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Insider Access - Welcome columnist Bob Carson

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. Each issue includes an in-depth Stallion review not available anywhere else. All previous reviews can now be viewed at http://stallionsphere.com. This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: History, Hardball, Humor and Harness Racing - Harnesslink.com is proud to welcome Bob Carson to our staff. Bob has published over 300 magazine articles and short stories in what he refers to as his Four H Club (history, hardball, humor and harness racing). Among his awards are the Hervey, World Trotting Conference, The USTA Presidents and Best of Ohio Fiction. The Voyage of Mess (humor) was his first novel and he produced the documentary film Touching Home (Minor League Baseball). Bob lives in northeastern Ohio with his wife, Sue, and family. Make sure to read Bob's first Harnesslink column as it is a great story! What's happening with the Auckland Trotting Club video? - Without doubt the Auckland Trotting Club is one of the most progressive and forward thinking clubs in the Southern Hemisphere. The board is now made up of a good balance of successful businessman and horseman and appears to be making great progress in securing the long term future of harness racing in the largest urban area in New Zealand. Stallion Review – ROCKIN IMAGE – Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Rockin Image p,3,1:48.2 ($903,424)). Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

Chancellor Cullen.jpg

Forgotten star returns this weekend

One of the forgotten stars of harness racing will make his return at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Sidelined since November 2013, Chancellor Cullen will be first-up in The Pure Steel for trainer Dean Braun. Before injury halted his career, Chancellor Cullen was regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the country, boasting 11 wins and three seconds from 16 Australian starts. The stallion’s victories include the McInerney Ford Classic, Melton Plate, The Graduate and Kilmore Cup, with the latter two handicaps - the same conditions as this weekend’s assignment. Although Chancellor Cullen is returning from a long spell, Braun is confident the six-year-old son of Christian Cullen is ready to kick-start his career on a winning note. “He had a slight strain in his suspensory, and although we could have pushed on with him, we felt he was too good to risk,” Braun said. “We’ve always had such a high opinion of him and felt a long break was the better option.” Drawn five, Chancellor Cullen faces tough opposition from New Zealand raider Bit Of A Legend, along with locals Smudge Broman and Savesomtimetodream. “Although he hasn’t raced for a while, he has had plenty of ground work and will be forward enough for this,” Braun said. Citing the Inter Dominion as Chancellor Cullen’s main mission, Braun has also earmarked next week’s A G Hunter Cup. Heats of the Inter Dominion are scheduled to be run on February 14, with the Final at Menangle on March 1. “I’d like to see him in the Hunter Cup, but it depends on how he gets through this week,” Braun said. “We are definitely looking at the Inter Dominion with him.” PAUL COURTS

Avonnova

Gurney aims up at Kevin Robinson Cup

Queensland trainer Ian Gurney has been forced to change his plans in the lead up to this year's Inter Dominion with Avonnova and will now start in the Kevin Robinson Cup at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. Gurney was hoping to start in Saturday night's Victoria Cup which would have allowed him to nominate for the Inter Dominion supplementary heat at Menangle on February 14 but now will head home early next week to compete in the Queensland heat. "I think he is in the best condition that I have ever had him in, I was planning on having to go to Victoria later this week so he has had plenty of work but after being left out down there I was more than happy to give him a run at Menangle on Saturday night," Gurney said. "The 2300 metres this week probably suits him even more than the mile he competed in last start, he won the Gold Coast Cup in October over the 2680 metres and For A Reason was in that race, so I'm pretty sure Shane (Graham driver) will look to get out of the gate and work to the front this week." Gurney confirmed Avonnova had been given a couple of 'easy days' after his most recent win at Menangle but is ready to fire again. "He had a couple of quiet days after winning at Menangle but we got serious with him again and he is ready to run another super race, he will go home Monday or Tuesday next week and go straight to the heat of the Inter Dominion at Albion Park." Stablemate Mach Alert will not be ready for an Inter Dominion campaign but will remain in Sydney. "Mach Alert has not had enough work to go straight into the Inter Dominion, he has only had three trials in the last 17 months." "He will stay in Sydney because he is so well suited by the big Menangle track." By Greg Hayes

