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Queensland trainer Ian Gurney has been forced to change his plans in the lead up to this year's Inter Dominion with Avonnova and will now start in the Kevin Robinson Cup at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. Gurney was hoping to start in Saturday night's Victoria Cup which would have allowed him to nominate for the Inter Dominion supplementary heat at Menangle on February 14 but now will head home early next week to compete in the Queensland heat. "I think he is in the best condition that I have ever had him in, I was planning on having to go to Victoria later this week so he has had plenty of work but after being left out down there I was more than happy to give him a run at Menangle on Saturday night," Gurney said. "The 2300 metres this week probably suits him even more than the mile he competed in last start, he won the Gold Coast Cup in October over the 2680 metres and For A Reason was in that race, so I'm pretty sure Shane (Graham driver) will look to get out of the gate and work to the front this week." Gurney confirmed Avonnova had been given a couple of 'easy days' after his most recent win at Menangle but is ready to fire again. "He had a couple of quiet days after winning at Menangle but we got serious with him again and he is ready to run another super race, he will go home Monday or Tuesday next week and go straight to the heat of the Inter Dominion at Albion Park." Stablemate Mach Alert will not be ready for an Inter Dominion campaign but will remain in Sydney. "Mach Alert has not had enough work to go straight into the Inter Dominion, he has only had three trials in the last 17 months." "He will stay in Sydney because he is so well suited by the big Menangle track." By Greg Hayes

Young harness racing participant Robert Morris has been selected as the New South Wales representative in the 2015 Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship to be held in New Zealand in May.  Morris has driven in more than 4800 races and has won in excess of 660 of those since his first drive on January 4, 2008. “It is a massive thrill for me to be selected to represent my state against the best young drivers from Australia and New Zealand,” Morris said. “It is a good reward for all of the hard work and in a sport where there are very few opportunities to represent your state and country, I am very proud to be the New South Wales representative.” The series will be conducted at Cambridge, Alexandra Park, Addington and Timaru from May 7 to 10. “I have never had the opportunity to drive in New Zealand and it is something I have always wanted to do, so I am looking forward to it,” Morris said. “Plus I have never driven in a race where they run clockwise, so that will be something new for me at Alexandra Park. “The last 12 months have been tougher than previous years because of the leg injury I sustained, but I still managed to drive 103 winners for the season which was always my goal.” Morris was sidelined from April 25 until August 5 last year but returned to the sulky to drive 14 winners in three weeks to finish the season in strong form.  “I was lucky enough to win the NSW Rising Stars series for junior drivers in 2009, but this experience will take everything to the next level,” Morris said. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny congratulated Morris on his selection and wished him the best of luck later in the year. “Robbie is not only a good young driver but is a strong contributor to the promotion of the industry and deserves the opportunity to represent the state of New South Wales.” Dumesny said GREG HAYES

With more than one third of the harness racing season now completed it is no surprise to see the two leading drivers in New South Wales are females. Lauren Panella and Amanda Turnbull have already driven more than 140 NSW winners between them this season and with fellow driver Amy Day, the trio dominated the big meeting at Goulburn on Monday afternoon driving six of the eight winners. The girls started out strongly with Panella driving the first winner when Salty Robyn proved too fast for his rivals and set a new track record for 2yos in the process. Panella made it two from two when former kiwi filly Miss Riviera Belle won the second race. The daughter of Bettors Delight will now be set for the NSW Oaks at Tabcorp Park Menangle next month. Amanda Turnbull won race three when she drove Last Man Out for her father Steve while Amy Day drove the second placegetter Ten In Command. Day went one better in race four when the Treuer family owned Audrey Maree proved too strong. Day made it a training/driving double in race five when Ponderena stormed home to win, the daughter of Ponder beating another two mares as the female dominance continued. Trainer Belinda McCarthy tried valiantly to keep females in the winners' circle in race six, her two runners Mister Bling and Epaulette finished second and third in a very close finish. Panella was back to her winning ways in the feature event when she drove Easy On The Eye to victory in the Frank and Edna Day Goulburn Cup. Panella took the seven year old straight to the front and he was never troubled in recording his 17th career victory. Amanda Turnbull drove the second placegetter Heza Thrill. So while the lady drivers were successful in six of the eight races on the card, they also drove three quinellas between them and took home the major share of the spoils at the Carnival Of Cups meeting. With a number of feature races to be run in NSW over the next six weeks, the female drivers have not been forgotten. The Gr 2 Lexus International Lady Drivers Invitational will be run on Inter Dominion Grand Final day at Tabcorp Park Menangle with ten talented reinswomen competing. By Greg Hayes

