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To the Editor, The Northern Irish Standardbred Association (NISA) has been the recognised body for harness racing in Northern Ireland for more than 50 years. It is a “not-for-profit” organization where all work promoting and legislating harness racing in the region is performed by democratically elected committee members and volunteers. Tracks ran by NISA through the years included Antrim, Racetime, Dundrod, Tyrella and most recently Annaghmore. NISA have always enjoyed a mutually respectful working relationship with their counterparts in Britain, the British Harness Racing Club (BHRC) and in the Republic of Ireland with the Irish Harness Racing Club (IHRC). In the early 2000s NISA embarked on a partnership approach with the IHRC and ITHRF, the largest club in southern Ireland, whereby the IHRC would become the overall governing body for the sport on the island of Ireland with equal democratically elected representatives (comprising of 3 reps each and a round-robin style of electing chairmen, an equal period of time as chairman for each jurisdiction). The IHRC was suddenly and mysteriously disbanded however in 2015 by the then IHRC chairman Mark Flanagan and a new organization formed called the Irish Harness Racing Association. This was registered as a private limited company, with the chairman personally hand-picking “lifetime directors” to be appointed to this company. Immediately NISA was concerned and duly voiced their concerns. At no stage did they agree in writing that this was the best way forward for their members in Northern Ireland but assurances were given that it would be a fully democratically run organisation for all matters pertaining to harness racing and that all monies transferred over by the members in all 3 original clubs would be accounted for in a clear and transparent manner and these monies would be “ring fenced” for promotions in their own respective regions. With trepidation, the NISA tentatively progressed to working with this private limited company “on a trial basis” according to NISA’s Collective Committee “and subject to democratic selection and equal representation from each club”. But within a year, difficulties came to the surface between NISA and the IHRA. The direction that the IHRA were taking started to alarm the majority of the members of NISA. E-mailed and written queries about finances and other matters went for the most part was never responded to. NISA committee members were neither consulted with during the collation of the Indecon Report, an Irish government backed document outlining a 5-year future strategy for the sport. Fundamental rule changes and national handicap system alterations would be announced and immediately implemented by the IHRA without consultation and without warning. The IHRA refused to engage, had no AGMs in 2016, 2017, 2018 and produced no sets of annual accounts for 2015, 2016, 2017 (information as of December 31st 2018) for analysis despite continuous requests by NISA committee members for same. NISA and its members became more and more aghast at the way the IHRA was being run.       Whereas the old IHRC was open to public scrutiny, fully answerable to members queries over financial matters and accountable to members for all finances through the publication of sets of accounts, the IHRA on the other hand being a private limited company seemed to feel that they had no obligation to respond to requests from licence holders, that they could not be held accountable and seemed to feel that they were not legally obliged to be transparent with monies received in membership fees, race fees, allocation of purses etc. The NISA found this very difficult to overcome as its members had become accustomed to, for over 50 years, being part of a democratically run club, with all club members having an equal voice and vote and all financials published and available for public scrutiny. Along with the IHRA’s non-democratic, non-consultative dictatorial style of governing the sport in Ireland NISA found the ongoing reduction in the promotion of standardbreds in favour of French bred trotters particularly hard to swallow during that time. This began with the IHRA becoming more and more entrenched with the “Le Trotteur Francais” initiative in 2014. In simple terms, there is vast over production of trotters in France and in order to balance this out, other countries are persuaded to import this overflow in favour of receiving some form of grant-aid payment from the French to top up prizemoney locally and promote this unique breed. There are very strict guidelines before French grant aid is given including the proviso that French bred trotters are forbidden to race with trotters bred in other countries. The IHRA took this one stop further however and went for full membership of the UET in 2015. This again was without consultation with NISA. It’s well documented that the UET will not accept a country for full membership of their organisation unless they agree to “not promote pacing” (these criteria of membership are clearly defined and documented on the UET website) and it was widely publicised that the IHRA were given a 10-year timeline to tip the balance of French trotters over pacers in order to maintain full UET membership. The IHRA have done remarkably well in the promotion of French trotters over pacers over the past 5 years. Take the list below as a prime example. This is the number of French trotters versus pacers competing on the final day of the season at Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin for the past 5 years: 2014 - 10 trotters and 31 pacers 2015  - 36 trotters and 29 pacers 2016 - 29 trotters and 24 pacers 2017 - 22 trotters and 16 pacers 2018 - 25 trotters and 6 pacers It’s truly alarming that the number of pacers entered for the past 5 years is as follows: 31, 29, 24, 16, 6 and this is factual data, not opinion. These numbers speak for themselves. Just 2 major events per annum are now recognised as responsible for keeping the breeding numbers of pacers up in Ireland - the Vincent Delaney Memorial Series and the annual Sire Stakes (which are privately organised race meetings just using Portmarnock as a staging venue). It’s widely regarded that if it wasn’t for these 2 events there would be very little encouragement to breed or race pacers in Ireland. The standardbred pacer population would wither rapidly to almost extinction within a decade in this country.   Another example of why the pacers are dropping in numbers is the prizemoney issue. Whilst some pacing races have had little or no “added prizemoney” at Portmarnock and Annaghmore Raceways in 2018, there were recorded incidences were purses were even less than the amount of collected entry fees for these respective races. How many owners or trainers could tolerate this situation, where your pacing horses weren’t even racing for their own entry fees money back in purses? Enough was enough at the onset of racing in 2018 and NISA decided en-masse with to withdraw support for the IHRA. A decision was made to revert back to its original status that had held firm for over 50 years. It would once again become the primary recognised body for the sport of harness racing in Northern Ireland and no longer fall under the remit of the IHRA. It has renounced all agreements that the IHRA may have negotiated in 2015/6/7/8 with the UET, Le Trotteur Francais, STAGBI, Horse Sport Ireland and the Department of Agriculture amongst others (NISA claim they were not consulted beforehand on these agreements made by the IRHA and therefore cannot legally recognise them as to this day they are not privy to the contents of these signed agreements). It also refutes any claim by the IHRA to being the sole governing body for the whole of Ireland for harness racing. NISA in particular do not agree with the registration of Standardbreds with Horse Sport Ireland. This makes a fundamental shift from being classified as a racehorse (of which harness racing Standardbreds are recognised the world over) to a sport horse – therefore ineligible for all available government grant money for the horseracing industry.  NISA have now sought recognition from the BHRC (Northern Ireland is part of Britain) and wishes to either come under licence of the BHRC or operate as an autonomous body (but recognised by the BHRC as a governing body for the sport in this jurisdiction) NISA have leased Racetime Raceway in Lisburn, near Belfast in the United Kingdom with the intention of staging full harness racing meetings in Northern Ireland in 2019 under the same rules and handicap system of its fellow counterparts in the UK. Whilst NISA has no issue with Le Trotteur Francais initiative, they believe it should not come at the expense of the Standardbred pacers, and cite that as part of the UK has got the balance right with 2 differing organisations – The BHRC for Pacers and Trot Britain solely for French trotters with both working in harmony to promote harness racing in conjunction with each other. This is the ideal model for Ireland too believes NISA. One goal both NISA and the IHRA share is the need for more promotion of the sport of harness racing and that means more tracks opening like Racetime Raceway, more participants and more fans. Acknowledging the right to each other’s existence and governing their own jurisdictions with mutual respect for each other’s members is a must. NISA can only go forward with organisations where equal rights and democracy prevail. It is abundantly clear that IHRA in its current guise uphold neither. NISA as a Standardbred organisation will support licencing and are willing to take entries from anywhere in the Republic of Ireland, the UK or anywhere horse owners find themselves unaccommodated by developments and agreements between the IHRA and UET. From Thomas Bennett, for the NISA  

