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Evenwood Sonofagun named UK Horse of the Year

On Saturday 3rd February 2018, members of BHRC and STAGBI met for the Annual Awards Event to celebrate the successes from the breeding of Standardbreds and the sport of Harness Racing. After an enthusiastic welcome from non other than Roger “The Voice” Huston, and a hearty three course meal, the awards ceremony commenced. Hosted by the respected Thoroughbred and Harness racing commentator, Darren Owen, the attendees were directed through the past season and regaled of each individuals achievements. Every review was complimented with screen compilations courtesy of co-host Sarah Thomas and individual congratulations from Roger Huston. The pinnacle of the event is the announcement of Horse of the Year – the top accolade afforded to Standardbreds competing in Great Britain under the governance of the British Harness Racing Club. The names in the hat are the award winners from throughout the season which are voted for by the members of the sport. These are – Pacer of the Year, Mare of the Year, Trotter of the Year, 3YO Colt of the Year, 3YO Filly of the Year, 2YO Colt of the Year, 2YO Filly of the Year and Overseas Horse of the Year. Although many attending were sure there was a far away winner within the room who was always destined to be crowned, all connections present still awaited the announcement with bated breath. This duty fell to Sarah Thomas and as she opened the golden envelope to declare the victor as Evenwood Sonofagun, the room erupted into rapturous applause and congratulations. What a season the connections of this fantastic equine experienced – winning multiple races, breaking track records, setting new track, BHRC and WORLD records. Horse, Owner, Trainer, Driver – they are all record breakers. The horse himself – Evenwood Sonofagun A now six year old son of The Firepan, out of Im The Last finished his 2017 campaign with THREE Grade 1 races on his profile, unbeaten during the season with 11 wins and a streak of 15 in a row, Track Records and a WORLD Record plus whispers of exportation to race abroad. Earlier in the evening he had already scooped awards for his breeders, the Nicholson family of County Durham, in the Breeders Premium for England, The British Breeders Bonus for victory at Musselburgh and two in the Group 1 British Breeders Bonus. The high point of his season came at the York Major 3YO fixture in late June 2017, where Evenwood Sonofagun (‘Gunner’) was aimed at a saddle pace. He had claimed victory just four weeks previously under saddle by an impressive 11 lengths on the grass surface of Appleby. With this June venue a half mile hard track, the event was prepped to challenge the World Record for pacers under saddle. Gunner was again partnered by Alexis Laidler and in a blistering pace they completed the mile in 1.57.3 – a new World Record. The previous World Record was held by Darla Frakes (nee Conklin) who clocked 2.00 in July 1998 at Northfield Park, USA with the gelding Highly Rated. Thanks to the race organisers, Alexis Laidler and her charge, Evenwood Sonofagun, entered the Harness Racing history books. The seasons climax was one of the mostly hotly anticipated Free For All races the British Isles have ever seen – The Crock of Gold Final staged at Tir Prince in North Wales. As the horses were called in by the starter there was lots of jostling in the crowds for the best views, but there was also a stillness. As the horses raced down the home straight the atmosphere changed and the din of the crowd cheering on the competitors was so much that it concealed the commentary. A photo finish was called – after a spectacular race and an agonisingly tense judging of the photo, a Dead Heat of the Crock of Gold Final was declared between Evenwood Sonofagun and Miraculous. A fantastic end to his season. The owner – Raymond Huschka Already presented with the 2017 Leading Owner earlier in the evening, Raymond’s charges amassed 70 top three finishes during the previous season. The 43 victories surpassed any other owners achievements in the last decade of the award, the closest rival being John J Howard Snr who scored 39 wins back in 2009. As well as ‘Gunner’, some other Standardbreds that recorded triumphs for Mr Huschka in 2017 include: Happy Hands (Yankee Lariat x Silvertail) – Appleby Monday Grade 1 Final Winner Jack Swagger (Soulofthematter x Lyons Kellie Ann) – Tregaron Welsh Classic Heat Winner Merrington Movinup (The Preacher Pan x What A Commotion) – Junior Welsh Dragon 2YO Winner Mikey Camden (Camluck x Electrical Art) – Bells Field Heat & Final Winner Valseur Du Cygne (Kaiser Soze x Oxana de Chanterne) – Castell Howard Foods Le Trot Grass Championship Winner The driver – William ‘Rocker’ Laidler Top BHRC Driver by number of wins an astonishing nine times, only halted from a consecutive ten years in 2016 by a shoulder injury sustained whilst preparing horses for racing. In 2013 ‘Rocker’ recorded 97 driving victories, which equated to more than 10% of the total number of races staged that year. It also set the record for number of wins recorded by an individual driver – a record which ‘Rocker’ has stated in the past he wishes to surpass with a century of conquests within a season. The trainer – Alexis Laidler The wife of William ‘Rocker’ Laidler, this team have been the at the top of the Leading Trainer list for eleven consecutive years. Boasting 600+ race wins during this period – 68 recorded during 2017 and a record breaking 101 training wins in 2013. With these statistics it comes as no surprise that almost all of Great Britain’s prestigious races appear on their CV: Appleby Spring Handicap (Grade 1) – Rhyds Ponder in 2013 and Happy Hands in 2017 York 3YO Championship – with Camden Daniel in 2012 and Stamp Hill in 2013 Ceredigion Handicap (Grade 1) – Evenwood Sonofagun in 2017 Famous Musselburgh Pace (Grade 1) – Laneside Lexus 2009, Mahogany Jasper 2011, Springhill Alibi 2013 and Evenwood Sonofagun 2017 Breeders Crown – 2YO division with Matticulous in 2017, 3YO division Merrington Missile in 2012 and 4YO division with Duggans Pride also in 2012 Vincent Delaney Memorial 2YO – Matticulous 2017 Welsh Dragon Series – multiple winners but most impressively the 2YO, 3YO and 4YO divisions all with the same charge, Stamp Hill Crock of Gold (Group 1) – a remarkable three finals with Laneside Lexus in 2011 (who was exported to Canada shortly afterwards), Stoneriggs Mystery in 2012 and Evenwood Sonofagun in 2017 Alexis was as usual modest and unassuming (and extraordinarily glamorous) when receiving the award expressing how proud she is of how far herself and her husband and their team have come in the sport of Harness Racing and extending humble thanks to Mr Huschka for his unwavering support. All in all, the team scooped six of the sixteen BHRC awards presented on the night. And just to finish on a high, confirmed that ‘Gunner’ (Evenwood Sonofagun) is back in training and preparing for the 2018 season! Congratulations Raymond, Rocker, Alexis and team! CLICK to VIEW Horse of the Year Video Presentation Other award winners recognised on the night were: Battle of the Big Guns Champion – Miraculous (Arnie Flower) 2YO Filly of the Year – Greenhill Hanover (Marina Thomas) 2YO Colt of the Year – Matticulous (BKB & Morgans) 3YO Filly of the Year – Rhyds Mystique (Victoria Elvin) 3YO Colt of the Year – Rhyds Rock Star (Claire Fletcher) Mare of the Year – Rhyds Passion (Sally Teeboon) Trotter of the Year – T’es Trop Foot (Millstream Stud) Overseas Horse of the Year – Robyn Camden (All Out Syndicate) Tim Tetrick Drive of the Year – James Haythornthwaite From the British Harness Racing Club

