Day At The Track
Mitch Turnbull, harness racing

Mitch Turnbull makes it 300 wins as a driver

Notching up his 300th career win as a driver at his home track steering a horse trained by his father - it was certainly a fitting moment for harness racing driver Mitch Turnbull. Eight years after he made his driving debut, Turnbull brought up the milestone at the Bathurst Paceway last Wednesday aboard $1.20 favourite Major Braken. From barrier six aboard the two-year-old gelding trained at The Lagoon by his father Steve, Mitch Turnbull hunted forward and easily found the lead. He eased the pace off in the middle stages before asking the favourite to give, Major Bracken clocking a 27.6 seconds final sectional to win by 3.3 meters. The run reminded Turnbull of his first winning drive at the old showground paceway on November 14, 2012 aboard Rainbow Thunder. "That win was pretty similar to the 300th drive because I led easy, went slow then sprinted home and no-one could get near me," Turnbull said. With his grandfather Tony 'AD' Turnbull Australia's leading trainer six times, his uncles, aunties, cousins, parents and older siblings involved in harness racing, Mitch Turnbull always aimed to follow in their footsteps. He's in the main driven for his father Steve - 203 of his wins coming aboard his horses - so that win 300 came with a member of the Radiant Lodge team was fitting. "Steve has supported me right through and a majority of my wins have been for Steve as a trainer, so it was good to get done there," he said. "I left school earlier, at the end of Year 9, to work for Steve and have worked for him right through. Usually every year I like to get away from about a month, I've travelled to Perth, Victoria and Queensland, but I've always come back to Steve and he's always looked after me, he's taught me everything I know." While Turnbull rates his Group 2 win aboard Warrawee Drinking in a NSW Breeders Challenge True Blue Series final as one of his favourite moments thus far, in the main he enjoys any success on his home track. He's had 121 of them. "I was fortunate about a month ago to win a Group 2 race at Menangle, so that was a nice surprise, but I do really enjoy driving at Bathurst on a Wednesday night and getting wins there because it's home," he said. "I had a horse, Courtsinsession, that I was driving for 12 months straight and it was just a super horse and that helped me out a lot because he was so competitive. "It gave me a lot of confidence because he had some good wins and I was able to travel him down to Melbourne, which was a good trip. He only run fourth [in the Free For All], but it was good to do something different." As for whether or not he intends to follow in the footsteps of his siblings Nathan, Josh and Amanda and train his own team, Mitch thinks that will probably happen in time. But for now he's more than happy to keep driving for his father. "I probably will [train] one day, but the moment I'm flat out with Steve and helping him, that's how how I'd rather it be anyway," he said. "I'd rather work for Steve rather than have the pressures of training, I can enjoy and learn from him." Pressure is something Turnbull said he doesn't really feel and he's happy enough with his siblings being more in the spotlight than himself. "None of that really bothers me, I only really feel pressure if I have a nice horse in a big race, but Amanda has always been the number one and it hasn't really fazed me if I'm number two or three as long as I get the odd winner," he said. "It is nice to beat them, but in saying that Amanda and Nathan and Josh have supported me and taught me a lot." By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

He’s Watching,Harness racing

Hes Watching filly eyes $50,000 Group 2

Hes Watching three-year-old filly Belladonna Girl proved she is the one to beat in next Saturday’s Group 2 $50,000 Southern Cross Series Final at Globe Derby Park with a devastating win in her heat. Despite a difficult draw and a wide passage, Belladonna Girl soundly trounced her rivals by 24 metres in a 1:58.2 rate over 2230 metres with the closing 800 in 57.7. To watch the video replay click on this link A close fourth in the Breeders Crown Final, she has won three of her last six starts. Another talented three-year-old daughter of Hes Watching in Silent Rapture NZ made it four on the bounce on Australian soil when she scored in runaway fashion at Cobram, rating 1:59.1. Hes Watching was also represented by two winners in NSW last week in the two-year-old Major Bracken, who became his 14th individual juvenile winner, and the three-year-old filly Watching You Dream.  In North America, the NZ bred filly Hereslooknatyou posted her eighth success from 17 starts in her adopted country when she prevailed in 1:56.4 at Saratoga Raceway, New York. Other recent northern hemisphere winners by Hes Watching were the three-year-olds Illbewatchingu (1:57.4, Yonkers), Saulsbrook Flashy (1:58.8, Flamboro Downs), Panerai (1:59.6, Western Fair Raceway) and She’s Magic (2:00.6, Western Fair). Hes Watching stands at the Tipperary Equine stud, Young (NSW), of Luke Primmer.   Peter Wharton  

Yirribee Pacing Stud, harness racing

New two-year-old winner by Warrawee Needy

The harness racing world champion Warrawee Needy, whose first Australian crop has made a big impact, was represented by his tenth individual two-year-old winner when the filly Amander emerged successful at Redcliffe recently. To watch the video replay click on this link Warrawee Needy, who stands at Yirribee Pacing Stud, Wagga (NSW) and whose book is filling rapidly this season, also a three-year-old winner in Canada in High Flyin Jamie. Million Dollar Cam, Warrawee Needy's Little Brown Jug winning studmate, enjoyed great success in the final week of November. Heading the vanguard was the highly promising Jamieson Steele, who came from near last to win in a career-best 1:52.7 at Melton. The gelding has now won eight races and more than $90,000 in stakes. Gina Tarantella, who won twice in Queensland by a combined margin of 94 metres, the dual Bathurst victor Enk Spot Shannon and Chubbs (Leeton) were other recent winners sired by Million Dollar Cam. Renaissance Man, who is standing his first season at Yirribee Stud, sired two winners on the same night in the three-year-old Trittrittbangbang (Geelong) and Catch Me Cougar (Bunbury). To round out a big week, Tintin In America's son Onesmartfella notched his second success at Invercargill, New Zealand. Peter Wharton

