Tina Sugarman, author of one of the top equine novels of 2016-2017, Horse Flesh, has agreed to share excerpts of her book with Harnesslink. Horse Flesh is a thriller mystery fiction novel based around a Standardbred racetrack in Ontario, Canada. It is the first novel ever penned by horsewoman, Tina Sugarman. Each week, Harnesslink will feature an excerpt from Horse Flesh. If you wish to purchase the book either in paperback or ereader formats, click here. Here is this week’s 5th excerpt from Horse Flesh! Horse Flesh by Tina Sugarman TCO2 The next day Director Al McTavish was driving into Iroquois Downs listening to the local radio, when he heard some worrying news. “This is your local station with today’s news and weather at the top of the hour. A single car accident occurred on the Indian Trail last night. From the skid marks on the tarmac, police believe the driver lost control of his car and left the road. The car ended up in a cornfield. The vehicle is registered in the name of Theo Vettore, leading driver at Iroquois Downs Raceway. We understand Mr. Vettore was unhurt, though suffering from a few scrapes and bruises…” Al McTavish switched off the radio. He’d heard enough. Another piece of bad publicity for the racetrack. That’s all I need, he thought, as he pulled into Iroquois Downs’ empty parking lot. The sky had cleared overnight and the only evidence of the storm was the pools of water lying on the asphalt, steaming in the morning sun. It was going to be another hot day. After shuffling papers for a couple of hours, Al rode the elevator to the judge’s office on the seventh floor. “Got any news for me yet, John?” he asked, peering through the doorway. From the look on Judge Jewells’ face, Al surmised the news wasn’t good. He went and perched himself awkwardly on the only other chair in the room, the so-called prisoner’s chair. That was where horsemen accused of wrong doing sat, facing Judge Jewells on his leather throne. “No evidence, had to let ’im go,” Jewells revealed, his mouth set in a virtual straight line. So, Dave Bodinski had got away with daylight robbery, Al thought. It was disappointing to say the least. His gaze strayed to the racetrack far below where a few lone horsemen were still exercising their horses. There was so much that needed changing, Al reflected, on so many fronts: the low handle, resulting in slashed purses, the lack of funds to fix the decaying buildings. There wasn’t a shred of commercialism in the entire enterprise. “What do we do now?” Al asked. “If you’re serious,” Jewells replied looking him in the eye, as if to gauge his fortitude, “then you gotta get rid of the baking soda boys!” “Baking soda!” Al laughed. “Is that all they’re using? It doesn’t sound so bad.” “Take it from me,” Jewells replied emphatically, “If you want to clean up racing around here, you have to put a stop to soda. It’s far too easy for the horsemen to cheat.” “So, you think those two mares last night…” Al said, catching on. “Must’ve had a huge dose of it, yes,” the judge nodded. “Take a look at their previous efforts,” he added with a grim smile, tossing over the previous night’s race program. “I never would have picked either of them to win if I was a betting man,” Al acknowledged, feeling a little bewildered. “Take a look at Jolie Dame,” the judge directed. “Proof positive.” Al frowned. “She’s from Quebec,” Jewells said, fixing Al with a penetrating stare. Wilting under Jewells’ stern gaze, Al wracked his brains. But he still had no idea what the judge meant. “They’ve got black box testing in Quebec,” Jewells said in an irritated tone, as if explaining that two and two equaled four. “Had it for a while, TCO2 scores are closely monitored. Stops the baking soda boys in their tracks.” “Ah,” Al said finally getting it. “So, you think Price gave Jolie Dame baking soda? You think that’s why she improved so much down here?” “Don’t think it, know it! Can’t do anything about it of course,” Jewells said with genuine regret. “Well, it seems to me, we’ll have to find a way to test for baking soda at Iroquois Downs,” Al replied, relieved that there was such a simple solution. “Not so fast! It’s not cheap. Where are you going to get the money? Besides there’ll be a lot of resistance from the horsemen.” “And?” Al prompted. “Good chance they’ll go on strike.” Al frowned. “Refuse to race,” Jewells clarified, assuming Al wasn’t keeping up. “A strike. That’s all I need,” Al groaned. What have I got myself into here? he wondered. But he didn’t intend to give up at the first hurdle. His good friend and longtime business associate Phil Harman had convinced him to take on this job knowing it would appeal to Al’s sense of justice and fair play. Phil was counting on him to clean up racing at Iroquois Downs and Al was determined not to let him down. “Leaving the money aside for now,” he began, ignoring Judge Jewells’ pursed lips, “I need your input on getting the trainers on board.” “Trainers!” the judge said contemptuously. “The winners are crooks and the losers haven’t figured out how to beat the system yet.” “Nevertheless,” Al argued, “we need to neutralize them if we’re going to be able to accomplish anything here. We can’t afford a strike. There’s little enough money as it is.” “Got any ideas?” the judge asked. “Not yet,” Al admitted. “How about you?” “None!” the judge replied sourly. And on that note Al departed. As he rode the elevator down to his office, he couldn’t help feeling a sneaking admiration for this Dave Bodinski character. Just sitting on that stool was enough to make a guy feel guilty and want to confess all. But Bodinski had faced Judge Jewells and come out of it smelling like a rose. In Al’s limited experience, horsemen were a pretty clever bunch. Anyone who didn’t take that into account would get nowhere with reforming a lost cause like Iroquois Downs. When he got back to his office, Al grabbed a cup of coffee and dialed McTavish Construction. Since his appointment as Director of Racing at Iroquois Downs, he had handed over the day to day running of his building company to his daughter, Billie. It still felt odd not to be there himself every morning. “Good morning, sir. I’ll put you through to Miss McTavish right away,” the operator said. “Dad!” Billie McTavish exclaimed. “I’m glad you called. I wanted to get your take on that housing development, the one on Appleby Line.” “There’s something I want you to do first,” Al said. “Okay,” she replied, a little unwillingly, he thought. “I need you to find out everything you can about baking soda.” “Baking soda?” Billie asked. “You baking a cake or something? You don’t ever cook!” When Al didn’t reply, her tone changed to one of concern, “Is your stomach bothering you, Dad?” “No! Nothing like that!” Al replied hastily. “Believe it or not they use it on horses. It stops them tying up.” “I’m not even going to try to go there,” Billie laughed. “Just tell me what you want to know, okay?” Al pictured her: the look of exasperation mingled with amusement on her face, the mane of brown wavy hair. “I want you to find out if there have been any studies about the effects of high levels of baking soda, adverse or otherwise, on racehorses,” he said. “Okay!” Billie replied immediately. She sounded like she couldn’t wait to get started now. “Plus,” he put in quickly before she could get off the line, “I need to know how you test for it and how much testing will cost.” “Fill me in here, Dad.” “They’re testing for soda in Quebec,” he explained. “Start from there. How soon can you get back to me on all this?” “If I google it,” Billie replied, “about an hour.” Al didn’t have any real understanding of how googling worked. Like the majority of his generation, he’d been reluctant to use the internet. However, he’d learned that in Billie’s hands at least, it produced excellent results. While he was waiting for his daughter to get back to him, he put in a call to Jim Mercer, one of the horsemen’s representatives, intending to feel him out on the baking soda issue. But all Mercer wanted to talk about was Theo Vettore’s accident the night before. “They made it sound like Vettore was out on a drunk,” Mercer retorted angrily, when Al introduced himself. “That’s a damn lie! Everyone knows what’s going on at the track! And what are you guys doing about it? Nothing!” When Al asked him to elaborate, Mercer got even hotter under the collar. “Don’t give me that!” he shouted. “Give you what?” Al replied feeling a little outraged himself. The guy wasn’t giving him a chance. “I haven’t got time for this!” Mercer muttered. He must have put the phone down, because all Al heard after that was a loud dial tone. ’Well, that went well,’ Al thought, gazing out of the window. It was so hot; the air was shimmering. The other rep, Bob Summers, was supposed to be the nice guy. But he wasn’t answering his phone. It