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Brenda Hudson, harness racing

There is no stopping for Ireland’s Brenda Hudson

BELFAST, IR - Born in Belfast, harness racing brought Brenda Hudson to Dublin in more ways than one. Having raced throughout the UK, America and more recently in Malta, Brenda Hudson is enjoying her ‘elder stateswoman status’ within Irish Harness Racing. Brenda is looking forward to the 2018 season, the traditional Easter Sunday start date having been restored. Wins at 31 different tracks, trebles at 11 of these venues, 52 wins in Britain, 57 wins with Rambling Rover alone. In Musselburgh in 1996 with Double M, the Irish Derby with Stormy Reveller followed by the 2002 Welsh Classic at Tregaron, the stats roll off her tongue in a matter of fact way. She won the Free For All in Musselburgh with Alec Patterson’s iron mare Ambro Lobell in 2001. “I reckon I have 504 victories and counting,” Brenda recalls, “but the records from the early days are sketchy. Mrs. Scott of Antrim Stadium helped me collate them some years ago.” On the down side there were tough days amongst all the success. 27 broken bones, 30 odd stitches, severed tendons and ligaments are a sign of her toughness. Each time she came back, her love of racing undaunted. Brenda was in reflective mood when I spoke to her recently. The 59-year-old has managed to keep her youthful looks and it’s hard to believe that Brenda (nee Brenda Dean) has been racing since the days of Secretariat, The Dikler and Johhny Roe. Brothers Gregory, Roddy and Dennis (Dixie) rode jumping ponies to a high standard and Brenda tagged along. Their father Patsy Dean always had a soft spot for a good pacer. Brenda and Westfield were cruising in the lead at Lambeg one night in 1974 when the great Kevock Vale Hero put a leg through her sulky spokes. “It used to happen all the time before they brought out wheel discs.’’ states Brenda calmly. The ensuing accident left the teenager badly smashed up. When her late mother decreed that this harness racing was too dangerous and ordered a halt. Brenda produced a defiant huff and took off to work in the Channel Islands. “I saved all my wages and came home to buy Charlie Chase,” Brenda explained. “My dad went to pick him up at Walter Cunningham’s yard, and bought Little John as well, so we were in business.” Maybe it was the pretty face, maybe the smile never far away, but nowadays Hudson is quick to credit some of the men (it was a very male dominated sport) who helped her along the way. “I was privileged to drive for Bobby and George Hanson,” Brenda recalled. “In the States, Delvin Miller took me under his wing and I was there for six months. I took over Dorney Reveller and Silent Running to race there.” Brenda went on, “Most of Rambling Rover’s success I put down to the fact that one man listened to me complaining that I couldn’t get Rover shod the way I wanted. Robert Steele, of the Lisburn family of vets, actually shod the horse for me and we never looked back.” Brenda enjoyed the harness racing around the main arena at the RDS. In the early 80’s she took a heat with the flashy chestnut Langton Pride while brother Gregory won the final with Ragman. Brenda was second, representing Ireland in the International Ladies Challenge at the Meadowlands in 1999 and represented the UK and Ireland against a USA team a few years later. In 1989 Brenda moved to Dublin and forged a formidable partnership both as a couple and as a training team with Paddy Hudson. They married some years later. With the pair’s innovative and unique approach to conditioning and Brenda’s skills on the track, the two won countless races with Pams Boy, Black in A Flash and Spice Girl, amongst others. Brenda sighs wistfully when she remembers Leckwith Flashman. “He’s the one that got away,” Brenda said.  “I was working my way up the handicap gradually with him. I had him placed to win some big pots, and then I lost him to colic.” Similarly, Hudson was unlucky to lose Kick On last year, another lightly raced improving type. The son of Yankee Lariat had to be euthanised due to complications arising out of a spill at Annaghmore. Paddy Hudson passed away in 2010 and it must have been hard for Brenda to come back to the sport that brought them together. Again, the reinswoman was grateful to Neville Martin who put her up on some decent sorts at that time. "Bet Your Miffed and Angelas Kosmos gave me a lift when I needed it, ‘’ added Brenda. Brenda says that the biggest difference in the racing now and when she started is how the modern horses come to their gait much quicker. “We used to have tight hobbles and special shoes to get them pacing,” Brenda said. “Now they’re doing it free legged.” (Harness racing jargon for without hobbles) The veteran horsewoman thinks the sport is becoming an industry. “Our young people have a chance to make this a career,” Brenda said. “whereas my generation had to work to subsidise the horses.” Was it harder being a woman? “Well, early in my career a few guys tried to frighten me on the track,” Brenda explained. “but I gave as good as I got. It’s nice to see some talented young girls coming up now. In Australia, for example, they have a high percentage of female drivers. With better stewarding than when I started, there’s no reason why a girl couldn’t compete with the best of the men.” In conclusion the accomplished driver is proud that the best horse she drove was Irish bred. Stormy Reveller was by Liam Wallace’s grey Young Commander out of Bobby Hanson’s Springhill Sheba. Brenda goes a bit coy when asked about the subject of retirement. “Kelly (her daughter, actually an actress) says that I’ve said every year for five years that this will be my last.” Brenda laughed. “I was hoping that Kick On would let me go out with a bang, but it wasn’t meant to be.” While Brenda probably thinks she can go on for ever, it is interesting to hear her talk about life after the sulky seat. “I would love to get involved with the integrity side,” Brenda said. “and also, horse welfare.” The Irish Harness Racing Association have that rarest of things now before them, a steward with top level experience – just waiting to be asked. In the short term if there are any harness racing owners out there (old or new to the game) looking for a sympathetic pair of hands for a promising trotter… What a story that would make this summer. By Dan Carlin, for The Irish Field This article was first published on www.theirishfield.ie