Cruz Bromac still looking a picture

Magnificent career comes to an end

Champion pacer Cruz Bromac, who amassed more than $1 million in stakes with some spine-tingling harness racing performances on both sides of the Tasman, has been retired. The nine-year-old gelding, one of many from Bromac Lodge, the barn of successful NZ breeder the late Bob McArdle, competed against the best in Australia and New Zealand. Cruz Bromac goes out with an amazing winning record at nearly 50 percent of his starts. Highly regarded trainer Dean Braun, of Lara, near Geelong, has had many class performers over the past two decades, but there's one that stands out in his opinion. "Cruz Bromac was the best horse without doubt that I've trained. He put up some phenomenal runs over his career and his victories speak for themselves," Braun said. Dean Braun "He was a lovely horse with a kind attitude. He was still working super on the track at home any day of the week, but his best was behind him," he said. "Deep down I knew for a while that he wasn't the horse he had been and (regular reinsman) Chris Alford was on the same page. Cruz Bromac hasn't got anything to prove so after a meeting with the owning group manager Danny Zavitsanos recently, it was decided to retire him." Cruz Bromac (Falcon Seelster-Crown Defender (Life Sign) posted 23 wins and 13 placings from just 56 race starts for $1,057,995 in earnings. Braun said among his favorite memories of Cruz Bromac were wins in the NZ Cup last year, a NZ FFA, the Len Smith Mile and Victorian Country Cup successes at Cobram, Hamilton and Warragul. Cruz Bromac winning the New Zealand Cup "He also won five InterDominion heats and there was a big metro feature race win at Melton. He actually held the track record there up until recently when Lochinvar Art broke it," he said. "When you went to the races with him, you always knew you would never be far away. He certainly did an outstanding job over the years." Braun paid a modest amount for the pacer who was being prepared by astute Kiwi horseman Mark Jones. "We bought him as an unraced three-year-old. Mark had a high opinion of the horse, so I organized for Blair Orange to drive him and the deal was later sealed," he said. "I was racing a few in Sydney at the time so Cruz Bromac was flown into there. I started him a few days after he landed, and he ran fourth, and then won his next two-in one of these he went a bit over 1.51." When Braun headed back to Victoria, Cruz Bromac won at his first two starts at Yarra Glen and Melton. Cruz Bromac goes to the line in one of his Tabcorp Park Melton victories "I took him over to the west then, but he didn't handle Perth's Gloucester Park at all," he said. On his return he quickly got back into the winner's circle with victories at Geelong, Melton, Maryborough and Ballarat. Champion Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford partnered Cruz Bromac to six wins. Others to enjoy success were Natalie Rasmussen (five), Greg Sugars (four), Luke McCarthy and Nathan Purdon (two each), while Chris Geary, Blair Orange, Mark Purdon and Nathan Jack each had one win. Braun said Cruz Bromac would enjoy his retirement at a property belonging to one of his owners. "We'll miss him. As well as being an awesome racehorse, he had a bit of character." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

SCARBOROUGH — The last live races at Scarborough Downs on Saturday attracted a crowd of hundreds drawn to relive the track’s heyday and recall decades of memories made at one of the last places for harness racing in New England. A sense of nostalgia and sorrow hung over the crowd, bundled up against a cold, damp, overcast day or huddled inside the floor-level grandstand.  The last races of the track’s 70-year history brought in one of the largest crowds it hosted recently. The parking lot was almost full and around the time of the first race a line for programs stretched nearly to the main entrance. “I think a lot of people are coming to see the place and say, ‘I was there to say goodbye,'” said Rick Simonds, 71, as he sat on a bench near the track, reviewing the race program. “It’s sad.” Simonds has a deep connection to Scarborough Downs. He worked there, owned racehorses and was a former chairman of the Maine Harness Racing Board. “It’s nostalgic,” Simonds said. “I have worked here; I’ve been here hundreds and hundreds of times. I haven’t been here in a couple of years, and I don’t even know if I’m going to bet.” “I had to come today,” he said. “But did I come because I wanted to see it or because I want to say I was there for the last hurrah? I’m not sure.” Fittingly, a Maine-bred, Goin Manstyle with Wallace Watson, won the final race ever to be held at Scarborough Downs.  Scarborough Downs opened in the 1950s for thoroughbred racing and switched to harness racing in the 1970s. It reached its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, when the 6,500-capacity grandstand was regularly packed. But the 1990s marked the start of the Downs’ gradual decline. It stopped charging for admission in 2002, canceled night races in 2007 and eventually closed the dilapidated grandstand to fans. Handles – the amount bet on live races – dwindled along with the crowds and more money was wagered on simulcast races broadcast at the Downs clubhouse. In 2018, a local development group bought the racetrack and a 480-acre parcel around it for nearly $7 million to turn into housing, shopping, offices and business space. The new owners leased the track back to its former owners. Amber McKenzie, 21, and Bert Bronn, 57, came by the track Saturday in memory of his father, her grandfather. His dad, who died this year, lived across the street from the Downs and attended regularly for 50 years. “He didn’t own any horses, but he knew everyone who did,” Bronn said. “It used to be really beautiful. There used to be a really great steakhouse. Over the years it has kind of deteriorated.” McKenzie said she recalled coming down with her grandfather and spending time with the horses and drivers. He had a special pass to get into the paddock, McKenzie recalled. “I spent a lot of time down here with him,” she said. Luck was with McKenzie and Bronn on Saturday – their favored horse won the first and second races of the day. “He’s looking down on us today,” Bronn said of his late father. Family ties brought Lindsay and Eric McAfee up from Boston to see the last races. Eric said that when his father was a college student in Maine, he’d come to the track to try to win some money to take his future wife out on dates. Eric remembers coming with his father to watch races at Scarborough Downs in later years. “This feels like the last go-around,” said Eric, 30. “There’s no place like this anymore. It’s pretty old-school.” With the Downs’ closure, there are only two remaining harness racing tracks in New England – in Bangor and at Plainridge Park in Massachusetts. The couple have been to the Plainridge racetrack, but it is combined with a casino and isn’t quite the same, said Lindsay McAfee, 31. “It has a lot of old charm that you don’t see anymore. We’re all going to miss it,” she said of the Downs. Paul Cowley sat inside watching the races. The first time he came to the racetrack, the same year it opened, he was thinking of getting engaged and bet the daily double – his mother had to place the bet for him because he was too young. Cowley won $79 on that bet and went out to buy an engagement ring, he said. “It used to be crowded in here,” he said. Some people there Saturday expect the end of live races at Scarborough Downs won’t be the death knell for Maine harness racing. There are rumors of a group looking at locations for a new, modern racetrack elsewhere in southern Maine or restarting racing at the Cumberland Fairgrounds next year. The Downs will continue simulcasting U.S. races at its clubhouse. Barbara McDonald, 57, wearing a black wide-brimmed had with a large red flower arrangement and a black face mask with sequins, is optimistic for the future of racing. Her husband, a former racer, attracted her to the track and she made a point of arranging for hat-themed celebrations every year for the Kentucky Derby. “It’s heartbreaking, the end of an era,” McDonald said of Saturday’s final day of races at the Downs. “We’ve supported this as long as we can.” Even with the closure of her hometown track, McDonald hopes the sport will see a revival as new, young folks pick up an interest. “Maybe there’ll be a resurgence,” she said. “We’ve just lost touch over the generations, but it will come back around.” As the last race was announced, the loudspeakers played “Auld Lang Syne” and bettors lined up to place final wagers. Following the race a crowd of spectators gathered around racers for the biggest winners circle photo in the racetrack’s history, said longtime race announcer Mike Sweeney, over the sound system. This was the “day we never thought would come,” Sweeney said. “We go out with our heads held high, proud of our accomplishment,” he said. “Hopefully we left some sort of legacy and a framework to carry the industry forward into the next 70 years.” Staff Photographer Brianna Soukup contributed reporting. Reprinted with permission of The Press Herald