looked like this job wasn’t going to be so easy. Then Billie called. “You’re not going to believe this!” she said exuberantly. “There’s a veterinarian doing a study, wait…here it is…a Doctor Jay Winterflood – that’s such a great name! – anyhow, he’s written a paper on the effects of sodium bicarbonate on the equine athlete…” “That’s…,” Al interrupted. “Baking soda, yes,” Billy confirmed. “Also, known as cooking soda, bicarbonate of soda, sodium hydrogen carbonate…or, if you want to get really technical, the chemical compound is NaH…” “Stop!” Al begged, his head spinning. “CO3,” Billie continued. “And listen to this. Doctor Winterflood is based right here in Erinsville…at the equine clinic!” That’s my girl, Al thought happily. “Perfect,” he said. “What’s wrong? You don’t sound very pleased,” she replied, her disappointment obvious. “Oh, I just got my head chewed off by someone,” he explained hastily. “Nothing to do with you, Billie. You did a great job. How about the cost?” “Of testing, you mean? I already asked Jeff. He’s got a lot of contacts in the States. He’ll be able to get us a good price,” she said, recovering somewhat. “Your friend Jeff Lamare,” Al smiled into the phone. “He’s got his fingers in so many pies!” “He’s a dotcom millionaire!” Billie corrected a little huffily. “And he’d be doing this as a favour to me, actually. It’s got nothing to do with his internet business.” Billie acted a bit like a porcupine at times – all prickles and humped back, Al reflected. But she was fiercely loyal to those she cared about and she’d never let him down yet. Did all fathers appreciate their daughters as much as he did? he wondered. His only disappointment was that neither of his sons had expressed any interest in taking over the family firm. However, Billie made up for both of them. “Thank him,” Al said humbly. “And Billie…” “Yes?” “The next meeting is in two weeks’ time.” “Okay,” she said doubtfully. She had the capacity to put a score of different meanings into that word. “I’d like to have everything ready to go by then.” “Okay!” she replied, suddenly business like. “Leave it with me, Dad. I’ll see what I can do.” The magic phrase, which nearly always brought results, had been uttered. Al leaned back in his chair and relaxed for the first time since Heart of Darkness’ humiliating defeat by two long shots the night before. After the weekend Al put in a call to Phil Harman to get a read on the political side of things. He had to leave a message on Phil’s answering machine. The next day, Phil called him back. “What’s up?” Phil asked. “How about I tell you over lunch at your favourite restaurant tomorrow?” Al suggested brightly. “No good. I got a lot on this week,” Phil replied. “How about next week then?” Al asked. “Sounds like a plan. Long as you’re paying, pal!” Phil laughed. The Australian girl was lying on the terrace of André Fontainbleu’s hilltop fortress, soaking up the sunshine. Other than a large pair of sunglasses, she was wearing only the briefest of bikinis. André Fontainbleu, whose dark brown eyes had never needed protection, even from the harsh Caribbean sun, was resting his hand on her bare belly, palm down, fingers outstretched, in a habitual gesture of possession, pleased to observe the bruising on her breasts, testimony to the violence of their love making, just hours before. The clinking of silverware and glass and the discreet scraping of chairs informed him that lunch was ready to be served. “Get dressed,” he said roughly, tossing a towel at the girl. “After we eat, we shall go to Bailey’s Boatyard!” She opened her eyes and stared up at him. The flicker of resentment was still there. It meant nothing. He was holding all the cards. That afternoon he showed her the boat he was offering her: a wreck that had cost him nothing, washed up on the shore like the girl herself, another consequence of the storm. Afterwards, he drove slowly back up the mountain to the Hermitage, which was his personal, private sanctuary, bought dearly with blood and tears (not his own, of course). “You can leave now if you wish,” he told her, the sun in his eyes reducing her to a dark silhouette. “Leave?” she asked, with no attempt to hide her surprise. “Why, yes,” he replied, sure of himself now, reading her easily. The combination of arousal and confusion, with just a soupçon of surrender, interested him. “What if…,” she asked, her voice breaking. “What if I was to stay?” She was so young, he thought without a trace of empathy. The weekend was already a week. But it was not convenient for him to take on any surplus baggage at present. Stay tuned in to Harnesslink every week for another excerpt from Horse Flesh!
WEST CORK, Ireland – The conditions and rules are posted for the Red John Memorial and the new Maven Trotters Derby that will be held August 19 and 20 in picturesque Cork. This special tribute to the late “Red” John O’Donovan in 2017 will see all records be broken with prize money in excess of €90,000. Horses competing in both events will be required to race in elimination heats Saturday, August 19 and then return Sunday, August 20 for the final. First nominations are due Monday, April 20. This year the Red John Memorial and the Maven Trotters Derby are being sponsored by USA’s Bill Donovan, the owner of the world champion mare Marven. For more information go to http://www.irishharnessracing.com/ . By Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink The conditions and rules for both races are below: RED JOHN MEMORIAL CONDITIONS 1. OPEN TO PACERS BORN ON OR BEFORE 2013 2. NOMINATION FEE €100 DUE BEFORE APRIL 20th FIRST SUSTAINING PAYMENT €100 DUE BEFORE MAY 20th FINAL SUSTAINING PAYMENT €100 DUE BEFORE JUNE 20th SUPPLEMENT FOR LATE ENTRIES €2000 3. TO BE RAN UNDER IHRA RULES 4. HEATS AND FINAL TO BE RAN OVER 1 1/4 MILES 5. A MAXIMUM OF 8 ELIMINATION HEATS WITH A MAXIMUM OF 8 RUNNERS IN EACH HEAT WILL BE HELD AND RAN AS PREFERRED HANDICAPS 6. FINAL TO HAVE EIGHT QUALIFIERS AND RAN AS A HANDICAP 7. HEATS TO START AT IHRA HANDICAP MARK GRADE F. ENTRIES WHO FALL OUTSIDE THE HANDICAP WILL BE FACILITATED IN OTHER RACES AND THEIR NOMINATION & SUSTAINING FEES RETURNED. 8. UK HORSES WILL HAVE THEIR BHRC MARK TRANSFERRED TO IHRA MARK 9. IN THE EVENT OF LESS THAN 8 HEATS ONE HORSE TO QUALIFY FROM EACH HEAT WITH THE REMAINING QUALIFIERS GOING TO THE FASTEST 2nd PLACED HORSES. 10. IN THE EVENT OF ANY HORSE WHO HAS QUALIFIED AND DOES NOT RUN IN FINAL NO REPLACEMENT HORSE ALLOWED 11. PURSE MONEY FOR FINAL €20,000 ELIMINATION HEATS €1600 (ESTIMATED) 12. DISTRIBUTION OF FINAL PURSE 1st €10,000 2nd €5,000 3rd €2,000 4th TO 8th €600 EACH DISTRIBUTION OF HEAT PURSES WILL DEPEND ON FINAL DECLARATIONS 13. CONSOLATION FINAL PURSE €5,000 SAME PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION AS FINAL 14. CONSOLATION FINAL FOR THE 8 SECOND PLACED HORSES FROM EACH HEAT .IF LESS THAN EIGHT HEATS THE FASTEST THIRD PLACED HORSES TO QUALIFY . 15. A MAXIMUM OF TWO QUALIFIERS FROM ANY ONE TRAINER AND OR OWNER WILL RACE IN THE FINAL 16. IN THE EVENT OF INTEGRITY TESTING PURSE MONEY HELD UNTIL TEST RESULTS ARE PUBLISHED 17. HORSES NOMINATED MUST COMPETE IN THREE "BETTING RACES" IN 2017 IHRA/BHRC SEASON 18. THE RED JOHN MEMORIAL COMMITTEE DECISION WILL BE FINAL IN ALL MATTERS THE MAVEN TROTTING DERBY CONDITIONS 1. OPEN TO FRENCH TROTTERS BORN ON OR BEFORE 2014 AND PART OF THE LE TROT SCHEME 2. NOMINATION FEE €100 DUE BEFORE APRIL 20th FIRST SUSTAINING PAYMENT €100 DUE BEFORE MAY 20th FINAL SUSTAINING PAYMENT €100 DUE BEFORE JUNE 20th SUPPLEMENT FOR LATE ENTRIES €2000 3. TO BE RAN UNDER IHRA RULES 4. HEATS AND FINAL TO BE RAN OVER 1 1/2 MILES 5. A MAXIMUM OF 8 ELIMINATION HEATS WITH A MAXIMUM OF 8 RUNNERS IN EACH HEAT WILL BE HELD AND RAN AS PREFERRED HANDICAPS 6. FINAL TO HAVE EIGHT QUALIFIERS AND RAN AS A HANDICAP 7. HEATS TO START AT IHRA HANDICAP MARK GRADE F. ENTRIES WHO FALL OUTSIDE THE HANDICAP WILL BE FACILITATED IN OTHER RACES AND THEIR NOMINATION & SUSTAINING FEES RETURNED. 8. UK HORSES WILL HAVE THEIR BHRC MARK TRANSFERRED TO IHRA MARK 9. IN THE EVENT OF LESS THAN 8 HEATS ONE HORSE TO QUALIFY FROM EACH HEAT WITH THE REMAINING QUALIFIERS GOING TO THE FASTEST 2nd PLACED HORSES. 10. IN THE EVENT OF ANY HORSE WHO HAS QUALIFIED AND DOES NOT RUN IN FINAL NO REPLACEMENT HORSE ALLOWED SEAON 11. PURSE MONEY FOR FINAL €20,000 ELIMINATION HEATS €2800 (ESTIMATED) 12. DISTRIBUTION OF FINAL PURSE 1st €10,000 2nd €5,000 3rd €2,000 4th TO 8th €600 EACH HEAT PRIZE MONEY TO BE DISTRIBUTED AS PER IHRA/LE TROT PERCENTAGE 13. CONSOLATION FINAL PURSE €8,000 SAME PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION AS FINAL 14. CONSOLATION FINAL FOR THE 8 SECOND PLACED HORSES FROM EACH HEAT. IF LESS THAN EIGHT HEATS THE FASTEST THIRD PLACED HORSES TO QUALIFY. 15. A MAXIMUM OF TWO QUALIFIERS FROM ANY ONE TRAINER AND OR OWNER WILL RACE IN THE FINAL 16. IN THE EVENT OF INTEGRITY TESTING PURSE MONEY HELD UNTIL TEST RESULTS ARE PUBLISHED 17. HORSES NOMINATED MUST COMPETE IN THREE "BETTING RACES" IN THE 2017 IHRA /BHRC SEASON 18. THE RED JOHN MEMORIAL COMMITTEE DECISION WILL BE FINAL IN ALL MATTERS