Harness racing

Maitha Buachaill takes All Ireland Championship

WEST CORK, IR - Maitha Buachaill claimed the 2018 All Ireland Road Trotting Championship before the biggest crowd seen at Skibbereen in many years on Sunday. With the defection of Rhyds Ponder due to injury the winner was a warm order in the betting ring. Fair Enough and Saunders Paris set the early fractions with Fair Enough making the opening two turns in front. At the second turn Saunders Paris got a poor turn as did Tactician Du Lys. Heading for the final turn it was a three way battle up front between Paris Buachaill and Fair Enough. Off The final turn Fair Enough was just in front and looked to be a winner . Entering the final furlong the three runners were as one stretched across the tarmac and it was Maitha Buachaill who edged to the front to win by two lengths from Saunders Paris with Fair Enough two lengths back in third . The crowds flocked onto the road to applaud all the horses who gave their all in a classic renewal of the race. Joint owner Ger Hegarty was carried shoulder high as was jockey Jamie Hurley. "Since I was a boy I dreamed of this day and winning the All Ireland, Today the dream came through. It was a team effort by winning jockey James Hurley (co owner) and all the Hurley family. We will enjoy tonight and the ride back home In Lyre." added Hegarty in the winners enclosure. Deirdre Goggin, jockey on runner up Saunders Paris commented. "She gave her all but to be fair we were beaten by the better horse on the day." Jamie Hurley rode two winners on the afternoon, having earlier guided Hillside Aurelius to victory in the Grade E . Shanes Income took the opening Novice Pace. Anthony McCarthy was in the plate and the pair ran out easy winners. Sunnyside Kildare returned to winning ways in the Grade D. Timmy O'Leary waited with this son of Bear Dance, taking up the running at the final turn and ran out a four length winner. Rhyds Dilemma gave a polished performance in the Grade B & C .Hillside Mustang led for most of the contest but was reeled in by the winner with three furlogs remaining and won going away. The Skibbbereen committee must be complimented for hosting the event and were blessed with fine weather and a bumper crowd. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS Race 1: Novice Trot. 1st: Shanes Income, A Mc Carthy. 2nd: Moorside Captain, T O' Leary. 3rd: Kentucky Finale, D. Goggin. Race 2: Grade B & C Combined. 1st: Rhyds Dilemma, D. Goggin. 2nd: Hillside Mustang, J Healy. 3rd: Meadowbranch Romeo, T O' Leary. Race 3: Grade D Trot. 1st: Sunnyside Kildare, T O' Leary. 2nd: IB Tweedy, J. Hurley. 3rd: Gadgie Pan, D. Goggin. Race 4: Grade E Trot. 1st: Hillside Aurelius, J. Hurley. 2nd: Blackfield Jennie, J. Healy. 3rd: Fairdays Bret, A. Mc Carthy. Race 5: All Ireland Saddle. 1st: Maitha Buachaill, J. Hurley. 2nd: Saunders Paris, D. Goggin. 3rd: Fair Enough, M. O' Reilly. 4th: Tactician Du Lys, T. O' Leary      

Legislation proposing a ban on “sulky” racing on Irish public roads, and tighter regulation on use of horses where races are regulated is due to be introduced in the Dáil this week by Independent TD Mattie McGrath. A sulky is an unprotected, lightweight cart, which is usually drawn by a horse. Unofficial sulky harness races on public roads are popular among the Travelling community. Mr McGrath said he move was in response to evidence of increasing number of collisions on Irish roads involving sulkies and associated injuries to members of the public; the number of horses being killed or having to be destroyed as a consequence, and related animal welfare issues. The Bill would strengthen existing Garda and local authority powers, while those found in breach of the law could face a €5,000 fine or imprisonment. “My main concern is public safety,” Mr McGrath told The Irish Times. “I’m inundated by calls from constituents who are concerned after meeting sulkies on the roads every day.” There were particularly prevalent on the main Cork-Limerick road and on the “old N8” in Co Tipperary which was quieter because of traffic using the motorway network, he said, while he was aware of regular racing every fortnight with betting in his constituency. He has written to the Turf Club calling on it to establish proper tracks for regulated racing. In October, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten agreed there was a need for tighter control of illegal sulky racing on public roads. He favoured the introduction of new bye-laws. Mr McGrath said he was mindful of the circumstances leading to the death of 12-year-old boy who was killed in February 2016 when thrown under a truck in a sulky accident. At an inquest into the boy’s death this month a jury recommended the introduction of laws to regulate sulky use, specifically their use on public roads. The family of Sean Doyle, who was killed in Clondalkin, Co Dublin, said they hoped new regulations could prevent further loss of life. At the inquest, PSV inspector Garda David O’Brien described the sulky as a man-made cart on a tubular steel axle with no seatbelts or side-guards. “It’s not a vehicle that should be used on a public highway,” he said. Mr McGrath acknowledged some people will claim he is being anti-Traveller in seeking a ban, but his motivation was from “a public safety and animal welfare point of view”. Racing horses on hard surfaces was a form of cruelty, he said. While his Prohibition of Sulky Racing Bill 2017 was due before the Dáil, there was little indication of the extent of cross-party support for it, he added. The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals last year called for a ban on sulky racing on Irish roads. It acknowledged races in some cases were being staged at official tracks. “However, many illegal races take place on public roads. Sulky racing is regulated in other countries and carried out on safe off-road tracks, which does happen in Dundalk occasionally. We would like to see sulky racing banned from the roads, and the gardaí have sufficient powers to do that under road traffic legislation,” an ISPCA spokesman said. “Another element we want to see is ‘licence and registration’ taken more seriously. If sulkies are going to be on the roads then a way must be found to have some registration,” he added. “In other countries sulky racing can be carried out in a more controlled environment. It only seems to be here in Ireland that we have this problem. Our main concern with sulky racing is the training of the younger horses, they are training them far too young and the horse’s muscles and joints have not fully developed,” he said. Two serious accidents occurred in Co Kilkenny last August where the horses had to be destroyed. Members of the Traveller community in July 2017 began a drive to promote the mental health benefits of horse ownership and underlined its importance within their culture. Up to 20 sulkies assembled on Cahir bypass in Co Tipperary for the “Drive for Hope and Change”, which was also organised to highlight the problem of suicide among Travellers. Martin Collins, a co-director with the Traveller rights group Pavee Point, said there was need for “greater regulation” in the area of sulky racing. “Many Travelling organisations at a local level have been endeavouring for this for years,” he said. “The fundamental point I want to make here is that there is a gross inequity in terms of Government policy on what sports get funded,” he added. “I think it’s unfair that about €64 million per year is pumped into Horse Racing Irelandand a sport Travellers are interested in doesn’t get a look in.” Galway Co Council has banned sulky racing at Ballinalsloe October Fair because of “health and safety issues allied to insurance liability concerns, and the views of animal rights groups”. By Kevin O'Sullivan Reprinted with permission of The Irish Times

