Trainer-driver Steve Turnbull started the season well at his local track, Bathurst.
STEVE Turnbull commenced the 2017/2018 season where he left off in the last, with a training/driving double at Wednesday’s season opener at Group One Feeds Paceway.
And while his two winners are very contrasting types, they both exemplified the driving touch of a real master. He may be content to take a back seat to his talented children these days, but there’s no doubt that he’s still as good a driver as any we’ve seen, going right back to the halcyon years of his own illustrious father.
Ring The Till NZ was backing up from a successful Australian debut ten days earlier when trapped three-wide while working forward in a C1/C2 sprint, and there he remained for the entire trip.
A lesser driver might have “gone for broke” in an attempt to find the death seat, or dropped back to the rear. Perhaps even both options, in that order.
Turnbull, however, sat as quiet as a church mouse, keeping his horse comfortable out there as the race unfolded. While the speed was consistent, it didn’t quicken markedly as it often does through the third quarter, and his role in determining that speed might easily have been overlooked.
Ring The Till kept finding in the straight, and had the audacity to poke his neck out right on the line for a truly courageous win. Margins to sprint-laning Her Razor Sharp and Soho Shanghai were just a head and a neck, and the 1:57.4 mile rate for this three-wide trip added to its merit.
“He had a tough run previously at Dubbo, so I tried to be as kind to him as I could,” his driver commented on returning to scale. “ When I pulled the plugs, he really found plenty. He’s a very tough horse, this bloke.”
And bred in the purple - by Mach Three, from a daughter of champion mare Under Cover Lover, a near-millionaire who won plenty of feature races on several Aussie raids during her three and four-year-old seasons.
Her grandson looks certain to keep the cash register ringing.
Steve Turnbull steered another son of Mach Three in the following race, a C3/C4 sprint, leading throughout with Sabrage NZ, and again displaying fine touch to keep that difficult customer running along comfortably, and not pulling ferociously as he often can.
“He’s a real bugger of a horse, and you just never know what he’ll get up to. He’ll try sometimes, like tonight, and other times he doesn’t. Being able to get away with a steady second quarter helped him a lot.”
Sabrage rated 1:56.4 for the trip, the night’s fastest, and held on by two-and-a-half metres from trailer Who's Driving and Sportygal in the death.
And with that, the champion reinsman signed off for the night, with a perfect record from his only two drives at the meeting, and the leader’s yellow jersey in this year’s premiership!
Last year’s premiership winners were:
Trainer of the Year - Steve Turnbull, 79 wins
Driver of the Year - Amanda Turnbull, 61 wins
Junior Driver of the Year - Mitch Turnbull, 28 wins
Horse of the Year - Sportygal, 6 wins
Juvenile Horse of the Year - Karloo ThreeOThree, 5 wins
Sire of the Year - Art Major, 26 wins
UDR Driver of the Year - David Hewitt, 2.8
UDR Trainer of the Year - Barry Lew, 3.3
The Bathurst Awards Night will take place at Group One Feeds Paceway on Friday, October 13.