WEST CORK, Ireland - The Red John Memorial was set up in 2015 following the tragic death of "Red" John O Donovan in January 2015. John was only 27 when he passed away but was a life long supporter of Harness racing in his native Cork and far beyond. The 2015 Memorial was a one day event but in 2016 the Red John Memorial became a two day event with the main race of the weekend The Red John Memorial Handicap carried a total purse of €5000. In 2017 all records will be broken with prize money in excess of €90,000. The Red John Memorial weekend takes place on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th August. This year Lyre, approx 2 miles from the bustling town of Clonakilty, will be the venue for what promises to be the biggest ever harness meeting staged in the West Cork region. The venue is owned by Ger Hegarty who has long being involved in the sport and boasts a natural grand stand which gives race goers a panoramic view of this half mile all grass oval. Clonakilty is around an hours drive from Cork International Airport and is on the gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork. The Red John Memorial Handicap is for pacers born in 2013 or before, is of course, the feature of the weekend. The final which will be made up of eight qualifiers from elimination heats and will have a total purse of €20,000 with a winners prize of €10,000 making it the richest handicap race in all of Ireland and the UK. The committee are indebted to Bill Donovan from Florida who has generously agreed to sponsor the event for the next three years .Donovan is president of a large trucking business based in Boston and has links to several more transport companies. His passion for standardbreds both trotters and pacers has put him in a position of one of the leading owners on the USA harness racing circuit. Bill has ancestoral links in Skibbereen and has forged strong links with the Murphy family from Baltimore through IB Coyote a mare jointly owned by Bill and the Murphy brothers Tadhg and Donal who won the prestigious Vincent Delaney Memorial two year old championship in 2016 and this was the catalyst for him getting involved in sponsoring the weekend. Bill has also sent a few of his own horses over from the USA to be trained and raced here in Ireland. Bill has also stepped in to sponsor "The Maven Derby" another handicap event this time for trotters born in 2014 or before. Maven was one of the greatest trotting mares ever to race in the USA and actually raced for a time in Etilop in Sweden. In 70 lifetime starts, Maven earned $2,005,369. With 31 wins, 14 second place finishes and 4 thirds. Her lifetime record is her world record performance over the Delaware track when she scorched that surface in 1:51.4h. In 2013, she was honoured to receive the USTA's Dan Patch Award and Canada's Joe O'Brien Award as the sport's top older trotting mare. This will be ran on the same lines as The Red John Handicap with eliminations and the grand final also for a total purse of €20,000. The Le Trot organisation from France are joint sponsors with Mr Donovan for this race which honours Maven, a horse owned by Bill Donovan. Bill says himself "Maven was a dream come true for me a mare of a lifetime but I have been blessed to have owned some great horses besides Maven including Ashleys Husband p,1.49.1 $250,736, Band Of Angels p,3 1.50 $487,150 , Bettor B Lucky p,3 1.50 $750,936 , Holier Than Thou p,3 1.50.1 $152,778 (World Champion) , Im On Cloud Nine p,3 1.54.2 $214,374 , Jolene Jolene p,2 1.52 $239,637 (World Champion) Lauderdale p,1.53.2 $386,189 , Medusa p,1.49 $432,012 Mistery Woman p,4 1.51 (World Champion) and Shared Past p,3 1.53 $416,606. "They have all given me so much success in harness racing and coming here to Cork to support the Red John Weekend gives me a chance to give something back to racing here where my fore fathers emigrated from many years ago " With the success of The Vincent Delaney Memorial in Portmarnock,The Red John Memorial weekend takes place on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th August which is the week after The Delaney weekend and it gives harness racing followers a week long of top class racing both in Dublin and here In Cork and The overseas visitors will be guaranteed a great time . Both The Red John and Maven Derby will see owners paying three sustaining fees of €100 per horse. The organisation of such a big event could not happen without the help of so many people and the harness racoing community here in West Cork are really pulling out all the stops to ensure this weekend will grow from humble beginings and become "The One" all owners and trainers want to win. "No matter what we ask of people putting up the track, sourcing stables for the visiting horses and garning sponsorship, there is always a positive outcome and without all this help such a weekend would not happen "said Micheal O'Donovan (brother of the late Red John) "What can we say, only Bill Donovan has put us in a great position with his generous sponsorship and I'm sure Red John will be looking down on us smiling on how big the weekend has become," added Caroline Collins of the Red John Committee. Following on from last year, Oakwood Stud will again sponsor the Three Year Old Grass Pacing Championship, which was a huge success in its first year. "Derek Delaney rang me last year and said why not try a three year old series which he and his brother James would sponsor, so we did and hopefully that grows just the way the VDM has." said Tim Kelleher of the committee "This year Derek rang and said they were again coming on board and to be honest we must mention all the rest of our sponsors from near and far who have been so generous " added Kelleher " We are always looking for new sponsors and The Clonakilty Chamber Of Commerce have been most helpful " The programme of events reads as follows THE RED JOHN MEMORIAL HANDICAP 1 ¼ MILES Heats €1600 (Estimated) Final €20,000 Consolation Final â‚¬5000 THE MAVEN TROT DERBY 1 ½ MILES Heats €2800 Final €20,000 Consolation Final €8000 THE OAKWOOD STUD IRISH 3YO GRASS PACING CHAMPIONSHIP Estimated prize fund €5000 THE PJI ENGINEERING FREE FOR ALL Estimated prize fund €3000 There will be a full supporting programme on both days with bumper prize money for all races. The on-line entry system will be available shortly as will details of Stabling and hotels. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink
Tina Sugarman, author of one of the top equine novels of 2016-2017, Horse Flesh, has agreed to share excerpts of her book with Harnesslink. Horse Flesh is a thriller mystery fiction novel based around a Standardbred racetrack in Ontario, Canada. It is the first novel ever penned by horsewoman, Tina Sugarman. Each week, Harnesslink will feature an excerpt from Horse Flesh. If you wish to purchase the book either in paperback or ereader formats, click here. Here is this week’s 4th excerpt from Horse Flesh! Horse Flesh by Tina Sugarman CORNERED Theo sprinted to his car through the pouring rain. He fumbled with the key, shaking like a leaf. He knew all about those guys in dark glasses. If they thought he hadn’t done his best to win, however untrue that was, he’d be in big trouble. He’d been feeling pretty low about losing with Heart of Darkness. That now seemed insignificant. Somehow, he got out of the horsemen’s parking lot without running into anything. Then he hit the road. The rain was cascading down like Niagara Falls. It had grounded every sane driver, so he was alone out there. The windshield wipers simply couldn’t cope with the torrent, but he desperately needed to put some distance between him and the racetrack. Moose had scared the shit out of him! Things were getting way too complicated at Iroquois Downs. There was plenty to worry about driving in a horse race without all that. He took the Indian Trail. It was slow going, as the road meandered through the bush. But Theo struggled on, using the blurred, watery house lights that appeared from time to time to guide him. At length, he reached open country and a straight road. The rain was easing up. He breathed a sigh of relief. He was almost home. Ferme Victoire, his Uncle Bernie’s place, was just around the corner. His relief was short lived. A pair of headlights materialized out of thin air. He had a fleeting glimpse of a vast combine harvester coming straight at him, as he slammed on the brakes. He put his hand down on the horn and held it there, but the headlights kept on coming. Was the maniac at the wheel deaf as well as blind? And what the hell was it doing out at