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HRV has today released the "Harness Racing Victoria Strategic Plan 2020 Consultation Paper" which will be the blueprint to take Victorian harness racing into the future. The plan is designed to revitalise harness racing in Victoria and create a dynamic and world class industry that will serve as a national and global leader. The plan will cover such key issues as integrity and animal welfare, horse population, innovation of the racing product, wagering, industry participation and growth, marketing and communications to name a few. HRV Chairman Ken Latta PSM said: "For the Plan to achieve its objectives the input, ideas and support of the industry is critical." Mr Latta invites all participants passionate about harness racing to become involved. HRV proposes to engage widely and embark on a rigorous consultation process to discuss the plan. In the coming month HRV will: * Hold sessions with formal industry consultation groups * Conduct forums with participants across Victoria * Receive feedback via written submissions Harness racing makes a significant contribution to the social fabric of Victoria and currently contributes $422 million to the Victorian economy, $226 million in household wages and is responsible for the employment of 4000 FTE jobs. With fresh ideas and industry input the 2020 Plan will ensure that harness racing continues to make its mark in Victoria well into the future. The timetable for the consultation process is: * Release of Consultation Paper - August 27 * Stakeholders consultation and forums to take place during September 2015 * Written submissions close September 30, 2015 * Strategic Plan 2020 released late 2015 The consultation forums will be conducted at the following locations, commencing at 7pm: * Bendigo Harness Racing Club September 15 * Shepparton Harness Racing Club September 22 * Tabcorp Park Melton September 23 To access the Harness Racing Victoria Strategic Plan 2020 Consultation Paper and written submissions form click here CODY WINNELL, COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA MANAGER

Barrier Draws to decide Breeders Crown Fate The chances of runners in next Sunday's TAB Australasian Breeders Crown Finals will be hugely impacted by the all-important Barrier Draws next Monday 24 August, to be conducted in the Legends Cafe© at Tabcorp Park Melton. Coinciding with the Tabcorp Park race meeting, the Barrier Draw action gets underway after Race 3 from 2.30pm where host Cody Winnell and the Good Form team of Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden will dissect and analyse the fields for the 2 year olds. The action continues after Race 4 from 3.10pm as the team turn their attention to the 3 year olds. Entry is free and the Legends Cafe© Tabcorp Parkwill be serving an extensive selection of meals throughout the afternoon. TAB Breeders Crown Barrier Draws From 2.30pm, Monday August 24 Legends Cafe©, Tabcorp Park  -  2 Ferris Road, Melton After Race 3  -  2.35pm 2YO TROTTING FILLIES 2YO TROTTING COLTS 2YO PACING FILLIES 2YO PACING COLTS & GELDINGS   AFTER RACE 4  -  3.10pm 3YO TROTTING FILLIES 3YO TROTTING COLTS 3YO PACING FILLIES 3YO PACING COLTS & GELDINGS TONY ISING MARKETING MANAGER