WEST CORK, IR - Road trotting fans from all over Ireland and The UK are set to flock to The famous "Marsh Road" on the outskirts of Skibbereen for the 2018 renewal of The All Ireland Road Trotting Championships this Sunday, January 28. The local committee are pushing the boat out this year with the annual "Memorial Day" hosting road trottings biggest prize The "All Ireland". Along with the purse of €1800, the winning connections will carry away The Tim "Cooper" Kelleher Memorial Trophy in memory of the founder of the Kelleher Racing Stables and "Cooper" was one of the leading bookmakers in harness racing before his untimely death in 1995 . This years renewal has attracted entries and below is a guide to their form MAITHA BUACHAILL Is the oldest horse in the race .A former multiple winner on turf and track has taken to the tarmac code and last year won five of his six starts . A winner in Drimoleague he finished second In Durrus before returning to winning ways in Ballygurteen . He is jointly owned by Ger Hegarty (Owner of the splendid Lyre Raceway home of the Red John Memorial ) and James Hurley who also trains him . Jamie Hurley is his tried and trusted Jockey and will start as favorite. RHYDS PONDER Is the arch rival of Maitha Buachaill and their battles both this season and in 2017 will go down in the folklore of this sport which is unique to West Cork.He finished second in Drimoleague and came out on top in Durrus and finished third in Ballygurteen . With usual jockey Deirdre Goggin riding Saunders Paris no confirmation of who will take the ride for owner /Trainer Ned Forbes. Loves to be in front and the Marsh Road holds no prisoners with a slight uphill pull to the finish can he last out . TACTICIAN DU LYS This French Bred trotter has been a consistent type last year but seemed to loose his way at the start of this year but put that behind him last time in Ballygurteen only finishing two lengths behind Maitha Buachaill. The tough two mile trip in Skibb will suit this imposing type who is owned by Ger Kane from County Meath and is trained by Jeremiah O Mahony in Dunmanway."Cool Hands" Timmy O Leary gets the ride and if any of the leading lights were to falter he could be there to pick up the pieces SAUNDERS PARIS This regally bred filly has worked her way up the ranks and will take her chances against the "big guns" for the first time .Deidre Goggin had the most difficult decision to come off Rhyds Ponder in favor of "Paris" but this filly is the apple in the eye of the Goggin family from Goleen with her brother Micheal the owner and trainer. She loves the front and distance should not be an issue as she won in Ballygurteen over the maximum trip. Would be a popular winner FAIR ENOUGH Has been a revelation since joining Chris O Reillys yard from the Newtown Stud in October Second on his debut in Drimoleague he has recorded wins in Durrus and Ballygurteen albeit in lower grades .Will be having his first run over two miles but seems to have the staying power and may be the one to upset the big names .Matthew O reilly will take the ride Cups to honor Jack Pat Collins , Pat Hurley, Martin and Joe Bennett, Gerald Collins and Paddy & Jason Kane will be on offer for winners of the other four races on the day. First race takes place at 2:30 pm. Details on www.harnessracingcork.com by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink

WEST CORK, IR - The annual Memorial Day harness racing meet in Skibbereen has proved one of the biggest meeting on the Winter Road Trotting Circuit and this year the event takes on an even bigger significance as the famous Marsh Road venue on the outskirts of "Skibb" will host the 2108 All Ireland Road Trotting Championships the blue riband of the Road Racing season. Committee member Donal Murphy takes up the story. "Memorial Day here in Skibbereen has always had a high profile and this year we felt that staging the All Ireland would further enhance this great meeting. So an application was made to the governing body and our request was granted." Murphy said. "The Marsh Road has always been a venue to attract the crowds and the annual influx of harness racing fans from Dublin ,Scotland ,Wales and the UK has added a real international flavor to the day . To be fair we have a great committee here and our sponsors are loyal to us."added Murphy. The talk all season has been the meetings of Maitha Buachaill and Rhyds Ponder and last week Tactician Du Lys came between the two arch rivals in his best run so far this year. The emergance of Saunders Paris and a real contender has really wet the appetites of followers of this sport which is unique to West Cork . Entries for the classic close next Sunday night at 9:00 pm and there will be a full preview early next week by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink      

