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Qld Winter Carnival Profile: Leos Best

The 2016 Racing Queensland UBET winter carnival is fast approaching and in the coming weeks, Queensland harness racing broadcaster Chris Barsby will profile a number of major players vying for the top prizes. With 18 Black Type races on the program for the 2016 Winter Carnival, the carnival’s pinnacle in 2016 is the G1 Blacks A Fake, which now boasts an impressive $200,000 in stakes. The carnival spans from May 28 to July 30. Here’s a profile featuring a talented local three-year-old that continues to fly under the radar, he’s aiming at the Queensland Derby on July 16. Name: Leos Best Stable Name: Cam Age: 3yo gelding Owner: Kevin & Kay Seymour Trainer: Grant Dixon Driver: Grant Dixon Prizemoney: $200,477 Biggest win: Gr.1 QBRED Triad 2yo Final, Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series Classic, Redcliffe Derby Target: UBET Picket Fence Challenge – Listed $25k Gold Coast Derby (July 9) & the Gr.1 $75k Qld Derby Trainer says: “A great little racehorse that always rises to the occasion, his form is very consistent and he’s proven himself at the top level locally but taking on the interstaters is his next mission and he’ll get that opportunity in the Derby classics. His form this season is very good and that follows on from his excellent two-year-old term where he landed a couple of big race victories.” Barsby says: “A total pro this horse and always competes at an extremely high level and rarely disappoints. The transition from his rookie term to his three-year-old season has been seamless and continues to produce great results on all different sized tracks, handles Redcliffe as easily as the wide open spaces of Albion Park. With normal luck in the Derby features, his rivals will know he’s there, can’t be sold short.”

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Rising Stars - Brad Elder

“He might not be the best in the series but he is the best to me and the family.” - This is what Darren Elder had to say about his star runner from the Hunter region in last year’s Inter-Dominion Series, Shannonsablast. Brad admits that Shannonsablast has changed a lot for his family and is the best horse he has driven in his harness racing career. What better present to receive on your sixteenth birthday than to drive your first winner at only your second race driver.   Brad drove Paintmeacanvas to victory for his father Darren at Newcastle on the 30th of May 2014.    Two years on and Brad has now driven a total of 71 winners and picked up a double with Blueridge Shannon and Shannonasblast at Newcastle in July 2014. With two trebles under his belt and still at Maitland High School (Year 12), Brad wants to concentrate on the training side of harness racing once he has out driven his claim.   Born and raised into harness racing, Brad’s biggest inspiration and career influence is his dad Darren and has future goals to win a Group 1.  Brad came close to achieving his goal when finishing 5th with Days End in the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Four-Year-Old Entires & Geldings Final last Sunday.   His career highlights to date are winning the Gold Nugget, placing second in the Inter City Pace Final and winning the Mathew Jenkins Award. Tomato sauce or gravy: Tomato sauce on everything Football Team: West Tigers Favourite track driven at: Newcastle by far Cats or dogs: Dogs Biggest pet hate: When someone tries to take my food. Ashley Brennan

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Punter ready to step up

Despite tasting defeat, talented young harness racing horseman Nathan Purdon walked away from last Sunday’s Sydney feature meeting a content person. Purdon prepared Ohoka Punter for the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Menangle and the star pacer produced a courageous effort to fill third placing behind the David Aiken duo of Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark in a time of 1:50.5. Following two brilliant victories at Albion Park, connections decided to take at throw at the stumps and head south for the sprint feature rather than stay and wait in Brisbane for the upcoming winter carnival features. And the two start campaign proved very successful. “He performed at a very high level in both starts, his first-up win was very impressive and I thought his effort in the Len Smith was very commendable given how much work he did and the time they posted. The top two finishes are wee nice horses.” Purdon said. The New Zealand horseman has returned to Brisbane and Ohoka Punter is due back tomorrow (Thursday) in readiness for next week’s Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake the following week. The open class features during the carnival are loaded with stars including Hectorjayjay, Christen Me, Avonnova and Ultimate Art but Ohoka Punter is right there with them and Purdon is just hoping for some luck. “The Brisbane style of racing is very hard and a little unforgiving so we need to be at our best and have lady luck on our side in both events. The barrier draw for each race will go a long way in determining who gains the advantage. “The best part about last Sunday was the way he came through the race, I couldn’t be happier with the way he pulled up and his recovery was great so that’s very pleasing as we head into the Brisbane features.” Champion reinsman Anthony Butt handled the dual Group One winner in Sydney but Purdon will take the lines himself in both Albion Park features. The barrier draw for the Sunshine Sprint will be conducted next Tuesday (July 5). Chris Barsby

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Spare Me Days ready to bounce back

