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It has been nearly two weeks since harness racing driver Lauren Panella was badly injured as a result of a race fall at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The severe swelling in her left hand has meant specialists have been unable to confirm the severity of the injury however with a reduction in the bruising recently doctors have confirmed a total of eight broken bones. Panella has broken her wrist, fractured three fingers, three knuckles and broken a bone in her hand and has been given no indication by medical staff on how long it will take to make a full recovery. "The specialist refuses to give me a date on when I can make a comeback because he has known me for a while and believes I will want to return on the date he gives me whether I am ready to or not," Panella said. "All I am being told is that it will be a long recovery and I am going to need a lot of physio but there is some good news because I won't need any surgery." Doctors are concerned with Panella's fingers and how they will heal. "My fingers are bent over and I will need a special splint at some stage because my fingers need help to straighten but I still have very little feeling in my index finger. "My wrist and hand will heal themselves but there is some concern with my fingers and I can't even make a fist yet but the physio will definitely help the healing process." Western Australia's Inter Dominion will begin in November and Panella is hoping to be a part of the series. "Without a date it is hard to know whether I will be ready but I hope so, there are some very nice horses in the (Shane Tritton) stable and a number have been earmarked for a trip across to Gloucester Park. "I want to be working with the best physiotherapist I can, hopefully I can complete my physio on the Gold Coast while Shane is racing a team in Queensland but if I have to remain in Sydney then I will do that." Panella confirmed she is struggling to keep herself busy. "When I go out to the stables I just want to get in and do some work but that's not what I should be doing." Greg Hayes  

The Gr. 3 Ready2Run Stakes at Tabcorp Park Menangle on August 15 is already shaping as an exciting contest.  The $30,000 harness racing event over 2300 metres is restricted to horses sold at last’s year Ready2Run Sale at Menangle and with talented pacers such as Zee Dana, Boundtobemad, Redbank Lenny, Kleened Out, Alesha Maguire and Milias Ideal eligible, the race should be a strong one. Zee Dana is unbeaten after two starts and scored an effortless victory at Shepparton on Thursday night with regular driver Nathan Jack impressed by the son of Tintin In America. “I like him, he is doing a good job now but I think he is going to be an even better three-year old,” Jack said. “At Shepparton he got a comfortable time of it in front but ran home very well and I still haven’t had to pull the plugs on him yet.” Jack confirmed connections will be forced to make a decision on the gelding’s short term future soon. “He is eligible for the Breeders Crown and the Ready2Run Stakes at Menangle, he won’t be able to go in both so Amanda (Turnbull trainer) will have to make a decision either way but we’re leaning towards going to Sydney at this stage. “His next start will be the Tatlow Stakes, he is a big horse, a real good type but I think he will be even better once he has had a spell.” Zee Dana is part owned by Manly fullback Brett Stewart and he is enjoying his first foray into harness racing.  If Zee Dana does compete in the Ready2Run Stakes at Menangle, Stewart was hoping to be trackside to watch the two year old compete but will need clearance from coach Geoff Toovey with Manly set to play the Raiders in Canberra the following day. Another quality youngster being aimed towards the Gr. 3 event is the Steve Harris trained Boundtobemad.  Harris got the opportunity to train the filly after original trainer Dean Cernovskis made his annual journey north to campaign a team of horses in Queensland during the winter carnival. “She was a nice filly and understandably her owners wanted her to be aimed towards the Breeders Challenge and the Ready2Run race at Menangle, her part owner Troy Saddler lives in Wagga so I suggested he send her to Steve Harris,” Cernovskis said. “Dave Reichstein took her down to Wagga for me for her first start and we weren’t expecting her to do too much but she ran a really good race, she was very green and was still learning so Steve has done a great job with her.” Harris took over the filly’s preparation after her debut effort and the daughter of Sportswriter has blossomed culminating in a Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge placing. “Since I’ve had Boundtobemad she has just continued to improve, I was very proud of her at Menangle in the Breeders Challenge,” Harris said. While the Ready2Run Stakes will be a target for Harris he is looking forward to seeing the filly win her first race. “I’d be happy to win an ordinary two year old race with her, we’ll definitely have a look at the Ready2Run Stakes though and the longer distance will be right up her alley. “She is a very tall filly but racy with it, I think she is going to improve with a bit of time and especially once she fills out into her frame.” Harris prepared youngsters for last year’s Ready2Run Sale and will be looking to have more horses in the sale later this year. “I only have a small team of racehorses at the moment but there are a lot of young ones here and I will be having a few for the Ready2Run Sale for sure.”    The Ready2Run Sale this year will be conducted on Sunday 6th December at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Greg Hayes