Oakwood Stud in County Offaly, Ireland has reported that semen from their top harness racing pacing stallion, Foreclosure N, will be made available in Australia and New Zealand shortly. Kody Charles of KTC Bloodstock in Perth, Australia has been friends via Facebook with Derek and James Delaney of Oakwood Stud for years and they finally met face-to-face in 2015. "When we first got Foreclosure N in Ireland," Derek Delaney explained, "Kody contacted me to say he has his dam in Australia and he had a keen interest in him and had followed his success as a sire in the USA. He asked about shipping his frozen semen to use for some of his mares and we stuck a deal to also make it available for outside mares too." This will be the first time that KTC Bloodstock, which is run by Kody with his mom and dad and Brittany, have been involved with shipping semen overseas and they are very excited to see his foals on the ground next year in Australia and New Zealand. "This is a new venture for KTC Bloodstock," said Kody Charles. "We are very pleased to be selected as Agent for the frozen semen of Foreclosure in Australia and New Zealand. "It has been a dream of ours for some time to get involved in a stallion, Kody explained. "and I can't think of no better stallion to get involved in at our first attempt. He is already competing with the best in the states and already has the points on the board from his first small crop. I think he will a big plus for local breeders. He will be supported by our own mares and frozen semen will be available in Australia and New Zealand for a fee of $2,500 including GST." Foreclosure N, (Rocknroll Hanover - Pleasing Package A - Fake Left) was bred in USA and foaled in NZ, then shipped back to USA as yearling, raced in the USA and Canada, then bred one crop with 21 foals in the USA. His oldest foals are now age 4 and have earned over $1 million through their three-year-old season. He finished 6th on the top 20 sires for average earnings for three-year-old pacers in 2017 and sired the Ohio Sire Stakes Championship winner, Drunk On Your Love p,3 1:51.1f. He was also recently honored as the top Ohio-bred 3-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the year in 2017 and earned $328,286 to date. Foreclosure N's richest daughter is Rosemary Rose p,3 1:51.4h $255,692, and holds the track record for 3-year-old fillies at Northfield Park with her record mile of 1:51.4 and won multiple legs of the OHSS and won the Grand Circuit event, the Courageous Lady. World renowned driver Tim Tetrick had this to say about Foreclosure N: "I think this stallion has a very good opportunity at stud," Tetrick said. "He is already having fantastic results from a small crop in the USA. I really liked him as a racehorse. He was a real professional on the track that tried hard every inch of the mile. He had a great gait with a great attitude and really wanted to do his work and was one super-fast horse." Foreclosure N was sold to Oakwood Stud in 2015 and bred mares in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England and now is going to be breeding foals in Australia and New Zealand, so it's fair to say he's well-travelled once again in his career. "Our first crop here in Ireland from Foreclosure N are now 2," Derek Delaney said. "and in training they look superb and the feedback from trainers is phenomenal at this early stage." For more information about getting semen down under for Foreclosure N, please contact either Oakwood Stud at www.oakwoodstud.ie or KTC Bloodstock at www.ktcbloodstock.com.au. By Steve Wolf, for Oakwood Stud      

WEST CORK, IR - Van Helsing with was a popular winner of the Grade E Pace at the annual Ballygurteen Road Trotting races on Sunday. The race produced the best finish of the five race program with four horses crossing the line in a blanket finish. Hillside Aurelius, who was having his first outing in the grade, led early in this mile contest .Turning for home Van Helsing and Fairdays Bret joined the leader and in a sprint to the line Van Helsing got the nod by half a length. This was a real family occasion with the winner bred by Paddy O'Brien from Schull and is owned and trained by his son Micheal and ridden by another son Patrick. "He got a slight knock in Drimoleague which meant he missed Durrus but was spot on for today, " added Micheal O'Brien in the post race media briefing. Maitha Buachaill and Rhyds Ponder went "at it again" in the top grade pace and this time the pendulum swung the way of Maitha Buachaill. Rhyds Ponder set the early fractions with the winner never more than a length in arrears .At The final turn the two big guns were joined by Tactician Du Lys and with all guns blazing the trio were spread across the road. Entering the last eighth Maitha Buachaill just got the upper hand and led home Tactician Du Lys by a length with Rhyds Ponder another length third. "He gets bone lazy in front so i had to bide my time before going to the front," said winning jockey Jamie Hurley. Saunders Paris continued her unbeaten run in the Grade B & C with a facile win.This was her first run over the maximum two mile trip and finished strong and Deidre Goggin played down the hype about her running against the big guns in Grade A. "We cant be but happy with her first time over the distance and look Ponder and Buachaill are another matter completely," said Goggin, whose cheeky smile couldnt hide her delight. Fair Enough took out a competitive Grade D pace. Sunnyside Kildare was the punters choice in his first outing in Grade D and his cause wasnt helped by a bad first turn. But to be fair Matthew O'Reilly was never in danger on the winner eventually seeing off "Kildare" by two lengths. "I bought him out of the Newtown Stud in Dublin and he had a few small niggles, but I think we have him in the right frame now," said owner Chris O'Reilly, who dove a winner at Pompano Park Florida in 2016. Shanes Income has been knocking at the door in the Novice grade for the last few days and finally got the win he deserved today. The son of Earned Income led from start to finish and was not for catching. The Big Skibbereen Memorial Day is next on the circuit on Sunday 28th January and this meeting attracts a large infux of visitors from Dublin,.Scotland, Wales and The UK. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink Details of entries on www.harnessracingcork.com RESULTS NOVICE PACE 1st McCarthy/Daly SHANES INCOME A McCarthy 2nd Kane / Crowley / O Mahony MOORSIDE CAPTAIN T O Leary 3rd D McCarthy KENTUCKY FINALE D Goggin DIST 8L 10L 3 Ran GRADE E PACE (The Denis Dullea Memorial Cup) 1st M O'Brien VAN HELSING P O'Brien 2nd D McCarthy FAIRDAYS BRET A McCarthy 3rd L O'Brien HILLSIDE AURELIUS J Hurley DIST 1/2L 1/2L 5 Ran GRADE D (The Jeremiah Keohane Memorial Cup) 1st C O'Reilly FAIR ENOUGH M O'Reilly 2nd S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE T O'Leary 3rd Cuigear Racing HILLSIDE MUSTANG J Healy DIST 2L 4L 6 Ran GRADE B & C (The William O Sullivan Memorial Cup) 1st M Goggin Jnr SAUNDERS PARIS D Goggin 2nd D McCarthy RHYDS DILEMMA A McCarthy 3rd G Cooke MEADOWBRANCH ROMEO M O'Reilly DIST 10L 1L 3 Ran GRADE A (The Paddy Keohane Memorial Cup) 1st Hegarty / Hurley MAITHA BUACHAILL J Hurley 2nd G Kane TACTICIAN DU LYS T O'Leary 3rd N Forbes RHYDS PONDER D Goggin DIST 1L 1L 3 Ran  

