Persistence pays for veteran Bendigo horse trainer 

BILL Turner is no quitter.

The 81-year-old Bendigo horse trainer has had every reason in the past 18 months to pull the pin on his own career and that of his gelding Atbarrakee.

But that’s not Bill’s way.

“I came down with golden staph 18 months ago and I was in hospital on my back in Melbourne for three months,’’ Turner said.

“Everything got away from me back here... but slowly I got back to it.

“There was no way I was going to stop (training). I love the horses too much.

“Every day I’m up at 3.30am. I can’t seem to sleep past 3.30am.

“Three days a week I go and help Allen Browell at his stables as well.

“I started working with horses when I was 12 in New Zealand, so why give up now? It keeps me going.”

Turner trained stakes winners in New Zealand, including five winners from five runners at a two-day carnival at Invercargill.

He moved to Bendigo in 1990 where he enjoyed success with gallopers Disrupt and Go Zephyr Go.

Turner has slowed down in the past decade, but he still likes to keep a handful of horses in work.

Unheralded gelding Atbarrakee is the only one of Turner’s five horses racing at the moment.

Plenty of trainers would have given up on Atbarrakee, but not Turner.

Atbarrakee is owned by Keith Rawiller, the father of jockeys Nash, Brad and Stacey Rawiller, and was previously trained by the jockeys’ sibling Todd Rawiller.

When Todd moved to Sydney late last year, Keith gave Atbarrakee to Turner to train.

Leading into its last start, Atbarrakee had started 31 times for no wins, four seconds and two thirds. 

In 13 of those 31 starts the horse finished last or second last.

A record like that is usually enough to see a horse’s career come to a close, but Turner stuck with Atbarrakee.

His patience was rewarded at Wycheproof on Victoria Derby Day when the five-year-old won a maiden by two lengths.

“It was a good win, but I will say that I wouldn’t like to own the horses he beat home,’’ Turner said.

Maybe the form out of the race is better than Turner first thought.

The second horse Jadestra won a maiden at Mornington on Monday.

“Horses are easy to train, it’s hard to train owners, though,’’ Turner said with a chuckle.

“Keith thought this horse could be a stayer, but this horse wouldn’t stay if it fell down a mine shaft. He’d pull up halfway down.

“This horse is a sprinter and he needs to be held up for one run.

“Stacey rode him perfectly at Wycheproof and he won well.”

Stacey can now boast that she’s achieved something that Nash and Brad are yet to conquer in their distinguished careers – ride a winner on a horse owned by their father.

Atbarrakee will have start number 33 at Bendigo today in a class one handicap over 1100m.

“The horse hasn’t missed a beat,’’ Turner said. “He’s better than what people think. 

“I think he could win three or four of those non-TAB races.

“The Bendigo race will probably be too tough for him, but he’s got ability and he could scrape into the money.”

TWO OLD MATES: Bill Turner with his galloper Atbarrakee.      Picture: PETER WEAVING

TWO OLD MATES: Bill Turner with his galloper Atbarrakee. Picture: PETER WEAVING


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