The following letter was sent to Harnesslink Sunday, February 3.  Dear Harnesslink Editor, Please be advised that a recent article advertised on the Harnesslink Website regarding Harness Racing in Ireland is grossly inaccurate, misleading and damaging to our sport both nationally and internationally. The Irish Harness Racing Association (IHRA) is the internationally recognised Governing Body of Harness Racing for the Island of Ireland and as such licenses all race tracks and personnel who compete under rules. The IHRA has worked hard over the last five years in particular to move our sport to a professional level which includes a report commissioned by our Department of Agriculture which was compiled by International Consultants Indecon and clearly identifies the strategic roadmap for this development. A five year Strategic Plan has been compiled by an independent Consultancy firm as part of the Indecon Report and this plan has been signed off by Department of Agriculture Officials and is currently with the Minister for Agriculture for evaluation and funding of our industry. To date the IHRA has no application to license any new race track in Northern Ireland and any racing activity that may take place at the suggested venue will happen outside of any official rules and governance. Any suggestion that our counterparts in Great Britain the British Harness Racing Club would license any tracks or individuals on the island of Ireland are without foundation. Yours in Sport, The Board of Directors IHRA  In response to his story that appeared on Harnesslink, click here, author Thomas Bennett offered the following reply.  My article is factually correct and accurate. Racetime Raceway is located in Great Britain/United Kingdom and the IHRA have no jurisdiction over Racetime Raceway, who will seek affiliation to the Governing Body in that jurisdiction - the British Harness Racing Club BHRC....Thomas Bennett More will be forthcoming on this situation in Ireland.   