The Race to Royalty has been electric so far with action-packed TAB Breeders Crown heat racing throwing up more questions than answers, with some upset results along the way.  It will make the Ballarat semi-final night action unmissable of course as we build towards the crescendo at Tabcorp Park Melton on Super Sunday August 30. For now though, let's turn our focus to tonight at Melton and we've got 10 races on the card. And make sure you check out TAB.com.au's Metropolitan Drivers Markets where Gavin Lang, Chris Alford and Greg Sugars look set for a cracking premiership battle that should go to the wire. – Cody Winnell (Manager Communications and Media, HRV)   By Jason Bonnington There's no sugar coating the fact that tonight's programme would be as tough as any I have analysed since taking over the metropolitan form guides at Tabcorp Park Melton. The downside is that the racing could be wild, woolly and unpredictable; the upside is that the racing could be wild, woolly and unpredictable! Despite her wide draw and arduous campaign I'm putting most of my eggs tonight in the Quick Draft basket given I've one-outed her in all of our quads and also isolated her in my only money race. If she goes under we're left with our value plays to ensure we keep the "Good Form" rolling from the past few weeks.  Check out Jason Bonnington's Game Plan   We're #TippingForTeal at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. Follow the leader board each week to see how much money will be donated to the Women's Cancer Foundation - Ovarian Cancer Institute after Feb 28, next year.  $20 Flexi Trifectas Race 8 7/ 3/ 1,2,5,8      $15 for 375% 7/ 1,2,5,8 / 3      $5 for  125% Place All-Up Race 5 No.1 Gotta Go Yankee  into Race 7 No. 1 Lierre Noir $10 Each-Way Race 5 No. 11 Aldebaran Macha Flexi Quaddie 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9/ 1,3,4,8,11/ 1,5,7/ 5,7 for 8.33% It'll be CAT AND MOUSE tonight at Melton into Race 3 and 4 so we'll go a$20 running double Trottn The Catwalk into Our Danger Mouse Tough week last week unfortunately and as a result we've had NO CHANGE to the tally board. Let's see if we can get a bit extra coin this weekend.   New season club memberships on sale now The access-all-meetings Trots Card – Victorian harness racing’s must-have card for owners and fans – is a key component of the 2015-16 club membership packages. Club membership packages are on sale now for season 2015-16, with prices ranging from $25-$100 and clubs offering a variety of different entitlements for members.          

Three short-priced favourites lined up in tonight’s three-year-old colts and geldings’ Breeders Crown heats at Bendigo. But only punters who cashed out after just one leg – My Kiwi Mate ($1.30) winning Race 1 – walked away with more loot than what they set out with. Andy Gath-trained Burnaholeinmypocket upstaged Menin Gate by the slightest of margins in the second of the night’s heats, while $1.30 pop Ideal For Real came in sixth in Race 5, Lexus On The Beach instead scooping the prize from Egodan. My Kiwi Mate (Bettors Delight/Classic Nymph) took out the ninth heat of the IRT Breeders Crown Series 17, the Craig Demmler-trained former Kiwi holding off runner-up Rule Of Thumb by just a short half-head. The runner-up charged late, but My Kiwi Mate, driven by Jodi Quinlan, did enough, holding on in a 1:58.5 mile rate. Rule Of Thumb (Greg Sugars) was probably unlucky, held up at a vital stage, while Madis Mate finished third for Michael Bellman. Burnaholeinmypocket moved straight through to the semis with his heat victory, the son of Bettors Delight/Kelly Maguire from the Andy Gath stable with Kate Gath in the sulky upstaging Queensland and Victorian Derby winner Menin Gate by a short half-head in 1:56.7. Chumlee (Amanda Turnbull) ran third. Bathurst colt Lexus On The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere/Panoramic Lady) took out the 11th Breeders Crown heat for trainer Steve Turnbull and reinswoman Amanda Turnbull, scoring a 4.4-metre win over Egodan from the Beau Tindale camp with Rod Petroff in the cart, while Sluggem (Anthony Butt) came in third. Lexus On The Beach showed plenty of dash early, ran to the front and kept on running, rating 1:56.2 for an all-the-way win. Ideal For Real galloped late and never raced like the New South Wales Derby winner punters know. by Cody Winnell >> RE-LIVE THE ACTION My Kiwi Mate holds on ... just! Burnaholeinmypocket upstages Menin Gate Lexus On The Beach grabs the win

