Day At The Track

Six of the best

09:30 PM 10 Aug 2018 NZST
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Lucky Lyla,Harness racing
Lucky Lyla was a winner at the Gold Crown Paceway, Bathurst, last Wednesday.

IT might have been the sort of abbreviated, run-of-the-mill affair that mid-winter regularly serves up, but Wednesday’s Gold Crown Paceway meeting produced driving credits - Turnbull, Day, McCarthy, Hewitt, Rue and Morris - that read like a harness racing “Who’s Who”.

Nathan Turnbull took the first, a C0/C1 Menangle Where Horses Fly heat, with Lucky Lyla, a beautifully-bred Mach Three mare trained by brother Josh for his wife Jess and named for their daughter. It was a tough effort, three-wide for much of the 1:56.9 trip, and holding on strongly from Walk On Kimmy and Waikari Fire NZ.

“You probably heard me screaming and yelling at her as soon as we turned for home, “ the driver observed, “ and even though she tried hard when the others came, it was my noise that did the trick so I reckon I’m entitled to a sling from Josh!”

Neil Day wiped out all the Pick-Six tipsters in the racebook promotion when $45 longshot Arma Hotshot got up in the final stride, from Snoop Stride and leader Spike Robyn NZ, in the C2/C3 Menangle Country Series heat.

The Modern Art mare settled at the tail of the field from her wide draw on the front row but relished the fast pace -including  a 57.4s first half - that brought the backmarkers into the event, and her trainer-driver is hopeful that a similar scenario unfolds when she heads to Menangle for the  $20,000 final in a fortnight.

Todd McCarthy and his Uncle Pat’s  Grinfromeartoear runner Im Cool Harry NZ have had to settle for minor placings in a long and frustrating season, but patience and consistency finally paid off when they scored a decisive all-the-way win in the 2260 metres fast-class third.

A 28.1s third split enabled the pair to break clear of the field, and though the rallying Shannonstheman and third-placed Hidden Courage tried hard, they were no match for the winner, which extended Todd’s narrow lead over Amanda Turnbull in their down-to-the-wire battle for the NSW drivers’ premiership.

Mark Hewitt gave promising Sportswriter filly Ace Reporter a lovely trip in the running line in the 2YO class,sprinting well to hit the front turning in, before grittily holding off Make Mine Memphis which tracked it over the last lap. The last half of the 1:57.8 trip was run in a sharp 57.2 seconds. His efforts earned him Drive-of-the-Night honours from racecaller Craig Easey.

The lesser-known of the Hewitt brothers trains a much smaller team than either Bernie or David, but lacks none of their ability and has a fine record with juveniles, including Group One success with Two Eye See and Makes Mine Scents.

Mat Rue achieved the maiden win, at start 16, for Roll With Joe filly Ichiba Newy -trained by his wife Gemma - in the Evolution Series 3YO Fillies heat, trailing favourite Madame Leza every step of the way and using the sprint lane to get up in a 1:57.0 rate for the 1730 metres sprint.

He’s had more success with the Bathurst sprint lane than any other driver, so it’s hardly surprising that he’s a big fan of it. Having previously shared his tips on race driving with an interested audience at a local awards night, he’s now been put on notice to deliver a follow-up tutorial on sprint laning, at the first available opportunity!

Robbie Morris and his partner Kerryann Turner, adopted “locals” at Gold Crown Paceway, seldom head back to Menangle without a winner, and they left it until the final race, the Evolution Series 3YO Colts& Geldings heat, where Weona Luke put an end to some muddling stop-start tactics by taking the lead mid-race and dictating the race from that point.

The handsome Mr Feelgood gelding, which  stopped the clock in 1:56.1 for the sprint journey, won’t have to travel very far at all for his next start, in the $20,000 final at Club Menangle next Saturday.


Terry Neil

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