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Harness Racing Australia has gone ahead and put Rules in place just weeks before the breeding season and failed to consult properly with stakeholders. More mares are bred in Victoria than any other state yet the Harness Racing Breeders Association of Victoria executive were waiting for answers when Harness Racing Australia announced the limits. How many stallions does this affect? Based on the 2019 figures five stallions served over 150 mares; Art Major, American Ideal, Always B Miki, Sweet Lou and the deceased Alta Christiano.   After contacting the Harness Racing Breeders Association of each state it is clear they do not accept that a proper consultative process has taken place. Based on the number of outraged breeders contacting Alabar Australia and Woodlands Stud it appears the majority of commercial broodmare owners are against the HRA proposal as it is written.  There is no one that is against limiting books but it needs to be properly worked out with consideration of free returns and other economic considerations. Below is the outline of the letter written to Andrew Kelly. A reply from the HRA board is expected this week. 1. Phase limits in:   There should be no limit for 2020 season, 180 plus returns for 2021 season,150 plus returns for 2022 and beyond:   Reasons why?    a) Implementing changes at this late stage of the season simply makes it all too hard to implement without creating upheaval and ill feeling between HRA and both broodmare owners and Studs.   b) there will be cases when travel and delivery of semen due to  Covid -19 will not reach a mare when needed and having flexibility has never been more important than this 2020 season.   c)  the follow-on economic effects of Covid-19 means 2021 will have its challenges. By 2022 we hope to see some sense of normality.   d) HRA should follow the example of other countries. The implementation of stallion limits would  normally be done over several years seasons as what happened with USTA. The overseas experience of limiting books has always provided a lead-in time to allow corrections to the worth of stallions being purchased or syndicated. The latest example was the Jockey Club (USA) where limits were introduced this year.   The conditions were that a limit of 140 but starts for those stallions born in the 2020 foal crop. All stallions born 2019 and before  are not affected as they were valued for syndication differently . There is no mention of free returns in the Jockey Club Rules because there are no live foal guarantees to consider as it is “pay on live foal” (POLF). Attached Jockey Club rule below.   2. Remove the limit of 20 on free returns:  There should be no limit or other conditions imposed on a genuine free return: a) There have been instances in NZ and Australia over the years where through no fault of the stud or stallion more than 20 free returns have occurred in any one season. These can be the accumulation of returns over previous seasons or unexpected losses from climatic changes or infection. For instance an abortion outbreak can cause significant unforeseen losses well in excess of 20 per stallion, as happened in 2001 with Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS) in the U.S. state of Kentucky when some farms had between 20% to 30% of pregnant mares aborting.How can a stud be expected to carry the uncertainty of such a loss of income with no recourse of providing free returns to all losses if required? b) the broodmare owner should be able to transfer a free return and use another mare. The first mare may no longer be a viable breeding proposition,or a substitute maybe a more fertile option, or the mare died and needs replacing are examples why this makes sense.  c) I see a big difference on how free returns are adopted in future by studs if there is a limit imposed. In the T’Bred a standard free return is only provided for the first 24 hours of the foal’s life and thereafter it is the mare owner who takes the risk or insures the foal. In S’Bred's studs more often than not they provide free returns for foals that die much later than 24 hours, in some cases months later. That eases the burden of the broodmare owner carrying insurance from 24 hours. Under the current proposed HRA 20 free return criteria stallion owners could not allow this leniency to continue towards the breeder. d) Free returns are easy enough to police with the studbook registrations checking each free return is valid, and the registered stallion owner would have to justify the free return number yearly with HRA. I declare my conflict of interest as co owner in Woodlands Stud and the stallions Sweet Lou and American Ideal. Andrew Grierson Woodlands Stud .................................................................................................................................................. Thursday, May 07, 2020 The Jockey Club Adopts Rule Regarding Thoroughbred Stallion Breedings The Jockey Club board of stewards today announced that it has adopted a final rule limiting the annual breeding of individual stallions. The rule reflects The Jockey Club’s goal to preserve the health of the Thoroughbred breed for the long term and will apply prospectively to stallions born in 2020 or later. Effective today, The Jockey Club’s Principal Rules and Requirements of the American Studbook are amended by adding the following italicized language to the text of Rule 14C: C. Based on the information on a completed Report of Mares Bred form, The Jockey Club will forward to the stallion owner, lessee or authorized agent a preprinted Service Certificate for each broodmare bred, including the name of the stallion, the name of the broodmare, the name of the dam of the broodmare, and the date of the last cover. The total number of broodmares bred per individual stallion whose year of birth is 2020 or thereafter shall not exceed 140 per calendar year in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The Jockey Club shall limit the number of Stallion Service Certificates for such stallions to a maximum of 140 per calendar year. When the stallion owner, lessee or authorized agent receives the preprinted Service Certificate, it should be examined for accuracy, signed by the stallion owner, lessee or authorized agent and forwarded to the breeder of the foal or submitted to The Jockey Club through Interactive Registration™ at www.registry.jockeyclub.com. The Service Certificate is required to register a foal. Service Certificates will not be issued unless a completed Report of Mares Bred form is on file at The Jockey Club and until genetic or re-DNA typing of the stallion has been completed (see Rule 5). In an effort to illustrate the operation of the new rule, The Jockey Club offers the following examples of how it will be applied: (1) For stallions born in 2019 and earlier, there will be no limit to the number of mares reported bred in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The Jockey Club will issue stallion certificates for all mares bred by such stallions within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico during a calendar year. (2) For stallions born in 2020 and later, the maximum number of mares covered within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico in a calendar year will be 140. It would be a violation of Rule 14C for such a stallion to cover more than 140 mares within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico during a calendar year. The aforementioned limit will apply to all mares bred during a calendar year regardless of when The Jockey Club receives a Report of Mares bred (or any amendments or supplements thereto). The Jockey Club will modify its Report of Mares Bred form and other related forms in recognition of the amendment to Rule 14. Stallion Service Certificates will be issued on the basis of first cover date in the order of mares listed on the Report of Mares Bred. The Jockey Club is grateful for the many thoughtful comments in response to its September rule proposal. The stewards carefully considered those comments in formulating a rule that will promote diversity of the Thoroughbred gene pool and protect the long-term health of the breed. The Jockey Club will continue to maintain the Principal Rules and Requirements of the American Studbook in keeping with its mission to ensure the health of the Thoroughbred breed. The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club, directly or through subsidiaries, provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives, and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms. It is the sole funding source for America’s Best Racing, the broad-based fan development initiative for Thoroughbred racing. You can follow America’s Best Racing at americasbestracing.net. Additional information is available at jockeyclub.com.  

