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The arrival of spring signals the start of harness racing's breeding season and with the sport's future looking bright and prosperous in this state, Harness Racing New South Wales is pleased to have the Hon. Troy Grant, Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing present the sport's season welcome. HRNSW continues to support local breeders through the Breeders Challenge concept and will again reward participants who support the NSW industry. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny is proud of the industry's improvements in recent times and encourages participants to focus on the sport's bright future. "With the support of the state government, harness racing will continue its progression forward and with so many benefits now available to breeders in New South Wales it makes sense for people to support the local breeding industry," Mr Dumesny said. "Stakeholders should never lose sight that the breeding industry provides the building blocks for the sport, without a strong breeding base the sport can't continue to grow. "There were so many harness racing highlights last year in New South Wales but this season promises to be an even bigger one. To watch the Breeding Season launch please click here To arrange an interview or for further information please contact: Greg Hayes

Thoroughbred trainer Sam Kavanagh, whose licence was suspended in May after the former Sir Henry Cecil-trained Midsummer Sun tested positive for the banned substance cobalt, has been found guilty on 23 of the 24 charges in an investigation into cobalt and caffeine breaches by Racing New South Wales stewards. The Kavanagh-trained Midsummer Sun returned a positive pre-race swab to both substances when winning the Gosford Cup in January and investigations found an extensive use of a "Vitamin Complex" which contained excessive levels of cobalt. Kavanagh, whose Melbourne Cup-winning father Mark is also under investigation by Racing Victoria for cobalt offences, was among six men charged with 54 breaches by Racing New South Wales stewards. The investigations also unearthed that other horses in his yard had been treated with cobalt, and he has also been charged over positive results by Centre Pivot and Spinning Diamond. Kavanagh was found not guilty over the charge of administering caffeine to Midsummer Sun. Lengthy disqualification The trainer now has until September 10 to make submissions on penalties which will be considered by the panel but it looks likely he will face a lengthy disqualification from the sport. The result of the investigation, which was accompanied by detailed written reasons from the stewards as to their findings which is not usual practice in Australia, comes just ten days after trainer Kevin Moses was handed a 12-month ban for presenting a horse to race with cobalt in its system. Along with Kavanagh, Dr Tom Brennan of the Flemington Equine Clinic was found guilty of 12 charges, along with his colleague Adam Corby being found guilty of one of two charges. Former Kavanagh stable employee Michael O'Loughlin was found guilty of four charges. Others to be found guilty include disqualified harness racing trainer Mitchell Butterfield on all five charges he faced, while John Camilleri was found guilty of six of seven charges. Racing rocked Australian racing has this year been rocked by the scandal involving cobalt, which can assist in generating more red blood cells to carry oxygen through the body and thus allow a horse to perform at a peak level for longer. Peter Moody, Danny O'Brien, Mark Kavanagh and the father-son team of Lee And Shannon Hope are other trainers facing charges relating to cobalt in one of the most dramatic investigations in Australian racing history. By Lewis Porteous Reprinted with permission of the Racing Post

Star Tasmanian reinsman Gareth Rattray wrapped up another great season by winning the Tasmanian harness racing driver's premiership but this latest crown was special. Despite missing the first two months of the season through illness Rattray powered his way to the lead mid-season and a treble at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night gave him 100 wins for the season. His treble came courtesy of Fioki winning a C2-C3 over 2090 metres; rank outsider Cardinal Eddy scoring in a nail-biting finish in a 3C1-C0 and he finished with a heady drive to win aboard the Matthew Dwyer-trained Original Art in a C4-C5 . It was the third time he has reached the magical century of winners and this latest title is his 10th in succession. To say Rattray has dominated this past decade would be an understatement with his feats so far ranking him amongst the greatest drivers of all time. The first time he topped the century was in the 2007-08 season when he drove 113 winners but two seasons later he bettered that by snaring 115. His father Barrie also achieved the feat three times driving a state record 118 winners during the 1989-90 season; 100 in 1995-96 and 109 the following season. The father and son are the only two to reach the 100 milestone in Tasmania's driving ranks. This season Gareth passed another milestone of reaching the 1000 winners mark and he now sits fifth on the all-time list with 1040 winners but he still has a way to go to catch his father who has amassed 1566 winners and is still driving competitively. Ricky Duggan had another good season in the caret to end with 68 winners to take his career tally to 1370 to take over second place on the al-time list from Neville Webberley (1369). All-time driver's record: Barrie Rattray          1566 Ricky Duggan          1370 Neville Webberley   1369 Darrell Alexander    1315 Gareth Rattray          1040 Scott Ford                    891 Jack Stamford             848 Rohan Hadley            794 Don Peck                     661 Mark Stanley               638 Terry Knowles             572 Tony Petersen            569 Len Moriarty                556 Terry Peck                   556 Ken Austin                   551 Webb Jones                544 Hec Baker                    516 Meanwhile Beauty Point horseman Rohan Hillier captured his first trainer's premiership ending the season with 43 winners from only 100 starters which must rank as one of the best strike rates of all time. Hillier finished ahead of Barrie Rattray (41) and Juanita McKenzie (37) who won her fourth female trainer's title ahead of Melissa Maine (33). McKenzie and Maine proved beyond doubt that they can hold their own amongst the male trainers. Dylan Ford was the leading junior driver finishing with 34 wins for what was his third consecutive title while his younger sister Tayla Ford and Wade Rattray dead-heated for second with 16 wins apiece. However Ford was a clear winner in the female driver award winning from Natalee Emery (12) and Erin Hollaway (11). Peter Staples

