Day At The Track

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, December 11, 2019-- Harness racing driver Jason Bartlett's first words about Mach it a Par were hardly the stuff of testimonials. "She doesn't look like much, her gait isn't the smoothest, very choppy, she has to use many more steps to cover same amount of ground," her usual chauffeur said. "But"--and there's always a 'but'--"what no one could measure was her heart." Mach it a Par makes the 182nd and final start of her seven-figure career Friday night (Dec. 13th), after which she'll be honored by her home away from home, Yonkers Raceway. Entering the $22,000 second race, the 9-year-old daughter of Mach Three has made her last 87 starts in Westchester for co-owners D'Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, T L P Stable and the Gandolfo Stables, "She's not supposed to do the thing she's done," trainer Richard Banca said of the 52-time winner. "She did overcome so much, all sorts of foot issues. She's just been tremendous and gets around Yonkers great. I don't know why, maybe it's her size. She took a (1:50.3) mark there (September of 2016, Brian Sears driving), which I think was a world record at the time. We've had her since early (March) 2016. I think the owners paid $60,000 for her. She was racing at Pompano. She had a lot of wins, but hadn't made much money. "We put her right in the (2016 Blue Chip) Matchmaker," Banca said. "She was probably eligible to non-winners of $10,000 (in last five starts), but we threw her in the series. She ended up winning and paying a lot ($81, George Brennan driving) and that really surprised us. There weren't that many surprises after a career-best '16 season (39 starts, 13 wins, nine seconds, eight thirds, $404,200), with Yonkers as her nearly-exclusive place to race. The past two full seasons have seen Mach it a Par pay her way, earning $200,000-plus in each. "It's not that she can't race anymore (six wins, more than $144,000 in 2019)," Banca said. "The owners just want to breed her (to as as-of-now undetermined New York stallion)," It wasn't all sunshine and Skittles on the track for Mach it a Par, however. The lass cost herself any number of winner's circle pictures and a fair amount of coin by not necessarily pacing the straight and narrow through the lane. "We never could figure out why she runs out," Banca said. "She doesn't do it every time (cue Bartlett...'She was a winner last [Friday] night [Dec. 6th], but off the last turn, she wants to go and get a hamburger in the grandstand') and we've tried some equipment changes, but then she ran in." So, there. Mach it a Par wasn't always pretty, but with more than $1.1 million on account, she was pretty good. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Thursday evening’s (Dec. 12th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $4,791.45 and a $15,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee is in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 6 through 10 Thursday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Tuesday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Recently announced Nappanee, Indiana, Citizen Of The Year, Ola Yoder stunned the harness racing world with a significant investment buying five sensational broodmares for $690,000 at the recent White Birch Farm dispersal sale held at Harrisburg in November. Ola Yoder turned to standardbreds recently when he took a shot buying Enterprise, a Chapter Seven stallion who won an elimination of the Hambletonian in 2017 and shipped to Sweden for racing the year after. Enterprise since has served well over 100 mares in 2019 at Dublin Valley Farms in Ohio. "I'm retiring from my business a Cabinet Company called Kountry Wood Products" Ola says in an interview on Harness Racing Update. Yoder has a simple game plan investing in standardbreds to sell high-priced, well-bred yearlings in the future feature sales, Lexington and Harrisburg. That is what Ola Yoder wants to achieve. The mares from the White Birch Farm dispersal that Ola bought were; Dragon's Tale - Dam of Workin Ona Mystery and in foal to Captaintreacherous Please Beehave  a Muscle Hill sister to Bee A Magician and in foal to Chapter Seven Belclare  dam of Captain Victorious and in foal to Captaintreacherous World Of Rock a sister to Worldly Beauty and in foal to Captaintreacherous Western Silk (Open) has a 1:49 record with over $1.6m in earnings. Since purchasing these mares in November, Ola Yoder again invested when the opportunity came, just announced last week, this time privately buying the Breeders Crown three-year-old Trotting Champion filly of 2019, Winndevie. Winndevie seen here winning The 2019 Breeders Crown (New Image Media Photo) Winndevie was one of North America’s leading three-year-old filly trotters in 2019 (by Credit Winner), whose late-charging success in the $655,000 Breeders Crown in a lifetime best 1:53 at Mohawk, was her crowning achievement in a glittering career.  To read the recent article on the impact of Ola Yoder and his purchase of Winndevie click on this link. Ola Yoder is our "Rookie Of The Year" in harness racing by making a significant investment in the future of the State of Ohio's standardbred breeding Industry. ...................................................................... Here is some background about Ola Yoder and his Company found on Buzz File; Kountry Wood Products is located in Nappanee, Indiana. This organization primarily operates in the Wood Kitchen Cabinets business / industry within the Lumber and Wood Products, Except Furniture sector. This organization has been operating for approximately 21 years and employs approximately 210 people at this headquarters location and 425 total employees across all locations producing some 1.4 million Cabinets annually. This organization is engaged in manufacturing activities at this facility. Harnesslink Media ...................................................... Below is truly an inspiring story about Ola Yoder, his life and his Faith The visitation room at the correctional facility looked like an elementary school cafeteria that hadn’t been updated since 1974. The walls were taupe but for two bold roller-rink stripes of maroon and blue. The tiled floor was patterned to make the room feel busier than it already was. Vinyl furniture was arranged around the room, creating faux privacy for families and loved ones. If not for the heavyset guards at the north end of the room and the steel-reinforced, bullet-proof Plexiglas, you might feel like you were at a support group meeting in a church basement as much as a prison visitation room Ola Yoder sat in the middle of the room and stood out. Crisp white short-sleeve button-down shirt tucked into black flat-front dress pants. Work-scuffed black dress shoes with black suspenders. This was Ola’s uniform. Work, leisure, meetings, Sunday church, family gatherings, prison