Haydock, UK - On Friday 30th November, members of the UK harness racing fraternity converged upon the Mercure Hotel, Haydock, to celebrate the breeders, owners, trainers, drivers and horses who had excelled during the 2018 racing season. The evening was hosted by respected Thoroughbred and Standardbred commentator Darren Owen and STAGBI President Sarah Thomas, who have proven to be a popular double act throughout the 2018 season with their Facebook live racing previews and reviews at various fixtures across the UK. The awards were split into three sections: the STAGBI awards, which focus on the breeders of the winning-most horses in the three regions (England, Scotland and Wales), breeders of Sire Stakes divisional winners, breeders of selected Group 1 and prestigious races and the owners of the STAGBI Future Broodmares winning mares. Also wasthe Trot Britain awards, for owners, trainers and drivers of the most successful Trotteur Francais (French Trotters) imported under the Le Trot scheme; and the BHRC awards, for the various category winners, leading horse, owner, trainer and driver on wins, and Lifetime Achievement awards. The event culminated with the Tim Tetrick-sponsored Drive of the Year award, voted on by members of the public globally from a shortlist of six drives selected by a panel (Darren Owen, Sarah Thomas and BHRC Vice Chairman Jim McInally) and the coveted People's Choice award, which replaced the previous Horse of the Year award and was open to a public vote from the eight BHRC category winners (2YO Colt, 2YO Filly, 3YO Colt, 3YO Filly, Mare, Pacer, Overseas & Trotter of the Year). As per the 2017 staging of the event, the voice of harness racing Mr Roger Huston himself welcomed guests to the venue, having sent a pre-recorded video introduction, in addition to a number of congratulatory messages for the winners. This year, Heather Wilder also featured alongside Roger, having visited Ireland for the Vincent Delaney Memorial for the second time with husband Mike in August, with both making a big impression on UK harness racing fans. The STAGBI awards were presented by Gwenan Thomas, STAGBI Director and Administrator, with STAGBI giving back over £15,000 in breeders prizes and racing prize money for 2018. STAGBI also announced on the night that 2019 will see a change in format for the Future Broodmares races which have proven to be a massive success over the past few seasons, with the introduction of a grand final to be staged at York Harness Raceway in October of next year. A Young Person's Award has also been finalised which will act as a grant scheme for young people within harness racing to access funds to further their education, training or experience with the hope that this will enhance and improve harness racing in the UK. The Trot Britain awards were presented by Trot Britain committee member and veteran driver Ian Pimlott, with the Trotteur Francais Horse of the Year DIAMANT DE GODREL being celebrated both in the UK and France on the same night. Fellow committee members Dr Jack Dowie and Bill Green were present at Vincennes to collect the award on behalf of connections, who picked up a number of awards from all three organisations in Haydock. The BHRC awards were presented by BHRC Chairman Roy Sheedy who returns for his fifth term at the helm of the UK harness racing organisation, whilst continuing to train and drive winners from his base in south Wales. One of the main highlights of the evening was the announcement of the Lifetime Achievement award, which garnered the loudest cheers from those in attendance, as Steve Lees was unveiled as the first recipient of this new award. A native of Wales, Lees drove his first winner in 1975 when he was 16. Forty years later, in 2015, he was crowned the leading driver at the annual Tregaron Festival in Wales. He was the first British driver to compete in the WDC in 1985 and his second-placed performance led to his picking up catch drives in Australia and a return invitation to the WDC tournament in 1987. He also represented his country in 1991 and 1997. Steve was honoured by the BHRC as leading driver in Britain from 1987-1990, 1995, 1998 and 2003. As Sarah Thomas said in her introduction of the award, Steve Lees is the closest the UK has ever been to producing a World Champion and in order for someone to do better, they will actually have to win the World Driving Championship. Steve was joined for his presentation by wife, Lisa, daughter Kellie and son Stephen, an aspiring young commentator. Not to be outdone by his father, Stephen was celebrated earlier in the evening for his commentaries during the BHRC Kids Club races which were launched in 2018. Following a special message from his idol, Roger Huston, Stephen was invited to commentate on a muted version of the Crock of Gold Final which was played on screen in front of the crowd alongside Darren [Owen], who called the actual race in September. Stephen was also presented with his first pair of binocular, a commentator's greatest tool, by Darren on behalf of the BHRC. Leading driver William 'Rocker' Laidler was on hand to present the young competitors from the Kids Club Series with their mementos from the series - a collection of photos from their races - as well as the trophy for the overall series winner, which was Jake Podmore with his pony Star. Viccy Elvin received the 'Most Embarassing Parent' chalice for her endeavours supporting daughter Charley-Ann and her pony Elvis A-Ha. Rocker Laidler returned to the stage later in the evening alongside wife Alexis, as the duo collected the Leading Driver and Trainer awards respectively alongside their main owner, Raymond Huschka, who received the Leading Owner award. This was Alexis Laidler's eleventh Leading Trainer title in 12 seasons, with husband Rocker taking the honours on the other occasion to make it 12 straight years of Laidler dominance in the sport. The 2018 season was another stellar year for the team, taking out four Group 1 races - Appleby Whit Monday Final (Jack Swagger), Park Lodge Final at Aberystwyth (Springhill Glory), Welsh Classic Final at Tregaron (Teatime Preacher) and the Crock of Gold Final (Evenwood Sonofagun), as well as numerous other major handicap events and multiple stakes races. Their charges Rhyds Sapphire, Matticulous and Evenwood Sonofagun scored the 3YO Filly, 3YO Colt and Pacer of the Year honours respectively, and trotter Valseur Du Cygne was awarded Aged Horse of the Year in the Trot Britain segment also. The two awards remaining at the end of the night which were to be revealed to all in the room were the Drive of the Year award and the People's Choice award. This was the third year that USA's Tim Tetrick has kindly sponsored the Drive of the Year award, and it was Lauren Moran from Stirling, Scotland, with the drive on her family-owned Vyrnwy Smoke at Corbiewood which took the lion's share of the vote and saw the first Scottish and first female driver receive the gifts from Tim. For the People's Choice award, the public vote went the way of Rhyds Passion, winner of the Mare of the Year category for the second time running. This topped off an incredible season for the mare who recorded wins at three of the four 'crown jewel' two day festivals, including both heat and final of the Famous Musselburgh Pace, as well a STAGBI Future Broodmares race at Tir Prince and a heat of the Crock of Gold in Free For All company. The evening was a great success and partying went on late into the night - thanks to all who attended and well done to all of the award winners.  by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink Full list of winners: STAGBI Future Broodmares Race winners - MATTRIARCH, DYNAMIC ACE, SECOND AFFAIR, RHYDS PASSION, LADY MARY, RHYDS NIGHTLIFE & RHYDS MYSTIQUE Breeders Premium (Wales) - WOODSTONE JINGO (A Price), RHYDS PASSION (G Wright) DERNOL YANKEE (E Wozencraft) Breeders Premium (Scotland) - ROBHALL (H Muirhead & A Hay), AYR HERO (H O'Neil), EASY COMPANY (J Gilvear) Breeders Premium (England) - SECOND AFFAIR (P Mather), ROBYN CAMDEN (Camden Stud), COOL ICE (N Holgate) Breeders Premium (Brightwells) - RHYDS PASSION, COOL ICE, HABBERLEY HASTE (S William) Sire Stakes Breeders Bonus - 2YO Filly - TWO LEFT FEET (G Brown), 3YO Colt - MATTICULOUS (G Price), 3YO Filly - RHYDS REFLECTION (G Wright), 4YO Mare - RHYDS HOKEY COKEY (G Wright), 4YO COLT/GELDING - RHYDS ROCK STAR (G Wright), Leading Stallion - HASTY HALL (G Wright) Breeders Bonus Selected Races - LOOSECHANGE (H Muirhead), CRACK A SMILE (G Price), RHYDS ROCK STAR (G Price), EVENWOOD SONOFAGUN (J Nicholson), LAKESIDE PAN (M John) Group 1 Races - JACK SWAGGER (J Greenhorn), MATTICULOUS (G Price), RHYDS PASSION (G Wright), RHYDS DESIGN (G Wright), AYR HERO (H O'Neil) Trot Britain 3YO Trainer of the Year - JODY FOODY 3YO Driver of the Year - JAK FOODY 3YO Horse of the Year - FABLE DES BROUETS 4YO Horse of the Year - ÉCLAIR DU TORP 4YO Trainer of the Year - MIKE EVANS Mare of the Year - ENEZ LEMAN Aged Horse of the Year - VALSEUR DU CYGNE Aged Horse Driver of the Year - JOHN HENRY NICHOLSON 4yo Driver of the Year - JOHN HENRY NICHOLSON Aged Horse Trainer of the Year - JOHN NICHOLSON Horse of the Year - DIAMANT DE GODREL BHRC 2YO Filly of the Year - THE MOCKING JAY 2YO Colt of the Year - OAKWOODINITTOWINIT 3YO Filly of the Year - RHYDS SAPPHIRE 3YO Colt of the Year - MATTICULOUS Mare of the Year - RHYDS PASSION Pacer of the Year - EVENWOOD SONOFAGUN Trotter of the Year - DIAMANT DE GODREL Overseas Horse of the Year - ROBYN CAMDEN Leading Horses - ROBHALL & RHYDS PASSION Leading Owner - RAYMOND HUSCHKA Leading Trainer - ALEXIS LAIDLER Leading Driver - WILLIAM LAIDLER Posthumous Lifetime Achievement - BILLY WILLIAMS Lifetime Achievement - STEVE LEES Drive of the Year - LAUREN MORAN People's Choice - RHYDS PASSION