this time of night, in this weather? Suddenly he knew. A split second later, another set of lights shone in his rear-view mirror, half blinding him. He was trapped! He had to get off the road! He swung left and instantly regretted his decision. An ugly looking barbed wire fence lay on top of a steep bank. He swerved to the right. His tires squealed in protest, but he put his foot down hard on the accelerator and prayed. There was a deafening crash. The air around him exploded. Theo watched, fascinated, as tiny air bubbles floated slowly across his line of vision. The car rocked violently, then landed right side up. Everything stopped. His headlights were shining on a sea of green corn. It was eerily quiet. The passenger door was pressing right up against his right arm. But by some miracle, he was still in one piece. He forced his way out and glanced up at the road. What he saw there made his heart stop. Two massive guys were silhouetted in the headlights streaming from a long black limousine that looked like a hearse. But the men looked nothing like undertakers. They were wielding powerful flashlights which, in their hands, looked like lethal weapons. But it was the sight of the long knives hanging from their belts which really scared him. He didn’t wait to find out more. He pushed his way through corn stalks, floundering on the heavy ground, ankle deep in mud. He’d heard stories about these guys, terrifying stories. He struggled on, his progress maddeningly slow, his imagination running riot. But despite his urgent need to put in as much distance as possible between him and them, he could feel that he was running out of steam. He and his cousin Lara had been in plenty of scrapes as kids, but this was no game! He hunkered down, listening intently. Smash! Bang! They were trashing his car, breaking the windows, slashing the tires. The headlights dimmed, then died. A piece of Theo died with it. Apart from his race bike, the car was the only thing he owned. Bastards, he cursed silently, afraid to make a sound. Suddenly everything went quiet again, a silence filled with menace. Now they were through with the car, they’d come after him, he guessed. He froze, peering through the rows of corn, hearing nothing, seeing even less. After what felt like an eternity, a powerful engine no hearse would ever possess roared into life, its dark outline menacing, even from a safe distance. This was no ordinary vehicle, Theo realized. Its front end was built like a battering ram. He shuddered as it rolled away down the road, its red tail lights glowing in the dark. Theo rose cautiously to his feet and looked about him, wondering what to do next. There was no sense going back to his car. It was a total write off. As he squelched through the mud to higher ground at the edge of the field, he realized the rain had stopped. He sat down and emptied the water out of his shoes. What now? he asked himself. Dave Bodinski waited for a break between cloudbursts before setting off for home, a one-bedroom walk-up on Erinsville’s east side. It didn’t bother him so much that he had to go see the judges in the morning. He and Scotty McCoy had to sing from the same hymn book, is all. But the rumour running around the Race Barn about some guys losing a big bet in the fourth, that had bothered him. Big time! He knew in his gut that Raiders Moon’s win had a lot to do with it and, thanks to the judges practically arresting him in the grandstand, there was a big fat finger pointing directly at him. Every couple of minutes he took a peek in his rear view mirror, looking out for a guy on his tail, even though he had no idea what he’d do if he was being followed. To his relief, he reached his building without incident. On his way up the stairs, the phone started ringing. He unlocked his front door in record time and ran inside, but the phone cut out, right after he picked up. Normally he’d have cared less, but he had to wonder. Who’d be calling at this time of night? And why? When no one called back, he assumed the worst. He locked all the windows and double bolted the front door. He was thankful that his apartment was on the second floor. It gave him a sporting chance. He decided to take Scotty McCoy with him to cash in the tickets. Scotty wasn’t big, but he was stronger than he looked. He was bull headed too. If anyone tried to jump them, Scotty wouldn’t take it lying down. Hoping for the best, Dave switched off his phone and barricaded himself in the bedroom. He fell into a fitful doze, listening to the sound of the rain on the window panes. The road was far too dangerous, Theo realized. He went in the opposite direction, walking along the narrow ridge of grass on the edge of the field, listening intently to every sound, trying to ignore the sinister rustling in the corn stalks. He was doing okay till an owl hooted in his ear. Eventually the corn field gave way to bush. He hesitated for a moment. Then he began fighting his way through the undergrowth, feeling very much alone. The moon, his only source of light, had disappeared behind the clouds. If he’d got it right, his uncle’s farm wasn’t far off. If not…he’d just have to hole up in the woods and wait till dawn. He’d reckoned without the coyotes. The first howl, too close for comfort, sent shivers down his spine. It was quickly joined by others. A deer came bounding towards him, nearly running him down. The pack was on the hunt. The clouds rolled back and he made out the shadowy forms of the coyotes snaking in and out of the trees, their eyes glinting. They were after something. He just hoped it wasn’t him! For the fifth time that night, Scotty McCoy left the pay phone and made his way back to his barn. He was cold, wet and worried sick. Where was Dave when he needed him? Raiders Moon wasn’t acting right. If she got any worse, he’d be forced to call the vet and that was the last thing he wanted to do right now. It was like calling the police after you’d committed a crime. Nevertheless, after looking over the mare one more time, Scotty knew he had to bite the bullet. Things had gone too far. Even Dave couldn’t help him now. Coyotes didn’t generally attack people, but they’d take a puppy or a pet cat in a heartbeat. Better safe than sorry, Theo reasoned, getting down on his hands and knees and groping around for something to throw at them. Eventually, his fingers closed on a dead branch. Pretty soon he spotted the coyotes’ intended quarry: a clutch of round eyed baby raccoons, trying to shimmy up a tree trunk, the picture of innocence. As the pack edged forward, he brandished his tree branch, yelling at the top of his lungs. To his relief, the coyotes turned tail and ran. Ousting them gave him a much-needed boost, but when he looked around for the raccoons they had disappeared. There’s gratitude for you, he thought. A hundred metres further on, the outline of his uncle’s hay barn loomed up, it’s reassuring light shining like a beacon through the mist. He was almost home! Then the barn light cut out, plunging him into darkness. Minutes ticked by. Theo was afraid to make a move. Was this an ordinary power cut, or were the Undertakers out there somewhere, waiting for him? Rain hit veterinarian Jay Winterflood smack in the face the moment he left the comfort of his truck. Getting to Scotty McCoy’s barn was like fording a swollen river, something he’d had plenty of practice at on the Cree Reserve in Quebec, where he had spent the first fifteen years of his life. Inside the barn, a man was sprawled on a rickety chair, half asleep. He jumped up when he saw Jay. “Doc!” he exclaimed. “Scotty McCoy?” Jay asked. Scotty nodded. “She’s bad, Doc, real bad,” he said hurrying over to one of the stalls and opening the door. The horse inside was obviously in distress. She’d backed herself into a corner. Her head was almost touching the floor and her flanks were heaving. There was a chill in the air which had nothing to do with the temperature. It clung to the hay bales stacked in the aisle way and lingered on the upturned jog carts and the harness bags hanging from the rafters. Involuntarily Jay shivered. “I don’t understand it!” Scotty said, scratching his head. “She raced great tonight. She won!” “How long has she been like this?” Jay asked, gesturing at the cowpat-like manure strewn around her stall. Scotty hung his head. “Two, three hours,” he confessed. “I figured she’d come out of it, see.” “I need to know exactly what she was given today,” Jay said gravely. “Nothing!” Scotty replied indignantly. “If you want me to save your mare, you’d better tell me the truth!” “Three boxes of baking soda,” Scotty mumbled. “An’ a box o’ cake sugar.” “You know,” Jay said, “you guys think that baking soda is harmless.” “I never used it before!” Scotty cut in. “And in small doses, it is harmless,” Jay continued “But you can see now, used