BREEDING AND RACING SEASON CHANGES TO HELP GROW INDUSTRY Harness Racing Australia (HRA) have recently announced big changes to the Breeding and Racing seasons, with new reforms designed to help grow the local harness racing industry and the long-term sustainability of the sport. The 2020/21 Breeding Season kicked off last Tuesday and the restrictions on the use Stallions and frozen semen will continue to invigorate the local breeding industry. While still only early in the season, the overwhelming response has been extremely positive.  Owner, Breeder and Haras Des Trotteurs Principal, Mr Pat Driscoll, made his views about the new rules abundantly clear in a recent letter published on www.harnesslink.com. HRA CEO Andrew Kelly commented, “It’s not just the larger operations expressing their support for the changes, many smaller breeders, such as Mr Steve Dickson at Llewellyn Park, are bullish about the future and the benefits it will bring to smaller stud owners and lesser light stallions who have been regularly overlooked in an industry dominated by large, commercially influential operations. As the industry enters a new era, everyone at HRA extend their best wishes to all breeders for a successful season ahead.” The change to the racing season, also announced last Tuesday, hasn’t been as hotly debated, but common sense has prevailed and the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. The HRA Executive team are constantly looking to grow, promote and develop the Harness Racing Industry in Australia and the sport will need to change to adapt to the constantly changing environment. For further information, please contact Andrew Kelly on +61 3 9227 3000.   Harness Racing Australia

Harness Racing Australia (HRA) will be looking for a new Chairman as Mr Michael Taranto has advised the HRA Executive that he will not be seeking re-appointment as Chairman of HRA at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting. Following a decision by the HRA Executive Members, he has decided to stand down from the position immediately. Michael was influential in his role as independent Chairman of HRA and as the Chair of the Inter Dominion Event Committee. Michael’s leadership was pivotal in helping guide the industry through the COVID-19 pandemic. The HRA Executive team thanks Michael for his passion and contribution to harness racing nationally and wishes him all the best in the future. The HRA Executive Members recently met and resolved to invite each States Controlling Body to nominate one person for the Executives consideration in filling the role of Independent Chairman of HRA.  An appointment will be made at the 2020 HRA Annual General Meeting later this year. In the interim, Mr Ken Brown, current Vice-Chairman of HRA and Chairman of Harness Racing New South Wales, will undertake the role of Acting Chairman of HRA. Ken Brown Acting Chairman, 29 June 2020 For further comment please contact HRA CEO Andrew Kelly M: 0488 358 285 E: akelly@hra.com.au

A historic decision by the Executive of Harness Racing Australia will extend the current racing season to the end of the year, due to the COVID19 pandemic. The executive announced the decision yesterday, extending the current 2019/20 racing season to 31 December. The decision will appease industry participants becoming increasingly concerned about the loss of opportunities for two, three and four year old feature and futurity racing. The HRA Executive said the decision to extend the season allows the various State Controlling Bodies time to consider the reprogramming of various Feature and Futurity Races which have been, or will be, impacted by the direct or related effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The extension to the season is for the current 2019/20 racing season only and does not alter the breeding season. From a racing perspective, all Standardbreds will keep their current age through to 31 December 2020. Further updates will be provided in due course by Harness Racing Australia and the respective State Controlling Bodies as they apply to matters including rules, ratings handicapping and the feature race calendar. Terry Gange

