Day At The Track

Hungary’s National Trotting Breeders' Association continues its training series, which was launched in 2018, on January 28, 2020 (10:30 am at Kincsem Park), when a world-recognized harness racing breeder and executive, Dr. Paul F. ’’Pete” Spears, will direct our further training. Dr. Spears is President of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company, that conducts an annual early November auction in Harrisburg, PA ((USA), and formerly Vice President of Hanover Shoe Farms, practically growing up there, as his father worked as President and Treasurer of that world renown breeding facility. Dr. Spears has been very active in trot racing and breeding for several decades (his family’s Windsong Stable bred Hambletonian winner Windsong’s Legacy among many stakes winners), and his main expertise is genetics, pedigree analysis and auctions. Standardbred Horse Sales Company In his lecture, Dr. Spears will present examples of the possibility of pairing on related breeding and line breeding issues. He gives his opinion on the x-position and talks about the correct decisions that affect the effectiveness of breeding. There's great interest in this event. In view of this, please indicate your intention to participate by e-mail (ugeto@ugeto.com) as soon as possible. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Last Friday, Major Occasion A flew home in :25.3, but because she was eighth at three-quarters while three-wide, had to settle for second at the hands of rival Sandy Win, who would win a third straight harness racing start. Driver Dexter Dunn made sure that wasn't going to happen again. Major Occasion A, instead of racing from well off the pace as she had in her first two North American outings, was hustled to the top at the half this time around and had little trouble from there, recording an easy score in the Friday night feature at the Meadowlands, a $25,000 high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares. Dunn, who would go on to win four times on the program after his incredible seven-winner night last Saturday, had Major Occasion A in the four-hole early before brushing up to take command at the half while parked before settling in on the point. Ideal Lifestyle A was left first-over at this point while applying token pressure as Major Occasion A used a :27.1 third quarter to maintain a safe 1½-length lead on the pocket-sitting Odds On St Lucie. Through the stretch, no one threatened the 1-2 favorite, who reported home an easy 1¾-length winner in 1:51 after pacing her final half in 54.2. Odds On St Lucie held second with Wisdom Tree rallying for third. Sandy Win failed in her bid for a fourth straight score, settling for fourth after racing three-wide at three-quarters from mid-pack. Major Occasion A, a 6-year-old daughter of Art Major-Fake Occasion who is trained by Nifty Norman, returned $3.00 to her backers and has now won 16 times from 51 lifetime starts for owners Enzed Racing Stable. Her earnings stand at $193,280. For Dunn, it was merely another day at the salt mine, with one - make that two - exceptions. The 30-year-old New Zealand native did score with the heavy favorite in the feature and with 4-1 Hammer Time in a mid-range conditioned trot, but he also won with a pair of longshots. The 2019 United States Harness Writers Association's Driver of the Year guided 20-1 Bold Goddess to victory lane in a low-end conditioned trot and also scored with the night's biggest price of the night with 26-1 chance Auteur Hanover, who hit the wire first in another low-end conditioned trot. Dunn now has 18 winners at the winter meeting and is well in front of Corey Callahan, whose driving double gave him 10 victories, good for second in the driver standings. A PAIR OF FOURS: Yannick Gingras is apparently not interested in Dunn running away with the driver's title, as the Big M overall driver champ from 2019 also guided four to the winner's circle. A LITTLE MORE: One sharp player betting into the Oregon Express hub held the only ticket to last five legs in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-10 and walked away with $8,596.70. The wager has now paid at least $3,526.86 during each of the last five race cards. ... Chalk players took it on the chin most of the night as only two favorites won over the first 12 races, which helped bolster the payouts of the 50-cent Pick-5 ($6,292.35) and 50-cent Pick-4 ($3,155.05). ... All-source wagering on the card totaled $2,416,176. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Standardbred Canada reports that round one of the Snowshoe Series went postward Friday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park, with three divisions on tap for three- and four-year-old male pacers. The betting public hammered away at Bettor B Going, and the 1-9 favourite came through for his army of pari-mutuel supporters. The four-year-old son of Bettors Delight-JK Letitgo got away third for driver Chris Christoforou while Side Hill Gouger shot to the lead and carved out an opening panel clocked in :28.2. As soon as the field straightened into the backstretch Christoforou called on Bettor B Going to brush to the front. The Wilford Perrault pupil cleared to the engine in an effortless manner, and from there he went on to post middle splits of :58 and 1:27.2. A :27-second closing quarter earned Bettor B Going to win by 1-1/4 lengths over Side Hill Gouger in 1:54.2. Excavator was third. Grant and Joanne Curnow of Pefferlaw, Ont. share ownership on the six-time winner who pushed his overall cash stash to $63,239 with the victory. American Risk pulled off a mild upset in the second division thanks to his gate-to-wire triumph over race favourite Conboyville. Bob McClure hustled American Risk to the lead from Post 1, and together they fronted the field through fractions of :27.2, :57.1 and 1:25.4. Conboyville applied first-over pressure on the leader at the mid-way point of the final turn, but American Risk used a :27.3 closing quarter to prevail over that foe by a half-length margin. Blu Crew rallied to grab third prize. The mile for American Risk was a career-best clocking of 1:53.2. Melissa Lamoureux trains the four-year-old son of American Ideal-Kissing Bandit for 8113564 Canada Ltd of Sherwood Park, AB and Jeff Boyd of Cambridge, Ont. The victory was the third straight score for the gelding who is now a six-time winner with earnings in excess of $48,000. Warrawee Vital used last second heroics to come through as the heavy favourite in the third – and final – division. Trevor Henry rallied the Rob Fellows trainee to the narrow triumph over longshot Bernie. Warrawee Vital got away fifth while Lyons Coppertop and Bernie battled to the quarter pole in :28.4. Bernie eventually cleared to the top, and he went on to carve out middle fractions of :58 and 1:26.1. Warrawee Vital commenced a rally going into the final turn, and despite spotting the leader a number of lengths he managed to use a :26.2 closing quarter to get up for the neck decision over Bernie in 1:54. D Gs Shallwedance was third. Blair Corbeil, Yolanda Fellows and M&S Racing Stable share ownership on the three-year-old son of Captaintreacherous-Great Memories. The colt is 2-for-2 to start the season and 3-for-4 in his career. The $9,000 payday bumped his overall bankroll to $25,500. To view results for Friday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Grosbois, France – Growing up in New Jersey in the USA and getting into the harness racing industry, I was around when they broke ground and built exquisite training facilities at Showplace and Gaitway Farms. But they are not that exquisite when compared to Grosbois, just outside of Paris, France. In fact, there may not be another harness racing training facility in world that could be compared to Grosbois. Upon entering the grounds, the entrance way features wrought-iron 20-foot gates attached to 12-foot walls that encompass the entire facility, which is just over 1,000 acres in size. In the far distance you can see a huge Manor House and green grass and dirt roads, also paths that lead to wooded areas