s hope the winners keep coming, we won’t be slowing down just because we’ve got the century.” The Redcliffe Harness Racing Club will play host to a rare Saturday night meeting this weekend and the feature event is the Gr.3 $30,000 Moreton Bay Regional Council Redcliffe Gold Cup, a stand start feature over 2613m. And Butler is lining-up Barynya again. The former Australian three-year-old filly of the year slid into the wilderness after that stunning season which netted her the Gr.1 Victoria Oaks at Melton, victories were few and far between and a switch to Sydney failed to reignite her flame plus a potential sale to North America fell through. With owners Lloyd and Judith Whish-Wilson relocating to Queensland, they decided to move their mare also and Butler was the chosen trainer. Barynya is now back in the zone with victories at her past three starts, two of which being feature events and she looms as a legitimate threat again this weekend. “When mares are in form, they normally hold it so we’re hopeful of another forward showing again this weekend. This is obviously a lot tougher but she deserves her chance, she begins well and the distance won’t be an issue. Last week, she beat the boys so she can clearly match it with them so we’ll just need some luck going our way. “I’m sure she had travel sickness or something to that effect when in Sydney so it took some sorting out, she’s just a plain little mare but she clearly has a big motor. I think she’s back to full fitness and health and that’s why her form has turned around. “Win lose or draw this weekend, she’ll be going for a well-earned break and then will look at her options after that. Ultimately, I think Lloyd and Judith will be happy to breed from her but you never know.” Butler also has a good chance in the other feature on the program, the Listed $25,000 Hustler Redcliffe Oaks with Zaras Delight and Vinland representing the stable. Both fillies should prove very competitive in the 2040m event. Hoofnote; Butler currently sits third in the state trainers premiership with only Grant Dixon and Chantal Turpin having prepared more winners. Chris Barsby Fields for Redcliffe, Saturday 30 July 2016 Form guide for Redcliffe, Saturday 30 July 2016

Classy harness racing mare Barynya now calls Queensland home. The proven Group One winning mare has raced at the highest level in Tasmania, Victoria and more recently in New South Wales where she had little or no luck. Her future looked destined for North America with connections fielding several offers in recent times but ultimately no deal was struck or finalised. So, owners Lloyd and Judith Whish-Wilson decided to send her further north where she has joined the stables of in-form trainer Jack Butler. The Blissfull Hall mare makes her Brisbane debut this Saturday night in the Listed $25,000 Flashing Red, a race named in honour of the dual New Zealand Cup champion. And while Butler is optimistic, he’s convinced she’ll perform well against the boys. “There’s no doubt she is a classy type, her record proves that and she’s always competed at a very high level throughout her career. I know she’s the only mare in this field but I think this is a good start point for her, she’ll improve on whatever she does this weekend.” Butler said. A winner of the 2014 Victoria Oaks, Barynya is yet to race under standing start conditions and takes on proven Grand Circuit performers like Ideal Scott, Mach Alert and Majestic Mach among others. Barynya will start from a 10m handicap. “The stand is a little unknown but she qualified safely back in Tasmania and I have spoken with her original trainer Dick Eaves and he gave me a good report about her qualifying trial. Having the class she has, she’s got brains and she’s sensible so I’m confident she’ll handle it. “She’s only been here for about two weeks and I haven’t given her a trial but she’s been racing so her fitness levels are pretty solid. I just thought this race would be a better option because it should be a steady tempo early rather than a flat-out mile race where they never back off. “There are some nice options coming up for her during the winter carnival including some mare’s only type races. I think the plan is to race till the end of the season before heading off to stud but her form will ultimately decide which path they go down.” Another classy mare in the care of Butler is Shes A Runa, a winner of the Gr.1 2014 New South Wales Oaks at Menangle. And the Jeremes Jet mare looks extremely well placed in the Burwood Stud Mares Pace over the 2138m distance despite having a second-line draw. “We discovered a little issue following her first start for me last month and I’m confident she’s ready to go this weekend, the first-up run was really good and her recent work has been really pleasing. I think she will do a very good job up here over the coming months.” Chris Barsby Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 14 May 2016 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 14 May 2016