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

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

The cream of British trots will be in Melbourne next week as part of a two-week jaunt, which sees them take in the Melbourne Cup in the gallops and the harness racing Four-and-Five-Year-Old Championship Night at Melton before jetting to Christchurch for New Zealand Cup week. Legendary trainer- driver Alan Haythornthwaite, who represented Britain in the World Driving Championships in Australia in 1999, will be accompanied by his trainer, wife Teresa, and their two sons Richard and James – both outstandingly talented horsemen. Richard (30) who took care of Mr Feelgood when working for Tim Butt eight years ago, has more than 350 winners to his credit including the prestigious Vincent Delaney Final in Ireland last year while James, a prodigiously talented former top class Rugby League player has driven more than 80 winners in his three seasons in the sulky and is rated by Bill Hutchison, a consultant to British Harness Racing Club, as a star in the making. Their partners Lauren Moran and Ireland’s Shannon Flanagan are also handy race drivers in their own right. Sally Teebon, trainer of mighty four year old Miraculous (28 from 34 and over $AU100K) and partner Robert also make the trip along with the “Voice Of British Harness Racing” Darren Owen who is a prolific thoroughbred caller and already has 12 Grand Nationals on his CV. Thanks to Dan Mielicki and HRV, Darren will call a couple of races at Melton on Saturday November 11 and the wheels are in motion to get some drives for Richard and James whilst they are here. Connections of horses engaged at Melton and/or Geelong 8th, Yarra Valley 9th or Bendigo 10th can be assured of a high standard of horsemanship should they to come to the party and put one of the drivers on. Trots Media

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 organizers of TROTBritain along with management at Chelmsford City Racecourse (CCR), have agreed to host dates for the running of LeTrot races in 2017. Two LeTrot races will take place on the Chelmsford City’s all-weather track on Tuesday, August 15, Saturday, September 30 and Thursday, October 12. All dates are subject to British Horseracing Authority and British Harness Racing Club approval. “Last season we experimented with our inaugural TROTBritain LeTrot races at Chelmsford City Racecourse and it was a smashing success.” Said TrotBritain’s George Button. “Both organizations were pleased to increase the racing for 2017 and now we have three race dates this season.” The races will again be shown in all the Betfred shops and as before some of the other big bookmakers will also feature the races. With the continued growth of LeTrot races, and the influx of horses due to the success of the new LeTrot three-year-old stakes initiative, TROTBritain hopes by 2018, to have full meetings at the South East of England All Weather Track. “CCR has recently received planning permission for a racino and a turf track to be built inside the existing all-weather track.” Said Button. “These are exciting developments for CCR. The ambitious commitment CCR management have made for the future, to develop their track, is great for horse racing in Great Britain, and also for TROTbritain and LeTrot. TROTbritain will endeavor to continually take trotting forward,” Button added. “to enable all the owners, trainers and drivers who have prepared to buy into what we are trying to achieve, the opportunity to race on the bigger stage for increasingly bigger prize money.” By Steve Wolf, for TROTBritain

On the 22 February, 2017 a Panel of Appeal was convened to hear Mr David Taff’s appeal against the decision of a Panel of Enquiry which found on 26 November, 2016 at York Raceway, Mr. Taff to be in breach of section Y13 of the Rules and Regulations of the British Harness Racing Club (BHRC).  Mr. Taff was negligent in his position as a public trainer in that he failed to take all reasonable precautions in respect of the horse known as Johnny Camden, to avoid that horse’s exposure to a prohibited substance namely, Cobalt. He was found positive on 03, September, 2016 after competing at Tir Prince Raceway. The BHRC’s reply to those grounds of appeal took place at the hearing held at Tower Wharf, Bristol. Mr Taff represented himself, the BHRC were represented by Rory Mac Neice and Joanne Saye of Ashfords LLP, instructed by Kirsty Lee of the BHRC. The Panel of Appeal heard submissions from Mr. Taff and from Mr. Mac Neice. Having heard from the parties and having considered the written submissions and other evidence produced to them, the Panel dismissed Mr. Taff’s appeal and confirmed the finding and penalties imposed by the original enquiry panel. As a consequence, Mr. Taff shall have the following penalties imposed upon him: A fine of £2,500; suspension of all licenses with effect from 26 November, 2016 for a period of 5 years;  In addition Mr. Taff is ordered to pay the costs of the BHRC in the sum of £5,550. The BHRC reserve the right to inform any and all animal welfare organizations of the penalties issued under Y24[b]. This decision is published in accordance with A3 of the BHRC’s Rules and Regulations. From the British Harness Racing Club

The all-new 2017 TrotBritain Le Trot £60k 3YO Trot Series and 3YO Derby for minimum £10k is offering a unique raffle to win one of two French trotters for this year’s stakes races. So here is your chance to be part of it! Raffle tickets are £60 per number – winners decided on the official Lotto bonus ball (soonest date after all 59 numbers sold). Thanks to the kind agreement of TrotBritain the two French trotters will be made available to raffle (two separate Lotto draws to determine winner). These three-year-olds will be fully staked into two of Great Britain’s most lucrative trotting race series to date: The Le Trot 3YO – Heats throughout the racing calendar at various tracks with Finals at Tir Prince on 9th September Series with the purse at a whopping £60,000. The TrotBritain Le Trot 3YO Derby – minimum £10,000 purse which will include consolation races, so all eligible horses are guaranteed a run and return on stakes fee (at Tir Prince on 23rd September (Heats) & 14th October (Final & Consolations). The Le Trot 3YO French trotters will be selected by TrotBritain during their next French visit w/c 13th March 2017. Horses will arrive w/c 20th March 2017. Do not miss out on this opportunity to be part of these fantastic new races and the Le Trot initiative under TrotBritain. And each raffle ticket is just £60 per number. Contact the British Harness Racing Club at 01405 766877 to pick your number. Draw date will be announced once all 59 tickets are sold. The two French trotters will be made available to the raffle subject to sufficient sales of numbers. All funds raised will be divided equally between the 2017 PRAKAS & Roosevelt Race Series. From the British Harness Racing Club

