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Watson Harrop, Jr. at it again for charity

It was just a month or so ago that harness racing trainer/driver Watson Harrop, Jr. from County Durham in the North of England, started #foodbanknomination and raised tens of thousands of dollars in food supply donations. He did it by challenging his harness racing friends from around the world on Facebook to go out, fill a shopping cart with food, and take it to their local Food Bank. People from around the world took part in #foodbanknomination and needy families around the world had a special holiday season because of Watson’s efforts. Well, the man from Durham is back at it again! “I guess I am a little crazy,” Harrop said. “When I see those people less fortunate than we are, I just want to do something to help them. This is the craziest idea I have come up with yet. “I have organized a team of friends to climb Great Britain’s highest and most dangerous mountain, Ben Nevis in Scotland,” Harrop explained. “And we are raising money with this event to aid two special children that need to travel to Panama and then the USA for life saving treatment that’s not available in the UK.” The fund-raising climb set for the end of February depending on the weather, will raise funds for four-year-old Isla Caton from Hornchurch Essex and ten-year-old Sean Gallagher of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Isla has Neuroblastoma while Sean has Cerebral Palsy. Both children are special needs and must go to Panama and then the USA for their treatments. “I have a team of non-climbers and none are hikers,” Harrop added.   “Not one of us have ever climbed anything higher than the steps to a night club but we have high hopes to raise a quarter of a million pounds.” Harrop said that he now has 55 people making the climb along with seven guides to help assist. And some of the crew are big celebrities in Great Britain. One of the UK’s top reality show TV stars, actor Alfie Best is taking part in the climb. Also participating is undefeated WBO Middleweight world champion boxer Billy Joe Saunders and soccer star, Tony McMoahan of Scunthorpe United, on loan from Oxford United. But Tony was recently injured in a game and cannot do the climb, but is still supporting it. There is a special Go Fund Me page by clicking here where everyone can make a donation and help the climbers reach their goal of raising £250,000. Just this Monday morning, Watson and three of his friends that are doing the climb, were practicing in the Yorkshire Dales in North East England.   “We were huffing and puffing a bit,” Harrop said. “Yorkshire Dales is five times smaller than Ben Nevis in Scotland. We will keep training hard and get the job done." By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

Irish Harness Racing

Irish Trotting, Harness Racing Federation Awards

West Cork, IE - The Irish Trotting and Harness Racing Federation Awards 2018 Dinner was recently held and the ITHRF has made a wonderful video of the awards night. Video courtesy of David Sheehy  Click on link to watch the video,    ITHRF AWARDS 2018 .m4v   The 2018 ITHRF awards night was held last Friday night at The Drimoleague Inn.    The "oscars" for Harness Racing in the South Of Ireland were presented to both the young and old in the sport.   The Murphy family who run the IB Stables in Baltimore took three of the awards with Donal getting driver of the year his brother Tadhg received trainer of the year and his son Eoin was judged as joint saddle jockey winner.   Near neighbour of the Murrphy boys Kieran Sheehy was the recipient of trotter of the year Everyfor Vigo De Bassiere who also claimed the national award and the Sheehy family were guests of Le Trot in Paris recently to honour the French bred gelding.   This scribe is the proud owner of the pacer of 2019 Meadowbranch Demon the veteran securing a well deserved gong.   It was an emotional night for the O'Donovan family from Leap who were on hand to accept the best meeting of the season for The Red John Memorial meeting which was a huge success with record attendances and record purse money.   The achievements of Reclamation and Rebel Rouser who were exported to the USA were also mentioned.   Everyone is looking forward to 2019 in the Cork region as they are set to begin in early May with Portmarnock Raceway to open on St Patrick's Day March 17th.   From Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink

Harness racing

On the Rail with Sydney Weaver - Smolda

Every horse has the dream of writing their name in the history books, and some accomplish just that. But in recent years, there was one special Australasian pacer who was so captivating on the track and also captivated the hearts of so many off the track that he was simply too memorable for a place in just the history books. The only fitting testament to his greatness was for him to have his very own book. So, his co-owner Marcus Kirkwood, a Hunter Valley resident in Australia, set out to do just that. Gathering some of Smolda’s best mates who were all eager to tell their stories of the champion, who to them was a friend more than a horse, a book quickly began to take shape. Marcus’s dream of having a book about Smolda was becoming a reality.  In the end, this book has not one author, but many; making it truly one of a kind. You are probably wondering how I fit into this story about a story. Well, I became friends with Marcus through social media. After many messages via Twitter, Marcus and I met in person when I attended the prestigious Miracle Mile in 2016, in which Smolda was a contender, as a part of my trip to Australia. It was nice to finally be able to put a face to the name.  After that, we remained connected through social media. When he told me about the idea for a book about Smolda I thought it was a great idea. When he told me how it was going to be written by people who were friends of Smolda,  I thought it was an even better idea. Who better to tell the story of a champion than the best friends of the champion.  One day I received a message from Marcus giving me an update on his horses and how the idea of writing a book about Smolda was getting lots of positive feedback from industry participants he had been talking to. Reading this message, I was very happy for him. This is when the message took a surprising turn, which had me at a loss for words. Marcus asked me if I would be interested in contributing to Smolda’s story. As my fingers hovered over my keyboard  I tried to find the right words to say. I felt so honoured to be asked that I was not sure what words to use that would fully convey how honoured I truly felt.     I wrote back to Marcus expressing how grateful I felt that he asked me, but I mentioned that I was concerned about how much I would be able to contribute as I had only had the pleasure of watching Smolda race in person on one occasion. Nevertheless, I got to work as I waited for a response. Thinking back to my time of meeting Marcus and the night of the Miracle Mile.  Soon Marcus responded to my concern and told me told not to worry. That is when I had a realization, which had a profound effect on me, and the piece I was working on. I realized that when it comes to Smolda and me, like in many friendships the length of time you have known one another is not always the most important aspect, it is about how close you become in a short amount of time.  With this in mind, I had a new source of inspiration. I was a friend of Smolda and Smolda gave me Marcus as a friend. Smolda touched my life in more ways than I previously realized. His greatness touched my life beyond watching him race; without him, Marcus and I would not have the friendship we do. Soon, a short chapter lay before me. Writing the chapter provided me with great joy and a chance to reflect on what Smolda and Marcus meant to me. As I typed the last words, I was filled with a greater sense of appreciation of not only of the champion racehorse Smolda was but what he meant to me on a personal level and the true friend I gained through him.  Marcus kept me updated on how the book was progressing. Then one day I got a message saying that it was complete! I was so happy for Marcus and Smolda, and I felt truly honoured to have been included.  Marcus kindly put a copy in the post for me. It arrived at my home address while I was away at university. My mom sent me a message to say it had arrived and tucked the precious package away until I came home for Christmas break a few weeks later. With a slit to the envelope, I pulled out the special contents. On the front cover in a stunning colour photo was Smolda,  and in a charming font, it read Our Mate Smolda and I was in awe. I opened the front cover to heartwarming surprise. On the first page, Marcus had inscribed it to me. This made an already cherished gift even more of a treasure.  I delicately turn the pages, stopping to admire the photos which were woven throughout the book. Then my eyes fell on the page that had my name on it. Seeing my name in print, as a part of a  unique collection was truly surreal. I knew what I had written just a few months prior, but seeing those same words as a chapter, complete with photographs made it more overwhelming, real and, it ‘hit home for me’.  Even after a minute or so, a part of me remained in disbelief. Here is my writing in with some of the greatest people in the sport of harness racing. They were names I look up to, and most of them I only by association or through social media, or I met them once or twice. But, one horse… one common friend brought us all together, and his name was Smolda. But my story is not about me. It is about Smolda and his everlasting legacy. To an outsider who does not know who Smolda is, this story, which in a way is his biography, offers a window back in time to experience his greatness. To those who knew him best and worked with him every day, this serves as a reminder of the unforgettable times and accomplishments they shared over the years. To those who were there in the grandstands when he raced, it acts as an opportunity to reminisce about memories made not so long ago. No matter who you are or how you are connected to Smolda, this collection of anecdotes can mean something to you. That is why it so precious, everyone can still be a part of his legacy if they are not already. The unique multi-perspective biography which tells the life of Smolda ensures everyone can be a part of his journey to greatness and beyond. Just how they say many hands make light work, it takes many hands, and hearts to write a wonderful book about a remarkable pacer. This story is one that everyone who loves harness racing should read, at least once. To learn more about Smolda and his book, or to purchase a copy and become a part of his legacy, please visit: https://www.ourmatesmolda.com.au/product/our-mate-smolda/   By Sydney Weaver, for Harnesslink

