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From Thursday, Victorian harness racing will be conducted with racing in defined districts restricted to participants from those areas.   Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) today revealed a new region-based racing calendar to limit travel for participants, in line with public health recommendations to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Tomorrow night’s Mildura meeting has been cancelled due to the Mildura Cup being postponed. That meeting has been replaced by a new Bendigo meeting. “This model allows us to keep essential personnel and participants at race meetings. It also provides us the best opportunity to continue conducting race meetings,” HRV CEO Dayle Brown said. The new racing model will see Victoria divided into six regions, with meetings conducted at nine tracks – Inner West (Melton and Ballarat), West (Terang and Stawell), East (Kilmore and Cranbourne), North West (Mildura), Central (Bendigo) and North East (Shepparton). All previous calendar feature events will be cancelled. Details regarding prizemoney will be advised. Every Victorian participant has been assigned a specific region in which they are allowed to compete. The list can be viewed here. “The support we have received through regular and thorough consultation with our industry representative bodies during this challenging period has been really important and I thank them for that,” Brown said. Trots Clubs Victoria (TCV) President Tim Scala said the regional model made sense. “We want to survive as an industry and come out the other side of this,” Scala said. “It will mean that some clubs will have their racing transferred to another track or region, but we need to be happy that there will still be clubs operating.” Prominent industry supporter and principal of Aldebaran Park, Duncan McPherson, said that “Harness Racing Victoria was to be commended for its decisive action”. “This is another opportunity for trainers, drivers and all participants to play a role in maintaining the industry,” McPherson said. “I hope we will see this as an opportunity for our industry to move forward.”  Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association president Lance Justice said the VTDA welcomed the move. “Naturally there will be some who would like to have been assigned to another region or race at other tracks,” Justice said. “I understand that, but we must unite to support this model so as we can continue earning prizemoney and paying the bills. “The racing office staff at HRV will be flat out reworking the programs and the fields. We have been given assurances they will program to provide as many opportunities as possible throughout all the regions. They are using real-time data to program to best suit racing populations within each region. It’s important now we let them do their job, don’t inundate them with phone calls, and we’ll do ours. We’re all in this together.” Clinton Welsh, who is a member of the Victorian Harness Racing Advisory Council, echoed that sentiment. “Regionalisation is another way we can safeguard the industry. And it’s important that our participants have something that occupies their mind during such a tough time. Racing is a true outlet for a lot of trots people.” Speaking on behalf of owners’ representative body, the Victorian Harness Racing Club, Rob Auber said he was an avid supporter of region-based racing in this time. “HRV has to make some tough decisions to maintain the continuity of racing. Immediately moving to a regional model gives this sport the best chance to succeed,” Auber said. “We understand that this will affect different participants in different ways, but whatever can be done to keep our people safe, healthy and earning a livelihood must be supported.” The new-look Victorian harness racing calendar at this stage for the next fortnight will be: Monday 30 March: Cranbourne day Tuesday 31 March: Bendigo night Wednesday 1 April: Stawell day, Shepparton night Thursday 2 April: Ballarat day, Mildura night Friday 3 April: Kilmore day, Bendigo night Saturday 4 April: Melton night Sunday 5 April: Cranbourne twilight Monday 6 April: Shepparton day Tuesday 7 April: Terang night Wednesday 8 April: Kilmore day, Mildura night Thursday 9 April: Melton day, Bendigo night Saturday 11 April: Melton night Sunday 12 April: Shepparton night Please note, this calendar is subject to change with HRV exploring the possibility of providing additional opportunities for the industry. Industry participants and HRV staff are reminded that HRV has an Industry Assistance Program, which provides a free counselling service to employees and licenced participants. This service is provided by Benestar. Contact them on 1300 360 364 or visit Benestar.com for more information. Industry is also reminded of the current raceday requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.   Media enquiries: cwinnell@hrv.org.au   HRV Trots Media