Harness Racing Australia’s “tweaking” of its controversial new National Ratings system will bring some small consolation to industry participants frustrated their views are not being heard. But the sport’s peak body has missed the opportunity make the more significant changes this contentious system so desperately needs to regain the confidence of passionate industry participants. Harness Racing New South Wales chief John Dumesny is so far the only State chief to report back to industry participants on the outcomes of last week’s HRA Executive meeting, and the intense debate at the Ratings Review team meeting that preceded it. It was the job of the Review Team three weeks ago to make recommendations on any changes required, six months after the NR system was rolled out – and the executive, reportedly, duly adopted the review recommendations last week. The decisions of the HRA executive can be read here:  While other State bodies have had little to say to their constituencies about the impact and timing of the amendments, Dumesny was frank in his HRNSW Blog last week. “Is it absolutely what we wanted in NSW?  No, but we got somewhere towards the requests of our participants and that is not always easy as these meetings go.  And I’m talking about a meeting that lasted six hours, of pretty deliberate discussions,” he said. “Some states rely heavily on the data and that is pertinent…but there is another point that always must be respected, and that is your stakeholder satisfaction -- it is a balance,” he said. “We want wagering turnover, we want to provide even racing but without participants we don’t have a sport. Certainly, I played that card within reason at the Ratings Review team meeting.” Industry participants in Victoria, in particular, have been enraged by the lack of consultation by the State body.  Debate on social media about the NR system has been “white hot”, but Harness Racing Victoria has provided no formal process or opportunity for industry to provide feedback to inform its position at the Ratings Review. And while the HR executive might not have been receiving the grass roots input via some State bodies that many industry participants wanted, there were some concessions to appease critics. The major change relates to the iniquitous “points for second place” conditions of the new NR system, and there are some welcome amendments to the NR matrix. Now, for races less than $10,000 the NR point for second place will disappear.  In addition, horses winning races with lower levels of stake money will be awarded fewer NR points. But Dumesny’s blog comments indicate, despite the compromise, not all States were fully on board to the level of NSW. “This was a concern across Australia that for running second you are actually penalised a point and while some didn’t want to lift the prizemoney level higher than $10,000, everyone was sensible about the end result,” Dumesny said. John Dumesny The Executive also approved a significant and common sense change for two year old racing, in that the system will be modified to reduce the starting point rating from 40 to 35 National Rating Points. However, efforts to get a similar concession for three year olds failed. The impact on three year olds, and the lack of protection they are provided in their juvenile season, has been one of the most hotly-debated issues around the new NR system. But Dumesny indicated the solution required by participants for three year olds was not going to get past all members of the review team. “The easiest outcome from our participants’ point of view for three years olds was to drop down (the three year old ranking) from 50 points to 45 points,” Dumesny said. “I didn’t get much traction on that with the other States – but we came up with a pretty good compromise in my opinion.” The “compromise” solution allows States to “potentially” program races that allow for a five-point concession for three year olds racing against older horses. “It was about the experience and maturity of horses, so when these three year olds do win their three year old races and they have to race against the older horses they will get a five point concession,” Dumesny said. The frustration for many industry participants currently racing three-year olds (already mid-way through their 3YO season), will be in the likely lag time for adoption of the compromise conditions. Dumesny pointed to likely further delays in the rollout, due to the time necessary for modifications to the national industry database. That is, the time it takes for RISE to change the HARVEY System. “It’s a bit of a case of when we can get it into the system – there needs to be changes to the HARVEY system because we really want it to be all automatic.  We don’t want it to be a manual system because errors will occur,” he said. It will then be up to the States (particularly those not necessarily enthusiastic about amendment of the conditions) to enact the new policy. Amendments to programming necessary to accommodate the new three-year-old concessions will also become a State-by-State responsibility.  A separate issue is how effectively the race conditions are amended to provide enough realistic racing opportunities for three year olds. Dumesny said he was “quite prepared” for further feedback on the system from industry participants. Harnesslink Media

When a youthful Mark Purdon captured the 1991 Auckland Inter Dominion aboard Mark Hanover trained in partnership by legendary father Roy and older brother Barry, little did he realize what the future was to hold. All in, the Purdon’s have figured in nine Inter victories, three in the pacing ranks and six with the trotters. For champion trainer/driver Mark it has been a ritual to go in search of Australasia’s most prestigious harness event, with success coming on several occasions. Following Mark Hanover, A few years went by before Mark’s name began to become dominant, especially in the trotting ranks scoring with Pride Of Petite in 1996 (Melbourne), and 1997 (Adelaide) when driven by brother in law Tony Herlihy which became one of the greatest races ever seen at Globe Derby Park, then came Buster Hanover (Sydney) in 1998 with Herlihy again the winning reinsman. Thirteen years elapsed before I Can Doosit trained and driven by Mark with Grant Payne as associate trainer scored successive victories – Auckland in 2011 and Melbourne 2012. Back in 1993 Mark’s father Roy had combined with Barry to land the 1993 Trotters Grand Final in Auckland with Night Arrow. In 2016 and 2017 it was the pacers that really made Mark a force to be reckoned with when two outstanding horses Smolda and Lazarus came on the scene. Smolda being victorious in 2016 and Lazarus 2017 when both series were held in Perth. Partner Natalie Rasmussen is no stranger to the Inters either after her outstanding pacer Blacks A Fake scored at Hobart in 2006, Adelaide 2007, Melbourne 2008 and Menangle 2010 and could have easily been five after going down narrowly to Mr Feelgood at the Gold Coast the year before. Barry Purdon himself will have two Grand Final runners this year when A G’s White Socks and Mach Shard step out to do battle. Since registering the partnership, Mark and Natalie have qualified five horses for this year’s series headed by Ultimate Sniper, Cruz Bromac, Chase Auckland, Thefixer and Ashley Locaz. With Mark, Barry and Natalie being the most prolific name in New Zealand and Australian harness racing, the name Purdon will be prominent for a long period of time to come.   Len Baker