In-form Goulburn harness racing horseman Brad Hewitt has quickly turned the page on last week. Heading into last Sunday’s feature race day at Menangle, Hewitt was hopeful with stable star Spare Me Days and emerging talent Arma The Gun in their respective Gr.1 Breeders Challenge Finals but came home short. Both pacers ran the punters elect but both missed the place. Hewitt has already switched his focus to his next target, the Brisbane winter carnival which starts this weekend at Albion Park and runs over three consecutive weekends. On Saturday night, Hewitt starts Spare Me Days in the Gr.3 $30,000 Horsepower Nutrition 4yo Championship. “The Brisbane campaign will wrap up his season; he goes straight to the paddock after the Blacks A Fake on July 16 for a well-deserved break because he’s done a super job this season. He’s really stepped it up this season and he’s proven that he’s going to be competitive in the open class arena, his win in the Bulli Cup proved that when he beat some nice horses in very good time at Menangle.” Hewitt said. Spare Me Days has drawn the second-line in the 2138m mobile start feature and meets talented types Major Cam, Birdy Mach and Major Coup among others. But Hewitt knows he’s got the form horse of the race. “I was very happy with his effort last Sunday because he had a poor draw and was forced to do plenty of work while they were running strong time; he kept fighting all the way up the straight. On a positive note, he’s taken no harm from the race and he seems in good order. “Barrier draws haven’t been kind to him lately and again this weekend we’ve got some work in front of us but the draws will hopefully turn around in the coming weeks. Obviously Birdy Mach is a talented type while the likes of Major Cam and Major Coup are still on the way up so it should be a competitive race. “We’re definitely going to start in the Blacks A Fake but a decision on the Sunshine Sprint won’t be made until after this weekend, it’s probably a little unlikely given the recent racing he’s had. I think the genuine speed in the Blacks A Fake which will be generated by the open class stars will suit him nicely.” Hewitt’s father Dave is considering sending talented three-year-old Stanley Ross Robyn north for the Gr.1 $75,000 Sure Duz Mosquito Candle Queensland Derby on July 16. The former New Zealand gelding continues to improve and was narrowly beaten yesterday (Tuesday) at Menangle when third behind Miss Riviera Belle and Look And Listen in a time of 1:52.7. A decision is expected soon. Chris Barsby

Prominent Tasmanian standardbred breeders Fred and Pauline Barker celebrated another harness racing feature race win when a filly they bred, Shezallapples, scored an impressive victory in the Group 1 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge 2YO Fillies final over 1609 metres at Menangle last Sunday. Shezallapples started as one of the rank outsiders ($91.30) but she proved too good for her rivals scoring by almost three metres from Rocknroll Emma ($6.60) with Im with Lexy a close-up third and well ahead of the $1.50 favourite Don't Think Twice. The win gave driver Jim Douglass his first Group 1 success in his home state and the win also delighted the filly's trainer David Thorn who rated the daughter of Sportswriter-Apple Sorbet a top winning chance going into the race. Shezallapples clocked a mile rate of 1.53.3 to suggest she has a bright future. The Barkers have slowly but surely eased out of standardbred breeding with Apple Sorbet now residing with Ricky Hinds who put the mare to Modern Art which resulted in a filly foal born on Christmas Eve last year. Peter Staples

Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) Pryde’s Easifeed Australasian Premier Trotting Sale (APTS) and the Australian Pacing Gold (APG) Melbourne Autumn Sale will be conducted on Sunday, April 2, 2017 at Inglis, Oaklands Junction. This will be the first year the APTS has been held away from Tabcorp Park Melton. “The move to Oaklands Junction will provide opportunities for further growth in sales numbers as well as providing a superior and safer experience for horses, vendors and buyers,” HRV CEO John Anderson said. APG will also work with HRV to conduct a race exclusively for pacing yearlings catalogued for the Melbourne Autumn Sale and presented in the ring on April 2. “The Pryde’s Easifeed Australasian Premier Trotting Sale continues to grow and develop since its inception in 2013, coinciding with the terrific racing opportunities that exist for trotters in Victoria,” Mr Anderson said. “We believe it is an important step that the Australian Pacing Gold Autumn Sale and the APTS be run at the same venue on April 2 next year to create a high-quality catalogue of trotters and pacers, which will no doubt carry great appeal for buyers both locally and abroad. Oaklands Junction is a dedicated sales complex which provides a great environment for buyers and allows vendors to present their yearlings in the best possible condition.” APG General Manager David Boydell said: “I’m thrilled to see APG’s Melbourne Autumn Sale and the Pryde’s Easifeed Australasian Premier Trotting Sale sharing the same sales date and venue.  I’m confident that the new format will be warmly received by both vendors and buyers, and should result in increased attendance and a more vibrant atmosphere. I’m also really excited about HRV’s commitment to work with APG to develop a standalone race exclusively for graduates of APG’s Autumn Pacing Sale.  I have no doubt that this new Sales Race will help to attract buyers and drive demand for Autumn Pacing Sale yearlings.” Trots Media

