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Sean Kane, harness racing

World leader for horse welfare & anti-doping

Department of Agriculture funded Veterinary Welfare Commission leads Irish Harness Racing industry to become world leader for horse welfare and anti-doping. In light of the Programme for Government set out by Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party to have funding to the equine industry be related to horse welfare outcomes the newly established Veterinary and Welfare Commission (VWC), funded by the Department of Agriculture to help regulate the integrity of the Irish Harness Racing industry, are announcing that all regulatory medical records for the Irish standardbred community will be moving from paper to a digital system. This will ensure that records can not be lost, damaged or tampered with once closed on the system greatly increasing transparency and accountability in relation to anti-doping and equine welfare for the sport of harness racing across Ireland. Together, thanks to support from the Irish Department of Agriculture, VWC and the Irish Harness Racing Association (IHRA) have commissioned world leaders in anti-doping and equine welfare software, Equine MediRecord, and are mandating this system for all of the horses that fall under their regulatory scope. While other regulators have switched to digital records for horses in training and competition, Harness Racing under the remit of the IHRA and its integrity arm, the VWC, is now the first equine sport to make it a mandatory regulation that digital medical records be maintained by breeders and keepers of standardbred horses, ensuring a continuous flow of data on the horse throughout its life. This is the first time that an equine industry will ensure that the records of a horse are digitally kept from birth to death. It is the first equine sport to do so, anywhere in the world. These changes ensure proper tracking of medical histories, making it easier for vets, trainers, keepers and owners to ensure better outcomes for horses under their care. This ensures that Irish Standardbred Industry is a world leader in animal welfare for all of its horses from birth to the end of their days.  “Funding for animal welfare in any sport that involves animals is always welcome and it is especially welcome in these formative years of the exciting sport of Harness Racing in Ireland” said Peadar Ó Scanaill, MVB, Chairman of the Veterinary and Welfare Commission. “Harness Racing in Ireland is growing and maturing into an extremely exciting equine racing sport and it has always set itself the highest and best of standards with regard to animal welfare from the very outset. It carries out all its racing on the track and it strives to instil public confidence in Harness Racing as it distances itself from any form of horses running on the road”. The VWC was established in 2015 by the IHRA as the integrity body within the sport of Harness Racing. Its funding comes from within the sport itself through a Memorandum of Understanding agreed with the Board of the IHRA with some financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture. Its aim is to ensure animal welfare reaches the highest standard possible and its mission is to instil public confidence both inside and outside the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland. Its role within the IHRA is to cover all aspects of the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland, with similar duties to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board for thoroughbred racing.  The VWC, with this newly announced Department of Agriculture funding, boasts some of the top equine veterinarians in Ireland. Peadar Ó Scanaill, the founding head of the VWC, was the President of the Veterinary Council of Ireland in 2018 - 2019. The Veterinary Council is mandated by the government to regulate and manage the practice of all veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in Ireland in the public interest. This means that Mr Ó Scanaill, MVB,  brings the perfect experience and expertise for this new regulatory role. He is joined by Marcus Swail, MVB, the founder of EquiVET and Team Ireland Equestrian Olympic team’s veterinary surgeon, who is the deputy head of the new VWC. The formation of the VWC is a great boost to ensuring and improving the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland.  Pierce Dargan, CEO of Equine MediRecord stated, “We are delighted to see further steps towards better equine care in the world. We are proud and delighted that the VWC and the IHRA decided to partner with us for this project and we hope this will be the beginning of meaningful change that helps improve outcomes for horses and the industry as a whole.” The Irish Harness Racing Association is the internationally recognised governing body of harness racing in Ireland. It is a member of the Union of European Trotting (UET) and World Trotting Association. The IHRA works closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (in Dublin) to develop the sport both domestically and internationally. Equine MediRecord is the global leader in equine anti-doping and horse welfare software. It currently operates in Ireland, the UK and France and recently partnered with the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) in the UK to make the ARO the first in Europe and second in the world to mandate electronic medical records be kept by their registered trainers. Equine MediRecord based on the Curragh, county  Kildare, has availed of many Local Enterprise Office Kildare financial and advisory supports as well as representing Kildare in the National Final for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition. For more information about Equine MediRecord, see: https://www.equinemedirecord.com/    

Payperview qualifying race poster 2020.jpg

UK to try payperview qualifiers

Technology is great and it has been used extensively by harness racing tracks around the world to bring their races to your home on your TV or computer. Race tracks now even feature live streaming of qualifying races with live race calls. But York Harness Racing track in the northern part of England is taking it a step further, featuring a trial stage of payperview for the qualifying races scheduled on Saturday, June 13. Under the sanction of the British Harness Racing Club, the governing body for Harness Racing in Great Britain, the qualifiers will be offered at a price of £1.99 ($2.53US). "This is a first for the UK," said Craig Stevenson, Racing Manager at York. "Now anyone in the world will be able to watch our qualifiers at York's half mile hard track." The race announcer and host for the payperview show will be none other than Darren Owen, who is one of the premier race callers in the UK and Ireland and is also Chairman of the BHRC. The payperview setup is being conducted by Rich Green. First race post time for the qualifiers is 1:00 pm UK time. The pre-show gets underway at 12:30 pm. For further information about getting the payforview qualifiers go to http://www.bhrc.org.uk/. The first day of live harness racing in the UK will take place on Saturday, July 4 at York Harness Track. From York Harness Track