Matt Craven, Chris Svanosio and Adam Kelly will be among guests as Talking Trots on the Track fires up from 11am today, with Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden taking Victorian harness racing to a whole new audience. The Good Form analysts will serve up the first of their weekday 11am-1pm segments, with the program a headline feature of the new SENTrack, a sister-station of 1116AM that airs on 1377 and can be enjoyed on digital radio. The hosts are fresh from Saturday night’s racing when they delivered a four-hour, race-by-race live breakdown of Tabcorp Park Melton racing on SENTrack, which was simulcast throughout Victoria on SEN 1116. Today’s program follows this morning’s announcement of Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) moving to regional racing, with HRV CEO Dayle Brown to join the program before noon. Leading race caller Dan Mielicki will also join Jason and Blake as will David Miles, fresh from his Bathurst triumph on Saturday night, and Kari Males will talk Red Hot Tooth. The hosts will pour over Saturday night’s Tabcorp Park racing and delve into today’s big card at Cranbourne, chatting with Craven, Svanosio and Kelly to get valuable insights before the first race at 1.22pm on Trots Vision. Be sure to tune into Talking Trots on the Track from 11am as the trots dominates the airwaves. HOW DO YOU LISTEN IN? DOWNLOAD THE SEN APP TO YOUR PHONE OR TABLET AND CHOOSE SENTRACK. CLICK HERE FOR MOR   HRV Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) advises this week’s Mildura Cup has been postponed. The decision was made to discourage participant travel throughout Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic.   The Mildura meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday night has now been cancelled. Thursday’s Bendigo meeting has been moved to Tuesday night. Trainers are reminded that those nominated at Bendigo not wishing to accept have the option to scratch by 8.30am tomorrow morning. Wednesday’s meetings at Stawell and Shepparton will go ahead as scheduled. HRV will tomorrow morning provide a more detailed view of how the racing calendar will look from Thursday onward. HRV's Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria has moved quickly to be part of SENTrack, becoming the ‘pop-up’ station’s first rights partner. Crocmedia launched SENTrack today in support of Australia’s racing, harness and greyhound industries - while those sports are still able to operate under COVID-19 guidelines. Harness Racing Victoria chief executive Dayle Brown said the code was thrilled to be part of SENTrack. “We are excited to be a founding partner in the launch of SENTrack, Australia’s newest audio and digital racing platform,” Brown said. “HRV has enjoyed a long and successful partnership with Crocmedia, with programs such as Off the Bench and Trots Talk delivering trots media content throughout all parts of Victoria. “This extension of that relationship with one of Australia’s preeminent sports content innovators gains us new opportunities to boldly promote our content, including race broadcasts, stories, news and views, colour and fun projected nationally to new audiences. “This launch of three pop-up stations is a great start and we’re confident it will be celebrated by our audience and will help us tell the sport’s stories and grow our reach for years to come.” Crocmedia Chief Executive Officer, Craig Hutchison welcomed Harness Racing Victoria to SENTrack. “Harness racing is a vibrant part of our sporting fabric and we are honoured to support the hard-working industry participants who – like others - have been tremendously resilient during this challenging time,” Hutchison said. “At a time when fans are starved of sport due to COVID-19, it’s great to shine a light on the sport to increase community interest and mainstream appeal,” he added. Harness racing directly contributes $380m in economic value and 5,000 plus jobs to Victoria. There are 48 harness racing clubs across Victoria that employ trainers, drivers, stablehands, veterinarians, track maintenance personnel, country club officials, judges and many more. Catch all the action of the eight-race card at Tabcorp Park Melton including the $24,000 IRT Australia Shakamaker Classic tonight on SENTrack in Melbourne on 1377 SEN+; in Perth on the 657 AM frequency; in Wollongong, NSW, on 1575 AM and via the SEN app.  