Modern Maestro has had a stellar start to his harness racing career. The son of Modern Art has won eleven of his fifteen career starts and with the season over in Canberra, the gelding's trainer Michael Hawke will look to target racing at Menangle in the short term. After racing through the season at Canberra undefeated in seven starts, Modern Maestro was declared the Horse Of The Year in the nation's capital. The seven wins also helped secure Hawke's second trainers' title and Melissa Hawke her first drivers premiership. "At Canberra they have a local premiership for the leading trainer and driver and they also have an overall leading trainer and driver," Hawke said. "It was great to win the overall leading trainer for a second consecutive season but I was immensely proud of my daughter Melissa when she won the overall leading driver. Liss has won local premierships before but to win the overall driver's title is a great achievement and a good reward for all of her hard work." Modern Maestro finished second in the Group 2 Carousel earlier in the season and Hawke believes it was during that series he realised he had a nice horse. "He won nine of his first ten starts but his wins had been at Canberra, Wagga and Bathurst so there were a few question marks on the form. I think his run in the heat of the Carousel at Penrith when he led and Kept Under Wraps only picked him up in the shadows of the post proved to me that his record was legitimate. "Off the back of that run, Modern Maestro finished second in the Carousel final behind Hez A Dude and he fought right to the line on that occasion as well." Saturday night's assignment at Tabcorp Park Menangle will not be an easy one with several well performed runners engaged in race four. Runner up in Sunday's Group 1 4YO Breeders Challenge final Egodan has drawn the second row while Tact Hayleys Delight will start from barrier three. "I haven't done the form yet and only glanced at the fields when they first came out but my initial thought was Darren's (Binskin) mare was well placed. Those C3 to C5 races are very strong at Menangle every week so I'll keep bringing him back until he can snare one. "Most of the horses around Canberra go for a spell at the end of the local season but I've kept a few of mine in. I might even bring a horse like Huge Attitude to Menangle at some stage." Despite wrapping up their respective premierships at the Canberra meeting last weekend it has been a tough week for the stable. Rookie Error died after suffering from colic last weekend. "She was no star but she won seven races in her career and she tried her heart out every time she stepped onto the track. She was one of Melissa's favourites so she has been a little bit upset." "Hopefully Modern Maestro can pull out a good run on Saturday night and help Liss feel a little bit better." Greg Hayes

Petacular hasn’t put a foot wrong all season and is consequently at the top of the market for Saturday night’s Harness Racing Group 1 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ pacing final. The Michael Stanley-trained daughter of Somebeachsomewhere/Ideal Priority overpowered Our Celebrity and Perfect Sense to win her semi-final at Melton last Saturday night from barrier 12. In this Saturday night’s $115,000 final Petacular has drawn barrier nine and Stanley will pilot the rising starlet. “Her form all season has been outstanding,” Stanley said. “Since we’ve stepped her up to 2200m she’s really thrived.” Petacular has won five races from seven starts and never finished out of the top three.  She ran third in the Australian Pacing Gold Final at Menangle when she covered ground in the run, with Stanley stablemate Soho Angel finishing on powerfully to run fourth in that race. Soho Angel (Bettors Delight/Soho Champagne) also qualified for this Saturday night’s final courtesy of a fast-finishing second in the semi-final last weekend from barrier 12. “Soho Angel was a big run. I probably had to pull four-wide a bit too early at the 400m. If I could have waited I’m sure she could have won.” West Australian whiz Gary Hall Jnr will drive Soho Angel for Stanley and owner Rob Watson. Stanley’s chances of winning the three-year-old colts and geldings’ Vicbred final improved markedly at the barrier draw with Sportswriter/Striking Spirit gelding Spiritwriter snaring pole. The impressive pacer was unlucky in his semi-final when held up in the straight to finish 5.5m behind Iceenothink and Dont Hold Back. “He’s just improved the whole way along,” Stanley said. “He’s really strengthened and taken the next step this campaign.” Stanley spoke of Spiritwriter’s versatility. We’ve seen him swoop home with a blistering last quarter to win during the International All Star Series at Melton, and narrowly pipped by Senor Macray when leading at Ballarat. “It’ll take a pretty good one to beat him (in three-year-old males’ final).” And punters take note Stanley also made special mention of a 50-1 shot in Soho Tokyo, who will start in the four-year-old mares’ final. “She’s been an outstanding horse for me and was the one that put me in the big races a couple of years ago. She’s a really tough horse,” he said. Stanley will also put the polish on Ideal Lifestyle and Alessa in the three-year-old fillies’ final. Cody Winnell