WEST WALES, UK - Management at Tir Prince Raceway are delighted to announce that Top Notch will be sponsoring the British Harness Racing Club (BHRC) Derby and the BHRC Oaks, which will take place at Tir Prince Raceway on Saturday 9th September. Formed in 1984, Top Notch is a family run business and are leading importers and suppliers of toys to the Amusement Arcade & Holiday Park Industry.   Tir Prince Raceway is delighted to have secured this sponsorship and would like to thank Martin Millar of Top Notch. This promises to be a great night of racing as The BHRC Derby and Oaks races are steeped in history and are for Three Year Old Pacers, run over a very tough one and a half mile distance.   This year the races have been granted Group One Status for the first time, which elevates their importance in the harness racing calendar even higher. by Eric Witherspoon, for Tir Prince  

The second annual British Harness Racing Club (BHRC) and Standardbred and Trotting Horse Association of Great Britain and Ireland (STAGBI) joint awards dinner will this year feature the inaugural 'Drive of the Year' award which is being sponsored and supported by none other than world famous USA reinsman, Tim Tetrick. The six shortlisted drives were selected by a small panel from within the awards night organisation committee and the winner will be chosen by a public poll which closes at midday on Tuesday 14th February - For the link to vote click here. Before casting your vote, take a look at the drives which have been selected: Race 1 - James Haythornthwaite & Porcelain Seelster - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQkY9hcg9xA James Haythornthwaite comes from last to clinch the Victor Carson Memorial Final with a well-timed run at Corbiewood on board 3YO filly, Porcelain Seelster (September 2016) Race 2 - John Nicholson Jr & Cochise - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ius55lcwff8 Sixteen-year-old John Nicholson Jr holds off 2015 Leading Driver William 'Rocker' Laidler to win the Red John Memorial Hurricane Pace at Musselburgh (one of the major handicap events of the calendar) in a cool drive on board Cochise (June 2016) Race 3 - Ian Pimlott & Thundier Jiel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMBpWvX21w4 Seasoned campaigner Ian Pimlott guides Thunder Jiel to the trotter's first win on British soil since being imported from France, at the inaugural fixture at Chelmsford City Racecourse which followed the Thoroughbred card and was televised live on At The Races (November 2016) Race 4 - Mick Lord & Shaba Hanover - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRjl9ntkpB8 Mick Lord with what commentator Darren Owen described on the day as a 'perfectly timed' drive to guide Shaba Hanover to victory at York, having painted the outside fence to pass the leading horses in a thrilling finish (October 2016) Race 5 - Richard Haythornthwaite & Ayr Majesty - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwjPd9Z2sik Richard Haythornthwaite guides former top British juvenile Ayr Majesty to an impressive victory when winning the Tregaron leg of the Standardbred Sales Company Battle of the Big Guns, which was the horse's sole win in the toughest of top flight company all season (August 2016) Race 6 - Vicky Gill & Rhyds Mystique - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBxw6ZD0tbY Vicky Gill passed the field coming home on Rhyds Mystique for the BHRC 2YO Filly of the Year's first of 8 victories from 9 starts in 2016 when winning the NWHOA 2YO Championship. This performance was only the first indication of what was to come from the champion performer (June 2016) The winner will be celebrated at the awards dinner on Saturday 25th February and presented with a trophy and prize package provided by world champion driver Tim Tetrick. by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink  

The BHRC & STAGBI will once again be staging a joint Annual Awards Banquet to celebrate the successes of members of both organizations from the 2016 race season. The event will be held at the Daresbury Park Hotel, Warrington (WA4 4BB) on Saturday 25th February, 2017. The hotel is located near Junction 11 of the M56, rooms are available at the venue and advance booking is recommended. Due to the central location of the venue, alternative accommodation is available in the surrounding area. To book rooms call the hotel on 0161 9230300 and quote STAG250217. The evening will consist of a three-course meal (vegetarian option available, please specify) followed by the awards ceremony which will be hosted by respected Thoroughbred and Harness Racing commentator, Darren Owen. For the first time, the BHRC accolade of Horse of the Year will be kept under wraps and announced by Darren Owen on the night. Following dinner and presentation of awards there will be a disco to enjoy into the early hours. Tickets for the event are £35pp and can be purchased via the BHRC Office (01405 766877 / bhrc.office@yahoo.co.uk). Payment accepted by BACS, cheque or debit/credit card. Full ticket price must be paid prior to the event and the last date to book tickets will be Wednesday 8th February 2017. Tables are arranged in groups of 10 people, so should you wish to purchase for a group of 10 or more, tickets are available at the discounted rate of £32pp. We look forward to welcoming guests from across the UK and Ireland to this inaugural event to join in celebrating the successes from breeding and the sport. BHRC Awards: Leading Horse - MIRACULOUS Leading Owner - CLAIRE FLETCHER Leading Trainer - WILLIAM LAIDLER Leading Driver - WILLIAM GREENHORN HORSE OF THE YEAR - To be announced on 25th February 2017. Nominees are: Pacer of the Year - SPORTS TRICK Mare of the Year - SHADES OF GREY Trotter of the Year - SULKY DU BLEQUIN 3YO Colt of the Year - MIRACULOUS 3YO Filly of the Year - JESSIES CONQUEST 2YO Colt of the Year - TYRION HANOVER 2YO Filly of the Year - RHYDS MYSTIQUE Overseas Horse of the Year - PORTERSTOWN ROAD STAGBI Awards: Breeders Premium Wales - Zestthewayilikeit / David Powell England - Habberley Playboy / Stephen Williams Scotland - Ayr Ontario / Ayr Standardbreds Brightwells - Zestthewayilikeit / David Powell British Breeders Bonus: 2YO VDM - IB Coyote / IB Stables 3YO Derby - Jessies Conquest / M Jones & Miraculous / G Price Appleby Whit Final - Master Plan / S Gilvear Penybont - Ithon Inmate / Brynfawr Stables STAGBI Future Broodmares: ATM / H Muirhead Sureamsomething / A Hay & J Campbell Dizzy Miss Lizzy / N Lewis Articulation Hall / G Harrison Rhyds Backchat / E Elder Shades Of Grey / C Fletcher There is also a raffle running in conjunction with the event with all proceeds being donated to the Air Ambulance Charity: Grab yourself a chance to win a family weekend accommodation at your favorite Harness Racing fixture in 2017 - Appleby (Spring), Aberystwyth (Ceredigion), Tregaron or Musselburgh ALL PROCEEDS DONATED TO 'YOUR LOCAL AIR AMBULANCE CHARITY' www.theairambulanceservice.org.uk 1st PRIZE - 2 Night Family B&B Stay (2 Adults & 2 Children) 2nd PRIZE - 1 Night B&B Stay for 2 (2 Adults) To be drawn on Saturday 25th February 2017 Tickets are £5 each and are available from the BHRC Office and at the BHRC & STAGBI Awards Event at Daresbury Park Hotel in February 2017 Air Ambulance is a more than worthy cause which has been called upon in the past (thankfully not often) when there has been a racing accident. Most recently it would have been Logan Fowler who at just 18 was involved in a racing accident at Appleby in May 2015. The Air Ambulance attended and transported him to hospital. After a few operations, he has healed and was back in sulky after a year out. This thanks to the swift response of the Air Ambulance team. From the British Harness Racing Club  