The unveiling of Harness Education & Re-homing Opportunities (HERO) has brought to fruition one of Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) most pressing priorities. The much anticipated project will deliver unprecedented life after racing avenues for retired standardbreds and elevates Victoria to the forefront of animal welfare innovation within the harness racing industry. HERO is being financed jointly by HRV and the Andrews State Government via the Victorian Racing Industry Fund. HRV CEO John Anderson said horse welfare was a critical component of any vibrant and healthy racing industry. “We already have in place a number of broad strategies to manage the care and wellbeing of our horse population, principally under the banner of racing and integrity,” Anderson said. “HRV acknowledges, however, that a key inclusion within a comprehensive and appropriate welfare program is providing an alternate life for standardbreds no longer racing. “We are excited to be partnering with the State Government and sincerely appreciate the support of Racing Minister Martin Pakula MP whose backing is integral to HERO’s success.” Anderson said that through the research and development of HERO, HRV had noted there is already significant work undertaken in horse re-education and re-homing across the harness racing industry. “What’s lacking is central co-ordination of the many initiatives in place, accompanied by widespread, positive publicity of the fantastic stories which are evolving – at present, largely behind the scenes,” he said. HRV General Manager – Operations Vaughn Lynch will oversee the HERO Project. “There are some incredibly dedicated, talented and passionate people working very hard to secure positive outcomes for standardbreds which, for a myriad of different reasons, are not suitable for racing,” Lynch said. “HERO will both acknowledge and support these people, and provide the information and resources to generate increased opportunities for a greater number of retired horses to find a purposeful, long term future in retirement.” Tanya McDermott, an advocate for life after racing, will manage the implementation of HERO. Her role includes:  The development of a registration program for re-trainers to ensure a consistent, professional standard of care and re-education for off-the-track standardbreds.  Managing the flow of retired horses through liaison with owners, trainers and breeders. This will include educating harness industry participants about the options available for horses that are no longer suitable for racing.  Coordinating placement with the most appropriate re-trainer, assessing each horse’s individual qualities and attributes with a view to maximising its potential beyond the racetrack.  Managing and advising on the placement of horses that are unsuitable for riding.  Managing the transition of horses between harness trainers, re-trainers and end purchasers.  Promoting and advertising HERO through traditional, electronic and social media outlets.  Managing a register of re-homed horses, and the de-registration of standardbreds once theycease to be actively utilised within the harness racing industry. HRV will work in parallel with a nationwide de-registration system presently being developed by Harness Racing Australia.  Providing information, advice and guidance to suitably skilled/experienced people who wish to become standardbred re-trainers.  Reinforcing and developing relationships with organisations such as the Standardbred Pleasure and Performance Horse Association of Victoria, the Horse Riding Clubs Association of Victoria, Pony Clubs Victoria, Equestrian Australia, the Royal Agricultural Show Society of Victoria, the Australian Carriage Driving Society and the Australian Trail Horse Riders Association, to build the profile of and promote standardbreds as pleasure horses and create increased opportunities for standardbred riders. “Standardbreds make the most fantastic pleasure horses,” McDermott said. “Thanks largely to the efforts of Kathleen Mullan and MF Hollywood (who contested the prestigious Garryowen), the breed is more widely accepted in equestrian circles than ever before and while there is still some work to be done to break down traditional biases, the number of people willing to consider a Standardbred as a riding horse is growing daily. “I have been fortunate through my work in the media to build a terrific rapport with industry participants in Victoria and I already have a wide network of owners and trainers whom I work with to assist in placing horses at the conclusion of their racing career. “HERO will elevate Victoria’s re-education and placement activities to an exciting new level and I’m enormously grateful for the opportunity to spearhead the project.” For more information on HERO visit us on Facebook – www.facebook.com/HRVHERO or Twitter @HRVHERO.  CODY WINNELL

Harness Racing Victoria's (HRV) decision to extend the mares' class lift to two and three-year-olds will bolster the racing opportunities afforded to fillies and mares in Victoria from 1 September, 2015. "It's a great initiative for owners of fillies," Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club president and racehorse owner Emmy Mazzetti said. "This combined with recent Victorian stakes increases for fillies and mares' races will keep fillies and mares in the racing population for longer." The changes will result in fillies being able to utilise the lift to race against the colts. Prominent owner/breeder Shannon Nixon also welcomed the changes. "I think it's terrific. It will increase the appeal for fillies and mares right through from the yearling sales, and will help keep fillies and mares racing where it might not have been considered viable in the past," Nixon said. "It's great news for people who race fillies and mares." HRV announced recently prizemoney for fillies and mares' country front races would increase by $1000 a race from season 2015-16. The fillies and mares' prizemoney announcement came as HRV declared Victorian stakemoney would exceed $40 million for the first time. Cody Winnell