Harness Racing Trainer David Aiken was expected to capture the Group 1 Len Smith Mile (1609m) at Menangle on Sunday. However, it would be his second-seed that would be victorious as five-year-old gelding Hectorjayjay ran down stablemate Lennytheshark to score in 1:50.5.   Lennytheshark was involved in a flying 25.7 opening quarter as Bettor Bet Black scorched over before Lennytheshark was able to find the top in the back straight in a 55-second first half.   Champion reinsman Gavin Lang took three-wide cover with Hectorjayjay before peeling to the outside to give chase to Lennytheshark. The third quarter was run through in 28.3 followed by a 27.2 final quarter as Lennytheshark’s early work took its toll.    Hectorjayjay would defeat Lennytheshark by 1.2m with a further 5.9m back to Ohoka Punter in third place.   “That’s one thing about drawing 14, you need those type of quick sectionals early to bring you into the race and that’s how it turned out,” Lang told Michael Court. “That early burn gives you a chance. Over a mile if they go slowly early then you are left to do your share of work to get into the race and chasing quality horses, well, you just won’t catch them.”   Aiken had originally planned for Hectorjayjay to contest a couple of Queensland features and now that he has claimed the Len Smith Mile, there is no reason not to continue on the original path; later in the year Lennytheshark will defend his Inter Dominion Championship crown in Perth with Hectorjayjay looking to take the coveted title away from his stablemate.   “The plan all along was to take him up to Queensland for the winter features,” Aiken told harnessnews.com.au.  “So that’s the way he will keep going.”   The Group 2 Sunshine Sprint (1660m) will be held at Albion Park on July 9 followed by the Group 1 The Blacks A Fake (2680m) at the same venue on July 16.   Former Miracle Mile winner Christen Me is in Queensland to contest both features while Ohoka Punter will return to his home state to tackle both events.    Reprinted with permission www.racingbase.com

From the freezing cold to the scorching heat, in 2011 young harness racing driver Stuart McDonald made the daring move to leave his family and relocate to Australia to seek more opportunities within the harness racing industry. In 2013 at a small town track approximately 200km out of Perth, Stuart or Stewie as his friends call him, drove his first winner to victory with Greg Schofield-trained Mako Shadow.  He worked with Greg Schofield for 18 months before moving on to work for Byford trainer Ross Olivieri. With 73 wins this season, Stewie’s short-term career goal is to win a Group One race as a driver and has so far enjoyed success with Our Blackbird in the 2015 Inter Dominion Final to finish fifth.   On the March 4, 2014, Stewie drove a double with Imtheguy and Arousing at Gloucester Park for Ross. The 21-year-old from Christchurch describes Ross as his greatest influence and feels privileged that Ross is giving him the opportunities to help him achieve his career goal of being a freelance driver.   New Zealand or Australia:  Australia Favourite singer: Hilltop Hoods Favourite food: Chicken Bernard Childhood hero: My Dad Who do you think is the best driver: Gary Hall Jnr Best Track driven at: Pinjarra, WA

In many way’s it’s an age-old story; the good girl gone bad. A rebellious phase that so many parents would be well aware of as their daughters pass through teenage years. But for harness racing driver Aaron Dunn and his father Barry, there has almost been as much at stake with their talented three-year-old pacer Nikkibadwagon. She’s been a lovable rogue in her short career today. In fact some might say more rogue than lovable, however that’s may all be starting to turn around as we head towards the Group 1 $115,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Saturday night. We won’t put the mozz on them because she’s only just back in the draw for the first time in a while but having given the team grief earlier this season both her heat and Semi-Final run were as close to flawless as you could expect. It’s hard to put the improvement down to any one change in her routine but like any rebellious youngster, a bit of time and care has undoubtedly had an influence. “I didn’t really have the time to be working her every day as well as running my seed cleaning business,” her driver Aaron Dunn said. “It’s probably just about routine because a couple of times when I had to go away for work and I only got back a couple of days before she raced, that’s when she really played up.” Therein lay the problem which Dunn knew he had to try to rectify. “I ended up training up a new worker,” he said. That took time however and the Horsham-based reinsman was back and forth between work and Nikki until he was able to set up properly with the business. Since having more hours to spend with the filly the two have clearly bonded. Ironically now that Dunn is with her more often, she took to kicking out at Barry when he jumped aboard after a stint on the sidelines at home. While things are looking up now, it’s fair to say the ups and downs have been apparent. Back in late February the team drove all the way from Horsham for the last race at Melton on a Friday night. The filly had a different idea, buck jumping through the entire pre-race warm-up and then kicking the cart to smithereens in the score-up before being forced to scratch late. “It was really disappointing that night because we thought it was a race we could win. That’s in the past now though and while you can never be certain she does seem to be over a lot of her issues,” Dunn said. “She’s actually not too bad to handle at home, we clipped her the other day and she wasn’t a problem. Sometimes she’ll dig her heels in but nothing like what we’ve seen on race day.” It’s a seriously engaging story and one that pinches a theme from the thoroughbred and AFL worlds too. For those that don’t remember Robert Groenewegen, he’s an ex-Footscray forward who now manages Aurora Stadium in Tasmania. He owns a share thanks to an association with Aaron Dunn’s brother who is the ground curator. Much like Makybe Diva (Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Diane and Vanessa), Nikkibadwagon gets her name from a mash-up of all her owners rather than an indicator of her behavior. “One of the owners is Nick Bauld (Nikki), my brother’s name is Bryan Anthony Dunn (BAD) and Robert’s nickname was the Wagon so that’s how she came to be,” Dunn said. “At the start I’m not sure I really thought much of it but once they start to perform on the track it’s much easier to like.” So to the race that Nikki has been marked a $13 chance with TAB Fixed Odds where she’ll need to take down the might of Emma Stewart with Rocknroll Magic deep into the tomato sauce. That filly has drawn the second row though. “I’m not too sure how the start will play out. My filly doesn't’t have a whole lot of obvious gate speed but it’s a Group 1 so I’ll have to be doing my best early,” Dunn said. “I’ve found it’s probably a mistake to try to put the brakes on with her anyway, in the Oaks trial at Ballarat I took her back early and that’s when she did make a mistake.” Regardless of where she lands, the daughter of Shadow Play proved in Vicbred her heat that she can sustain a three-wide run in a very quick last half and still be fighting hard at the end. Much like the good girl gone bad we spoke of to begin with, this story could potentially have a positive ending but we won’t find out until Saturday night. Cody Winnell