With a continuing upsurge in orders for the second visit of three-year-old trotters from France could means that the TROTBritain LeTrot three-year-old series for 2017 looks likely to pay out  more than £100,000 in heats and finals. This was reported from the British Harness Racing Club (BHRC).   The finals alone this coming season (to be run at Tir Prince on September 9th) are being guaranteed at £60,000. The winner of the £30,000 Final (Tir Prince Raceway Gold LeTrot ) will receive £15,000 and the Silver Final will be worth £20,000 (£10,000 to winner).   Subject to entries, a Bronze final will be run and be worth £10,000 (£5,000 to winner). If the Bronze is not run, its money will be reallocated to the Gold and Silver So a guaranteed minimum of £60,000 will be paid out on the night. (A consolation event will also be run, if justified, to ensure everyone can be part of the action). The prize money in the heats will vary with the field size. At the moment, with at least 40 horses expected to be eligible to compete in the series, the BHRC are estimating total heat purses of £40,000, making the entire series worth £100,000. The net cost of running in the heats, carded regularly from May until early September, will be zero. The Finals fields will be decided on monies won in the series, ignoring the payouts of £150 which go to all unplaced horses. The only way to ensure you have a horse in this series is to deposit £200 asap. Order of deposit will be used to determine position in draw - and indeed simply being in the draw, if the number of horses we select as up to our standard is less than the number ordered.   The HSBC TROTBritain Account: Sort code 40 26 40, Account 80031119 Reference : your name and F for Filly, GO for Gelding Only GC for Gelding or Colt Key Dates: Remaining £2300 (of £2500 price) is due February 20th. Selection visit : February 27 - March 1 Draw : Friday 3rd March, 7pm  Horses arrive in GB Sunday 5th March   From the British Harness Racing Club

Some 240 years ago, Paul Revere made his famous ride enabling the phrase "The British are coming...the British are coming" to be etched in our history. On Saturday, December 10, the British ARE coming to Pompano Park in a historical harness racing event. Five of Britain's finest amateur drivers are crossing the ocean this week to participate in the British-American Amateur Championship, a three race event against members of the Florida Amateur Driving Club. This "British Invasion" will be held as the South Florida track moves to a five night per week schedule-Saturday through Wednesday-through early March. The English contingent will feature Richard Haythornthwaite, Jaimie Davies, Lee Morris, Patrick Morris and Chris O'Reilly, from County Cork in Southern Ireland. Richard Haythornthwaite, a carpenter by trade, has won multiple championships as the British Harness Racing Club's leading driver and has been associated with such top horses as Rhyds Rainbow and the 2016 Vincent Delaney Memorial winner, Tyrion Hanover. Jaimie Davies is a third generation, 20 year veteran horseman who, by trade, is a sheep farmer. His most memorable win was with the mare Maple Hanover, winning a heat of the Crock of Gold at Amman Valley in 2008. He won Ceredigion's "Top Driver Award" in 2012. Patrick Morris is a self-employed shop fitter who has enjoyed much success with Meadowbrook Josh, a versatile horse that has won on "all kinds of race courses, including grass!" This is Morris' third visit to Pompano Park and "is a wonderful experience to compete with his fellow Brits and great drivers here in Florida." Lee Morris, the son of Patrick Morris, is a farrier in the County of Herefordshire. His success has mainly been in Wales, but he also has had much success on the grass tracks in the west. He also has had success with Meadowbranch Josh, a winner in the Free-For-All ranks. Lee Morris raced earlier in the year at Pompano Park. Chris O'Reilly is a carpenter and grew up involved in the environment of training horses with his uncle. With only 10 "meetings" per year, O'Reilly has 16 wins and, in his first season of competition, he guided his homebred filly, Pardon My Dust, to be named three year-old filly of the year by the Irish Trotting & Harness Racing Foundation. The Florida contingent will have F.A.D.C. President Dein Spriggs on the roster, who has won well over 400 races during his driving career, as well as Mitchell Walker, Dennis Whittemore, Leon Cable, Joe Pennacchio, Jamie Marra and Steve Oldford, to name a few. Of the upcoming event, Spriggs said, "We are so delighted that this competition is taking place. It's another 'shot in the arm' for racing here in South Florida. Besides that, Ryan Macedonio will be attending the British Invasion festivities and will be conducting and broadcasting his now famous 'TrotCast," which has become a staple in the industry." Since its inception, the F.A.D.C. has donated over $170,000 to worthwhile causes, benefitting the welfare of children, horses and those in need. Post time for the Saturday night program is 7:20 p.m. by John Berry  