All participants obtaining a trainers or drivers licence must complete a training course under the Rules of Harness Racing. Up until recently participants had been required to complete a TAFE course but due to the withdrawal of vital funding, the cost of completing the respective courses would have increased by 1500%. Harness Racing New South Wales has completely overhauled the process. Under the new setup students will enrol with the controlling body after paying a fee of $330. The student will need to undertake an online theory component through the Bendigo Training Centre and it can be completed in a timeframe that suits the user. The practical part of the training course will be managed by HRNSW assisted by professional trainers. All students are required to complete a Basic Horsemanship Examination before beginning the practical study as the part of course. For further information about the new course contact Training Co-ordinator Nancy O'Grady on 9722 6619 or email nogrady@hrnsw.com.au Greg Hayes

The Hawkesbury training track is an important facility for a number of trainers in north-western Sydney. The track itself will receive a much needed upgrade with Harness Racing New South Wales CEO Mr John Dumesny confirming repair work will begin Monday September 7 and will take a week to complete. The track will be resurfaced while drainage issues will also be rectified during the revamp. "The Hawkesbury track has played an important role for a long time and HRNSW believes these upgrades have been overdue," Mr Dumesny said. "With the work scheduled to take a week it will mean some trainers may have to come up with a contingency plan for their horses but the work is important and it will mean a better and safer surface for participants and their horses." Mr Dumesny confirmed the Hawkesbury is an important geographical region for HRNSW and it will continue to support the area. "We understand how important the horses trained in the Hawkesbury are to meetings in Sydney and also over the mountains in areas like Bathurst. "This track upgrade should be seen as a show of faith in the good people at Hawkesbury." The track is expected to reopen on Monday September 14. Greg Hayes

Lightly raced two-year-old filly Kalinda waited until the last meeting of the harness racing season to register her first win but given the way she dispensed with her rivals it won't be her last. The former Victorian filly was sent to Magra trainer Juanita McKenzie about six weeks ago with the hope of winning a race before the season ended. She had no luck from poor draws in two of her three previous outings with a fourth of eight in Hobart enough to suggest the trainer had something with which to work. But last night at UBET Park Hobart the filly gained a start as an emergency and from the pole position (gate one) she stepped straight to the front and was never headed on her way to an emphatic win in the UBET Pace over 20190 metres. Kalinda scored by 14 metres from Karalta Stardust with first-starter Metrosilk almost two metres astern. Kalinda (Jeremes Jet-De La Rosa) was partnered by Mark Yole who described the win as encouraging. "This is the first decent draw she has had and I was very pleased with what she had to offer tonight," Yole said. "She still has a bit to learn because she was hanging in on the corners but she has only had four starts and I reckon she has a future," he said. Peter Staples

Veteran harness racing trainer Tommy Jackson hasn't been in the best of health this past year but his love of horses and the thrill of training them has kept him on the right side of the dirt. At UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night a three-year-old named Finn Mac Kee delivered a brilliant win at only his second start to give the trainer a much needed boost. Finn Mac Kee (Stonebridge Regal-Scarlett Finn) showed blistering early speed to lead from the outside front-row barrier (7) and when driver Paul Hill called on him to extend in the straight he delivered the goods. He hit the line two metres clear of Gifted Courage with Be Good Franklin almost 16 metres away third. It was an emphatic win and the flashy black gelding delivered a sub two-minute mile rate of 1.59.3 over the 1609-metre trip to suggest there are more wins in store. "I haven't been in the best of health, so to perk myself up I went and bought a couple of horses and this fella looks like he'll make the grade," Jackson said. Peter Staples