PACERS – HEAT ONE 4YO Bettors Delight - Reality Check entire Ultimate Sniper lived right up to his Junior Free For All victory on NZ Cup Day with a brilliant success in the first of the 2200 metre pacers heats. Trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Ultimate Sniper driven by Natalie was trapped wide from gate six with no option but to be restrained to settle four back in the moving line as stablemate Chase Auckland led from gate three. Going forward three wide in the final circuit, Ultimate Sniper sustained a long run to gain the day by a half neck over Chase Auckland which looked the winner on turning, with Mach Shard (three back the markers third ¾ of a length away.) In a last half of 55.6 – quarter 27.5, Ultimate Sniper returned a mile rate of 1-53.6. Another of the ‘All Stars” stable Ashley Locaz galloped in the score up putting pay to his chances. Victorian San Carlo ran a ripper when fifth after racing exposed, while My Kiwi Mate wilted after a perfect one/one trip to be 7th. Queenslander Colt Thirty One was taken back to the rear from outside the front line and was never a chance, but finished his race of well to come in 9th, while NSW duo Conviction and Our Uncle Sam were never a chance, Conviction (four back the markers) 8th and Our Uncle Sam 10th from mid-field in the running line. PACERS – HEAT TWO A complete form reversal came about in the second heat, when 6YO Rock N Roll Heaven - Atomic Gold gelding A G’s White Socks came from nowhere to blouse a game Cruz Bromac in this heat. Having his first outing for master trainer Barry Purdon, A G’s White Socks who raced really well last season settled mid-field from gate three with veteran reinsman Maurice McKendry in the sulky as Luke McCarthy and Bling It On after being trapped wide from gate seven worked forward to assume control from On The Cards hitting the back straight on the first occasion. Still a long way off the leaders on turning as Cruz Bromac which raced in the open from the bell after going forward from near last got the better of the leader halfway up the running being hailed the winner. Coming with a withering burst of speed down the centre of the track, A G’s White Socks registered a length margin in 1-54.2 (Half 55.6 – quarter 27.3) over Cruz Bromac who certainly lost no admirers, with Thefixer (four back the markers) weaving a passage between runners for third 1 ¼ lengths back ahead of Star Galleria (three back the markers).  Victorian Sicario (one/one last lap) finished 7th, while Bling It On may not have been suited in working to the front, folding up to be 10th. TROTTERS  -  HEAT ONE Clevedon (North Island) father and son – John and Joshua Dickie opened the first round 2200 metre Inter heats last Friday at Alexandra Park Auckland when 5YO Love You - Paramount Star gelding Paramount King scored in track record time of 2-40.5. Given a sweet passage from inside the second line trailing the pole line leader Big Jack Hammer, Paramount King was always travelling smoothly, so much so that Josh didn’t bother waiting for the passing lane to come into play, easing three wide approaching the home turn. Finishing solidly, Paramount King reached the wire 2 ¼ lengths clear of Massive Metro (three wide last lap from mid-field), returning a mile rate of 1-57.3 (last half mile 57.9-quarter 29.4). Big Jack Hammer having his first outing racing clockwise held down third ¾ of a length away and will be all the better for the outing. Valloria (one/one) was fourth. Hot favourite Habibi Inta was never in the hunt after not matching speed from gate four and settling in the second half of the field, but made ground late to finish fifth after racing wide in the final circuit. TROTTERS – HEAT TWO Sometimes unruly 5YO gelding Winterfell, a son of Majestic Son and Una Bromac was on his best behaviour to take the second heat in a mile rate of 1-58.1. Trained by Mark and Natalie for one of the leading stable clients Trevor Casey, Winterfell a top class juvenile starting from outside the front line spent the first half of the race at the tail of the field as Tough Monarch worked very hard from gate seven to cross Temporale (gate 4) prior to the bell. No sooner had Tough Monarch found the lead, Mark Purdon had set Winterfell alight to circle the field and race outside him for the final circuit. Applying plenty of pressure before the home turn, Winterfell crossed to lead into the straight and kicked away. Holding a handy margin halfway up the running, Winterfel just lasted by a head over Marcoola (three back the markers) which followed Winterfell into the final bend before switching down to the passing lane. Majestic Man (four back the markers) flashed home late for third a nose away and would have won in another stride. The mile rate 1-58.1 (half 55.5 – quarter 27.6).   Harness Racing Australia

Ms Amy Donaldson Producer ABC 7:30 Via email…… Dear Amy, Thank’s for the opportunity to respond to your questions regarding the harness racing commitment to equine health and welfare for your upcoming story. Harness Racing Australia (HRA) has for years been focussed on improving the health and welfare of all Standardbreds, and whilst succeeding in a number of areas, we remain focussed on continuous improvement.  We believe “there is no finish line” to this continuum, and this belief is enshrined in the HRA Horse Welfare Statement (attached). We have made strong progress in recent years, with some examples being: establishment of a highly skilled and experienced welfare committee, the Standardbred Welfare Advisory Group (SWAG); continuous rule restriction and moderation on using the whip; drafting new rules controlling the use of tongue ties; introducing a new handicapping system which provides more racing opportunities to horses of all abilities, while encouraging them to remain in the racing pool for longer; world leading regulation of prohibited substances (global benchmarking statistics available here: http://www.wtc2019.se/news/global-welfare-integrity-stats-2018/); introduced microchipping for identification and traceability (2017); enforcing the formal deregistration of a horse or notification of a horse’s death rules - including time restrictions; and, ongoing analysis of raceday injury and incidents statistics measured across 2,763,953 starters across 37,191 race meetings, which have been reduced to: injuries to 0.27% - equivalent to less than 3 injuries in 1,000 starts euthanisia rate of 0.002% - equivalent to 2 deaths out of 100,000 starters These changes strongly indicate that, unlike the not so distant past, the industry no longer adopts a default position of resisting change to regulations promoting better welfare outcomes. This includes overwhelming industry support for State based rehoming programs and life after racing activities. To your questions: HRA wants to secure the welfare of horses before, during and after racing careers. While rehoming of horses remains the domain of the owner, HRA imposes specific rules and timing around the compulsory notification of a horse’s deregistration from racing and advising of that horses post-racing activities.  Further, we have made our industry standards and expectations clear through the HRA’s Horse Welfare Statement and Equine Health & Welfare Code of Conduct.   At the end of their racing life, almost 80% of Standardbreds are rehomed, according to evidence provided to the Senate RRAT Reference Committee. Around one percent (1.06%) find their way directly to a knackery or abattoir.  This relates to Standardbred foal crops for the previous 5-years.  This is because not all horses are suitable for rehoming, such as those with illness, injury or behavioural concerns. While not a preferred outcome, and unpalatable to many, it is currently a lawful and practical decision for an owner to have a horse consigned to a licensed and regulated knackery or abattoir, particularly when a horse is approaching the end of its life. HRA recognises that there are instances where the dispatch of a Standardbred via a licensed and regulated knackery or abattoir may be the most suitable and humane option.  HRA also recognise an owner’s right to make lawful decisions in this regard. These rates are low and consistent with HRA’s commitment to overall equine health and welfare outcomes. Of course, this data does not remain static as horses age.  As foal crops get older, this figure increases, and for horses born in 2007/08 is 4.8%. HRA does not conduct checks or inspections of knackeries or abattoirs to ensure Standardbreds are not being sent there as it is not breaching any law. HRA acknowledges that other jurisdictions also manage excellent welfare endeavours.  HRA is not currently considering any change to the current position. HRA will continue to monitor and enhance the many successful equine health and welfare strategies currently in place.  Many of the strategies are still relatively new and will need time to realise their full potential while undergoing continuous review and improvement. In closing, HRA recognises that it can always improve and we remain open to challenge and welcome suggestions for improvement. We are not perfect, nor is our work complete, however our achievements are real and significant for our horses and we will continue on our pathway to continually improved equine health and welfare outcomes. If I can provide further clarity on any of these or other points, feel free to contact me at any time. Kind regards, Andrew Kelly Chief Executive Keeper of the Australian Trotting Stud Book