Mandalong owner-breeder Robyn Greenwood believes the presence of a new mare at home has helped Robbiewillmakeit turn in a harness racing career-best performance at age 10. The entire, trained by Robyn's husband, Neville, ran his fastest winning time - a 1:53:6 mile - to come from second last and claim a four-metre victory at Menangle on Saturday night with Jack Callaghan in the seat. The $5720 first prize was his biggest in 20 wins across 149 career starts and came after the Greenwoods reluctantly took him back to Menangle after being unable to gain a start at Newcastle. Robbiewillmakeit had four trials and swim training in between runs as the Greenwoods weighed up their options. To watch the video replay click here. "I can't get any runs here and someone said to me I would never get another run at Newcastle because he was too highly graded," Robyn said. "He's still racing all right and the only place I could go to is Menangle, but I said I didn't want to go to Menangle. But this last week I just bit the bullet. "I just had a mare come in here to be trained and he got a bit stirred up, so he got a little bit extra work in the paddock, just walking up and down and singing out. It must have helped him because he went so well." Robyn said they kept Robbiewillmakeit an entire after he came in for special attention as a foal when he almost drowned. "He was the first foal out of my mare [Willshemakeit] and he fell into the dam and I saved him," she said. "Because we handled him, he was always all right. Normally we'd geld them straight away but we left him because he was so good. Maybe if we had he wouldn't have been as good as he is now." She said Robbiewillmakeit had been a handful in recent years at the races. "Everyone can't work out how long he's lasted as a stallion," she said. "In the breeding season we've been having trouble at the races, he's just played up so bad. But up until five or six he was good as gold." Half-brother Noworries, also out of Willshemakeit, won his first race at Newcastle on November 6 as a $71 shot for the Greenwoods. At Newcastle on Friday night, visiting driver Josh Gallagher was the standout performer with a winning treble. Gallagher won on Pay Me Overs (trainer KerryAnn Morris), Spunkys Playing Up (Darren Reay) and Dream The Dream (Kevin Pizzuto). Graig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Concession harness racing driver Justin Reynolds has the opportunity to add two more wins to his credit at Dubbo tonight Sunday the 29th.. The young reinsman who hails from Oberon has experienced his best season to date and is amongst the top 10 leading concession drivers in New South Wales. Having secured 45 wins this season already, Reynolds’ first chance of adding to that is in race one with Mister Mysterious. Trained by David Reynolds, the gelding finished second-placed at Parkes last week. Reynolds’ next drive is on the Veronica Fisher-trained Star Play in race three.   Drawn barrier one, Star Play has won four races whilst Reynolds was at the reins. The mare has won 11 races overall and could be eligible for the $30,000 Red Ochre Mares Classic at Dubbo on December 18. Dubbo best bet Race 3: Beast Mode (8) Worked to get the win last week at Parkes and has the ability to overcome his more seasoned rivals. Dubbo next best Race 2: Limbo Larry (3) Draws the front line again after a third-placed effort last start when beginning off the second row. Won well two starts ago. Play the exotics The Dubbo Quaddie Race 3: 8-7-6 Race 4: 9-1-4 Race 5: 1-3-8 Race 6: 3-4-2 $81 for 100%