Master harness racing trainer Mark Purdon became a two-time Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic winner today at Maryborough. Purdon’s rising star filly High Gait produced a flawless performance in the 2190-metre stand-start Group 1 to score a 2.7-metre win in a mile rate of 2:06.3. High Gait is by Muscles Yankee out of quality producer Regal Volo. She is a full-sister to Breeders Crown winner Our Twentyten. High Gait’s 65secs first half set the filly up to dash home. She got home in 58.4secs, holding off runner-up Missandei comfortably with Sundons Courage third. High Gait has won six races from seven starts, her only defeat coming when second in the Harness Jewels at Ashburton. by Cody Winnell

The nation’s leading reinsman Greg Sugars and Shepparton harness racing trainer Amanda Turnbull both had winning doubles at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. Turnbull produced the first two winners on the program, Copper Coast (Modern Art/Katasopos) and Oh Jonny Be Good (Mach Three/Maikona), while Sugars combined with trainer Geoff Webster to win aboard Flaming Flutter (Bettors Delight/Twice As Hot) and was victorious behind Emma Stewart-trained Goodtime Mike (Browning Blue Chip/Golden Face). Copper Coast’s win in the 2240m DNR Logistics Pace (M0) kicked off the nine-race card, driver Nathan Jack – partner of Turnbull – expertly steering the four-year-old gelding home by a whisker over Fernco Bobby G (Glenn Douglas). The winner’s stablemate Big Spook (Turnbull) ran third, the mile rate 1:57.5. Jack took Copper Coast back early from barrier three before timing his run to perfection on the last lap, diving into the one-one around the final bend before stoking up strongest in the lane (29.1secs fourth quarter after a 28.1secs run down the back, 57.2secs last half). Copper Coast is a former Queenslander who won the 2013 Paleface Adios Classic at Albion Park at two. The wraps on three-year-old stablemate Oh Jonny B Good got bigger after the colt sat three-wide with no cover (final 800m 57.3secs) and outclassed his opponents in the Decron Pace Final (C2-C3). From an inside back row draw Turnbull took the ex-Kiwi back to the rear early before improving through the last lap. Oh Jonny B Good stretched out best late to win in a rate of 1:59.5 for the 2240m journey and you get the feeling there’s plenty more improvement to come next prep. Illawong Lively (Scott Rains) from the pole ran second and Admiral Joy (Sugars) rocketed home for third. Seven-year-old Bettors Delight/Star Chaser gelding Astronaut won the Tye’s Clubbing USA Claiming Pace to give trainer/driver Jodi Quinlan a Maryborough/Melton double for the day (she scored a dashing win on Friday afternoon aboard Illawong Moonshine). Astronaut came with a sweeping sprint down the outside of the track to beat heavily backed favourite Livin It Lovin It (Rodney Petroff) by 2.2m in a rate of 1:59.4 over the 2240m. Inky Cullen (Alex Ashwood) was third. Burrumbeet trainer/driver Michael Stanley took out the SEW-Eurodrive Pace Final over 2240m (C1) with his three-year-old Somebeachsomewhere / Giveusachance filly Soho Berlin. Stanley improved from a midfield position aboard the in-form filly (who has won three of her last four starts) at the mile. She covered plenty of territory from that point to the 1200m pole when she eventually ran to the lead. From there she paced her final three quarters in 30.1secs, 30.2secs and 29.9secs after an opening stanza of 29.7secs to rate 1:58.3, beating Sir Briggen (Mark Buckingham) by 5.5m while Olivia Rockstar (Trevor Hilson) was third. The Conect Blacks A Fake Free-for-All saw impressive five-year-old Bettors Delight/Twice As Hot entire Flaming Flutter continue his rise to stardom. This season’s Inter Dominion runner-up made it two straight fast class wins by holding Keayang Starzzz (Glen Craven) out at the end of the 1720m trip by a half-neck in 1:57.1. Sugars restrained early on Flaming Flutter as the leaders sprinted through a quick lead time before easing three-wide at the bell and whipping up to the breeze through the 32secs second quarter. Keayang Starzzz still appeared to be travelling at the home bend but Flaming Flutter simply outclassed the runner-up in the straight, dashing home in a 27.2secs final quarter after a 28.7secs third split. Consistent Exciteusinthecity ran third for Tim McLean. Brent Lilley had a double at Maryborough on Friday afternoon and backed it up with a third victory at Melton in the Tabcorp Park Melton Cup with Crusader Acey. At big odds, Anthony Butt took the Live Or Die/Trustee Mota gelding straight to the front early from barrier five before handing up to Best Deal Yet. This left Young Modern (Michael Stanley) parked; the heat winners 1-2 in the run. Once in front Best Deal Yet carved out some quick sectionals after a slick lead time (43.6secs), the opening splits 29.4secs and 29.5secs. Young Modern put paid to the leader at the 400m but Lierre Noir, Major Crocker and Crusader Acey were all starting to loom off softer runs. Crusader Acey finished strongest to score (third and fourth splits 28.8secs and 29.4secs) in a mile rate of 1:55.4, Young Modern battling on gamely for second to be beaten only a neck while Lierre Noir (Glen Craven) was close-up in third. Goodtime Mike gave Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart a victory for the night in the Eynesbury Golf Club Pace (M1) over 1720m from barrier five for in-form Sugars. Goodtime Mike did plenty of work in the run but still found the line best to defeat Artoc (Chris Alford) in second by a head, with Highview Conall third in 1:57.2. David Aiken trained and driven Earth Angel swept to victory in the Renown Silverware Pace over 1720m (M0). The Mach Three/Arty Alice five-year-old tracked the favourite Miley Rose into the lane before peeling off her back and out-sprinting her for a 3.2m success. Miley Rose was second for Gavin Lang, South Australian visitor Our Mischievious Miss holding third for Wayne Hill after giving a bold sight out in front. Earth Angel’s rate was 1:55.7. San Carlo wound up the night on a sensational note, the Mach Three/Bridge Player gelding far too good for his rivals in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series A Final for reinswoman Rebecca Bartley. by Cody Winnell  