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has moved quickly to be part of SENTrack, becoming the ‘pop-up’ station’s first rights partner. Crocmedia launched SENTrack today in support of Australia’s racing, harness and greyhound industries - while those sports are still able to operate under COVID-19 guidelines. HRV chief executive Dayle Brown said the code was thrilled to be part of SENTrack. “We are excited to be a founding partner in the launch of SENTrack, Australia’s newest audio and digital racing platform,” Brown said. “HRV has enjoyed a long and successful partnership with Crocmedia, with programs such as Off the Bench and Trots Talk delivering trots media content throughout all parts of Victoria. “This extension of that relationship with one of Australia’s preeminent sports content innovators gains us new opportunities to boldly promote our content, including race broadcasts, stories, news and views, colour and fun projected nationally to new audiences. “This launch of three pop-up stations is a great start and we’re confident it will be celebrated by our audience and will help us tell the sport’s stories and grow our reach for years to come.” Crocmedia Chief Executive Officer, Craig Hutchison welcomed Harness Racing Victoria to SENTrack. “Harness racing is a vibrant part of our sporting fabric and we are honoured to support the hard-working industry participants who – like others - have been tremendously resilient during this challenging time,” Hutchison said. “At a time when fans are starved of sport due to COVID-19, it’s great to shine a light on the sport to increase community interest and mainstream appeal,” he added. Harness racing directly contributes $380m in economic value and 5,000 plus jobs to Victoria. There are 48 harness racing clubs across Victoria that employ trainers, drivers, stablehands, veterinarians, track maintenance personnel, country club officials, judges and many more. Catch all the action of the eight-race card at Tabcorp Park Melton including the $24,000 IRT Australia Shakamaker Classic tonight on SENTrack in Melbourne on 1377 SEN+; in Perth on the 657 AM frequency; in Wollongong, NSW, on 1575 AM and via the SEN app. LISTEN TO DAYLE BROWN TALK TO GERARD WHATELEY ON SENTRACK:   Harness Racing Victoria

The trots are on so it's time to put everything else out of our minds and focus on the action on track this weekend. That is the promise of this week's Grand Circuit podcast led by Cody Winnell and Blake Redden as they delve into the Melton card for tomorrow night. The boys also discuss some exciting announcements in the space of trots coverage in the coming days. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN:   HRV Trots Media

In the heart of the eight-race card at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday the IRT Australia Shakamaker Classic will prompt the most nerves, as some talented and well-bred two-year-olds take their first racing steps. Let’s take a deep dive into who they are, where they’ve come from and what they’ve done thus far, before settling in for the $24,000 Classic at 7.32pm tomorrow. Every race, including interviews and analysis, will be able to be enjoyed live and free on Trots Vision. Major Angel (trainer Russell Jack, driver Josh Duggan) The American Ideal colt is out of Art Major broodmare Mattie Angel, a winner of one race from only five starts who’s had two progeny race – Rockon Angel (35 starts, 7 wins, $28,903 stakes) and Gracie Angel (6 starts, 3 win, $35,253 in stakes). Like Major Angel, all were bred and owned by Lemnos resident Ronald Angel, with tonight being his latest colt’s second start after opening $4 on debut at Shepparton on March 13, when he showed good early speed to lead from gate two before allowing favourite, Ozzie Playboy, to advance and provide cover. He lost some touch over the back straight as the leaders accelerated but ran the race out well to run third. In his only previous trial, at Kilmore on March 3, he would run third, four metres behind Brent Lilley’s Island Fire Dance (unraced) and a head behind Rita Burnett’s Twisted Bliss (two fifth placings from two starts). Bar Room Banta (trainer-driver Michael Stanley) The A Rocknroll Dance colt is out of Christian Cullen mare Jerada Dance, a winner of four of her 19 starts and $23,420 in stake money. Bar Room Banta is her sixth foal, with Jeradas Delight (by Bettors Delight) the most