Promising harness racing young Bathurst reinsman Tom Pay will relish being back in his hometown Dubbo this evening where he has two drives. Pay grew up to become a harness racing devotee being from a family steeped in harness racing involvement. He heads “home” tonight to represent his boss, trainer Mat Rue and he will also be there to accept his award for being the most successful concession driver at Dubbo for the 2019-20 season. “I am really thrilled to have won this award, especially in my home town as all my family still live there and enjoy going to the local race meetings, particularly when me and my brother Jack drive there,” said Tom. “Things are going really well in Bathurst working for Mat.  “I accepted the job with him when I finished school three years ago and I could not be happier with my decision.  “We get on very well and he has some nice horses.” The move certainly aided Tom with his driving as he gets more opportunities with trainers quick to take advantage of his concession claim. “I am so grateful to be given drives on some very good horses,” said Tom. “Having the claim has afforded me a few drives on our stable star Fouroeight and I am excited in the knowledge that we have some nice horses coming through, which I will get to drive, when it suits.” Tonight, Pay will get his turn to shine with his plumb drives. “Beast Mode is a horse that has always shown us so much promise,” he said. “He has really turned the corner over the past month.  “His runs during the Blayney carnival and then his performance at Parkes last Sunday proved that he is a serious racehorse. “He rises in grade tonight, but I feel he is racing well enough to handle it.” HRNSW MEDIA

The 2020 Albion Park Harness Racing Club Summer Carnival is officially off to a flying start. The metropolitan club hosted a 10-race program which included seven feature events and the action was fast and furious. Under clear skies with a warm temperature, punters were treated to a great night’s entertainment, both on and off track including four lucky fans who each collected $5000 cash courtesy of the very generous support from major sponsor, Garrards Horse & Hound. The Gr.2 $30,880 Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship Final was taken out by classy performer Majestic Simon following his brilliant beginning from his 10m handicap in the 2647m stand-start feature. Prepared by Chantal Turpin and handled by her husband, Pete McMullen, the five-year-old completed the rare double of the Jim McNeil/DJA features in the same calendar year. Raced by Pam Hopper and Ross Patrick, the Majestic Son gelding has now won 12 races with earnings edging closer to $100,000. The main pacing event, the Gr.3 $30,660 Garrards Be Good Johnny Sprint was taken out by crowd favourite Colt Thirty One after sitting outside punters elect Turn It Up in the 1660m mobile start feature in a time of 1:51.9. Trained and driven by leading horseman Grant Dixon, Colt Thirty One proved too strong for One Change and Turn It Up in a thrilling finish. The Mach Three entire has won his past six starts and looks on target to defend his crown in the Gr.1 $175,660 TAB Blacks A Fake on Saturday week. Raced by his breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour, his earnings are getting closer to $1 million. Colt Thirty One has now won 46 races with 41 of those coming via Albion Park. The Gr.3 $30,660 Garrards QBRED For Life 3yo Features were taken out by Governor Jujon (Colts & Geldings) and Torque Onetwothree (Fillies). Both winners were expertly handled by their respective reinsmen. Governor Jujon (by Cammibest) is prepared by Grant Dixon while Wayne and Shane Graham combined with Torque Onetwothree (by Hurrikane Kingcole). Both pacers are raced by long-time breeders and loyal owners, John Mammino and Ian Corazzol. The Listed $25,660 Changeover Queen of the Creek was won in brilliant style by Chevrons Reward who finished stoutly to beat Rubies For Tash and Fame Assured in a time of 1:52.8. Raced by Rob Jones, the Rocknroll Hanover mare is prepared by Charlie Cini and was handled by young Lachie Manzelmann. The $21,160 The Creek 2yo Feature, New Zealand bred filly Dance In The Sun scored a decisive victory easily defeating Jasper and Frontliner in a time of 1:55.9. The victory provided Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen with a double for the opening night of the carnival. Boasting three wins from four starts, the filly by A Rocknroll Dance looks set for a bright future. And in the $21,270 AQWA Constructions APHRC Members Cup, former Newcastle pacer Always A Secret finished best to beat Virgil and Having The Faith in the 2138m feature. Prepared by Cristina Monte and driven by Shane Graham, Always A Secret appreciated the solid speed throughout before racing clear from his rivals over the concluding stages. Throughout the evening, APHRC Chairman David Fowler awarded Chris Garrard with life membership of the club following years of loyal support and sponsorship. Congratulations CJ, thoroughly deserved. Next week, features include the Gr.2 $50,660 Badcock Group of Companies Queensland Cup, Gr.3 $30,660 Prydes Easifeed Forever Gold Mares, Gr.3 $30,770 Ted & Edna Badcock Memorial 4yo Championship, $21,270 J.C McMullen, Listed $25,660 2yo Feature plus the Gr.3 AQWA Constructions $30,660 3yo Classics (Fillies plus Colts & Geldings). Fields for next week will be released Tuesday afternoon.  

A strong crowd was in attendance to celebrate Devonport Show Day at the combined harness racing and greyhound race meeting in Devonport, where two of the pacing winners will head to in next month’s Group 3 Golden Apple in Launceston. The Rohan Hillier-trained and driven Lip Reader won a discretionary handicap over 2645 metres while Victoria Pass chalked up his fifth win in a row. Lip Reader settled one-out and two-back before finding the spot outside the leader at the bell and proved too good for the leader Black Centurian by 3.1 metres with Perfect Mach a half head away third in a mile rate of 2m 4.1s. “He had to be beating that field if he was going to be competitive in a race like the Golden Apple,” said Hillier after the race. “I had probably been a bit easy on him over the last fortnight, and this race was only a spur of the moment decision to go this week,” added the trainer. The heats of the Golden Apple are the next target for Lip Reader with the heats set to be staged in Launceston on 13 December before the $30,000 Final on 19 December. The Devonport Cup in mid-January is also on the cards. “He will miss the free-for-all in Hobart next and then go straight into the Golden Apple,” said the winning trainer-driver. Some would suspect an issue with who would drive Lip Reader in the Golden Apple given Hillier trains and drives last year’s winner Ryley Major who produced a mammoth effort to win that event off a 30-metre handicap over the 2200 metres. However, Hillier indicated the star pacer might not be there which is devastating to think that the connections of one of the best pacers in the state are happy to stay at home and miss one of the state’s significant races. “Conor (Crook) will be offered the drive if Ryley Major is in it, I just know how much the run took out of Ryley Major last year and this year looks like it is going to be a better class of horse off the front mark,” said Hillier. Later in the night on the Devonport card the Zeke Slater-trained Victoria Pass made it five wins in a row and the trainer indicated that the Golden Apple is on the raider as is the Devonport Pacing Cup. Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing  