WEST CORK, IR - Only a few hours into the new year and there was more fireworks at the annual New Years Day harness racing fixture in Durrus . All last season the meetings of Rhyds Ponder and Maitha Buachaill have proved the talking point on all race goers lips and on Monday they served up another classic to rival any of their previous meetings.  Both horses took turns at leading which normally has Rhyds Ponder as the pace setter.  Coming off the final turn, Maitha Buachaill had Rhyds Ponder in his sights, and took up the mantle and looked a winner in the final 200 yards, but Deirdre Goggin had one more effort on Ponder and overtook the winner to win by two lengths . Like all personal duels the talk already is of another rematch in Ballygurteen on Jan 14th. This was the second leg of a riding double for Deirdre Goggin, who earlier in the afternoon combined with her brother Micheal to land the Grade B & C aboard Saunders Paris.  This impeccably bred filly is the apple in the eye of the Goggin family and led home Lakeview Walter and the  die hards of racing were even talking about the possibility of Saunders Paris meeting "The Big Two" later in the year.  Sunnyside Kildare and Hillside Aurelius both winners in Drimoleague both contiued their winning runs. Hillside Aurelius made every yard of the Novice contest over a mile and led home Shanes Income and newcomer Kentucky Finale. Sunnyside Kildare was a warm order favorite in the betting ring and gave the odds on punters a small fright winning in a blanket finish in the Grade E contest .as always "Cool Hands"Timmy O'Leary was in the winning seat .  Fair Enough who finished second on his first run on tarmac in Drimoleague went one better today taking out an ultra competitive Grade D. Matthew O'Reilly had Fair Enough always near the front and hit the front in the final two furlongs to win by six lengths. Fair Enough looks like a shrewd buy for owner Chris O Reilly (cousin of the winning jockey) who purchased him out of the Newtown Stud in October. Sunday 14th January the action moves to Ballygurteen  Details on www.harnessracingcork.com  by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS  GRADE A (The Timmy Daly Memorial Cup) N Forbes RHYDS PONDER D Goggin  Hegarty / Hurley MAITHA BUACHAILL J Hurley  G Kane TACTICIAN DU LYS T O Leary  DIST 3L Dist 3 Ran  GRADE B & C (The PJ Barry Memorial Cup & Cottage Tables Cup) M Goggin Jnr SAUNDERS PARIS D Goggin  R Joyce LAKEVIEW WALTER M O Reilly  D McCarthy RHYDS DILEMMA A McCarthy  DIST 8L 2L 3 Ran GRADE D (The John O Sullivan Memorial Cup) C O Reilly FAIR ENOUGH M O Reilly Cuigear Racing HILLSIDE MUSTANG J Healy One For the Road Syn IB TWEEDY J Hurley DIST 6L 2L  6 Ran  GRADE E (The Charles Cremin & Jack Connolly Memorial Cup) S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE T O Leary D McCarthy ON THE OTHER SIDE D Goggin  D McCarthy FAIRDAYS BRET A McCarthy  DIST 1L 1/2L 4 Ran  NOVICE (The Jan Goregrimes Memorial Cup) L O Brien HILLSIDE AURELIUS J Hurley McCarthy / Daly SHANES INCOME A McCarthy  D McCarthy KENTUCKY FINALE D Goggin  DIST 6L 10L 3 Ran     