successful of her progeny, having won nine races and $70,160 in stakes from her 37 starts and qualifying for her 2018 Breeders Crown three-year-old final when she ran seventh, finishing 32 metres in arears of winner Speak No Evil. Bred by Roselands’ Ray Cahill and on-sold to Brendan and Anne Maree James of BFJ Bloodstock, he ran second on debut at Kilmore on March 12 after starting $1.50 favourite, when he advanced from gate six to find the back of leader Blitzern. The latter had it easy out front and then zipped home in a 27-second final quarter, with Bar Room Banta hitting the line well to be beaten only 2.4 metres with an almost 20-metre gap back to third. It followed a February 22 trial at Ballarat when Bar Room Banta won by eight metres from stablemate Pantaloon, who has since gone on and won its only start by 10 metres at Echuca. Their trial caught the eye of Craig Rail, who put Bar Room Banta into his Trial File Blackbook, noting the colt “was extremely impressive in scoring. He gained a nice run behind the leader and accelerated beautifully in the home straight to win in fast time”. Sheffield Peak (trainer-driver Rita Burnett) An early debutant when third at Kilmore on January 2 beaten 55 metres by Ultimate Exclusive, Sheffield Peak then returned to run seventh at Maryborough, having broken when advancing three wide. The Artspeak colt is out of Staffordshire Park mare Chloe Sheffield, whose second foal Nathans Courage (by Courage Under Fire) was second in the 2016 Golden Nugget and won the 2017 Night Of Thunder, one of 12 wins and $153,984 in stakes. Snapped up for $20,000 at the 2019 APG sale, Sheffield Peak’s most recent trial was a third placing at Melton on March 10, when she finished 7.5 metres behind Sahara Storm and Jilliby Retro but ahead of winning two-year-old Momentslikethese. Captain Oh Captain (trainer Amanda Turnbull, driver James Herbertson) Making its debut, the Captaintreacherous colt is the second foal and the first to race for mare Artistic Gal (by Artistic Fella), who was a three-time winner and a half-sister to Obahma Joy ($180,618), Kingofthestars ($111,279) and Make Mine Joe ($95,060). Bred by Galthorn Farm, he drew a final bid of $60,000 at the 2019 Melbourne APG sale and makes his race debut after running second in his Shepparton trial on March 10, when beaten a short-half-head by unraced Spring In His Step. In Craig Rail's Trial File, he noted "Captain Oh Captain began well to get to the markers first, took cover behind Spring In His Step and was almost able to get up on the line". Keayang Kamikaze (trainer Marg Lee, driver Jason Lee) Another debutant, the Bettors Delight colt fetched $120,000 at the 2019 Sydney APG sale, having been snapped up by trainer Marg Lee in partnership with the successful Levarg Racing Group. He is out of Libertybelle Midfrew, a brilliant Christian Cullen mare whose 51 starts produced 19 wins and $640,497 in stakes, including winning two Western Australia Group 1s in 2014 - the Oaks and then the Golden Nugget - and then qualifying for a start in the 2015 Inter Dominion Final when ninth, 17 metres behind winner Lennytheshark. Keayang Kamikaze’s only trial produced a second placing, finishing a half-neck behind unraced three-year-old stablemate Keayang Kruezer, a performance that booked a ticket into Craig Rail’s Trial File Blackbook. Rail noted “both horses obviously showed ability with the final quarter being run in a sizzling 27.2 seconds”. Treacherous Rock (trainer Freddy Taiba, driver Greg Sugars) This Captaintreacherous debutant is the latest in a long line of nice types out of La Saint (by Panorama), who won eight of her 37 starts before producing eight race-winning foals. That succession kicked off with prolific Saint William, whose 321 starts would yield 64 wins and $798,759 in stakes, and included 2012 two-year-old Breeders Challenge winner No Ah Saint ($232,035).  