Harness racing heads to Carrick Park on Sunday afternoon for the first of three meetings over the summer months at the popular country venue with nine races on the card and there is plenty to look forward to. Race four is the first of two heats of the Bramich Bulldozing Trainers Incentive, where Bridport based trainers Kate MacLeod and Rohan Hadley play a firm hand. Bandbox heat winner Machbev (Pictured) represents MacLeod in the race for horses with less than $25,000 in prizemoney earnings that are trained by trainers who have won 10 or fewer races this season. The daughter of Mach Three has won two of her starts and should appreciate a drop back in class after running sixth in the Group 2 Bandbox Final at her last outing. Hadley trains and drives Auntie Connie who has drawn barrier three and is another dropping back from the Bandbox series where she was only 15.3 metres behind Blame It On Me in the $50,000 final, this is her third start for her current preparation. Conor Crook will take the reins on the other Hadley trained runner in the race, Heza Sport, who still hasn’t got out from last start where he sat three back the pegs. In Heat Two, the Leigh Rand – Ben Parker combination will be chasing another win when they team up with four-year-old mare Aussie Rock. The pacer is second-up today after a strong second placing in Burnie last time out when coming from back in the field in a race that was suited to those up on the speed. Two starts ago the mare showed good speed to lead from the pole and no doubt Parker will try and position the mare in a forward position. Other highlights on the Carrick Park card included the Rohan Hillier trained two-year-old debutant Tommy Hillfigure in race three. The A Rocknroll Dance gelding is a half-brother to Ryley Major and has won three of his four trials to date, with two of those victories coming on the Carrick Park track. The quaddie starts in race five, a rating 60 to 70 event where Racketeers Boy will be chasing his third win in the state since arriving from New Zealand. Trained and driven by Troy Hillier, the Rocknroll Hanover gelding is on a path to next month’s Golden Apple. His dangers today include recent Hobart trial winner Watchmylips who has built up an impressive record of four wins and three placings from seven starts, while Somedan must be respected from the front row draw. The meeting commences at 15:55, and the first three races will be shown on Sky Racing 2 with the last six on Sky Racing 1. Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

Former Weston Bears goalkeeper Tim Pratt couldn't have asked for a better start to harness racing training than being handed a Group 1 winner under the guidance of an experienced horseman. Now Pratt is hoping to turn that into a maiden victory at Menangle on Saturday night. Pratt is new to the training ranks this season and has 2019 Newcastle horse of the year Black Silhouette under his care. He has taken over from father-in-law Sam Dimarco at his wife Marissa's Brandy Hill property. Dimarco trained Black Silhouette and Shadow Runner to Group 1 wins before taking a break this season. Pratt had his first starter when Black Silhouette was sixth at Menangle two weeks ago. The five-year-old mare returns to the track in the Group 3 Sue Kelly Ladyship Pace from gate six on Saturday night. Pratt said Havtime and Bettor Enforce would be hard to beat but he hoped for a better result. "Once she got dragged back and couldn't get on the pace, that was her shot over," he said of the first-up run. "She's an on-pace type of horse, so once she gets back in the pack, that's pretty much her chances done, so she'll be pushing forward tomorrow and going for the lead from the mobile." Pratt, an electrical fitter, has been involved in pacing as a breeder or owner all of his adult life and he met Marissa through the sport. "My wife has put a lot of faith in me to fill in for Sam, and it won't be an easy job," he said. "But I've learnt a hell of a lot off Sam over the years and any success that comes will be from learning from him and people around me." By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Things have been more than a little unorthodox but Rickie Alchin’s trotters continue to pack a punch and the stable's harness racing superstar, Tough Monarch, hopes to give it a full flex in tonight's Group 1 Schweppes Australasian Trotting Championship. The $50,000 long distance haul from the standing start headlines the Tabcorp Park Melton program and marks Alchin’s return to the home of Australian trotting, with border restrictions previously limiting the New South Wales trainer's movements. “It’s been a bit hard with the borders closed for everybody, not just myself,” he told Trots Talk, having watched on as Tough Monarch battled valiantly during a Kiwi campaign and then last Saturday as his gelding Watts Up Majestic won a Breeders Crown for Chris Svanosio. With elements of life as usual returning, so too does Alchin and with him Tough Monarch, seasoned from three New Zealand starts in which he finished fourth at Kakoura, eighth in the NZ Trotting Free For All and third in the $286,200 Dominion, which more than compensated for the trip. “It was very hard with the covid restrictions not being able to be in New Zealand with the horse,” Alchin said. “The first couple of runs things just weren’t going right – the Kakoura run he didn’t quite handle the track. Then in the New Zealand Trotters Free For All he made a break at the start, ended up last in a very fast run race. I actually still thought his run was very good that day because he was wide on the track. “And then in the Dominion handicap, the main one, he couldn’t have gone any better. They trotted four minutes for the two miles and broke the New Zealand track record. He was the only horse hitting the line from out wide.” It’s form that holds him in good stead for tomorrow’s stamina testing battle over 2760 metres, with Tough Monarch to start off 10 metres along with McLovin, Savannah Jay Jay and Red Hot Tooth. “He hasn’t drawn the best but they will know he’s there. The distance will suit my horse, being a stand and the 2700,” Alchin said. “It’s definitely going to be tough from the barrier draw. A horse I once trained and sold to Andy Gath, Majestuoso, I think he’s clearly the horse to beat. He’s an up and coming star. “(But) anything can happen in these standing start races. One thing is that my horse has been there and done all that, the moment doesn’t worry him, he’s as safe as off the tapes, where as some of those up and comers you just never know. Sometimes they can be a bit vulnerable off the stand. “We will just have to wait and see how it pans out, but he will be running home strongly.” The stable’s full of confidence after Watts Up Majestic’s impressive win in last Saturday’s Skyvalley @ Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown final for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings. For owner-breeder Bradley Watts, Alchin's Majestic Son gelding was impressive while in Svanosio’s hands. “Chris did a fantastic job to get him absolutely spot on on the night,” Alchin said. “It was great, I was up her in Sydney with the owner. We were at a barbecue at his place and it all worked out perfectly. “The longer he had been down there he just really came along in leaps and bounds. He was spot on on the night thanks to Chris and his team.” The Schweppes Australasian Trotting Championship streams at 9.40pm on Trots Vision, with Dan Mielicki and Rob Auber on course to guide viewers from the VHRC Parade Ring to the Winners Circle. Other highlights include the TAB Blacks A Fake Free For All which follows at 10.12pm, with Out To Play favourite in a field that also includes well-drawn pair Bettor Be The Bomb and Mister Wickham, last start winner Bulletproof Boy, king of Mildura Bernie Winkle, Inter Dominion finalist Sicario and Arden Voyager. The night also features the Group 3 Alabar Vicbred Platinum Pace and the $24,000 HERO Claiming Masters, including the likes of Somewhere Secret, Ample Power, Star of Memphis and The Crimson Prince, who all have the maximum $50,000 claiming price. HRV - Michael Howard TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK: Join Cody Winnell and Tim O'Connor from 6pm on SENTrack, which airs on 1593AM in Melbourne, 1539AM in Sydney, 657AM in Perth, 801AM in Gosford, 96.9FM in Ingham, 99.1FM in Atherton and 1575AM in Wollongong. Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app.