visits. A uniform style of dress that discourages physical appearance as a source of pride, Ola and his religious community had learned that simplicity reflects universal values of humility and modesty. His Shenandoah beard and solemn gaze gave away his faith. But Ola never concerned himself much with what others think of him. He sat across from Eli Weaver with an open mind and a full heart. As he had done countless times before, Ola sought to comfort Eli and to understand what he had done. This was Ola’s fourth visit of the year. For Ola, you reach out to someone in trouble in your community and help them…and when you can’t help, you try to understand. You see, in 2009, a life had been taken — the life of a member of the community, a woman who was the mother of 5, and the wife of Eli Weaver. Hundreds of miles from Ola’s home, family, and business, the murder shook him. What would cause someone who grew up learning the ways of pacifism and peace to turn to violence and murder his wife? It just didn’t make sense. How could someone be so troubled as to murder an innocent woman, in their house, with their children present, seated in the middle of an Ohio Amish community? Hundreds of miles west, back in Nappanee, Indiana, an empire continues to grow. Dozens of semi-trailers litter the area behind locked gates. Hidden inside each, packed perfectly, are dozens of kitchen cabinets made by a company whose reputation is highly regarded by customers and vendors alike. Kountry Wood is a huge part of Ola’s legacy, though he’d never say it himself. His children, his faith, his works, his community — they would all be mentioned first, as well they should. But one cannot tell the story of Ola Yoder without understanding the beauty of his products. The company was started just 20 years ago in Ola’s barn. Today, it spans well over 250,000 square feet of factory floor, and it’s growing yearly. The company turns out over 1.4 million kitchen cabinets each year, with under 500 hard-working employees. The factory floor is clean A short tour around Kountry Wood would leave anyone blown away. The factory floor is clean — not clean like a standard factory floor, but immaculately clean like a hospital and biochemical lab. Skilled craftspeople delicately sand and stain at their respective stations. Between those stations runs a factory line that looks more like something that should be producing Tesla Model Xs than Nappanee’s favorite cabinetry. Laser precision guides nearly every step of the process, all the way through custom corrugated cardboard packaging built for each product. A red digital counter hangs from the middle of the ceiling reminding everyone of the day’s goals and current production numbers. Today, like most days, the factory has run so efficiently that by 3:00 p.m. the workers have surpassed production goals and only a few folks remain at work. The employees look happy to be involved. Ola doesn’t allow employees to use drugs of any sort in the workplace; in fact, he doesn’t even allow them to curse on the premises. Despite the dual monitors at every cubicle; despite the computer-guided factory floor; despite the beautiful efficiency…Kountry Wood, like everything lucky enough to be touched by Ola, is steeped to the core in his faith, and it shows. That faith, while understated by nature, is crucial. Ola Yoder is many things. A business mogul by any measure. A researcher tasked with understanding human behavior of the worst kind. A humanitarian. A human, endlessly proud of his wife and family. That faith is a common thread that can weave together all sides of the man. It’s the same faith that guided him to help those five orphans stay afloat after their mother was murdered and their father was imprisoned. It’s the same faith that comforts the man who put his children in that position — who stole their foundation and, if not for Ola’s kindness, almost stole their livelihood. One of several Awards that Ola Yoder has received for helping young people in his community There’s an Amish proverb that provides a thesis for Ola’s life: “The most important things in your home are people.” Ola, like many of his peers, believes that home goes well beyond four walls, a farm, or even a factory. That is the power of Ola’s faith. And now that faith is taking acts to a new level. Ola pulls a black, oversized handle. Hand-formed wrought iron has its own story to tell. A story of a craftsman like Ola, firing and hammering away — removing excess and shaping the remains until he finds perfection. It’s symbolic of Ola’s empire: the pull is simple, understated, without frills or excess, but it forms something beautiful. He and his longtime advisor, Brian Hoffer, walk through the oversized oaken doors. Inside is an amazing space that would drop the jaws of the most seasoned architects. Ola's new event center donated to the Nappanee Community Suited and put together, a lawyer focusing on finance and estate planning, Brian lets a smile break through. Who could help it? After working together since the beginning, Brian feels emotionally tied to Ola’s great work too, and he should. There is simply no reining in Ola’s philanthropic spirit. But, like the few cut from his same cloth in this world, Ola has a hard time approaching philanthropy in the same way he does business. So Brian’s recent guidance has been important in taking some big strides forward. Together with Brian’s guidance and the professionals at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Ola has recently opened a donor-advised fund to help him and his wife, Vera make the most of their charity. The fund allows the Yoder’s to help guide funds into the charitable projects that are most important to them, while still benefiting from the expert fund management being performed by the Foundation. Ola paces across the beautiful wood floors and takes in the status of another big project an example of his generous outreach: an event space befitting his community and reminiscent of his spirit. Enormous wooden beams span the ceiling several stories overhead. Like a barn-home made for giants, the new space is open, expansive, and natural and says everything about Ola’s heritage and craftsmanship. He called in a specialized Amish engineering team to ensure the building’s floor was free of supports in an enormous center section. The space is a work of art and will provide a center for activities of thousands in and around the community. While the event space will be used by the community for festivals, events, and fundraisers, it isn’t the only project Ola has his eyes on. He has an unwavering passion for the next generation. And when Ola heard from Foundation president Pete McCown about the good work being done at CAPS (Child and Parent Services), he knew he had to help. As quickly as Ola learns about a new project aimed to do good, he gets himself involved. His new fund is just another