Former kiwi pacer Easy On The Eye will be aimed at the Hunter Cup after his win in Monday's Frank and Edna Day Goulburn Cup. The Shane Tritton trained gelding led throughout to record his second Australian win but his 17th victory overall. "Easy On The Eye's form is faultless since he joined my stable if you ignore the Miracle Mile run and on that occasion we simply overdid it early," Tritton said. "I was extremely happy with his performance at Goulburn, he worked to the lead and controlled the race throughout so now I will take him to Victoria and hope to get a start in the Hunter Cup." Tritton did nominate Easy On The Eye and Suave Stuey Lombo for this Saturday night's Victoria Cup but both failed to make the final field. "We want to wish the connections of horses in the Victoria Cup the best of luck, it should be a great race, it is just a pity Suave Stuey Lombo couldn't gain a start because we would have started from the carpark if they had let us." "Easy On The Eye, Artistic Flite and Yayas Hot Spot will all go to Victoria this week and then after Saturday night's Ranji Bill Stakes at Menangle I will also send one of my four mares down but I just want to wait and see what happens this weekend first." The leading driver in New South Wales, Lauren Panella will drive at Melton on Saturday night and Tritton confirmed drivers that he has used recently will get another opportunity. "A lot of the drivers who have been driving for me will retain their drives this week, outside of Lauren I have been using David Morris, Bruce Birch and Blake Fitzpatrick as well." "We will go down for two weeks and be back for the Inter Dominion heats in Sydney." By Greg Hayes                

Very rarely in movie trilogies is the third movie the best.  Plenty of Hollywood directors have tried and failed, but when local trainer Trevor White prepared Hollywood Sign to win Sunday’s Junee Cup, the gelding’s third victory in a row, part owner Matthew Peden declared it as clearly the best of the three. “Up until Sunday night the biggest thrill I had with Hollywood Sign was when he won first up at Leeton and then backed it up at Temora and made it two in a row, but to make it three straight and win a race like the Junee Cup means a lot to all of us,” Peden said. “He was passed in at the sales as a yearling and Trevor, David White and I each took a third share and leased him and have raced him ever since, it has been a great ride.”   Peden was happy to see his good friend David White fly in from New Zealand, where he is working for kiwi trainers Graham and Paul Court, to witness the win. “Dave has played a big role with Hollywood Sign, obviously Trevor (David’s uncle) trains him, but when Dave was working for Blake Fitzpatrick, Hollywood Sign spent four months in Sydney with Blake and Dave and that has strengthened him up so much,” Peden said. “We kept it quiet to try and make it a bit of a surprise that Dave was flying in for the Junee Cup and I think his parents got a bit of a shock when he walked onto the track. “It was actually quite funny, as Dave and I drove down to Junee on Sunday we stopped in at Marulan for petrol and bumped into Graham Court, who is in Australia with Terror To Love, and he didn’t even realise that Dave had flown back to Australia.” Hollywood Sign will be looking to make it four in a row when he steps out next time and Peden has his fingers crossed. “I’m not too sure what Trevor has in mind, but he has now won three Carnival Of Cups races, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him continue to target that series and try and pick up the Carnival Of Cups horse of the year,” Peden said. - GREG HAYES