A strong contingent of Parkes runners will be making the trip up the Newell Highway this Sunday to contest what is shaping up to be a very entertaining and tight harness racing meeting at the Dubbo Harness Racing Club. 17 Parkes trained runners are competing, headlined by five horses from the strong Malcolm Hutchings stable. The first race for the evening, the Join the NSWSOA Pace will see the Hutchings trained Caribbean Pat and Watch and Weep, who have both record wins in their past five starts, go up against the highest rated horse in the race - Shez on Target - for Brett Hutchings. Alectown's Stan Townsend has a pair of contenders in the Australian Pacing Gold Pace, with both Good Cop and last start winner Awesome Ollie both new additions to the stable. Awesome Ollie recorded a strong win as the $1.55 favourite here in Parkes last weekend for Eugowra trainer Grant Jones, and no doubt Townsend, a very skilled horseman, can help continue on that form. Jones, one of five owners of the gelding, will be very pleased with the current season that has seen three wins in 15 starts and $12,344 in prizemoney. The Red Ochre Mares Classic Dec 18 Pace will see seven Parkes runners compete for the usual $6,120 alongside Bathurst runner Dinosaurus Rex, though picking a winner will be a tough job out of the horses which are of a National Rating up to 45. Cuzin Pat, for Parkes' James Clyburn, was impressive when third at big odds last Sunday in Parkes, though the gelding will have to sift through the field from the second row. In the first maiden event for the day will see the Townsend trained Lady Pebbles look to record a first win in her fifth career start after three closely run second placings. The second maiden event sees veteran mare Poppy Franco look to finally break the maiden for Parkes father-son trainer and driver pair Andrew and William Cassell in start 39. Cowra pacer Joetomo will be looking for a hat-trick of wins when he lines up in today's Quayle Milling Young Cherry Cup. In the process the son of former top pacer Alitomo will be attempting to emulate the feats of his mother who took out the Cherry Cup in 1997 and his half sister Imatomo who saluted in the 2010 edition of the feature event. Owned and bred in Cowra by Peter and Anne O'Connor, Joetomo has hit a purple patch of form since Anne decided to take out her trainers licence again this year. Joetomo missed his three-year-old season with a leg injury and now under Anne's guiding hands Joetomo has had four starts, winning his past two at Young and Canberra. Racing returns to Parkes next Sunday evening for the running of the Dubbo Golden Gig Heat. By Kristy Williams Reprinted with permission of the Parkes Champion-Post

