Doubles all the go at Bathurst

13 March 2018 | Terry Neil
Another win for Team Teal - McKayler Barnes drove Shannonstheman to victory at Bathurst on the eve of International Women's Day.

Another win for Team Teal - McKayler Barnes drove Shannonstheman to victory at Bathurst on the eve of International Women's Day.

FATHER and son duo John and Todd McCarthy enjoyed the trip over the mountains to their former hometown when scoring a double at Bathurst Gold Crown Paceway last Wednesday.

Blazin N Cullen NZ was the narrowest of winners in a dramatic 2260 metres fast-class event, and Lifeonthebeach posted near-class record time in an easy C0 win later in the evening.

The earlier win came in a race of many changes, most notably in the closing stages.

Conviction led from his inside gate for most of the first lap, until McCarthy forged to the front with the $500,000-winning Cullen gelding at the 1600 metres point, with Nathan Turnbull then moving Parramatta NZ to the death seat as they reached the bell.

The pace had steadily increased with those moves, but quickened markedly down the back the final time - the third quarter a blistering 27.0s - as Parramatta applied sustained pressure to the leader.

Halfway round the home turn, It looked very much like a Parramatta home win, the local drawing clear as Blazin N Cullen appeared to weaken and lose ground.

But after they had straightened for the run in, yet another change came over the race. McCarthy’s horse seemed to pick up the bit again, chewing into that decent lead of Parramatta, and the two of them settled down to a good old-fashioned stoush, with Blazin N Cullen getting up right on the line, the margin a head.

The final quarter of 28.8s brought up a mile rate of 1:57.5 for a most engrossing contest.

“He’s a cunning old fellow,” observed Todd McCarthy at the presentation. “He doesn’t like to run flat out on the bends, but once we straightened, I was actually quite confident that he’d get going again and we weren’t out of it. He came very fast at the end, and I thought we might have just got there.”

Spare a thought for the Parra punters, who had been counting their winnings, only to lose in what could be described as golden point extra time!

Lifeonthebeach came from mid-field with a storming run down the centre of the track for a decisive win in his C0 sprint win, the Somebeach three-year-old making it three wins from his six starts this term.

A $50,000 buy at the Melbourne APG Sale in 2016, he’s developing into a smart type this season, though his driver believes he’s not quite ready yet to match it with the best of his age group.

Several other doubles from the meeting deserve mention.

Steve Turnbull extended his premiership margin with a training double, courtesy of Cherry Mahoney (Nathan Turnbull), a well-deserved win in an M1-backed conditioned class, and Art Series, which he reined to an impressive win in a 3YO sprint, her 1:54.7 run just a tenth of a second off the 3YO track record of Sams The Master.

The 2017 Breeders Challenge Regional winner at two, she’s from class mare Sheezallattitude, a $250,000 winner whose many wins included a Gold Tiara heat back in 2010.

With the Teal Pants promotion in its final few days, and on the eve of International Women’s  Day, it was quite appropriate that lady drivers took out the opening races.

McKayler Barnes and the Peter Bullock-trained Shannonstheman sustained a searching three-wide run from the half-mile to score in the C1 conditioned sprint that opened proceedings, with racecaller Craig Easey judging her effort as his Drive of the Night.

Amanda Turnbull, behind brother Nathan’s My Bettor Bella NZ, scored an equally tough win  in the 2260 metres C2-C3 second event, sitting outside the in-form Trilight Brigade NZ and proving just a shade too strong in a very impressive effort.

The win by Shannonstheman was particularly timely, given the announcement earlier in the week that his Rayngold P/L owners,Peter and Marie Neil, have been selected by the Bathurst HRC as the 2018 Gold Crown Honourees. They will be inducted at the Mayoral Dinner on Tuesday, March 27.

The final race supplied the meeting with a matching Gold Crown book-end, when Astride (Robbie Morris for Kerryann Turner) dictated terms in a 2260 metres C1 class, dashing home in a 55.8s last half, while looking to have something still up his sleeve.

It was the first-up run for his new stable for the 2016 Crown winner (and 2017 Chalice runner-up), with his driver quietly confident about his prospects in a number of good races they have in mind for him.

Bernie Hewitt and the connections of Bettor Sport will be hoping for a similar result this year. The Sportswriter gelding made it two wins from four starts with a tough effort from the death in a 2YO sprint, with a sharp 57.4 final half.

With approximately 140 two-year-olds paid up for this year’s Crown and Tiara, well up on last year’s total, it’s no surprise to see four 2YO races set down for this Wednesday’s race meeting.

It’s the final one before the carnival gets underway, and affords many of these eligible youngsters the opportunity to gain the obligatory race experience.

Bring it on.

By Terry Neil