Dubbo harness racing trainer Peter Reynolds enjoys his annual trip to Tamworth in conjunction with the Country Music Festival.  This year is no different, especially after Tommy Tuppence qualified for Friday’s Golden Guitar by winning his heat last Sunday night. Despite the tough victory, after sitting outside the leader, Reynolds is not getting too excited just yet. “I normally enjoy the week in Tamworth and I’ve had a Golden Guitar finalist before when Shortlea ran a very good race and finished third in 2004, but hopefully Tommy Tuppence can go that little bit better,” Reynolds said. “Tommy Tuppence is a very versatile horse. He ran a couple of very good races at Parkes recently and I was expecting a good performance in Sunday’s heat.” Tommy Tuppence was purchased from Victoria and when he first arrived in New South Wales Reynolds decided to give him a good spell, which has certainly paid dividends. “I was looking for a horse for an old mate a couple of years ago and I ended up buying him through Mick Hughes in Victoria,” Reynolds recalled. “He won a race at Warragul before arriving at my place, when he arrived he was very lanky and gangly, so I thought a good break would do him the world of good. “With some time he has developed into the horse that he is today, so in the end I think made the right decision giving him the time off.” Nathan Hurst drove Tommy Tuppence for the first time last weekend, but has also qualified Tangles, which he trains. “Mat Rue is his regular driver and will get the first offer,” Reynolds said. “If he can’t make it then I am going to have to sit down and have a think about it. “He is best suited if he is drawn to lead because he is a big horse that likes to roll.” GREG HAYES

The Junee Harness Racing Club will hosts its Carnival Of Cups meeting on Sunday, and while the feature event is the $14,000 Phoenix Accounting and Business Services Junee Cup, the Invitational Drivers’ Challenge is sure to attract plenty of interest.  Five ‘local’ reinsman are set to battle it out with five ‘city’ drivers over three races and club secretary Joanne Judd is very happy with the calibre of drivers the club has been able to attract this year. “The Monster Plant Sale Invitational Drivers’ Challenge is going to be exciting again this year,” Judd said. “We have changed it a little bit this time because in the past we have invited the city drivers from Sydney, but this year the Victorians drivers will compete against the local guys. “The city drivers are made up of Chris Alford, Anthony Butt, Josh Duggan, Nathan Jack and Daryl Douglas, while the local team is Bill Trembath, Bruce Harpley, Steve Maguire, Shane Hallcroft and David Moran.” The three series races are penalty free events (C0, C1-C2 and C0-C2 mares), while the club is also planning to run the Allan Harpley Memorial for open pacers and the Phyllis Harpley Memorial for the three-year-olds. “The Junee Cup is for C3 to C6 pacers, it should be a very good field this year and it looks as though the locals could figure prominently,” Judd said. “At our meeting last Saturday night we got a good crowd and we are expecting an even bigger one this Sunday because there has been a fair bit of hype locally, there is some advertising to take place this week and we will be having plenty of off track entertainment. “Singing duo ‘Duble’ who will perform throughout the meeting and after the last plus the kids will be entertained as well with a free jumping castle and face painting too.” Nominations for Junee’s meeting on Sunday will close on Wednesday morning at 9:30am. GREG HAYES  

A huge crowd turned out at Broken Hill's first harness racing meeting of the season and there was not a dry eye on course when young reinswoman Ashleigh Camilleri drove Cityscape to victory in the Leesa Jane McInnes Memorial. The reasoning for the emotional outburst was simple, the feature is raced in honour of Ashleigh’s mother, who passed away last August. “It was a huge honour for me to win my Mum’s race,” Camilleri declared. “I wouldn’t care if I don’t win another race all season. It meant so much to me and when Cityscape kicked in the straight and pulled out enough it was a very special feeling. “I said to Dad that Mum would have told me ‘it was just another bloody race’, but I’m sure she was watching and cheering me home and it was definitely the biggest win of my career.” It was also the first time Camilleri had driven in a race since breaking her ankle in a fall. “It was my first night back and I had been out for a fair while, but I set a target to be back for the first meeting this season,” Camilleri said. “I only had two drives, the first one drew poorly and finished last, but Cityscape did the right thing by everyone. “The fields were big and for the local drivers we normally drive in fields of five or six, but there were a couple of fields that had nine runners in them and on our small track at Broken Hill it doesn't leave too much room.” Camilleri admitted she got a ‘rush’ when turning for home and the crowd started to cheer, which began the emotional stint along the home straight. By the time the astute young reinswoman crossed the finish, tears began to flow. “When I turned into the straight I could hear them, there was a big crowd there, all of mum's workmates, friends and families turned up and were roaring,” Camilleri said. “Mum was the co-ordinator of a 'Meals On Wheels' type service that provided meals to the elderly and she had lots of friends too.” GREG HAYES