Steroid screening test

Steroid testing - Yearling Sales

Throughout December 2014 and January 2015, Harness Racing Victoria Stewards and veterinarians have been collecting out of competition blood samples from yearlings scheduled to be sold at the upcoming Australian Pacing Gold (APG) Sales in Melbourne on Sunday 1 February 2015. Samples have been collected from approximately 1/3 of the 210 lots to be sold at the sales. All blood samples collected have been subjected to testing by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) on their newly expanded steroid screening test, which covers over 40 targets, and is understood to be the most comprehensive screening test in operation in Australia. RASL report that all of the analysed samples are clear of steroids. HRV wish to acknowledge the significant support of APG in assisting HRV’s efforts to ensure compliance with the national harness racing rules, introduced in May 2014, which banned the use of steroids at all times.  Harness Racing Victoria

Due to the small number of New Zealand nominations remaining in this year’s Inter Dominion there will be no harness racing heat run at Addington.  Initially 14 Kiwis were nominated for the Championship, however, a number of factors have led to the decision, including several scratchings, and at least three of those nominations currently campaigning in Australia.      The conditions for the time-honoured series read as follows: If any Qualifying Heat falls below 8 nominations by Friday, 30 January 2015, then horses will need to accept for the New South Wales Supplementary Qualifying Heat at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Should this clause be activated there may be two Supplementary Qualifying Heats conducted. A decision on whether a second Supplementary Heat will be made at a later date based on the quality and quantity of nominations remaining. HRNSW Media

In the spring of 2011 a young Jake McGeechan confidently announced to his father Michael that the newly born Artistic Fella and Kahlea Mac colt was the best of their 2011 foals. With a likely future in the sport, Jake never came to realise the progress of the colt born on family's property 'Highland Pride' as he was tragically killed in a motor vehicle collision outside Crookwell in the early hours of Friday morning 30th November, 2012. For Michael McGeechan, his involvement in harness racing and standardbred breeding began in the late 1990's, and it was only natural that Jake would follow. McGeechan's first purchase was Smooth Jes who he owned with his brother John. Following a successful racing career, the mare produced a number of winners including the Miracle Mile champion Divisive and also the unraced Kahlea Mac. Michael also purchased in-foal mares Maputo that produced the Pacing Gold winner Burling Game in 2000 and Blanc De Noir who foaled the sub 1:50 horse Highland Pride who went on to win in excess of $400,000 in the US. McGeechan mostly sells the foals he breeds, but out of those retained for racing he claims the best to date as being Susie Oneill. Michael is now hoping the 2011 selection by Jake can take over the mantle. "I don't know how he did it, but Jake could pick them the moment they were born" said Michael. In 2005, the then 9 year old had chosen Shes All Lady as their best and she went on to win more than $65,000 in prize money, and in the process recorded a personal best time of 1:53.8. "He wasn't born into the horses but he had a way with them" explained Michael. "We ended up keeping all of the 2011 foals and they have been named after Jake." At Jake's funeral the Adam Brand hit Hell Of A Ride was played; it symbolised the McGeechans' year and became a natural choice for the Kahlea Mac colt. Trained by Ian Wilson at Menangle, One Hell Of A Ride has drawn 9 in the first of the $20,505 heats of the VHRSC Victoria Derby. Whilst he may be on the second row, One Hell Of A Ride comes out behind fellow New South Welshman Aztec Bromac who possess good early speed. "It's the weakest of the three heats, so we have a chance" said McGeechan who is hoping the colt Jake selected as the best can continue the ride they are experiencing. Also heading south this week is Crookwell born Brad Hewitt. The young gun harness racing trainer now based at Goulburn will be campaigning the talented Spare Me Days. A last start winner at Goulburn on the 19th January, Spare Me Days was bred by Hewitt and is the first foal of Tolnikie, a Nikalong Shadow mare who was bred and originally owned and raced by Brad's grandfather, the late Tom Hewitt of Wheeo. With the colt carrying Tom's favourite exclamation as his racing name, Spare Me Days has drawn barrier 3 in what is doubtless the hardest of the three heats being decided Saturday night. Lining up alongside the Hewitt runner is last season's champion two year old and Breeders Crown final winner Follow The Stars, the Simpson Memorial winner My Field Marshal and the Cran Dalgety trained Art Union who last start defeated the star open class pacer Border Control. "It's the hardest heat of all but we have drawn the 3 gate so it gives us a chance" said Hewitt, who is enjoying his best season ever as a trainer and driver. "I've only ever had one or two in training before but we have kicked off this season really well" said Hewitt who has recently scored feature race wins with Sweet Molly OShea and Im Jay Tee who snatched a last stride win in Monday's $18,600 Goulburn Soldiers Club Goulburn Rose. "He (Im Jay Tee) went really good at Goulburn, it was his first run in a month and just got there". Positioned perfectly in the one by one, Hewitt came with a well-timed run to claim victory on the line from the Belinda McCarthy trained pair of Mister Bling and Epaulette. Im Jay Tee will accompany Spare Me Days to Melbourne and is lining up in race 5 at Ballarat on Friday evening which is a heat of the Country Clubs Championships. by Mark Croatto  