tool at his disposal. As Ola walks out of Grafton Correctional, he hears the invasive buzz of gates and barred doors. The low thud of a heavy steel door separates him again from Eli. Faint clangs and muffled yells create a harsh mixture of background noise that echoes through the walls of the sterile prison. Ola knows Eli will spend the next 15 years locked in that institution. He knows much or all of his life may well be spent inside those cold walls. He also knows that his own simple visits warm the days that surround them for Eli,and that Eli has grown in the time he has spent incarcerated. He knows that no soul is defined — and certainly not lost — in its worst moment. He believes firmly in the transformative power of love…a love he expresses to his family and to his community. The most important things in your home are people. For Ola, he calls home his humble farm; his ever-growing factory; his new event center — Sammlung Platz (translated — “The Gathering Place”). He calls home Nappanee, Indiana, and the Amish community. He calls home the whole of Elkhart County, where his fund will impact the lives of thousands. He calls home the many nonprofits offering love and forgiveness. He calls home Grafton, and Eli struggling to live with the heinous things he’s done. For Ola, home extends far beyond the property line. And the most important things in his home are the people. Reprinted with permission of The Community Foundation of Elkhart County  

By Jonny Turner    Oamaru trotting fanatic Rob McIntosh will realise a lifelong dream if Majestic Man wins the Interdominion Trotting Final at Alexandra Park on Saturday night. McIntosh is one several Otago and Southland based members of the Griffins Syndicate, which race the 5yr-old from Phil Williamson’s barn. Few owners have shown the dedication to the Interdominion series McIntosh has over the past two years. Last year he was on hand to witness Griffins Syndicate trotter Monty Python run in all three heats of Melbourne Interdominion before he ran third in its final to Tornado Valley. McIntosh travelled back and forth from Oamaru to work around his work commitments as a truck driver.  He has not missed a step Majestic Man or Monty Python have made at Alexandra Park during this year’s series. McIntosh’s passion for trotting means it would be almost impossible for him not to be at the track on Saturday night to watch Majestic Man again. That passion is driven by his earliest involvement in the sport at a young age. And it is one that is linked to the 1965 series run in McIntosh’s home province at Forbury Park. “Where it really began was I used to go over to Harry Cox’s stable at Winton and work with the racehorses - he was mum’s uncle,” McIntosh said.  “I loved it.” “He had a big photo over the fireplace of a horse winning the Interdominion trotting final at Forbury Park called Poupette.” “Every time I went there I always looked at that photo and thought hopefully one day I could be involved in a race like that myself.” “Right to this day, forty odd years later, I can still envisage that photo.” McIntosh developed a passion for the trotting gait that could have led him close to Interdominion success in 1994. A friend told the trotting enthusiast of an opportunity to join the syndicate that raced former hardy Southland squaregaiter Diamond Field. But, McIntosh did not pursue it because he felt the Cox trained David Moss, as well as another former Southland trotter Night Allowance, would have the horse’s measure in big races. McIntosh said he shared a joke with Diamond Field’s winning driver Tony Herlihy about the near miss during this year’s series. McIntosh was given the opportunity to take a vacant spot in the Griffin’s Syndicate after being involved in a similar syndicate years on McIntosh has not looked back since then as the group have racked up dozens of trotting wins. “I have had a ball being in the syndicate.” “You get to meet a lot of great people and have a lot of fun.” “Syndicates are a great way for people to be involved without it costing a lot of money.” McIntosh is not the only Oamaru based member of the syndicate. The mother and daughter duo of Glenda and Kirsty Stevenson also race Majestic Man. Several owners are also based in Dunedin and further south. McIntosh said more than 20 of the Griffin’s Syndicate to be on hand to watch Majestic Man on Saturday night. There looks a big chance for the group to be celebrating a win, going on Majestic Man’s three excellent heat runs. Win, lose or otherwise McIntosh said will be proud of his horse and he was already planning his trip to next year’s Interdominion in Sydney. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Young Ararat harness racing couple Michael Gadsden and Denbeigh Wade are enjoying the ride of their life at the moment. The training and driving partnership recently made it back-to-back city wins with stable newcomer trotting mare Maorishadow (Pegasus Spur- Maoris Lass (Speed Supreme). "Steve Blacker is a friend of ours and a passionate owner in the sport, and we couldn't believe it when he told us he'd bought her and was giving it to us to race," Gadsden said. "Stephen has horses with Aaron Dunn at Horsham, but he said we were the square-gaiter experts, which was nice, and that was that! "I suppose we have gone a bit trotting mad-we have four horses in work at present and they are all square gaiters. We actually do have one pacer, but he's having a spell in the paddock." Gadsden said Maorishadow was purchased from well-known Bendigo trainer David Van Ryn, who had won three with her from just 12 starts. "I still don't know how Stephen was lucky enough to buy her. He got talking to David at the recent St Arnaud Cup meeting and that was when the deal was sealed. It was fantastic for us because the horse was in great order and also in terrific form," he said. Maorishadow has trotted faultlessly for Wade, who gets the driving duties. Gadsden, a farrier by trade, trains as well as shoes their small team. After winning first-up for them at Melton on November 22, they repeated the dose again last Friday. The couple have enjoyed metropolitan success previously with Ainthatrightmacca-you've guessed it, yes, he was a square-gaiter, and a very good one at that! "We won a Melton race with him and he was also fourth in the 2017 G1 $50,000 Bill Collins Trotters Sprint at 33/1 which was exciting. He ended up winning about five for us and a heap of placings," Gadsden said. The pair, who have been based at Ararat since 2013, grew up in the same area of north-west Victoria. While Gadsden was educated at Robinvale (Victoria), Wade attended Euston Primary School which is only a short distance away on the other side of the Murray River in NSW and later attended Coomealla High School, near Mildura. "We've got a lovely little property right near the Ararat track. When it come up for sale, we jumped at it because we knew it would just work out perfect for us," Gadsden said. "It's ideal and we can cater for more horses, and our long-range plan is to train a bigger team-it's something we both have always aimed to do," he said. Gadsden has developed into a fine farrier and says spending 13 months with Anton Golino at Yabby Dam Farms was invaluable. "I was there for three or four days a week and I learned a lot because Anton is widely known for his expertise with trotters," he said. While the Gadsden/Wade combination is thoroughly enjoying their recent success, they have mapped out one particular carnival they want to be part of. "We will certainly be attending our hometown Mildura Pacing Cup next March and April-and this time with a trotter for the special races they put on during the carnival. We had planned to do it this year, but things went amiss," Gadsden said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

