Day At The Track

WEST CORK, IR - Hail Spartacus and Rhyds Panache both winners at the venue the previous Sunday continued on their winning runs on a night of close finishes and top class action at Dunmanway on Friday evening.   Rhyds Panache last years Red John Memorial winner was quick to leave the start followed by Coalford Bruce and Supreme Sunshine. Heading out on the final circuit Rhyds Destiny began to close in on the leaders but Chris O'Reilly on the winner had all moves covered and ran out an easy four length winner.   "Like everyone my preparations have been interrupted and after his second place in Portmarnock a few weeks back I knew he was in good form. All going well he be back to defend his crown in the Red John at Lyre in august" said Chris O Reilly of his horse.   Hail Spartacus is still owned by the Hill family but has moved a mile down the road to be trained by Mike O'Donovan and his new trainer has found a good tune out of this veteran.   Oisin Quill gave him a masterly drive .he led out the gate and everyone seemed to want to have a "rattle" off the leader . Laneside Louis badgered the leader for a lap then IB A Warrior joined in on the fun but Hail Spartacus loves it around the Dunmanway venue and the former Grand Prix winner after all the best efforts of his rivals had a 3 1/2 length winning margin.   Racing opened with a win for the West Cork/Florida alliance of Donal Murphy and Bill Donovan. IB Notorious who enjoyed a stellar 2 year old campaign but lost his way a bit in 2019 bounced back to winning ways . Driver Donal Murphy sent him to the front early and despite a late challenge of Moorside Myra the 1/2 length winning distance could have been more.   American Rebel who ran in to all sorts of traffic problems on his last outing made no mistake tonight. Timmy O Leary sent this regally bred four year old to the front after a lap and despite being headed in the last two furlongs by IB Felicity he battled back and won by 3/4 length.   "My brother Denis owns him and he won The Little Welsh Dragon last year as an immature three year old and we think a lot of him." commented winning trainer John Shanahan.   Pan Cam Income is another who has taken time to come right and Luke Kelleher on the son of Earned Income had to be patient as the "gap" to get out didn't appear until the final straight but when he saw daylight he coasted to a 3 length win.   Jeremiah O'Mahony who trains his stock at the race field seems to have picked up a nice trotter in the shape of Devonment Absolu . Sean Kane made the long spin down from Co Meath to partner this one and Bella Despana had to play second fiddle to the winner in the mile and a half contest.   Credit must go to the IHRA and Ballabuidhe Race Committee who had all the social distancing procedures and Covid 19 protocols in place at the venue which will again stage racing on Sunday 26th July.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS All races 1 1/4 miles unless stated   GRADE G & G1 Pace 1st - IB NOTORIOUS D Murphy 2nd - MOORSIDE MYRA S Kane 3rd - HAIL CAESAR P Hill DIST 1/2L 1 1/4L TIME 2.31.8   GRADE F PACE 1st - AMERICAN REBEL T O'Leary 2nd - IB FELICITY J Boyle 3rd - HONOR CODE P Gilligan DIST 3/4L 4L TIME 2.26.8   GRADE G & G1 PACE 1st - PAN CAM INCOME L Kelleher 2nd - RIGHT OF REDEMPTION C O'Reilly 3rd - WESTERN OCEAN P Gilligan DIST 2 1/2L 3 1/2L TIME 2.28.0   GRADE D C & B PACE 1st - RHYDS PANACHE C O'Reilly 2nd - SUPREME SUNSHINE J Boyle 3rd - RHYDS DESTINY T O'Leary DIST 4L 1 1/2L TIME 2.24.1   GRADE F & E TROT 1 1/2 MILES 1st - DEVONMENT ABSOLU S Kane 2nd - BELLA D'ESPANA L Kelleher 3rd - BRUTENOE P Hill DIST 4L 1L TIME 3.24.4   GRADE F & E PACE 1st - HAIL SPARTACUS O Quill 2nd - LANESIDE LOUIS J Manning Jnr 3rd - IB A Warrior J Hurley DIST 3 1/2L 7 1/2L TIME 2.28.7