Harness racing’s man of the moment Clint Hall has opted to drive My Hard Copy in preference to four stablemates in Friday night’s Lord Mayor’s Cup at Gloucester Park. Hall has developed an affiliation with the five-year-old, which has drawn the outside of the front line in the 2130-metre feature. Fresh from his dazzling last-to-first with My Hard Copy in the WA Cup a fortnight ago and a career best four winners last Friday night, Hall warned punters the New Zealand-bred stallion was far from a certainty in the Cup. “Yes, of course he can win,” Hall said. “But the outside barrier will make it tough. I’m going to stick with him for obvious reasons. From barrier seven I wish Friday night’s race was over 2936 metres like the Pacing Cup and not 2130 metres. “This is a much harder task than the Pacing Cup, even though the calibre of horses is not as good. “I will assess my options early. I’m not trying to talk him down, but I have a feeling that he will be at odds-on which is well and truly under the odds. “He won from a much more favourable draw (barrier two on the back line) and paid $11 two starts ago, in the Fremantle Cup Consolation.” My Hard Copy was a 17/1 chance when he started from barrier seven in the Pacing Cup. Hall has chosen to drive My Hard Copy in preference to Northview Punter (barrier six), Bettor Reason (four), Some Kinda Tactics (five) and Soho Jackman (10). Hall’s father, champion trainer Gary, has a splendid record in the 48-year history of the Lord Mayor’s Cup, having won the race five times --- Tricky Bey (1994), Abit Rich (1997), Live To Reign (2007), Talk To Me Courage (2010) and Livingontheinterest (2014). KEN CASELLAS

Despite several setbacks and a lack of racing, Beautide has been installed favourite for what promises to be one of the most exciting harness racing events of the season – Saturday night’s Victoria Cup. After drawing ideally in barrier three, Beautide has been posted at $3 by TAB.com.au. Fourth behind For A Reason in last year’s edition, Beautide heads the market in front of stablemates Guaranteed and Philadelphia Man, which are on $5. Beautide hasn’t raced since finishing second to Christen Me in the Miracle Mile last November. Others under double figures are Christen Me ($6.50) and Lennytheshark ($9). “The TAB Victoria Cup promises to be a race for the ages,” TAB’s Andrew Georgiou said. “Beautide is the favourite, but hasn’t raced since his brave second in the Miracle Mile back in November. “The draw certainly paves the way for trainer-driver James Rattray to slot him into a position close to the speed.” Within moments of yesterday’s barrier draw, a $3000 wager was placed on Beautide at $3.8. After opening at $51, comeback pacer Lennytheshark has been a major mover and is on the fourth line of betting at $9. Lennytheshark was impressive when third in last Saturday night’s Shepparton Cup in his first run since July. Lennytheshark has drawn perfectly in barrier one for trainer David Aiken. PAUL COURTS TAB Victoria Cup – Fixed Odds market Beautide                         $3.00  Guaranteed                   $5  Philadelphia Man           $5  Christen Me                   $6.50  Lennytheshark               $9  Adore Me                       $12  Terror To Love               $14  Franco Ledger                $21  Chilli Palmer (1em)         $41  David Hercules               $41  For A Reason                  $41  Restrepo                          $41  Im Corzin Terror              $71