with harness racing trotters galore jogging about. We were greeted at the horsemen’s entrance by Damien Beau, who is with the International Department of LeTROT, that oversees all of trotting in France. He was our guide for the private tour. We first went to the home of renowned Swedish and French trainer Anders Lindqvst, who was so kind to show us his home, his office, and his attached courtyard with maybe 40 stalls filled with trotters. There are no pacers in Europe except for Ireland and England. Linqvist first became interested in harness racing at the age of 14. “I wanted to be a professional soccer player,” Linqvist said. “But someone took me on a jog with a horse and I really liked that. My father wanted me in the family business,” Lindqvist added. “but after I worked with the horses a little, I trained a fast mile and that feeling convinced me to go into harness racing. “My first good horse I got I was age 22,” Lindqvist recalled. “And it was at that point that I said goodbye to working for my father part-time and took up harness racing full time. This horse, which gave me many wins, was at the time, sadly named Mr. Nixon. But despite his name he was my foundation horse. Mr. Nixon raced for me 431 times. That is the all-time record still in Sweden. “Then I was once racing in the Elitloppet in 1985,” Lindqvist said. “And after the race with Viroid (finished 5th) I was contacted by Mr. Lew Barash in the USA, asking me to come and race in the International Trot at Roosevelt Raceway and then I was hooked on international racing. “From there I was on my own for ten years,” Lindqvist explained. Until the great trainer/driver Jean-Pierre Dubois asked me to work for him in France. It was like being invited to be part of the Dream Team in basketball and I have been here ever since.” Lindqvist has driven in 19 countries, even twice in Russia. “When I won my first race in Russia,” Lindqvist said. “I got towards the winner’s enclosure, they stopped me and said they had to take my whip away. This was some security people and I did not understand why. Then I saw that the trophy was going to be presented to me by President Valdimir Putin and realized security would not let anyone get near him with a whip. That was something very special in my life.” Anders home has four bedrooms in addition to the attached 40 horse stalls and he said he pays around $8,000 per month rent for everything. That might seem a lot, but he also rents his spare bedrooms and most of his stalls to other trainers for their horses. He said it is like that throughout Grosbois, although some of the beautiful homes and barn areas are leased by horse owners, who turn around and rent or trade rooms/stalls for trainers and grooms to take care of their horses. Lindqvist also has a coffee vending machine in his office. Why one might ask and Anders jokingly said because during the winter season he has so many visitors he gives away around 4,000 cups of coffee. There are over five miles of just jogging tracks at Grosbois. It also has two tracks that horses can fast work on, a five-eighths mile track and a 15th/16th mile track, where horses can qualify to race at nearby Vincennes Racetrack. They also have an equine hospital on the grounds that is used by some 15 veterinarians. That many vets are needed for the 1,500 racehorses that call Grosbois home throughout the winter season. There are also numerous blacksmith shops on the grounds. At Grosbois, there are about 60 people that work in track maintenance to keep the large grounds clean and the track surfaces in prime shape. They use three different materials that are used on the jogging tracks and horseman use certain courses depending if they want a deep cushion, harder or softer surfaces for the horse’s hooves. You will also see many trotters being ridden at Grosbois as in France they have many trotting races under saddle. This past weekend the richest monte race (monte means under saddle) in the world took place at the Vincennes track with 15 horses racing for a purse of 650,000 euros. There is also a very nice horseman’s cafeteria and a party room on the grounds, tennis courts and soccer fields. The jogging trails also cut through the massive wooded area of Grosbois where people jogging horses have come across wild boar, reindeer, foxes and many birds of prey. The entire area was purchased and developed into the training facility in 1962 and continues to grow. It is 11 miles from the outskirts of Paris and only six miles away from the Vincennes Racetrack. And what if the weather is raining but you still need to work your horse. Then you just head over to the covered training track or perhaps lunge-line your horse at the indoor arena. It’s all at Grosbois. Coming up on Thursday, it’s back to Grosbois we go, this time to visit the special Manor House that is home to the French Trotting Museum and more. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

If Self Assured lives up to the mega hype in tonight’s $110,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup his owner, Jean Feiss, will celebrate by doing her favourite thing – she will get up tomorrow morning to inspect yearlings. That won’t be a matter of just popping down the road; the 69-year-old retired Victorian horse trainer will fly to New Zealand to look at yearlings. By herself. That dedication, that love of the young horse, is one reason Feiss is one of the most successful owners in harness racing. The other is an association that started more than a decade ago. Trainer Mark Purdon was looking for a farm to base his horses at in Victoria. He visited the property owned by Feiss and her husband, Bill, which was being used by son Matt. Purdon liked the property and liked the people. Next time Purdon bought a horse at the sales Bill and Jean wanted in and a remarkable association begun. As Feiss got out of training – “we had some success but not many horses people would know that well” – her and Bill upped their yearling buying. And when you can’t beat them, join them, so Purdon and partner Natalie Rasmussen became their trainers and the winners flowed. She has owned a champion in Vincent, who was hot favourite for the Ballarat Cup two years ago until he suffered a career-ending injury. Spanish Armada was another favourite, while she owns New Zealand’s best filly this season in Amazing Dream. And, of course, last-start Auckland Cup winner Self Assured and huge Victoria Derby chance Smooth Deal. So how does a former trainer from Victoria find the needles in the yearling sales haystack? “I usually start with the page (breeding) and then I look at the horses myself,” she said. “That is why I will fly to New Zealand on Sunday morning. I’ll go to all the farms I want to see and I like to go by myself, not as part of a tour. “Then I can see the horses and compare them a month later when they go for sale.” Once Feiss makes her list she cross-references that with Purdon and Rasmussen and the list becomes shorter. Feiss rarely misses the ones on the short list. “I think the gap between New Zealand yearlings and the Australian ones has closed a lot but I like buying there and I love racing there. “I like the travelling, even though Bill can’t come that often these days because he has dodgy knees. The group racing in New Zealand is very strong and the industry has a lot of enthusiasm.” So what does Feiss’ magic eye look for? “Never just one thing, it’s the whole package. I think most of us look at the same things, we just interpret them differently.” What is not open for interpretation is that Self Assured is exceptional. Feiss took a risk on him as he was an embryo transfer foal, which some buyers shy away from. The only two times he has been beaten is when missing away from standing starts, but tonight he faces the biggest test of his career, drawn inside the second line in a star-studded Ballarat Cup. “He is very good, we don’t know how good yet,” Feiss said. If he gets clear air at Ballarat tonight we should all find out.   Michael Guerin