After 2068 people casted their vote on social media, the Australasian Standardbred Stallion Guide has its new cover foal. Shadow Play colt Max, pictured with dam Maximum Joy and bred by Stephen Cleave and Pat Ward is this year's "cover colt". "Let's hope he can keep his winning form through to his racing," Cleave quipped. Cleave put out a thank you on his Facebook site for all who voted for Max. Harness Breeders Victoria was blown away by the popularity of this year's competition. Max received 790 of the 2068 votes in the competition. For winning the competition photographer and breeder Cleave will receive a subscription to Trackbred magazine and credits for the photo in the 20th edition of the Australasian Standardbred Stallion Guide. Laura Freeman of Werribee is HBV's lucky voter, winning a HBV prize pack including a Bolinda Publishing pack and a Trots Card thanks to the Association of Victorian Country Harness Racing Clubs. The new season Guide will be published in August - all members of HBV receive a copy mailed to their door as part of their membership, as well as any active breeders in the last two seasons and a limited number will be available at HQ offices across Australia. Visit Harness Breeders Vic on Facebook CODY WINNELL 

Harness Racing New South Wales will program 'Claiming Races' at a number of tracks across the state in coming months. The reintroduction will aim to cater for a wide range of horses and in the short term, the races will be run with a minimum of six horses. Every meeting at Penrith, Bathurst, Wagga, Newcastle and Tabcorp Park Menangle will have a claiming race programmed. Maximum Claiming Price of $5,000  Penrith  Bathurst  Wagga  Newcastle Maximum Claiming Price of $10,000 Tabcorp Park Menangle (midweek) Maximum Claiming Price of $25,000 Tabcorp Park Menangle (Saturday night) In July and August the Claiming Races will be conducted with a minimum of six horses. From September 1, a minimum of eight runners will be required however HRNSW has the discretion to run the races with less should it deem necessary. Prize money percentage splits will remain in accordance with all other races and HRNSW will continue to have eligibility clauses in other races. For example: C1 Only also eligible claimers eligible under claiming rules with a maximum claiming price of $3000. The claiming value for horses in Divided Stakes events will be at the HRNSW Handicapper's discretion. Greg Hayes

The Eugowra Harness Racing Club has announced that the 2015 Lexus Of Parramatta Canola Cup final will be worth $30,000. Club president Lex Crosby announced that the race will move to a new level this year and once again become the richest C0 race in Australia. The race had been worth $20,000 over the past few years and previously had been the richest C0 but increases in other events had seen it lose 'top billing'. It is the intention of the club to keep the Canola Cup to the forefront as the richest race for C0 horses in Australia. The $3,000 heats will be run on Sunday September 27th and the final on Monday October 5th. Mr. Crosby thanked all the clubs' sponsors, both large and small for their continued support in making this race day successful. The Eugowra Club is proud of local school teacher Cath Adams who sings the National Anthem at the Canola Cup. Cath has progressed to the second round of Channel Nine's 'The Voice' and the Club is hoping harness racing fans will give her their support as the competition progresses. Greg Hayes

Harness Racing New South Wales extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Charlie Mercieca after his sudden passing on Thursday June 25. Aged 70, Charlie Mercieca was an accomplished horseman and enjoyed success in and around Sydney. Some of the horses Charlie trained included Identity, Nathan Image, Sheerama and more recently Little Gozzo and Perfect Shot. His last runner was on Friday June 12 when Jodan finished third at Newcastle. Charlie will be missed by his entire family. Charlie's funeral will be on Friday July 3rd at 1pm Our Lady Queen of Peace, Greystanes. The burial will take place at Pine Grove Cemetery at 2:30pm.  Greg Hayes