Crash at Vesey Street

Shock as grandmother killed

A 70-year-old woman died after she was hit by her own car as she prepared to go to a harness racing event to watch her grandson compete. Mary Brady died in an accident that involved her car near the National Equestrian Centre in Devonshire just before her 18-year-old grandson, Kiwon Waldron, raced in the traditional Boxing Day event. Mr Waldron rushed to the scene of the tragedy on Vesey Street and the organisers were on the verge of cancelling the event when they were told the news. But grief-stricken Mr Waldron insisted the races went ahead and that he would compete as scheduled. Charles Whited Jr, president of the Driving Horse and Pony Club, said Mr Waldron told him: “I want to race. Ineed to do it.” Mr Whited added: “We decided to support him and went ahead.” The incident, which left Mrs Brady trapped under her car, happened about 12.30pm. She was rushed to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital but was later pronounced dead by doctors. Police have launched an investigation into the accident. Mr Whited told The Royal Gazette: “We were certainly prepared to call the event off. “But it provided Kiwon the opportunity to be in his element and gave him time to think about everything.” He said that Mrs Brady and her daughter Liz Waldron, along with Mr Waldron’s brother, Kentwan, were strong supporters of harness racing. Mr Whited said: “Mrs Brady has been coming to the races for ever, rain or shine — to hear that it was her, everybody was in disbelief, just devastated. “It’s a huge shock. She was part of the family. We are all walking around with very heavy hearts. “Their family plays a huge part in harness racing in Bermuda, and everybody is just having to deal with it.” The Boxing Day races, which said were “Bermuda’s Kentucky Derby”, has weathered tragedy before. David Mello, a competitor, died of a heart attack in 1996 just after a race. Mr Whited said: “As a result of that, Boxing Day is always tough. To have Mrs Brady pass away on that day certainly compounds that. It is a very close-knit family.” He added that “everybody came running saying to keep an eye on Kiwon, there’s been a very serious accident”. “I ran to see exactly what had happened and the rest is history. It’s a tragedy, based on the information I received, I kind of knew that the outcome was not going to be good.” Mr Whited said: “When something happens within our organisation, it affects all of us. I called the committee together and it was very emotional for us all.” He said that he had spoken to the Waldron family yesterday. Mr Whited added: “It’s starting to sink in and the boys are just coming to grips with it. “Unfortunately, that’s just part of life — we never plan on it. But under these circumstances, it was such a shock. But we have to stick together and be strong for family when they need you. That what we do.” Mr Whited said that a memorial for Mrs Brady would be held. He added: “We will definitely be doing something in memory of Mary Brady. We will take time to recognise her support and her family’s support over all these years.” By Jonathan Bell Reprinted with permission of The Royal Gazette

Harnesslink would like to wish all our harness racing readers a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.   It is a time to reflect on a successful twelve months and also to consider a number of challenges facing harness racing in the coming year. We are confident the industry can come together and find the outcomes to the issues before us, that will benefit harness racing well into the future. At Harnesslink we will endeavor to continue to keep you up to date with all the latest news and stories about harness racing from around the world. Thank you for your support and have a safe and happy holiday over the new year break. From the staff and managment at Harnesslink

Robyn Camden, the undisputed queen of harness racing in the British Isles, makes her eagerly awaited debut in the USA at the Meadowlands on Fridays program Dec 21st and thousands of her fans in the UK and Ireland are expected to stay up late and logged on to their laptops in order to see her majesty strut her stuff on the world stage for the first time.   Now trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman the 3 year old filly will be driven on the night by David Miller having qualified impressively last week at the Meadowlands "with loads to spare" according to David Miller. Bred by the Camden Stud in Yorkshire, England, the filly is by Art Professor (1:47.4) out of Keystone Havoc which has already thrown millionaire Keystone Horatio (1:48.4) and she made top price at the annual York Sales in October 2016 when the hammer fell at £15,200. New owners All Out Syndicate represented by accomplished horseman Clive Kavanagh and partners, the filly was broke in on return to Ireland by Christy Foran and conditioned for racing by Clive Kavanagh and renowned trainers Christy and Geoff Dunne in Kildare whose facility at Porterstown is adjacent to the world famous thoroughbred stronghold known as The Curragh. Undefeated in 12 races at 2 and 3, the filly has beaten the best of her generation both colts and fillies and even all aged company proved to be no match for her in 2 races in 2018 at her home track Portmarnock. With multiple track records and numerous awards to her name and nothing left to prove in her homeland, the connections Clive Kavanagh and partners hatched an audacious plan to send her to the US to resume her career and to see just how far the filly could go on the big stage. Jonathan Dunne, regular driver of the filly (alongside Clive Kavanagh) recommended Nifty Norman to take charge of her on arrival in New York in September and all has been quietly gearing up for her debut since then. Reputed to be sparkling in training a big run is expected by connections and the eyes of a nation will be on her come Friday night at the Big M to see if her unbeaten run can continue against stiffer opposition. Also in Friday's line up is old adversary Reclamation, who was also campaigned at 2 and 3 in Ireland and the UK, and despite 7 attempts she failed to beat Robyn Camden, although she came close to doing so at times. Reclamation of course is now 2 wins from 2 starts since her arrival in the US and has a record of 1:53.4f to her name. It remains to be seen whether Reclamation can finally lower the colours of Robyn Camden and a lot will be down to who has acclimatised better to being trained in the States. Both pacers will have to achieve a lifetime best however to defeat the race favorite, Delightful Feather on the night who is a winner of half of its ten starts and has a record of 1:52.1m., Whatever the result on the night, both Robyn Camden and Reclamation have a bright future this side of the atlantic and hopes are high these fillies who spent their formative years in Ireland can carry the luck of the Irish with them in their careers Stateside. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink  

