Bathurst trainer and driver, Peter Bullock and Amy Rees combined to take out the Forbes RSL Sub-Branch Diggers Cup (1680m), the feature event on an entertaining six-race program conducted by the Forbes Harness Racing Club on Anzac Day.
Starting at big odds, three-year-old Neville Shannon was taken straight to the lead by Rees and not at any stage did he look likely to be threatened as he maintained a clear margin over his rivals right from the get-go.
When Rees gave him more rein leaving the back for the last time, the gelding shot away to open up a winning margin to go on and score by nine metres in a fast 1.57.9 which was not far outside the track record.
Grenfell filly, Dottie Feels Good (Mark Hewitt) was sent out as favourite for the event but she got a long way out of her ground and did well to find runs along the pegs to grab second, narrowly in advance of Negative Nancy (Graham Betts) which enjoyed a good run in transit.
At the post-race presentation, made by RSL Sub-Branch member Bryan Jones, Peter Bullock told the crowd of how it has been a long time desire for him to come to Forbes and win the Diggers Cup and expressed his gratitude to the diggers and Forbes Club for making it possible.
Mr Bullock said that his son Travis, who part owns Neville Shannon with Peter and Marie Neil, was pretty chuffed with the win.
Three qualifying heats of the Carnival of Cups Series were conducted, and ten runners will contest the $12,000 Final which will be conducted at the Forbes Club's feature meeting next Sunday (May 5).
Heat One (2060m) was the Helloworld Travel sponsored Neville Pellow Memorial which was fittingly taken out by local pacer Grinorama for trainer Terry Robb with his son Matthew in the gig. The gelding led clearly, and young Robb rated the horse to perfection, going on to score by almost four metres over Best Beau (John Beeby) and The Crom (Kasey Hocking).
Heat two appeared to be the strongest of the qualifiers. The race which honoured the late Pud Woods and was sponsored by BWR Accountants and Blush Organic Beauty lived up to expectations and developed into a two-horse war.
Riverina pacer, Abitmorebliss (Jack Painting) was sent out as a very short priced favourite and he led with ease. Bathurst trainer, driver Nathan Turnbull was not going to let the hot pot get too far away and he made a fast move around the field aboard Carramar Times Up to sit at the leader's wheel.
The pair then singled out and fought their way down to the line with just a half head separating them on the line, Abitmorebliss just lasting. Famous Cookie (Mick Day Junior) ran third but was more than 12 metres away from the winner who posted a fast 1.59.8 mile rating.
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The Colin Ware Memorial was heat three of the series and as expected, Walk On Kimmy led and set a slow pace before coming away for a hollow seven metre win to qualify for the final. Ironically, the mare won a heat of the same race last year and finished fifth in the final.
Parkes mare Our Reba Rose (Mitch Hutchings) gained a run along the pegs to just nose out Dunno Jo (Jason Turnbull) for second. Wendy Turnbull took the training honours for the afternoon as just prior to Walk On Kimmy winning, Rock Bottom was successful for her sister, owner Gail Osborne.
Driven by Jason Turnbull, Rock Bottom was impressive in taking out the Lachlan Valley Vet Clinic sponsored Clarrie and Val Robb Memorial. Turnbull fired the gelding out of his gate five draw, and he let the New Zealand bred pacer have his head, running fast time.
He proved far too strong for his opposition, winning by eight metres and posting 1.59.2 which was just a second outside Ellmers Image's track record set at last year's Carnival of Cups meeting.
Michaels Desire (Mitch Turnbull) and Peggyville fought out the minor placings after both enjoyed economical runs. Cee Cee Norman gave owners Jake Betts and Todd Barrow a big thrill when she took out the Forbes RSL Sub-Branch Les Findlay Memorial (1680m).
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Trainer, driver Graham Betts found himself bottled up back along the pegs after Cee Cee Norman's slow getaway, but he was able to find a way out with 400 metres to run and the mare sprinted fast to gather in her rivals and score running away by five metres. Sky Magic (Garry Harpley) and Sporty (Jason Turnbull) battled away to fill the placings.
A moving and well conducted Anzac Day Ceremony was performed by Bryan Jones with the assistance of the Forbes Pony Club and the good crowd in attendance certainly embraced the tribute. Young local singer, Sienna Carver performed a stirring rendition of the National Anthem.
The Forbes Club will be hoping for fine weather and a good crowd for its feature meeting to be held next Sunday.