Harness racings big day at Menangle yesterday was full of firsts for a lot of drivers and trainers involved. Kerry Ann Turner claimed her first Group 1 when Lettucerockthem was way too good in the four year old colts and geldings division of the $100,000 Breeders Challenge Finals after a great drive in front by her partner Robbie Morris. Not long after that was the sight of Luda getting home in the $100,000 four year old mares final for her young trainer Daniel Neagoe and her equally young driver David Morris. It was the first Group 1 victory for both the trainer and driver and showed both have the talent to make it at the highest level. Mark Purdon stamped his mark on the days proceedings by winning three of the six Group 1 features on offer and continued the great run the stable is having in both Sydney and Brisbane during their winter campaign. As usual Greg Hayes got around to interview a lot of the drivers and trainers and owners and we include those videos here. Harnesslink Media  

Rookie harness racing trainer Daniel Neagoe had his first runner in a race on April 24, just over two months ago. The 23-year old is at the helm of one of the best bred stables in the state. The Xerri family, through its Sloys Company injects sizeable amounts of money into the industry each year and Neagoe is hoping to win a Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge event this Sunday. If Neagoe can prepare a Gr. 1 winner this weekend at Tabcorp Park Menangle he will become the sixth youngest trainer in Australia to do so. Only Peter Morris Jnr, Mark Reed, Adam Kelly, Luke McCarthy and Travers Neilson have achieved the feat younger. "To be in charge of the Sloys team is a very good experience for a person my age, I'd like to say thanks to Tony, the owner, because not many people are going to give someone who is only 23 the horses that I've got," Neagoe said. "There is a lot of money involved and it is a high pressure job, in the past if you don't produce well, you know what happens and I'm definitely being kept on my toes." Neagoe's best chances of winning a feature event looks to be in the four year old divisions with My General Lee in the male section while Luda will represent the stable against the mares. My General Lee produced a career best performance last weekend when winning his semi final. "I thought we were in trouble at one stage, I did tell David (Morris driver) Theartofconfusion might get to the front and look to sneak away so you will have to keep an eye on where he goes." "Last year Rob (Xerri former Sloys trainer) didn't have a lot of luck with him, he's always performed well but his luck has changed this year, he was very impressive last Saturday night and importantly he pulled up very well but I know it will be harder again this Sunday." Luda's preparation was interrupted a fortnight ago when her Breeders Challenge Prelude was abandoned midrace after Lauren Panella's serious fall. "The no race upset our campaign, I worked her last Saturday and she wanted to go like a rocket so I decided to trial her at Menangle on Tuesday to keep her on her toes." Luda finished third in the trial and recorded a personal mile rate of 1:58.2. Neagoe confirmed he is working very hard and a win on Sunday would cap off a remarkable year. "I barely get enough sleep, we're a bit understaffed at the moment and we have 20 horses in work but slowly the results are making it all worthwhile." Greg Hayes

Metropolitan representative Jack Trainor stormed to the lead in the Young Harness Racing Club Rising Star Series after winning all three heats at Bathurst on Wednesday night. Trainor was fifth after the first night of heats but is now thirteen points clear on top of the points table. The Merchant Banker won the third heat of the series for trainer Neal Wardle. Trainor shot the son of Mcardle straight to the lead from barrier one and was not headed throughout. Defending champion Chris Geary ran another second when Flight Express used the sprint lane after settling on the pegs while Kristy Sheehy and Tulhurst Candy finished third. Keilor Kimberly won the fourth heat for trainer David Hewitt and Trainor. The early pace suited the horses back in the field and Keilor Kimberly came from midfield to score impressively. Black Poles continued her recent good form to finish second for Daniel Morgan while Geary finished in the placings again this time driving Blissfull Dixie. The final heat of the night was dominated by the Steve Turnbull trained Missed By Red. After failing to find the front early Missed By Red settled in the one-one before racing away in the straight to score comfortably for Trainor. Ellen Bartley picked up some important points finishing second on Monterey Jack while Nathan Carroll was third on the Nathan Hurst trained Golden Montana. Two further heats will be conducted at Penrith this evening. Kristy Sheehy could be set for a big night and will drive fancied runners in both heats. Series leader Trainor will drive good chances in the two races as well. The updated leaderboard after five heats Jack Trainor 62 Chris Geary 49 Laura Spencer 39 Reece Maguire 38 Daniel Morgan 33 Nathan Carroll 30 Kristy Sheehy 24 Ellen Bartley 21 Madison Reynolds 16 Tom Ison 13                       Greg Hayes  