Haydock, UK - On Friday 30th November, members of the UK harness racing fraternity converged upon the Mercure Hotel, Haydock, to celebrate the breeders, owners, trainers, drivers and horses who had excelled during the 2018 racing season. The evening was hosted by respected Thoroughbred and Standardbred commentator Darren Owen and STAGBI President Sarah Thomas, who have proven to be a popular double act throughout the 2018 season with their Facebook live racing previews and reviews at various fixtures across the UK. The awards were split into three sections: the STAGBI awards, which focus on the breeders of the winning-most horses in the three regions (England, Scotland and Wales), breeders of Sire Stakes divisional winners, breeders of selected Group 1 and prestigious races and the owners of the STAGBI Future Broodmares winning mares. Also wasthe Trot Britain awards, for owners, trainers and drivers of the most successful Trotteur Francais (French Trotters) imported under the Le Trot scheme; and the BHRC awards, for the various category winners, leading horse, owner, trainer and driver on wins, and Lifetime Achievement awards. The event culminated with the Tim Tetrick-sponsored Drive of the Year award, voted on by members of the public globally from a shortlist of six drives selected by a panel (Darren Owen, Sarah Thomas and BHRC Vice Chairman Jim McInally) and the coveted People's Choice award, which replaced the previous Horse of the Year award and was open to a public vote from the eight BHRC category winners (2YO Colt, 2YO Filly, 3YO Colt, 3YO Filly, Mare, Pacer, Overseas & Trotter of the Year). As per the 2017 staging of the event, the voice of harness racing Mr Roger Huston himself welcomed guests to the venue, having sent a pre-recorded video introduction, in addition to a number of congratulatory messages for the winners. This year, Heather Wilder also featured alongside Roger, having visited Ireland for the Vincent Delaney Memorial for the second time with husband Mike in August, with both making a big impression on UK harness racing fans. The STAGBI awards were presented by Gwenan Thomas, STAGBI Director and Administrator, with STAGBI giving back over £15,000 in breeders prizes and racing prize money for 2018. STAGBI also announced on the night that 2019 will see a change in format for the Future Broodmares races which have proven to be a massive success over the past few seasons, with the introduction of a grand final to be staged at York Harness Raceway in October of next year. A Young Person's Award has also been finalised which will act as a grant scheme for young people within harness racing to access funds to further their education, training or experience with the hope that this will enhance and improve harness racing in the UK. The Trot Britain awards were presented by Trot Britain committee member and veteran driver Ian Pimlott, with the Trotteur Francais Horse of the Year DIAMANT DE GODREL being celebrated both in the UK and France on the same night. Fellow committee members Dr Jack Dowie and Bill Green were present at Vincennes to collect the award on behalf of connections, who picked up a number of awards from all three organisations in Haydock. The BHRC awards were presented by BHRC Chairman Roy Sheedy who returns for his fifth term at the helm of the UK harness racing organisation, whilst continuing to train and drive winners from his base in south Wales. One of the main highlights of the evening was the announcement of the Lifetime Achievement award, which garnered the loudest cheers from those in attendance, as Steve Lees was unveiled as the first recipient of this new award. A native of Wales, Lees drove his first winner in 1975 when he was 16. Forty years later, in 2015, he was crowned the leading driver at the annual Tregaron Festival in Wales. He was the first British driver to compete in the WDC in 1985 and his second-placed performance led to his picking up catch drives in Australia and a return invitation to the WDC tournament in 1987. He also represented his country in 1991 and 1997. Steve was honoured by the BHRC as leading driver in Britain from 1987-1990, 1995, 1998 and 2003. As Sarah Thomas said in her introduction of the award, Steve Lees is the closest the UK has ever been to producing a World Champion and in order for someone to do better, they will actually have to win the World Driving Championship. Steve was joined for his presentation by wife, Lisa, daughter Kellie and son Stephen, an aspiring young commentator. Not to be outdone by his father, Stephen was celebrated earlier in the evening for his commentaries during the BHRC Kids Club races which were launched in 2018. Following a special message from his idol, Roger Huston, Stephen was invited to commentate on a muted version of the Crock of Gold Final which was played on screen in front of the crowd alongside Darren [Owen], who called the actual race in September. Stephen was also presented with his first pair of binocular, a commentator's greatest tool, by Darren on behalf of the BHRC. Leading driver William 'Rocker' Laidler was on hand to present the young competitors from the Kids Club Series with their mementos from the series - a collection of photos from their races - as well as the trophy for the overall series winner, which was Jake Podmore with his pony Star. Viccy Elvin received the 'Most Embarassing Parent' chalice for her endeavours supporting daughter Charley-Ann and her pony Elvis A-Ha. Rocker Laidler returned to the stage later in the evening alongside wife Alexis, as the duo collected the Leading Driver and Trainer awards respectively alongside their main owner, Raymond Huschka, who received the Leading Owner award. This was Alexis Laidler's eleventh Leading Trainer title in 12 seasons, with husband Rocker taking the honours on the other occasion to make it 12 straight years of Laidler dominance in the sport. The 2018 season was another stellar year for the team, taking out four Group 1 races - Appleby Whit Monday Final (Jack Swagger), Park Lodge Final at Aberystwyth (Springhill Glory), Welsh Classic Final at Tregaron (Teatime Preacher) and the Crock of Gold Final (Evenwood Sonofagun), as well as numerous other major handicap events and multiple stakes races. Their charges Rhyds Sapphire, Matticulous and Evenwood Sonofagun scored the 3YO Filly, 3YO Colt and Pacer of the Year honours respectively, and trotter Valseur Du Cygne was awarded Aged Horse of the Year in the Trot Britain segment also. The two awards remaining at the end of the night which were to be revealed to all in the room were the Drive of the Year award and the People's Choice award. This was the third year that USA's Tim Tetrick has kindly sponsored the Drive of the Year award, and it was Lauren Moran from Stirling, Scotland, with the drive on her family-owned Vyrnwy Smoke at Corbiewood which took the lion's share of the vote and saw the first Scottish and first female driver receive the gifts from Tim. For the People's Choice award, the public vote went the way of Rhyds Passion, winner of the Mare of the Year category for the second time running. This topped off an incredible season for the mare who recorded wins at three of the four 'crown jewel' two day festivals, including both heat and final of the Famous Musselburgh Pace, as well a STAGBI Future Broodmares race at Tir Prince and a heat of the Crock of Gold in Free For All company. The evening was a great success and partying went on late into the night - thanks to all who attended and well done to all of the award winners.  by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink Full list of winners: STAGBI Future Broodmares Race winners - MATTRIARCH, DYNAMIC ACE, SECOND AFFAIR, RHYDS PASSION, LADY MARY, RHYDS NIGHTLIFE & RHYDS MYSTIQUE Breeders Premium (Wales) - WOODSTONE JINGO (A Price), RHYDS PASSION (G Wright) DERNOL YANKEE (E Wozencraft) Breeders Premium (Scotland) - ROBHALL (H Muirhead & A Hay), AYR HERO (H O'Neil), EASY COMPANY (J Gilvear) Breeders Premium (England) - SECOND AFFAIR (P Mather), ROBYN CAMDEN (Camden Stud), COOL ICE (N Holgate) Breeders Premium (Brightwells) - RHYDS PASSION, COOL ICE, HABBERLEY HASTE (S William) Sire Stakes Breeders Bonus - 2YO Filly - TWO LEFT FEET (G Brown), 3YO Colt - MATTICULOUS (G Price), 3YO Filly - RHYDS REFLECTION (G Wright), 4YO Mare - RHYDS HOKEY COKEY (G Wright), 4YO COLT/GELDING - RHYDS ROCK STAR (G Wright), Leading Stallion - HASTY HALL (G Wright) Breeders Bonus Selected Races - LOOSECHANGE (H Muirhead), CRACK A SMILE (G Price), RHYDS ROCK STAR (G Price), EVENWOOD SONOFAGUN (J Nicholson), LAKESIDE PAN (M John) Group 1 Races - JACK SWAGGER (J Greenhorn), MATTICULOUS (G Price), RHYDS PASSION (G Wright), RHYDS DESIGN (G Wright), AYR HERO (H O'Neil) Trot Britain 3YO Trainer of the Year - JODY FOODY 3YO Driver of the Year - JAK FOODY 3YO Horse of the Year - FABLE DES BROUETS 4YO Horse of the Year - ÉCLAIR DU TORP 4YO Trainer of the Year - MIKE EVANS Mare of the Year - ENEZ LEMAN Aged Horse of the Year - VALSEUR DU CYGNE Aged Horse Driver of the Year - JOHN HENRY NICHOLSON 4yo Driver of the Year - JOHN HENRY NICHOLSON Aged Horse Trainer of the Year - JOHN NICHOLSON Horse of the Year - DIAMANT DE GODREL BHRC 2YO Filly of the Year - THE MOCKING JAY 2YO Colt of the Year - OAKWOODINITTOWINIT 3YO Filly of the Year - RHYDS SAPPHIRE 3YO Colt of the Year - MATTICULOUS Mare of the Year - RHYDS PASSION Pacer of the Year - EVENWOOD SONOFAGUN Trotter of the Year - DIAMANT DE GODREL Overseas Horse of the Year - ROBYN CAMDEN Leading Horses - ROBHALL & RHYDS PASSION Leading Owner - RAYMOND HUSCHKA Leading Trainer - ALEXIS LAIDLER Leading Driver - WILLIAM LAIDLER Posthumous Lifetime Achievement - BILLY WILLIAMS Lifetime Achievement - STEVE LEES Drive of the Year - LAUREN MORAN People's Choice - RHYDS PASSION