Young harness racing participant Robert Morris has been selected as the New South Wales representative in the 2015 Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship to be held in New Zealand in May.  Morris has driven in more than 4800 races and has won in excess of 660 of those since his first drive on January 4, 2008. “It is a massive thrill for me to be selected to represent my state against the best young drivers from Australia and New Zealand,” Morris said. “It is a good reward for all of the hard work and in a sport where there are very few opportunities to represent your state and country, I am very proud to be the New South Wales representative.” The series will be conducted at Cambridge, Alexandra Park, Addington and Timaru from May 7 to 10. “I have never had the opportunity to drive in New Zealand and it is something I have always wanted to do, so I am looking forward to it,” Morris said. “Plus I have never driven in a race where they run clockwise, so that will be something new for me at Alexandra Park. “The last 12 months have been tougher than previous years because of the leg injury I sustained, but I still managed to drive 103 winners for the season which was always my goal.” Morris was sidelined from April 25 until August 5 last year but returned to the sulky to drive 14 winners in three weeks to finish the season in strong form.  “I was lucky enough to win the NSW Rising Stars series for junior drivers in 2009, but this experience will take everything to the next level,” Morris said. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny congratulated Morris on his selection and wished him the best of luck later in the year. “Robbie is not only a good young driver but is a strong contributor to the promotion of the industry and deserves the opportunity to represent the state of New South Wales.” Dumesny said GREG HAYES

