NATHAN Hurst has been involved in the harness racing industry as a trainer-driver for more than 15 years, but on Saturday night at Menangle Park he notched up a career first.
When Saloon Passage was first past the the post in the Tabcorp Park at Club Menangle Final (1,609 metres), it marked the first Group win of Hurst’s career.
Saloon Passage saluted in the Group 3 race as the $3.60 favourite.
“I have never won a Group race before, I’ve had a lot of placings in them, but I haven’t actually won one before, so all the owners were pretty excited,” Hurst said.
“He’d be the best horse that I’ve ever had.
“I got him from New Zealand, I worked over there when I was a bit younger and one of my friends from over there recommended him to me.”
And a good recommendation it was.
The now six-year-old gelding by New Zealand champion Elsu out of Rosesrredviletsrblue went into Saturday’s race with a career record of 19 wins and 18 placings from 57 starts.
In what has his seventh Group race, Saloon Passage worked three wide in the middle stages after going from barrier 10.
With 800m to go Hurst’s runner sat outside the leader and from there he went on with the job, finishing 2.1m clear of nearest rival Stormont Czar ($4.90) in a hot 1:52.7 mile rate.
“He has done a really good job for us and I’d say that was his best run,” Hurst said.
“They slowed up in the second quarter and he managed to get up there.”
Hurst will be in action at the Bathurst Paceway on Wednesday and while none of his runners for that meeting are of Saloon Passage’s quality, he still has chances.
“I think The Matrix has been going pretty good, he’s in the second last race and it’s not overly strong. I’d say that Tulhurst Daydreamer is a chance as well, she was a bit unlucky in her last start,” Hurst said.
The first race at Bathurst will go at 5.14pm.