By Garrick Knight    Relief. That was the over-riding sentiment from Steven Reid after Star Galleria’s return to the winners’ circle at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The classy pacer upset hot favourite Belle Of Montana with a sharp front-running performance, confirming to Reid and driver Todd Mitchell that they still had a Group 1 level horse. Not that Reid wasn’t happy with his recent racing but it was Star Galleria’s first win in the best part of 12 months. “His last two runs were good, I thought. “The Auckland Cup effort was phenomenal; five-wide around the bend and came home in 54.2. “That sort of showed me he had bounced back. “Then in the Cambridge Mile, well Toddy said it probably wasn’t his best drive. “He was following Chase Auckland in to the race then tried to cut down on the inside but ran in to a wall of horses. “So, he spent the whole length of the straight angling across them.” Where to next is the big question for Reid and the horse’s owners because there are two possibilities. He is booked on a plane to Sydney on Monday, where the plan was for him to join Luke McCarthy for a campaign through until the Len Smith Mile. “Then come home because I’d like to have another crack at the New Zealand Cup with him.” But there has been some strong American interest in the horse, too, and the ownership group will need to make a decision in the next 48 hours. “If it was up to me, he’d go the Aussie route, but I’m not the only owner.” The New Zealand Cup was on the agenda for this season but had to be scraped after a frustrating run of minor issues that caused setbacks in his preparation. “After his first trial back, where he ran super, I got him scoped to make sure last year’s throat operation was a success. “What they found was a nasty throat infection which led to him having seven days off. “No sooner had I got him back then in the paddock one morning he had a big leg. “I got the vet in and he said he thought we may have jacked up the suspensory, but would have to wait for the selling to go down to be sure. “It turned out he had just banged it, but that was another five or six days’ setback. “Then, as I got him back going again, he walked in one day tippy-toeing in behind and a massive foot abscess had to be cut out. “So, he missed another nine days with that which meant everything probably accumulated to about three weeks off at the worst possible time.” Belle Of Montana fought on well for second while Solid Gold, in his first run for Tony Herlihy, held on for third. Later in the night, Reid was surprised when juvenile filly Shes No Lady ran a cracking second for owners, Woodlands Stud. “There was a little bit of shock there, I can’t believe she’s gone that good. “She’d sort of shown at home that a 2.03 run would pull her up but I guess she’s just one of those horses that gets better come race night. “We were going to tip her out but I think I’ll keep going with her now.” That race was won super impressively by Passion and Power for trainer John Dunn, who also won earlier in the card with Pretty Majestic and twice at Blenheim in the afternoon with Madam Sass and Stars Tonight. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Stephen Larkin owns only one racehorse, but when the horse is Atta Boy Dan, one is not such a lonely number. In fact, the number is quite common when looking at Atta Boy Dan's past performances, as in first-place finishes. Atta Boy Dan led all harness racing horses in the U.S. in wins last year with 19. He was named both the Claimer of the Year and Pacer of the Year at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, becoming the first horse in recent memory to receive double honors in the same season. For his career, the now 11-year-old gelding, who was slowed by a coffin joint injury in 2017, has won 71 of 200 starts and is approaching $1 million in purses. "What he did last year was amazing," Larkin said. "The thing I love about him the most, he just gives his best every week. He's never had a bad week. He gets a lot of tough trips, but he's always trying down the stretch. He has great heart. He is a great horse." Larkin claimed Atta Boy Dan this past September for $40,000. It was the 14th consecutive start the horse was claimed. During that span, Atta Boy Dan won 11 times, was second twice and third once. "I've never seen a horse change barns that many times, at that age and that caliber, and win every week anyway," said Pete Pellegrino, who trains Atta Boy Dan for Larkin. "He's just an honest horse that loves to do it. He's just as tough as they come. He's an iron horse." Since acquiring Atta Boy Dan, his new connections have put him in conditioned races (some with an optional claiming tag) with the hopes of keeping him for as long as possible. He has raced 14 times for Pellegrino and Larkin, winning three times and earning a check 12 times on his way to $40,455. Atta Boy Dan, who has earned $959,452 lifetime, is entered Saturday in a conditioned race at The Meadowlands. He is 9-2 on the morning line with Corey Callahan in the sulky. "He's been hard luck the last bunch of weeks; first over, first over, first over," Pellegrino said. "Last week, he was first over at the half and they went (1):48.3 and he finished third. But he works right to the wire. You think he's done and in mid-stretch, here he comes again." Larkin, a Massachusetts resident who works as a corrections counselor for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, got his first horse in the mid-1990s. "My father owned horses a long time ago," Larkin said. "In 1995, I moved to New York (for work). I didn't know anyone, I didn't have any hobbies, and I ended up going to Monticello Raceway to pass some time. I ended up claiming some horses; that's how I met Pete." Larkin was attracted to Atta Boy Dan because of his back class. The gelding's top win came in 2015 in the Robert J. Kane Memorial at Batavia Downs and he finished second in that year's Gold Cup and Saucer on Prince Edward Island. Overall in 2015, he won 18 races and was named both the Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year at The Meadows while racing in the stable of trainer Ron Burke. "He speaks for himself," Pellegrino said. "What you see is what you get. He's just an unbelievable horse." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at The Meadowlands. For complete entries, click here.  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

That elusive trophy is finally in their grasp. Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond claimed their maiden victory in the state’s biggest harness racing event, the Gr.1 $450,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park after Mighty Conqueror and Dylan Egerton-Green proved triumphant in a thrilling finish. Steeped in great history, the WA Pacing Cup is a leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit but has proven to be a graveyard for the husband and wife training partnership in recent years. But the monkey is finally off their back. Boasting a record seven (7) of the 12 runners in the 2936m mobile start feature, the Forrestdale based duo not only provided the winner but also filled the minor placings with Vampiro and Our Jimmy Johnstone finishing just behind the winner. The victory of Mighty Conqueror provided extra satisfaction for the couple given he’s battled his share of issues in lead-up to the event, the lightly raced five-year-old bypassed last week’s Fremantle Cup owing to some bruising in his hooves. The extra week between runs proved vital. Mighty Conqueror was driven confidently by Edgerton-Green, it was only the third time the young reinsman had sat behind the American Ideal gelding under race conditions and he never wilted when the pressure was applied. The talented young horseman handled Mighty Conqueror last season when finishing second and third in the Gr.1 four-year-old features at Gloucester Park, the 4yo Classic and Golden Nugget. Starting from gate five, Mighty Conqueror pushed forward at the start with Our Jimmy Johnstone holding the lead from his inside draw while Vampiro also pressed on from his wide gate. Edgerton-Green initially landed the one out, one back position before