in excess, it can have a devastating effect.” “You take cash?” Scotty asked, evidently anxious to put a stop to the lecture. “You need to bring her into the clinic right away,” Jay said firmly. “My preliminary diagnosis is intestinal distress and extreme dehydration. I can’t treat her here.” “The clinic!” Scotty exclaimed, looking horrified. “They killed the last one I sent in there. Stuck me with a bill for three grand anyway.” “Not on my watch,” Jay replied. “I’ll meet you there in twenty minutes.” He picked up his bag. “I’m hoping we won’t have to operate,” he added, walking towards the door. “Operate!” Scotty repeated. Time was slipping away, Jay could feel it. He was blessed and cursed by an uncanny ability, a sixth sense. The gift had come to him from his mother’s people. It made most Canadians uneasy, so he’d learned to keep it to himself. “I don’t want no trouble, Doc!” Scotty said. “Load her up,” Jay replied, losing patience. “The sooner I start treatment the better her chances.” “You mean she might not make it?” Scotty asked, looking terrified. “I’m not making any promises,” Jay replied grimly, heading out into the downpour. The house was pitch black. Even the porch light was out. Clawing his way through the dark, Theo clambered up the porch steps, trying to avoid the one that creaked, a legacy from his teenage days. Uncle Bernie used to leave an emergency key in a flowerpot. He groped his way towards it and felt around. To his surprise, it was still there, buried in the earth. Gingerly, he opened the heavy front door only to be bombarded by the thud of boots and blinded by a flashlight. This time there was nowhere to run. He was cornered! “Theo?” he heard Uncle Bernie’s voice ask uncertainly. “What’s going on? It’s two o’clock in the morning! Look at you!” he exclaimed. “Marta!” he called out. “It’s alright! It’s only Theo.” A few minutes later Theo was sitting at the kitchen table wrapped in a horse blanket, drinking hot milk with a slug of brandy. Shadows cast by the candlelight were dancing on the walls. The electricity was still out. “You look very bad,” Marta pronounced. “Tell him Bernie. It is true, yes?” “You got yourself in some kind of trouble?” Bernie asked, looking worried to death. “I’ll tell you,” Theo replied shakily, finishing off the brandy. “I’ll tell you the whole sorry story. You’re not going to believe this!” André Fontainbleu was sitting in his private study watching the video he had secretly made of him and Anya making love earlier that night. He was pleased with his performance. Two females had given him pleasure tonight: Anya and the filly, Jolie Dame. Stay tuned in to Harnesslink every week for another excerpt from Horse Flesh!
On Friday, March 24, the British Harness Racing Club (BHRC) posted their official policy concerning Social Media Conduct for their participants. The new guidelines were developed by the BHRC to protect the interest of the code of harness racing, its licensed person, its employees and officials of the BHRC. Any person found guilty of a breach of the new policy will be subject to a suspension and/or fine and/or warning off. The policy mirrors what was done by Harness Racing Victoria in Australia one year ago. The new policy is listed below. BRITISH HARNESS RACING CLUB SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY FOR PARTICIPANTS Function Communication via online social media such as facebook, twitter, blogs and forums etc. is an ever-increasing way for society to communicate by creating and sharing content of a common interest. This policy provides some guidelines and expectations when using social media either as part of their job, or for personal use where reference is made to the British Harness Racing Club, the harness racing industry, its participants and any other harness racing related individuals, clubs or organisations. This policy aims to protect the interest of the code of Harness Racing, licensed persons, its employees and officials of the British Harness Racing Club. This policy is not designed to discourage people from accessing social media but rather to ensure that they are clear of their respective rights and responsibilities. This policy does not apply where licensed participants engage in the personal use of social media where no reference to the British Harness Racing Club or anything related to the harness racing industry is made. Range This policy applies to all participants in the UK Harness Racing industry, including all licensed Owners, Trainers, Trainers Assistants, Drivers and Officials. What is Social Media? Social Media avenues include, but are not limited, to: · Social network websites such as Facebook, Bebo, Friendster · Photo and Video sharing websites such as Flickr, YouTube, Snapchat · Blogging applications such as Twitter · Discussion boards, blogs and chat forums · Online newspapers allowing for comments to be made · Instant or SMS type messaging · Other websites that allow persons to use publishing tools Use of Social Media Social Media should not be used for any of the following: · To publish or make comments that are detrimental to the harness racing industry and any of its members, · To direct abuse or inappropriate comments about other individuals or organisations that participate in the harness racing industry, · To breach any of the British Harness Racing Club Rules, · To assume or use the identity of another licensed person or official · To publish any information that is related to the harness racing industry that is confidential in nature or is part of any ongoing inquiry or investigation · To make any comment or post that is, or could be considered, to be malicious, offensive, abusive, racist, threatening, discriminatory, bullying, defamatory or disrespectful to another person or body in the harness racing industry or BHRC, its employees, officials and participants that comprise of the UK Harness Racing Industry. Associated Rules S40: Any person shall not: [b] say, publish, write, or cause to be said, published or written, anything malicious, intimidatory or otherwise improper about a Governing Body, its members, employees or its officials or anyone else associated with the harness racing industry. [c] whether alone or in association with others, say, publish or write, or cause to be said, published or written, anything intended improperly to influence a decision of the BHRC, its members, employees or its officials or anyone else associated with the harness racing industry, on any matter. [d] whilst acting as administrator to social media pages, allow comments to be published which are malicious, intimidatory or otherwise improper about a Governing Body, its members, employees or its officials or anyone else associated with the harness racing industry. Said administrator shall be deemed to take full responsibility for such comments and investigated for a breach of Section S40. Any person found guilty of a breach of section S40 shall be subject to a suspension and/or fine and/or warning off. Breach of Policy Non-compliance of this policy may result in that person being called before the British Harness Racing Club Stewards. The BHRC reserves the right to require the immediate removal or modification of medial comments that result in a breach of this policy. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink
The Four Shires harness racing club three year old conditioned pace returns for a second year. This time in a different venue over the top half mile turf circuit at Allensmore. Once again the leading equine product manufacturer NAF have returned with their generous sponsorship. A huge thanks must be given to NAF and it is fabulous to see a high profile company getting behind the event again. This conditions race was set up to give three year olds with winnings of £100 or less on the 28th of February the opportunity to race for a substantial pot. With prize money in excess of £2,000, the record amount of nominations show that this event is here to stay. Twenty four colts and geldings have nominated along with nine fillies. The majority of the nominations are unknown quantities and are yet to grace the racetrack, which makes it more of a challenge for the ante-post odds compilers but also adds extra excitement to the event. An interesting entrant in the colts division is the John Howard owned, Sam Howard trained Sper Buggy. This father son pairing have had great success in two and three year old events in recent years with the likes of Rhyds Rainbow and Tyrion Hanover. This son of Dragon Again raced as a two year old which could be an advantage in a race of this nature. Dynamic and Cash Hall are two others who catch the eye. These Scottish based entrants must have shown something to connections for them to consider making the long journey to the Hereford track. Marc Jones will be hoping lightening