After 3259 wins it is still there for Maurice McKendry. Not just the talent. That was never in doubt. Never has been since the little fella left Methven nearly 40 years ago to try his luck in the big smoke. What is still there is the rush, that thrill a good horse can still give even a legend even in “the twilight of my career.” That twilight has shone a little brighter during this Inter Dominion after McKendry got the call up to partner A G’s White Socks. Just three weeks ago A G’s White Socks wasn’t coming to the series and McKendry was resigned to watching it from the driver’s room after his sole Interdom steer, trotter Lemond, was withdrawn. Now McKendry goes into Saturday’s final with two heat wins under his belt and maybe the best chance to upset hot favourite Ultimate Sniper. A G’s White Socks reminded us how good he is with his two heat wins and peeled off a sizzling last 800m in defeat last Friday. McKendry has also had an Interdom to remember, perfectly patient winning his opening night heat, aggressive enough to attack an All Stars runner and wrest control of his second round heat. So how does it feel to be one of the stories of an Inter Dominion which must have felt like it had passed McKendry by? “It has been fun,” he says with his trademark half giggle. “After Lemond got pulled out I thought I wouldn’t be part of it all and then I got the call up for this horse, which I really didn’t see coming. “I didn’t know what to expect from him but I have really enjoyed it. “Even at this stage of my career, when maybe I am getting close to winding down a bit, that feeling is still the same when you drive a good horse. “When they let down and sprint is a great feeling. It is fun, a rush, even now.” That is one reason McKendry still loves going to work at 64 years old, because the sensation is the same as four decades ago on the training tracks of Mid Canterbury. “I love the speed. I always have. And when you sit behind the good horses and they let down, it feels special. “So to be here, driving a horse trained by Barry in the final, it is a real bonus.” It is odd to think that McKendry needs to remind us of his talents. He is, after all, one of only two New Zealanders with over 3000 domestic wins. The other is his good mate Tony Herlihy, who McKendry has sat next to in the Alexandra Park driver’s room for as long as anybody remembers. Like famous Brazilian soccer players they require only one name inside the industry, say Tony or Maurice and everybody knows who you are talking about. But their Inter Dominion records are vastly different, Herlihy with 37 total career victories at the Interdoms including four trotting finals, McKendry has nine heat wins. That is not about ability, but opportunity. And those opportunities are becoming rarer. “It has always been hard to get on good horses, it is a hard game,” says McKendry. “And it is harder now because there are less horses and less trainers, and many of the bigger stables already have their drivers. “But I am still getting a few drives so I am in no hurry to retire. I think I’ll know when I have had enough or I am starting to lose it.” The last fortnight tells us that won’t be any time soon. So what does Saturday hold for McKendry and his rejuvenated Grand Final hope? From barrier seven A G’s White Socks looks best placed of the favourites to try and bustle to the lead and maybe take a sit on hot favourite Ultimate Sniper? “Hard to tell,” says the understated one. “It doesn’t look the strongest front line so he might be able to work around them and get in front of Natalie’s horse. “But if I try and it doesn’t work out that can go bad. I’ll ask Barry (Purdon) what he thinks but he will probably tell me he is fine with whatever I think,” comes the laugh again. “So you can’t have too much of a plan. Sometimes you go on your gut instinct as the gate pulls away, “And to be honest, sometimes that is completely wrong.” The good news for A G’s White Socks punters is, 3259 times the gut instinct has been right. THE MAGIC MAN Who: Maurice McKendry Career record: 3259 New Zealand driving victories. Stakes: $28,846,425 in New Zealand. Highlights: 10 New Zealand driving premierships. Next: Pilots A G’s White Socks in the $500,000 IRT Inter Dominion Pacing Final at Alexandra Park on Saturday night.   By Michael Guerin

By Garrick Knight    Two vastly-contrasting days at Manawatu Raceway saw a change of leader in the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship on Tuesday. New South Welshman, Cameron Hart, had been perfect through the first three races of the series, going unbeaten. But the wheels fell off in a big way when Hart’s first two drives took no part in their races and were pulled up, giving him the least possible points yield. In contrast, Canterbury’s Sarah O’Reilly had a near-perfect day, recording two wins and a second placing to leapfrog to the top of the table with three heats to go. “I was lucky to drive some nice horses today,” said O’Reilly. One of them was Auckland visitor Ace Strike, who was too good in the last on the card despite sitting parked. “He had good gate speed but Rake wasn’t going to hand up to me. “So, I just let him do his own thing out parked and he was nice and relaxed. “I thought rounding the last bend that we could pick the one in front up because he just kept responding.” The tour was only originally supposed to have two heats at the meeting, but an excess of nominations meant the juniors were treated to three heats. “I would like to thank the trainers who put their horses in the champs,” said O’Reilly. “I’m having a great time so far and it is great to meet new people on the trip.” O’Reilly sits on 65 points, seven clear of Hart, who managed a fifth behind Scelta Uno in the final heat of the day, while kiwis Benjamin Butcher (45) and Sheree Tomlinson (39) are next best, then Perth’s Corey Peterson (36). Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The beach is just the tonic for the mind, body and spirit...and for star trotter Tough Monarch and his Sydney harness racing trainer Rickie Alchin as the big dance looms! Alchin's partner Nikki took Tough Monarch for a stroll and a splash in the sea this week and Alchin said the eight year old loved the trip. "We love taking them to the beach if we can and all the horses enjoy it - it's a bit of fun and we find it's relaxing for them," Alchin said. "Maraetai Beach is not far away from the stables of John and Josh Dickie, at Clevedon, where we are staying," he said. Tough Monarch is one of two Aussie hopes in the rich NZ Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Final at Alexandra Park, Auckland this Saturday night. Also flying the flag for Australia is Big Jack Hammer, from the Aiken stable, which has drawn the pole. Alchin said he was confident his horse was at his peak, and everyone associated with Team Tough Monarch was looking forward to it. "All the owners will be over here cheering him on. His past two runs for a fifth and second placing were pleasing. He really hit the line well in both of those," he said. Tough Monarch is awkwardly drawn, but NZ ex-pat Anthony Butt, who is now domiciled at Menangle with partner Sonya Smith, will take the reins. Tough Monarch clearing his head at Maraetai Beach this week If anyone can make their own luck on a big occasion, it's Butt, and he knows the circuit like the back of his hand. "The barrier draw isn't great (No 11, three from the inside of the back row), so it does come back to needing a bit of luck, but Tough Monarch's at the top of his game and I think he's all set to run a big race," Alchin said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The Hanley Formula Australasian Young Drivers Championship moved North on Tuesday to Manawatu Raceway at Palmerston North for heats four to six of the series. Prior to the start of the day, NSW driver Cameron Hart was the trailblazing leader with wins in each of the three heats and accordingly held a 27 point lead over the rest of the competition. Any luck that Hart had although vanished at Manawatu and Hart had a day to forget, with his first two drives failing to finish and his third a midfield finish. It was a day out for New Zealander Sarah O'Reilly, recording a terrific double and passing Hart as the new leader of the AYDC. O'Reilly tasted victory with Final Delight for trainer Michael House who won six races in the meeting, and with Ace Strike for trainer Steve Telfer in the final heat of the night. O'Reilly was thrilled with her day at Manawatu, recording her first double in her career and is enjoying the AYDC competition, ''It's been a great experience so far and good to meet lots of new people, I was lucky enough to get on some really nice horses today and thanks to the trainers for their support.'' North Island New Zealand representative, Benjamin Butcher made it a dominant day for the kiwis with victory with Molly Dooker in the first heat. Sarah O'Reilly now leads the AYDC by 7 points over Hart, with Benjamin Butcher a further 13 points back, with Manawatu holding the next set of heats on Thursday. The update points score after six heats is as follows:     Sarah O’Reilly (NZ)          65 Cam Hart (NSW)             58 Benjamin Butcher (NZ)     45 Sheree Tomlinson (NZ)     39 Corey Peterson (WA)       36 John Morrison (NZ)           34 Matt Elkins (QLD)            34 Brodie Webster (SA)        28 Zac Phillips (VIC)             24 Conor Crook (TAS)           19     Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

By Jonny Turner    The little foal that could has the opportunity to confirm his rise to being the giant of the Australasian pacing ranks in Saturday night’s Interdominion final. The toughness and determination final favourite Ultimate Sniper has shown during the championship is nothing new for the son of Bettor’s Delight and Reality Check. Four years ago, the pacer showed his Westport Breeders Graeme and Katrina Walsh the kind of willing attitude that has helped the 4yr-old pass tests of stamina in the series heats that few of his rivals could attempt to complete, let alone pass with flying colours. When the striking black foal’s days of cruising around his West Coast paddock without a care in the world were over, he showed the Walshes when he wants to win, he generally does. “He has obviously got that attitude and that will to win where he just doesn’t seem to get tired,” Graeme Walsh said. “When he was a foal he was just a very determined little fellow.” “He was always had a great nature – Ultimate Machete didn’t have the best of natures – but Sniper did.” “He always had that iron will, even when you are weaning and teaching him things, it would always take that much longer because he would decide he was the boss until he was beat.” Walsh pointed out Ultimate Sniper’s willing attitude is there for all who flick back through his race replays to see. “He has never been beaten when he has been in front or parked.” Excitement is building with the Walshes as Ultimate Sniper approaches the chance to stamp the biggest win yet on his dam’s already impressive resume. An Interdominion Pacing Final victory would surpass Ultimate Sniper’s derby winning deeds, as well as those of his brother, Ultimate Machete, and half-sister, Major Reality. And if the 4yr-old can accomplish the incredible feat, it will be a case of the horse fulfilling the faith his breeders had in him. “We follow him very closely, so we are very excited about it,” Walsh said. “He has come back like the horse we thought he could come back like, it just took that little bit longer at the start of the season.” “I always remember when he won the 3yr-old Sales Series race at New Years and Natalie got off him and said this is the best 3yr-old I have driven.” “So, then I thought he is going to go on with it, but there was a month or so there in October when I thought where has this horse gone.” “He just took a little bit longer to come up, but he is making up for lost time now.” While Ultimate Sniper has been wowing harness fans during the Interdominions, the rest of his family have been busy producing their next star. His dam, Reality Check, is back in foal to Bettor’s Delight after giving birth to another healthy filly foal by the sire, this spring. Ultimate Sniper’s three quarter brother was transported to Canterbury this week to be prepared for the upcoming national yearling sales. The Walshes have high hopes son of Bettor’s Delight and American Ideal mare Ideal Reality can continue his family’s winning tradition. “He is a bit bigger than Ultimate Sniper, but he is a strong and determined horse.” “He is probably the nicest colt we have produced.” The colt is lot 369 in the Christchurch section of next year’s sale.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

New Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) CEO Dayle Brown (pictured) has declared “the shackles are off” and encouraged his executive management team to “be bold” as the long-term strategic direction of the industry is developed. Speaking with Michael Felgate on RSN’s Racing Pulse this morning, Brown, who started at HRV in November, said harness racing had to “meet the market” and deliver “a product that people want to consume”. “You have to look at what drives people to want to participate, what people want to support and what people want to consume,” he said. “You have to be in the front of people’s minds and be ubiquitous … nothing is off the table going forward as we develop our strategy.” Brown has also called on the industry to have their say in the future direction of harness racing, encouraging people to attend one of several consultation sessions around Victoria in coming months. Starting with Cranbourne on December 16, Brown will visit harness racing centres across the state during December, January and February where he and members of the HRV Executive will listen to feedback. “When I go around and talk to the participants it will be great to find out what they want to see. What can we do to incentivise breeding? Race programming – we need to be bold and innovative. What does the industry want to see? Wagering, what do we do in terms of our licence going forward? It’s all up for discussion.” The January and February dates of Brown’s consultation tour will be finalised and released in coming days. Related coverage: Back to the city: Are the trots heading back to the big smoke?   HRV Trots Media

Top Down Under harness racing horsemen create spectacular finish at The Meadowlands. Down Under Trainers, Nifty Norman and Noel Daley dead-heated the $65,000 SBOA Final for 3yo Trotters at The Meadowlands Raceway in New Jersey on Friday night. With Down Under reins men Andrew McCarthy driving the Noel Daley trained runner and amazingly Dexter Dunn driving the third place getter. Making it a rare four way trifecta involvement for Down Under Trainers and Drivers in a North American race. The winning horses being Evident Beauty and Princess Deo, both 3yo Filly’s by Trixton trotted the mile in 1:52.2. The third place getter who was driven by Dexter Dunn, Lucius Vorenus is by Father Patrick. This was a very early win for Noel Daley since he recently returned to training in North America after having a stint in Sydney, Australia as head trainer for Emilio and Mary Rosati, Team Stride. The dead-heated win was Nifty Normans 118th winner for the season and took his stake earnings past the $4.2 million mark for 2019. Andrew McCarthy gained his 236th win for the season and extended his stake earnings to over $7.3 million for 2019. Also Dexter Dunn has driven 424 winners and earned over $11.6 million in prize money for his 2019 North American driving career. Here is that race   Monday 2nd December Northfield Park OH Sporty Spook A – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $12,500 He Can Fly N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $11,800   Rosecroft  Raceway MD Our Jerry Lee N – Time: 1:55.3, Stake: $6,500   Tuesday 3rd November Dover Downs DE Shared Interest A – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $9,000   Monticello Raceway NY Steel The Deal N – Time: 1:58.0, Stake: $6,300   Yonkers Raceway NY Bettor Spirits N – Time: 1:55.2, Stake: $12,500 Torrid Bromac N – Time: 1:55.3, Stake: $17,000   Wednesday 4th December Dover Downs DE Bettor Trix N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $9,500   Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Midnight Dylan N – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $8,000 Big On Personality N – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $16,000   Thursday 5th December Dover Downs DE Trojan Banner N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $15,000 Mister Ohanzee A – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $15,000 Duplicated N – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $25,000 Glengarry Knight N – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $14,500   Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway OH Nicol Shard N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $8,500 Montana Pablo A – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $4,500   Monticello Raceway NY Fiery Lustre N – Time: 2:03.1, Stake: $3,000   Saratoga Harness NY Coverdndiamonds N – Time: 1:56.4, Stake: $9,100 Lady Dela Renta A – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $18,000 Sea Change N – Time: 1:57.4, Stake: $8,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Sezana N – Time: 1:55.0, Stake: $14,500 Texas Terror N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $20,000   Friday 6th December Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Western Rockstar A – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $9,500 Ideal Lifestyle A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $11,000 Followthewind N – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $7,000 Lincolns Girl N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $17,000   Meadowlands NJ Polak A – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $17,000   The Meadows PA Bit Of A Tiger N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $11,200   Yonkers Raceway NY Dream Out Loud N – Time: 1:55.4, Stake: $17,000 Dibaba N – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $42,000   Fraser Downs CA Sell A Bit N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $50,000   Saturday 7th December Batavia Downs NY Brunello N – Time: 1:57.2, Stake: $11,000   Freehold Raceway NJ Machiatto A – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $7,700 Warminster A – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $9,000   Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway OH Lettucerockthem A – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $13,000   Meadowlands NJ Campora N – Time: 1:51.1, Stake: $12,500   Saratoga Harness NY Real Lucky N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $10,170 Down Under Trifecta – 2nd Tenacious One A, 3rd The Great Buzz N Bettors Fire N – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $18,000 One Off Delight N – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $11,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Marty Monkhouser N – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $25,000 Solid Asa Rock A – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $20,000 Rakapuka Ruler N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $42,000 Bright Diamond N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $22,000   Sunday 8th December Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Quick Fun N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $15,000 Jacks Shadow N – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $14,500 Bevans Cullen N – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $11,000   Saratoga Harness NY Mr