Gippsland horse Professor Tom won a consolation of the rich Breeders Crown series at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton last Friday night. Bred and owned by long serving Warragul Harness Racing Club committeeman Grant Rathjen, Professor Tom finished strongly to win. The two-year-old is trained by Drouin West's Gary and Debbie Quinlan and was driven by Gavin Lang. Professor Tom is out of the Rathjen family's former brilliant race mare Petes Dream. On Sunday afternoon another Gippsland bred, Our Waikiki Beach, extended its winning sequence to 12 in capturing the Colts and Geldings Final. Bred locally by the Fusinato family, and trained and owned in New Zealand, Our Waikiki Beach heads home undefeated in his first season of racing. Our Waikiki Beach is from the Fusinato's top mare Cyclone Betty. Pearcedale pacer Hectorjayjay, winner of the Warragul Cup earlier this year, won the Entires and Geldings feature, while Cranbourne horse Cruisin Around ran third in the trotting Colts and Geldings Final. These and other horses trained in the region look set to produce an exciting future for Gippsland harness racing.   Kyle Galley

Leading harness racing trainer Mark Purdon is always fairly reserved in his judgements when asked to rate his horses so when he labels one of his charges a "champion" it pays to take notice. That horse was Our Waikiki Beach who showed tremendous courage today in the $288,000 Woodlands Stud two year old colts and geldings Breeders Crown final at Tabcorp Park Melton.   Wide early from the outside of the gate, Mark Purdon continued to press forward in search of the lead.   But Born To Rocknroll with Luke McCarthy in the bike had already found the front and wasn't in the mood to hand up.   The two star juveniles went toe to toe for three hundred metres before Luke took a trail with Born To Rocknroll.   Shadow Sax found the chair soon after and then Zee Dana worked around and gave him one by one cover.   Off the back Mark Purdon upped the tempo again and as they straightened for home he put a break on his pursuers.   Mark gave him a couple to keep his mind on the job as he cruised home for an emphatic win.   After the early duel, Born To Rocknroll showed real gameness to stick on for second in front of Shadow Sax.   Our Waikiki Beach paced the 2240 metres in a real smart 2:42, a mile arte of 1:56.4 with closing sectionals of 58.3 and 28.7.   It was the son of Somebeachsomewhere's twelfth consecutive win from twelve starts and took his stake earnings to $510,427   Mark Purdon was all smiles post-race.   "He was really tested today but he came through it in great style..   "I thought he might be a bit vulnerable late after all the work he had done early but when I asked him he really lifted.   "I think he deserves to be called a champion after the season he has had and that run today, Mark said     Harnesslink Media

Harness racing trainer Brian Hughes and driver Maurice McKendry have continued an extraordinary domination by the Kiwis at Tabcorp Park Melton. The Orange Agent became New Zealand’s fifth Group 1 winner from five top-level  events today, winning the three-year-old fillies’ final by 2.6m over fellow Kiwi Start Dreaming and another Kiwi Linda Lovegrace in third. In fact former Kiwi – and the Breeders Crown champion from last year – Katy Perry finished fourth, with Michael Stanley’s pair Soho Tokyo and Soho Berlin finishing fifth and sixth respectively. “She just gets better and better,” McKendry said of The Orange Agent, who has now won 16 races from 22 lifetime starts. “She was a bit  unruly as a two-year-old early on but she’s developed into a really lovely racehorse now.” Dashing semi-final winner Ameretto led from the pole for Ashlee Siejka but was looking for a hole to jump into at about the 300m when Start Dreaming, who had worked to the chair around The Orange Agent, hit the lead. Once in the home straight The Orange Agent finished strongest however, her class carrying her home in a slick 1:54.4. Ameretto posted a lead time of 44.8secs and followed up with a 30-second first quarter. However, a 27.7 second split took the zing out of Ameretto’s legs. Katy Perry’s driver Amanda Turnbull did a stellar job to overcome  a barrier nine draw, finding the back of the leader early. But when Ameretto lost ground approaching the corner Katy Perry was held up before eventually getting into the clear and finishing off well for fourth. The last half was covered in 56.8secs. The Orange Agent is by American Ideal out of Lady Fingers. by Cody Winnell

