A MINI snowstorm that hit the central tablelands on Sunday afternoon was not enough to stop the Blayney Harness Racing Club from celebrating its 50th Anniversary.
On one of the coldest days recorded at a harness racing event, just prior to Race 4 the heavens opened, and the picturesque Blayney landscape turned into a winter wonderland, a sight that has rarely been seen in Australian harness racing.
The conditions posed quite a challenge for drivers, horses and officials but to the credit of all involved, they pushed on without incident, with the racing surface holding up remarkably well.
Steve Turnbull pulled the right reign on Sunday, choosing not to drive but reflected on his participation at Blayney during the past 50 years.
Turnbull drove at the first race meeting in 1973 as a 16-year-old, so it was quite fitting for him to train the quinella in Sunday’s $20,000 feature, the Kriden Farms Pace with Saint Emillion and Cassius Deck fighting out the race.
Saint Emillion was driven by Steve’s eldest son Nathan, who brought the gelding home with a well-timed run to snatch victory away from Cassius Deck (Mitch Turnbull) right on the line.
“Both Saint Emillion and Cassius Deck have been handy horses to us and it was great to see them fight out the finish on Sunday,” said Steve.
“I have had a lot of luck racing at Blayney over all the years and it is a great little track.
“To win the feature on Sunday was a great thrill.
“Hats off to everyone involved for getting through the meeting under such trying conditions.”
Bathurst will be hoping for more favourable weather tonight for its eight-race program where Steve has five runners engaged.
Race 7 tonight honours the late Laurie Paton and is one that Steve would dearly love to win.
Of course, Turnbull and Laurie enjoyed a memorable association with champion pacer Smooth Satin, sharing in many great victories including an Inter Dominion and a Miracle Mile.
Turnbull is represented in the race by last-start Dubbo winner Alwaysbmypony, drawn in gate five, with son Mitch in the gig.
“It is a race that I would love to win,” said Steve.
“Laurie was a wonderful owner but more importantly he was a great friend.
“We had some fantastic times together, especially when Smooth Satin was at his peak.”
- MICK DUMESNY