Looking back on Mid Wales trotting during 2017 one inevitably thinks of the weather, which generally provided good conditions for racing, it was a little dry early on, but the showers in the latter part of the season helped the tracks provide some wonderfully competitive harness racing. As usual the season began on the all weather track at Amman Valley with two meetings a fortnight apart, the prestigious Llangadog meeting has provided the opening meeting of the season for generations and still retains the atmosphere of anticipation for the start of racing. The winner of the very first race of the season was Greenhill Lillian (Thomas, Rhymney) in the nursery when she clocked up an excellent time which that day was only beaten by the open horses. We should have taken notice then, that this was a mare to watch. After a few outings in May and June it was July before she got into her stride to win five races in three weeks including, Aberystwyth, Caersws, the STAGBI mares’ free for all and completing the series by winning Novice heat and final at Penybont along with two wins on her final appearance of the year she secured the Mathew Tromans cup for the most improved horse. Also she had third place in the junior President’s cup and ninth in the prizewinners’ list winning over one thousand pounds in just 12 starts. This homebred five year old looks all set to reach racing heights. The President’s cup for junior horses was dominated by five year old mares, Rhyds Panalulah (Gething, Ewyas Harold) was second while the hard working Turn the Paige (Miles, Merthyr) secured the trophy. The President’s cup for the open horses was won by the top money winner for the season Chinatown Kolt (Jones, Llanllwni) on his first season with Mid Wales racing, he claimed £2,230 from 30 starts, his first success came at Knighton races, the first grass meeting of the season, he kept up the Hitchcock stable tradition and took heat and final at Penybont this helped secure the title of people’s favourite for the year. Second in the President’s cup was the stunning Ayr Ontario (Weigel, Llanddewi Velfrey) he won the Presteigne grade B final along with several others, and in third place was Lakeside Pan (Elder, New Quay) he was another horse winning at the first meeting in May, as well as the prestigious Talgarreg meeting, the Ammanford free for all in July as well as several heats, despite his handicap going back to fifty yards for this he was awarded the Terry Boxhall Memorial cup for outstanding performance. Pan was also third in the winners list with £2,030 to his credit. Ithon Inmate (Price, Brecon) didn’t collect any silverware at the annual awards, but he was again in the list of the top prizewinners with over two thousand pounds and 8 wins to celebrate. Rebus (Thomas, Rhymney) a little horse who proved to have a big heart was fourth in the prizemoney stakes winning over £1,500 he had to play second fiddle to Chinatown Kolt at Penybont but at the Llandrindod meeting a couple of weeks later he took heat and final. He finished the season with 6 wins one of which was his first saddle with daughter Lucy in the plate. Fold the Notes (Perks, Presteigne) is a well named horse, he took the Kington grade B heat & final as well as the Caersws B final with two saddle wins, one at Penybont and one at Almeley he and partner Rebecca Williams have shown great adaptability to clock up 6 wins and £1,225 and now transfers into the Grade A. George Gentle began the season in the Novice division and with four wins on the trot, he also won the Grade B final at Old Radnor races and finished the season with £1,045 in the pot. No Mercy (Weigel, Llanddewi Velfrey) hung up his harness at the end of the season after another good year when he retained his title as saddle horse of the year partnered as always by Jayne Bevan from Llanddewi who retained the leading jockey title. Alongside his saddle success he claimed wins at Ammanford and the A final at Talsarn, his total prizemoney for the year was £1,030. Chinatown Samuel (Moorhouse, Llandinam) was another horse who joined us this year, on only his second outing he won the Talgarreg Novice final this graduating him into open company. Although he enjoyed a couple of heat wins it wasn’t until the Llandrindod meeting on August Bank Holiday Monday that he secured his second final win, this making his season’s total £1,025. The Bold Jack tenth in the list of winners of over one thousand pounds prize money changed hands in the closed season. His new owner young Jonny James from Dorstone rejuvenated the horse, winning the B finals at Ludlow and Aberystwyth as well as a heat at Penybont, unfortunately he picked up an injury and his season was cut short, otherwise what stats would he have lodged? Second to Jayne Bevan in the saddle jockey championship was Rebecca Williams from Ludlow where she claimed saddle wins on Fold the Notes (Perks, Presteigne) and her own Nia Patrol. In the main drivers championship it was Mel Langford from Onibury who beat all comers winning 22 races and being placed 38 times. The horses which provided most of her wins were Chinatown Samuel (Moorhouse, Llandinam) Evenwood Thumps Up (Lewis, Llanbister) with a tally of 8 wins and Ayr Hero (Bevan, Llanddewi) who won the Aberystwyth A final. Second in the lady drivers’ championship with 14 wins, was Rebecca Williams showing she is just as happy in the saddle or on the sulky, most of her driven wins were with Fold the Notes and Ithon Hannah both belonging to the Perks family from Presteigne, and in third place was Janet Thomas from Tregroes with 11 wins most of them coming from Turn the Paige (Miles, Merthyr) and her own Hyar Temptation. The male drivers’ championship was won by Mathew Tromans with 22 wins and 15 places most of these wins came from Habberley Playboy (Johns & Gittins, Shrewsbury) Lakeview Meg (Atherton-Rees, Narberth) Made in Wales (Evans, Red Roses) and Meadowland Olympic (Evans, Newcastle Emlyn). Runner up in the drivers’ championship for the men was Derek Pritchard from Rhosgoch with 21 wins many with the iconic Ithon Inmate (Price, Brecon) while Rhyds Panalulah and Cool Ice both from the Gething stable at Ewyas Harold added to his total. Mark Evans from Brecon was third with 16 wins, his most successful drives coming with Greenhill Lillian and Rebus from the Thomas stable at Rhymney as well as his own Ook whos coming. The junior driver/rider championship was keenly contested again this year with the title going to Ellie Tromans from Newcastle Emlyn several of her wins were on Habberley Playboy (Johns & Gittins, Shrewsbury) so father and daughter enjoyed a double celebration of their respective drivers’ championship. Second in the junior was Rachel Bevan-Thomas who enjoyed 4 wins while cousins, Josie Duggan (Howey) and Issy John (Llangunllo) shared third position with one win and one second each. Time marches on, the horses have been turned out for a well-earned rest, while owners, trainers and drivers begin to plan their 2018 campaign. Reflections on 2017 turn into expectations for 2018. Soon it will be spring, horses will be brought back into training ready to start next season at the beginning of May, the sporting cycle continues as it has done for generations in this traditional equine activity of Mid Wales. By Maureen Lloyd Reprinted with permission of The Brecon and Rodnor Express

WEST CORK, IRE - The 2018 Winter Road Racing season got underway at Drimoleague on St Stephens Day and despite terrible weather conditions there was some good finishes in the five-race card. Jamie Hurley who was champion jockey in 2017 kicked off the new season with two winners. Maitha Buachaill and Rhyds Ponder were arch rivals all last year and the rivalry continued in the Grade A & B. This time Maitha Buachaill got the verdict leading home Rhyds Ponder by two lengths with Tactician Du Lys a further ten lengths third. This gave Jamie Hurley his second win of the afternoon having earlier teaming up with newcomer Hillside Aurelius in the Novice Pace who led home On The Other Side by six lengths. The winner is owned by Liam O’Brien. Another Hillside Farm bred Hillside Mustang took the Grade D. This was the best finish of the day with Fair Enough and Hillside Mustang battling out a driving finish with Mustang prevailing by a neck. Sunnyside Kildare a former multiple track winner made his debut on tarmac a winning one leading from start to finish in the Grade E. Timmy O’Leary was in the plate for owner Sean Buckley. Saunders Paris notched up another win in the Grade C and Deirdre Goggin teamed up with this one who is owned and trained by her brother Micheal. New Years Day action moves to Durrus with another five-race program. Check www.harnessracingcork.com for details of entries. By Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS GRADE A & B (The Tommy McCarthy Memorial Cup) Hegarty/Hurley MAITHA BUACHAILL J Hurley N Forbes RHYDS PONDER D Goggin G Kane TACTICIAN DU LYS T O’Leary DIST 2l 10l 3 Ran   GRADE C (The Joe O Sullivan Cup) M Goggin SAUNDERS PARIS D Goggin D McCarthy RHYDS DILEMMA A McCarthy J O Sullivan HILLSIDE DARTANIAN M O’Reilly DIST 5l 2l 3 Ran GRADE D Cuigear Racing HILLSIDE MUSTANG J Healy C O Reilly FAIR ENOUGH M O’Reilly N Forbes GADGIE PAN D Goggin  DIST NK 4l 5 Ran GRADE E S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE T O’Leary H Kelleher BLACKFIELD JENNY J Healy M O Donovan MR SECURITY J Hurley DIST 2l 4l 4 Ra NOVICE L O Brien HILLSIDE AURELIUS J Hurley D McCarthy ON THE OTHER SIDE D’Goggin J O Mahony EDERLEZI T O’Leary DIST 4l 6l 5 Ran

