IT is just how Steve Turnbull wanted it.
The biggest milestone of his career came on the last race of the night at an obscure meeting with his son driving the horse.
You Cannot Hide’s win at Parkes last night (Saturday) gave the Bathurst-based Turnbull a staggering 4000th career training win.
And he’s knocking on the door of 3000 driving wins as well.
“It just felt right. I’d much rather have got it (the milestone) at Parkes than the big lights at Menangle,” Turnbull said.
“I only had the one runner for the night, it was a two-year-old first starter who drew the back row at Parkes which can be hairy, but he’d shown us a bit and we thought he could win with any luck.”
You Cannot Hide, with Mitch Turnbull aboard, made it easy viewing for his trainer with a runaway 15.7m win. It was Mitch’s 400th driving win, too.
“If you say it quickly, 4000 doesn’t seem a lot, but it’s decades of hard work, travel and having to adapt to the changing times.
“Things are so different now from standing-starts on tiny tracks. The horses are bred so much better, go so much faster and the tracks are so big,” Turnbull said.
Turnbull, 65, is second generation of one of harness racing’s greatest families where the patriarch was the late and legendary Tony “AD” Turnbull, best known for his deeds with champion pacer Hondo Grattan (aka the Bathurst Bulldog).
“There sure is a lot of us and we get along well, but it’s a different ball game when we get out on the track. We’re all so competitive,” Steve said.
“That stems from Dad. When I’ve been asked the hardest person I’ve ever driven against, it’s easy … Dad.”
Steve is one of Tony’s six children, five of whom have had big success in harness racing (Anne, Greg, Steve, Craig and Cindy).
Add in the third generation and there are a staggering 13 children or grandchildren of Tony competing in harness racing today.
The standout of them is one of Australia’s top trainer-drivers, Amanda, the daughter of Steve and Jenny Turnbull.
“What Amanda has and continues to do is amazing, but it was quite fitting and nice for Mitch to share that (milestone) with me. He’s had to live in Amanda’s shadow and he does all the hard bush (country racing) work for me,” Steve said.
Turnbull’s golden era came in the early 2000’s with the one champion pacer he trained, Smooth Satin.
The gifted sit-sprinter won 46 races and almost $1.5 million, capped by victories in 2002 Inter Dominion and 2001 Miracle Mile.
“The Miracle Mile was fantastic because he overcame some things do it and it’s such a great race in our home state with so much history,” Turnbull said.
“But the Inter Dominion is the one we treasure most. It’s the pinnacle, the race everyone strives for the most.
“I’ve nearly worn the tape (video replay) out for that one.”
· Adam Hamilton is a paid contributor writing on harness racing for News Corp.
PHOTOS: All courtesy of National Trotguide