being left parked out when Vampiro took the lead from Our Jimmy Johnstone within the first lap. Race favourite Galactic Star ($4.20) was shuffled further back on the pegs and raced three pairs back. The lead time was covered in 96.7 seconds. With the majority of Bond trained runners occupying forward positions, the race was devoid of any real pressure and quickly developed into a sprint home. The first half of the final mile was covered in splits of 30.2 and 29.1 seconds. Last start Fremantle Cup winner Caviar Star was the first to make a move three-wide with just over a lap remaining and was immediately tracked up by last month’s Golden Nugget winner Shockwave. Entering the back straight for the final time, Vampiro started to quicken the speed but travelled strongly as Mighty Conqueror and Caviar Star started to close the margin. The third quarter was covered in 27.9 seconds. In the home straight, Vampiro kept fighting off the challengers but Mighty Conqueror refused to yield while Our Jimmy Johnstone and Galactic Star probed for clear space. At the line, Mighty Conqueror ($5.50) surged to the lead and defeated Vampiro ($9) by a head margin with Our Jimmy Johnstone ($7.50) a further 1.8 metres away in third. Watch the race replay here. Handsandwheels and Galactic Star were both flooding home to finish just behind the placegetters while Caviar Star and Shockwave locked wheels in the home straight. The final quarter was covered in 28.7seconds. The mile rate was 1:56.5 and established a new race record but was outside of the track record of Smolda at 1:55.8. And just for the record, the other members of Team Bond finished 5th (Galactic Star), 6th (Our Alfie Romeo, 7th (El Jacko) and 9th (Ana Malak). The stable has now won both open class features in their home state following on from the victory of Money Magnet in the 2006 Fremantle Cup. Mighty Conqueror has now won 16 of his 27 starts while his earnings now exceed $540,000. He now joins Bling It On (Victoria Cup), Cruz Bromac (New Zealand Cup), Ultimate Sniper (Inter Dominion) and Self Assured (Auckland Cup) as winners on the 2019/20 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit. The remaining legs for the current term include the Hunter Cup (February 1 - Melton), Miracle Mile (March 7 - Menangle) and the Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship (Albion Park – July 25).   Chris Barsby

The seemingly never ending quality of Love You progeny was highlighted once again over the last week with multiple harness racing winners greeting the judge by the sire. These included the impressive three year old filly The Big Bird, who scored in emphatic style at Alexandra Park on Friday night when taking the passing lane late for driver / trainer Joshua Dickie who had, until then, managed the filly around horses from a running line sit. The nature of the win coupled with her great trotting bloodlines (she is out of ten race winner Great Getaway) and the fact that the filly has a fair bit of growing into her large frame yet to do would suggest a bright future lies ahead. In contrast to the maiden win of The Bird Bird was that of the victorious turn of the tried and tested Lovely Bundy in the Thames /Coromandel Trotters Cup at Cambridge Raceway. The 8yr old mare, by Love You out of Kelly Bundy, faced a handicap of 20m over the 2700m stand distance but enjoyed the sound pace set up by race rival Anna Kate and showed her ability late in proceedings making up the required ground widest on the track to score by half a length. The win was the 10th of Lovely Bundy’s career from 72 starts.    The recent wins continue to outline the success New Zealand breeders have had run when seeking out the services of Love You with his progeny having played a notable part in shaping New Zealand trotting history over the last decade or so. Love You Monbet, trained by the Greg and Nina Hope stable would be the most decorated of his progeny on New Zealand shores but his reach has been far and wide with other notable race tracks winners including Jewels winner Enghien and New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All winner Great Things Happen. By far the most successful partnership of his being the amazing run he’s had when siring foals out of prodigious broodmare Ten To One with NZ derby winner Habibti, Anzac Cup winner Habibti Ivy and Dominion Handicap winner and Jewels winner Habibi Inta all out of the famed mare along with Lothario( 6 wins) and Releven Dream (17 wins). The Big Bird Lovely Bundy With his past successes as a sire of group winners It’s no wonder that Love You continues to attract quality mares and he’ll be strongly represented at 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale. An interesting story among them being the two lots offered from the same family by Breckon Farms which will be the only two Love You lots to be presented at Karaka . Lot 97, a bay filly called Online Love , is out of Northern Breeders Stakes runner-up Cyberspace. A further investigation into the strong maternal lines reveals Inda Bank (3yr old trotting filly of the year) who has left multiple Group 1 performers, the most notable of these being Frozen Funds who was victorious in both the New South Wales and Victorian Trotting Oaks. Other high achievers out of Inda Bank include The Almighty Johnson (3rd in the National Trot) now racing in the USA with over $200’000 in career earnings and Yogi Johnson (11 wins). Online Love A bay colt is also going under the hammer, Lot 83, called Forbidden Love is out of a full sister to Cyberspace (both Cyberspace and Broadband are by Muscles Yankee)) and calls upon the same strong trotting pedigree. Forbidden Love Love You has a total of 19 lots to be sold throughout the 2020 New Zealand Yearling Sales with buyers obviously wishing for a continuation of his success as a sire of champions!       Ben McMillan

Waimumu breeder Paul Pearce has been a stock agent for the last twelve years, and was a wool buyer prior to that.  But outside of work he’s always had a passion for harness racing horses and this year he’s prepared two nice colts for the National Sale in Christchurch. “When Brent (McIntyre) bought Jaccka Lodge (now Macca Lodge) I spent a lot of time up there. You just get the bug,” he said. However Paul Pearce’s connections to horses and the McIntyre family goes further back when his father managed the Southland Farmers Co-op farm which was next door to the McIntyre farm. Paul said his father Trevor raced gallopers, although without much success. He was also good friends with the late Kenny Milne from Balclutha and he went to Lincoln University with Milne’s son Johnny. Kenny Milne bred horses for many years and owned and raced New Zealand Oaks winner Young Eden. When he was young Pearson dabbled in ownership and the first horse he raced was Badland’s Hanover gelding Lets Go Frankie. He raced him in partnership with McIntyre and fellow PGG Wrightson’s stock agent Craig Milne. Lets Go Frankie won a race at Wyndham for the trio in November 2005 before he went to Australia where he won another five races. Pearce also bred from Young Jiggs a daughter of Young Eden sending her to Attorney General and the resulting colt Young Reggie had three starts for no rewards for trainer Lindsay Wilson. “We were breeding stuff we shouldn’t have been but you’ve got to start somewhere.” The trio also raced Washington VC mare Susie Blue (Washington VC – Ginny Dale) which they leased off Bill Keeler. She won three races before heading to Aussie. “Mandy and I got married young, we had our children young and we couldn’t afford horses. But I followed Brent’s horses like Bonnies Lass and Just Jazzan.” Paul and Mandy now farm 35 acres at Waimumu in Eastern Southland close to where Ken McRae trained horses for a good number of years, and just down the road from the site of the Waimumu Field Days. “Mandy plays a big part in the hands on stuff with the horses. When they come back from Macca Lodge as weanlings we do as much work as possible. We box them every night over winter just to get that one on one handling of them. When they’re small