One of Tasmania’s most popular harness racing protagonists Chester Bullock was this week honoured for his service to the industry. A long term active participant in many aspects of Tasmanian harness racing including ownership, breeding, training, and administration and sponsorship has been honoured with a Distinguished Service Award from Harness Racing Australia (HRA). Bullock was born at St Marys in 1948. His father, Keith (Cardinal), was the St Marys Trotting Club Treasurer and his mother, Doris, loved to have a small wager on horse racing. With that background, Bullock quickly developed a passion for racehorses. He spent much of his youth at St Marys at the harness stables of Linton Bullock and Eric Bean. Bullock moved to Launceston when he was 16 years of age. His first purchase was a harness yearling, Thunder Fame, which eventually won two races in 1984 when trained by Eric Bean. Bullock acquired more mares, yearlings and racehorses and in 1986 decided to buy some land at Riverside to accommodate his rapidly expanding harness operation. A 1,100 metre track was constructed on the flats adjoining the Tamar River, where Jack Stamford previously trained, and the first of many prominent trainers took up residence at the Bullock training establishment. David Angus was the initial trainer and Mark Stanley, Rohan Hadley, James Rattray, Todd Rattray, Sam Freeman and Tim Yole all had stints training from the Bullock property. Bullock acquired his training license in 1990 and has prepared many winners from the complex. They include Cardinal Nelson (10 wins) and Cardinal Tucker (7 wins). Another, Cardinal Phoenix, showed enormous potential at his only race start as a two year old defeating Prodigious (2001 Tasmanian Pacing) Championship  and Mountain Glory (Dual Tasmanian Horse Of The Year). Bullock is training approximately 15 horses at present with assistance from Duncan Dornauf, Wade Rattray and his daughter Julia Bullock and son-in-law Ryan Wilkinson. In 1998, Bullock and his daughter Julia established an AI Breeding Station at the Riverside property. Since then, Fred and Pauline Barker, Trevor Leis, Doug McKillop, Lloyd Whish-Wilson, Rick and Naomi Hinds and Dennis Mahoney have been some of the many prominent Tasmanian breeders who have used the facility. Bullock has also had a significant role in racing administration. It commenced at the Launceston Pacing Club (LPC) at Elphin in 1984. Three years later he resigned from the committee while he filled the position of Project Manager for the new Mowbray Racing Complex including the 1,000 metre harness track.  He returned to the LPC committee in 2000 until the present day and has recently been appointed President. He is also the current Patron of the LPC as well as Patron of the Carrick Park Pacing Club. He joined the Northern Tasmanian Light Harness Association in 1995 where he has served 21 years as President. In 2006, he joined a group of participants to establish the Tasmanian division of the Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association (BOTRA) and he was immediately elected President and served seven years in the role. Since 2009, Bullock has represented the LPC and/or NTLHA at the quarterly Tasracing Harness Industry Forum meetings and he is also a member of the Tasracing Harness Yearling Sale Working Group. Bullock, through his company Bullock Consulting (now 6tyo), has been one of the major harness sponsors in Tasmania over the last 16 years. His sponsorship has extended to all clubs in North and North West Tasmania with some of his more prominent exposure being through the Bullock Consulting Youngbloods series (16 years), the Bullock Consulting Bandbox at Launceston (21 years), the Bullock Consulting Devonport Cup, the Bullock Consulting Burnie Cup, the Bullock Consulting Country Guineas (St Marys) and many other races and the Fashions of the Field (Scottsdale and Burnie).  Tas Racing