WEST CORK, IR - The West Cork Harness Racing season, curtailed like all sporting events in the country, kicked off last Sunday in Dunmanway and the men making the headlines were from two different sides of the age scale 76 years "young "John Boyle still enjoys his sport and drove his own IB Felicity to victory.   Right of Redemption mad most of the running but with four furlongs to pace Boyle gave his charge the office and the pair ran out easy four length winner.   Boyle originally from Co Donegal but living in Cork for over 60 years was cheered home by all in attendance and is one of the most respected and likeable characters in the sport.   Oisin Quill at 17 years of age is one of the brightest stars in racing and he drove a double on the afternoon.   Firstly, on the trotter Vallanzana Quill had early tussles with Belkalinja and after winning that duo had to fend off the late challenge of the fast finishing Aubade A Hellene but had a comfortable three lengths in ghand at the line .   The brace of winners was completed aboard pacer Hail Spartacus in the Grade F Pace.   This son of Swingman has been a loyal servant to the Hill Family and as on shrewd judge said to me "Hes almost impossible to beat around here when in front and He Stays longer Than the Mother In Law".   Another young driver John O'Mahony got a great spin out of Dinah Washington in the Grade F Trot . Trained on the track he bided his time and won going away. Eoin Murphy had his first "public" drive here on Silvano Bello and the 15 year old looks destined to follow in the footsteps of his father Tadgh and uncle Donal both able reins men.   Rhyds Panache winner of last years Red John Memorial got back to winning ways in the opener. Chris O'Reilly allowed his rivals to battle it out before creeping quietly to the front and won by 2 1/2 lengths.   IB Paddington another bred in the IB nursey in Baltimore looks to have a bright future. in only his third lifetime start he encountered a rouge passage but stayed on to beat Moorside Myra by a 1/4 length. He holds entries in all the major three year old stakes races.   Rhyds Destiny has lost none of his appetite for racing and was seen to good effect in the top grade pace .Coalford Bruce led for most of the journey but Timmy O'Leary had all moves covered and was never in danger. Bella Despana made every yard of the running in the Grade F Trot and held on for a deserved victory for driver Luke Kelleher.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS Race 1: Grade F / E Pace:  1st: Rhyds Panache, C. O' Reilly. 2nd: Two Left Feet, J. Hurley. 3rd: Fairdays Bret, A. Mc Carthy. Time: 2.29.5 DIST 2 1/2L 10 1/2L Race 2: Grade G / G1 Pace Div 1: 1st: IB Paddington, D. Murphy. 2nd: Mooreside Myra, S. Kane. 3rd: Pan Cam Income, L. Kelleher. Time: 2.33.3 DIST 1/4L 4 1/4L Race 3: Trot Grade F: 1st: Dinah Washington, J. O' Mahony. 2nd: Vaillant Forgion, J. Hurley. 3rd: Silvano Bello, E. Murphy. Time 2.33.6 DIST 5L 1/2L Race 4: Grade G / G1 Pace Div 2: 1st: IB Felicity, J. Boyle 2nd: Right Of Redemption, C. O' Reilly. 3rd: Meadowbranch Romance, C. O' Driscoll. Time 2.31.6 DIST 6l 3l Race 5: Trot Grade E / B. 1st: Vallanzana, O. Quill. 2nd: Aubade A Helene, P. Hill. 3rd: Belkalinja, D. Murphy. Time 2.31.3 DIST 3l 3/4L Race 6: Grade D - A1 Pace. 1st: Rhyds Destiny, T. O' Leary. 2nd: Coalford Bruce, D. Mc Carthy. 3rd: Tarawood CJ, P. Gilligan Time 2.26.9 DIST 3L 3L. Race 7: Grade F / E Trot. 1st: Bella D'Eespana, L. Kelleher. 2nd: Brutenor, P. Hill. 3rd: Epopee Du Layon, D. Murphy. Time 2.34.1 DIST 3L 1L Race 8: Grade F Pace. 1st: Hail Spartacus, O. Quill. 2nd: Earnies Umpire, J. Hurley. 3rd: Just a Promise, P. Mc Inerney. Time 2.29.1 DIST 2L 11L  

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

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

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

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

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