Swedish-born horsewoman Sofia Arvidsson has lost count of the hours she's spent working on her "special project", harness racing square gaiter Gus An Maori - but recently, there was no doubt it was worth every minute. The rejuvenated trotter had one hoof on the road to retirement when Arvidsson took him on at the Ecklin South stable of her partner Mattie Craven, and by Arvidsson's admission, they've "come a long way together". "I used to ride him - a lot! And all I used to think of when I was riding him was that 'one day he's gonna win a metro race, this horse, and it will all be worth it'," she said. Last Friday night the pair finally achieved Arvidsson's dream of metro success - and a first group victory for both in the Schweppes Breeders Crown Graduate Trotters Free For All (Gr 2). To watch the video replay of this race click here. "He is my number one, and has been for a long time. He is just a lovable horse. A bit of a show pony, but just a lovely boy and I'm just so proud of him," an elated Arvidsson said. "We always thought if we could just win one or two more with him - and now this!" she laughed. On the face of it, the pair made an unlikely combination. Arvidsson admits she knew nothing about harness racing before joining the Craven team and eight-year-old Gus An Maori (Angus Hall - Sumthingaboutmaori (Pine Chip) had been dogged by long periods on the sidelines, largely the result of bad feet. Sofia Arvidsson and Gus are planning a tilt at some country cups after their Group Two success Gus An Maori was more than three years without a win before his comeback victory at Horsham. Almost 12 months later to the day he recorded his first Group Two success - and, in between, another seven victories. Arvidsson said undoubtedly the key to turning him around was a dramatic change in training approach. "Mattie came back with me to Sweden and he spent some time there with trainers who use straight tracks. Also, the European style of training is not to work them so much, but when they do, they work them quite hard," she said. "It was something we wanted to try, and Gus was the guinea pig on the straight track. It doesn't work for every horse, of course, but for him it's really been the key to him." Arvidsson said Gus An Maori's training regime was based a lot on "feel". "Before, he used to jog every day and fast work every second day on the round track. Then I started with riding him and working him the more European way - fast work, a couple of days off, then fast work," she said. "So, before he won this time, he ran on the previous Saturday night. He had nothing the next day, I might have swum him once, then I gave him a fast work on the Wednesday, and he raced and won on the Friday. "Before, he would chicken out or have a gallop, but he has a lot of confidence this season. He isn't sore and he's stronger, and he knows he can do it. "I'm so excited for the owners, as well, who are massive supporters of Mattie and breed some lovely horses. Gus had been battling for a long time and now they're just so thrilled to enjoy watching him race again." Winning team: Sofia and partner Mattie Craven Teaming with Gus An Maori has also undoubtedly built the confidence of the novice driver, who became licenced only in October last year. Arvidsson recorded 20 wins from 110 drives in the 2019-20 season, and so far in the extended season she's been flying, with 14 wins from 49 starts. Although she was accomplished in dressage and jumping before she arrived at the Craven stable, Arvidsson had no experience at all in the harness racing game. "I was backpacking, travelling and living in New Zealand for a bit, then spent time in Melbourne. I had to do some farm work to get my visa extension in Australia, so I went to Alice Springs. Then to finish it off Kima Frenning (another expat Swede having success in the sport in Australia) suggested I come down here," Arvidsson said. "I'd always had riding horses but had never driven a horse before. But as soon as I started fast working I thought: why haven't I been doing this all my life? "I am very fortunate that Mattie gives me a good go, but I am absolutely loving it. It's such hard work, but the highs are just such highs and it's easy to keep going when you are having success." Arvidsson said Gus An Maori's success now has them looking to target more feature races in the months ahead. "I'm so happy to be able to put look at some country cups - we've climbed the ladder together and to take that step together would be very exciting." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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Notching up his 300th career win as a driver at his home track steering a horse trained by his father - it was certainly a fitting moment for harness racing driver Mitch Turnbull. Eight years after he made his driving debut, Turnbull brought up the milestone at the Bathurst Paceway last Wednesday aboard $1.20 favourite Major Braken. From barrier six aboard the two-year-old gelding trained at The Lagoon by his father Steve, Mitch Turnbull hunted forward and easily found the lead. He eased the pace off in the middle stages before asking the favourite to give, Major Bracken clocking a 27.6 seconds final sectional to win by 3.3 meters. The run reminded Turnbull of his first winning drive at the old showground paceway on November 14, 2012 aboard Rainbow Thunder. "That win was pretty similar to the 300th drive because I led easy, went slow then sprinted home and no-one could get near me," Turnbull said. With his grandfather Tony 'AD' Turnbull Australia's leading trainer six times, his uncles, aunties, cousins, parents and older siblings involved in harness racing, Mitch Turnbull always aimed to follow in their footsteps. He's in the main driven for his father Steve - 203 of his wins coming aboard his horses - so that win 300 came with a member of the Radiant Lodge team was fitting. "Steve has supported me right through and a majority of my wins have been for Steve as a trainer, so it was good to get done there," he said. "I left school earlier, at the end of Year 9, to work for Steve and have worked for him right through. Usually every year I like to get away from about a month, I've travelled to Perth, Victoria and Queensland, but I've always come back to Steve and he's always looked after me, he's taught me everything I know." While Turnbull rates his Group 2 win aboard Warrawee Drinking in a NSW Breeders Challenge True Blue Series final as one of his favourite moments thus far, in the main he enjoys any success on his home track. He's had 121 of them. "I was fortunate about a month ago to win a Group 2 race at Menangle, so that was a nice surprise, but I do really enjoy driving at Bathurst on a Wednesday night and getting wins there because it's home," he said. "I had a horse, Courtsinsession, that I was driving for 12 months straight and it was just a super horse and that helped me out a lot because he was so competitive. "It gave me a lot of confidence because he had some good wins and I was able to travel him down to Melbourne, which was a good trip. He