Harness racing

Fundraiser held by UK harness racing club

With the start of the harness racing season delayed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, supporters and participants of the sport have turned their attention instead to raising money to support NHS Charities via a series of fantasy harness races. Back in April, Northern Harness Racing co-founder Julie Park launched the concept of a virtual 'race night' using old footage of harness races from across the UK. The initial plan was to stage 8 races with 10 horses in each race, with those wishing to take part purchasing a horse for £10 each and choosing a name for their horse, the theme being names associated with the current situation. Businesses and individuals were also invited to sponsor each of the 8 races for £50 to generate additional funds. The aim of the fundraiser was to raise £1200 for the NHS Charities, however it became apparent very quickly that this target was going to be surpassed as owners, trainers, drivers, grooms and avid followers of the sport jumped on the bandwagon. Before long the list of race sponsors had reached 18, made up of businesses, individuals and organisations associated with the sport of harness racing and the total number of horses sold was 138. Once the footage had been collated for the races, renowned Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing commentator and British Harness Racing Club Chairman, Darren Owen, recorded fresh commentary using the names submitted by those who had purchased horses. On Saturday 2nd May the fantasy racing series was launched via the Northern Harness Racing Facebook page and the British Harness Racing Club YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAAA71wfD8t8bXG-BnlQmFA?view_as=subscriber), with two races per night being released for viewing. The series culminated on Saturday 9th May with the two 'finals' (horses who had finished in the first two in earlier races in the week 'raced' again on Finals Night) and the Champion of Champions Pace, which featured the top 10 UK and Irish Standardbred racehorses of all time as voted for by the general public - with the finishing order reflecting the number of votes each horse received during the nomination and voting process. Julie Park explained the inspiration behind the idea: "I came up with the idea as lots of people were posting old harness racing videos on Facebook and it was clear everybody was missing live racing. I was blown away by the bravery of the NHS staff who were continuing to work as I had only spent a short time in school without PPE or procedures before the schools were closed and it was a scary time. The final straw that pushed me to do something to raise money was that a friend of mine who I know through volunteering at Appleby Harness Races, her daughter who is also an ex-student of mine, was already working in a northern hospital and volunteered to work with coronavirus victims in the Nightingale Hospital in London. I just felt I had to do something." In addition to the 17 races, a fantasy trainer's table was created, won by Teresa Haythornthwaite, and a fantasy tipster competition ran concurrently to the series with the prize of a £50 bet from Avalon Bookmakers awarded to the winning tipster, Jessica Dyer (a young harness racing driver from Cardiff) for use when the racing season can begin again. In total, just under £2500 was raised and donated to the NHS Charities Together. Everyone involved in harness racing would like to thank all NHS staff and key workers for their dedication and bravery during these difficult times. All BHRC NHS Fundraiser fantasy races can be viewed on the British Harness Racing Club YouTube channel. by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink

Kataniya leaving the Antonov An-74 Dublin Airport

Equine transport suspended

Just over two weeks after trans-Tasman equine flights resumed following a COVID-19-enforced shutdown, exports from New Zealand to Australia have been suspended indefinitely yet again, this time due to a possible case of equine piroplasmosis. On May 20, New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries informed exporters that shipments to Australia had been suspended with immediate effect. A flight Tuesday night was prevented from leaving the country, and another shipment, scheduled for Friday night, is also expected to be held over as the department negotiates alternative arrangements with their Australian counterparts, the Department of Agriculture. Friday's flight, though, was still scheduled to depart as of Wednesday night; a number of owners with horses set for that shipment had not been informed about any potential delay. Equine piroplasmosis has never been identified in New Zealand before, but MPI director for animal health and welfare Chris Rodwell confirmed that a mare tested positive to equine piroplasmosis in a pre-export blood test. The mare had arrived in New Zealand last year from a European Union country that is known to harbor the tick-borne disease. Further testing is expected to confirm that the horse is infected with Theileria equi, one of two known parasites to transmit equine piroplasmosis. Rodwell told ANZ Bloodstock News: "Further blood tests have been taken from the mare, and we expect confirmation of whether the horse is negative or positive for the disease by the end of this week. "Theileria equi is a blood disease that causes anemia and is spread from animal to animal by ticks. The horse in question was imported to New Zealand from the EU early last year for breeding. No signs of disease in the animal have been reported in its time here." While the disease cannot be passed from horse to horse without the ticks known to transmit the parasite—with those tick species not found in New Zealand—most veterinary agreements with other countries require that equine piroplasmosis has not been present in the exporting country for a certain period of time. For Australia, the requirement is three years—meaning that, under the current certification process, trans-Tasman exports would be banned until 2023. While other arrangements are likely to be determined as a matter of urgency, it is a blow to the beleaguered New Zealand industry at a time when it is already under tremendous pressure. Even a temporary ban has the potential to upset spring preparations and breeding plans for New Zealand-based mares in Australia. On Wednesday night, MPI was moving to reassure horse owners that they were working as fast as possible with an aim to find a quick solution. "MPI is aware this situation may cause some concern to those in the equine sector, and work is underway to resolve things as quickly as possible to ensure ongoing horse exports are not interrupted," Rodwell said. "Some countries, including Australia, that import horses from New Zealand require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This current suspect test result has meant that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance of country-freedom status. The ministry's market access specialists are working with Australian authorities to explore alternative assurance options to allow exports to continue." Biosecurity New Zealand has already started an investigation to confirm that it is an isolated case of equine piroplasmosis, but questions remain as to how a case could not only have occurred in New Zealand but how it could have gone undetected for so long. "The horse met MPI's importing requirements in that it had received a negative test for Theileria equi within 30 days of shipment," Rodwell said. "Before shipment, horses are quarantined and treated to remove any ticks that may be present. They are also further inspected and quarantined on arrival." According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, either of the two parasites that carry equine piroplasmosis—Babesia caballi and Theileria equi—can be found on most continents, including much of Europe. The Theileria equi parasite has also been reported in Australia in the past; the most recent case was an outbreak in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales in 1976, but it did not take hold, and Australia is now considered to be free of equine piroplasmosis. The official zoosanitary certificate, which must be certified prior to export to Australia, states that New Zealand must have been free of 16 diseases for a three-year period prior to export; equine piroplasmosis is on that list, along with the likes of African horse sickness, equine influenza, and glanders. MPI's Dr. Emma Passmore stated in an email to exporters: "The export certificate for horses traveling to Australia, either for transit or permanent import, requires MPI to certify that no clinical, epidemiological, or other evidence of equine piroplasmosis has occurred in New Zealand within the three-year period immediately prior to export. This can no longer be certified, and exports to or via Australia are suspended with immediate effect." While Australia is the biggest market to be affected and also has notoriously strict quarantine laws, exports to other countries will also be potentially compromised. Macau requires the exporting country to have been free of equine piroplasmosis for two years, and Singapore asks for extra tests and treatments to be completed if the country has not been free from equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. The United States also requires that the country has been free of equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. Japan has no time frame but also requires a piroplasmosis-free environment. However, Hong Kong's requirements are less stringent, simply requiring a horse not to have completed its pre-export quarantine on premises where equine piroplasmosis has occurred in the 60 days prior to export. Exporters on Wednesday night were digesting the ban and the potential implications that may follow if it is prolonged beyond the next couple of weeks. Most suggested that the immediate suspension of exports to Australia was an unfortunate but required step. "This is very disappointing news, but the suspension is totally necessary at this time," Equine International Airfreight managing director Cameron Croucher said. "Just as flights were starting to operate across the Tasman after the COVID-19 shutdowns, outcomes of this nature will be very disappointing to owners and trainers who now face a further delay in relocating their bloodstock. "I'm sure that both government departments in New Zealand and Australia will work very hard to find a quick solution to resume services once confirmatory testing is completed. Also, a proper investigation is needed into how this has been allowed to occur, which could have a massive impact on the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry if the suspension is prolonged, especially leading into the Southern Hemisphere breeding season." In the past week, a number of New Zealand horses have been confirmed as relocating to Australia, and Cambridge Stud last week announced that a number of its fillies would join the Te Akau assault on the Melbourne spring. In addition, almost 200 mares crossed the Tasman from New Zealand for breeding purposes in 2019, with a similar number expected this year. By Andrew Hawkins/ANZ Bloodstock News Reprinted with permission of Bloodhorse

The Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee regrets to announce the cancellation of the 2020 VDM festival due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was a hard decision to make, and we pushed it as long as possible,” said chairman Derek Delaney. “Not only are we looking at the issues with the racing schedule, but we are also looking at the social aspects of the festival. Without being able to host international and local visitors at the track, we believe that canceling is the best choice to make.” The plans are already being laid for next year, which will mark the big 10-year anniversary of the VDM weekend. “Ten years is a huge achievement, both for us as a family and for Irish harness racing,” said Delaney. “When we started with a race in memory of our brother, Vincent, we could never have envisioned we would be here, gearing up for the 10th anniversary. We have big dreams in the works.” All fully paid up horses will be refunded. For questions please contact Derek Delaney at derek@oakwoodstud.ie.

Darren, let’s go way back to where it all started for you. What was it that ignited your love for the sport of horse racing? I was five years old and it is one of my earliest lifetime memories. Grand National Day 1973 when Red Rum beat Crisp in probably the best horse race you’re ever likely to see. I remember my Dad saying ‘what do you want to bet in the National?’. He used to get the ‘Horse & Hound’ and ‘The Field’, two magazines. There was a photo of Spanish Steps on the cover of one of them, and I said ‘I’ll back Spanish Steps’. I had 10p each-way on him, and he finished fourth. Red Rum beat Crisp as we all know. I always remember my Great-Grandfather, he was a first-world war veteran, he lived with us, I was 12 when he died. Now he backed Crisp, and I always remember him cursing Red Rum. I was just captivated by the whole thing, remember in those days we would have watched this in black and white. My Dad and my Mum bought me a rocking horse, and on a Saturday afternoon I used to sit on this rocking horse. My Great-Grandfather would have a bet, we used to watch ‘World Of Sport’ so we’d see the racing, and he used to love the wrestling afterwards. I was just hooked from five-years-old. When I was in primary school, I’d be rushing home to watch the last race on the television. Jumping came first obviously, it was the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival. I quickly got into flat racing as well, and I was just hooked. Most lads in the summer holidays would be playing football on the green, not me I’d be sitting at home watching the racing. It wasn’t betting, I wasn’t interested in betting. It was just the spectacle and the sport itself. You used to have a football bag or a sports bag, and I was more into football then than I was now. I’m not that into it now, but in those days I used to be a big Manchester United fan. I always remember having a Man U sports bag to take to school, but I used to write the names of racehorses on mine. I had Red Rum, Spanish Steps, Sea Pigeon and Greville Starkey. When you decided race calling was the career path you wanted to go down, how did you go about turning that dream into a reality? I suppose the race calling bit came seriously when I was in High School. Your career teachers would be asking what you’d like to do as a living, and I was captivated again by Peter O’Sullevan. I just thought ‘god, that’s an exciting job’. I remember my Dad wrote to Peter O’Sullevan when I was 10 or 11, and got a letter back in which he gave me some advice. On a Saturday afternoon and in the school holidays, I’d be watching the racing with the volume turned down to practice the commentary. On a Friday night I would draw the colours out for Saturday’s racing. I would get the felt tip pens out and I had a list of the owners. I would practice and then record myself doing the commentaries during my high school days. Living in North Wales, we used to pick up RTE radio, the Irish radio. I’d listen to Michael O’Hehir doing the Irish racing on a Saturday afternoon, and in the 80’s they recruited Aussie Jim McGrath. That was the first time I’d heard ‘Aussie Jim’ around about ’84. I thought ‘God, he was bloody good’, so that’s where I got the interest in race calling from. My Mum and Dad would go to the careers advisors at school, and they used to put me off saying ‘that’s not a job, that’s not a career’. I’d love to go back there now and stick two fingers up at them! Can you remember the first race or race meeting you called? Describe the emotions you were feeling leading up to it? When I left school, I got a job in a furniture store and funnily enough the guy in charge of the store was an ex-jockey. The guy in charge of the printing company who did all the work for the furniture shop became a friend of the proprietor, and one of his jobs was to print racecards at the local harness racing track. There was a grass field and they used to race there from late-May to early-September, once a week on a Wednesday night. I wasn’t really into it but he came in one day and said they were looking for somebody to replace their regular commentator who was missing a couple of meetings to go on holiday. He asked whether I’d be interested to go there and have a bit of a trial. I went there and I think the trial might have been the day Reference Point won the Derby. The first race I called was a three-runner harness race, and I was shaking in my boots. That was my first broadcast, and I started getting a few harness meetings as a result of that. I used to go from North Wales to York on a Saturday night. I would get the train to Manchester and a lift from there. I’d get £15, that’s all it was, but I just wanted the experience. Then what happened was when a neighbour of mine heard a promotion on BBC Radio 2 looking for an amateur sports commentator. So I entered this competition, and the country was split into eight regions. There were five regions of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. What you did was chose your sport. There were eight events and fortunately horse racing was on that list. I went to BBC Radio Wales HQ in Cardiff, and Steve Ryder was one of the judges. He hated horse racing, absolutely hated it. I’d won the regional final and so had qualified for the National final in early-December. It was at The Oval, and my late Grandfather came with me. Along with Steve Ryder, John Inverdale was another one of the judges. In the National final I had to call Nashwan in the King George, then there was a tie-break and I had to do a piece of radio commentary on a Wimbledon final. Well that was an absolute disaster. I had no interest in it whatsoever, and finished third. But as a result of that, I started getting work every now and then for BBC Radio Wales. I called the Welsh National won by Bonanza Boy. I used to do some of the Saturday meetings at Chepstow over jumps, and by doing that I bumped into some of the guys who used to work for the old Excel service which was just about to be taken over the Press Association. One of the guys who used to work for them was Mark Slater, and through him I met Martin Harris and then Dougie Frazer. Now they said to me ‘when there’s a lot of racing in the summer, our boss is sometimes looking for extra cover so we’ll take your name’. This was in February. I then heard nothing till about June, and got a phone call out of the blue inviting me to a trial at York. I was full of cold, but I went and he invited me back on the Saturday. Mid-July they started giving me regular work and I was on their rota. They had five regulars, four of them had regions and there was me filling in the gaps. One week I could be in Scotland, and then the next down at Lingfield. I used to do about five or six days a week and that lasted for about two years. I started getting work for the Racing Post and the Sporting Life. I had to leave harness racing for about two years, and then I went back to it. I read that SIS were looking to recruit about two of three commentators. Wolverhampton had a harness track on the outside and they wrote to SIS on my behalf saying they should look at me, so that’s how I became a racecourse commentator in 1998. You are now a well respected commentator, and out of the many races you have had the pleasure of calling, which one gave you the greatest sense of job satisfaction? Well certain races you always remember. Obviously doing my first Grand National for BBC television, that meant an awful lot. When I got that gig with the BBC I was part of the commentary team when Amberleigh House won in 2004. When I was a kid I always said I had two ambitions, to be a race caller and to call the Grand National. I had to pinch myself that day. I’ll be honest, I was shaking in my boots, I really was. I was as nervous as hell, it’s the most nervous I have ever been in my life. Everywhere you looked, it was Grand National day and I thought ‘bloody hell, millions are going to listen to me this afternoon’. I remember parking up at Aintree that day thinking ‘now come on, shake yourself. This is what you’ve always wanted in your life.’ The night before I had a missed call from Graham Goode. He said to me ‘you’ll be fine tomorrow, just take a deep breath’, and I’ll never forget that. It was a monumental day. I so wanted to get those words out: “there crossing the Melling Road”. I got a lot of satisfaction out of that, a lot. Given the current situation we find ourselves in at present with the coronavirus, would you agree this is a huge blow for the industry? Well it is, but at the end of the day we’ve got to give ourselves a reality check. There are people dying out there. Admittedly, we’re a massive industry, but what is sport? Sport is a great triviality isn’t it? In the grand scheme of things, that’s all we are. We tend to get wrapped up in our little cocoon, in our own little world, wondering when racing will return. On the topic of the coronavirus, the flat season schedule is up in the air at the moment. How would you like to see it reintroduced when the time comes? Well first of all let me just say, regarding proper racing, it’s a good job we got three-quarters of the season done. It’s a major blow to racing that our biggest event can’t take place next week. Let’s not make a big issue out of this, the National is the biggest event, not Cheltenham. Regarding the flat season, it’s very important for the bloodstock industry that the three-year-olds have their chance on the big stage in the classics. At the end of the day, the bloodstock industry is a cog in the wheel. I’m convinced what will happen is that when racing does return, and I don’t think there will be an explosion of meetings, I think the BHA and the European Pattern Committee will need to discuss a revamped pattern for the 2020 season. They’ll have to work back from the Autumn I.e. Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe and Champions Day to try and salvage the season. Let’s say for example we’re in a position to resume racing in July. Races like the Eclipse would obviously fall by the way side. A starting point for the pattern would be the Guineas with a three-week break to the Derby. If they could get the Derby run by early-August, I see no reason why the Juddmonte at York couldn’t take place. You could always reschedule the King George to September. I certainly think you could try and save a few of the=ose weight-for-age races. Out of the many racecourse you’ve visited, which is your favourite and why? Major soft spot for Aintree, because I just love the National. At the end of the day, the National is our shop window, don’t care what anyone says. Whether you’re the biggest flat aficionado going, the Grand National is our shop window. One of my pet hates is when people run scared of the National. People almost want to stand there and apologise for the National, there’s no need to do that at all. We should be proud of it, it’s the race that sells British racing. It’s the only race that matters to the man in the street. To youngsters coming through wanting to gain a position in racing media, what golden piece of advice would you give them? Follow your dreams, follow your ambitions. Devote an awful lot of time, seek as much advice as possible but most of all practice. Practice. You’re luckier in the age we live in that you always have access to race footage. Back in my day we were relying on BBC, Channel 4, ITV to show racing. We had no racing channels. By Liam Hedgecock Reprinted with permission of Sportsbyte Sunderland