can strike twice and repeat last year's victory of Rockin Mambo with Father Ted who is a full brother to last year's 3 year old filly of the year Jessie's Conquest. Marc also has a nice prospect in the fillies division with his unraced filly Strictly Mambo who is a half-sister to Rockin Mambo A number of the nominees are related to proven performers here in the UK and will be hoping they can follow in the footsteps of their siblings. The sustaining fee is due by 28th March and the event takes place on Sunday 9th July Full List of nominees Colts/Geldings 1. American Hustle (The One Night Pan/American Beauty) G. Thomas 2. Arthur Camden (Arts Conquest/Rosie Croix) R. Richards 3. Brywins Magic Beach (Star on the Beach/Saunders Magician) E. Frieze 4. Cash Hall (Kikikolt/Yoko Hall) H. Muirhead 5. Dynamic (Wingsong Dynamite/Call My Bluff) H. Muirhead 6. Father Ted (Arts Conquest/Apopka Denise) M. Jones 7. Frisco Stringer (Rogue Hall/Lifeisjustadream) P. Davidson 8. Greenhill Gus (Preacher Pan/Serefina) M. Thomas 9. Hasty Heights (Hasty Hall/Alpine Heights) I. Davies 10. Ithon Orbit (Yankee Lariat/Dai's Dream) C. Lewis 11. Ithon Osprey (Yankee Lariat/Ithon Indigo) H. Evans 12. Lanehouse Yankee (Yankee Lariat/Apache Silk) C. Morgans 13. Mahogany Charmer (The Preacher Pan/Mahogany Dream) J. Dyer 14. Mahogany Mario (Mahogany Import/Mahogany Shark) D. Wakefield 15. Mahogany Oleg (Preacher Pan/Mahogany Breeze) D. Isaac 16. Morning Breeze (Star on the Beach/Brywins All American) E. Frieze 17. No Respect (Pro Bono Best/Decode) N. Wilson 18. No Trouble (Hasty Hall/Art n Soul) P. Preston 19. Ozzy (Yankee Lariat/Donisthorpe Lucky) P. Dyer 20. Red Art (Arts Conquest/Real Deal) H. Evans 21. Taylor Made (Pro Bono Best/Classy Princess) K. Wakefield 22. The Lion King (Doonbeg/Carousel) H. Evans 23. Sper Buggy (Dragon Again/Dune Buggy Hanover) J. Howard 24. Wye Joels Best (Pro Bono Best/JV's Jiffy) R. Richards Fillies 1. Artess (Arts Conquest/Rhyds Rhythm) R. Cooper 2. Ayr Voyage (His Alibi/Unforgotten) R. Walker 3. Brywins Beachlight (Star on the Beach/Brywins Starlight) J. Wright 4. Ceirion Vickey (Kikikolt/Ceirion Velvet) C. Davies 5. Finley Wells (Well Said/Emily Car) C. Cooke 6. Hurry Up Abi (Kikikolt/Maddi) J. Manning 7. Kiwi (Kikikolt/Mahogany Jet) B. Richards 8. Olivia Camden (Pro Bono Best/Yankee Jiffy) L. New 9. Strictly Mambo (Ponder/Mambo Western) M. Jones by Kayleigh Evans
A cheque for £725 was handed over to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance by organisers of Nidderdale Harness Racing. The event in July, 2016, was held at Bewerley Park in Pateley Bridge. Over £1,050 was raised at the event which was split between the YAA and the Princes Countryside Fund,. A further £200 raised by the car park stewards, Ilkley Motor Club, through a bucket collection was also donated to the ambulance service. Don Leeming, President of Nidderdale Agricultural Society, presented a cheque to Mike Bevington of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance at the Show Committee’s Schedule Meeting. Mr Bevington thanked everyone for their support which he said had been tremendous over the years. He said the YAA needed £12,000 a day to keep their helicopters flying with two new helicopters, kitted out with the latest equipment, carrying patients to major trauma centres, the James Cook university hospital in Middlesbrough or Leeds general infirmary. He said crews are currently going through training to use night vision goggles so they can apply for permission for longer flying times. The 2017 Nidderdale Harness Racing event will be held at Bewerley Park, Pateley Bridge on Sunday, June 25 with the first race starting at 2pm, for information go to www.nidderdaleharnessracing.co.uk By Mark Foster, Chief Reporter (North Yorkshire) Reprinted with permission of the Darlington and Stockton Times
Tina Sugarman, author of one of the top equine novels of 2016-2017, Horse Flesh, has agreed to share excerpts of her book with Harnesslink. Horse Flesh is a thriller mystery fiction novel based around a Standardbred racetrack in Ontario, Canada. It is the first novel ever penned by horsewoman, Tina Sugarman. Each week, Harnesslink will feature an excerpt from Horse Flesh. If you wish to purchase the book either in paperback or ereader formats, click here. Here is this week’s excerpt from Horse Flesh! Horse Flesh by Tina Sugarman The commotion around the winner’s circle had not escaped the eagle eyes of the judges, perched high above the grandstand. Two floors below them, the new boy, Alastair McTavish, recently appointed as Director of Iroquois Downs Raceway, was gazing down at the scene with an increasing feeling of unease. Al was an imposing 6 feet 3 inches with the kind of presence that demands respect. At 58, he didn’t have a single grey hair, though he was thinning on top. Even though it was his first week on the job, he recognized trouble when he saw it. He reached for the red phone, his direct link to the presiding judge. John Jewells was a no-nonsense type who had trained at the famous judge school in Arizona, known locally as Jewells’ School. “What’s going on down there, John?” Al McTavish boomed. Jewells ducked the question. “What can I do for you, Director McTavish?” he asked. “I’m a little concerned about that last race,” Al persisted. “Already on it. Got the Mutuels Manager looking for any suspicious betting patterns. Probably nothing in it, but you never know.” Thirty seconds later, the presiding judge had an intriguing fact to ponder. Twenty $2 tickets had indeed been punched sequentially for the winning combination. It was a highly unusual sized bet for two long shots. “Instruct the teller to check each winning exacta ticket,” Jewells told the Mutuals Manager. “If anyone tries to cash in all or part of that sequence, hold them on any excuse.” “You betcha, John.” John Jewells, tight lipped, picked up his own red phone, his direct line to the Paddock Judge, a Mr. T. Roberts, who controlled the Race Barn like an army sergeant. On any given night, there were over a hundred horses, almost twice that many horsemen and a few dozen drivers to keep in order. Roberts thrived on it. Despite the torrential downpour, he was on the case, rallying the troops, determined that the fifth race would leave the Race Barn on time. “Automatic hundred-dollar fine for any trainer late for post parade! Let’s get moving!” Mr. Roberts shouted. “We go in thirty seconds with the fifth, men. Get ’em ready! Mr. Hall! Where the hell are you with your horse? Get ’im out there now, and I mean NOW!” The ring of his red phone interrupted the Paddock Judge’s diatribe in mid-stream. “Mr. Roberts. It’s John here.” No one was on first name terms with the Paddock Judge. “Yes sir!” Mr. Roberts replied eagerly. “I want to talk to McCoy, Price and Rankin in that order, right away.” “Mr. Rankin’s in the fifth sir.” “Get me the other two. I’ll talk to Rankin when he comes back in.” “Yes sir!” Mr. Roberts replied slamming down the phone. “Lead ’em out, men! Mr. McCoy, Mr. Price. Judges want to talk to you!” Scotty McCoy’s outraged tone echoed down the phone line when the judges suggested that he’d been stiffing Raiders Moon in her previous races. “I never stiffed a horse in my life,” he declared, puffing himself up in self-righteous indignation. “She was tying up! Ask my vet. He’s been treatin’ her for it.” Andy Price too had an airtight explanation, “I only got the filly ten days ago,” he declared. “She came down from Quebec. It’s her first start for me. You accusing me of doin’ too good with her or what?” Moose Rankin came in after the fifth race soaking wet, splattered with mud and in a foul mood, having finished last. “Lazer told me to give Gypsy Queen a covered-up trip,” Moose said scowling at the phone. “Ned Beazer did the job on me. I’m sick about it!” The judges reluctantly took him at his word. They all agreed a hot head like Moose Rankin was the last driver any sane person would pick to pull off a betting coup. None of them felt it necessary to question the leading driver, Theo Vettore. He was always trying to win. “Which leaves only Pete Summers,” John Jewells told Al. “But it’s the first time he’s driven Raiders Moon, so we can’t pin it on him.” The judges were still scrutinizing the tape of the fourth when the presiding judge’s phone rang. It was the Mutuels Manager. “Looks like we got your man, John. Listen to this! He’s a trainer just come back from suspension, a Dave Bodinski.” “Hold off payment. Tell him we need more I/D and to come back in the morning. Tell him he’ll have to see the judges first, but it’s just pro forma,” Jewells replied. “Pro what?” the Mutuals Manager asked uncertainly. “Routine,” Jewells replied irritably. “Gotcha,” the manager said, sounding relieved. Everything appeared to hinge on the judges’ interview with Dave Bodinski the