Harness Racing Stars of the sulky give their thoughts on their Vicbred semi final winners at Melton last Friday. Tabcorp Park Melton, winning driver interviews, Friday night 24/6/2016. Race 1 - Chris Alford on Soho Tribeca (American Ideal/Pixel Perfect) after winning 3YO Colts and Geldings First Semi-Final - View here Race 2 - Gavin Lang on Rocknroll Magic (Rock N Roll Heaven/All The Magic) after winning 3YO Fillies First Semi-Final. - View here  Race 3 - Greg Sugars on Whirily School (Courage Under Fire/Mayhappen) after winning 3YO Fillies Second Semi-Final. - View here Race 4 - Jason Lee on Jilliby Kung Fu (Four Starzzz Shark/Slip Slop Slap) after winning 2YO Colts and Geldings First Semi-Final. - View here Race 5 - Chris Alford on Iceenothink (Art Major/Decethree Lombo) after winning 3YO Colts and Geldings Second Semi-Final. - View here Race 6 - Gavin Lang on Delight Me (Bettors Delight/Cornsilk) after winning 4YO Mares First Semi-Final. - View here Race 7 - Greg Sugars on Tee Cee Bee Macray (Ponder/Wya Mya Macray) after winning 4YO Entires and Geldings First Semi-Final. - View here Race 8 - Lauren Tritton on Tingira Beach (Somebeachsomewhere/Western Tingira) after winning 2YO Colts and Geldings Second Semi-Final. - View here Race 9 - Mark Pitt on Stay And Play (Live Or Die/Play Ball) after winning 4YO Mares Second Semi-Final. - View here Race 10 - Gavin Lang on Ideal For Real (American Ideal/Tamara Hall) after winning 4YO Entires and Geldings Second Semi-Final. - View here Race 11 - Michael Stanley on Petacular (Somebeachsomewhere/Ideal Priority) after winning 2YO Fillies First Semi-Final. - View here Race 12 - Damian Wilson on Flying Moth (Art Major/Moody Moth) after winning 2YO Fillies Second Semi-Final. - View here Cody Winnell

One of the most impressive winners on the nine-event harness racing program in Tasmania at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night was the Tommy Jackson-trained Finn Mac Kee (Stonebridge Regal-Scarlett Finn) who led throughout to easily win a C2 event over 1609 metres. It was Finn Mac Kee’s fifth win from only 13 starts but arguably his most impressive. The four-year-old is expected to have one more start in a C-2C3 in Launceston in a couple of weeks before being sent for a spell. “I’ll most likely give him one more start and then spell him but when I bring him back I’ll get him qualified from a standing start because I’d like to aim him at a few of the country cups over the Christmas-New Year period next season,” Jackson said. Finn Mac Kee has been a model of consistency this season winning four and being placed as many times from his 11 starts this time in. “I said early on that this horse could be the best I’ve had and he’s done nothing to change that opinion. “I don’t think he’ll have any problem with qualifying for standing start races and if I’m right he will be very compeitive in a few of the country cups. I’m not saying he’s up to the best but he is improving all the time and he loves to race,” he said. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Veteran Tasmanian harness racing trainer Paul Hill has always had a knack with producing top flight young horses and this season has been no exception with his star filly Playing Arkabella scoring an emphatic win in the $30,000 Evicus Stakes final over 1609 metres at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night. Hill won the race last year with his filly Chica Bella and while she was impressive throughout her two-year-old season there was as much to like about how Playing Arkabella went about her business in the last major feature juvenile race of the season. With Ricky Duggan aboard, Playing Arkabella ($1.50) was forced to work hard early from her outside front-row draw but eventually she was sent around the field to face the breeze outside of Harshali with the well-tried El jays Mystery on the back of the leader. When Duggan called on his filly for the big effort in the home straight she sped clear and went on to score by over 10 metres from El Jays Mystery ($7.80) with Harshali ($7.70) a short half-head away third. It was the filly’s fourth win from eight starts this season and she filled minor placings at her other four starts with this prizemoney from this latest win taking her career earnings to almost $46,000.. Hill prepared the favourite Rocknroll Turbo in the Dandy patch final but he had to settle for second to the highly promising Usain Jolt, depriving Hill of a record of preparing the winner of the Dandy Patch and Evicus two years in succession as he trained Hillview Jake to win last season's Dandy Patch. ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ A Tasmanian harness racing star may have emerged at UBET Park Hobart last night when Usain Jolt, a well-bred two-year-old prepared by astute horseman Tony Petersen, delivered a brilliant performance to win the $30,000 Dandy Patch Stakes over 1609 metres. Usain Jolt (James Austin) went into the race having not won from four previous starts while the favourite Rocknroll Turbo was aiming to keep his unbeaten record intact having won at his only two outings, including an effortless win in the Dandy Patch Prelude two weeks earlier. But Petersen was able to iron out a couple of little problems that were impeding the gelding to race truly and it made all the difference. Harjeet showed brilliant early speed to lead but he was then taken on by the second-favourite Williamtell (Gareth Rattray) that rolled to the front and set a slid tempo while the favourite Rocknroll Turbo faced the breeze. Rocknroll Turbo hung badly throughout the race and that didn’t help his cause but when Ricky Duggan gave Usain Jolt his head racing down the back the last time he loomed as a genuine contender. But when the gelded son of Village Jolt balanced for the run home he powered past the leaders and went on to defeat Rocknroll Turbo by eight metres with a similar margin to Williamtell. “This horse has always shown us good ability but he’s just been a little bit wayward in is action but I sorted that out leading up to this race,” Petersen said. “He is very well bred and his breeding goes back to Chamfer Star and that’s really solid.” Austin was thrilled with the win and predicts a bright future for gelding. “The way this horse ravelled into the race tonight he was never going to lose. Tony has been able to straighten him out and I reckon there’s still plenty of improvement in him,” Austin said. Usain Jolt is owned by Jacinta Webb, Deb Carlton and life partners Tammy Carlton and Sam King. Peter Staples

