It wasn’t just that it was a feature race win. Nor was simply because this is his home track. No, what made Friday night’s Bathurst Gold Cup win so special for Dennis Barnes was that he wasn’t alone this time, he had his family there to share it.
The showpiece of the Bathurst calendar each year is the Gold Cup, and it’s a race Barnes - who calls home Cudal, just out past Orange - has tried unsuccessfully in the past to win. But on Friday his smart bitch Nangar Diva finally got her moment in the spotlight, winning a cup, and the $25,000 cheque which went with it.
“Yeah I’ve had a few in the final of the Bathurst Cup over the years,” Barnes explained. “I won the Orange Cup here (at Bathurst) a few years ago with All Too Fancy, but I have had four or five finalists now in Bathurst Cup finals, and they had been duck eggs … until now.
“This is a big thrill. It’s my home track, and all the family is here.
“I’ve been to Brisbane and won a few races and things like that up there, but the feeling is not the same when you are there on your own, as this feeling I have right now with my family all here.
“This is very, very special. To be able to share it with all the family, this is a great moment for me.”
Nobody could begrudge Barnes and Nangar Diva winning a feature. She has contested four group finals during her 39 start career.
She finished third to the recently retired Feral Franky – who was trackside for his farewell appearance at Bathurst on Friday – in the Group 3 New Sensation last April at Wentworth Park, was fifth to Feral Franky again in the Group 3 Flying Amy at Albion Park in June, then was third in the Group 1 Brisbane Cup there behind Sennachie in July, and in December was fifth behind Sennachie again at Albion Park in the Group 3 Golden Ticket.
“She was back behind them in those races, but she’s been around a little bit and I knew all the fanfare wasn’t going to worry her one bit tonight, actually she was probably up there with the most experienced ones,” Barnes said.
“She hasn’t had a lot of luck in big finals, she’s been drawing upside down, in six or seven or eight, and when she drew the two tonight I gave her a big show.
“I thought with Solar Sky drawn in the middle that she might hold them up out wide a little bit.”
Most said the race could be decided at the start and while it didn’t determine the winner, it played a big part in the ultimate result.
Favourite Good Odds Harada was not fast out and was instantly chopped out between speedy beginners Solar Sky and Shima Breeze.
Shima Breeze wasn’t as fast out as she had been in the heats, but she got around the first turn in second place behind Solar Sky. Stalking the pair was Nangar Diva who raced to the front when the leaders ran wide up the back straight.
Hot on her heels however was Slingshot Hammer, who heading to the top turn, looked a special to get the Cup win.
But just as he ran under Nangar Diva, the leader cut back to the fence and checked the Victorian, who in turn caused disruptions among the following field, and Nanagr Diva got a break, which would be a winning one.
The winner clocked a handy 29.72s with Slingshot Hammer coming again for second 5¼ lengths away, and Djay Holden running on for third a further ¾ lengths away in third.
Solar Sky was fourth with her brother Good Odds Harada never in the hunt finishing fifth.
Earlier in the evening, the hit and run visit of Victorian stayer Rajasthan, saw the Bathurst 618m track record tumble.
Trainer Rob Camilleri brought the stayer north with his Cup runners Slingshot Hammer and Shima Breeze, to give the dog a run before the upcoming features in Melbourne.
Jumping straight to the lead, Rajasthan clocked 35.69s clipping 0.01s off the previous mark which was set by Nellie Lost It back in March 2017.
And in what capped a wonderful night for Dennis Barnes, a dog he bred, Nangar Rust who is now trained by Mick Hardman, was an impressive winner of the Ladbrokes GBOTA Maiden final, beating Boree Belle, another who Barnes bred, while the Bill Kennerson Memorial final went to Amanda Ginn’s Red Azalea.