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Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is excited to announce a three-year Breeders Challenge sponsorship agreement with the pre-eminent NSW nursery Pepper Tree Farm. Situated in the Lachlan Valley in the central west of NSW, Pepper Tree Farm was established by Rob and Julie Van Dyke in 1996. The substantial quality of horses bred at the stud since its inception is highlighted by four Australian 2yos of the Year; an Australian 3yo of the Year; six winners of the Group 1 Australian Pacing Gold; Victoria and NSW Derby winners; an Australian and Victoria Oaks winner and multiple Breeders Challenge and NSW Sires Stakes champions. Pepper Tree Farm Principal Rob Van Dyke said: "New South Wales has done a lot of positive things over the past few years so we are keen to show our support. "We have a good relationship with the controlling body and believe it is important to have a leading stud such as ours to sponsor the NSW feature juvenile race series. Pepper Tree Farm is very excited to be the sponsor for the ensuing three years." The introduction of the Breeders Challenge was a significant structural change to the NSW breeding industry. The incentives and initiatives associated with the Breeders Challenge have rapidly evolved over the past few years and now include the rich Major Race Series (including trotters), Regional Finals, Nominators (breeders) Cash Bonuses, Owners Bonus Certificates, Blue Series and Incentive Certificates. HRNSW CEO Sam Nati said: "It's immensely satisfying to have a stud such as Pepper Tree Farm associated with one of our most important brands. Rob and Julie are forward thinkers and pivotal to the development of the standardbred in Australia for almost two decades."   Dale Walker | Manager - Marketing | Harness Racing New South Wales                  

The all trotters day meeting at Coolamon will once again attract square gaiters from far and wide and with a recent track upgrade nominations should be strong. The meeting will be held on Anzac Day and in the spirit of the occasion, the club always respects those who served. Club Secretary Helen Turner said a flag raising ceremony would take place before the first race to honour the ANZACs. "We always raise the flag and have a minute's silence to honour the spirit of Anzac Day," she said. "There is a ceremony in town too, in the morning, but we perform our own as well as a mark of respect. One of our former members (Lionel Dennis), who is still a patron of the club, served in the army and proved to be a tremendous help to us over the years." The feature event of the meeting is the $25,000 Group 3 La Coocaracha for mares, whilst the Coolamon Monte, Young Trouper, Oaks, Derby, Humbletonian and Trotters Cup all have $10,000 in prizemoney on offer. Nominations close on Monday April 21 at 11am. By Dale Walker (Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW)                                

Bega trainer John Miller has been a registered trainer for 30 years and to say that victories are a long time between drinks is an appropriate statement. Miller, who is 75 years young, has raced horses since 1969. The official records have his stats from 1984/85 and from this date it took a great deal of time to register his next success. Yes, it was the 2003/04 season before Miller was in the winner's circle again, and, his 75th attempt since 84/85. His careers stats read 208 starters for 10 wins 7 seconds and 8 thirds. But Miller will tell you there's a few more than that from 'back in the day'. A hobbyist trainer and a retired Machine Operator, Miller said regardless of where his horse finishes he gets such a tremendous thrill when gearing up his pacer and taking it to the race track. "They (horses) keep me young, said Miller. "I've been working horses on and off for 50 years or more. I've got three horses now and they keep me busy enough. "My first winner was back in 1969 with Hillstead Boy at Queanbeyan and it was hard getting to the registered meetings to race as I was working all the time. I would like to have a few more wins under my belt." At Wagga's meeting last Friday, Miller took Lombo Convertible to contest his 47 race start. The form read 46 starts for one win and six minor placings. But Miller new with HRNSW putting on a race for R0-R1 pacers named the Encouragement Stakes; he was a chance off the front line draw. Lombo Convertible was forced to race three wide early before sitting in the chair for the majority of the trip. He was aided in some cover at the 600 metres when moves where made from the back but the five-year-old seemed to lose ground at the 400 metres. Gaining a clear run on the home turn, Lombo Convertible rallied. He dug deep, he found something and he grabbed the spoils right on the line to score by a narrow margin. It was also a celebration for 23 year old Matthew Cuthbert who tasted success as a driver for the very first time. Harness racing was re introduced at the Bega Show last season and Cuthbert made the seven hour trip to drive horses for Miller on the tight turning circuit. His hours of dedication and effort paid off. Miller was full of praise for Cuthbert. "He's a decent young fella and I will always stick by him," he said. "He got the best out of the horse at Wagga and I'm sure he will drive many more winners in the future." It was a similar case at Parkes on Saturday night with a race named the Competitive Stakes. Rod Lemon's Real McCoy Lombo was a maiden heading into the event after 30 starts but that all changed with an all the way win over the 1660 metres. Dale Walker (Harness Racing NSW)  