following day. But a call back from the Mutuals Manager clouded the issue somewhat. “You’d better hear this for yourself,” he told John Jewells. “I remember the guy!” a flustered teller confessed. “He accused me of punching in the wrong numbers. Made a big stink about it! But it was too late to do anything. The starting bell had gone off.” Pretty soon the judges had a more urgent problem on their hands. The drivers had got together and were refusing to go out for the seventh race, claiming that conditions were too dangerous. It was true enough. The worst storm to hit Ontario in a decade was showing no signs of abating. Visibility was close to zero. Mr. Roberts, the Paddock Judge, was desperately searching through his rule books for guidance on extreme weather conditions. Taking advantage of the lull, Moose Rankin collared Theo Vettore in the drivers’ room. “What the fuck were you playing at in the fourth, cutting the mile like that?” Moose hissed, “I thought your filly didn’t like the front end.” “She doesn’t,” Theo replied sullenly. “I figured you’d cut it, you moron!” “Listen to me,” Moose exclaimed, lighting his cigarette and glancing over at Theo, his eyes half closed. “You’re in big trouble. I heard the guys in dark glasses bet the bank on the exacta tonight and it sure as hell included you. Your horse was fucking even money!” “She lost! It happens!” Theo retorted. Moose didn’t reply. He just drew his finger across his own throat, then pointed to Theo. The sound of rain drumming on the roof was deafening. Theo swallowed hard but said nothing. “Attention horsemen!” the Paddock Judge’s voice rang out. “Under rule 147, section 3, the stewards have decided to abandon the rest of tonight’s program due to dangerous racing conditions. I repeat, racing has been abandoned due to inclement weather.” “Roberts doesn’t get to yell at us any more tonight,” Moose said happily, turning to Theo. There was no one there. “Encore du vin, Monsieur?” a voice murmured at André’s Fontainbleu’s elbow. He motioned the waiter away. He had caught sight of the young Frenchman he had recently hired standing at attention, keeping a discreet distance from the dinner table conversation. When André raised a finger, Henri approached and spoke, sotto voce, in his ear. “Ze young lady, she is waiting for you, Monsieur,” Henri said. André Fontainbleu picked up his fork. The twinkle of silver on glass produced the desired effect. His guests fell silent. “I regret, but always, business calls,” he announced charmingly, rising to his feet and turning away from the Caribbean Sea, the backdrop for dinner. The Australian girl was waiting downstairs, gazing up at the soaring ceiling and glittering candelabra. He ran his eyes over her slim figure, her full breasts. She was young, barely twenty at a guess and suitably virginal. According to his sources, she had been marooned on the island when her boat was caught in a freak storm. June was generally a calm month. Unlike the rest of the crew, she apparently wanted to stay on. As she wasn’t independently wealthy, she needed a work permit, a lengthy bureaucratic process on Sainte Marie unless one knew who to bribe. That is where André Fontainbleu came in, provided, naturellement, that the woman in question was young and attractive. There was a determined set to this girl’s jaw, but he had no doubt that common sense would prevail, after he had laid out his terms. One weekend, that was what he required. Her body was the only thing she had to offer in return. The feeling of power was intoxicating. As he walked down the spiral staircase to greet her, he caught her eye and imagined undressing her. She blushed but she held his gaze without faltering. Her long dark hair revived bitter sweet memories. But that was long ago. This was going to be easy like everything else on this island. Almost too easy. Despite, or perhaps because of, his age, he was still attractive to women. The touch of silver in his crop of dark curls reassured them. It gave him a fatherly air. Also, the power and the money drew them in. It promised to be a pleasant weekend, a very pleasant weekend indeed! Stay tuned in to Harnesslink every week for another excerpt from Horse Flesh!
Tina Sugarman, author of one of the top equine novels of 2016-2017, Horse Flesh, has agreed to share excerpts of her book with Harnesslink. Horse Flesh is a thriller mystery fiction novel based around a Standardbred racetrack in Ontario, Canada. It is the first novel ever penned by horsewomen Tina Sugarman. Each week, Harnesslink will feature an excerpt from Horse Flesh. If you wish to purchase the book either in paperback or ereader formats, click here. Here is this week’s excerpt from Horse Flesh! Horse Flesh by Tina Sugarman At Iroquois Downs, the fillies for the fourth race were slowly making their way out onto the track, their flanks gleaming with sweat. Theo made a beeline for the 2 horse, Heart of Darkness, who had a startling white star on her forehead and a long full mane. Along with the glamour came a ton of courage. She’d need that courage tonight. She was racing against the top three-year-old fillies in North America. “She’s the best!” her trainer, Jim Mercer, growled as he handed over the lines, increasing the pressure Theo was already feeling. Theo merely nodded. He swung himself effortlessly onto the race bike, the place he felt most at home in all the world. Out on the track, the spotlight played on him and Heart of Darkness for a brief moment. Then the filly took off on him, her neck arched, her feet dancing on the stone dust track. He glanced at the odds board. She was even money. Suddenly he felt high, a natural high that was almost as good as the drugs he did on occasion. The only cloud on his horizon was the $35,000 he owed the mysterious individual known as the Scorpion. Theo had never met him and never wanted to either. The name fit him all too well: deadly with a sting in the tail. He shuddered. $35,000! How had his cocaine habit gotten so totally out of control? He stifled the thought. For now, he needed to focus on the race ahead. He eyed the competition, careful not to speak to any of the other drivers. The judges, who watched their every move, would assume they were plotting to get a long shot home. Moose’s filly, Gypsy Queen, was the one to beat. Except for the two outsiders, Jolie Dame and Raiders Moon, it was a strong field. The sky darkened. Two minutes to post! Floodlights were beaming down onto the racetrack, creating the illusion of a bright sunny day. Seagulls from Lake Ontario swooped over the infield and perched on the grandstand roof, their raucous cries filling the air. Black thunderclouds looked ready to drop their load as crowds of people clutching their tickets rushed down to the rail, anxious not to miss the start of the feature race. Dave Bodinski slunk out with them, checked his tickets and gulped. The teller had messed up! Instead of doubling up Raiders Moon with the favourite to win, he’d doubled her up with the 10 horse, Jolie Dame, a rank outsider. Praying his eyes were deceiving him he checked again. But there it was 10–6, clear as day. Cursing loudly, he fought his way back through the throng. Less than one minute to post! Three people ahead of him in the line. He’d never make it, he thought despairingly. Out on the racetrack, the wings of the starting car opened. “Turn your horses, gentlemen, please,” the suit in the car said. At those words, Theo’s heart started pumping fast. Adrenalin flooded his body and brain. His senses became super clear, his reaction time instantaneous. Ten horses were lined up behind the car, noses on the gate. As the vehicle picked up speed, the sound of the revving engine was drowned out by the rattle of sulkies and the drumming of hoofbeats. A split second before the car sped away, Theo glanced swiftly to his left. The horse on the rail wasn’t keeping up. To his right, he could see Moose getting ready to leave with Gypsy Queen. Theo made a split-second decision. He urged his filly on. All around him he heard whips cracking and drivers screaming. He paid no heed. He made the top before the turn. To his surprise, instead of taking over the lead, Moose slipped into second place, behind him. The crowd roared with delight, drowning out the call. Dave Bodinski couldn’t hear a word. As short as he was, with a wall of people in front of him, he couldn’t see anything either. It looked like he was stuck with the tickets. Right after he’d told his story to the teller, the starting bell had rung, making exchange impossible. Though he could hardly bear to watch the race, he doggedly fought his way down to the rail. Raiders Moon had got away last and was sitting at the back of the bus. He was well and truly fucked, Dave thought despairingly. At the half mile point, the timer flashed 55.2. Time to back it