If you build it, they will come. Bringing together Victoria’s two biggest summer gems – the TAB Victoria Cup and the Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup – has resulted in what long-time harness racing pundits are describing as the greatest ever Victorian Cup field. Long-time trots form analyst and scribe Bill Hutchison remarked at the TAB Victoria Cup barrier draw this morning at Eynesbury Golf Club that: “Depth wise this is the best Victoria Cup field I’ve ever seen.” Master of Ceremonies, Adam Hamilton, agreed. “It’s definitely the best overall Victoria Cup field I’ve seen in my time,” Hamilton said. The Australasian harness racing world is abuzz ahead of the Group 1, $400,000 feature race to be run over 2240 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. The best from New Zealand, including three-time New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love, reigning NZ Cup champion mare Adore Me and Miracle Mile hero Christen Me, will be hoping to take the cup back across the ditch, but the Australian brigade – spearheaded by Tasmanian superstar Beautide and a three-pronged Emma Stewart attack – Guaranteed, Philadelphia Man and Restrepo – will provide fierce resistance. “This race won’t be for the fainthearted,” said champion reinsman Gavin Lang, who is expected to pilot Guaranteed on Saturday night. Impressive five-year-old Lennytheshark, who took all before him as a four-year-old last season, drew the coveted pole for the Victoria Cup. Drawn alongside the David Aiken trained runner will be Geoff Webster’s last-start Shepparton Cup winner, Franco Ledger, who stunned Philadelphia Man and Lennytheshark to win last weekend. The race favourite, and a heavily backed one at that, is Beautide from gate three for trainer/driver James Rattray. Beautide hasn’t raced since finishing second to Christen Me in November’s Miracle Mile but has trialled impressively in recent times. Trainer Amanda Grieve drew gate five with her Ballarat Pacing Cup winner Im Corzin Terror. Grieve also has Chilli Palmer, the first emergency, in the race, who drew gate eight. Cran Dalgety’s superstar Kiwi Christen Me will come from gate six, while Terror To Love and Ricky May will be hoping to emulate their Cranbourne Cup win from December but will have to overcome a barrier seven draw here. West Australian star David Hercules comes out of nine, drawn to trail through nicely on the back of Franco Ledger for Victoria Cup winning reinswoman Kate Gath. Guaranteed and Gavin Lang have drawn gate 10, reigning Victoria Cup winner For A Reason is coming out of 11, superstar New Zealand mare Adore Me is in gate 12 and last-start Hamilton Pacing Cup winner Restrepo rounds out the field in gate 13. The trots world will pause for the big race at 9.32pm on Saturday.  Race 7 TAB VICTORIA CUP (GROUP 1) 9:32 PM  M0 Or Better. * The winner of the following races in 2014 will be exempt from ballot for this race - New Zealand Free For All, Miracle Mile, Cranbourne Pacing Cup and Ballarat Pacing Cup. * This race is a leg of the Pacers Grand Circuit. * Acceptance Fee - $2, 000. * Stakemoney of $3, 375 per horse to be paid to the 6th to 12th placegetters respectively. TRAINERS NOTE: * Nominations for this race close at Noon on Friday, December 19. * Late nominations for this race close at Noon on Monday, January 19. A late nomination fee of $2, 000 will be applicable. RBD. Prizemoney: $400,000 2240 METRES 2ND LEG DAILY DOUBLE, 3RD LEG QUADDIE, 5TH LEG BIG6 MOBILE START   Form Horse Trainer Other Eng. Driver   Class  Hcp 1 111s3 LENNYTHESHARK  D Aiken   Chris Alford   C10 M4  FR1 2 89151 FRANCO LEDGER NZ  G F Webster   Geoff Webster   C20 M14  FR2 3 4112s BEAUTIDE  J R Rattray   James Rattray   C37 M13  FR3 4 11112 PHILADELPHIA MAN  E J Stewart   Gavin Lang   C13 M4  FR4 5 61264 IM CORZIN TERROR NZ  A J Grieve       C16 M9  FR5 6 51121 CHRISTEN ME NZ  C T Dalgety   Dexter Dunn   C22 M14  FR6 7 44412 TERROR TO LOVE NZ  G T Court   Ricky May   C27 M21  FR7  ---------- Second Row ----------  8 020s3 CHILLI PALMER NZ (Em 1)  A J Grieve Balarat 30/01/2015     C9 M5  SR- 9 s1112 DAVID HERCULES  D A Thompson   Kate Gath   C33 M23  SR1 10 11231 GUARANTEED  E J Stewart   Gavin Lang   C16 M6  SR2 11 35177 FOR A REASON  B J McCarthy   Luke McCarthy   C20 M9  SR3 12 12111 ADORE ME NZ  M Purdon   Mark Purdon   C22 M12  SR4 13 s4421 RESTREPO  E J Stewart   Gavin Lang   C12 M5  SR5 BY CODY WINNELL 