Harness racing trainer Anton Golino got his hands on the coveted Gold Crown trophy as his talented two-year-old colt Artistic Flite overcame his wide second row draw to post a commanding win. There was also a strong Bathurst link to the success story, with former resident John McCarthy the winning driver and Brooklyn Lodge the breeders. McCarthy had the son of Artistic Fella face the breeze before surging away from his rivals to score a commanding 7.7 metre victory in a rate of 1:59.9 for the 1730 metres. With the Bathurst Harness Racing Club set to move to its new facility in the shadows of Mount Panorama later this year, the meeting signalled the last running of the carnival at a track it has called home for 28 years. The mix of commanding victories and tight finishes, big name winners and small-timers prevailing made it a successful evening for the club. The Gold Tiara Final was won by Grenfell's Mark Hewitt, the regular Bathurst visitor getting the job done with Makes Every Scents. Bathurst had something to cheer about in the Gold Chalice Final as Amanda Turnbull drove Mighty Gift to victory for her father Steve Turnbull, while David Kennedy scored one for the Riverina when Shes A Runa took out the Gold Bracelet. Dale Walker | Manager - Marketing | Harness Racing New South Wales Artistic Flite

Record figures were achieved from 115 lots at the Gold Crown Yearling Sale at Bathurst last weekend. Sale organiser Graeme Board said it was the best sale he has been involved with. "I've been doing the sale at Bathurst for nearly 20 years and this is by far the best I have seen," said Board. "Everyone wanted to be a part of the action and the results are great for the future of harness racing." Yearling colt sales hit an average price of $9,000 while the fillies were close to the $7,000 mark. The sale turned over just shy of $1 million, a significant increase on 2013. The top price lot was a for Sportswriter-Sixteen Carat colt purchased by Emilio Rosati for $34,000, while Pat Bourke purchased a Courage Under Fire-Lombo Silhouette colt for $27,000. Bred by Laurie and Gwen Paton, the sale-topping colt is out of the 1:55.5 Menangle winner Sixteen Carat, a Blissfull Hall mare. Rosati also shelled $27,000 for the Rocknroll Hanover-Counterfeit Chic colt and $25,000 for the American Ideal-Superstar Lady filly, the top-priced filly at the sale. Other lots to fetch $20,000 or more were the Courage Under Fire-Pleasure Machine colt at $21,500 and the Rock N Roll Heaven-So Savvy colt and the Art Colony-Jillette colt both at $20,000. For a full list of results go to graemeboard.com                       Dale Walker | Manager - Marketing | Harness Racing New South Wales   22 Meredith Street Bankstown NSW 2200   T: 02 9722 6677| F: 02 8580 5795 |M: 0411 627 113 |E: dwalker@hrnsw.com.au| W: www.hrnsw.com.au                  