Talented harness racing filly Zara’s Delight is ready to go again. The Rock N Roll Heaven – Barely Legal three-year-old has not raced since being a beaten favourite in the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton last May. After working hard throughout, Zara’s Delight finished 6th behind Jilliby Jitterbug in a mile rate of 1:56.5. Following a lengthy break, the Jack Butler trained filly is set to attack in her latest campaign. “I wanted her to have a big break and she got that, we spelled her at Bathurst following the Melbourne campaign which me made by road and she’s been back in work for some time. She’s a lot bigger now and she’s really thrived during her time away from the track, I’m hoping she rewards us with a big season.” Butler said. Zara’s Delight has indicated she’s returned in fine form following some neat trials at Albion Park over the past fortnight. Her latest trial (Tuesday) was a convincing 14m romp in a mile rate of 1:57.0 for the 1660m event after racing without cover. The previous trial was a hard held third placed effort behind talented filly Cherish The Moment in a time of 2:01.1. But these latest efforts were marked improvement on her first official trial last month which resulted in a mediocre 6th beaten some 13.75m behind Frankie Rocks. “Fortunately we discovered that she was suffering from a throat complaint and that explained the performance because that was way out of character, we had to treat the problem and we backed right off on the work while she recovered. “Given that we had such a great foundation underneath her before this bump in the road, it didn’t take long to bring her up to peak fitness again. I’m sure we jumped on this issue before it became much worse so we got luck in many ways. “I’ve been really pleased with her latest efforts, I told Bart (Cockburn – driver) not to come off a helmet in her first trial back while she was allowed to stretch right out today and she finished off in a good last half, she pulled up well and I think she’s ready to head back to the races now.” Butler will scan the programs but the long term aim appears to be the Brisbane winter carnival later this year. The Gr.3 $40,000 Gold Bracelet at Bathurst next month has already been ruled out. “We won’t be heading back to Bathurst with her, I think that series comes up a little too soon plus I don’t want to travel her that far by road again. I’m planning on giving her a couple of runs within the next month before building her up over the coming months. “The Queensland Oaks is the long term aim while both Gold Coast and Redcliffe Oaks are also heavily favoured, at this stage we might just stick close to home rather than hitting the road with her this season.” Zara’s Delight is raced by Sydney businessman Rod Smith. by Chris Barsby

The Bathurst Gold Crown carnival will begin later this week and one man who loves supporting the club is popular owner and Harness Racing NSW board member Rod Smith.  Smith enjoyed one of his best moments in harness racing earlier this month when he and his wife Julie part owned four winners at a Bathurst meeting and he is hoping the luck will continue during the carnival. "I've been lucky enough to have special nights in harness racing, I remember Julie and I owned a few winners on her birthday at Bathurst last year but to get four at the one meeting a fortnight ago was pretty special," Smith said. "I won't have any two year olds competing in the Gold Crown or Tiara this year because I have decided on giving the babies a bit more time to develop and it is starting to pay dividends because I will have a few runners competing in the three year old series during the carnival." Smith races Jester Oh Jester and Markey Oh Markey while Julie part owns the daughter of Christian Cullen, Denise and Jules with the trio all being trained by Jack Butler. "They are all nice three year olds and I'm hoping to have a finalist in at least one race because it will be a very special night, it will be the last time the Gold Crown is run on the track at the showground." "I am really looking forward to the opening of the new track later this year and I have already told Jack to make sure that he has a few of my horses ready to race at the very first meeting on the new track." Smith believes the time is right for a new track at Bathurst. "As a half mile track goes, the current Bathurst track is good but these days with those fast times being run at Menangle I believe horses need to be conditioned to racing on the bigger tracks and therefore the move to the new Bathurst track makes total sense to me, I'm really looking forward to seeing it." by Greg Hayes - SKY Racing (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

High profile breeder and Studmaster Anne Lamb received a pleasant surprise yesterday after being trackside to watch the horse she bred with her husband Wayne win the first race on the Orange TAB Carnival of Cups program. Clearly chuffed by Aunty Kym's victory, Lamb was then reminded that she had just earned $3,000 cash courtesy of the recently introduced Breeders Challenge Nominators Bonus. "I didn't realise I was entitled to the bonus until after the race so it was a big surprise," said Lamb. "As a breeder the bills add up paying for registrations and futurities so to be entitled to a $3000 bonus really helps. It's a good initiative for breeders." The Breeders Challenge Nominators Bonus, which came into effect for this season's 2yo crop, provides for a $3,000 cash bonus to the nominator/breeder for a horse's first "C" class win of the season. The Nominators Bonus also includes a cash return to the nominator/breeder for Group 1 victories. Aunty Kym also earned her connections a $2,500 Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus Certificate in addition to the $5,100 in first prizemoney making her debut victory worth $10,600 in total to all concerned. Not a bad day's work on a balmy afternoon in the Central West. The full terms and conditions for the NSW Breeders Challenge, including the Nominators Bonus, can be found at The feature event on the bumper card - the Banjo Paterson Cup - was taken out by the Jack Butler trained Marty Bee who has proved to be a bargain buy for owner Rod Smith. In winning Marty Bee broke the 2240m track record rating 1:58.4 whilst popular grey mare Laaganoosh broke the 1880m track record when she rated 1:59.1 earlier in the day. Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |    