At this time of year most people are relaxing and enjoying time with family and loved ones, but hard working harness racing driver Michael Muscat has been covering plenty of kilometres in a bid to drive a winner or two.  Muscat drove at Leeton on Boxing Night, headed back to Sydney to drive at the Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday before travelling to Maitland to drive at the Sunday twilight card. “It has been a pretty busy time, but you have to go where the opportunities are and I've been driving some very nice horses in the process as well,” Muscat said. “I picked up a winner at the Menangle meeting when Snap To It won, but I was sure that he was going to get swamped halfway up the straight.  I was pretty happy when he fought back, although, I wasn't sure who had won when the three of us hit the line together.” Muscat was happy with the performance of both two-year-olds he drove in the heats of the Leeton Breeders’ Plate, Its Inevitable and Mister Tom Dooley. “Its Inevitable was really good, he wanted to roll off the fence in the straight, but I was really happy with the way he went,” Muscat said. “I thought with the right draw he could have been a winning hope, but barrier eleven is not ideal, at this stage I will be driving him in the Final. “Mister Tom Dooley did a few things wrong in his heat, but I didn’t let him out of second gear. He is a really nice two-year-old and he probably needs a break at the moment, but he has a big motor and Dad (Billy) is going to drive him this week.” Muscat drove two horses which qualified for the Inter City Pace at Maitland on Saturday night. “Megs Ferrari and Tella both did really good jobs in the heats on Sunday,” Muscat said. “They both finished second, but the race is a really strong one, there are some very nice horses in the Final.” GREG HAYES

Riverina harness racing trainer Col Thomas has plenty of options for his boom pacer Bettermatch, but in the short term, will aim at the Leeton Breeders’ Plate.  Heats will be run on Boxing Night and Thomas is excited by the son of Kenneth J after he won in a brilliant 1:55.8 on debut at Maryborough a fortnight ago. “The Leeton Breeders’ Plate is where he will go next,” Thomas said. “I’m thinking of taking him to Sydney for a couple of races early next year, but he is also eligible for the Bathurst Gold Crown and can race in both the Breeders’ Challenge and Vicbred. “We've had a few blokes ringing since his debut trying to buy him, one offered us $100,000 for 50 per cent of him, but I can assure everyone that he isn’t for sale.” Bettermatch is owned by Rob Wakeman and Thomas is happy to see his good friend get a nice horse. “Robbie was a baker and he would do his deliveries and then come out by 10am and help me out at the stables, but since he has retired he is out there by 6:30am every day, he is a good bloke and a hard worker,” Thomas declared. “He actually claimed Bettermatch’s mum at Junee,” Thomas explained. “He was one of 17 claims that was put in and he was the lucky person that drew her out. “We raced for her a while after that and she won a race for us and this is only her second foal.” Bettermatch has always shown ability and had performed well at the trials in the lead up to his debut. “He had been around at the trials and was going about 2:04, but he was just zipping home in 28 seconds, so we always knew he had a bit of a motor, but just didn’t know how big it was,” Thomas said. “He has gone quicker than Business In Motion already, but he reminds he a lot of him, Bettermatch is still a colt but is very quiet and sensible.” GREG HAYES