The IRT $174,000 Breeders Crown final for three year old colts and geldings looked a two horse war on paper. In one corner was Menin Gate for Australia who has been in devastating form all season. In the other corner was Follow The Stars for New Zealand who had being going great all season as well but couldn't get the better of his arch foe when they have met. Mark Purdon worked Follow The Stars around the field early from barrier four before finding the lead after 600 metres. He was quickly joined in front by Menin Gate and Chris Alford who went to the front without any of the expected battle. My Kiwi Mate who was over racing badly back in the field worked to the chair with just over a lap to go and from there the speed was true. These three pulled clear at the 400 metres mark and turning for home a winner was hard to pick. My Kiwi Mate looked to have headed Menin Gate but like the true champion he is, he lifted and surged clear. Follow The Stars seemed to be full of running turning in but once in the passing lane he took an age to wind up. By the time he did Menin Gate had flown for a well- deserved victory. Follow The Stars was slightly disappointing in second while My Kiwi Mate was huge in running third. Menin Gate paced the 2240 metres in 2:40.6, a mile rate of 1:55.4 with closing sectionals of 55.9 and 27.3 It was the son of Somebeachsomewhere's 13th win from just 19 starts and took his stake earnings to $501,335 Chris Alford was fulsome in his praise of Menin Gate post- race. "We did plenty of work early but then so did Mark Purdon on Follow The Stars so I thought he would let me go when I went for the front." "Once in front he was really strong in the run and I was confident he would be hard to beat off the back. "My Kiwi Mate may have levelled with us as we straightened. But once I asked him he responded like the champion he is." "He is just a brute of a horse and I honestly think he will be better after a good break," Chris said. Harnesslink Media

The $50,500 Mountain View Stud Breeders Crown final for four year old colts and geldings at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton today looked like a two horse race on paper but like any race it never quite works out as you think it will. Hectorjayjay and Simone Walker led as expected from barrier 4 and immediately tried to box in Messini who started from barrier 1 but Chris Alford on Messsini was having none of it and worked his way out into the running line. My General Lee and David Morris worked forward in front of Messini and grabbed the lead soon after leaving Messini parked and Hectorjayjay in the trail. From that point it was just a matter of weather Messini or Hectorjayjay would prevail. Approaching the turn, Messini looked to under a fair bit of pressure with Chris Alford becoming very active in the bike. As soon as Hectorjayjay found the passing lane, he quickly put the issue to bed, scooting away for a narrow but convincing win. My General Lee showed real gameness in fighting on for second while Messini was slightly disappointing in third Hectorjayjay paced the 2240 metres in 2:40.5, a mile rate of 1:55.5 with closing sectionals of 55.1 and 27.2 it was the 22nd win for the son of Dream Away at his 45th start and he took his earnings with today’s win to $228,359. Simone was rapt to have finally taken a Group 1 with Hectorjayjay. "I lead really easily but I tried to box Messini in soon after the start but Chris was having none of it" "Off the back I could see that Messini was battling a bit so I was hoping this was his chance. "He didn't want to go into the passing lane initially but once balanced he was fine." "This horse deserved a Group 1 and now he has got it," Simone said.  Harnesslink Media

Harness racing is always in need of pin up starts and in the outstanding filly Our Dream About Me they have one of the highest class. A warm favourite in the $288,000 Betterthacheddar@Alabar Breeders Crown final for two year old fillies at Tabcorp Park Melton, Dream about Me still had some hurdles to overcome to justify that favouritism. Drawn out in the carpark on the second line, Our Dream About Me pushed through her way through early and got onto the three wide- line for driver Mark Purdon. Finding the chair outside the talented Hot Shot Woman and Robbie Morris after 700 metres, Mark Purdon was content to sit parked and applied no pressure to the leader. Going past the 800 metres, Robbie Morris pressed the go button on Hot Shot Woman and she burned down the back straight in 27.9. Momentarilary Our Dream About Me looked in a spot of trouble but when Mark asked her for the big effort, she lifted like the star she is and went to the line an easy winner. Hot Shot Woman went super but just found one better on the day while Zibibbo after trailing the whole way ran third. A minor highlight of the race was the run of Get In The Groove who after being three wide for the last round finished on gamely for fourth. Our Dream About Me paced the 2240 metres in 2:43.6, a mile rate of 1:57.5 with closing sectionals of 55 and 27. It was the eighth win from eight starts for the daughter of Bettor’s Delight and took her stake earnings to $403,877 Mark's smile is getting wider and wider as the day goes on here at Tabcorp Park. "That was a great run today after all the work she did." "I thought Hot Shot Woman was the filly to be wary of so I was keen to get handy to her as I could early. "She really found when I asked her and won like the great filly she is. "She has that X factor that separated the good horses from the great ones," Mark said. Harnesslink Media