  Oakwood Stud is pleased to announce that Foreclosure N will be standing at Talgrwn Stud Services in Wales for the 2019 breeding season. “We have an excellent working relationship with Gwenan and Richard Thomas from Talgrwn Stud Services and we are very excited about this new venture”, said Oakwood Stud’s Derek Delaney, “With the recent advancement they have made at their AI Facility, the timing is perfect for Foreclosure to stand at stud there in the UK.” This move by Foreclosure means that breeders can also take advantage of the many benefits offered by Talgrwn Stud Services. Foreclosure’s chilled semen can be shipped anywhere in the UK from the Stud Services, cutting down travel costs and making it more convenient for the mare owners. Breeder’s local vets will be able to inseminate for a fraction of the costs of frozen semen. In addition, higher conception rates are generally seen by users of fresh semen versus frozen. Foreclosure has had tremendous success in his first season in the UK and Ireland. Among many stakes-winning performers, he sired BHRC 2-year-old Colt of the Year, Oakwood Inittowinit, and IHRA 2-year-old Filly of the Year, Newtown Jody. Foreclosure’s 2019 stud fee will be set at 1250 euros. Frozen semen will still be available in Ireland for 2019. All bookings for chilled or frozen breedings should be made through Oakwood Stud Ireland websitewww.oakwoodstud.ie From Oakwood Stud