The Chairman of Harness Racing New South Wales Graham Kelly today announced the strategy for the delivery to the New South Wales harness racing industry of almost $38million in tax parity funding over the next five years. The funding will be delivered from July 1 commencing with $5.7million in FY17 and increasing to an estimated $11.5 million in FY21. Following extensive consultations with industry stakeholders and review within HRNSW, the Board has approved the creation of a Tax Parity Fund Strategy that it believes will restore New South Wales to being the premier harness racing state in Australia. The Board believes the proposed distribution of the funding is in accordance with the needs of the harness racing industry. Mr Kelly congratulated the Baird - Grant Government for securing the legislation which will, over time, return wagering tax to the New South Wales racing industry in-line with the Victorian model. “On behalf of the participants in our industry, I wish to thank the Premier, the Honourable Mike Baird, and his parliamentary colleagues for their foresight,”Mr Kelly said. “In particular I wish to thank the Deputy Premier and Racing Minister, the Honourable Troy Grant, for his determination in restoring the pari-mutuel funding in New South Wales to the level of Victoria, over the next five years.” In accordance with submissions received by HRNSW during the consultative process the key areas for funding from Tax Parity are: Prize money Club Administration Marketing Breeding Industry Development (Equine Welfare & Youth Development) Infrastructure Integrity “The Board and Management sought submissions from stakeholders and it was clearly obvious what their requirements were,” Mr Kelly said. “Prize money to participants drives demand for breeding whilst efficient and effective Clubs deliver our code of racing to the community. “Marketing harness racing is essential at all levels, whilst a solid integrity strategy gives both players and punters confidence in the competition. “Equine welfare and youth development strategies, whilst already in place, are to be enhanced. “Minimum standards and best practices through infrastructure developments are long overdue even though the proceeds that flowed on from the sale of the Harold Park property have certainly helped propelled harness racing in New South Wales well into this modern age. “Training facilities at the major racing centres are vital to the growth of harness racing in the various regions around the State. “The Board of HRNSW believes that, overall, the proposed application of the Tax Parity Funds made available by the Government amounts to a strategic use of the funding over the next five years, in a way that should see harness racing continue to contribute strongly to the economy and community of the State. “Finally, I would like to thank all those dedicated participants and industry associations that contributed to the process, as well as my fellow Board Members and the Management of HRNSW, for their efforts in creating a strategy that I believe will fairly and sensibly benefit all aspects of harness racing in New South Wales.” Greg Hayes