Friday night's meeting at Parkes will be a big occasion. Not only is it the club's first one of the new year but it is also part of the TAB Carnival Of Cups with fantastic prize money on offer. Bathurst trainer John O'Shea is hoping to take home the major share of the cash in the Golden Bar Final, a $15,000 event for three year olds and after an impressive performance by Mitch Braxton in the heats on Monday, he looks the one to beat. "Mitch Braxton was first up from a spell in the heat on Monday, I had given him a trial at Bathurst a fortnight or so ago and he had won that but hadn't run much time," O'Shea said. "He's a nice horse but he is still a bit green and is still learning what the racing caper is all about, he's quite quick when he is sat up in his races but after he drew one in the heat I decided to use his speed at the start, once he learns what he has to do he is going to make a nice sit and sprinter." Mitch Braxton won his heat by more than twenty eight metres defeating the Jack Butler trained Jester Oh Jester after it galloped on the home turn when in a challenging position. "I haven't sat down and really mapped out a campaign for him, I always planned on this heat and final at Parkes but after that I'm unsure which way I will go with him, I will just wait and see how he performs in Friday's final." "I got him after he had his first start in the race and he has definitely improved with the experience of going to the races, I'm just hoping he continues going in that direction." O'Shea has been back in New South Wales for more than a year after spending seven months in the USA with trainer Noel Daley but has confirmed he has no plans of returning overseas in the foreseeable future. "It was something that I wanted to do in my career, I wanted to do some driving over there but once I arrived over there I forgot all about that side of the industry and just enjoyed my time working for Noel." Dale Walker  