A simple act of kindness by 29-year-old Watson Harrop Jnr from Durham in The North of England has become a major hit on harness racing social media both in the UK, Ireland and is spreading across the globe.   Harrop who is strongly involved in harness racing was passing the Food Bank in his local Tesco store.   "I noticed that the food bank never seemed to have a lot in it so off I went filled a trolley and saw it as a chance to do something for those less well off than myself," Harrop said.   "I knew the generosity of those involved in harness racing so I stuck up the video on Facebook nominating others to do the same . At first I thought it might get a few responses but to be honest it has ballooned and gone world wide.   "Harness Racing may be a minority sport here in the UK but people have connections worldwide and the biggest names in the sport on both sides of the Atlantic have got involved" added Harrop.   In the UK all the "faces" in the sport have come on board from top trainer Alexis Laidler to bookmaker Barry "Pinno"Pinnington, promoter Anthony Fettah and Mr Tir Prince Eric Witherspoon. ll The project has swept across the Irish Sea with leading reinsmen John "JR" Richardson ,Simon Duggan and Noel Ryan doing the challege along with Alan Wallace of the Newtown Stud and Derek Delaney from the Oakwood Stud. Leading Irish bookmaker Dan Carlin set a trend with a video well worth a view.   Next stop was the USA and Yannick Gringras Chris Oakes and Sean Bier were quickly off the mark to help.   It is hoped that the nominations will continue up to Christmas.   It is hoped that everyone will visit #foodbanknomination or Watson Harrop Jnr pages on Facebook and do a little to help those in need at Christmas.   by TIm Kelleher

Sean Kane came agonisingly close to a win in France and Jonathan Cowden did best of the younger harness racing drivers in the annual France vs. Ireland driving challenge. The Irish Field

Thursday will be one of the more important days on Monbet’s road to racing again. The champion trotter had his first public outing in nearly two years when he wasn’t asked for a serious effort in the main trot at the Rangiora trials on Wednesday.  Starting off a 40m handicap Monbet finished sixth in the 2600m trial won by Arnold in a relatively sedate time.  “Ricky (May, driver) never pulled him out,” said trainer Greg Hope.  “We will see how he is tomorrow but he seems fine so far,” he said on Wednesday night.  Hope’s caution is understandable as Monbet has been plagued by all sorts of issues since winning the Dominion in national record time two years ago and every time he looks set to return to the races something goes wrong.  But if he trots out a happy horse on Thursday morning it should be all go for his race return at Kaikoura on Monday where he joins arch rival Speeding Spur off a 10m handicap in the South Bay Cup.  Also heading to Kaikoura was the winner of the main pacing trial on Thursday in Cruz Bromac. The last-start Methven Cup winner downed stablemate Thefixer by a half neck in the 2600m stand with the pair pacing their last 800m in 56.5 seconds.  Cruz Bromac was allowed to miss the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on Monday and will join stablemate Eamon Maguire in the $50,000 Alabar Kaikoura Cup on Monday.  Thefixer is over a recent setback and is likely to join stablemate and NZ Cup favourite Ultimate Machete in their final lead-up race at Addington on November 2. Michael Guerin

It's hard to believe but today harness racing's www.harnesslink.com celebrates its 16th birthday.  Harnesslink is the brainchild of international horse agent, John Curtin (J.C. International), who 16 years ago saw a need for a world-wide harness racing website that put online the latest harness racing news from around the globe. John says, "Our policy is to keep improving every single day - 365 days of the year. We have staff working every day of the year to bring you all the latest harness racing news from every corner of the world. When Harnesslink launched in 2002 there were only four harness racing websites on the internet, so we've been in a unique position to have watched the harness racing community embrace the technological world during this time. It has been our pleasure to keep harness racing fans around the world informed of what is happening within our sport. We are projected to have over 3 million unique IP users in 2018, which will make Harnesslink the world’s most read harness racing site. We are still looking for ways to improve and provide you, our customers, with better coverage throughout the world, we continously strive to do this! If any of our readers have a worthy news item, please feel free to send it to news@harnesslink.com and we will do our best, as always, to print your article. We'd like to thank all of you for coming back regularly to read Harnesslink, if you're reading this you're obviously one of our faithful followers and we thank you. Harnesslink Media

West Cork, IE - King Wills Arrival claimed another big handicap final when landing the West Cork Horse Owners Handicap at Dunmanway on Sunday. There were three elimination heats with two qualifiers from each going forward to the final. In the opening heat IB A Magician looked to have the race at his mercy but went off stride in the final eighth of a mile handing the race to Meadowbranch Matt with Best Talent filling the second qualifing spot. Heat two was all about Coalford Bruce who followed up on his win at Bandon to lead home The Hitman by four lengths. In the third and final heat Rhyds Panache with Chris O Reilly in the bike made a race winning move after four furlongs and was not for catching leading home King Wills Arrival by a length So on to the final .The Hitman and Meadowbranch Matt set the early fractions with Coalford Bruce just behind .The order reamined the same into the final three furlongs of the mile and a quarter trip.Turning for home Coalford Bruce hit the front but Oisin Quill produced King Wills Arrival with a perfectly timed run to land the spoils . "Since he had the wind operation last Winter he has really shown his true potential" Commented 16 year old winning driver Oisin Quill. "The saddle race at Ladies day in Portmarnock is next on his list "added winning owner Finbarr Quill. The Quills had a double on the day when Ariane Des Tithais landed the low grade trot .This one was driven by Finbarr Quill Jnr (The Calender Boy of Harness Racing in Ireland) Vigo De Bassiere enhanced his reputation as Irelands leading Trotter with a faile win in the high grade trot. Kieran Sheehy played with his three rivals taking up the running with three furlongs remaining and won by a flattering eight lengths . The sheehy family have a long association with the square gaiters and this looks one of the best they have owned Paul McInerney made the long trip from Co Clare a winning one when landing the Grade G & G1 Pace when Just A Promise a son of Fantastic Western set out his stall early doors and led home IB Felicity by three lengths. Next week racing moves to Gloun with a 2.30 start by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS Race One Heat One . 1.Meadowbranch Matt L Kelleher 2. Best Talent S Jennings Jnr 3. Moorside Captain J O Mahony DIST 2 3 TIME 2.36.1 Race Two Heat Two 1. Coalford Bruce T O Leary 2. The Hitman M Goggin Jnr 3. Rebel Rouser D Murphy DIST 4 1 TIME 2.35.3 Race Three Heat Three 1. Rhyds Panache C O Reilly 2. King Wills Arrival O Quill 3. Hail Spartacus P Hill DIST 1 3 TIME 3.34.5 Race Four 1. Ariane Des Tithais F Quill Jnr 2. Vallanzana S Quill 3. Silvano Bello D Murphy DIST 2 7 TIME 3.16 Race Five 1. Just A Promise P McInerney 2. IB Felicity D Murphy 3. Coalford Laurel M O Reilly DIST 3 SH TIME 2.39.7 Race Six 1. Vigo De Bassiere K Sheehy 2. Tarnao Josselyn S Quill 3. Tenor Meslos D Murphy DIST 8 6 TIME 3.09.7 Race Seven Final 1.King Wills Arriva O Quill 2. Coalford Bruce T O Leary 3. The Hitman M Goggin Jnr DIST 1 4 TIME 2 33.5   Virus-free. www.avast.com

Having won a heat for the past 3 runnings and finishing second in last years grand final, Tommy Camden finally received a just and welcome reward when winning the top harness racicng event of the afternoon at Bells Field, Airth in Scotland last Sunday.   Trailing his 9 rivals 30 yards at the start, the Richard Haythornthwaite driven six year old gradually crept into contention before striking late to deny fellow heat winner Dontstoptheparty in the shadows of the post. Sponsored by the Northern Ireland Standardbred Association (NISA) , a coach load of their members made the ferry journey across the Irish sea to be on hand to present the winners trophy and celebrate with jubilant connections Shane & Claire Fletcher from Wolverhampton. Driver Haythornthwaite was visibly relieved in the winners enclosure having been narrowly denied in the final of the geldings previous start at Musselburgh stating that a big classic win was a long time in coming, but resulted a much deserved victory for the honest genuine No Pan Intended bred. Another classic event was held on the day when 5 colts lined up for the Bells Field 3 Year Old Championship and this ended in somewhat controversial circumstances. A visibly tiring Lose My Mind (Betterthancheddar) drifted off the rail in the home straight causing Oakwood Spur and Bobby Camden to take evasive action but in the subsequent stewards enquiry, the interference was deemed as unintentional and Lose My Mind kept the race, to the delight of connections the Gilvear family from Auchenbowie, Stirlingshire. Having first been staged in 2005, Bells Field has become one of the biggest and most prestigious harness racing meetings in the British Isles and with increased prizemoney year-on-year, this seasons renewal format of £1000 for each heat winner and £3000 for the overall winner of the final was adjudged to be a great success by all in attendance. Sponsors plus guests were treated to a 3 course lunch and complementary drinks in the specially erected marquee whilst a country and western band played late into the evening for all patrons. This type of hospitality is unparalleled in the UK and the hardworking Bells Field Committee are to be applauded for their efforts in ensuring that the meeting was such a huge success. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink  

Wales, UK - Where else would you find five Group I races in a row as the Sunday race meet at Tregaron will feature the Little Welsh Dragon and Dragoness (3 year olds) as well as the Junior Welsh Dragon and Dragoness(2 y olds) followed by the WELSH CLASSIC FINAL and ten races as an aperitif. Race 1. We kick off with a trot, 3 y olds (they all commence with the letter F)some of these have had trouble finding their feet in Britain but even though Fable De Brouets comes off a 20 yard trail she is two for two and should make this her third win Race 2. The first heat of the Welsh Classic sees Teatime Preacher come up against three Irish challengers in Awesome Dude,Newtown Major and Gentleman Jim. The former has shown she has speed an ability to overcome a poor draw for the Laidler team. Race 3. This could be regarded as a heat for the local horses and may well throw up the winner of the final Alan Jones’ family stable provide two runners in Hendre Bob (3rd.in Boughrood final) and My Buddy a very impressive winner at the Ceredigion meeting but Rhyds Nightlife owned by the treasurer of the club was imperious in Tir Prince last weekend and the draw is her biggest obstacle. Race 4. Forest Drifter driven by the youngest of the Wakefield clan has had a great season but will be up in grade and will find King Wills Arrival from Ireland and All Good Hanover, who was the unfortunate recipient of a third row draw due to a “clerical error”, will be at his heels.   Race 5. Meldoon last year’s Welsh Classic heroine will be up against it here as Springhill Ruby has the plumb draw and will aim to make all.Ring of Fire second in a heat and final here in the spring might be an each way bet. Race 6. Blackwell Hallstar has recently changed hands and has the plumb draw but I think the winner will come out of the second tier Rhyds Passion the Famous Musselburgh Pace winner, Springhill Glory the Ceredigion Classic winner and Bucklands Foxtrot who has been running out of his skin this season will be fighting out the finish Race 7. Another tricky maiden race on paper it should be between Mahogany Rhythm and Camden Pro who have the experience however the locally trained GD’s wings who has had injury issues could be the one to spring a surprise. Race 8. This is a very competitive Grade 1 race Mike Evans will be looking for a quick double from the one hole but once more the winner might come from the second line in the form of Lyons Ace of Spades or  All Smiles whose made the long trip from Scotland Race 9. The final division of the novice grade Ayr Pioneer and IB Felicity are very recent winners and will probably keep Wellfield Wizard and Casimir Royal Flush out of the honours. Race 10. The last of the trots and they will be running for the Ginger Wyatt Memorial. Mike Evans fields four runners he drives a non winner in Eden Des Anges whilst Michael O’Mahoney sits behind Enez Leman a three time winner but recent Tir prince winner Ezako Jephi might surprise them all. Race 11. The first of a series of Group 1 races the Little Welsh Dragon for 3 y old colts and geldings has drawn a disappointing number of entries but we will get to see the outstanding Matticulous try and add to his trophy hunt ,Immortal John,Rhyds Star Quality and Oakwood Spur will try and spoil the party and you can’t win it if your not there.  Race 12. The turn of the 2 y old fillies Imperial Deal was a gallant second in the recent VDM and has consistent form. Newtown Jody and Stateside Pinup have both been supplemented for this race which may be a clue whilst Loose Change comes down from bonnie Scotland Race 13. The 2 y old colt division is a tough one IB Notorious the Irish raider won in Tir Prince last week-end . Oakwood Inittowinit is always in the frame but Christy Camden may be the one to beat. Race 14. The  3 y old fillies are a good crop Greenhill Debatable and Lyons Attack have the favoured draws but Rhyds Reflection and Reclamation will be chasing them all the way should be a cracker by Huw Evans

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