Edenderry, Co Offaly, Ireland — The Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee is pleased to announce Jazmin Arnold as the 2020 guest driver at their harness racing weekend in August at Portmarnoch Raceway.. The Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee is pleased to announce Jazmin Arnold as the 2020 guest driver. Billings Series photo. Arnold is a third generation horsewoman, racing out of Ohio. She recently was named USHWA’s National Amateur Driver of the Year for 2019. She has a lifetime record of 71-27-12-5 and $64,217 in purses. “The OHHA is very proud and honored to have Jazmin invited to race at the Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend on August 15-16,” said Renee Mancino, Executive Director of the OHHA. “Her accomplishments last year were outstanding and she is off to a great start in 2020.” The VDM 2020 weekend will be all about the women this year. Along with Arnold, coordinators are currently working on adding an all women driver race to the weekend, and the The Bernie Kelly Memorial Mares FFA Pace has been added to the racing schedule. “This year, we lost a dear friend, Bernie Kelly. Bernie served as our racing secretary, organizer and fervent supporter,” said VDM chairman Derek Delaney. “We created the Bernie Kelly Memorial Mares FFA Pace in her honor. Bernie always encouraged us to keep evolving and as such we are thrilled to welcome Jazmin as our first female guest driver to be part of this weekend and this special memory for us.” Roger Huston, Brand Ambassador of OHHA and longtime VDM race caller, recently accompanied Arnold to the Dan Patch awards in Florida. He said, “I had the opportunity to announce a number of her wins last year at Delaware and Greenville, Ohio, The State Fair of West Virginia and The Meadows. There is no doubt in my mind that Jazmin will become one of the top women drivers in harness racing.” The Vincent Delaney Memorial will be held on Aug. 15-16 at Portmarnock Racecourse. Further information can be found on our website, vincentdelaneymemorial.com or on the VDM Facebook page. From the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee

WEST CORK, IE - The curtain came down on the 2020 Winter Road Racing Season in West Cork on Sunday at Baurnahulla, Drimoleague.   Matthew O'Reilly took the headlines with three winners and this gave him the Jockey of The Year award.   Brywins One Off a winner in Goleen set the ball rolling for O'Reilly. He led from the start and despite a late challenge from Ketucky Finale, he eventually had six lengths to spare.   Next up for O'Reilly was Diplomatist who is owned by his father Tadhg. Newtown Amber led to the opening turn but over shot the bale .This left Rhyds Dilemma in front but he was only "A sitting Duck" with Diplomatist taking over approaching the final turn and was never in danger and ran out a ten length winner.   Billycoan Colt gave O'Reilly his third win of the day. Coalford Bruce really put it up to the winner leading at both turning points and an upset looked in the making, but O'Reilly as he did in Goleen, set his charge alight in the final eighth of a mile and ran on to a five length winning margin.   This win gave Billcoan Colt the Horse of the Year title with five wins.   Only three runners faced the starter in the Top Grade Pace and Ghenghis Pride was sent to post at prohibitive odds. Rhyds Solution set the early fractions but Ghenghis Pride took it up to the first turn .Both runners shared the lead between the next two turns with Kestrels Dot Sammy just off the pace.   At the final turn Ghenghis Pride eased into the lead and was not for catching winning by six lengths from Rhyds Solution.   The winner was presented with the Nora McCarthy Cup and the Cup "was staying at home" as the winner is trained by Derry McCarthy, a son of the Late Nora McCarthy.   Great credit is due to the local committee who had to cancel the races on two previous occasions due to Storm Denis .   So the Winter season concludes and was a resounding success. We look forward to the start of the 2020 Summer season which kicks off in April.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS Race 1: Grade E Trot. 1st: Brywins One Off, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Kentucky Finale, C. O' Driscoll 3rd: Fire Fly Z, A. Mc Carthy DIST 6L 8L Race 2: Grade D Trot. 1st: Diplomatist, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Rhyds Dilemma, T. Moloney 3rd: Newtown Amber, T. O' Leary. DIST 10L DIST Race 3: Grade C / D Trot. 1st: Billycoan Colt, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Coalford Bruce, T. Moloney 3rd: Lets Party, A. Mc Carthy. DIST 5L 10L Race 4: Grade A / B Trot. 1st: Ghenghis Pride, T. Moloney 2nd: Rhyds Solution, T. O' Leary 3rd: Kestrelsdot Sammy, J. O' Driscoll. DIST 6L 2L  

Ghengis Pride returned to winning ways when landing "The Causeway Classic" at Goleen.   Much hype had surrounded the renewal of "The Classic" and harness racing spectators were served up with a race befitting the name.   Rhyds Solution made the running and unlike previous days Ghengis Pride was up with the running early in the 2 mile contest .Not much changed during the race with the tempo rising heading to the Lisagriven turn.   Turning off the final turn Rhyds Solution was still in front .Coming over the bridge Ghengis Pride and Saunders Picasso closed in along with Kestrels Dots Sammy .The final two furlongs saw Ghengis Pride stay on the best to win bt tjree lengths with Saunders Picasso just holding off Kestrels Dot Sammy   Deidre Goggin on her local track had a brace of winners   The Spectacular Backdrop at The Causeway Track in Goleen      --David Shine Photo   In The opener Brywins One Off (third in Skibbereen) saw off a late challenge from Kentucky Finale to lad the spoils for the Goggin family who the leading lights behind the races in Goleen   Goggin secured her second winner aboard Newtown Amber who set a blistering pace and held on by a short head to beat favorite Diplomatist. She collected leading jockey for those two wins   Micheal Collins TD presents Jockey Of The Day to Deirdre Goggin    --David Shine Photo   Matthew O Reilly who looks certain to be leading rider for the season gave Billycoan Colt his fourth win of the campaign. The pair looked in trouble crossing the bridge but O Reilly was only playing with his rivals and won by five lengths ,Chris O Reilly trains the winner for Hallie Kelleher.   The Grade D produced an epic finish between Dreamfair I Say and Rhyds Dilemma with Jamie Hurley getting the photo finish by a short head on Dreamfair I Say who is trained by Hurley and owned by Liam O Brien from Schull.   Winning connections of Dreamfair I Say winner of The Grade D Pace at Goleen     --David Shine Photo   Great credit is due to the hard working Goleen Committee who were rewarded with fantastic racing on a bright Spring Day in front of a good crowd   After two cancellations due to weather Barnahulla will hope for third time lucky next Sunday   RESULTS   Race 1: Grade E Trot. The O Mearas Bar Cup 1st: Brywins One Off, D. Goggin 2nd: Kentucky Finale, C. O' Driscoll 3rd: Fire Fly Z, A Mc Carthy. DIST 3L 8L Race 2: Grade D Trot Div 1. The Twins Memorial Cup 1st: Newtown Amber, D. Goggin 2nd: Diplomatist, M. O' Reilly 3rd: Splash The Cash, J. Hurley. DIST SH 12L Race 3: Grade D Trot Div 2. The Frank & Anna Goggin Memorial Cup 1st: Dreamfair I'd Say, J. Hurley 2nd: Rhyds Dilemma, T. Moloney 3rd: Garths Sheragar, C. O' Driscoll DIST SH 4L Race 4: Grade C / D Trot. The Fastnet Bar Cup 1st: Billycoan Colt, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Coalford Bruce, T. Moloney 3rd: Lets Party, A. Mc Carthy. Race 5: Grade A / B Trot. The Lobster Pot Bar Cup 1st: Ghengis Pride, T. Moloney 2nd: Saunders Picasso, D. Goggin 3rd: Kestrelsdotsammy, J. O' Driscoll 4th: Rhyds Solution, T. O' Leary. DIST 3L 1/2L