Harnesslink would like to wish all our harness racing readers a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.   As the year comes to a close, Harnesslink can reflect on another successful twelve months in reporting on and airing the issues that matter if Harness Racing is to have a successful and sustainable future. We thank our visitors for their continued support and we pledge to work as hard again in 2018 to keep the Harnesslink site at the high level at which it presently operates. Safe travels and Merry Christmas    Management and staff at Harnesslink.

England, UK - Today, Friday 8th December, sees the official launch of a new organisation set to work towards securing the future of racing in the UK. The British Harness Racing Development Fund (BHRDF), founded by Coalford Stud's Joseph Maw, seeks to generate sufficient funding to purchase a suitable piece of land for the development of a half mile hard track in a central location for the benefit of all BHRC licence holders to race on in 2019. In a statement to be published in the British Harness Racing Club's (BHRC) membership calendar, the BHRDF describes the present situation as follows: "British harness racing is currently at its lowest ebb; we are at rock bottom and if we continue on our current path then harness racing will cease to exist in Britain in the not so distant future. Over the last 10 years the fixture list has been reduced dramatically. The main reason? The sport's two main facilities (York Harness Raceway & Tir Prince Raceway) are owned/operated by private individuals who, for various reasons, choose not to operate a regular weekly fixture list and can take the venues away at any time (York Harness Raceway is currently for sale). Corbiewood Stadium has been purchased for development and is currently rented for each racing season, thus making it inadequate for the future development of harness racing. Tai'r Gwaith (Amman Valley) also does not operate a regular weekly fixture list. There is absolutely no sense in buying, owning, breeding, training, racing and investing in Standardbreds if we do not have regular all-weather facilities where we can race them. No sense whatsoever. The only people who can save this sport are ourselves." Under the tagline 'Save our sport - back this plan', the BHRDF has set out a detailed action plan to raise the much-needed funding to proceed with the plan to purchase land and build an all-weather track. A steering committee, featuring 15 of the UK's leading breeders, owners, trainers, drivers and commentators, has been formed to forge ahead with this plan with the full backing of the country's harness racing governing body, the BHRC. In addition to money pledged by members of the steering committee, licence holders will be asked to pay an annual membership to the fund which, further down the line, will reward them with certain benefits once the track is up and running and give them stakeholder status. The message is that this will be a track run by the members, for the members, and will secure the future of harness racing in the UK. In conjunction with the official launch of the Development Fund, a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BHRDevelopmentFund) has been set up which will feature regular updates on the progress of the steering committee. Another key feature of the organisation is transparency, and the committee wishes to keep interested parties up to date via an easily accessible platform. Finally, the BHRDF has set up a GoFundMe account (https://funds.gofundme.com/dashboard/britannia-parklets-make-it-happen) and it is hoped that harness racing enthusiasts from every corner of the earth will hear their plight - UK harness racing has an enthusiastic and unique array of participants and this may well be our last chance at saving this wonderful sport on our shores before it is too late. by Sarah Thomas, for the BHRCF  

WEST CORK, IE - The dates for the 2018 Red John Memorial Festival of Harness Racing in Lyre ,Clonakilty West Cork were released this week. Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th of June have been chosen for the 4th running of the event which honors the late "Red" John O Donovan from Leap who tragically passed away in Janurary 2015. From humble beginings the festival has grown to become the biggest turf meetings in Ireland and the UK. In 2017 the meeting moved from Manch to Lyre approx 5km from the bustling town of Clonakilty . Caroline Collins of the RJM committee takes up the story. " In 2015 and 2016 we raced in Manch but due to farming of the venue we could only avail of around 1/3 of the field," Collins explained. "and with Bill Donovan, a leading owner in the USA coming on board as our major sponsor, we felt we needed a bigger venue. James Hurley and Donal Murphy came to us saying that a venue in Lyre would be worth looking at and Ger Hegarty who owns the high quality dairy farm where the track is located was willing to allow us use the venue. "This year the event grew beyond our expectations with massive crowds flocking to the meeting." Collins said. "When the dust settled we began planning for 2018.To be fair Ger Hegarty was anxious to improve the track and remedial works have been carried out to get a few "bumps" out of the track. "As the venue is a top class dairy farm we looked at the dates and came up with mid June as the best possible date. "June is traditionally a month when there is no big clashes with other festival meetings and the weather is more predictable at that time aswell. "People say you learn from your mistakes and we as a committee set very high standards to ensure we can offer the best to all who attend . "We sat down and ironed out the mistakes and look ahead with real excitement. "2018 will again see The Maven Trotting Derby and the Red John Memorial Pace as our main events . "One issue that struck us was that we needed to accomadate as many pacers as possible so this year we are along with The Red John Memorial we are having a Low Grade handicap for pacers. This ensures that every pacer can have a crack at the big prizes on offer . "Again there will be three sustaining payments for The Maven and RJM . "We will be posting details of payment dates over the next few weeks." Collins concluded. So its all systems go for the 2018 Red John Memorial Festival, June 16th and 17th are dates for your calender. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink  

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