Big night at Bathurst

By Adam Hamilton

Fairytales do come true, just ask Sam Dimarco.

Shadow Runner’s (Shadow Play-Ayabacana) fighting and outstanding win in last Saturday night’s $102,000 Group 1 Bathurst Gold Crown final (1720m) proved that.

Yes it was Dimarco’s first Group 1 winner, but it’s the background to it which made the triumph so remarkable.

It’s only through the love and support of his daughter, Marissa, Dimarco is back training horses.

He had more than 13 years away from training after some major health issues catapulted him into a deep battle with depression. It’s a credit to how far Dimarco has come, he opened-up about the battle in the lead-up to the Crown final.

“I only got back into training just over a year ago … it was Valentine’s Day last year,” he said.

Dimarco revealed Marissa went out and bought two yearlings for just $10,000 and told him there was one proviso … Dimarco had to return to what he loved and train them himself.

“She wanted to help me and thought the horses would do that,” Dimarco said.

The horses were Shadow Runner and Gotta Go Gold. Remarkably both the made the Bathurst final. Gotta Go Gold won his heat then ran ninth in the final.

Marissa, works as a partner in a Newcastle law firm, took the week off to share the magical week at Bathurst with her father.

And the scenes after the final were what makes us all love racing.

In a daring move, driver Michael Formosa launched Shadow Runner from a back row draw around the field early to sit parked.

Despite doing all the work in very quick times, Shadow Runner kept digging in and held-on to win by a nose from the fast-finishing Karloo Demajor with the leader, Sams The Master, only another half-head away in third spot.

He’s now unbeaten in three runs.

It also capped a huge month for Formosa, who trained and drove his most special horse, Ultimate Art, to win a heat of the Inter Dominion and finish seventh in the final on March 1.

“Gee he’s tough this guy. He really lifted late, especially when the outside horse dived at us,” Formosa said.

“To share this with Sam and Marissa is pretty amazing.”

The disappointment of the race was the previously unbeaten Bettermatch, who paced roughly early and never really looked comfortable at any stage. He wilted to finish 10th.


Pixies Parlour provided racing’s great “family” story.

Last Saturday at Rosehill, jockey Blake Shinn rode Fenway to victory in the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill. It was the first Group 1 win for his stepfather, trainer Lee Hope.

Then, just a few hours later, Amanda Turnbull partnered two-year-old filly Pixies Parlour (Village Jasper-Miss Enya) to give her father, Steve, his first “major” Bathurst win as a trainer.

Turnbull, a Bathurst legend, admits the win meant as much as his Inter Dominion and Miracle Mile triumphs with Smooth Satin.

“It might be hard for some people to understand, but this is my home town and I’ve shared this one with my daughter,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to win one of the really big ones as Bathurst since I was a kid and now I’ve done it. To have Amanda driving when I did it makes it so special.”

Pixies Parlour buzzed across from gate six to lead and cruised through a 61.8sec middle half before the Belinda McCarthy-trained Soho Madeleine poured the pressure on through a 27.3sec split from 800m to 400m.

Hot favourite Three Squared, a half-sister to Fly Like An Eagle, was camped just off the leaders in the one-one trail and loomed ominously on the home bend.

But Pixies Parlour kept finding plenty for Amanda Turnbull in front and actually held-on to win easily by 3.3m in a 1min57.7sec mile rate for 1730m.

Outsider Hot Shot Woman charged late for second with Soho Madeleine third and Three Squared a disappointing fourth.

Pixies Parlour is unbeaten in three runs and still on the improve.

“She’s so tough. And she’s got heaps of speed. We’re really excited about her,” Steve Turnbull said. “But for now we’ll just enjoy one of those great moments.”

The Turnbulls also combined to win the Bathurst Mayor’s Cup (2260m) with classy five-year-old Heza Thrill (Christian Cullen-Behappysam) in a 1min57.5sec mile rate for 2260m.

Despite sitting parked throughout, Heza Thrill ran home in 55.4 and 27.7sec to post his 17th win from just 48 starts.


Shane Tritton and Lauren Panella also shared in the Bathurst spoils.

Their recent stable addition Artistic Flite (Artistic Fella-Peace Flite) successfully defended his Bathurst title when he led throughout in the Gold Chalice final for three-year-old colts and geldings.

He was trained by Anton Golino and driven by John McCarthy to win the Gold Crown final 12 months ago.

In typical Tritton/Panella style, Artistic Flite kept working forward from a wide draw until he found the lead and then kept rolling through a 59.6sec middle half of the 2260m.

He broke his rivals with a 27.8sec split down the back and finished off in 29sec for a scorching 1min56.7sec mile rate to beat Steve and Amanda Turnbull’s Mouse In The House by 6.3m.

The Gold Bracelet for three-year-old fillies went to the Bernie Hewitt trained and driven Read About Lexy (Sportswriter-Lexys Laughing) in fighting fashion.

In an early surprise, Read About Lexy was able to use gate one to hold-out the heavily-backed favourite Makes Every Scents (gate two) for the lead.

Makes Every Scents then took a trail before launching with a three-wide run down the back straight.

The two favourites drew clear in a spirited battle and, just when it seemed Makes Every Scents had her measure, Read About Lexy found another gear and drew clear again to win by 5.3m in a 1min56.5sec mile rate for 2260m.