JOSEPH COULTER BEST NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR 'Pizzuto and Tiger Tara cheat death for Inter Dominion shot' – Chris Roots - Sydney Morning Herald GRAHAM GOFFIN MEMORIAL AWARD – BEST FEATURE ARTICLE 'An Ornament to the Game' – Duncan Dornauf - Tasracing, Harness Racing Weekly & National Trotguide  GRAHAM GOFFIN MEMORIAL AWARD – BEST REGIONAL STORY 'Elusive reward after 173 attempts' – Terry Gange - Harnesslink GRAHAM GOFFIN MEMORIAL AWARD – BEST HISTORICAL FEATURE 'Bendigo Memorabilia, a gateway to John Phyland’s story, From Sheep to Stallions' – Noel Ridge - thetrots.com.au BEST PUBLISHED ACTION OR STILL PHOTOGRAPH 'The Gentle Giant' – Ashlea Brennan (pictured) Special Commendations: 'In The Wet' – Scott Hamilton 'Enjoying A Splash' – Stacey Lear BEST RADIO FEATURE TO AIR 'Carrick Cup Day Coverage' – Duncan Dornauf, David Moohr - City Park Radio BEST TELEVISON/VIDEO/FILM FEATURE TO AIR 'Girl Power' – Louise Ford - Crocmedia AWARD OF MERIT FOR DEMONSTRATED EXCELLENCE IN PROMOTION 'Gloucester Park Coverage' – Hamilton Content Creators AWARD OF MERIT FOR DEMONSTRATED EXCELLENCE IN SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE & INNOVATION Paul Campbell   Harness Racing Australia

Reigning Inter Dominion Champion Tiger Tara topped off a stunning year in winning Harness Racing’s most prestigious Australian Harness Horse of the Year title for his owners, spearheaded by Kevin Pizzuto who also trains the 9 year old entire. In a dominant year for his connections, Tiger Tara (by Bettors Delight USA - from Tara Gold NZ) added the Australian Pacer of the Year, Australian Aged Horse of Gelding and Grand Circuit Champion to his long list of accolades in season 2018/19. On the juvenile pacing front, all-conquering Victorian trainer Emma Stewart amazingly trained the winners of both the Australian Two Year old Colt or Gelding and Filly of the Year in Be Happy Mach and Maajida. The win of Be Happy Mach (Mach Three USA - Behappysam NZ) makes it successive Australian Two Year Old Colt or Gelding of the Year titles for the group of owners managed by Tim Bunning, many who share ownership in last year’s victor, Centenario. Maajida (Somebeachsomewhere USA - Arterial Way), winner of the Group One Vicbred and Breeders Crown Finals is owned and bred by Gary, Ian, Les and Steve Johnson of Atworthy Park. Pistol Abbey (Western Terror USA - Art Princess) took out the Australian Aged Pacing Mare of the Year title, and continued the success of Bill and Anne Anderson of Lauriston Bloodstock who also owned last years Three Year Old Colt of the Year, Poster Boy. It was no surprise that Max Delight (Bettors Delight USA - Lady Euthenia) swept the voting in the Three Year Old Pacing Colts and Gelding division after winning the Breeders Crown, Tasmanian Derby and NSW Derby for Tasmanian based owner Michael Maxfield. Astute owner Norm Jenkin capped off a great year with Tornado Valley (Skyvalley NZ  - Begin NZ) being the unanimous victor of Australian Trotter of the Year and winning the Australian Aged Trotting Horse or Gelding of the Year after being 11 from 12 during the year including the Inter Dominion.   Norm’s affection for Kate (driver) and Andy Gath (trainer) shows no sign of dimming as another stable star emerged in the form of Majestuoso (Majestic Son CA - Rosemaryz Luck NZ) who took out the 3YO Trotting Colt or Gelding of the Year – the highlight being his breathtaking win in the Victorian Trotting Derby. Harness Racing Australia congratulates all the Award winners for season 2018/19. The performance criteria for the HRA Awards is for performances by Australian trained horses regardless of venue or country, as well as well as for the Australian performances of New Zealand trained horses. A full list of Australian Horse of the Year winners and their performances across all categories is attached: Lawn Derby Awards – Pacers Vancleve Awards – Trotters For more information, please contact Harness Racing Australia on 03 9227 3000.   HRA