Cool Seaeyre N – Time: 1:58.2, Stake: $19,250   Previous weeks 3rd December 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 26th November 2019 + Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 19th November 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 12th November 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 5th of Nov 2019 + Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 29th October 2019 + Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 22nd October 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 15th October 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 8th October 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 1st October 2019 - Down Under Winners with Carter Dalgety 24th Sep 2019 - Down Under Winners with Carter Dalgety 17th Sep 2019 - Down Under Winners with Carter Dalgety 11th Sep 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 3rd Sep 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 27th Aug 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 20th Aug 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 12th Aug 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 5th Aug 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 29 Jul 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 24 Jul 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety Carter Dalgety

Dover, DE – The 2015 Harness Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit, is entered to race at Dover Downs on Thursday December 12. Wiggle It Jiggleit drew post four, and will compete in the 12th race Open Pace.  He is trained by Clyde Francis for owners George Teague Jr. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC. Wiggle It Jiggleit’s accomplishments include the 2015 Dan Patch Horse Of The Year award and victories in the Meadowlands Pace, North America Cup and The Little Brown Jug.  He has bankrolled just under four million dollars in lifetime earnings. The seven-year-old gelded son of Mr Wiggles qualified at Dover Downs recently, pacing the mile in 1:54.4 with a last half mile in :55.4 and last quarter in :27.2  The 12th race Open Pace field includes the following horses: 1. Dragonology 2. Asap Hanover 3. Larry Karr 4. Wiggle It Jiggleit 5  Rock Lights 6. Billy Badger N 7  Q’s Cruise 8. Bo Mach By Alex Kraszewski, for Dover Downs

Sydneysider Robert Morris didn't take long to get into the winner's circle during his latest harness racing border-hopping raid. Morris, who trains out of "Lucky Lodge" with his wife KerryAnn at Menangle, has taken a strong team of eight horses to campaign in Queensland for the next few weeks. A similar hit and run visit during the Queensland winter carnival saw the popular horseman land more than a dozen winners, collecting $85,000 in stakemoney. "We sort of decided on this trip after we checked out the program for their Summer Carnival and we hopefully have the right horses for the right time," Morris said. The trip started off in promising fashion at Brisbane headquarters Albion Park on Friday night, with a narrow second placing with Take In The Gold. Gotta Be Downtown (Gotta Go Cullect-Downtown HollyBrown) went one better and got the money on Saturday in the $13,000 Changeover @ Burwood Stud Mares Qualifying Pace. "She's a nice mare owned by Neil Edge over in New Zealand. After wins at Bathurst, Goulburn and Penrith, she did well at a few Menangle runs," Morris said. "Hopefully she can keep doing the job for us. She's the only one we train for Neil at the moment. He breeds a few each year, but normally concentrates on square-gaiters," he said. Morris said he was on "a bit of a downer" over the poor performance of in-form four-year-old trotting mare Princess Kenny, who ran ninth being beaten by 32 metres. "I thought she was my best chance but didn't fire a shot. I'll have to try and sort that one out in the next few days because there's another round of championship heats coming up," he said. "It was disappointing because she's been in terrific form winning her previous four starts fairly easily back home. "She will now need to do something special to get herself a place in the Group One Final of $50,000 on Saturday week, December 21, but we'll give it our best." Robert Morris The Championship is named in the memory of former legendary horseman Darrell Alexander, who was a fitness fanatic throughout his life, but was diagnosed with a brain tumor in late 2004 and sadly passed away in March 2005. He was only 65. Alexander, fondly known as DJA, was born and grew up in Wynyard, Tasmania. He went on to take the sport in the Apple Isle by storm, winning five 'Tassie' premiership titles and a host of feature events. A holiday in Queensland in the '80s resulted in him being offered the role of private trainer for then Racing Minister Russ Hinze. Over a three-and-a-half-year period with the racing magnate, DJA was prominent as a trainer and driver. When the curtain came down, he had driven 1315 winners. While Morris is racing up north, wife KerryAnn is in charge of about 35 others back home. "Unfortunately, we couldn't both get away. We have a four-year-old son Archie, and we decided it was best for him to be home with KerryAnn," Morris said. "I'm again staying with Grant and Trista Dixon at Tamborine. I've come up with some lovely horses so with a bit of luck we'll do okay," he said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Just hours after this year’s Inter Dominion pacing champion is crowned at Alexandra Park, last year’s winner will return to racing in Australia. Mighty warhorse Tiger Tara steps out in Menangle’s Group 3 Alf Phillis free-for-all (2300m) at 10.58pm NZ time Saturday night. It will be he $2.37 million-earner’s first start since finishing fourth at Menangle on September 20. And, just for good measure, his rivals include another proven superstar, former Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal. Tim Butt’s star hasn’t raced since being retired from this year’s Miracle Mile back on March 2 with cardiac arrythmia. Butt has been open in saying this race will go a long way to deciding whether My Field Marshal heads to Perth for next month’s big Group 1 double – the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups. My Field Marshal won the Fremantle Cup last year then ran a fantastic race for fourth in the WA Pacing Cup. In contrast, Tiger Tara is definitely WA-bound, according to trainer Kevin Pizzuto. The last time Tiger Tara was in Perth was for the 2017 Inter Dominion series where he won a heat, finished second in his other two heats then led and ran third to the amazing Lazarus in the Grand Final. While Tiger Tara (gate 10) and My Field Marshal (gate 11) have class on their rivals this week, lack of racing and their wide draws won’t make life easy against some classy rivals. The emerging Ignatius will be fitter for one run back from a spell and gets gate three, while speedy beginner Alta Orlando may be the leader and take catching from barrier two.   Adam Hamilton