Every young lady loves modern conveniences or 'mod cons' as they are fashionably referred to and female harness racing driver Jess Prior is no different. However the equine name 'Mod Conns' is one she will always remember after the three year old filly provided Jess with the first driving win of her career. Jess competed in her first event on Anzac Day this year and after placing twice in her first four races, she was entitled to think her first winner was just around the corner but the 25-year old was forced to wait until her 24th drive. "It was a great feeling, I was breathless and there were a few tears because I had finally broken through for that first win," Jess said. "I was born into harness racing and I work fulltime for trainer Peter Bullock but to get my first win for my uncle (Terry Powter) was very special and it was something I will never forget." Jess has worked for Peter Bullock for the past 18 months since returning to the industry after the birth of her daughter. "Ayla is five now, I come from Parkes originally but made the move to Bathurst about 19 months ago, I have worked as a hairdresser previously but I really enjoy working with the horses. "I get some great driving advice from Peter (Bullock) and Michael Munro and Murray Sullivan has been a great help to me and is always happy to answer any questions that I have." Mod Conns is engaged at Dubbo on Friday afternoon and Jess is hoping the daughter of Modern Art can go back to back. "I have driven her six times and apart from the win on Saturday night, I have also placed on her a couple of times so she is never far away in her races, she is racing really well at the moment." Greg Hayes

Leeton reinsman Reece Maguire has a slender lead after the first two heats of the Young Harness Racing Club NSW Rising Stars. The 22-year old comes from a strong harness racing family with his father Phil Maguire and grandfather Norm Diebert Sr both successful trainers in the Riverina. Maguire finished third in heat one for Temora trainer Ray Walker on Ideal One behind Maitland driver Laura Spencer and Weliveinhope. Defending champion Chris Geary split the pair driving the favourite Wabi Sabi into second position. Heat two was taken out by the Shaun Snudden trained East Emperor with Maguire in the sulky. Geary finished second again with Alabama Ace with Nathan Carroll finishing third on Mister Red Shoes. The series heads to Bathurst tonight for a further three heats. The final heat in the ten race competition will be conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday afternoon at the Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge day. The leaderboard after two heats Reece Maguire   26 Chris Geary   24 Laura Spencer   22 Nathan Carroll   14 Jack Trainor   13 Daniel Morgan   11 Ellen Bartley   9 Kristy Sheehy   7 Tom Ison   6 Madison Reynolds   4   Greg Hayes

Coolamon locals Peter and Wendy Dennis have been involved in harness racing for longer than they care to remember. Peter is a fourth generation harness trainer while Wendy was brought up in pony club but the love for horses is something they both have in common. They have experienced the thrill of owning a winner previously but they enjoyed the biggest highlight of their careers on Saturday night when Peter trained and drove his first winner. Lookbutdontouch, a seven year old mare scored a narrow but important victory at Young and it is something they will both never forget. "Peter got his licence in 1974, we took a break from it when we had the children because we couldn't afford it but harness racing was always something we were going to get involved with again," Wendy Dennis said. "We work as a team, Peter does all of the fast work with the horses and I look after the jogging, it works well because we both work fulltime and it is hard to juggle the horses and our jobs especially if we have to race midweek." Lookbutdontouch was formerly owned by well known Wagga harness racing identity Paul Kahlefeldt. "Peter and I do a lot of work for the Coolamon Harness Racing Club and Paul is a regular at the Sunday trials. "I run the canteen at the trials and cook the egg and bacon rolls but because I know Paul is very health conscious I always try and cook him something special if I know he is going to be there, he is a great supporter of the club and regularly spends $20 on a trial day to feed himself and his workers. "Paul has been a great supporter of the Coolamon club and sponsors the Cup but one day he was over for the trials and I asked him if he had a horse that would suit us because we needed something to work with our other horse Pacific Alice." Kahlefeldt had the perfect horse for Peter and Wendy, Lookbutdonttouch. "That is how we got her, we will probably breed with her and Pacific Alice now so we will have to be on the lookout for another horse. "They are such different horses, Pacific Alice stands 17 hands whereas Lookbutdonttouch is just over 14 hands but we love them both and they are very special to us." It has only been recently that Peter has decided to get back into the sulky in races. "Peter has always liked to give young drivers an opportunity, when Kerryann Turner lived in the Riverina she drove our horses, we have used Liam Armstrong as well but in the past year Peter has been doing most of the driving. "It makes Peter sound like he is only an average trainer because it is his first winner after such a long time but he hasn't had a lot of starters because we would send our horses to other trainers. "Ronnie Serhan trained for us, Greg Forrest and Ray Turner have too, it is just a matter of us being able to juggle our jobs with the horses." Peter works fulltime for the Coolamon Council while Wendy is a geography, history and Aboriginal studies secondary teacher in Wagga. Wendy admitted she had placed a small $5 wager on Lookbutdonttouch and while happy with the return of nearly $60 she was lamenting what may have been. "Lookbutdonttouch was only about $11 when she won, I think she was 80/1 the start before and 120/1 two starts ago." The couple returned to Young on Tuesday night with their two horses and unfortunately 'lightning didn't strike twice'. Pacific Alice finished last in her event while Lookbutdonttouch beat one runner home in the Battler Stakes. "We own 110 acres next to the Coolamon track, so who knows maybe one day we will both retire, put a shed on the property to live in, build some stables and enjoy the rest of our lives." Greg Hayes