Harness Racing Australia (HRA) has advised states the new national ratings based handicapping system will be implemented from July 1. Participants are advised that horse ratings will go live from May 1 and be visible on Harnessweb and some other online platforms, but the new ratings’ system won’t come into effect until July. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) will issue communications to the industry in June explaining the system and Victoria’s approach to programming. July race programs will be released in the first week of June. “It’s important our trainers, drivers, owners, breeders and punters all have a thorough understanding of the new system,” HRV General Manager Racing – Stephen Bell said. “To ensure all our people are properly briefed HRV will issue detailed communications in June. Prior to that, we’ll advise of any updates to the national rollout in a timely manner. “The challenge now is for each state to develop local race programs that maximise industry earning opportunity and deliver competitive wagering outcomes through more competitive racing.” Participants are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the HRA national handicapping document, which explains how the new system will work.     HRV Trots Media

NOBODY worked harder for women to be allowed to drive in races against men than Margaret Davies, who passed away last week at the age of 74. As the inaugural president of the NSW Reinswomen’s Association, which was formed in 1974, Margaret shrewdly used the new Discrimination Act to advantage for the women. After intense lobbying with the Harness Racing Authority in NSW and the Australian Trotting Council, licences were finally granted to Margaret and Lynette Locke in late 1977. At the time there were 54 permits issued to women who were undergoing the qualifying period at Shows and Gymkhanas. Margaret Davies was the first reinswoman in NSW to drive against the men – finishing fourth on Jaunty Jack and then second aboard Jonathon Jan at the Non-Tab race meeting at Nowra on November 12, 1977. Her first winner against the men was aboard Pipedream at Goulburn on March 4, 1978. A win on the same pacer at Bulli on June 22, 1978 saw this race provide the ‘first Ladies quinella’ in a race, with Karen Pearce finishing second on Queen Victoria. Margaret had previously won the 5DN/Ansett Reinswomen’s Championship at Globe Derby in 1976, aboard Nichols. A lover of the trotter, Margaret lived in north-east Victoria for the last decade. Among her career highlights were to own, train and drive Altimeter to win the 1989 NSW Trotters’ Derby and to breed and own the filly, Jingling Silver to defeat the colts to win the Group One 2010 Victoria Trotters’ Derby (trained and driven for the race by Chris Lang). Jingling Silver won 14 races and $191,322 and also won a Group two and three trotters feature and was placed in a Victoria Oaks and Super Sires Final. From her base at Bulli on the south coast, Margaret trained a team of pacers and trotters and always rated her husband Kelvin Davies as the biggest influence on her career. A Memorial Service for Margaret Davies will be held at 1pm on Friday 5 April at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Arundel Street, Benalla.   Michael Court for Harness Racing Australia

Harness Racing Australia (HRA) announced today that the current Australian Driving Champion, Todd McCarthy, had been selected to be Australia’s representative in the prestigious 2019 World Driving Championships in Sweden. “Australia is fortunate to have so many skilled and talented drivers at present, with selection not made any easier with the criteria based on a balance of merit, performance, presentation, attitude, adaptability to conditions and promotional opportunities,” HRA Chairman Mr Michael Taranto said. “The HRA Executive considered a number of drivers for selection and all would have been fine representatives of our country.  That said, we can only send one representative and I have no doubt Todd will perform well in the demanding series and be a wonderful ambassador for Australian harness racing, ” he said. The World Driving Championship was established in 1970 and is held every two years, in conjunction with the World Trotting Conference. The last series was conducted in Canada in 2017 and was won by the local host hero, James McDonald. James McDonald will return to defend his title alongside McCarthy and 10 other drivers (12 in total) from Sweden, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway and United States of America. The 2019 Championship runs from 24 May to 31 May and consists of 24 Heats across 6 race meetings at 5 different racetracks.  The Series begins at Solvalla, Stockholm, at meetings on 24 (4 Heats) and 25 May (1 Heat) before moving to Lindesberg on 27 May (5 Heats) and Eskilstuna on 28 May (5 Heats).  The fourth leg is 29 May at Rättvik (4 Heats) before the 31 May finale at Gävle (5 Heats). Todd McCarthy will be attempting to emulate the feats of two Australian drivers who have won the World Driving Championship – Queenslander Keith Addison in 1975 and Ted Demmler of Victoria in 1987. Harness Racing Australia

Former top free-for-all harness racing pacer Savesomtimetodream is the 2019 Alabar HERO Series Champion. The 11-year-old Village Jasper gelding defeated 19 rivals to claim the state’s richest and most prestigious standardbred showing championship at Bendigo on Sunday. The Alabar HERO Series Final carried $1000 in prizemoney for the overall winner and was staged under the auspices of Victorian Agricultural Shows Limited’s prestigious Saddle Horse Championships. Savesomtimetodream was also named Best Newcomer, securing a $500 cheque. The Award recognised the best performed competitor less than two years off the track. Bred, trained and owned by the Rowse family at Ballarat, he retired from a six-and-a-half-year racing career on August 25, 2017, with $222,625 in stake earnings in his bankroll. The pacer notched 20 wins and 33 placings from 113 race starts, highlighted by successes in the Gunbower, Yarra Valley and Ararat Pacing Cups, and a semi-final of the Vicbred Super Series. In May 2018, he was recruited by Harness Racing Australia under the banner of There Is No Finish Line to feature in a Track To Hack project documenting the transition of a retired standardbred from racing to riding. The project included a series of on-line video diaries and regular features in Horse Deals magazine. HRA Animal Welfare Officer and accomplished show rider Kathleen Mullan oversaw the horse’s re-education – prior to joining her care, Savesomtimetodream had never had a saddle on his back. He was therefore the richest racehorse and least experienced riding horse in the HERO Series Final. A three-person panel, including licensed harness racing trainer Courtney Slater and SA guest  Holly Alcorn, adjudicated on the final, with just one point separating Savesomtimetodream and runner-up Maxwell Smart, who raced as Equity Wizzbang. The second place getter was also runner-up in 2018 after winning the inaugural Alabar HERO Series Final in 2017 for owner Eboni Knights. An Owner/Rider category, carrying $500 in prizemoney, was introduced for the first time this year.  It was won by Rebecca McGee riding Mighty Boy Lombo, a Northern Luck gelding who retired in 2013 after a moderate racing career in the NSW Riverina, which notched two wins from 28 starts. The Child’s Ridden Standardbred went to Double Art, an Artiscape gelding who failed to place in 13 race starts, who was ridden by Emily Barton. Maxwell Smart was the Champion Led Standardbred for Julie Knights and Rebecca Mackay was named Champion Rider in the Standardbred ring aboard Style Of Art, an unraced daughter of Kenneth J. The Best Presented Standardbred was Kelly Stuart-Mitchell’s Gowan Brae. The Alabar HERO Series would not be possible without the ongoing support of principal sponsor Alabar Bloodstock, and Victorian Agricultural Shows Limited. All pictures are by Belinda Richardson of Alabar Farms.