Bathurst’s Star Trek series has been won by some very good restricted-class horses which have gone on to become familiar names, the likes of Caesar Blue Chip, Frosty Castle, Smooth Dixie and Cheri Cullen. Three heats of the 2013 series, sponsored by Empire Stallions, were keenly contested at last Wednesday’s meeting, and the winners look well up to the high standard seen over the years. Lochinver (Ash Siejka, $4.70) , a brilliant winner of the first of two C1 heats over 2130 metres, started at inflated odds, with Gabrielle Solis expected to dominate from its pole draw. But that mare dropped out mid-race after suffering from heart fibrillation, and Lochinver raced away for a convincing win despite sitting in the death, with a last half of 57.6 and an impressive 1:59.8 mile rate. Sassys A Kriden, in the one-one throughout, and Beetson, which pulled hard behind the leader, finished well astern of the winner but have qualified for the $12,000 final. Rod Smith’s Kriden Investments went one better in the second heat, for C2 class, when Sammys A Kriden (Jack Butler/Amanda Turnbull $1.80 fav.), first-up since the Gold Chalice heats in March, led throughout. The four-year-old sprinted up the back in 28.6 but slowed to a 30.7 final quarter, allowing the trailers Essayist and Scots Legacy to close within a couple of metres. The same trainer-driver combination was successful in the final heat, for C2 class, with the promising Sky Falcon NZ, which started at prohibitive odds of $1.04 on the strength of a good Canola Cup heat win. He finished down the track, after galloping, in that final when equal favourite with the eventual winner Holy Camp Clive.  Sky Falcon’s mile rate of 2:02.7 was slowest of the three heats, but he did it comfortably in the lead and his final half of 58.4 could easily have been bettered. El Mega ran on well from mid-field for second, with Blissed By Datmuch holding on behind the leader for third, and a spot in the final. Owners Bernie McMullen and Dan Richardson, newcomers to harness-racing ownership, are having a great run with the Falcon Seelster four-year-old, who scored his fourth win since arriving in Australia midway through last season. Amanda Turnbull’s decision on which of the heat winners to drive in the final will come down to the all-important barrier draw. Away from the heats, easily the most impressive winner at the meeting was Saloon Passage NZ ($1.40), having its first run on this side of the Tasman for Nathan Hurst in a 3C0 sprint event.  Once he found clear air from his inside second row draw, Hurst had no hesitation in searching for the lead, after which he set the cruise control for an ever-widening 17 metres margin. Mattjestic Star came three-wide over the final lap, and Luda Can Dance trailed the leader. The last half was a soft 58.0 seconds. The Elsu gelding, one of four to race successfully this year for Hurst, who’s become the go-to trainer for that breed, races for a syndicate formed by Ray and Margaret Mawhood following their purchase of the horse after an impressive New Zealand debut six weeks ago. They’re going to have lots of fun with him. A good night got even better for the Mawhood/Hurst team, when they took out the final race, an R 0 class over 2130 metres, with Caesars Hall ($6.40 ). The four-year-old scored his maiden win at start number five, leading throughout to defeat death-seating Phil The Tooth and the unlucky Famous Spirit, which lost a lot of ground after an early mistake. Ashlee Siejka took a training double, her second winner achieved with Platinum Roulette ( Amie Bateup, $2.80 fav.), which led from seven in an R1-R3 2130 metres event to defeat peg-runners Art Appreciation and Always Bad.. It was Amie’s first drive on the Bettors gelding, a close relation to Jack That’s Gold and Henrik Zetterburg, both $100,000 winners for the stable. Feel The Courage (Steve Turnbull, $5.20) lived up to his name somewhat, with a three-wide trip over the final lap in a 2130 metres C 0 class, to stick his head out right on the line for a win over stablemate Fire Eclipse and trailer William Peter. He may not be the easiest horse to drive, but being by Courage and with a grand-dam by Pure Steel, it’s no surprise that he’s tough. Another winner to exemplify her name was Makin Memories (Pat McCarthy/Jason Turnbull $1.80 ), successful on debut in an R 0 over the 2130 metres trip, from outside the lead. Coolamingal and Bundaburra, which raced behind the winner in the running line, filled the places. Pat and Ros McCarthy bred the Trump Casino mare with Pat’s mother Ollie, who died earlier this year. Ollie had been adamant that Pat should persevere with the mare, and this win was a perfect testament to a wise and much-loved lady. It would have meant a great deal to the entire McCarthy family. Bathurst race again next Friday night, the Tier One meeting highlighted by the Star-Trek Final. Marianne Donnelly Bathurst Harness Racing Club  

It might have been just a humble R 0 class event, but there were “right royal” celebrations following the Aussie debut win of Smokin Bopper NZ at last Wednesday’s Bathurst meeting.  It was the first race starter for a number of the owners, a dream result that explained the excited handshakes and backslaps for trainer-driver Nathan Hurst and syndicate manager Mark Johnston, the on-course bookmaker at the Bathurst meetings. Back at the Royal Hotel in nearby Orange, where the syndicate was formed, there was a similar reaction, from patrons  who’d strongly supported the horse into $1.50 favoritism  in anticipation of such a performance. Hurst settled the five-year-old midfield before taking the lead mid-race. A 59.0 seconds last half was enough to easily hold off trailer Call Me Anytime and stablemate Blacks A Buzzin. The 2:00.8 rate for the 1730 metres was impressive for this grade, and suggestive of further success. Mark Johnston indicated that the immediate goal for the new horse was the upcoming Canola Cup at Eugowra, Australia’s richest C 0 series. Along with his bookmaker father Alan and bagman Heath Cubbin, he won a consolation race at last year’s carnival with the Hurst-trained Ignite Ted, and would love to go one better this time around. Hurst’s earlier winner at the meeting, Reservation Road NZ ($4.30 ), was equally impressive.  Racing outside the lead in an R4 and better 2130 metres event, he showed stamina and determination to grit out a win from Karinya Hando, which had a three-wide trail from the bell, and leader Hes Magic Red.The 57.7 last half was the quickest at Bathurst in quite a while. The other double from the meeting went to driver Amanda Turnbull, with stable runner Whispering Lass and catch drive Aunty Olive. Whispering Lass ($2.40 favourite) appeared well graded but was the undoubted omen selection for the Alabar-sponsored C1-C2 mares In A Whisper Stakes, named after her illustrious dam, one of our best juvenile fillies in the modern era. The drive was so good it looked simple. From the inside of the second row, Turnbull obtained the trail on leader Express Jet and bided her time until straightening for home before coming out of the trail to record an easy win. Miss Ponder ran on well from the rear for second, and Express Jet held on strongly after pulling very hard in the lead. The overall mile rate for the 2130 metres was 2:00.6, with 30.7 the slowest quarter. Aunty Olive ($2.00 fav.) showed blistering gate speed to lead easily in an R0 sprint event, and the Mike Watson-trained four-year-old got away with comfortable sections to run out comfortably from peg runners Charlottes Delight and Imposing Molly, in a 2:04.9 mile rate. Turnbull was re-united with the mare for the first time in almost two years, but she recalled the juvenile filly’s gate speed, and put it to good use on this occasion. Aunty Olive, Reservation Road and Smokin Bopper provided an Elsu siring trifecta at the meeting, which would have been very pleasing for Alabar’s John Coffey, who will be in attendance on Friday, to conduct a breeding seminar on behalf of Harness racing New South Wales. Elsu will certainly rate a mention. Other winners at the meeting were: Laughing Game ($3.90), a tough effort outside the lead in R1-R2 class, for Amy Day and trainer Mark Rawsthorne. The win continued the exceptional strike rate for the driver in the first race at Bathurst. That’s putting the pressure on! Leigh’s Delight  ($3.70) , backing up after a win two weeks ago at the track for Kerryann Turner and Robbie Morris, who brought the Bettors four-year-old three-wide from the bell. The Menangle couple have enjoyed good success with their Bathurst runners in recent months. Stevie Wander ($3.10), all the way in C0-C1 class for Jack Butler and driver John O’Shea.  The Mach Three gelding hasn’t had much luck with barrier draws recently, and was always going to hold the lead from his inside draw. Smack Dab Shannon ($4.50), for Michael Munro and trainer Peter Bullock in 3YO class, backing up after a win in the final 2YO race of last season. Not regarded by his stable as mentally strong, he fought back after being headed close to the post, so he might be starting to show some of the tenacity of his classy dam Veloce Cavallo. Bathurst race again this Friday night (Tier One meeting), followed by next Wednesday night, and the annual Awards Night function will be held on Friday September 27 at Rydges Mount Panorama. by Marianne Donnelly