At the closing of the 2016 season in the UK, the British Harness Racing Club published the final standings for leading owner, trainer and horse. In two of the categories it was a race to the wire as trainers William 'Rocker' Laidler and Teresa Haythornthwaite, and owners Raymond Huschka and Claire Fletcher, battled it out into the final meetings at Corbiewood, Scotland, to win the title. Leading owner for the 2016 season went the way of Claire Fletcher, who secured the title on the final full day's racing at Corbiewood on 23rd October when Indie Hanover and Porcelain Seelster both notched up victories to make the winning tally 30 wins and 63 top 3 finishes. Last year's leading owner, Raymond Huschka, finished in second place with 28 wins and 80 top 3 finishes. BHRC Chairman Roy Sheedy finished third in the table, with 16 wins and 48 top 3 finishes. Claire Fletcher has previously won the title in 2011, and described the highlight of this season as "winning Musselburgh (The Famous Musselburgh Pace Final with Sports Trick), "it "was the best feeling and seeing Shane's (Claire's husband and co-organiser of the race meeting at Wolverhampton Racecourse) face, we were so emotional both of us". "We can only thank Team Haythornthwaite (trainer Teresa and drivers Alan, Richard and James) for everything they do, they work so hard and love the horses. We can't thank them enough. There are a lot of highs and lows in racing but this season we finished on a high". The trainer's title was all but decided the previous week at Corbiewood, as 'Rocker' Laidler extended his lead over Teresa Haythornthwaite, a deficit which could not be overcome despite Teresa training the aforementioned Claire Fletcher-owned duo who won at the final fixture. 'Rocker' Laidler has previously won the title, before wife Alexis went on a winning streak of 8 trainer's titles in a row, making this the tenth year straight that a Laidler has won the Championship. Rocker's season highlights included winning the Park Lodge Final at Aberystwyth and the 4YO Championship with Mikey Camden, and the Bells Field Final and Tregaron Classic Final with Evenwood Sonofagun. He won the FFA at Monmouth and Newcastle with Meadowbranch Josh also. His finally tally stands at 45 wins, with 148 top 3 finishes. Second-placed Teresa Haythornthwaite recorded 43 wins, with 103 top 3 finishes; and David Taff placed third with 31 wins and 62 top 3 finishes. The driver's title was a runaway affair as the season progressed, as Scottish driver William Greenhorn stormed to the top of the leader board early in the year and maintained momentum. The achievement was made all the more impressive due to the fact that Greenhorn was not affiliated to any major stable in 2016, and although he drove a number of horses that he has an established partnership with on behalf of other trainers, he also scored with numerous catch drives, forging new partnerships with horses and trainers alike. Greenhorn described winning the title as "a great personal achievement to win as it reflects how you have done over the full season rather than how you performed on a particular day. This title hasn't been won by a Scottish driver for a good number of years so I'm proud to give Scotland this recognition also". "Competing in the VDM Final and the Crock of Gold Final were highlights of the season, although I had no success in them". Greenhorn did have success however in FFA class races with Meadowbranch Josh at Tregaron in May, as well as the SHRC 2YO Futurity with Crosshill Ace. He also proved his worth when guiding Ayr Escape to the gelding's first win in 63 starts. Numerous drives were provided by leading trainer Rocker Laidler, including winning both heat and final at Hellifield. It was good to see former leading driver Laidler showing support to Greenhorn, who has acted as catch driver for the Laidler team for many years when the stables have qualified two of more runners for major handicap finals. He topped the table with 55 wins and 135 top 3 finishes; Rocker Laidler finished second with 39 wins and 126 top 3 finishes, and SHRC Leading Driver in 2015, Grant Cullen, recorded 37 wins and 86 top 3 finishes. Leading horse for 2016 was awarded to the Sally Teeboon-trained Miraculous (Arts Conquest-Another Mattie-Presidential Ball), having won 9 of his 10 starts this season. Last year's leading 2YO colt stepped up at age three to dominate once again in his age category, but also recorded a victory in his first start of the year in open class company against aged pacers. His CV now boasts the 3YO Scottish Grass Derby at Musselburgh, the NWHOA 3YO Championship, Breeders Crown 3YO Colts, BHRC National Pacing Derby (Colts), Sire Stakes 3YO Colts and the Oakwood Stud 3YO Derby and Portmarnock, Ireland. Last year's leading 2YO filly, Jessies Conquest (Arts Conquest-Apopka Denise-Jennas Beach Boy), also stepped up at age three, recording 8 wins in 10 starts to finish second in the table for owner/trainer/driver Marc Jones. Her victories included the Monmouth 3YO Colts & Fillies Pace, where she beat Miraculous, Ceredigion 3YO Fillies, NWHOA 3YO Fillies, Little Welsh Dragoness, National Pacing Derby (Fillies) and the Sire Stakes 3YO Fillies. Rhyds Mystique finished third, winning 8 of her 9 starts in the top 2YO races this season for trainer John Gill, with the VDM Final being the only race to elude her all season. The BHRC awards for horses in the various categories will be voted on imminently by the clubs and associations around the UK, as well as individuals on the BHRC Council. The short list for each category are as follows: HORSE OF THE YEAR will be voted on by the BHRC Committee from the winners of the below categories in 2016. The winners of the below categories will be voted on at the AGM in December, with a further vote at a later date to finalise the Horse of the Year 2016. Pacer of the Year Evenwood Sonofagun From 11 starts he has only been outside the top four twice. Most notably in August he won the Bells Field Heat and Final and within the week took the Welsh Classic Heat & Final at Tregaron. Owned by Raymond Huschka, trained and driven by William 'Rocker' Laidler. Mikey Camden With 7 wins in 2016, this horse travelled for most of the big handicap races - Appleby Spring, Musselburgh, Aberystwyth and Tregaron. He was well placed in all and winner of the Park Lodge Classic Heat & Final at Aberystwyth. Owned by Raymond Huschka and trained by William 'Rocker' Laidler. Sports Trick Winner of 7 races in 2016 including the Senior Welsh Dragon at Tregaron, Appleby Spring Sunday Handicap Heat & Final, the NWSA 4YO Championship at Tir Prince and of course The Famous Musselburgh