they’re easy to do things with. A lot of people leave it until spring to get the yearlings in. I have no problems taking them up to Macca Lodge in the float during the day to get their feet trimmed and getting them to just stand there.” Mandy is a school teacher at St Peters College in Gore but as her love for horses has grown she’s become more involved. “Mandy actually took a year off teaching and did the foaling night shift at Macca Lodge this season. I’m really lucky she likes her horses because many (partners) don’t especially when the bills start coming in.” But it’s not the first time the Pearces have taken stock to the sales. Paul bred and prepared Cozin Change (Changeover – Corzanello) for the 2016 Sale of the Stars after borrowing Corzanello off Jill Smolenski. Cozin Change was a half-brother to big Australian winner I’m Corzin Terror. His wins included the 2014 Ballarat Pacing Cup. Cozin Change was passed in on a reserve of $25,000 and he went to Australia where he won two races in a short career. The couple now own three broodmares Tipsy Too, Luminesce and Elegant As and the two colts they’re presenting at the sales are by Bettor’s Delight out of Luminesce and Art Major out of Tipsy Too. The Bettor’s Delight colt out of Luminesce – Photo supplied. The Art Major colt out of Tipsy Too – Photo supplied Tipsy Too is out of the In The Pocket mare Dontdrinkthendrive and is part of the Party Party family. She was bought at the Auckland Sales for $21,000. “We didn’t race her. She just needed a bit of time. At that point things weren’t looking that good in the racing world so we decided to breed from her. I was at Diamonds Day talking to Hazel van Opzeeland and she talked to me about going to Sweet Lou at Woodlands Stud, and that’s who we sent the mare too.” The resulting foal is Renegade Rose. Luminesce was purchased in 2012 after they’d started to think seriously about buying some quality stock. “We (had to) decide whether we were going to be in or out. It was in and we thought we’d give it a decent go and buy a good broodmare.” So after months of study Paul headed to the Christchurch Sale with Brent McIntyre. They had a number of fillies marked to view and possibly bid on, but the Mach Three filly Luminesce who was out of class mare One Dream, initially wasn’t one of them. “We had no intentions of buying her. Of course we saw her in the catalogue. Mac and I looked at a few others. Jill (breeder Jill Smolenski) had no photos on the website and the horse wasn’t at the parade. So on the day of the Sales I said to Mac that we’d better go and have a look at this filly out of One Dream. We walked round the corner and thought ‘shit.’ I couldn’t stop thinking about her.” On pedigree alone Pearce thought Luminesce would go for in excess of $50,000 and that was making him nervous so as any good man does, he rang Mandy to get final sign off on the budget. “I could ring her 100 times and never get hold of her. But I got hold of her this day and said I’d found a horse I really want to buy but it was going to be out of our league. I was hoping she would say no but she said she’d just go with what I said.” When Lot 123 entered the ring the nerves were starting to ramp up. “There was really only me and another person bidding on her. It was the most nerve racking thing I’ve even done in my life. I remember standing against some trellising and my heart was going and the trellising stopped it from jumping out.” Pearce was ultimately the last man standing and Luminesce was theirs for $45,000. She was broken in by Brent McIntyre and entrusted to Ascot Park trainer Wayne Adams. Paul’s father Trevor when to school with Adams, and they liked the way he turned his horses out. “She qualified by a second and there was nothing flash in that. We talked about whether we should turn her out and bring her back as a three year old. But Wayne said the speed was there so he worked her harder in the next week. She went to the Workouts and bolted in so we went to Forbury for a heat of the Sires Stakes which she won.” She beat Raksdeal by a neck running the 1700 metres in 2-04.6 – it’s still a track record. At the end of her first season she raced in the 2013 Two Year Old Diamond at the Harness Jewels finishing eleventh behind winner Venus Serena. As a three year old Luminesce won her first two starts before running a fifth and a third. She was then taken north to Addington. “We went to Christchurch for the Sales Series race and she got a virus. We thought she was going to die that night, it took her quite a while to get over that and she only had five starts as a three year old.” She came back at four and only had another four starts. “She ran on Invitation Drivers Day at Ascot Park and Kerryn Manning who drove her said she was a bit knobby in her prelim. In her next two starts she went terrible but we didn’t realise she’d split a bone in her knee.” Luminesce warming up at Ascot Park with Kerryn Manning – Photo Bruce Stewart Consequently Luminesce was retired and sent to Art Major. She lost that foal after he was born premature and only lasted a few days. Her second foal, a filly by Bettor’s Delight got to the stage of being weaned but developed septicemia and also died. So the Bettor’s Delight sales colt is actually her first foal beyond weaning. The Pearce’s also own six year old Rocknroll Hanover mare Elegant As which is out of Tuapeka Maddy. She was purchased from Dan Cummings at Tuapeka Lodge. Her first foal is an Art Major filly. Not one to stand still, Paul was also at the Christchurch Sale last year and bought another filly – Millwood Kelly (Bettor’s Delight – Idolise) for $27,500. Idolise is by American Ideal and won one race from thirteen starts. She’s a half-sister to Idealindiamonds (8 New Zealand wins and 5 Australian wins), Am Opulent (18 wins) and Dibaba (7 wins including the Sires Stakes Northern Mares Classic, Premier Mares Championship and Southland Oaks). Idolise is out of the Life Sign mare Imprint, was bred by Aidan Johnstone and is owned by Katie Carville. “When I bought Luminesce the one I had my eye on was a horse called Idolise which is Millwood Kelly’s mother but it was withdrawn.” They also have two horses in work with Gore trainer Tony Stratford – Renegade Rose and Braeview Kelly (formally Millwood Kelly). “We actually entered her (Renegade Rose) for the Sales and she didn’t make it. I was told it was because it was by a first season sire from an unproven family.” Paul still gives Bloodstock Agent Peter Lagan plenty of stick about that decision. Renegade Rose From just seven starts this season Renegade Rose has won once, run second twice and third four times. Her placings have been behind quality fillies Stylish Memphis, Sugar Loaf and Plutonium Lady. “She’s a big filly but she’s always been in proportion.” Paul and Mandy Pearce are a fine example of a couple with a shared passion, using resilience and optimism to make their way in the harness world. Bruce Stewart

This Sunday Bilibili (9m Niky) faces 15 rivals in the harness racing monte classic Gr. I Grand Prix de Cornulier (purse 650,000€, 2850 meters) at Paris-Vincennes as he seeks to defend his 2019 victory. Traders. Fadu du Chene, Feeling Cash and the young mare Fleche Bourbon are in the field. Bilibili tuned up with a January 5th 1.13kr timed score in the Gr. II Prix du Calvados, a race he also won in 2018 and 2019. He won the Cornulier in 2019 clocked in 1.11.2kr, his best since a 1.10.5kr win in the 2017 Gr. I Prix I’Ile de France over the shorter 2175 meter distance. Jean Pierre Barjon bred and owns Bilibili that will have Alexandre Abrivard in the irons. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