Bathurst based horseman Jack Butler is eyeing off a Queensland campaign. Butler, who prepares a team of 15 at The Lagoon (of Hondo Grattan fame) is looking at heading north with current stable star Mister Chow for a shot at the Seymour Rising Stars Championship series next month. Mister Chow is considered to be a work in progress type owing to his waywardness and unpredictability while his raw potential is still being realised. “He’s a pretty useful type this fella but he can be a bit of a lad and he’s not the easiest horse to get along with but we’re slowly winning the battle. I think the trip away will do him the world of good mentally.” Butler said. The Dream Away gelding displayed his massive talent with a crushing victory at Bathurst last week (September 4) after working very hard mid-race before going on to score easily in fast time on the half mile oval. The victory at Bathurst qualified him for the $25,000 Where Horses Fly Series Final at TABCORP Park, Menangle on September 28. “I’m looking at heading north by mid-October, we’ll get him through this final and then away and I’m likely to bring a few others with including Sky Falcon, Marty Bee and Left Neglected after they contest the Canola Cup series at Eugowra. The Seymour Rising Stars concept is hard to ignore, great prizemoney for lower grade horses while it gives the owners an opportunity to strike a return instantly on their investment rather than waiting to hit metro level before the better prizemoney kicks in. I think Albion Park is one of the best tracks in the country, every horse gets their opportunity and the racing style is strong. I really enjoyed driving at Albion Park during my time with Dinki Di so I always look forward to my trips north.” Butler believes Mister Chow is capable of scaling better heights and this trip away is vital step in helping him reach his true potential. The veteran of only 11 career starts to date; Mister Chow has managed to win five races while his manners have let him down badly in quite a few more. “I haven’t had a horse do what he did when he won at Bathurst last week. He’s actually dumped both Ashlee (Siejka) and Amanda (Turnbull) so he needs some driving; he isn’t easy to get along with. Ashlee started out with him but she had a few issues with him and I was asked to give him a try, we’ve had our share of run-ins too but we’re slowly starting to see eye to eye. He’s a free running type but he got great stamina and good change-up speed so if we can sort out his other issues we’ll be set for some good times. The trip to Queensland should see him develop nicely.” Butler has enjoyed plenty of success in Queensland previously through the deeds of the Chris Frisby trained Dinki Di while his own mare Shez Machstar was a runner-up in the $85,000 QBRED Triad Final back in 2010. by Chris Barsby

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