only run fourth [in the Free For All], but it was good to do something different." As for whether or not he intends to follow in the footsteps of his siblings Nathan, Josh and Amanda and train his own team, Mitch thinks that will probably happen in time. But for now he's more than happy to keep driving for his father. "I probably will [train] one day, but the moment I'm flat out with Steve and helping him, that's how how I'd rather it be anyway," he said. "I'd rather work for Steve rather than have the pressures of training, I can enjoy and learn from him." Pressure is something Turnbull said he doesn't really feel and he's happy enough with his siblings being more in the spotlight than himself. "None of that really bothers me, I only really feel pressure if I have a nice horse in a big race, but Amanda has always been the number one and it hasn't really fazed me if I'm number two or three as long as I get the odd winner," he said. "It is nice to beat them, but in saying that Amanda and Nathan and Josh have supported me and taught me a lot." By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate
Hes Watching three-year-old filly Belladonna Girl proved she is the one to beat in next Saturday’s Group 2 $50,000 Southern Cross Series Final at Globe Derby Park with a devastating win in her heat. Despite a difficult draw and a wide passage, Belladonna Girl soundly trounced her rivals by 24 metres in a 1:58.2 rate over 2230 metres with the closing 800 in 57.7. To watch the video replay click on this link A close fourth in the Breeders Crown Final, she has won three of her last six starts. Another talented three-year-old daughter of Hes Watching in Silent Rapture NZ made it four on the bounce on Australian soil when she scored in runaway fashion at Cobram, rating 1:59.1. Hes Watching was also represented by two winners in NSW last week in the two-year-old Major Bracken, who became his 14th individual juvenile winner, and the three-year-old filly Watching You Dream.  In North America, the NZ bred filly Hereslooknatyou posted her eighth success from 17 starts in her adopted country when she prevailed in 1:56.4 at Saratoga Raceway, New York. Other recent northern hemisphere winners by Hes Watching were the three-year-olds Illbewatchingu (1:57.4, Yonkers), Saulsbrook Flashy (1:58.8, Flamboro Downs), Panerai (1:59.6, Western Fair Raceway) and She’s Magic (2:00.6, Western Fair). Hes Watching stands at the Tipperary Equine stud, Young (NSW), of Luke Primmer.   Peter Wharton  
The harness racing world champion Warrawee Needy, whose first Australian crop has made a big impact, was represented by his tenth individual two-year-old winner when the filly Amander emerged successful at Redcliffe recently. To watch the video replay click on this link Warrawee Needy, who stands at Yirribee Pacing Stud, Wagga (NSW) and whose book is filling rapidly this season, also a three-year-old winner in Canada in High Flyin Jamie. Million Dollar Cam, Warrawee Needy's Little Brown Jug winning studmate, enjoyed great success in the final week of November. Heading the vanguard was the highly promising Jamieson Steele, who came from near last to win in a career-best 1:52.7 at Melton. The gelding has now won eight races and more than $90,000 in stakes. Gina Tarantella, who won twice in Queensland by a combined margin of 94 metres, the dual Bathurst victor Enk Spot Shannon and Chubbs (Leeton) were other recent winners sired by Million Dollar Cam. Renaissance Man, who is standing his first season at Yirribee Stud, sired two winners on the same night in the three-year-old Trittrittbangbang (Geelong) and Catch Me Cougar (Bunbury). To round out a big week, Tintin In America's son Onesmartfella notched his second success at Invercargill, New Zealand. Peter Wharton
Champion pacer Cruz Bromac, who amassed more than $1 million in stakes with some spine-tingling harness racing performances on both sides of the Tasman, has been retired. The nine-year-old gelding, one of many from Bromac Lodge, the barn of successful NZ breeder the late Bob McArdle, competed against the best in Australia and New Zealand. Cruz Bromac goes out with an amazing winning record at nearly 50 percent of his starts. Highly regarded trainer Dean Braun, of Lara, near Geelong, has had many class performers over the past two decades, but there's one that stands out in his opinion. "Cruz Bromac was the best horse without doubt that I've trained. He put up some phenomenal runs over his career and his victories speak for themselves," Braun said. Dean Braun "He was a lovely horse with a kind attitude. He was still working super on the track at home any day of the week, but his best was behind him," he said. "Deep down I knew for a while that he wasn't the horse he had been and (regular reinsman) Chris Alford was on the same page. Cruz Bromac hasn't got anything to prove so after a meeting with the owning group manager Danny Zavitsanos recently, it was decided to retire him." Cruz Bromac (Falcon Seelster-Crown Defender (Life Sign) posted 23 wins and 13 placings from just 56 race starts for $1,057,995 in earnings. Braun said among his favorite memories of Cruz Bromac were wins in the NZ Cup last year, a NZ FFA, the Len Smith Mile and Victorian Country Cup successes at Cobram, Hamilton and Warragul. Cruz Bromac winning the New Zealand Cup "He also won five InterDominion heats and there was a big metro feature race win at Melton. He actually held the track record there up until recently when Lochinvar Art broke it," he said. "When you went to the races with him, you always knew you would never be far away. He certainly did an outstanding job over the years." Braun paid a modest amount for the pacer who was being prepared by astute Kiwi horseman Mark Jones. "We bought him as an unraced three-year-old. Mark had a high opinion of the horse, so I organized for Blair Orange to drive him and the deal was later sealed," he said. "I was racing a few in Sydney at the time so Cruz Bromac was flown into there. I started him a few days after he landed, and he ran fourth, and then won his next two-in one of these he went a bit over 1.51." When Braun headed back to Victoria, Cruz Bromac won at his first two starts at Yarra Glen and Melton. Cruz Bromac goes to the line in one of his Tabcorp Park Melton victories "I took him over to the west then, but he didn't handle Perth's Gloucester Park at all," he said. On his return he quickly got back into the winner's circle with victories at Geelong, Melton, Maryborough and Ballarat. Champion Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford partnered Cruz Bromac to six wins. Others to enjoy success were Natalie Rasmussen (five), Greg Sugars (four), Luke McCarthy and Nathan Purdon (two each), while Chris Geary, Blair Orange, Mark Purdon and Nathan Jack each had one win. Braun said Cruz Bromac would enjoy his retirement at a property belonging to one of his owners. "We'll miss him. As well as being an awesome racehorse, he had a bit of character." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura
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