Three-time Olympic Gold Medallist and TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Ambassador Stephanie Rice is excited with the build up to Inter Dominion Grand Final day this Sunday afternoon. "It's been an absolute pleasure to be ambassador for such a wonderful race series," said Rice. Rice is a tremendous advocate of women in sport and will be cheering for Lauren Panella (Mach Beauty), Kate Gath (Caribbean Blaster), Belinda McCarthy (The Gold Ace and For a Reason) and Marg Lee (Keayang Cullen). "The success of females in harness racing was my attraction to the sport and I am pleased to see so many ladies with chances in the big one this Sunday afternoon," she said. Rice will attend the Heroes Ball at Luna Park this Friday night followed by a busy Grand Final day on Sunday. "I am so looking forward to being involved with the Fashions On The Field as there is over $25,000 in prizes on offer, she said. "I encourage as many people from all walks of life to come out to Menangle and celebrate a wonderful event." Three industry ambassadors will also be present this Sunday. Amanda Turnbull, Sammy Kilgour and Seryn Adams have also helped raise the profile of women in harness racing. In what promises to be a bigger and better series than last year, the 2014 TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Grand Final will again be broadcast live on Channel 9 from 3pm. Harness Racing New South Wales  

Hunter Valley trainer Geoff Harding looks set to play a major role in Sunday's feature event at Muswellbrook's Carnival of Cups meeting after qualifying two runners. The heats of the Hunter Valley Harness Racing Association Cup were run on Sunday and although the last two races had to be abandoned, Harding was able to get Strathlachlan Andy and Charming Joseph through to the $12,000 final. "Strathlachlan Andy is my best horse and he was very impressive on Sunday afternoon, he won pretty easily and I was happy with the performance because it was his first run back since arriving back from Queensland," Harding said. "I've had a few offers to buy him but he is a pretty nice horse and he is still only a C0 pacer so there are plenty of wins left in store for him." Harding headed to Queensland attempting to take out a Rising Stars Final but after winning his heat comfortably he was narrowly beaten in the final. "He was beaten a neck in 1:57.5, it was a bit disappointing to take him up there and get beaten and he was only just beaten in very fast time in a country final at Menangle so he's been pretty close in some nice races." "The horse himself has always shown ability but he was a bit green and dopey early on in his career, he has a nice turn of foot and I think he is going to take some beating this week." Harding's other runner Charming Joseph was only narrowly beaten in his heat. "He was probably a bit unlucky in his heat, he was only beaten a couple of metres and they ended up calling the rest of the meeting off because of the weather." "Matt (Harding) will drive Strathlachlan Andy and James (Harding) will drive Charming Joseph."   By Greg Hayes - Sky Racing   .                

Jason Lees could not believe his luck when he won a share in a pacer called Only One Slim about twelve months ago. Lees and good friend David Shacallis had bought one ticket each in the raffle to win a share in the horse and had agreed to go 'halves' should they be lucky enough to be drawn out. "I was there at the draw and it was actually Dave's ticket that got drawn out but we have been having an absolute ball over the past twelve months, it has been fantastic," Lees said. "David and I couldn't get to the races last week at Penrith and wouldn't you know he got up and won and it is only the second time since I've had him that I have missed him run." Lees had never owned a pacer before and believes it has been a great introduction into the sport. "I have always been a punter but have never had one before and the night it won for the first time for us was like Christmas, I've never been so excited." "I'd love to see him win a race at Menangle, that would be an absolute dream. He actually won a race there before we got him, if he could do that it would be very special for me." Trainer Blake Fitzpatrick has been very approachable for the first time owner and has made the experience all the more enjoyable. "My daughter is 9 years old and she lives in Queensland but when she comes down to spend some time with me I get onto the phone and ring Blake and he is always quick to invite us out there to his stable and makes us feel welcome when we arrive." "When he won I remember giving her a ring and she was just as excited as I was, she loves going out to the stables and giving the horse a pat." By Greg Hayes Harness Racing New South Wales  