off, Theo decided, giving Heart of Darkness the message. As the pace slowed, drivers behind him began edging their horses out. Glancing back, Theo was surprised to see the 10 horse, Jolie Dame, powering up on the outside. What on earth was Ned Beazer playing at? Jolie Dame was 50-1! “I’m the power here, Bud!” Theo roared, loosening up on the lines. Heart of Darkness lurched forward and Jolie Dame fell back, but not very far. She was sitting outside Gypsy Queen now, trapping Theo’s main rival, Moose Rankin, along the rail. Theo grinned to himself. Anyone who wanted to challenge him now would have to take the long way around and go three wide. As for Gypsy Queen, she was literally breathing down Theo’s neck, banging her head on his helmet. She needed out bad. Theo grinned again. He was enjoying this! They rounded the last turn into the stretch, Theo cracked the wheel disc with his whip. The sound set Heart of Darkness alight but to his astonishment, the long shot Jolie Dame reappeared beside him, matching him stride for stride down the lane. As they fought head to head for the top, Gypsy Queen pushed through on the inside, sandwiching Heart of Darkness between the other two fillies like a piece of pastrami between two slices of bread. They were only 100 feet from the wire now. It felt like 500. Theo’s filly still had her head in front. Just! Then out of the corner of his eye, he saw a horse on the far outside, moving like an express train with Pete Summers at the helm screaming like a banshee. It was the 6 horse, Raiders Moon. The caller’s voice was rising hysterically. “They’re coming down to the wire! Four of them across the track! Heart of Darkness, Gypsy Queen, Jolie Dame and on the far outside Raiders Moon! Too close to call! Photograph! Photograph! Hold all tickets. I repeat, hold all tickets!” From his vantage point down by the rail, Dave Bodinski had seen and heard everything but he had no idea who’d won. He ran around quizzing complete strangers. No one had a clue. All four fillies were still on the racetrack so even the drivers didn’t know for sure. Dave kept his eyes glued to the tote board. He wasn’t religious, but clutching his ticket, he prayed. Thanks to the idiot teller, the only way he’d make any real money was on the 10–6 combo, Raiders Moon to win with Jolie Dame second, the most unlikely of the lot. Ten agonizing minutes later, the results of the fourth race finally appeared on the board. The number 6 appeared first, then the number 10. Dave groaned. Exacta meant exactly that. The horses had to be in the correct order. His tickets were worthless pieces of paper now. There was a sudden murmur from the crowd. The numbers 6 and 10 were flashing on and off. “Attention! The judges have declared a dead heat. There will be a payout on both horses to win. Exacta payout on 6 and 10 in either order!” “I’m a winner!” Dave screamed, punching his fist in the air. “I’m a fuckin’ winner!” All around him, people were ripping up their tickets, cursing. Dave did a rapid calculation in his head. Every one of his $2 tickets were worth $1,200. Unbelievable! His mind reeled at the high numbers. Then it sunk in…He was rich. He was a fuckin’ millionaire! Well, he realized, not quite a millionaire but $24,000 was enough to put him back in the horse business. With a clash of thunder, the storm broke, drenching the spectators. The mood turned ugly. Losers were crowding around the winner’s circle in the rain, booing and shouting obscenities. Jolie Dame and Raiders Moon hadn’t just beaten the favourite, they’d beaten the best three-year-old filly in Canada and the darling of the betting public. They’d felt she simply could not lose and had bet the bank on her. Dave hung back watching a bemused local bigwig clutch the trophy to his chest, unwilling to hand it over to either trainer, as both had won. In the end, the two of them, an ecstatic Scotty McCoy and a smirking Andy Price, worked it out by holding it between them in a rare show of trainer co-operation. Stay tuned in to Harnesslink every week for another excerpt from Horse Flesh!
WEST CORK, Ireland - Poster girl Deirdre Goggin rode a double at her local track when road trotting made a welcome return to Goleen on the tip of the Mizen peninsula after a hiatus of six years on Sunday. The road, which stretches along the Dauch Causeway, is a setting of real beauty with the tide from the nearby Atlantic Ocean, nestling in under the Causeway Bridge at the Northern side of the course . The meeting of the"Big Two" of road trotting Rhyds Ponder and Maitha Buachaill reads 4 to 0 to the latter before today and he had to take a 20 yard handicap for those wins. Goggin set Rhtds Ponder alight from the start and led through the opening two turns. Heading to the third turn the advantage was five lengths to Meadow Branch Kiki with Maitha Buachaill back in fourth. Approaching the final turn, Goggin on Rhyds Ponder, began to turn the screws on her rivals and flew off the last turn and was not for catching with trotter Tactician Du Lys snatching second from Maitha Buachaill. After dismounting her horse Goggin was carried shoulder high into the presentation area by the partisan local crowd. Earlier the huge local crowd roared Deirdre home on Saunders Paris in the Grade C. This looked a tough one to call with Rhyds Artist also well touted in the betting ring, but Saunders Paris made light work of her rivals careering away to win her fifth of the season by six lengths. "Home is always the place to win and Paris is owned by my father Micheal and I am so proud to win here," said the modest Goggin after the race. Jamie Hurley still the leads the jockeys championship after recording a double Sunday. IB Tweedy in the grade E was sent to post at prohibitive odds and was never in danger giving owners "The One For The Road Syndicate" their fourth win of the year. John Woodland made the four hour journey from Limerick with Coalford Hardy a winning one. Jamie Hurley was on board to lead from the start and despite the late intentions of Big Jim held on by three lengths. This was the first winner for owner trainer Woodland, who is based in Limerick City. Jamie hurley now stands on ten winners one ahead of Deirdre Goggin on nine . Racing opened with an a win for Rock On Jo Jo on his tarmac debut. Matthew O Reilly allowed Van Helsing and Shanes Income battle it out early and sent Jo Jo to the front after the final turn to win by four lengths. Old Chapel in Bandon is the next meeting on Sunday 26th March with the All Ireland Championships which were cancelled last week re scheduled for Sunday April 2nd. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS NOVICE The Lobster Pot Bar Cup 1. M O'Reilly ROCK ON JO JO Owner 2. McCarthy/ Daly SHANES INCOME A McCarthy 3. M O'Brien VAN HELSING P O Brien GRADE E The Fastnet Bar Cup 1. One For The Road Syn IB TWEEDY J Hurley 2. P Kane RETURN OF THE MAC M O'Reilly 3. G O Callaghan TROOPERS HARMONY M Goggin Jnr GRADE D The O Mearas Bar Cup 1. J Woodland COALFORD HARDY J Hurley 2. G Kane BIG JIM T O'Leary 3. G Cooke WESTERN BEACH D Goggin GRADE C The Twins Memorial Cup 1. M Goggin SAUNDERS PARIS Deirdre Goggin 2. P Manning SPRINGHILL JAZZ D Brickley 3. R Joyce BEAUTYS HARMONY M O'Reilly THE CAUSEWAY CLASSIC GRADE A & B The Frank & Anna Goggin Memorial Cup 1. N Forbes RHYDS PONDER Deirdre Goggin 2. G Kane TACTICIAN DU LYS T O'Leary 3. Hegarty/ Hurley MAITHA BUACHAILL J Hurley
When we first started the harness racing newsletter feature "Insider Access" we aimed to release new issues every two weeks, however the workload to produce the Stallion reviews, combined with the day to day management of the Harnesslink website has been making this difficult. So henceforth we will release these issues within a longer, more sporadic timeframe. We appreciate your support and continued readership. Starting in this months Insider Access, author Tina Sugarman, whose debut novel, Horse Flesh, has been a number one top selling equine novel on Amazon.com, is going to share special excerpts from her superb novel only to Harnesslink.com followers! Then every week on Harnesslink, racing fans will get to read part of Horse Flesh. The novel is a page-turning thriller based around harness racing in Ontario, Canada. Harnesslink thanks author Tina Sugarman for sharing her great novel with the harness racing world! Also this month we bring you the most prolific analysis of the equal fastest three-year-old on the Planet, world champion racehorse and stallion, He's Watching. We also review the New Zealand Yearling Sales and salute our own operations director Steve Wolf on his Hall of Fame introduction at the Dan Patch Awards! It's FREE to sign up for Insider Access, just fill out the box below. If you are already a member you got our newsletter already! Sign up to "Insider Access" Full Name Email Subscribe