With more than one third of the harness racing season now completed it is no surprise to see the two leading drivers in New South Wales are females. Lauren Panella and Amanda Turnbull have already driven more than 140 NSW winners between them this season and with fellow driver Amy Day, the trio dominated the big meeting at Goulburn on Monday afternoon driving six of the eight winners. The girls started out strongly with Panella driving the first winner when Salty Robyn proved too fast for his rivals and set a new track record for 2yos in the process. Panella made it two from two when former kiwi filly Miss Riviera Belle won the second race. The daughter of Bettors Delight will now be set for the NSW Oaks at Tabcorp Park Menangle next month. Amanda Turnbull won race three when she drove Last Man Out for her father Steve while Amy Day drove the second placegetter Ten In Command. Day went one better in race four when the Treuer family owned Audrey Maree proved too strong. Day made it a training/driving double in race five when Ponderena stormed home to win, the daughter of Ponder beating another two mares as the female dominance continued. Trainer Belinda McCarthy tried valiantly to keep females in the winners' circle in race six, her two runners Mister Bling and Epaulette finished second and third in a very close finish. Panella was back to her winning ways in the feature event when she drove Easy On The Eye to victory in the Frank and Edna Day Goulburn Cup. Panella took the seven year old straight to the front and he was never troubled in recording his 17th career victory. Amanda Turnbull drove the second placegetter Heza Thrill. So while the lady drivers were successful in six of the eight races on the card, they also drove three quinellas between them and took home the major share of the spoils at the Carnival Of Cups meeting. With a number of feature races to be run in NSW over the next six weeks, the female drivers have not been forgotten. The Gr 2 Lexus International Lady Drivers Invitational will be run on Inter Dominion Grand Final day at Tabcorp Park Menangle with ten talented reinswomen competing. By Greg Hayes

Former kiwi pacer Easy On The Eye will be aimed at the Hunter Cup after his win in Monday's Frank and Edna Day Goulburn Cup. The Shane Tritton trained gelding led throughout to record his second Australian win but his 17th victory overall. "Easy On The Eye's form is faultless since he joined my stable if you ignore the Miracle Mile run and on that occasion we simply overdid it early," Tritton said. "I was extremely happy with his performance at Goulburn, he worked to the lead and controlled the race throughout so now I will take him to Victoria and hope to get a start in the Hunter Cup." Tritton did nominate Easy On The Eye and Suave Stuey Lombo for this Saturday night's Victoria Cup but both failed to make the final field. "We want to wish the connections of horses in the Victoria Cup the best of luck, it should be a great race, it is just a pity Suave Stuey Lombo couldn't gain a start because we would have started from the carpark if they had let us." "Easy On The Eye, Artistic Flite and Yayas Hot Spot will all go to Victoria this week and then after Saturday night's Ranji Bill Stakes at Menangle I will also send one of my four mares down but I just want to wait and see what happens this weekend first." The leading driver in New South Wales, Lauren Panella will drive at Melton on Saturday night and Tritton confirmed drivers that he has used recently will get another opportunity. "A lot of the drivers who have been driving for me will retain their drives this week, outside of Lauren I have been using David Morris, Bruce Birch and Blake Fitzpatrick as well." "We will go down for two weeks and be back for the Inter Dominion heats in Sydney." By Greg Hayes                

For A Reason’s prospects of joining an elite harness racing fraternity have been hampered by a shocking draw in Saturday night’s Victoria Cup. A stylish winner of last season’s edition, For A Reason is aiming to become just the third champion to defend his title since the race became a Grand Circuit event in 1987. Bag Limit was the first to claim consecutive wins, having emerged triumphant for the late Bob and Vin Knight. Known as the Winfield Gold Cup at the time, Bag Limit’s second victory in 1988 was the foundation for Vin’s famous “yous who are booing” speech. New Zealand star Desperate Comment became the second back-to-back winner when he was successful in 1996 and ’97. The only other pacer to win the Grand Circuit event twice is Sinbad Bay, which scored in 1989 and 1991. Also a member of the Knight stable, Sinbad Bay missed the 1990 version through injury. Before the Cup’s acceptance on the Grand Circuit, Popular Alm – another Knight runner – won the 1982 and ’83 versions. Koala King is the true star of the feature, with his victories in 1978, ’79 and ’80. That brings us back to For A Reason, which will begin from barrier 11 for New South Wales trainer Belinda McCarthy. “The draw certainly makes life tough,” McCarthy said. “From there is he going to need a bit of luck. “His work has been great and we are very happy with him heading into this. “He just never got into the Shepparton Cup on the weekend from his 30-metre handicap, so you can forget he even went around. “He is going as good as he was when he won last year, he just hasn’t had much luck during his last couple of starts.” PAUL COURTS