Twelve months ago Keayang Cullen qualified for his first Inter Dominion Grand Final after finishing a close second to Caribbean Blaster in the Victorian heat but this year he went one better booking his place in Australasia's greatest race. Not only did Keayang Cullen win his heat on Saturday night he also broke the 2240 metre track record at Tabcorp Park Melton. "It was a definite buzz for me winning the heat this year after finishing so close last year and to get the track record was a thrill too," driver Glen Craven said. "His form has been really solid recently and I think he deserved to win a race like Saturday night, he isn't the best horse in the country but he tries very hard and you like to see horses like that get rewarded for how hard they try." Keayang Cullen drew wide in last year's Grand Final and Craven knew his chances were very slim before the race even started. "He ended up finishing 11th in the race but it taught me a bit about driving in races like the Inter Dominion and it also taught the horse about racing against the better ones too, it was a learning experience for all of us and I think he will be better for that this time around." "The barrier draw will be important again and he can't be driven too aggressively as was proven in the Hunter Cup but with the right sort of run he is going to be competitive." Craven confirmed Keayang Cullen will not compete in this Saturday's Terang Cup. "It was nice and close to home and we strongly considered giving him a start in the race but in the end we decided to miss it this year." "He actually won the Terang Cup last year and that was his last win before he broke through for another win on Saturday night in the heat, it would be nice to go back to back." Greg Hayes Harness Racing New South Wales  

Menangle driver Robbie Morris will be attempting to qualify runners in both the NSW Oaks and Derby in Saturday night's heats at Tabcorp Park. Morris will drive Gr. 1 winning filly Distant Memory in the second of the Oaks heats and believes she has the ability to qualify for the rich final. "Distant Memory is a very smart filly, she was sent to Kerryann (Turner) because she isn't the soundest and because of the facilities that we have available too," Morris said. "The owners didn't want her standing on a float for four hours each way either every time she came to Sydney so a decision was made, she won first up last week and her run was good without being great." Morris expects her to continue to improve as she gets further into her campaign. "She's going to take a couple of runs before we see the best of her but the draw means she should end up in a pretty good spot and with a bit of luck I think she will finish in the top five and qualify for the final." "I am driving Regaltive in the other Oaks heat, she has done a great job since joining the stable, she over raced at Junee two runs ago but I think she is a good chance of qualifying as well." Iam Mr Brightside was back in winning form at Newcastle last Friday night after failing to make the Victoria Derby but will compete in the NSW Derby heats this Saturday. "He felt super at Newcastle last week, a few things went against him at Melton, it was very hot and he hadn't travelled before and I used him off the gate and he got pulling which brought about his undoing." "He has been freshened up and while I know he isn't the best horse in the Derby heats he is the sort of horse that can bob up and win it and he proved that he can mix it with the best when he won the Simpson Memorial." By Grey Hayes Harness Racing New South Wales  

Following completion of the Inter Dominion Qualifying Heats tonight (Saturday 15 February 2014) Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) and the NSW Harness Racing Club (NSWHRC) have issued an Order of Entry for the Inter Dominion Grand Final on Sunday 2 March 2014. Connections of all 20 horses have until 10am on Monday 17 February 2014 to advise HRNSW of their decision to accept for the Inter Dominion Grand Final. The Final Field for the Grand Final, comprising 14 runners and at least two Emergencies, will be declared at 12 noon on Monday 17 February 2014 based on the Order of Entry after non-acceptors are taken into account. The barrier draw will be conducted on Monday 24 February. Horse Order of Qualification 1 Terror To Love 1st place NZ Qualifying Heat 2 Smolda 2nd place NZ Qualifying Heat 3 Seel N Print 1st place NSW Qualifying Heat 4 Beautide 2nd place NSW Qualifying Heat 5 Keayang Cullen 1st place VIC Qualifying Heat 6 Restrepo 2nd place VIC Qualifying Heat 7 Wartime Sweetheart 3rd place VIC Qualifying Heat 8 Mach Beauty 1st place NSW Supp Qualifying Heat 9 For A Reason 2nd place NSW Supp Qualifying Heat 10 Forever Gold 1st place QLD Qualifying Heat 11 Im Victorious 1st place WA Qualifying Heat 12 Livingontheinterest 2nd place WA Qualifying Heat 13  Caribbean Blaster Wildcard 1 14 The Gold Ace Wildcard 2 15 Franco Nelson Standby 1  16 Pub Blitz  Standby 2   17 Im Corzin Terror  Standby 3 18 Ardghal Standby 4 19 Mah Sish Standby 5  20 Abettorpunt Standby 6 It is anticipated that the Order of Entry will be announced as part of the Sky Racing 2 dedicated coverage of the Qualifying Heats and distributed as an official Inter Dominion Media Release at approximately 9.45pm on Saturday 15 February 2014. The fields for the six Inter Dominion Qualifying Heats will be drawn on Monday 10 February 2014 and the rankings for the respective Qualifying Heats announced exclusively on In the Gig later that night. Harness Racing NSW  