John Dickie thought his chance to win at Inter Dominion was gone. Which makes having Paramount King in the $150,000 trotting final at Alexandra Park on Saturday night that much more special for the South Auckland trainer. Dickie is a trotting man. He and son Joshua also train pacers and do that well, but for decades the Dickie name has been conjured up images of talented squargaiters in their maroon, green and gold colours. Of John’s 581 career wins in New Zealand, 288 have been with trotters. That is just under half but almost all of his flagbearers have been unhoppled heroes. But the Dickies haven’t won an Inter Dominion Final and in 2012 a crazy decision left John thinking he never would. The trotting series was canned after that year, with a case made that with it heading to NSW and then West Australia a trotting series wouldn’t fly there. And there was some concerns about brand confusion with people unable to get their heads around by having two Inter Dominion Finals. It was, of course, nonsense and thankfully the trotters returned last season, with the Dickies eventually running second in the final with Speeding Spur, albeit a promoted one. Dickie’s sometimes unrequited love of the Inters dates back further, to when Great Life finished fourth to Tussle at Addington in 1987. “He actually dead heated on the points table with one of Wes Butt’s trotters so the two sets of owners were called into a room and they tossed a coin to see who started in the final. We won the toss and ran fourth in the final.” With the series now back from the dead, this Saturday will be extra special to the father and son team. Alexandra Park is their home track these days and John loves having first-night national record setter Paramount King up against the other kings of the gait. They will all be there: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Barry Purdon, Phil Williamson, Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett, Tony Herlihy, Paul Nairn and even Robert Dunn has emerged as a trotting training force. Add in two Aussies and this is a real Inter Dominion Final.  “I thought that chance was gone for us,” says Dickie of the 2012 scrapping of the series.  “So to have it back, to still have a chance of winning it means a lot to me and now Josh.  “We know that might not happen this Saturday, with the second line draw not helping but you can’t win if you aren’t in.” Paramount King has been the greatest surprise of this series, a former age group talent who has risen to new heights and he is rated one of the six or seven winning chances in the final. But Dickie, as you might expect from a man who has spent decades piecing together the puzzle that is a trotter, is realistic about what Saturday may hold. “I am not sure if we can win, especially from the second line draw,” he offers. “He should be better this week because the first night took a little sting out of him for the next two heats but he might still be a year or two away from winning an Inter. “To be honest, Winterfell might be a moral. He and Habibi Inta, who we haven’t seen the best of in this series, are the two in the final I think can work and win so maybe Winterfell will be too good from his draw. “But even if that happens we will be happy. It is great to have the trotting series back and back at Alexandra Park. “They are special things. They bring a lot of different people and horses together. “It is the Inter Dominion. It is just different from a normal race.”   Dunn to drive for All Stars After terrorizing the All Stars for the last couple of seasons John Dunn will join them for the $500,000 Pacing Final this Saturday. Dunn has been the surprise call-up to partner Ashley Locaz for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen at Alexandra Park The stable has five in the group one and while three drives were easily settled, Blair Orange will be the new driver for Thefixer and Dunn will partner Ashley Locaz. There is some irony in the decision as no driver in New Zealand could have parked out All Stars-trained horses as much as Dunn, predominantly driving for his father Robert, in the last few seasons. It is a strategy that has worked for him and helped make racing interesting and obviously gained him enough respect to be called in as a pinch hitter. Dunn would still drive regular partner Classie Brigade should that horse, listed as the emergency, make the field.   Michael Guerin

It's safe to say Tim Tetrick is in for a week unlike any he's experienced while driving in North America. Tetrick, harness racing's top money-winning driver this year, will spend the next seven days in Finland as part of his involvement in the first Arctic Horse Race event at Mantyvaara racetrack in Rovaniemi. Tetrick will join drivers from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Italy in the three-race competition on Saturday at Mantyvaara. The event will see the drivers race twice with Standardbred trotters and once with the cold-blood trotters known as the Finnhorse. The days leading up to the event will be filled with several promotional obligations and plenty of adventure. Tetrick and his wife Ashley will begin their trip in Helsinki before flying to Rovaniemi on Thursday. Rovaniemi, situated on the Arctic Circle, is the capital of Lapland and known for being "the official hometown of Santa Claus" as well as for viewing the Northern Lights. During his stay in Rovaniemi, Tetrick will get to drive reindeer and huskies, take in a hockey game, go on a snowmobile safari, and visit Santa Claus Village. "It's going to be exciting," said Tetrick, who is making his first trip to Finland. "It should be a great trip. We're going to go and have a little fun. I'm looking forward to it." The 38-year-old Tetrick, who was elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame earlier this year, is leading all drivers in purses with $15.5 million this season and is second in wins with 750. For his career, he has won $217 million, which ranks third all time, and 11,425 races, which ranks eighth. Saturday's event at Mantyvaara will feature family activities during the afternoon and an "ice disco" after the races that evening. "The weather is going to be a little chilly, I guess, but it can't be any worse than Chicago," Tetrick said with a laugh. "Ashley thought I was crazy because it's going to be cold there. In December we want to go somewhere warm, we don't want to go somewhere colder than where we're at. But we got to thinking about it and it sounded like a lot of fun. It looks like there is so much to do there at this time of year." As for the weather, the forecast in Rovaniemi this week calls for temperatures holding steady around 30 degrees Fahrenheit with snow showers. "That's not bad," Tetrick said. "I'll be OK." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA