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There are only five TAB Carnival Of Cups meetings remaining this season however a number of horses still remain in contention to be crowned the series' leading pacer. With $5,000 on offer to the horse's owners, some trainers will look to compete at the remaining harness racing meetings in a bid to secure vital points. Every winner at a Carnival of Cups meeting receives three points, the runner up gets two points while third picks up one. Hollywood Sign set up a healthy lead after winning races at four meetings and placing third at another for trainer Trevor White but has since been sold and now is prepared by Victorian horseman Brent Lilley. The son of Life Sign has a three point lead over five pacers including Eugowra's Canola Cup winner Holm Three. Snoop Stride will compete at Cootamundra on Sunday afternoon and should the son of Stonebridge Regal win the final event he will join Hollywood Sign on thirteen points. The Turnbull family dominate the trainers and drivers points tables with Steve more than 100 points clear of his nearest rival in the training division while Amanda has a 42 point lead over her father in the leading driver tally.   LEADING HORSE HOLLYWOOD SIGN 13 HOLM THREE 10 MOUSE IN THE HOUSE 10 READ ABOUT LEXY 10 RISEANDRISEAGAIN 10 SNOOP STRIDE 10* DENISES LEGACY 9* MITHRYS MAGIC 9 STRATHLACHLAN ANDY 9* LEXUS ON THE BEACH 8 PEPPERALL 8 SOKYS BIGBULLET 8* STENING 8* *racing at Cootamundra this Sunday       LEADING TRAINER A S TURNBULL 145 S J SNUDDEN 41 S P TRITTON 36 B J HEWITT 33 D M HEWITT 22     LEADING DRIVER A J TURNBULL 85 A S TURNBULL 43 C R BELL 35 D N MORAN 32 B J HEWITT 27   Greg Hayes

Strathlachlan Andy and Bobs Farm trainer Geoff Harding will hit the road this weekend for Sunday's Carnival Of Cups harness racing meeting at Cootamundra. The son of Blissfull Hall does all of his fast work on Birubi Beach but will travel more than 1180 kilometres on his return trip to the Riverina this weekend. "All of my horses do their fast work at the beach, they can jog at home and I take the babies to the track but the majority of the time they are on the sand," said Harding. "Strathlachlan Andy is a good traveller so the long trip to Cootamundra won't worry him and I will leave on Saturday so it will give us plenty of time to get there for Sunday." Strathlachlan Andy will compete in Cootamundra's South West Fuel Centre Wattle Time Cup, the feature event on the eight race programme. The five year old has won seven of his last nine starts and despite drawing the back row does look hard to beat. "There is no doubt that he is getting stronger and he has been driven more aggressively this season but he is still a better horse when he is sat up. "James (Harding) is going to drive him again on Sunday, he has got a good record on him." Harding spent some time in America when James headed across to work for a leading trainer. "When James was in the USA I went over and spent some time watching Jimmy Takter and how he trains and I have brought back some of the ideas and I think it has made an improvement to my team. "I'm working eight at the moment and there are a couple of young ones there as well so there is enough to keep me busy." Harding is mindful that Strathlachlan Andy has had a long preparation and is considering a spell. "I'll see how he pulls up after Sunday but he is still only assessed M0 so I might take him to Queensland for a couple of races before giving him a break. "I can then bring him up again and concentrate on racing him at Menangle in M0 races next preparation." Stathlachlan Andy is looking to win his fourth Carnival Of Cups event for the season after winning at Tamworth, Narrabri and Armidale and is well placed to be crowned the leading horse for the series and win his owner a further $5,000. The South West Fuel Centre Wattle Time Cup is race seven and is scheduled to begin at 3:44pm. Greg Hayes