On a night dominated by close finishes it was the blow-out margin in the last tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton that had many harness racing pundits salivating. San Carlo (Mach Three/Bridge Player) mightn’t have beaten a field glistening with stars, but he did it in style taking out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series A Final and remains unbeaten in four trips to the races. Reinswoman Bec Bartley alluded before the score-up on Sky Racing to the fact she and trainer Stephen O’Donoghue rated the Kialla four-year-old. “We’ll just keep pushing forward," she said, then suggesting the fans would know more about what the gelding was capable of post-race. San Carlo ambled away from barrier six at the 2240-metre start and Bartley kept him clear of harm’s way out wide before trekking forward. Once San Carlo was in front the $1.20 he started with the bookies looked about right. And, after a first half of 62.4secs in-the-run odds makers would have shut up shop. Quickening up through the third stanza (28.6secs) San Carlo slipped into another gear and put his rivals to the sword. Importantly, however, while tonight’s rivals were clearly not in the same league as the winner, San Carlo basically cruised to the line hard held. His fourth quarter was 28.9secs and he romped clear to win by 32.8 metres, but Bartley didn’t budge a muscle and caller Dan Mielicki even suggested the mercy rule be enacted. San Carlo rated 1:59.4. The winner’s dam Bridge Player (by Classic Garry) ran second in the 1997 Sires final at Moonee Valley at two (beaten narrowly by Belinda) and all four of her progeny which have made it to the track have won races. by Cody Winnell

The trotters take centre stage this weekend as Maryborough and Harness Racing Victoria celebrate the time-honoured Redwood Carnival. Three huge days of trots action got under way today, will continue tomorrow (watch all the action from Saturday's non-TAB Redwood day two live streamed online here) and will climax Sunday with the running of the Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Trotters Derby and Redwood Classic. Tonight we're racing at Tabcorp Park with the Tabcorp Park Melton Cup Final and the Conect Blacks A Fake Free-for-All the feature races. Tomorrow night Kilmore takes the Saturday night spotlight with three TAB Breeders Crown heats scheduled. – Cody Winnell (Manager Communications and Media, HRV)   Did you follow Jason Bonnington's Good Form Game Plan last Friday and Saturday night? If so, here's what happened!    The tipsters had the choice of Tabcorp Park Melton tonight or Redwood Day Sunday this week for their $20 play of the weekend. Here's what they thought... Follow the leader board each week to see how much money will be donated to the Women's Cancer Foundation - Ovarian Cancer Institute after Feb 28, next year. $20 All-Up Win Melton Friday Night R2 No. 8 Oh Johnny B Good R8 No. 7 Miley Rose R9 No.6 San Carlo   Flexi Quaddie Melton Friday Night $20 for 27.77% 1st Leg: 1,2,5,8 2nd Leg: 3,4,5,8,11,12 3rd Leg: 6,8,9 4th Leg: 7 $20 place Maryborough Sunday R6 No.3 War Dan Destroyer (fixed odds $7.15 @ TAB) $20 All-Up Melton Friday Night R1 No.2 McNiven R9 No.6 San Carlo Bit of a space omen in Race 4 at Melton tonight… so let's got $5 each-way on both No. 4 Apollo Thirteen and No.5 Rowdy Rocket.  Another big profit last week with Jason, Cody and The Omen all profiting! Above are the overall standings so far.    New season club memberships on sale now The access-all-meetings Trots Card – Victorian harness racing’s must-have card for owners and fans – is a key component of the 2015-16 club membership packages. Club membership packages are on sale now for season 2015-16, with prices ranging from $25-$100 and clubs offering a variety of different entitlements for members.     The Country #Trots Run of the Week PROVOCATOR and trainer/driver Geoff Martin didn’t quite emulate Scott Torney’s celebrations of a week ago in winning the Neatline Homes Pace at Shepparton in the last race on Wednesday, but he still would have been chuffed. The $3.70 race favourite drew the pole, settled leader’s back behind Milady Denver before using the sprint lane to score by 1.8m in a mile rate of 1:59.3. The four-year-old gelding is by Kenneth J from Seductress.          

Greg Sugars has 2000 career winners on the board after a winning double at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton today. The gun reinsman, 30, drove $1.30 shot Fake Smile to victory for trainer Ahmed Taiba in Race 2 at Geelong Harness Racing Club's Melton meeting, before scoring a minor upset in the last race aboard Paying Your Way at odds of $8 for trainer Rob O'Connell. July has been incredible for Sugars, the victory aboard Paying Your Way his 24th winner for the month. He will drive two horses tonight at Bendigo, two tomorrow at Maryborough and five at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow night before we head into the final month of the harness racing calendar year. Sugars has edged clear of Queensland's Shane Graham on the 2014-15 National Drivers Premiership. Cody Winnell

The Association of Victorian Country Harness Racing Clubs (AVCHRC) has welcomed Harness Racing Victoria's (HRV) stakes increase announcement. On Monday HRV revealed stakemoney for season 2015-16 would exceed $40 million for the first time ever after a 5% increase on the 2014-15 season, meaning harness racing stakemoney in Victoria has climbed by 20% over three years. "It's fantastic to see our industry in a position to offer stakes increases," said AVCHRC President Paul James. "We acknowledge the challenge of balancing stakes increases to reward both everyday participation and the elite level of our sport to help grow and attract new people. "The increases announced by HRV provide for both and for that we congratulate HRV. "The increases to Country Cup funding, co-funded by clubs and HRV, reflects the importance and strength of our club network to the Victorian industry and will assist showcasing the best horses and participants throughout Regional Victoria." President of the Victorian Harness Racing Trainers and Drivers Association (VTDA) Lance Justice also welcomed the stakemoney increases. "We commend HRV for increasing distribution of stakemoney in 2015/16 to in excess of 40 million," Justice said. "The VTDA in its budget submission earlier this year requested any increases to be directed to increasing basic levels to ensure the majority of the industry benefited from the extremely successful 2014/15 financial year result. "It is pleasing to see our request to increase graduation races to the new threshold level was ratified and we also welcome the changes to the Melton metropolitan meeting stake levels." HRV CEO John Anderson said the stakes increases would benefit all levels of the industry. "After extensive consultation with our industry consultative groups we elected to try and spread the stakes increases widely from the bottom end right through to the top," Anderson said. "From the bottom end of the scale we've brought graduation races up to $3500, which is the maximum amount allowed under the national guidelines for a graduation race before the winner has to take a country penalty. With 42 graduation race meetings a year this equates to an increase of about $200,000 a year. "Increasing the Vicbred first win bonus for four-year-olds from $5000 to $7000 equates to an annual increase of about $430,000, which is obviously significant. "Country fillies and mares races of all grades also take on an extra $1000 in stakes, which is great news for the Victorian breeding industry. There is always room for more to be done to stimulate fillies and mares' racing opportunities. "Given that there are about 250 of these races scheduled each year this equates to an additional quarter of a million dollars." Stakes Increases by Percentage Bottom end (graduation, country F&M, 6th to last, Vicbred 1st Bonus) - 59% Mid-level (Metro Front M1/TM1+, Country Penalty TP, Country Cups) - 23% Top end (Hunter Cup, 4&5YO Championship, 4YO Bonanza, Maori Mile) - 18%   CODY WINNELL 

Kyneton reinsman Tony Xiriha has been ruled out of the sulky indefinitely after a horrible fall at Stawell trots on Wednesday, July 22. Xiriha and trainer/driver Anthony O’Connor both came off their horses Good Looka and Peters Passion in the 2175-metre trot. O’Connor sustained broken ribs and a collapsed lung and spent time in Warrnambool hospital, while Xiriha was airlifted to Melbourne where he stayed in hospital until being discharged on Saturday night. Xiriha broke his hand in the fall and has had several scans on his neck region as doctors try to find out what is behind his neck pain. The popular trainer/driver also has very limited memory of the day, explaining that he recalls “scoring up before the race and I vaguely remember the helicopter”. “The nurse said I’d cracked vertebrae in my neck and I got a neck brace, and as I was leaving the hospital a nurse said I didn’t have a crack,” Xiriha said. “I took the brace off for the first time the other day to have a shower and it was a big mistake. “I’ve had a massive headache and I’ll be heading back to the doctors today.” Xiriha is still suffering the effects of severe concussion. “I’ll talk to you today and may not remember it tomorrow,” he said. “I know they said I was talking to the stewards and the first aid officials on track, but I can’t recall.” Despite the injuries Xiriha continues his work around the stables. “I just went and fed the horses before ... it’s a battle,” he said. Xiriha said he’d been buoyed by well-wishes in person and via social media. “It’s much appreciated." By Cody Winnell

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has announced stakemoney for season 2015-16 will exceed $40 million for the first time. HRV CEO John Anderson announced today stakemoney would climb $2 million from September 1 to in excess of $40 million, up from $38.3 million in season 2014-15. “We are delighted to announce these important increases in stakemoney, which are aimed at benefiting all people racing horses throughout Victoria,” Mr Anderson said. “We have listened to feedback from industry groups and are proud to be in a position to increase stakemoney by a further 5%, bringing the total increase to 20% over three years. “Importantly the stakes increases are right across the board from graduation level racing and horses that finish sixth to last in the country up to the Group 1 Hunter Cup, which will be worth half-a-million dollars next year. “These announcements will hopefully give our industry confidence to want to continue to race their horses in Victoria." “Victoria is leading the way in maximising stake earning opportunities right across the classes.” The stakemoney increases are as follows: Graduation races from $3000 to $3500 (42 meetings a year) Metropolitan front M1 and TM1 or better class events by $1000 a race Country fillies and mares races by $1000 a race (excluding Futurity races) Country penalty races at Tabcorp Park Melton metropolitan meetings by $1000 a race Payments for horses that finish sixth to last increase by $10. Listed metropolitan feature races from $25,000 to $30,000 (and become Group 3 events) Hunter Cup from $400,000 to $500,000 4YO & 5YO Championship from $50,000 to $75,000 4YO Bonanza from $30,000 to $100,000 (becomes Victoria’s first non-Futurity Group 1 for four-year-olds) Vicbred First Win bonus for 4YOs increases from $5000 to $7000 in line with 2YO and 3YO bonuses (estimated increase of $430,000) Country Pacing Cups prize money increases by $154,000 Country Trotting Cups prize money increases by $57,000 Maori Mile at Bendigo from $30,000 to $50,000 (becomes a Group 1)    CODY WINNELL

Popular harness racing trainer/driver Tony Xiriha’s immediate career in the sulky is in doubt after a fall at Stawell trots today. The Pipers Creek reinsman took a nasty tumble from Good Looka in the fourth race, the Hygain Pak-Cell Trot, and had to be transferred by helicopter ambulance to Royal Melbourne Hospital for further tests. Stewards reported Xiriha’s shoulder and arm were of most concern, but he also temporarily lost consciousness before talking with ambulance officials. The races were delayed by almost two hours at Stawell but the club was able to make it through the eight-race card before daylight disappeared. Xiriha has driven 190 winners since obtaining his licence in 1989-90. Harness Racing Victoria will provide an update on his condition when it is available. Cody Winnell

Echuca’s new-look harness racing track will be unveiled tomorrow night as the club hosts an eight-race program. The 800-metre track has undergone a $425,000 makeover with its elevation increased from 6 to 12 per cent, while new fencing was also part of the project. HRV CEO John Anderson said the Echuca upgrades were part of a wider plan to improve tracks across Victoria, with feedback from the industry regarding the recent Warragul track redevelopment overwhelmingly positive. Anderson added that both the Mildura and Horsham tracks would be significantly upgraded in coming months. “Upgrades such as the works at Echuca and Warragul give our industry participants increased confidence racing on these important country tracks,” Anderson said. “The works are part of an overall plan to develop further regional tracks with Mildura and Horsham next in line. “The Echuca track looks fantastic and it will certainly make for quality racing. “We also recognise the support of the Andrews Government for this project.” Association of Victorian Country Harness Racing Clubs CEO David Brick and Echuca club president Robert Height welcomed the upgrade. “It (the revamp) will be a great asset to our club because better horses will come here to race … which means faster racing.” Brick said the Goulburn Murray region offered the Victorian harness racing industry the highest participation rates, employment and volume of racing annually. “The Echuca track upgrade, co-funded by the club, HRV and the Victorian State Government recognises the importance of the region following previous upgrades at Shepparton and Cobram,” Brick said. “It also provides a point of difference as it is a half-mile track. “The Echuca trots during summer – particularly on New Year’s Night – provide the industry an opportunity to showcase our industry to the thousands of holidaymakers in the region.”   Cody Winnell

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