Landmark training feat adds to legend of Turnbull name

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Landmark training feat adds to legend of Turnbull name

By Chris Roots

It took a week, an early crow and two flat tyres, but trainer Steve Turnbull finally – and officially –reached 4000 winners when You Cannot Hide won at Parkes on Saturday.

Turnbull, who left school at “14 and a bit” to pursue his passion for the harness industry, become aware that he was closing in on the unprecedented mark but finding the winner to take him there was an adventure.

Mitch Turnbull salutes as he crosses the line on You Cannot Hide.

Mitch Turnbull salutes as he crosses the line on You Cannot Hide.

“It has been a big week,” Turnbull said. “Waiting a week for a winner seems a long time, but I once went three months during a winter without a winner. There was a build-up with every runner this week.

“I thought I had it at the Bathurst meeting on Wednesday and was jumping up and down and doing interviews and [Turnbull’s daughter] Amanda actually beat me and I felt a goose.

“The truck got a couple of flat tyres going to Parkes [on Saturday] and we had to send floats out to get the horses there, but fortunately this two-year-old got there and won.

“It hasn’t been easy.”

The 65-year-old Turnbull watched You Cannot Hide’s win from home as his son Mitch drove his 400th winner to give a further a sense of synchronicity to the milestone.

However, Turnbull had probably smashed the 4000-win mark a couple of years ago.

“When I was asked about how many wins I had the records only went back to a certain date on the computers, so there might have been a couple of hundred more before that time,” Turnbull said.

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“I have been in the sport for 50 years and over 40 of those have been as trainer, and things have changed in that time, but we adapted. I wouldn’t have been at home in the old days watching on TV, that’s for sure.

“It is a long way to 4000 wins and I couldn’t tell how many horses I have had in the stable.

“It is good to have my family involved and still be getting winners as well, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

The Turnbull name is maybe the biggest in the history of the trots. Steve’s dad was famous for his association with Hondo Grattan in the golden era of the sport, but he had his own champion in Smooth Satin, which won an Inter Dominion and Miracle Mile.

Welfare boost for greyhounds

The expanded point of consumption tax changes announced in the State budget will be a windfall for Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW, but Greyhound Racing NSW will not see a cent from the proceeds.

The greyhound component of the tax will be paid to the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission (GWIC) under a structure put in place when the sport was restarted in NSW.

While funds for the thoroughbreds and trots will be used for prizemoney and infrastructure, it is GWIC, which is the regulatory arm of the dogs, that will get a massive boost.

GWIC has recently added two senior stewards from Racing NSW to its panel with better conditions and pay a driver to get them across to the dogs.

Racing NSW is in the process of replacing up to four stewards who have left in the past couple of months, but the pay for the jobs is not seen as competitive in a market place where there are limited numbers of qualified stewards.

Hawkesbury faced with bullying payout

Hawkesbury Race Club will be able to pay $2.8 million to a former employee from a bullying case even though it is under administration.

The former sponsorship manager , Vivienne Leggett, won a Fair Work Commission ruling amounting to $2.8 million in a federal court judgement that was scathing of the club and former chief executive Greg Rudolph. The claim dates back to 2016.

There had been a ruling by the Workers Compensation Commission in November 2017 of $120,000 for workplace bullying, but the case continued on to the federal court level. Hawkesbury has been making payments in the past couple of years to Leggett.

Any workers compensation payment would have had to be made by Racing NSW, which runs its own workers compensation for participants and clubs, but the Hawkesbury club is liable for the $2.8 million because it is a Fair Work matter.

The Hawkesbury club is under administration because of governance issues by Racing NSW after the board resigned en masse late last year. It remains solvent but is likely to declare a loss this financial year.

Racing NSW and the club have refused to comment on the case.

Startantes eyes inviting Sydney spring

Queensland trainer Robert Heathcote is weighing up an offer to bring Tatts Tiara winner Startantes to Sydney for The Invitation in a campaign that would include the Golden Eagle.

Startantes came from last to beat Snapdancer over 1400m in the last group 1 of the season at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

“I had James Ross from the ATC on the phone on Saturday night asking if I would come with her for The Invitation, which is worth $2 million,” Heathcote said. “We were looking at Melbourne because Rothfire and Prince Of Boom are heading there, but $13 million worth of races might see her in Sydney.”

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Startantes has gone for a spell, and Heathcote will decide her spring targets in the next couple of weeks, but the $1 million Silver Eagle at 1300m leading into the $2 million Invitation at 1400m with a back-up of the Golden Eagle at 1500m looms large.

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