Vincennes, France – Following the outside cover of Davidson Du Pont, harness racing driver Bjorn Goop and Face Time Bourbon weaved their way around horses and was able to post a two-length triumph to win the 100th Grand Prix d’Amerique race at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes Sunday. It was the 19th victory in just 22 career starts for Face Time Bourbon. The five-year-old son of two-time Prix d’Amerique winner, Ready Cash, is now harness racing newest international trotting star. The race began with a Calvary charge for control of the early lead with horses racing three-wide for the first half mile of the 1.67-mile race (2,700 meters). Billie De Montfort (Gabriele Gelormini) held the early lead, then Excellent (Alexandre Abrivard) got to the front and Propulsion (Orjan Kihlstrom) was able to drop into the two-hole along the rail. And all the while there was Davidson Du Pont and driver Franck Ouvire parked out first-over and not giving up an inch. Meanwhile, Goop and Face Time Bourbon were following their cover second over. Excellent then went off-stride and that allowed Looking Superb (David Thomain) a brief time on the lead, but as they finally reached the top of the stretch, Davidson Du Pont, parked the mile, was in the lead, but Goop moved down along the rail and passed them by with Face Time Bourbon for the victory in 1’11’50. Davidson Du Pont held for the second place with the mare, Belina Josselyn (Jean-Michel Bazire), last year’s Prix d’Amerique winner, finishing third. Bold Eagle was never in the hunt and finished 10th in the field of 18 starters. Ringostarr Treb, making his final start before going to the stud barn, make a break and finished last. Trained by Sebastien Guarato, Face Time Bourbon is owned by Scuderia Bivans SLR. It was his sixth straight win. He went off at odds of 4.9-1 odds. Before the Prix d’Amerique race, everyone at the track was treated to an unbelievable show on the racetrack celebrating American soldiers coming to help France in World War I. The crowds were so packed that is was impossible to try and get on the track apron to watch the show. Luckily for most, it was broadcast on all three jumbo screens in the infield. It was a presentation that left many speechless, amazed and proud to be part of this special day’s events. On the track were the following: 100 children dressed in driver colors with helmets 100 Horse costume parade and dance 100 Harley-Davidson motorcycles parade, each with an American Flag 100 cheerleaders in USA outfits carrying Prix d’Amerique and American Flags Introduction of the 18 drivers in the Prix d’Amerique race, each driver came through the throngs of crowds, holding the hand of a child dressed in USA colors. Drivers giving Hi-Fives to fans, posing for selfies and then were escorted off the track on two-seater Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Before the Prix d’Amerique race there was an outstanding performance of horsemanship by the French Royal Lancers. They performed precision riding with both lances and sabers while their special band played. There was also a very strong undercard at Vincennes with seven Graded Stakes. Total purses for the day was over 1.6 million euros. Major sponsors of this year’s Prix d’Amerique included Case IH Agriculture, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, Lalique, RMC Sports Talk Radio, Gras Savoye, Lenotre Paris, FRM (Medicale), 20 Minutes and Printemps Nation. 100,000€ Prix Harley-Davidson This Groupe II stake was monte (racing under saddle) going 2700 meters (1.67 miles). It was a standing start and once the word go was given, jockey Mathie Mottier came charging from the far outside with Fame Music to take a commanding six length lead. As the field settled down, Flicka De Blary and jockey Camille Levesque went on the outside and had to settle for a pocket trip behind Fame Music as those two held a five-length lead over the field. Then as they came around the final turn, Fame Music went off-stride and was pulled to the inside of the track. That left Flicka De Blary and Levesque all alone in the lead and they held that lead through the stretch to win by six open lengths in 1”14’10. Flicka De Blary is a five-year-old mare by Sam Bourbon. She is trained by Thomas Levesque for the Levesque Stable. Flicka De Blary was the 2-1 favorite. 100,000€ Prix Case This Groupe II stake was another monte event but longer in distance at 2,850 meters (1.77 miles). The race belonged to Emir De Robomard and jockey Julien Raffestin who took the early lead away from Aribo Mix (Guillaume Martin) and then led the field nearly the entire race. As they charged down the stretch, Canan Prior and jockey Aurelien Desmarres kept gaining ground and collared Emir De Robomard at the wire to win by a half-length in 1’13’80. It was the 21st win for the eight-year-old son of Sancho Panca, who is owned and trained by Sylvain Desmarres. He went off at odds of 4-1. 100,000€ Prix RMC Sports Talk Another Grade II stake, only this race went behind the starting gate with 14 starters. Gotland (Eric Raffin) was first to leave the cut the mile until halfway through the race when Green Grass (Mathieu Mottier) came first-over, giving live cover to Gu D’Heripre (Franck Nivard). Then in a classic stretch drive to the wire, Gu D’Heripre was able to hold off a late charge by the race favorite, Gunilla D’Atout (Bjorn Goop), to win by a neck in 1’11’60. For Gu D’Heripre, a four-year-old son of Coktail Jet, it was a lifetime mark for trainer Philippe Billard and the D’Heripre Stable. He was the second choice in the race at odds of 4-1. TRACK NOTES: John Campbell, President and CEO of the Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Society has been in Paris this week for the big race and was overheard saying that plans are in the works for Bold Eagle to come back to America and race. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

West Cork, Ireland - Saunders Picasso made it four wins from as many starts when landing The Tim Cooper Kelleher Memorial Top Grade Pace at the annual Skibbereen Memorial Day on Sunday.   Rhyds Solution and Kestrels Dot Sammy set the early fractions to the opening turn.   At the inside turn the order remained the same with Saunders Picasso turning badly along with race favorite Ghengis Pride .As they headed to the final turn Saunders Picasso was still five lengths off the leaders.   Heading for home Rhyds Solution had three lengths to spare and Saunders Picasso now second began to close Passing the fish factory it was a battle royal with Saunders Picasso getting his nose in front in the final stride to win by a short head with Rhyds solution loosing nothing in defeat and Ghengis Pride running on to finish third.   This was Saunders Picasso first run in the top grade and will be a force to reckon with, It was a family affair as Mike Goggin Jnr owns the winner who is trained by his father Mike Snr and ridden by sister Deirdre.   Matthew O Reilly was leading jockey on the day with two wins.   Billycoan Colt, who changed ownership since Ballygurteen, but is still trained by Chris O Reilly and Coalford Bruce were market leaders but Matthew O Reilly on Billycoan Colt had always his rival in sight and ran on to a six length winning margin.   O Eeilly doubled up on Diplomatist who is owned by his father Tadhg. Captain Morgan set a scorching pace but again O Reilly reeled in the leader and had three lengths to spare at the finish.   The Grade C saw punters opinions differ between Lets Party and Dreamfair I Say and the bookmakers nearly got the "Result" with Rhyds Dilemma leading to the final 100 yards before Lets Party came with a late challenge to win by a length.   A stewards inquiry was called but the result stood.   Splash The Cash and The Red Rebel have had some great battles since the opening of the year and again served up another thriller with Splash The Cash coming out on top this time by a length.   Next on the calendar is Barnahulla on the 9th February and with different winners in the top grade for the past few meetings it promises to be a day not to be missed.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS Novice / Grade E Trot. 1st: Splash the Cash, J. Hurley 2nd: Red Rebel, J. O' Driscoll 3rd: Fire Fly Z, D. Goggin 4th: Hint of Mist, C. O' Driscoll. Grade C Trot. 1st: Lets Party, A. Mc Carthy 2nd: Rhyds Dilemma, T. Moloney 3rd: Dreamfair I'd Say, J. Hurley. N/R Camden Jimmy, M. Moloney. Grade D Trot. 1st: Billycoan Colt, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Coalford Bruce, T. Moloney 3rd: Lyons Super Nova, D. Goggin 4th: Newtown Amber, T. O' Leary. Grade E Trot. 1st: Diplomatist, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Captain Morgan, J. Hurley 3rd: Brywins One Off, D. Goggin 4th: Kentucky Finale, C. O' Driscoll Grade A / B Trot. 1st: Saunders Picasso, D. Goggin 2nd: Rhyds Solution, T. O' Leary 3rd: Ghengis Pride, C. O' Driscoll 4th: Kestreldotdsammy, J. O' Driscoll    