The win by Heisenberg in yesterdays re-run of the Central Otago Cup has led to a very generous donation by the horse’s connections, owners Ross and Angela Gordon, trainer Robert Dunn and the horse’s regular driver John Dunn. The race was originally run at Omakau but had to be abandoned when champion driver Ricky May suffered a major medical incident and was flown to Dunedin Hospital in a critical condition. The Group Three feature race was re-run yesterday at the Young Quinn Raceway at Wyndham and was won by Heisenberg in a very quick time. Robert Dunn explained that after the race Ross Gordon rang him and said he and Angela wanted to express their appreciation for the care Ricky May received on the 2nd January at Omakau. “Ross, Angela, Johnny and I decided to donate four and a half thousand dollars of the Cup winnings to charity.  $1,500 to the helicopter trust fund for picking up Ricky, $1,500 to St John who were great on the day and $1,500 to Team Teals Ellie Barron (who performed mouth the mouth on May). Ross wanted to do that and I said to him that Johnny and I would come on board as well.” Driver John Dunn was trailing May in the race at Omakau and saw the incident unfold. He managed to pull his horse back and warn trailing drivers. John Dunn wasn’t on hand yesterday when Heisenberg won. The horse was driven by stand-in driver Tim Williams who took the talented pacer to the front and held out a game Nandolo by half a neck. “Yep he’s much better in front with the pace on. He will learn to use the speed he’s got in other ways but he’s one of those horses that likes getting into his own rhythm. He used to be a devil of a horse to run in and out and it made it difficult for Johnny to drive. He’s far better when he concentrates so that’s why we’ve got the hood on him. He runs a lot straighter with that on but the only thing is it sets you up for horses that swoop off your back,” said Robert Dunn. The winning time of 2-52.4 for the 2400 metre mobile was a new track, Southland and New Zealand record. “He’s racing more genuinely this year. We possibly gelded him later than we should have. He was always a horse with potential, but he was green.” Yesterday’s win was the horse’s sixth. Dunn said Heisenberg is likely to join his Auckland base at some point later in the season and this time should be better the Auckland way round. “He struggles a bit in Auckland. He tended to get in a little too much on the turns. But it was just because of his racing manners early on. I’m sure when we bring him up for the Taylor Mile and the New Zealand Messenger he’ll be much better.” The Art Major gelding was bought at the 2017 Auckland Sales by Gorton and Dunn – then named Viva La Vida. “Ross changes all of his horses names. He’s generally got a reason. We both loved the horse on type, he looked racy and we thought he might make a young horse. Ross has a good eye for horses which he’s developed. He actually comes from a horse family. His mother and father Don and Carol were one of the very first preparers at the yearling sales. They prepared yearlings for I reckon a half a century. On his mother’s side is champion horseman Felix Newfield and also Kevin Chapman.” Ross and Angela own Telfer Electrical and have three branches in Christchurch and outlets in Nelson, Cromwell, Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill. “They bought the company just over twenty years ago when it was small and they’ve turned it into a very successful business.” The Gordons have been very good clients for Robert Dunn over many years. They’ve owned and raced The Fed Express (5 New Zealand wins – bred by Ross’s parents Don and Carol), Code Black (2 New Zealand wins and 17 Australian wins), Robbie Burns (10 New Zealand wins and 1-49 USA) and Henry Hubert (7 wins). “I’ve had their horses for years and we’re still waiting to get our first Group One winner. The one we thought was going to be the bees knees was a horse called Say My Name (6 wins from just 18 starts). He’s was exceptionally talented but had ongoing bone issues.” The Gordons also own up and coming Above N Beyond. “He’ll be aimed at the Derbies. We think he could be a real player in the three and four year old races. He’s a horse with a lot of upside.” And as the Yearling Sales approach Gordon and Dunn will be having a close look at the full brother to Heisenberg who’s in the ring early on 17th February at the Auckland Sales. “He’ll be on our list.” Bred by Chris and Tina Barlow of Highfield Bloodstock and named Crusader, you’d have to say this may be one horse if Ross and Robert buy him that may not get a name change considering they’re all Cantabrians   Bruce Stewart

Thursday’s Wyndham Harness meeting set the stage for a landmark moment for gavelhouse.com Standardbred with Seamark the first winning graduate bought off the revolutionary site. Leading throughout, while being constantly niggled at by his opposition, Seamark was a gutsy winner of the Kindergarten Stakes Saturday 14th March Mobile Pace over 2400m in the hands of Samantha Ottley. Purchased by Graham Hand for $2,700 in August, the five-year-old Christian Cullen gelding was offered on as an unraced horse, for sale to dissolve a partnership having qualified as a two-year-old. Thursday’s race was just his second start, having finished runner up earlier in January, taking his earnings to $6,800 with more in store judging by his obvious talent. Trainer Regan Todd was thrilled for Seamark’s connections who are new to the industry “He’s the first horse to race for Graham Hand and Glenn Morrison and they are loving the experience, “I’m amazed at how easy the process is with the online sales and it’s a great facility to have for the industry and a great way to get new people into the game. “Graham and Glenn have also bought two yearlings recently that are currently being broken in and are progressing well while Seamark will have a quiet 10 days or so to get over the run before we see how he’s come through it and come up with his next target."                                                                                                --Race Images photo Entries for the next gavelhouse.com Standardbred auction are due online by 7pm Wednesday 22 January. The auction will launch at 5pm on Thursday January 23 and will run through until 7pm Wednesday 29 January.  The standard listing fee is just $125 + GST with 5% commission on a successful sale, contact Cam Bray if you would like to discuss selling on the site: cam@gavelhouse.com or call 021737199

Star Of Venus eyes title   When the Betterthancheddar five-year-old Caviar Star outfinished his rivals in the $300,000 Fremantle Cup, he credited his dam Star Of Venus with her third Group winner this season and she is a firm favourite for the NZ Broodmare of the Year award.   Caviar Star, one of the first crop by Betterthancheddar, had shown good placed form during the Summer Carnival at Gloucester Park.   Star Of Venus also ranks as the dam of emerging champion Self Assured, winner of the $245,000 Auckland Cup, and Star Of Memphis, winner of The Gammalite at Melton.   Others from Star Of Venus to win have been Vega Star and Star Of Dionysis, both Group winners in Australia.   Star Of Venus, who died 15 months ago, has since produced a three-year-old colt, a two year-old filly and a yearling colt, all by Bettor’s Delight, the grandsire of the Fremantle Cup victor. Star Of Venus was a Christian Cullen mare from Starlitnight, by Tuapeka Knight from Star Of Bethlehem. This family traces back to the foundation mare Mona R, the ancestress of Lazarus, Stars And Stripes, Light And Sound, Star Galleria and so on.     Chase Auckland’s family tree   Chase Auckland, the brilliant winner of the Group 2 Cambridge Flying Mile and who won the NZ Free-for-all and New Brighton and Methven Cups earlier in the season, has a pedigree of more than usual interest in that he represents a combination of the blood of two of New Zealand’s outstanding winning families – that of Flora and Mary Wood.   Chase Auckland winning the Cambridge Mile   A five-year-old gelding, Chase Auckland is one of the first crop of a top colt pacer and cups winner in Auckland Reactor, a Mach Three horse now at Alabar Bloodstock’s Victorian branch.   Auckland Reactor is building up a good siring score with the Victoria Chalice winner Soho Burning Love and the Group winners Gold Reactor and Shining Oro from his first crops.Auckland Reactor is one of several members of the Flora family to enjoy success at the stud – others being Leyoro (a leading sire in Western Australia), Renaissance Man, and in an earlier era, Admiral Wood.   