Very rarely in movie trilogies is the third movie the best.  Plenty of Hollywood directors have tried and failed, but when local trainer Trevor White prepared Hollywood Sign to win Sunday’s Junee Cup, the gelding’s third victory in a row, part owner Matthew Peden declared it as clearly the best of the three. “Up until Sunday night the biggest thrill I had with Hollywood Sign was when he won first up at Leeton and then backed it up at Temora and made it two in a row, but to make it three straight and win a race like the Junee Cup means a lot to all of us,” Peden said. “He was passed in at the sales as a yearling and Trevor, David White and I each took a third share and leased him and have raced him ever since, it has been a great ride.”   Peden was happy to see his good friend David White fly in from New Zealand, where he is working for kiwi trainers Graham and Paul Court, to witness the win. “Dave has played a big role with Hollywood Sign, obviously Trevor (David’s uncle) trains him, but when Dave was working for Blake Fitzpatrick, Hollywood Sign spent four months in Sydney with Blake and Dave and that has strengthened him up so much,” Peden said. “We kept it quiet to try and make it a bit of a surprise that Dave was flying in for the Junee Cup and I think his parents got a bit of a shock when he walked onto the track. “It was actually quite funny, as Dave and I drove down to Junee on Sunday we stopped in at Marulan for petrol and bumped into Graham Court, who is in Australia with Terror To Love, and he didn’t even realise that Dave had flown back to Australia.” Hollywood Sign will be looking to make it four in a row when he steps out next time and Peden has his fingers crossed. “I’m not too sure what Trevor has in mind, but he has now won three Carnival Of Cups races, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him continue to target that series and try and pick up the Carnival Of Cups horse of the year,” Peden said. - GREG HAYES

Stowport harness racing trainer Andrew Rawlings celebrated his biggest win this season when Musselroe Bay stormed home to capture the Norske Skog New Norfolk Cup over 2950 metres at Kensington Park yesterday. With premier reinsman Gareth Rattray in the cart, the son of Metropolitan settled worse than midfield despite stepping cleanly from his front two, while a hot pace was set by Put Mback, while The Dip faced the breeze ahead of Whisper Jet, which began brilliantly from his 20-metre handicap. It was Rattray’s second New Norfolk Cup win in succession having been successful with Put Mback the previous year. Put Mback started at $31, while Musselroe Bay was more fancied starting at $9. When the tempo quickened at the bell, the back markers struggled to get into the race down the back straight the last time, and turning for home it looked likely the leaders would fight out the finish. But Musselroe Bay emerged from the pack to set sail after the leaders, and once balance at the top of the straight, he powered home to overhaul the leaders close to home to score narrowly from Whisper Jet, Damitsam and The Dip. A big crowd ventured to New Norfolk for the club’s only meeting for the season that boasted seven races, with the Cup and the Ted Plunkett Memorial the features on the card. The Ted Plunkett was won by the David Pennicott-trained Strange Conduct which also was driven by Rattray. Strange Conduct powered home to score by 10 metres from Grinable, with Helen Wheels, which started off a 10-metre handicap, three-and-a-half metres away third. PETER STAPLES

