HIS horse has made a habit of being a runner-up this season but George Plains trainer Bernie Hewitt is hoping that Rock Fisherman can cause an upset and take the step up to the top spot on Boxing Day.
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Rock Fisherman goes around in this Monday night's Group 3 Shirley Turnbull Memorial at Bathurst Paceway against a quality field of competitors, which includes the likes of Belinda McCarthy's former Chariots Of Fire champion Jilliby Kung Fu.
Hewitt's Pet Rock gelding has finished a runner-up on nine occasions, and third in six other races, since his previous career win at Albion Park in October 2021.
The consistency has been admirable from the former NSW Breeders Challenge finalist but Rock Fisherman has often struggled to take that next step against the state's elite runners.
Will a kind draw and the 2,790 metre trip this Monday give Rock Fisherman the helping hand he needs?
If the two emergencies don't gain a start (the first of which is Hewitt's Mymatepog) then Rock Fisherman and driver Doug Hewitt get a nice start out of gate two, with Rickie Alchin's Kid Montana to the inside.
Rock Fisherman is one of three Bathurst hopes in the event, with Steve Turnbull looking to win the race named in his mother's honour with either Smooth Baht (Amanda Turnbull) or Myra Dawn (Mitch Turnbull).
Rock Fisherman has still been a horse any owner and trainer would love to have, as he verges close to the $150,000 career prizemoney mark in what will be his 99th career start during the memorial.
The competition is fierce but Hewitt's hopeful that the draw and the distance can combine to work in his horse's favour.
"He's been racing really consistently. He's probably a rung below those best horses going around, and he just can't quite seem to get himself over the line," he said.
"If the emergencies don't get runs then he gets a nice start there. It's a long trip, at almost 2,800m, and he is a staying type of horse. I'm not expecting him to line up against some of those horses who have been around the Inters [Inter Dominion] but he should run a nice race.
"You never know what's going to nominate, and there haven't been races programmed for his level around this time. Obviously it's a step up here but when you nominate you're never sure what you're going to be up against.
"He's not setting the world on fire as far as wins go but he's always been thereabouts. I think after this he'll keep on looking for country cups races and he'll go to Menangle on Saturday nights."
Both Hewitt and Turnbull will look to keep the memorial in Bathurst hands after Mat Rue's Fouroeight claimed a dominant and memorable upset win in last year's race at odds of $61.
Prior to that, the race was taken out by Our Uncle Sam (2020), Alta Orlando (2019) and Our Triple Play (2018).
The Shirley Turnbull Memorial starts at 8.45pm, with the meeting beginning at 6.20pm.
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