As we really started to get into the Group 1 races today at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton, the Kiwis were off to a great start, winning the first two with a bit in reserve. Speeding Spur was a warm favourite in the $56,000 Woodlands Stud Colts/Geldings final on the back of his outstanding Victoria Derby win, even though he had drawn out in the carpark at barrier 13.   Driver Josh Dickie was lucky to duck a couple of early breakers in front of him with Speeding Spur but as soon as the speed buttoned off near the mile, Josh was off on Speeding Spur, circling the field to lead with just under 1400 metres to run.   Josh held Speeding Spur back to the field down the back straight until Illawong Armstrong who had broke badly early looped the field and took the race to the Kiwi star going past the 500 metres mark.   These two star three year olds drew clear on the corner and settled down to fight it out but Speeding Spur held Illawong Armstrong by a length.   Cold Crusher ran on well for third ahead of Kyvalley Boomerang but the first two were a class above their rivals.   Speeding Spur trotted the 2240 metres in a smart 2:48.4, a mile rate of 2:1 with closing sectionals of 58.8 and 30.   It was the son of Pegasus Spur's 14 win at start 22 and took his earnings to $331,031.   Josh Dickie was relieved more than anything post race.   " He was a bit off today and I think he is feeling the effects of a long season."   " But he is great trier and thats what got him home today.   " Dad said to me that he was looking for the paddock and that is where he is heading now."   " It is great to come over here and win a Group 1 on their big day so I am rapt, Josh said.   Speeding Spur     Harnesslink Media

The first of the Group 1 races today at Tabcorp Park Melton was the $84,000 Aldebaran Park Two Year old trotting fillies final and the All Star juggernaut started the day as expected with a smart win.   The outstanding filly High Gait has had a great juvenile season with just one nose defeat blotting an otherwise perfect season.   Today from barrier one she looked to have a mortgage on the race if she held the front for driver Mark Purdon and although briefly challenged by Smile Smile Smile, High Gait comfortably held the front early.   Mark Purdon was able to set a sedate lead time but slowly wound up the tempo from the 1600 metres and from the half upped it even more.   Parisian Chic settled back early from her wide draw for Blake Fitzpatrick before circling the field to sit outside High Gait from the 1200 metres mark.   Mark continued to up the tempo off the back and skipped clear by a length as they straightened.   Everybody at this point thought Missandei and Anthony Butt who had trailed High Gait the whole way would put real pressure on the leader up the passing lane but she only battled the last bit and High gait went to the line a comfortable winner yet again.   Parisian Chic was very brave in defeat with Missandei held on for third.   High Gait trotted the 2240 metres in 2:50.9, a mile rate of 2:01.6 with the last 800 metres in 57.9 and 28.3   it was High Gait's eighth win from just nine starts and it took the daughter of Muscles Yankee stake earnings to $151,450.   Mark Purdon was full of praise for the filly's win.   " She is such a natural two year old and that is what you need to be competitive in these sorts of races."   " She does everything right and is such a wee professional and that is a big plus," Mark said.   High Gait     Harnesslink Media

Conon Bridge defeated Cyclone Chief by a metre to claim Group 1 glory in the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Colts and Geldings Trotters Final at Melton’s Super Sunday program. The Paul Nairn-trained son of Raffaello Ambrosio/Diedre’s Girl survived a protest from the second horse, with the winner veering inwards in the home straight. However, stewards couldn’t be satisfied that the interference cost Cyclone Chief the race and the first horse over the line held his position, much to the relief of the favourite punters. Bob Butt drove the winner and Todd MacFarlane was aboard the second horse. Conon Bridge started $1.40 and led throughout from the pole, his winning mile rate 2:03.9. Cruisin Around ran a mighty race for trainer Michael Hughes and driver Greg Sugars to finish third, while Sundons Courage was fourth from three back along the pegs, running on well after a slow early pace up front. Reina Danzante goes all the way in fillies' final Reina Danzante won her second Group 1 for trainer Nicole Molander and driver Chris Alford with an all-the-way triumph in today’s IMV Technologies Breeders Cown Final for 3YO trotting fillies. The daughter of Armbro Invasion out of champion mare La Coocaracha led from barrier four to score by a neck in a mile rate of 2:00.9, Glenferrie Burn running on for second and My Arya finishing third. “Nicole and Dean (Molander) have done a super job,” Alford said. “Two Group 1s has been great and she should only get better too.” Once in front Reina Danzante posted a 31.4secs first quarter before a 29.4 second split. Reina Danzante got home in 58.7secs. Reina Danzante won the Vicbred Super Series earlier this season. by Cody Winnell

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