High profile breeder and Studmaster Anne Lamb received a pleasant surprise yesterday after being trackside to watch the horse she bred with her husband Wayne win the first race on the Orange TAB Carnival of Cups program. Clearly chuffed by Aunty Kym's victory, Lamb was then reminded that she had just earned $3,000 cash courtesy of the recently introduced Breeders Challenge Nominators Bonus. "I didn't realise I was entitled to the bonus until after the race so it was a big surprise," said Lamb. "As a breeder the bills add up paying for registrations and futurities so to be entitled to a $3000 bonus really helps. It's a good initiative for breeders." The Breeders Challenge Nominators Bonus, which came into effect for this season's 2yo crop, provides for a $3,000 cash bonus to the nominator/breeder for a horse's first "C" class win of the season. The Nominators Bonus also includes a cash return to the nominator/breeder for Group 1 victories. Aunty Kym also earned her connections a $2,500 Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus Certificate in addition to the $5,100 in first prizemoney making her debut victory worth $10,600 in total to all concerned. Not a bad day's work on a balmy afternoon in the Central West. The full terms and conditions for the NSW Breeders Challenge, including the Nominators Bonus, can be found at http://www.hrnsw.com.au/assets/files/Breeding/140129%202013-14%20NSW%20BC%20Conditions%20V6%20-%20Final.pdf The feature event on the bumper card - the Banjo Paterson Cup - was taken out by the Jack Butler trained Marty Bee who has proved to be a bargain buy for owner Rod Smith. In winning Marty Bee broke the 2240m track record rating 1:58.4 whilst popular grey mare Laaganoosh broke the 1880m track record when she rated 1:59.1 earlier in the day. Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |    

Friday night's meeting at Parkes will be a big occasion. Not only is it the club's first one of the new year but it is also part of the TAB Carnival Of Cups with fantastic prize money on offer. Bathurst trainer John O'Shea is hoping to take home the major share of the cash in the Golden Bar Final, a $15,000 event for three year olds and after an impressive performance by Mitch Braxton in the heats on Monday, he looks the one to beat. "Mitch Braxton was first up from a spell in the heat on Monday, I had given him a trial at Bathurst a fortnight or so ago and he had won that but hadn't run much time," O'Shea said. "He's a nice horse but he is still a bit green and is still learning what the racing caper is all about, he's quite quick when he is sat up in his races but after he drew one in the heat I decided to use his speed at the start, once he learns what he has to do he is going to make a nice sit and sprinter." Mitch Braxton won his heat by more than twenty eight metres defeating the Jack Butler trained Jester Oh Jester after it galloped on the home turn when in a challenging position. "I haven't sat down and really mapped out a campaign for him, I always planned on this heat and final at Parkes but after that I'm unsure which way I will go with him, I will just wait and see how he performs in Friday's final." "I got him after he had his first start in the race and he has definitely improved with the experience of going to the races, I'm just hoping he continues going in that direction." O'Shea has been back in New South Wales for more than a year after spending seven months in the USA with trainer Noel Daley but has confirmed he has no plans of returning overseas in the foreseeable future. "It was something that I wanted to do in my career, I wanted to do some driving over there but once I arrived over there I forgot all about that side of the industry and just enjoyed my time working for Noel." Dale Walker  

Hunter Valley trainer Aaron Garaty will have two chances in Saturday's Maitland Inter City Pace after qualifying Hit For Six and My Aliyana in Sunday's heats. Hit For Six was first up from a three month break but proved too strong in his heat while My Aliyana chased home former kiwi Ardghal finishing third. "It is going to be a big ask for Hit For Six in the final because he will be forced to run two mile and a half races in the space of a week at his first two runs back from a spell but I am just happy to have two runners in the final," Garaty said. "My Aliyana is probably the better chance of my two, she has been racing very consistently recently, I think she has won five of her last thirteen starts." Mitchell Frost drove both of Garaty's runners in the heats but looks set to drive My Aliyana in the final. "I'm pretty sure Mitchell will be driving My Aliyana but I haven't had a chance to speak with all of the owners in Hit For Six so at this stage I'm unsure who will be driving him." "Unfortunately I am suspended from driving at the moment but I'm going to be cheering loudly for both of them on Saturday night." Garaty only has twelve horses in work so to get two horses into the Inter City Pace is a tremendous effort. "I have been having a pretty good run recently, I got a treble last week and things before that have been going really well, I've got some nice horses and great owners too." "I've had a bit of luck with horses from the Wagga area, we got Hit For Six from down there, I know Andrew and Tim Doherty and they have been putting me onto a couple of horses that look suited to racing here in the Hunter." Maitland's Inter City Pace meeting is part of the successful HRNSW TAB Carnival Of Cups circuit. To arrange an interview or for further information please contact: Dale Walker    

Leeton horseman Wayne Sullivan is attempting to emulate his grandfather by winning the MIA Breeders Plate at Leeton on New Years' Day. The meeting is part of the TAB Carnival Of Cups and while Sullivan has gone close to winning the feature race in the past he is hoping Sports Chaton is the two year old to give him the victory he wants. "Sports Chaton is a very nice two year old , he's a real good type and looks to have some quality about him but he galloped in his heat and that cost him a lot of ground," Sullivan said. "He still managed to finish second in the heat but I hope that didn't hurt him too much because he did have to do a lot of chasing and he was forced to go back to the trials at Coolamon, he did everything right at the trials but it is always a concern when you have to go around an extra time." Sports Chaton is out of a mare called Guida Chaton and she has produced three previous foals, two of which have competed in the Breeders Plate series. Sassy Street failed to qualify for the final after competing in a heat while Navarda Ace finished third behind Lettucerocku in 2010. "After the Breeders Plate I really want him to have a break, I want to slow him down a bit because I think he has a fair bit of potential but I don't want him going over the top and he is eligible for just about everything." "He's paid up for the Bathurst Gold Crown, he can run in the Breeders Challenge in NSW and I've also paid up for the Breeders Crown in Victoria as well so I have a few options should he measure up to the better ones." Sullivan nominates three horses as serious threats in Wednesday's race. "Rainbow Fighter beat my horse in the heat so he is an obvious danger and I think Making Headlines and Rich Virgin are nice youngsters as well, they both performed very well against one another in the heat but the barrier draw has been a lot better for Rich Virgin so it should be a great race." By Greg Hayes  

This week on Trots TV Dale Walker chats to HRNSW CEO Sam Nati about new racetrack developments across New South Wales. Also, Bathurst CEO Danny Dwyer stops by to fill us in on how the new Mt Panorama facility is coming along with plans for a Grand Opening in September 2014. Looking to advertise on Trots TV? Please contact Dale Walker on 02 9722 6600 for further information. Trotstv.com.au - providing a fresh view on harness racing in New South Wales.

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