PACERS It will be an intriguing Pacers Grand Final as nobody is quite sure who will lead as the mobile gate pulls away and therefore who will win.  In saying that, it appears that there are only six realistic chances – they being Galactic Star (1), Im Pats Delight (3), Spankem (5), Tiger Tara (7) San Carlo (8) and Cruz Bromac (9). Galactic Star has raced extremely well throughout the series, winning at Melton on opening night in 1-54.1 by leading all of the way. His Ballarat third in 1-53.5 after racing wide was excellent, as was his second at Cranbourne last Saturday in 1-58 after breezing from the bell. Im Pats Delight’s runs have been full of merit in all three heats. His opening night second to Spanken in 1-54.3 was full of merit after making a mid-race move, then taking a sit, while his all the way Ballarat victory looked to be a soft success in 1-52.1, as did his second to Cruz Bromac last week in 1-56.5 after receiving the run of the race. His 2.3 metre Kaikoura Cup second to Spankem was strong after racing exposed. Spankem has been the revelation of the series. A 1-54.3 victory on opening night after racing wide from the bell was outstanding, as was his Ballarat third to Wrappers Delight in 1-53.6 when finishing late. At Cranbourne he treated his rivals with contempt after taking over at the bell, winning in a rate of 1-58. His part-owners Phil and Glenys Kennard have shared in the past two Interdom winners Smolda and Lazarus and have a great chance in making it three. Bulldog Tiger Tara can never be under estimated in any race he contests. One only has to watch his nose second to The Fixer in the 3200 metre NZ Cup last month where he raced uncovered for the last half of the journey to give him a major chance. On opening night his third to Spanken in 1-54.3 when flashing home after being held up was excellent, followed by a death-seating second to Wrappers Delight in 1-53.6 at Ballarat and a virtual all the way victory at Cranbourne in 1-57.1. San Carlo has raced well all through the series. Second on the first night to Galactic Star (1-54.1) after racing wide was full of merit, before a most unlucky fifth to Wrappers Delight after being held up until too late. His tough third at Cranbourne to Tiger Tara (1-57.1) after working to race without cover and going down fighting was a strong guide to his chances. Unfortunately all through the series, he has had no luck with the barrier draws. Cruz Bromac is the only runner in this Grand Final to go through the series undefeated. He coasted to victory on opening night in 1-53.8 after taking over just after the bell, raced wide at Ballarat (1-53.5) before proving much too classy and at Cranbourne found the front early in the piece before winning unextended in 1-56.5. For first four players Maximan (6) has to be included, however his barrier makes it hard. Our Uncle Sam (10) flashed home along the sprint lane from three back the markers when second to Tiger Tara , but will probably need a similar trip here and it is hard to knock Wrappers Delight’s efforts in all three heats, but the barrier draw has been unkind to his chances. TROTTERS The Trotters Grand Final looks a lot easier with only five horses looking to snare the major prize – they being Speeding Spur (1), Save Our Pennys (3), Tornado Valley (6) and Tough Monarch (9) and Kyvalley Blur (11). Speeding Spur is a brilliant beginner and possible leader from the pole, however arch rival Tornado Valley was able to cross him from outside the front line at Ballarat when Speeding Spur started from gate five, the pole draw here is a distinct advantage. After leading throughout on opening night in 1-58.7, prior to a game third to Tornado Valley (1-56.1) when racing uncovered, then another all the way victory at Cranbourne in 2-01.3, he looks one of the leading chances. Tornado Valley has hardly put a foot wrong since crossing the Tasman and his form going through the heats undefeated after leading in the majority of each race gives him a great chance. Can he sit outside Speeding Spur? That’s the question most are asking. Save Our Pennys has not put a foot wrong all through the series, finishing second to Tornado Valley on each occasion after receiving the run of the race. Should the two favourites cut at one another, he will be poised ready to strike if the opportunity presents itself. Tough Monarch from his favourable inside second line draw should the emergency come out is the other blow out chance. He looked disappointing at Cranbourne when fourth to Tornado Valley, joining him on the final bend after a sweet one/one trip, but his runs in all heats have been sound. Kyvalley Blur is always a chance in any race he contests, but will need them to go hard to finish his race off. His second to Marcoola in the two mile Dominion Handicap at Addington on Show Day was a great guide to this race.  Rough place chances can be given to Monty Python (2) as he should be suited by the journey, Big Jack Hammer (5) despite the horror draw and Kingdom Come (10) a stablemate of Tornado Valley.   Harness Racing Australia