A number of changes to the Australian Harness Racing Rules have been approved by Harness Racing Australia Members and will be adopted by all states. HRNSW would like to inform trainers of an important rule amendment that will be in effect from 1 July 2015. 196B. (1) A person shall not within one (1) clear day of the commencement of a race administer or cause to be administered an injection to a horse nominated for that race. (2) For the purposes of this Rule, one (1) clear day means the twenty four (24) hour period from 12.01 a.m. to 12 midnight. (3) A person who fails to comply with sub-rule (1) is guilty of an offence. For the sake of clarity, one clear day means if a horse is racing on Friday, the last time it can have an injection is Wednesday.  Giving a horse an injection anytime of the morning, day or night on Thursday (if racing Friday) is an offence. While attention is drawn to all of the amendments, the introduction of a new rule at Part 12, relating to administering substances by injection is particularly highlighted given its obvious impact on trainers, owners and veterinarians. Click here to view the full amendments to the Australian Harness Racing Rules.  Harness Racing New South Wales

Harness racing names like Fitzpatrick and McCarthy dominate the Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge honour roll. It is no surprise to see the bigger stables starring on the feature days with the leading trainers targeting the rich juvenile races. However what makes harness racing so accessible and the Breeders Challenge so inviting for participants is the chance for the smaller trainers to mix it with the stars of the sport. Hobby trainer Andrew Doherty is looking forward to Sunday when his three year old filly Fountain Lakes will compete in the $125,000 Breeders Challenge. The science and biology high school teacher will be pitted against the likes of multiple Gr. 1 winning trainers Mark Purdon and Steve Turnbull and while he is proud of his filly after she qualified last Saturday night, he is playing down her chances. "Fountain Lakes is no chance of beating Mark Purdon's filly Supersonic Miss but we have drawn well (barrier one) and she got home very well in her semi final last week," Doherty said. "I juggle two young kids, a fulltime job and my wife Jo tells me I have too many hobbies but I grew up with the horses and even though I left the industry while I travelled and worked overseas I always thought that I would return to harness racing at some stage." Fountain Lakes is raced by Doherty and his sister Katrina and the 41-year old is no stranger to driving in feature races. He drove Justabitofmagic for his father John in the 2000 NSW Sires Stakes Final for three year old fillies, finishing seventh behind Pelicanrama. "I grew up at The Rock in the Riverina and was always around horses with Dad and my brother Tim. "Dad trained some nice horses and I was lucky enough to get the drive in the Sires final in 2002. "I kept on driving until 2001 and then went to London and taught there for 18 months before travelling for another six and coming back to Australia." Doherty's wife Jo was from Scone so they settled in Newcastle and it wasn't long before he was interested in rekindling his interest in the sport. "I put an ad on the Trading Ring on the national website just seeing if there was anyone who needed a hand and I ended up getting in contact with Brett Bunfield and got back into it that way." "I went to the APG sales and bought Fountain Lake's mother Second Best Friend, she was pretty well bred and is related to Lennytheshark and Blissfull Boy." Second Best Friend went onto win four races and placed in a further twenty. "I trained her up until Jo and I had our first child Sam, then I gave the horse to Aaron Garaty to train and when she finished racing, my sister and I put her in foal to Armbro Operative and Fountain Lakes was her first foal. "Normally I like to get the horses up and going and then look to sell them and that was the case with Fountain Lakes, Katrina and I had $30,000 on her at the start of the season but couldn't get the right money so we decided to keep her and we are glad now that we did." Doherty's two children Sam aged eight and five-year old Adelaide will be in attendance on Sunday afternoon and will be cheering loudly for their Dad and their favourite horse. "She is pretty quiet and she is really good with the kids, they are going to come down to the races on Sunday afternoon. "I'm not going to be doing anything extraordinary, I'm just going to follow the paint and hopefully run into a place that would be a great result for me." Greg Hayes