Twelve months ago harness racing driver Jimmy Douglass nearly pulled off a huge boilover when 90-1 chance Scandalman finished second behind Washakie in the Treuer Memorial at Bankstown. Fast forward to this Saturday night and Douglass believes he is driving the right horse in Chariot King to go one better this year. "I've run a couple of placings in the Treuer Memorial from memory, Scandalman wasn't far away last year and Hesa Buzzin ran third behind Washakie too but that was back in 2011," Douglass said. "Chariot King is going to be a good chance on Saturday night, he has drawn barrier one and around the tighter tracks the closer you can draw to the inside the better especially when you are driving a horse that has speed to make use of the draw." Chariot King won Saturday night's Kevin Newman Cup at Tabcorp Park Menangle and Douglass was extremely pleased with the performance. "Before the race John (Tapp) just told me not to get involved in an early speed battle but from the wide draw I couldn't slot in so I had to go right back and because I knew they were walking I decided to head to the pegs because the horses from the back weren't going to get into it." "From about the 600 I thought I was going to get into the clear and when they all left the inside turning for home I just stayed to the pegs and he sprinted so fast." Douglass has formed a good partnership with the son of Badlands Hanover and he believes it was Chariot King's best performance since he has taken the reins. "He was really good, just so sharp when Seel N Print pulled off the inside and he saw the opening and with that sort of speed and acceleration if he gets things run to suit on Saturday night in the Treuer Memorial then he is going to be a contender for sure." By Greg Hayes Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |

Hunter Valley trainer Jess Dart enjoyed the most rewarding moment of her time in harness racing last Saturday night when Four Wise Men scored at Newcastle. Recently returning from a serious injury, the son of Armbro Operative registered his first success since January 2013. “Four Wise Men has been a really special horse for me, I bought him in September 2011, but I needed nearly 12 months to put some condition on him because he wasn’t in great condition when he arrived,” Dart said. “He provided me with my first winner but then broke a pedal bone and as a result had to have another 12 months off…at first I was just hoping to just get him back to the races, but to get him to win another race is the biggest achievement in my career.” With last weekend’s appearance Four Wise Men’s fourth start along the comeback trail, Dart was confident the nine-year-old was ready to win. “I took him to Tamworth first-up because I thought it would be a bit weaker for him and he went well even though he drew wide,” Dart declared. “Then he raced at Maitland and didn’t run a bad race from another bad draw, so I thought he might be able to win another one. “What made the win even more special to my family was that I wore my great grandfather Charlie Kirkwood’s colours…it was the first time in many years that they had won a race and I’m sure he would have been very proud.” Four Wise Men will have an easy week before racing at Maitland in early November. “That's the plan at this stage,” Dart explained. “They tend to go a little bit slower on the half mile track which suits him, although he did break the 2:00 minute barrier for the first time on Saturday night, plus Mum and I are hoping to have another couple of starters at that meeting too.” GREG HAYES

Goulburn harness racing trainer David Hewitt added his name to the Canola Cup honour roll by taking out Eugowra's feature with Holm Three.  Hewitt joins his brother Bernie and brother-in-law Neil Day on the list to continue a family tradition. “It was a great thrill to win the race with Holm Three,” Hewitt declared. “The Canola Cup was never a race I really considered aiming for when I was training at Crookwell because it was so early in the season and the heat and Final use to be on the same weekend. “Because of those factors in the past the horses had to be rock hard fit, but now with the heat and Final a week apart, it is a bit easier on the horses and when Holm Three arrived from New Zealand recently I thought it would be a good option for her.” Holm Three led throughout from her front row draw, with Hewitt confident the daughter of Mach Three will remain competitive as she races her way through the grades. “The logical plan for her looks to be a Menangle Country Series,” Hewitt said “I think she is going to be a good chance in one of those because she is just so fast early and can put herself in the right spot. “We took the option of handing up in the heat because she hadn’t been with us for very long and we were still learning with her, but with that run under her belt, I was happy to go for an all the way win on Monday." Hewitt’s son Brad drove Holm Three in the heat, but partnered Luksam in the decider. “The boys were pretty keen for me to drive her in the Final and I was happy with that, because while I am not driving as much as I used, to I like to keep my hand in,” Hewitt explained. “Brad trains Luksam, so he had to drive him in the Final and he did a good job to finish second.” GREG HAYES

Goulburn harness racing trainer Brad Hewitt drove two Canola Cup heat winners at Eugowra last weekend and believes one of the pair will prove very hard to beat in Monday’s $20,000 Final.  Hewitt is the trainer of Luksam, which he will drive him in the decider, while his father David will partner former kiwi trained mare Holm Three. “Luksam has drawn the back row and Holm Three will start off the front, so she is probably the better chance just because of the barriers,” Hewitt said. “Luksam was only having his second run back from a very long break. First-up he was a little bit disappointing after trialling well, but he travelled to Bathurst by himself and was really nervy when he arrived.” After disappointing Luksam was sent back to the trials, and after a strong performance at Menangle, Hewitt was expecting a better performance. “The Menangle trial was really good, but I still didn’t think he could beat Karloo Ten Seventy on Sunday,” Hewitt said. “When he got his chance in the straight he finished it off really nicely. “In the Final if they go too slow he’s got enough ability that I have the option of putting him into the race, but that will all depend on how everything unfolds.” Holm Three has only been in Australia a short time and really impressed with a strong performance. “We didn’t really know what to expect because she had only been in Australia for two and a half weeks, but she was forced to work very hard for the first part of the race and then relaxed, so I think she is going to win more races,” Hewitt said. “New Zealand race caller Mark McNamara told us about her when she was racing over there. “He sends us a few names every now and then and we liked her so a few owners stepped up and bought her.” GREG HAYES

Goulburn trainer Amy Day took two horses to Newcastle last Friday night with one goal in mind and that was to qualify them both for their respective Tabcorp Park Menangle Country Series Finals. Day left Newcastle with an impressive win courtesy of Treuaper while Cogeday was an unlucky second but did enough to get through to the Final meaning both horses will compete this Saturday night in $25,000 events. "I was very pleased with Treuaper, he came off a break and had been trialling well at Menangle in the lead up to his racetrack return," Day said. "Cogeday was very unlucky and got caught up in traffic but he's a sit sprinter and the three wide line just came too early and it would have meant that I was out three wide without cover for the last lap which wouldn't have suited him." "When he hit the line he pricked his ears and finished it off quite nicely and it was nice to have him back because towards the end of last preparation I think a couple of long float trips had taken their toll on him." Cogeday looks to be suited by returning to the 1400 metre track at Menangle. "I had been trying to qualify him for one of these country finals and I had taken him to Bathurst and Young for the heats but he wasn't showing his high speed. He is so much better suited to the bigger tracks and that's why hopefully he will be a good chance on Saturday night." Treuaper will contest race four while Cogeday will compete in the sixth event at Menangle on Saturday night. Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

Twenty year old reinsman Joel Butterfield will never forget Friday August 22nd 2014. It was the date he drove the first winner of his career when despised outsider Soloman Vandy won race eight and then had to endure a protest hearing when the fourth horse lodged an objection. "It was a bit of a surprise but it is something that I will never forget," Butterfield said. "I didn't think he could win when we went down the back straight because he wasn't doing much but he kept on sticking his neck out and in the end he surprised everyone, it was an unreal feeling when we crossed the line." Butterfield has only been driving since December last year and has had about ten drives in his short career. "I work fulltime as an internal sales rep for a timber wholesaler and the hours are long plus I live a long way away from work. I start at seven and finish at about five but I still find time to train a couple of my own and I also give Bevan Pringle a hand when I can." "I've been strapping horses for my Pop since I was fourteen and I use to give Paul Bourke a bit of a hand after school when I got the chance, I am always willing to watch and try to learn as much as I can from everyone." While Butterfield enjoys his participation in the sport he is hoping he can take it to another level at some stage in the future. "I'd love to do it professionally somewhere down the track but at the moment I'm enjoying training my two." "Cobla Stuie is no world beater but he ran third for me the other week behind Minnie Min Min and I've had about six race drives on him, my other horse is a three year old. It was Soloman Vandy's first victory since winning at Newcastle on March 7.   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

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