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The 2016 Racing Queensland UBET winter carnival is fast approaching and in the coming weeks, Queensland harness racing broadcaster Chris Barsby will profile a number of major players vying for the top prizes. With 18 Black Type races on the program for the 2016 Winter Carnival, the carnival’s pinnacle in 2016 is the G1 Blacks A Fake, which now boasts an impressive $200,000 in stakes. The carnival spans from May 28 to July 30. Here’s a profile featuring a talented local three-year-old that continues to fly under the radar, he’s aiming at the Queensland Derby on July 16. Name: Leos Best Stable Name: Cam Age: 3yo gelding Owner: Kevin & Kay Seymour Trainer: Grant Dixon Driver: Grant Dixon Prizemoney: $200,477 Biggest win: Gr.1 QBRED Triad 2yo Final, Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series Classic, Redcliffe Derby Target: UBET Picket Fence Challenge – Listed $25k Gold Coast Derby (July 9) & the Gr.1 $75k Qld Derby Trainer says: “A great little racehorse that always rises to the occasion, his form is very consistent and he’s proven himself at the top level locally but taking on the interstaters is his next mission and he’ll get that opportunity in the Derby classics. His form this season is very good and that follows on from his excellent two-year-old term where he landed a couple of big race victories.” Barsby says: “A total pro this horse and always competes at an extremely high level and rarely disappoints. The transition from his rookie term to his three-year-old season has been seamless and continues to produce great results on all different sized tracks, handles Redcliffe as easily as the wide open spaces of Albion Park. With normal luck in the Derby features, his rivals will know he’s there, can’t be sold short.”
“He might not be the best in the series but he is the best to me and the family.” - This is what Darren Elder had to say about his star runner from the Hunter region in last year’s Inter-Dominion Series, Shannonsablast. Brad admits that Shannonsablast has changed a lot for his family and is the best horse he has driven in his harness racing career. What better present to receive on your sixteenth birthday than to drive your first winner at only your second race driver.   Brad drove Paintmeacanvas to victory for his father Darren at Newcastle on the 30th of May 2014.    Two years on and Brad has now driven a total of 71 winners and picked up a double with Blueridge Shannon and Shannonasblast at Newcastle in July 2014. With two trebles under his belt and still at Maitland High School (Year 12), Brad wants to concentrate on the training side of harness racing once he has out driven his claim.   Born and raised into harness racing, Brad’s biggest inspiration and career influence is his dad Darren and has future goals to win a Group 1.  Brad came close to achieving his goal when finishing 5th with Days End in the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Four-Year-Old Entires & Geldings Final last Sunday.   His career highlights to date are winning the Gold Nugget, placing second in the Inter City Pace Final and winning the Mathew Jenkins Award. Tomato sauce or gravy: Tomato sauce on everything Football Team: West Tigers Favourite track driven at: Newcastle by far Cats or dogs: Dogs Biggest pet hate: When someone tries to take my food. Ashley Brennan
Despite tasting defeat, talented young harness racing horseman Nathan Purdon walked away from last Sunday’s Sydney feature meeting a content person. Purdon prepared Ohoka Punter for the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Menangle and the star pacer produced a courageous effort to fill third placing behind the David Aiken duo of Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark in a time of 1:50.5. Following two brilliant victories at Albion Park, connections decided to take at throw at the stumps and head south for the sprint feature rather than stay and wait in Brisbane for the upcoming winter carnival features. And the two start campaign proved very successful. “He performed at a very high level in both starts, his first-up win was very impressive and I thought his effort in the Len Smith was very commendable given how much work he did and the time they posted. The top two finishes are wee nice horses.” Purdon said. The New Zealand horseman has returned to Brisbane and Ohoka Punter is due back tomorrow (Thursday) in readiness for next week’s Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake the following week. The open class features during the carnival are loaded with stars including Hectorjayjay, Christen Me, Avonnova and Ultimate Art but Ohoka Punter is right there with them and Purdon is just hoping for some luck. “The Brisbane style of racing is very hard and a little unforgiving so we need to be at our best and have lady luck on our side in both events. The barrier draw for each race will go a long way in determining who gains the advantage. “The best part about last Sunday was the way he came through the race, I couldn’t be happier with the way he pulled up and his recovery was great so that’s very pleasing as we head into the Brisbane features.” Champion reinsman Anthony Butt handled the dual Group One winner in Sydney but Purdon will take the lines himself in both Albion Park features. The barrier draw for the Sunshine Sprint will be conducted next Tuesday (July 5). Chris Barsby
In-form Goulburn harness racing horseman Brad Hewitt has quickly turned the page on last week. Heading into last Sunday’s feature race day at Menangle, Hewitt was hopeful with stable star Spare Me Days and emerging talent Arma The Gun in their respective Gr.1 Breeders Challenge Finals but came home short. Both pacers ran the punters elect but both missed the place. Hewitt has already switched his focus to his next target, the Brisbane winter carnival which starts this weekend at Albion Park and runs over three consecutive weekends. On Saturday night, Hewitt starts Spare Me Days in the Gr.3 $30,000 Horsepower Nutrition 4yo Championship. “The Brisbane campaign will wrap up his season; he goes straight to the paddock after the Blacks A Fake on July 16 for a well-deserved break because he’s done a super job this season. He’s really stepped it up this season and he’s proven that he’s going to be competitive in the open class arena, his win in the Bulli Cup proved that when he beat some nice horses in very good time at Menangle.” Hewitt said. Spare Me Days has drawn the second-line in the 2138m mobile start feature and meets talented types Major Cam, Birdy Mach and Major Coup among others. But Hewitt knows he’s got the form horse of the race. “I was very happy with his effort last Sunday because he had a poor draw and was forced to do plenty of work while they were running strong time; he kept fighting all the way up the straight. On a positive note, he’s taken no harm from the race and he seems in good order. “Barrier draws haven’t been kind to him lately and again this weekend we’ve got some work in front of us but the draws will hopefully turn around in the coming weeks. Obviously Birdy Mach is a talented type while the likes of Major Cam and Major Coup are still on the way up so it should be a competitive race. “We’re definitely going to start in the Blacks A Fake but a decision on the Sunshine Sprint won’t be made until after this weekend, it’s probably a little unlikely given the recent racing he’s had. I think the genuine speed in the Blacks A Fake which will be generated by the open class stars will suit him nicely.” Hewitt’s father Dave is considering sending talented three-year-old Stanley Ross Robyn north for the Gr.1 $75,000 Sure Duz Mosquito Candle Queensland Derby on July 16. The former New Zealand gelding continues to improve and was narrowly beaten yesterday (Tuesday) at Menangle when third behind Miss Riviera Belle and Look And Listen in a time of 1:52.7. A decision is expected soon. Chris Barsby
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