Pace Heat & Final. He was also runner up in the Park Lodge Classic Final at Ceredigion, beaten by only 1 length. Owned by Leading Owner Claire Fletcher, trained by Teresa Haythornthwaite and driven by Alan Haythornthwaite. Mare of the Year Blytheview Peach With 4 victories in 2016, this mare has advanced from Maiden through to Grade 3. Her first victory was at the Tregaron Festival in August, quickly followed by victories at Almeley and Tir Prince, with her four at York on Sale Day in October. Owned by Cheryl Podmore, driven by Jason Podmore and trained by Jason Podmore and Victoria Elvin from June. Frisco Frisk A tough and consistent mare who realised 3 victories from 12 starts in 2016. Her first victory was at Wolverhampton in June and the other two in 4YO stakes at Tir Prince; the NWSA 4YO Fillies Championship and Breeders Crown 4YO Mares. She realised £14,000 when offered for sale at Brightwells in October. Owned by the Fools Who Dream Syndicate and trained by Teresa Haythornthwaite. Shades Of Grey A terrific mare who has achieved 8 top 3 finishes from 14 races, 5 of which were victories. Her first win came at Wolverhampton in June, followed by a tough race at Musselburgh where she held on and won the top Heat of the Famous Musselburgh Pace. She won a Stayers Pace at Pikehall in some of the toughest conditions, a STAGBI Mares Pace at Tir Prince and a Red Mills sponsored Pace at Dundalk. Owned by Leading Owner Claire Fletcher, trained by Teresa Haythornthwaite and driven by James Haythornthwaite. Trotter of the Year Sacha Of Carless A late import in 2016, he squeezed in 10 races and struck up a 50% strike rate. He has raced over varying distances and had victories at Musselburgh, Newcastle and Tir Prince including the 2-mile endurance trot in September. Owned by John Foy and trained by David Taff. Sire Pazenais Another fresh 2016 import for the Le Trot series, he has been victorious in one third of his starts, placed in one third and only out of the placings on three occasions. Owner by Paul L Mather Jnr and trained by Paul Mather. Sulky Du Blequin 2016 was his second season racing under BHRC, where from 13 starts he realised 11 top 3 finishes. Racing over varying distances and on all surfaces he had back to back victories at Wolverhampton in June, the Gold Le Trot at Musselburgh, the George Dixon Memorial Trot at Tir Prince, the Le Trot Saddle race at Tir Prince and lastly an impressive 11 length win at Chelmsford. Owned by John Foy and trained by David Taff and John Foy. Tenor Meslois Imported as part of the Le Trot initiative in 2016, this trotter has been very successful with 12 top 3 finishes from 15 races. He racked up 6 victories on a variety of tracks and over a variety of distances; Tregaron over 1¼ miles, Wolverhampton over 1m100yds, Monmouth over 1¼ miles, Tir Prince over 1 mile and 1¼ miles and Amman Valley over 1m940yds. Owned by Gwenan Thomas, trained and driven by Rhys Evans. 3YO Colt of the Year Miraculous Needing no introduction, he was the 2015 2YO Colt of the Year and is exactly as his name suggests. Leading Horse by number of wins in 2016 he is the champion of the Musselburgh 3YO Grass Championship, the NWSA 3YO Championship, the Barney Joyce Memorial 3YO, the Breeders Crown 3YO Colts, the Oakwood Stud BHRC Colts Derby and the BHRC Sire Stakes 3YO Colts. Owned by Arnie Flower, trained by Sally Teeboon and driven by Patrick Kane Jnr. Truly miraculous is every way. 3YO Filly of the Year Jessies Conquest 2015 2YO Filly of the Year, her 3YO campaign lived up to all expectations. Winner of the Monmouth 3YO Fillies, the Ceredigion 3YO Fillies, the NWSA 3YO Fillies Championship, Little Welsh Dragoness 3YO, the Oakwood Stud BHRC Fillies Derby and the BHRC Sire Stakes 3YO Fillies. Bred, Owned, Trained and Driven by Marc T Jones. She boasts a very strong CV. 2YO Colt of the Year Rhyds Decoy From the mare CPR this colt was always expected to excel and add to the numerous stakes races of her other progeny. He didn't disappoint, finishing in the top 3 of all his 6 starts and winning the Ceredigion 2YO Colts, a Vincent Delaney Prep at Tir Prince and also the BHRC Sire Stakes 2YO Colts. Owned by the BKB Syndicate, trained by Joanne Cairns and driven by Andrew Cairns. Tyrion Hanover Lightly raced as most 2YOs are, this colt was rightly placed by owner John Howard and trainer Samboy Howard. He finished in the top 3 of 4 out of his 5 races, conquering the heat and final of possibly the most prestigious 2YO race of present; the Vincent Delaney Memorial. 2YO Filly of the Year Rhyds Mystique From a CPR line mare, this filly also has a catalogue of successful siblings. She proved to be the best yet winning 8 out of 9 of her starts including the NWSA 2YO Fillies, the Ceredigion 2YO Fillies, a Vincent Delaney Prep, the Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies, the Vincent Delaney 2YO Fillies Division, the Junior Welsh Dragoness, the Rhyds Stud BHRC Fillies Futurity and the BHRC Sire Stakes 2YO Fillies. Owned by Victoria Elvin, trained by John Gill and driven by Victoria Gill. Overseas Horse of the Year Any horse that has connections to an IHRA registered owner or trainer in the relevant season can be nominated under this category. Kickass Katie 4YO filly who has rarely been out of the placings all season. Under BHRC she finished 2nd in the Strata Florida Heat at Tregaron and 3rd in the final. In late September she made the trip over to Tir Prince for the Sire Stakes and was victorious in the 4YO fillies division in a very respectable time of 1.59.6. Owned and driven by John Richardson, and trained by William Flanagan. Porterstown Road First raced under BHRC in June at Tir Prince he finished 2nd in a Crock of Gold Heat, followed by second again in the FFA at Ceredigion. In July he took on the Crock of Gold heats again and was triumphant in a clock of 1.57.3, a run that gained him entry to the final in August when he excelled and held off the competition to take the Crock of Gold 2016. Owned by the family of the late RGB Webster, trained by Geoff Dunne and driven by Jonathan Dunne. Special Contribution to Harness Racing The winner of this category will be determined by the Awards Event Organisation Committee. All nominations will be considered and the winner announced along with Horse of the Year: Elizabeth O'Neil & Kareen New Sarah Thomas Heulwen Bulman Sue Williams (Tir Prince) Awards will be presented at the BHRC & STAGBI Annual Awards Event on Saturday 25th February 2017 - award winners will be invited to attend; further details to follow. by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink

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