Casey Owen worked horses on Tuesday morning and studied law in the afternoon but still found time to drive her first winner when Badewitz scored in the final race at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  Twenty two year old Owen has been involved in harness racing for only two years but has already built a strong passion for the sport. “I grew up in Casino and moved to Brisbane and always liked animals but had never dreamed of working with horses until a few years ago,” said Owen. “I went to London for a year and worked in a law firm over there but really used the time to do some travelling and when I came home to Australia I needed to find a job as quickly as possible.” One of Casey’s best friends is related to the McCarthy family and it was through that connection she got her first start in the industry. “My friend is a cousin of the McCarthys and when I needed a job she asked Todd if he knew of any work that was going and he said that Queensland trainer Shawn Grimsey was looking for a stablehand. “I worked for Shawn for about a year and then Daryl Crapper and Todd heard Ian Wilson was looking for a worker so I made the move to Sydney.” Casey had to learn how to drive track work when she arrived in Sydney but quickly made the decision that she wanted to try her hand at race driving and had her first drive on March 26 this year. “It was really nice to get a win on the board because I had been beaten narrowly in a couple of races and I was wondering when that first win was going to come. “Before the race on Tuesday I thought he was up in grade a bit and if he picked up a cheque he would have done a good job for the stable.” After racing four back on the marker pegs Badewitz stuck to the inside in the straight and zoomed through to record a 1:53.4 victory. “I drive him at home so I know him pretty well and I wanted to make sure he was ready to go in case there was a gap and all of the horses in front moved away from the inside. “I just needed Robbie’s (Morris) horse to shift off the pegs and when it rolled out there was enough room for Badewitz and he is a very quick horse when he sees a hole.” Casey is in the second year of her law degree and while harness racing may have to become a smaller part of her life in the future she confirmed she would always like to be involved in the sport. “At some stage I guess it will have to take a back seat but I’ve been bitten by the bug and I really love the horses, I’d love to have a few of my own in the future but I guess only time will tell.” Greg Hayes  

Frith has provided her Wagga Wagga owners Bernie and Di Kelly with some great harness racing memories during her successful career. Bernie Kelly trained Frith as a two year old before the daughter of Four Starzzz Shark was transferred to Bruce Harpley at three. Kelly has watched Frith win a number of Gr. 1 races but admitted that he is more nervous this week in the lead up to the Queen Of The Pacific at Melton than he has been in the past. "I don't get nervous before the big races normally but this time it is totally different, I'm very nervous and I can't really work out why I am feeling this way," said Kelly. "On Saturday night I will be sitting in my comfy seat at home watching the races on my television and cheering for her, I haven't had many conversations with Mark Purdon or Luke McCarthy since she left Bruce's stable but in the couple of chats I've had they seem happy with her." Kelly confirmed he was shocked when Harpley contacted him after the Renshaw Cup at Penrith and mentioned a change of stable for the multiple feature race winner. "It was a major surprise for me, I don't know what happened in that traffic jam on the way up to Penrith but it made his mind up for him, he made the decision and after Bruce did such a good job with Frith I respected what he was saying." "I still haven't really discussed a long term plan with Mark Purdon about what races she will target, there was some discussion that she would have a break after the Queen Of The Pacific but that was a while ago so I'm unsure what will happen after Saturday night." "Whether she has a break that'll be up to Mark now but I don't care if he looks to leave her in Australia either." Frith has never raced from the stand but did win a trial at Tabcorp Park Menangle recently. "Bruce is really confident she will step safely, he doesn't think you could get her to gallop away and while he never gave her a run in a standing start race he did give her a lot of practice at home." "She has done such a marvellous job during her career, it is going to be a big step for her to go to that next level against the best but I'm looking forward to seeing her race on after Saturday night." Kelly has two relations to Frith at home and is hoping their bloodlines will take them a long way. "I've got a half sister to Frith by Tell All and she has just been broken in, I really like her but I'm not one of those people who gets too excited early, I like to see what they can do once they are ready to trial." "There's a full sister to Frith there as well, she is just a weanling at the moment but I think I will keep her rather than take her to the sales." The Queen Of The Pacific is race seven at Melton on Saturday night and is scheduled to begin at 8:30pm. Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

The harness racing industry has rallied around Cessnock trainer Andrew Stapleford and his 21 year old daughter Sophie who underwent surgery today (Monday) to have a brain tumour removed. The friends and family of Sophie were amazed at the response from the industry and HRNSW CEO John Dumesny applauded everyone that has helped out. "The harness racing industry is like a big family and when a member of that family needs a helping hand then everyone is quick to do whatever they can," said Dumesny. "On Friday HRNSW donated a NSW Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus Certificate for auction at the fundraising night organised for Sophie in Cessnock on August 1 and over the weekend there have been a number of people who have made donations to the cause." A fundraising campaign had been created on for Sophie with the goal of raising $40,000 to help pay for some of the costs associated with the operation and rehabilitation. These were estimated to be between $60,000 and $80,000. By Monday afternoon the amount raised on the website totalled more than $21,000. While the fundraising night is still two months away, popular owner Rob Nalder has already started the bidding on the $3,000 bonus certificate. "I read the story and it is obviously a very hard time for Sophie at the moment so I would like to put in an opening bid of $4,000 for the NSW Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus Certificate," said Nalder. "I would encourage any other owners or breeders that would like to become involved in raising some money for the Stapleford family to throw in a bid for the certificate because it is going to a very good cause." Anyone interested in placing a bid for the certificate can email Trainer/driver Guy Chapple confirmed a set of signed McCarthy colours would be auctioned at the Cessnock Leagues Club on August 1 at the fundraising night. "We've spoken with Luke (McCarthy) and he is going to donate a set of his colours and sign them and I am going to get them framed," said Chapple. "Sophie is a very good soccer player and there will be a number of people interested in soccer at the fundraising night so I'm going to try and get my hands on a signed soccer jersey as well to raise some more money." Fundraising coordinator Anthony Burke praised everyone that has become involved. "It is great to see the money that has been raised so far for Sophie and if anyone would like to donate items for the fundraising evening please contact me on 0439 601 852," said Burke. Greg Hayes

Tamworth junior harness racing reinsman Scotty Welsh returned home on Monday after spending more than a week in Newcastle due to a fractured wrist sustained in a race fall at his home track on May 7. Seventeen year old Welsh had one metal plate and ten screws inserted into his left wrist and is unsure when he will be able to return to the sulky. "I am missing it, the day after the fall I thought I'd just start concentrating on training once I recovered but I am really looking forward to getting back out there and driving in races again," said Welsh. "My surgeon is unsure how long it will take to recover because it was a very serious fracture, he does 200 wrists operations every year and said he has only ever seen five injuries like mine." Welsh was transported to Tamworth hospital after the fall and was then taken to Newcastle several days later. "The ambulance officers cut my colours off me and I nearly passed out when I saw my wrist, I was taken to Tamworth on the Thursday afternoon, then on the Monday they took me down to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle and then I was transferred to Newcastle Private on Thursday before the operation last Friday." "It was very sore initially but it isn't as bad now as it was when it first happened because the painkillers work very well but I will definitely be out for the rest of the season." Welsh is unsure of what he will do after finishing school but confirmed it will involve horses. "I'm in Year 12 at the moment so the injury has come at a pretty bad time for me but I have spoken to the school and they're going to help me with all of the work that I have missed." "I'm not really set on anything after this year, I am looking at going to university to study equine science or something like that but I will wait and see what happens, whatever I do will include harness racing as a hobby that's for sure." Welsh has driven seven winners since having his first career drive on March 8th 2014. Greg Hayes

Cessnock harness racing trainer Andrew Stapleford is a respected horseman and loving father. Despite having only a handful of starters every season the 47-year old has trained more than his fair share of winners throughout his career. Harness racing has understandably taken 'a back seat' recently for Stapleford with news that his 21-year old daughter Sophie has a brain tumour. Sophie will undergo surgery on Monday at the Prince Of Wales Hospital in Sydney with the cost of the procedure and rehabilitation estimated to be between $60,000 and $80,000. A Goal For Sophie fundraising committee has been formed by friends of Sophie and the Stapleford family to raise money to ease the financial burden and allow Sophie to concentrate on her health and recovery. A fundraising night is being held at Cessnock Leagues Club on August 1 with entertainment, an auction and raffles to be conducted. HRNSW has donated a $3,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus Certificate for auction on the night. "The Stapleford family need all the support they can get to help fund the operation and Sophie's rehabilitation and HRNSW is pleased to offer a bonus certificate to be auctioned at the fundraising night on August 1," HRNSW CEO John Dumesny said. "Sophie is a very brave young lady that will undergo a very important operation on Monday and our thoughts are with her and her family at this time." Andrew Stapleford confirmed renowned Australian neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo will conduct the operation. "In harness racing terminology when a trainer takes a horse to the races he wants the best driver so he books Luke McCarthy," Stapleford said. "We wanted Sophie to be under the care of the best doctor there is and that is why Dr Charlie Teo will be in charge, he is the best." The position of the tumour means that the operation will be a very delicate one. "It is in a difficult spot and they still haven't been able to diagnose what type of tumour it is, originally it was thought to be a very aggressive one that gobbles up everything in its path and if that is the case then they won't be able to remove it all. "That means Sophie may have to undergo more surgery in five, ten or twenty years but we just have our fingers crossed at the moment." Sophie is a talented soccer player and her father is proud of the resilience she has shown. "Sophie has handled it so bravely, things have been a little tense with the operation approaching and I'm pretty sure it will be very emotional in the day leading up to it." There is a fundraiser page that has been set up via the Mycause website. If anyone can assist with donations or prizes for the fundraising evening visit the facebook page - A Goal For Sophie Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

With the Pepper Tree Farm Breeders Challenge finals just over six weeks away it is no surprise to see a number of the leading chances hitting the track in preparation for the rich Gr. 1 events.     The two year old colts and geldings division will be dominated by the unbeaten Our Waikiki Beach and he returned to the trials at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday with a win in a time of 1:55.8.   A number of his main rivals have also trialled this week with Bathurst Gold Crown placegetter Sams The Master winning at Bathurst on Monday.   The son of Tell All proved too strong for Bathurst Gold Tiara winner Pixies Parlour in the trial rating 1:59.3 for the mile.   Hunter Valley trainer Sam Dimarco also welcomed back his two talented two year olds at the Newcastle trials on Wednesday night with Gold Crown winner Shadow Runner and Gotta Go Gold winning.    Dimarco is eyeing off the Breeders Challenge heats at Newcastle on Friday May 22nd with his well performed pair.   “Both of them did what was expected on Wednesday night and it should have topped them off nicely for Friday week,” said Dimarco.   “The weather wasn’t great so the times weren’t all that important but Gotta Go Gold won in 2:03 while Shadow Runner recorded 2:02.4 in his trial win.”   Dimarco confirmed the recent wet weather had affected their preparations.   “I wasn’t knocked around like some people were with damage to their properties and tracks but because of the rain and the amount of water around it meant that my horses couldn’t work for about four or five days so it set me back a little bit.   “The pair had only been back in work for a few days when the storm hit so I just had to stop and start again, I gave them a few weeks off after the Gold Crown and it has helped I think.”   Gotta Go Gold has grown more than Shadow Runner during the short break.   “The little fellow (Gotta Go Gold) definitely grew during the break and I’m really happy with how the big horse (Shadow Runner) is looking too, I’m looking forward to the Breeders Challenge."   “As soon as the series is over they will both go out for a longer spell, somewhere in the vicinity of two to three months.”   Dimarco’s daughter Marissa owns both but did not look to buy another after the family’s success at Bathurst.   “I tied her hands behind her back at the sales, she doesn’t need any others at the moment especially with these two horses doing such a good job."    “Marissa has some broodmares and will breed a couple in the short term, I think that will keep her busy for a little while.”   The first of the Pepper Tree Farm Breeders Challenge heats for the two year old colts and geldings will be conducted at Wagga on Saturday night.    The Col Thomas trained Bettermatch will race the smart Emma Stewart prepared Kingofthestars.   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

After a track record performance at the harness racing meeting at Young by Barriettas Bliss last November, Riverina trainer Shaun Snudden could have been excused for dreaming about feature race success with the talented mare.    It was her second track record in the space of three runs but there were major concerns she may never race again after seemingly breaking down soon after the Young event.   “After the win at Young Barriettas Bliss couldn’t walk, we took her home and had the vet look at her and nothing could be found that was structurally wrong,” said Snudden.   “We even took her down to Shepparton to have the dye put through her to see if anything would show up on a scan but again it revealed nothing so I decided to give her a spell and there has been no dramas since, all we can think is that she must have pinched a nerve.”   Barriettas Bliss brought up her first win since the Young victory at Dubbo on Wednesday night when she won a heat of the Red Ochre Mares Classic.   “It was only her third run back, she has been getting fitter with each run and this looked a really good series for her so I was very pleased to see her win the heat.   “It is a really even series this year, there are a number of chances in the final and it is going to be harder for Barriettas Bliss on Sunday because it will be a full field and she will draw poorly because of her assessment.”   Snudden confirmed Barriettas Bliss would not be overtaxed in the lead up to Sunday’s $30,000 final.   “We brought her home and it is four and a half hours each way from my place to Dubbo so she has spent nine hours in the float on Wednesday."    "She will spend Thursday and Friday in the paddock and I will give her a light jog on Saturday morning."   “She’s very versatile, she can do a bit of work in her races but she is fast too so Corey (Bell driver) will have a couple of options and can drive her as required.”   Bell received praise from Snudden after the heat win.   “Corey does a very good job, I think that win was his 60th for the season which is a really good effort.”   Snudden has qualified a runner for the Red Ochre Mares Classic previously.  Victoria May finished unplaced in 2013 but was unlucky after racing on the pegs and failed to get a clear run in the straight.   “Victoria May got held up a couple of years ago in the final but the Red Ochre is that sort of race because it always attracts some very nice mares and you need your fair share of luck."   “Barriettas Bliss is different to Victoria May because she can be driven a little bit more aggressively and doesn’t have to be saved up for the last shot at them.”   The Red Ochre Mares Classic is race six at Dubbo on Sunday afternoon and will begin at 3:54pm.   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

Newcastle based harness racing trainer Shane Tritton is spreading his wings.   And far and wide.   The leading conditioner is currently campaigning smart juvenile pacer Salty Robyn in New Zealand while campaigns in both Victoria and Queensland are also planned in the coming weeks for his stable.   Tritton has been a regular in the sunshine state for a number of years and with the Brisbane winter carnival fast approaching, he is planning another trip north.   Exciting three-year-olds Miss Riviera Belle and Artistic Flite will be his headline acts.   “Queensland is a great place to race and the winter carnival is always good fun, it was great to part of the carnival last year with champion pacer Im Themightyquinn and we’re looking forward to getting back up there.” Tritton said.   New Zealand bred filly Miss Riviera Belle completed a rare double recently by winning both the Newcastle Oaks and Derby in dominant fashion and will now be deliberately aimed at the Brisbane features starting next month.   The Gr.1 $100,000 Queensland Oaks is scheduled for July 11.   “After returning from her Melbourne campaign she has really trained on well and her two recent victories underline that, the trip away from home brought her on and really sharpened her up.   She’s a lot better mentally now and there are a few races we will look at in Brisbane.   “I’m going to give her a couple of easy weeks now before getting her ready for Brisbane, she’ll be nice and fresh again for her next campaign.   I like this filly, she’s now won five races for me and she’s still improving.   “Her efforts during the Victoria Oaks were really good, she just didn’t have the best of luck but it’s proven to be a great experience for her so Brisbane fits her schedule nicely.   Her winning efforts at Newcastle in the Oaks and Derby were very good, running time and winning easily.”   Last start feature race winner Artistic Flite has been freshened and will concentrate on the upcoming Breeders Challenge series before Tritton eyes off a Queensland Derby start with the proven Group 1 winner.   Tritton spelled the Artistic Fella colt following his triumph at Bathurst in the Gr.3 $40,000 Gold Chalice Final on March 28 with a view to bigger targets at the back end of the season.   The $125,000 Breeders Challenge is scheduled for June 28 while the $150,000 Queensland Derby will take place on July 18.   Artistic Flite is also eligible for the Australasian Breeders Crown in Melbourne during August.   “He’s not far away from a return and I’m happy with the way he’s coming to hand following his let-up, he’s got several features in the coming months and giving him that break was perfect timing.   “The Breeders Challenge is the first target and then we’ll look at Brisbane because there are quite a few races for him up there and worth some good prizemoney, the Nursery Fly and then Derby.”   Tritton is currently ranked third in the National trainer’s premiership with 153 winners and sits behind Grant Dixon (176) and Gary Hall (154).   Chris Barsby - Racing Queensland

Astute mentors Kerryann Turner and Robbie Morris left the harness racing trials at Menangle  yesterday absolutely thrilled (Tuesday).   Their stable stars Aztec Bromac and Iam Mr Brightside both pleased in public trials and proved conclusively that a Queensland winter carnival campaign is on target.   The Menangle based couple are currently enjoying another hugely successful season, they’re just shy of 100 winners with several months still remaining before seasons end.   A Brisbane campaign was divulged following their most recent efforts where both pacers contested Group 1 events on March 1, Inter Dominion Grand Final day.   “We gave both boys a freshen-up following their most recent efforts and both have returned in very good order, if anything, Aztec must just be a little further advanced in comparison to Brightside but he is a year younger.” Morris said.   Aztec Bromac hasn’t started since contesting the Gr.1 $200,000 New South Wales Derby won by Victorian colt Ideal For Real while Iam Mr Brightside contested the Gr.1 $200,000 Chariots Of Fire won by New Zealand star Sky Major.   The Queensland winter carnival features several targets for Aztec Bromac including all Derby features (Queensland, Redcliffe & Gold Coast) plus the inaugural running of the Gr.1 $100,000 Nursery Fly.   Yesterday, Aztec Bromac chased home former North American pacer Johny Rock in a time of 1;53.8 for the 1609m hit-out.   “He went really well and it proved he’s come back in very good order, he can go straight into a race following that trial and we’ll look for something within the next fortnight to start his campaign.   “The Redcliffe Derby takes place on June 5 and I’m pretty sure we’ll be heading up for that race and then we’ll just concentrate on all the other features thereafter, he’s got so much he’s eligible for up there and the prizemoney is very attractive.   “He’s proven that he’s a classy horse with a good future, he proved that he’s competitive against the best colts going around and this campaign fits in really well. His speed is his best asset and he’ll prove tough to beat in anything he contests.”   Iam Mr Brightside finished fourth in his 1609m trial won by classy mare Ocean Diva in a time of 1;58.1 but was never extended at any stage up the home straight.   Obvious targets during his Brisbane campaign include the Gr.2 $50,000 4yo Championship and the Gr.2 $50,000 4 & 5yo Championships in July.   “He went well and it was a really nice start point for him, being a year older he’ll probably take a bit more work compared to Aztec but I was happy with the way he felt up the lane.   “He’ll trial again before we look at a race return for him, he had a good blow after the trial but he’ll tighten up pretty quickly following that hit-out. His next trial will be more serious and that will give us a good guide.   “He’s a high quality pacer that always performs at a high level; he’s no stranger to Brisbane after racing there last season against Bling It On in the Nursery Pace Final. This carnival has some really nice options for him.”   Turner is ranked third in the state premiership behind Shane Tritton and Steve Turnbull while Morris is currently fifth in the state driver’s premiership which is led by Lauren Panella.   Chris Barsby - Racing Queensland

Hunter Valley trainer Michael Formosa will welcome back Inter Dominion finalist Ultimate Art this Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle.   The son of Modern Art will compete in the Gr.3 Spress Joe and Michael Ilsley Free For All over 2300 metres and Formosa confirmed the distance was a key factor in selecting the race.   “Thomas (Ultimate Art) is about 90 to 95% percent fit for this weekend and despite being first up I think the longer journey will suit him better than the mile, in that top grade they can go anywhere from 1:50 to 1:52 for the sprint trip,” said Formosa.   “Over the 2300 metres they normally back off at some stage and it will help him work into the race, he is a horse that can surprise me so a win is not out of the question but he normally takes one or two runs to hit top gear.”   Formosa is planning on giving Ultimate Art at least two runs in Sydney before heading to Queensland for the Winter Carnival.   “His main aim would be the 4 & 5 year old Championship and there is a race at Redcliffe called the Patrons Purse which is for four and five year olds as well.   “If he was going well enough then I would consider putting him in the Blacks A Fake but that will all depend on how he is going at the time.”   Ultimate Art has trialled on a couple of occasions without breaking the clock.   “He went 1:57 both times but there wasn’t a lot of depth to the trials so they were good for him without knocking him around too much.”   Formosa’s wife Kirsty has now recovered from a broken ankle caused by Ultimate Art on the day before the Inter Dominion.   “I was out at the sales and Kirsty was with Thomas at the Retention Barn at Menangle, something spooked him and being such a clumsy bugger he knocked her over and broke her ankle.   “Kirsty is still in love with him but I must admit it has been great since Kirsty had the plaster removed a couple of weeks ago because it has meant a lot less work for me around the house.”   While Formosa will be targeting the Queensland features with Ultimate Art he will also be chasing some big races closer to home.   “Milias Ideal is a two year old that won a heat of the Gold Tiara at Bathurst and she is being set for the Breeders Challenge series.   “My dad and some other long term clients bought her at the Ready To Run sale at Menangle last year for $14,000 and I think she has a bit of ability so I’m hoping she measures up to the good ones.”   - HRNSW Media

Dubbo Harness Racing Club’s Carnival Of Cups Series gets underway at Wednesday night's harness racing meeting with an eight race program.   The meeting features two heats of the $30000 Gr. 3 Red Ochre Mare Classic.   Once again the race has attracted the attention of some of the state’s biggest stables.   Shane Tritton will attempt to make it back to back victories in the feature and looks to have a couple of handy mares in Ohoka Royal and Real Star with both expected to figure prominently.    The leading stables of Steve Turnbull, Nathan Hurst, Bernie Hewitt and Ashley Siejka are all represented in the heats as well.   An interesting runner in the second heat is My Whisky Lullaby.    The Sydney trained mare will be driven by talented reinsman Josh Willick and has already won four races.   The other feature race on the program is the fifth heat of the Club Dubbo Dooza Golden Gig.    Six local trained horses are engaged and hope to qualify for the rich final being run on Sunday May 17.   Only two spots remain in the final after recent heats were run at Forbes, Bathurst, Tamworth and Parkes.     Two Dubbo trained horses have already qualified with five time local premiership winning trainer Gary Edwards and James Sutton set to be represented in the final.   Another interesting race on the program is the Maiden Pace.   This race, for horses that have not won at all at a licenced meeting is sponsored by Ron Hoy.   The 94 year old veteran, who seldom misses a meeting, was Dubbo’s leading trainer back in the 1970’s and 80’s preparing more than 150 winners.   His sons Garth and Lester remain the only local drivers to win more than 100 races on the Dubbo circuit.   Harness racing in Dubbo has long been known as a family sport.   Names like Lew, Hoy, Pay, Lesslie, McKinnon & Edwards have become very familiar and successful names in the industry.   When you add to those more recent families participating with a deal of success like Reynolds, Carroll and Sutton harness racing in Dubbo will continue to thrive.   - HRNSW Media

NSW harness racing reinsman Robbie Morris had very little luck during the Australasian Young Drivers Championship (AYDC) in New Zealand over the weekend. The popular reinsman finished ninth overall after driving in six of the seven heats during the Championship with his best result a fourth at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Throughout the Championship the average odds of horses driven by Morris was 20 to 1, however the 23 year old still left New Zealand on a winning note driving $81 chance Sioux Nation to victory in the final race, a non AYDC event, at Timaru on Sunday afternoon. "It may have not been part of the Australasian Young Drivers Championship but it was still a great feeling to drive a winner in New Zealand," Morris said. "I really enjoyed the experience, it was a great opportunity for me to represent New South Wales and I would like to thank HRNSW for the opportunity." Morris had never driven in New Zealand previously and had his first experience driving on a right handed track when he competed at Alexandra Park. "It was fantastic that the drivers were given the opportunity to drive at both of the big tracks in New Zealand, I have watched so many races from Addington and Alexandra Park, it was a thrill to get the chance to drive on both of them." Having driven 72 winners in NSW with more than three months still remaining in the current season, Morris will return to Australia and aim towards his season goal of 100 winners. "I've driven 100 winners each season for the past three years and that is a goal I will be aiming at between now and the end of the season. "I will be back driving at Menangle on Tuesday afternoon but it was good to see the team back home in Australia get a winner on Saturday night with Stormont Czar winning with Rickie Alchin driving." - HRNSW Media

The harness racing industry is saddened by the sudden passing of Bathurst trainer Mark Rawsthorne on Wednesday night. Mark had attended the Bathurst races and passed away soon after returning home. The popular horseman trained 101 winners in his career which spanned more than 20 years. Some of Mark's horses included Sunny Disposition, a talented mare that won 14 races including two at Harold Park. 11 time winner Simon Gosling and more recently Golden Super, a winner of nine races. Prince Raymac's victory at Menangle on August 3rd 2013 was another of Mark's career highlights. HRNSW extends its deepest sympathies to Shona Stewart and the Rawsthorne family. The details of Mark's funeral will be confirmed in the coming days. Greg Hayes

The popular Dubbo Carnival Of Cups harness racing meeting is less than two weeks away and there was plenty of interest at Forbes on Sunday with a heat of the Club Dubbo Dooza Speed Gig Series conducted.  The final will be run at Dubbo’s feature meeting on May 17.  This race is restricted to horses with four wins or less and must be trained and driven by amateur participants.  The final carries prize money of $10200 plus a Dooza Speed Gig valued at $8000 will also go to the winning connections. The major sponsor of the event is Club Dubbo formally known as the West Dubbo Bowling Club. The club have been a major supporter of the Dubbo Harness Racing Club for a number of years. It was fitting that the first heat run at Forbes on Sunday was taken out by Dubbo trainer/driver Gary Edwards. The Dubbo track curator was one of the instigators of this unique series and there will be further heats run at Bathurst on May 6th, Tamworth May 7th, Parkes May 9th  with the final heat at Dubbo on May 13th. All heats carry minimum prize money of $5100 with the first two horses past the post in each qualifying for the final. The inaugural series winner Cankickatarget has gone onto win more than $50,000 for trainer Brett Hutchings. The main race of the carnival is the Red Ochre Mares Classic. Heats worth $5100 will be conducted at the club’s meeting on May 13th with the Gr. 3 final worth $30000 run four days later. Funding for this time honoured mares classic comes from Dubbo’s stallion service auction with all money raised going into prize money. The Dubbo club is extremely grateful to Yirribee, Alabar, Nevele R, Woodlands and Goodtime Lodge Studs. The other feature event will be the $12,240 Peter Lew Memorial for three year olds.  The race is named after one of Dubbo’s most respected trainers and made possible by the generous donations of his family. Dubbo has currently three talented pacers that could start in the prestigious event headed up by Mister Jogalong prepared by Mick Lew. The Peter Gavin trained The Only Child and recent Tamworth Derby winner Remember Kaiser from the Brett Pay stable will be the other local representatives. The remainder of the program will carry minimum prize money of $8000 per race making this year’s meeting one of the richest in country NSW. - HRNSW Media

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