All of the harness racing three year old colts and geldings racing in Sunday’s Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge, including the two emergencies, will be stabled in the Retention Barn at Tabcorp Park Menangle from midday this Saturday June 27. Previously horses competing in the Inter Dominion and Miracle Mile have been stabled at the complex however it is the first time HRNSW has required NSW Breeders Challenge runners to be in the facility. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny believes the Retention Barn plays an important role in the sport’s integrity. “HRNSW will continue to lead the industry and measures like the Retention Barn at Tabcorp Park Menangle provides an assurance to participants and punters that everyone is competing on a level playing field,” Dumesny said. “There are 48 surveillance cameras in the barn as well as security guards present at all times so connections of each horse can be assured that all horses will be closely monitored throughout the period.” The three year old colts and geldings will remain in the facility until Sunday afternoon when they can enter the on course stables. All trainers should note all horses competing in Gr.1 races on Sunday are required on course two hours prior to the event. Greg Hayes

Monday 22nd June 2015 - The first victory in any driver's career is memorable and two young harness racing participants experienced their first winners in consecutive races at Tamworth on Sunday. 16-year old Maddie Bond drove The Know It All to victory in race one while 25-year old Luke Muirhead opened up his winning account in race two when Putting For Eagle scored a comfortable victory. Maddie Bond is a student at Maitland Grossmann High School and is currently in Year 11. What made Sunday's victory even more special was The Know It All is owned by her mother Kristy and trained by her father Jamie. "It was a great thrill to finally get my first winner, I've always had a soft spot for the horse and he has probably been my favourite since he was born," Maddie said. "Dad has been a great influence on my career and is always trying to teach me and help me to improve, the win meant a lot to my family." Maddie is hoping to study childcare but is adamant there will always be room for horses in her life. "Mum and Dad would like me to get a qualification so I have something to fall back on but the horses mean so much to me, I've helped Dad out since I can remember and I have spent plenty of weekends at Michael Formosa's property giving him a hand too." "I have been involved in the mini trots since I was five and got the chance to go to New Zealand in 2013 to compete in the Lizzie Of Rosslands competition which was the highlight of my time in the minis." Luke Muirhead drove his first winner at his first race drive and was full of praise for Putting For Eagle's trainer Ken Smith. "Kenny has been a great help to me, he has taught me a lot and I've been helping him out for three or four years now so it was nice to win a race for him," Muirhead said. "When I hit the line and had won the race I looked around and wondered where the rest of the horses were and I wasn't sure whether something had happened behind me, it was a great feeling to win it." Muirhead had been enjoying some success with Putting For Eagle at the trials recently. "I won a trial on him a week ago at Maitland and the week before that I won on him at the Cessnock trials, so he has been going well and it was a good reward for the horse because he was one of the horses that we had to evacuate after the floods." "Ken's track was nearly seven metres underwater at the flood's peak and the horses had to be taken to the Maitland Showground for a couple of weeks, it has been a really tough time for all of us who were hit by the floods and we are still recovering from it." Greg Hayes  

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