Supporters of a charity harness racing day were odds-on to raise cash for good causes. The Eden Valley Harness Racing Association staged the charity meeting at Wolsingham, with funds raised split equally between the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) and the Teesdale fundraising group of Marie Curie. Representatives from the two organisations picked up cheques for £500 each from the racing association. Les Coward, treasurer of the harness racing association said: “We have run this meeting for about four year. “Each time, we have given a donation to the air ambulance as we have needed them on two or three occasions. “We have also given to cancer charities. My family and those of other members of the committee have been affected by cancer,” he added. Liz Beadle, secretary of the Teesdale fundraising group of Marie Curie, said the £500 donation would provide 25 hours of nursing. Marie Curie's Barnard Castle shop manager Julie Deehan explained that all money raised in the dale goes to the regional office in Newcastle to be support the charity's efforts in the north east. Reprinted with permission of The Teesdale Mercury

Blue Top Gun, who changed ownership and trainer since Durrus on New Years Day, took the top grade pace at Ballygurteen Road Trotting Races on Sunday.   Rhyds Solution set the early fractions with Blue Top Gun in company.The order remained to the first and second turns where market leader Ghengis Pride took a bad turn and lost ground. At the final turn Rhyds Solution and Blue Top Gun were locked in battle .   On the run to the finish it was all to play for but Jamie Hurley on Blue Top Gun got the upper hand and won by a length. There was pandemonium in the winners circle as joint owner Ger Cooke was carried shoulder high by the partisan local supporters who flooded in for the presentation .   "Myself and Ger Cooke bought him after Durrus and we changed tactics by using him earlier in the race and it worked a treat. We celebrate tonight and look forward to Skibbereen in two weeks time"said winning jockey and joint owner Jamie Hurley.   Deirdre Goggin was leading jockey on the day after riding a brace of winners.   Newtown Amber upset the odds in the Novice & Grade E Pace upstaging hotpot Captain Morgan by three lengths.   Goggin completed her double in the Grade C & D Pace on Saunders Picasso who had a facile victory making it three wins from as many starts leading home Lets Party by five lengths.   Billycoan Colt was another to have things his own way in the Grade D Pace .Garths Sharegar put it up to his more fancied rival but Matthew O Reilly always had the leader in his sights and took up the running after the last turn and eased down to an eight length win.The winner is owned by Dublin based Ned Stafford and trained locally by Chris O Reilly.   There was drama aplenty in the Grade E Pace. Coalford Bruce was away to a quick start and joint favorite Diplomatist went off stride in the early stages .Coalford Bruse led at both turns .Turning for home he remained clear but Diplomatist began to close and actually led with 200 meters to go but again lost stride and lost ground allowing Coalford Bruce to win by a length.   Next on the calendar is The Big Skibbereen Memorial Raceday on Sunday 26th January and already race goers are eagerly awaiting the top grade pace where Saunders Picasso will join the big boys in The Tim Cooper Kelleher Memorial Top Grade Pace.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS Race 1: Novice / Grade E Trot. 1st: Newtown Amber, D. Goggin 2nd: Captain Morgan, M. O' Reilly 3rd: Cool Direct, T. Moloney 4th: Hint of Mist, C. O' Driscoll DIST 3L 6L Race 2: Grade E Trot. 1st: Coalford Bruce, T. Moloney 2nd: Diplomatist, M. O' Reilly 3rd: Splash the Cash, J. Hurley 4th: The Red Rebel, J. O' Driscoll DIST 1L 4L Race 3: Grade D Trot. 1st: Billycoan Colt, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Garths Sharegar, T. Moloney 3rd: Lyons Super Nova, D. Goggin DIST 8L 8L Race 4: Grade C Trot. 1st: Saunders Picasso, D. Goggin 2nd: Lets Party, A. Mc Carthy 3rd: Rhyds Dilemma, T. Moloney DIST 5L 10L Race 5: Grade A / B Trot. 1st: Blue Top Gun, J. Hurley 2nd: Rhyds Solution, T. O' Leary 3rd: Ghenghis Pride, C. O' Driscoll 4th: Kestrel Dot Sammy, J. O' Driscoll. DIST 1L 6L