Chase Auckland’s dam, Delicata (2:01), was a Falcon Seelster mare from the noted producer Dreaming Spires (dam of 6 winners), by Dream Away from Danse du Feu, by New York Motoring from the Tay Bridge mare Border Coral.   This branch of the Mary Wood family produced a NZ Sires Stakes champion in Hug The Wind (1:49) and the top West Australian juvenile Sprinter (1:48.6). The Mary Wood family is today as extensively represented in Australia as it is in NZ.       Well related three-year-old   Dr Susan, who won the Group 2 $50,000 Garrard’s Raith Memorial at Menangle, showed ability as a two-year-old last season when she was placed in a heat of the Young Guns series.   Dr Susan winning the Garrard’s Raith Memorial at Menangle   She has opened her three-year-old season on a winning note and will be well in line for the remaining major juvenile classics. She is a filly by the Cam’s Card Shark horse, Bettor’s Delight, from the Southland Oaks winner Safedra (1:56.3), the dam of an earlier winner in Buzinga (1:56.8).   Safedra in action   Safedra ranks as a half-sister to a grand pacer and Inter Dominion heat winner in Bettor’s Fire 1:50.2 ($966,417) and My Alpha Rock (1:49.5), being by Mach Three from the Sands A Flyin mare Sparks A Flyin 1:52 ($510,133), winner of 21 races including the NSW Oaks and Breeders Crown.     Broodmare double   The American-bred Victorian-owned Western Terror mare Kabbalah Karen B left winners in two different countries last weekend.   Kasbah Kid, a five-year-old Art Major gelding, grabbed a last-stride win at Melton in a career-best 1:54.3 on Friday, while Our Little General (by Mach Three), a Derby winner and dual Breeders Crown champion, won in 1:53.4 at Yonkers, New York the following night.   Kabbalah Karen B has a striking Bettor’s Delight yearling filly as Lot 153 at the Australian Pacing Gold Melbourne sale on February 2. The youngster is part of the eight-strong Lauriston Bloodstock consignment which includes an Art Major half-brother to last Sunday’s impressive Hamilton Pacing Cup winner Hurricane Harley.     Half-brother to Derby winner   Tanabi Falcon, a most impressive winner at the Melton midweek meeting, is a half-brother to the Victoria Derby winner and Country Cups king Tanabi Bromac.   A seven-year-old gelding by Falcon Seelster, Tanabi Falcon is out of the unraced Tanabi, a Village Jasper mare from Sinba, by Torado Hanover from the Lordship mare Black Debate, who established a great winning line for Helen and the late Graham Head.   Black Debate was the dam of the Tasmanian Oaks winner Indigenous, the Moonee Valley winner Mabo (1:57.5) and the exported Satan’s Dispute 1:55.6 ($234,192) and the grand dam of the Queen Of The Pacific winner Life Inthefastlane.   Tanabi Falcon was bred by the late Bob McArdle.     Blue blooded mare   Goodtime Grace, who won the Vicbred Platinum Country Series Final at Melton, is a four- year-old mare who can claim some worthwhile blood. By Mach Three, by Matt’s Scooter from All Included, by Abercrombie, she is out of the Art Major mare Art De Triomphe (1:58.8), whose dam, the American-bred Smyrna Duruisseau, left the NZ and Australian 2YO of the Year Follow The Stars (1:53.8 ($707,237), now at Allwood Stud in Western Australia and Stefsbest 1:54.7 ($143,511), runner-up in the APG Final.   Goodtime Grace                                                        --Stuart McCormick photo   Smyrna Duruissea, a 1:56 winner, was a half-sister to seven winners including Texas Shootout, a Little Brown Jug heat winner and second in the final to Mr Feelgood.     Leeton Breeders Plate heat winners   Rocknroll Runa, a gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven, and Im Lady Madeleine, a filly by A Rocknroll Dance, took out their respective heats of the time-honoured MIA Breeders Plate for two-year-olds at Leeton. The Group 3 $30,6000 final will be held on January 24.   Rocknroll Runa winning heat one of the Breeders Plate     Rocknroll Runa is the first foal out of the smart racemare Shes A Runa (1:55.5), a Jereme’s Jet mare who won 19 races including the NSW Oaks and Bathurst Gold Bracelet and $291,126 in stakes. He belongs to the immediate family of the Bathurst Sales Classic winner Lamorak 1:52.6 ($165,715) and the Rowleyalla Sprint winner Albert’s Charm 1:57.2 ($100,665).   Im Lady Madeleine is the third foal and third winner from Confetti (2:02.6), a race-winning mare by Jenna’s Beach Boy from Chenille, by What’s Next from the good Armbro Hurricane mare Dicio, the dam of 10 winners including the Victoria Sires Stakes 2YO champion Fragrance.     A star from Lagoon Lady   A star three-year-old in Victoria so far this season is Soextra, who was bred and is raced by Richard and Pauline Matthews and trained by Chris Lang.   A gelding by Bettor’s Delight, he is out of a champion racemare in Lagoon Lady (1:57.3) and the fourth of her produce to race, the best of whom is the thrice Melton winner Beach Surge (1:51.8).   Soextra is undefeated in two starts at Kilmore and Bendigo (in 1:53.1) and looks a three year-old with the potential one would expect of his breeding.     La Lola shows promise   A bright future is being predicted for the Rock N Roll Heaven four-year-old mare La Lola, who is unbeaten in three appearances in Victoria to date.   She has a good deal in her favour on the score of blood. Apart from being by Rock N Roll Heaven, she is out of a capable racemare in Predict (1:56.6), by Grinfromeartoear from Erase, by Classic Garry from Wipe Clean, by Windshield Wiper from Once More, winner of the NSW Ladyship Mile and one of the best mares in the country in the 1980’s.   This family has been bred from successfully over five generations by Ballarat enthusiast Pat Prendergast. Other smart performers further back in her pedigree have been Mode Of Action (Tatlow Memorial and Vis. Sires Classic), Collect Again and Predict (9 wins from 14 starts).     Convert Denario impresses   The six-year-old Convert Denario is proving a splendid advertisement for the In The Pocket horse Changeover, a grand pacer himself and who stood for a time at stud in Christchurch. He is now based at Burwood Stud near Brisbane.   Covert Denario   Convert Denario won consecutive races at Gloucester Park recently and is an emergency for this week’s WA Pacing Cup. All told, he has won 13 races and $134,242 in stakes.   Ergo Denario, the dam of Convert Denario, is a half-sister to the Melton winner Last Flight In 1:53.8 ($134,866), being by Bettor’s Delight from Orse M Denario, by Washington VC from Royaler, an American bred mare by Tyler B.       Nelson winner’s Aussie relations   Glenledi Chief, a double winner at the Nelson Summer Festival meeting, has close breeding links with Australia.   A three-year-old by the Western Hanover horse Well Said, the gelding is out of the classic winner Forever Now, who was bred from originally in Victoria and is now owned in New Zealand by Grant Enterprises.   Glenledi Chief winning at Nelson Forever Now, who won seven races including the Bathurst Gold Tiara, has produced six winners – all in 2:00 – from eight foals of racing age. Besides Glenledi Chief, she is also the dam of John Paul Jones (1:54.4), the Melton and Gloucester Park winner Anna Faye (1:57.9) and Now And Forever (1:58.2).   By Presidential Ball, Forever Now is a half-sister to the exported Anescape (1:50.6) and Pulsation (1:53.2), being out of Anna Matao, by Holmes Hanover from Annabel Scot, by Bo Scot’s Blue Chip from the celebrated matron Black Watch.   Clint Westwood, the winner of the Gore Cup and numerous races at Harold Park, and the WA Oaks runner-up Bettor Boa, are members of the same family of Glenledi Chief.   by Peter Wharton