NIGHT ONE : TABCORP PARK MELTON New South Wales and New Zealand were the big winners after the barrier draws for the opening night of the 2018 Inter Dominion Series for both pacers and trotters which commence this Saturday were released earlier in the week. Three heats for pacers and two for trotters will be held over the next week with horses from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and both islands of New Zealand competing. PACERS HEAT ONE: A battle for the lead is eminent with My Alpha Rock (1), Wrappers Delight (2) and Tiger Tara (4) all very fast beginners. Last time in Victoria, My Alpha Rock ran extremely well, running home from a mile back to finish fifth behind Tiger Tara in the Victoria Cup and is a possibility of holding the front running. On the other hand Wrappers Delight has been flying of late and is likely to try and lead. Should he find the front, he will take no end of running down. If one can forget the dismal performance of Tiger Tara in the New Zealand Free For All two weeks back where he worked forward to race exposed before finishing 56.1 metres away in tenth place behind Cruz Bromac after producing what was the “run of the race” to go down by a nose in the NZ Cup, then he must be considered. It will be interesting to see if Todd McCarthy wants to fire him out of the gate. The smokey of the race could be Kiwi Im Pats Delight (9) a past winner of the Harness Jewels. His two most recent outings at Addington during Cup Week were very good after a chequered passage, finishing third on Cup Day to All U Need Is Faith and fourth in the NZ FFA to Cruz Bromac. Kaikoura Cup winner Spankem (5) has to be respected from his awkward draw, while Sydneysider Joes Star Of Mia (11) will need plenty of luck to place as will Mattgregor (12). HEAT TWO: The draws were not kind to the Victorians with both San Carlo and Shadow Sax, two of the most favoured runners in the series coming up with marbles ten and twelve. Injury plagued old timer Franco Nelson (2) a genuine racehorse who always tries so hard has explosive gate speed and should arrest the lead away from noted sit/sprinter Mach Doro (1) shortly after the start. His effort when fourth in The Victoria Cup two runs back was outstanding. Mach Doro is likely to receive the run of the race before using the sprint lane at the business end and can be dangerous These two appear to have the race to themselves, however there are plenty of other chances depending on the tempo of the race with Ellmers Image (3), Galactic Star (4), Motu Meteor, (5) Italian Delight (7), Village Witch (8), Im The Boss (9), San Carlo (10) and Shadow Sax (12) all looking to earn valuable points. HEAT THREE:  Exciting 5Y0 gelding Cruz Bromac (4) appears to have an edge on his rivals after a most unlucky fourth in the NZ Cup and an all of the way victory in the NZ FFA. Will he lead ? That depends on Luke McCarthy aboard Cash N Flow (1) which was disappointing when third in last week’s Geelong Pacing Cup after taking over racing for the bell. Let It Ride (8) can be dynamic at the end of his races and should he get a lovely trip possibly three back the markers will be right in the finish. Ideal Success (6) is a place hope if able to take up a handy spot, while the same could be said for Conviction (7), Audi Hare (9), Mister Wickham (10) and old timer Maximan (11) who is airborne at present. TROTTERS HEAT ONE:  Highly favoured Tornado Valley (6) is a very fast beginner and despite drawing wide, may be able to charge to the lead. His record since crossing the Tasman has been outstanding. NSW based Tough Monarch (2) is an in and out customer who can be good on occasions. Should he bring his A game to the track he will be very competitive. Save Our Pennys (3) resumed last Saturday at Geelong when second off a 30 metre backmark to Endsin A Party. Will benefit by the run and is definitely in the mix. Kiwi Alderbeck trained by squaregaiting “maestro” Phil Williamson raced well during the NZ Cup Carnival and can place with luck. Sky Petite (5) a noted sit/sprinter is certainly one of the chances providing she can gain cover. Ryan Duffy may spear her away from the gate to try and lead, before handing over to the favourite. Fabrication (7) last season’s Australasian Trotters Championship winner is another who needs cover to produce his best. His task looks difficult from the draw. Former Victoria Derby winner Wilmas Mate has been just battling with a number of niggling problems, but her last start fifth in the Dominion Handicap was a big improvement. From the pole she should gain a nice passage and is a definite place possibility. Big Jack Hammer (8) is stepping up in grade and is drawn awkwardly. Kowhai Monarch (9) a speedster from NSW is also rising in grade and will need luck from the draw. Kheiron (10) is resuming and faces a task from his unfavourable barrier. Veteran Kyvalley Blur (11) ran a blinder when second in the Dominion and is always a chance in any race he contests. Should they go hard, he will be running home strongly. HEAT TWO:  Logical Championship favourite Speeding Spur (2) is racing in great heart and is coming off a game fourth in the Dominion Handicap last Friday week following a victory in the NZ Trotting FFA on the Tuesday. He looks a certain leader and the one to beat.  Highly talented Maori Law (6) will be the testing material, however the awkward draw is not in his favour. Up and comer King Denny (7) has been racing in superb form against lower grade. The dreaded outside front line draw will not assist his chances. Rompers Monarchy (8) was an impressive all the way victor at Melton earlier in the month but is not aided by the inside second line draw. Polemarker Our Twentyten  always run an honest race and should receive a soft passage. The Boss Man (3) should be ready to show his best following three runs this time in and can be placed with luck. Monty Python (5) is rising in class and will need things to go his way. Enrolled (4) is racing in great heart, but can be risky at times. Maybe placed if the right run eventuates. Illawong Armstrong (9) can be hard to hold at times which goes against his chances. Should he settle, he can possibly fill a placing.  Kingdom Come (10) would need to improve to figure in the placings. Red Hot Tooth (11) is a bonny mare who is taking time to recapture her best form. Best suited up close, the draw has been a disaster for her. She will need everything to go right to finish close up. The same could be said for former Breeders Crown winner Cruisin Around (12) who is gradually racing into form, but faces a formidable task from the extreme draw.   Harness Racing Australia

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