When writing on any sector in the equine industry - it's a positive sign when the sport in question threw up so many feel good moments and exciting events that the problem is condensing the news into the allotted space. 2019 saw world class harness racing performances on the track and major progress at organisational level in Irish harness racing. Despite huge efforts by the IHRA to entice horsemen to race early in the season the local scene got off to a stuttering start. The April columns in this paper were buoyed by good news from America where Reclamation, still part owned by Donal Murphy (the main owner being Bill Donovan ) and Robyn Camden, owned by Dubliner Jason O'Sullivan, both ran up winning sequences. The latter mare continued her winning ways into ' the fall '. Another feature of 2019 was healthy progress in the career of Jack Killeen of Tallaght as a driver in the USA and Ballydehob born Robbie Cleary, who is building a big reputation as a public trainer in New Jersey. Robbie featured in an October report wherein he signed for the top priced pacing yearling at the Harrisburg sales. Back at home, both Billy Roche and John Richardson took headlines in the pre - Delaney meetings and the two great rivals traded blows all summer. Richardson was to take both the national and Portmarnock drivers titles - a late surge ( a four timer in fact ) at the deciding meeting secured The Irish Field silver salver and a generous cheque. Billy won a separate title for driving the most Trotteurs Francais winners. He has no peers when it comes to freshening up old battle hardened geldings. May saw a feast of nostalgia as the followers celebrated 50 years at Portmarnock. Jack Wilson (86) who won the final at the opening meeting is still alive and well and was guest of honour at a dinner at the track. There was much mention of the visionary Hughie Richardson who teamed up with thoroughbred breeder WJ Mc Enery to open a 400 yard track. The 18th May meeting was full of memories of man and beast : Paddy Kane, Paddy Manning , Walter Cunningham, Ulex, Eastwood Relko and Smoke Away. The summer highlights came and went - racing at ' heaven on earth ' (Inchydoney Strand ), followed a few weeks later by the superbly organised Red John Memorial near Clonakilty. The world renowned Vincent Delaney meeting was graced by a skilful American driver, one Jordan Stratton, and saw a home victory in the fillies (Rainbow Writer) and a British based winner in the colts (Mattuceuous). In September John Richardson and Jonny Cowden brought the house down at Tir Prince, North Wales. Jonny won a graded race with the Coreys' Fairdays Western. JR took Britain's biggest race for French Trotters with Maxie Collins' Besame Mucho and followed up with their biggest race for pacers ' The Crock of Gold ' on his own Gentleman Jim. The Coleraine yard of Walter Stewart hit winning form in the autumn. Porterstown Courage won the Red Mills All Ireland Final and Ladyford Dollar picked up major races for three year olds in Ireland and one across the water. Sean Kane, second on four occasions previously in France shook off his jinx on November 16th when he drove the unfancied Delsa Derangere to win during the France vs. Ireland competition at l' Hippodrome d'Argentan in Normandy. Sean has only 3,999 to go to catch up with Charlie Mills, the Irishman, who dominated European trotting on the post - war years. Late in the season Bobby Barry's Blackwell Ruby, lightly raced in these islands won her first start in the USA. BEST MOMENTS IN 2019 ; To see Jack Wilson sitting alongside John Richardson in a two seater training cart behind Emeric Perreux summed up a lifetime of racegoing for me. Jack actually owned Windys Son, John's first drive in a race in 1981. Windys Son failed to win a race. The driver went on to win 1300 and counting. A few weeks later Jack presented a cup to Stevie Lees who won the Bookmakers Pace with Panam Colt, a catch drive for Billy Roche. The hardened pro, with the scars to prove it and Corinthian Jack, a baker by trade. I was within earshot, and was impressed that little Stevie took so much interest in Jack. PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR : The performance of the year was on Irish soil from a pair of gifted English hands. Stevie Lees' inspired move when he sensed a lull in the pace at the half in the Bookmakers Pace ( Lees was on the aforementioned Panam Colt ). That stuff cannot be taught - you either have it or you don't. The aptly named Miraculous put up the equine performance of the year in breaking the track record in August. The time of 1.54.6 is stunning when we consider that most of the Irish and British horses which have tried their hand in the US have 'found ' six or seven seconds due to climate and tracks. I refuse to say training methods as I would back the best of the Irish and English trainers against all comers. ONE THING WE GOT RIGHT IN 2019 : The introduction of the Tiny Hooves Series of pony racing has been an unqualified success. The joy on the children's faces and also their adult co -drivers was sight to behold. Well done to Nadina, Mary and Leah and any other helpers. Plans and some welcome funding from Horse Sport Ireland are afoot to improve the racing and most importantly the training of the young drivers. ONE THING WE NEED TO IMPROVE : I am mindful that the racing is run by unpaid volunteers, therefore I am loath to criticise any aspect of the sport. I must also confess a vested interest as a working bookie at the track. There is simply too much confusion in communicating driver changes and handicap marks over the PA system. I have lost count of the number of horses which went behind the car with a driver in the bike different to the card and/or the announcement. Scottish and Welsh harness racing and also point to points are also run by volunteers and in my experience have an almost 100% accuracy in this aspect. If we wish to sell the product to betting chains this has to be ' regimental ' AN UNSUNG HERO : Ivan Swindle of Fermanagh has done sterling work in building a glass fronted bar and canteen at Annaghmore Raceway. Hopefully the little facility will be open in 2020. Another of our unsung heroes, a giant in the sport, is currently on a sabbatical from fence painting, track grading, battery charging, and number cloth repairing. I appeal to this individual to come back to the fold, the racing is poorer without your input. Come back, and then we can sing about you ! PREDICTION FOR 2020 - 2019 will be a hard act to follow. My gut feeling is that with so much knowledge and effort amongst Irish horsemen that something is going to break ( not that type of break ! ) that puts Ireland on a world stage. It could be a horse ( Blackwell Ruby, Reclamation or Gentleman Jim ) or a horseman ( Sean Kane, Alan Richardson or Robbie Cleary ) or a major race in Ireland. I put in my letter to Santa that it would be great if a US based trainer would buy a colt or filly (he / she wouldn't need to be a sales topper ) for the VDM and then get the horse ready for the big race in North America before flying the animal here for the big weekend. The venture won't break even but what a story that would make ! by Dan Carlin, for the Irish Field    

WEST CORK, IE - Road trotting holds a special place in the hearts of people in West Cork, Ireland and at Durrus on New Years day the harness racing crowds flocked to this tiny hamlet on the Sheeps Head Peninsula.   Those that attended were treated to some fantastic racing and it was jockey Matthew O'Reilly who stole the headlines riding thrtee winners on the day.   As it was last day out in Drimoleague, O'Reilly kicked off his treble aboard Captain Morgan in the Novice Pace. This well bred type was away in front early doors and had too much in hand for Fire Fly Z who again had the bridesmaid tag as there was six lengths the winning margin.   The meeting of The Red Rebel and last weeks winner Splash The Cash was well touted as a match race .Kentucky Finale, who was friendless in the market almost caused a huge upse,t but Matthew O'Reilly was not to not to be denied sending The Red Rebel to the front in the final eighth of a mile and ran out a three length winner.   O'Reilly completed his treble in the second division of the Grade E.    Punters waged into Coalford Bruce and the smart money seemed to be well invested as Coalford Bruce led early and was three lengths in front at the turning point, but as in previous races Matthew O'Reilly played it cool on Diplomatist and got up on the line to collar Coalford Bruce by a short head. Matthew O Reilly may have stole the headlines but the lady jockeys wer not to be out done .   Firstly Deirdre Goggin followed up on her win in Drimoleague aboard Sunders Picasso to land another win in the Grade C & D.   Billycoan Colt tried to make all and looked a winner but Goggin produced the victory in the final 150 yards and was a 2 length winner.   Chelsie O'Driscoll, another of the female brigade, is as good as any one and was seen to her brilliant best in the top Grade Pace on Ghengis Pride. Rhyds Solution and Im Impartial set out the running but at the final turn in a true run rave Kestrels Dot Sammy and Ghengis Pride had overtaken the front running pair.   As like in Drimoleague the pair slugged it out for the last half mile with Ghengis Pride prevailing again.   Great credit is due to the local committee for staging the event which was well planned and this scribe met visitors from the UK, Florida, West Virginia, San Diego, Nova Scotia, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Thailand.   Many were amazed by this unique sport and were also taken aback by the welcome they got in Durrus. Next on the Winter season is in Ballingurteen on Sunday 12th Jan.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS Race 1: Grade Novice / E Trot. 1st: Captain Morgan, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Fire Fly Z, D. Goggin 3rd: Cool Direct, T. Moloney 4th: Hint of Mist, C. O' Driscoll. Race 2: Grade E Trot Division 1. 1st: The Red Rebel, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Kentucky Finale, C. O' Driscoll 3rd: Splash The Cash, J. Hurley Race 3: Grade E Trot Division 2. 1st: Diplomatist, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Coalford Bruce, T. Moloney 3rd: Lyons Super Nova, D. Goggin 4th: Newtown Amber, M. Moloney Race 4: Grade C / D Trot. 1st: Saunders Picasso, D. Goggin 2nd: Billycoan Colt, M. O' Reilly 3rd: Lets Party, A. Mc Carthy 4th: Garths Sharegar, T. Moloney Race 5: Grade A / B Trot. 1st: Ghenghis Pride, C. O' Driscoll 2nd: Kestrelsdotsammy, J. O' Driscoll 3rd: Blue Top Gun, T. O' Leary 4th: Rhyds Solution, J. Hurley.        

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