Legendary Riverina harness racing caller Allan Hull has called time on his 50-year career, but says he's fortunate to have spent every working minute doing something he loves. Hull, who turns 70 this year, officiated this week for the final time at his hometown Wagga Wagga trotting track, but says race-calling never really felt like work at all. "It really didn't. It was my passion and every race is a different story," Hull said. "When I was young, I always wanted to be a sports commentator. I would listen to Alan McGilvray on the ABC (a cricketer who became the doyen of Australian cricket commentators)," he said. "There were no radios back then and I had a crystal set. I worked out that if I attached the alligator clip on the end of the wire to a tin roof at home, the reception would be much better. I would listen to the cricket being broadcast from England until about 2 or 3am. "I did also tune in to the races and my favorite pin-up jockey was Geoff 'the golden boy' Lane. I had a scrapbook of race story clippings because the Weekly Times use to do a two-page spread each week," he said. His passion for sport resulted in Hull starting to call trots trials at Wagga when he was just 17 or 18. "I was a bit keen to get involved and the guy who was running them was a family friend in Max Croker," he said. "I jokingly told Max that I'd do a better job than the bloke they had...and that was indeed true because at the time they had no-one doing it! I got to call the trials using a portable PA and microphone with about 20 to 30 people attending. "Then not long after I was asked if I'd do the Henty Show trots. Back then show trots were huge--all the trainers just loved them. I called four events and that was my first paid gig when I was 19 years old." Hull instantly loved the art and challenge of race calling - and his career took off from there. "I got a lucky break when Tex Condron, who was calling trots at Wagga, Junee and Leeton, was wanting to shift his focus more into training his own horses," he said. "So I took over from Tex and started calling at Wagga Wagga on November 20, 1970. I was the on-course commentator and also got paid for doing it on radio because it was relayed on 2WG. I recall later doing the Leeton Breeders' Plate on New Year's Day, 1971. That was big!" But race calling was never a full-time gig because there weren't enough meetings, Hull said. "After I'd finished my Intermediate certificate at Wagga High School in 1965, my father told me to go and get a trade--I left school on the Friday and started a fitter and machinist apprenticeship on the Monday," he said. "I was there for seven years, working my way up to foreman in the machine shop and one of my brothers also worked there as a boilermaker." Hull also started calling Aussie rules football in the 1970s for a local radio station, and did this for 25 years. "I ended up a sales rep because the manager heard me calling the trots and football on radio and offered me a job. So for most of my life I sold advertising for radio and television." Hull also began calling the gallops, doing his first few meetings at outlying areas such Hay, Griffith and Berrigan. Ted Ryder, regarded as a sporting icon in the town, was the caller at Wagga and Albury meetings, but Hull eventually took over from Ryder, calling his first Wagga Gold Cup in 1979. Allan Hull (centre) was presented with a plaque by Wagga CEO Graeme White (left) and club president Terry McMillan (Wagga HRC) He went on to call the Murrumbidgee Turf Club's feature event for 40 consecutive years, appropriately being dubbed along the way as "the golden voice of the Riverina". Hull said preparing for meetings depended on how many visiting horses were competing and working on their form. "If it's a Wagga trots meeting and I'm familiar with most of them, it may take one and a half hours. But if it's the Wagga Gold Cup gallops carnival over two days, 100 out of the 180 horses might be visitors so I'll take three to four hours doing the form for each day," he said. "I remember colors and names on a race to race basis. You get to know how a particular jockey sits on and if they are left or right-handed and that helps. "I think calling races is really a God-given gift. It's not something that's a natural thing, and it's one of those things that's difficult to do unless you have the knack. Hull is well-known for his two quirky terms of "the gates craaaaaash back" and "they hit the l-iiiiiiiiiiine...". "I guess my love for theatre also comes out a bit, because I've been involved in a few musicals over the years!" he said. "I always thought of three things: to be accurate, articulate and entertaining. "But if you have ever stood next to the barrier stalls, the gates do crash back. And as far as the other 'and they hit the l-iiiiiiiiine'...well, I'm buying time of a second or two to work out who has won! I only say that if it's a tight photo finish. "But I'll always have a go at calling the winner in a photo -- you just have to, I think. If I don't get it right, that's not a blue in my book. But if I call the wrong horse or the wrong colors, well that's different. If a panel beater makes a mistake, they can hide it with a spray can. We have to wear it!" Hull said he admired Matt Hill and now retired caller Greg Miles. "Those guys were terrific when calling races with big stables like Godolpin having multiple runners with the same colors, except for perhaps slightly different colored caps. That's when our business can get really difficult," he said. Hull said among his race-calling highlights were calling four InterDominion finals on radio. "They were at Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and New Zealand and InterDominions were huge events. It was for 2WG and I also provided them with snippets and other regional radio stations also picked it up, so they were definitely memorable," he said. Hull will call his last meeting at Albury trots on January 31, although he added that he will probably "help out" at a few non-TAB meetings over the next six months as he winds down. Hull and his wife Gayle have two children in Stephanie, a teacher; and Quentin, a longtime ABC sports broadcaster, who both live in Brisbane, and four grandchildren. "The time has flown, I've importantly enjoyed good health, and I wouldn't have had it any other way--it's been awesome," he said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

FOR everything top WA trainers Greg and Skye Bond have achieved, they are yet to win their biggest home town race. But they certainly have numbers on their side with seven of the 12 runners in tonight’s $450,000 Group 1 WA Pacing Cup (2936m) at Gloucester Park. Team Bond had six of the 12 runners last year when El Jacko was their first home with a second to Rocknroll Lincoln. Their runners tomorrow night are: Our Jimmy Johnstone (gate 1, $21 into $7.50), Our Alfie Romeo (three, $81), El Jacko (four, $81), Mighty Conqueror (five, $5.50 to $3.80), Ana Malak (seven, $15 to $41), Vampiro (nine, $9 to $11) and Galactic Star (10, $7.50 to $3.70). Stable driver Ryan Warwick has opted to stick with the proven Galactic Star, from inside the back row. Their “fresh” runners, who didn’t contest last week’s Fremantle Cup won by Caviar Star, are the talented Mighty Conqueror and exciting former Kiwi mare Our Alfie Romeo. Mighty Conqueror missed the Fremantle Cup due to deep-seated hoof bruising and a final decision on his spot in the WA Cup won’t be made until race morning. “He seems really well, but the RWWA vets will have a look at home and it’ll be their call tomorrow morning. That’s fairest for everyone,” Greg Bond said. “It’s great to have such a strong hand in the race, we’ve got nice horses racing really well. “Galactic Star was stiff last week. He was coming into really strongly along the inside when he clipped the wheel and galloped. It didn’t surprise me Ryan stuck with him. “I think the mare will run a big race, too. It’s obviously a step-up, but I know on her work at home she’s up with our best horses.” Bond is eyeing-off a Sydney raid with Our Alfie Romeo for the Ladyship Mile. “I’m sure she’s up to it. I looked at Melbourne, but it’s too soon. She can have a quiet week after this then wind-up again for Sydney, everything going well,” he said. “If she goes to Sydney, we’ll take at least another one along with her. Whether it’s Galactic Star, Vampiro or maybe even both of them for the lead-up sprints to the Miracle Mile.”   Adam Hamilton