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In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. Each issue includes an in-depth Stallion review not available anywhere else. All previous reviews can now be viewed at http://stallionsphere.com. This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: History, Hardball, Humor and Harness Racing - Harnesslink.com is proud to welcome Bob Carson to our staff. Bob has published over 300 magazine articles and short stories in what he refers to as his Four H Club (history, hardball, humor and harness racing). Among his awards are the Hervey, World Trotting Conference, The USTA Presidents and Best of Ohio Fiction. The Voyage of Mess (humor) was his first novel and he produced the documentary film Touching Home (Minor League Baseball). Bob lives in northeastern Ohio with his wife, Sue, and family. Make sure to read Bob's first Harnesslink column as it is a great story! What's happening with the Auckland Trotting Club video? - Without doubt the Auckland Trotting Club is one of the most progressive and forward thinking clubs in the Southern Hemisphere. The board is now made up of a good balance of successful businessman and horseman and appears to be making great progress in securing the long term future of harness racing in the largest urban area in New Zealand. Stallion Review – ROCKIN IMAGE – Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Rockin Image p,3,1:48.2 ($903,424)). Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).
One of the forgotten stars of harness racing will make his return at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Sidelined since November 2013, Chancellor Cullen will be first-up in The Pure Steel for trainer Dean Braun. Before injury halted his career, Chancellor Cullen was regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the country, boasting 11 wins and three seconds from 16 Australian starts. The stallion’s victories include the McInerney Ford Classic, Melton Plate, The Graduate and Kilmore Cup, with the latter two handicaps - the same conditions as this weekend’s assignment. Although Chancellor Cullen is returning from a long spell, Braun is confident the six-year-old son of Christian Cullen is ready to kick-start his career on a winning note. “He had a slight strain in his suspensory, and although we could have pushed on with him, we felt he was too good to risk,” Braun said. “We’ve always had such a high opinion of him and felt a long break was the better option.” Drawn five, Chancellor Cullen faces tough opposition from New Zealand raider Bit Of A Legend, along with locals Smudge Broman and Savesomtimetodream. “Although he hasn’t raced for a while, he has had plenty of ground work and will be forward enough for this,” Braun said. Citing the Inter Dominion as Chancellor Cullen’s main mission, Braun has also earmarked next week’s A G Hunter Cup. Heats of the Inter Dominion are scheduled to be run on February 14, with the Final at Menangle on March 1. “I’d like to see him in the Hunter Cup, but it depends on how he gets through this week,” Braun said. “We are definitely looking at the Inter Dominion with him.” PAUL COURTS
Queensland trainer Ian Gurney has been forced to change his plans in the lead up to this year's Inter Dominion with Avonnova and will now start in the Kevin Robinson Cup at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. Gurney was hoping to start in Saturday night's Victoria Cup which would have allowed him to nominate for the Inter Dominion supplementary heat at Menangle on February 14 but now will head home early next week to compete in the Queensland heat. "I think he is in the best condition that I have ever had him in, I was planning on having to go to Victoria later this week so he has had plenty of work but after being left out down there I was more than happy to give him a run at Menangle on Saturday night," Gurney said. "The 2300 metres this week probably suits him even more than the mile he competed in last start, he won the Gold Coast Cup in October over the 2680 metres and For A Reason was in that race, so I'm pretty sure Shane (Graham driver) will look to get out of the gate and work to the front this week." Gurney confirmed Avonnova had been given a couple of 'easy days' after his most recent win at Menangle but is ready to fire again. "He had a couple of quiet days after winning at Menangle but we got serious with him again and he is ready to run another super race, he will go home Monday or Tuesday next week and go straight to the heat of the Inter Dominion at Albion Park." Stablemate Mach Alert will not be ready for an Inter Dominion campaign but will remain in Sydney. "Mach Alert has not had enough work to go straight into the Inter Dominion, he has only had three trials in the last 17 months." "He will stay in Sydney because he is so well suited by the big Menangle track." By Greg Hayes
Throughout December 2014 and January 2015, Harness Racing Victoria Stewards and veterinarians have been collecting out of competition blood samples from yearlings scheduled to be sold at the upcoming Australian Pacing Gold (APG) Sales in Melbourne on Sunday 1 February 2015. Samples have been collected from approximately 1/3 of the 210 lots to be sold at the sales. All blood samples collected have been subjected to testing by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) on their newly expanded steroid screening test, which covers over 40 targets, and is understood to be the most comprehensive screening test in operation in Australia. RASL report that all of the analysed samples are clear of steroids. HRV wish to acknowledge the significant support of APG in assisting HRV’s efforts to ensure compliance with the national harness racing rules, introduced in May 2014, which banned the use of steroids at all times.  Harness Racing Victoria
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