A $45,000 purchase at Sydney’s 2019 APG sale, Treacherous Rock’s only trial was a second (1.5 metres behind Sayitaintso Joe) at Melton on March 16 when, according to Craig Rail’s Trial File, he “tried to lead throughout and was nabbed right on the line”. Jilliby Retro (trainer Marg Lee, driver Glen Craven) Punters didn’t miss him when Jilliby Retro debuted at Terang on March 18 and he rewarded them, working to the front from gate three in a quick lead time and sustaining pressure from Jaziah throughout before winning in a 1:57.5 mile rate over the short distance. That followed two second placings in trials at Geelong on March 2 (beaten a head by Something Bettor) and at Melton on March 10 (beaten a half-head by Sahara Storm). By Bettors Delight out of Christian Cullen mare Charlotte Church ($86,280), Jilliby Retro is a full-brother to Vicbred winner, Breeders Crown placegetter and Inter Dominion finalist Wrappers Delight ($414,224) and a half to Group 3 winner Watch List, pedigree that saw him fetch $85,000 at the 2019 Sydney APG Sales. Pantaloon (trainer Michael Stanley, driver Ryan Duffy) Stanley Stables dropped $35,000 on this Somebeachsomewhere colt at the 2019 Sydney APG sales and the ownership group has already recouped 10 per cent back in winnings after Pantaloon won on debut at Echuca on March 3. Sitting in the breeze on debut, the doors opened for Pantaloon when heading into the final turn the leader (Lay The Smackdown) galloped and those trailing were inconvenienced, with Pantaloon getting home in a 29-second final quarter to win by 10 metres. By Somebeachsomewhere, Pantaloon is the first foal out of The Final Frontier ($30,263), who is a half-sister to Aspiring Artist ($170,307), Rap Artist ($108,041) and Major Exclusive ($92,295), the latter a winner of 11 of his 40 starts including the 2019 South Australian Derby. Pantaloon was an eye-catcher at his trials, winning first up at Melton on February 11 and then running second to stablemate Bar Room Banta at Ballarat on February 22, when Craig Rail noted in his Trial File that Pantaloon set up “the genuine tempo”. JASON BONNINGTON'S GOODFORM ANALYSIS FOR THE IRT AUSTRALIA SHAKAMAKER CLASSIC: There are so many angles in play for this Shakamaker Classic that it’s not unreasonable to feel like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix when assessing the form. Markets will obviously provide a significant guide with the first-starters engaged but the two most exciting youngsters to this form analyst’s eye are BAR ROOM BANTA (2) and CAPTAIN OH CAPTAIN (4). BAR ROOM BANTA (2) was beaten in moderate time on debut but somehow made ground in a freakish final quarter for juveniles and his trial at Ballarat prior to that was something to behold. He narrowly gets the nod over Captain Treacherous debutante CAPTAIN OH CAPTAIN (4) who also looked special in his Shepparton preliminary. The biggest watch runner for markets is KEAYANG KAMIKAZE (5) who debuts here on the back of a Terang trial win and is bred deep in the purple being by Bettors Delight and out of a multiple Group1-winning mare in Libertybelle Midfrew but that’s far from the end of the story given JILLIBY RETRO (7) and PANTALOON (8) have already got the job done on raceday. Whatever transpires this will be a serious form race for the future.     HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

A pacer with more than his fair share of cheek has proven a surprise Trots Country Cups champ for trainer-driver Kerryn Manning, and along the way delivered some much-needed joy for a valued friend. Pay Rise, previously trained by Gavin Lang and presently co-owned by his wife Megan, secured a second title this season in Sunday’s Gregg’s Electrical Ouyen Pacing Cup, a result that Manning hoped would help lift Lang’s spirits amid his battle with cancer. "He needs all the positivety he can get at this time,” Manning told Trots Talk. “I know, MJ (Pay Rise) was one of Megan's favourites when he came (to me). A lot of people said 'we love MJ'. “When I got him I really didn't get on with him that well, he's a bit of a little smart ass, but he's really grown on me. I can see why they had him as one of their favourites now. "Every time he wins I'm hoping it keeps Gav up a little bit, it's going to be hard for him obviously watching them go around, but hopefully it can help that little bit to make him feel a little bit better." Pay Rise has now won two of his past three starts, having also saluted in the Boort Pacing Cup on March 1, results that have earned him a start in The Encore, worth $60,000, and seen him rise to equal fifth on the Trots Country Cups Championship. “(Ouyen) was a really nice win,” Manning said. “He's only a little horse, there's not much of him. He surprised me a little bit with his improvement at home. “He used to run a lot of placings without quite getting there. He turned the corner a little bit, puts in his best effort all the time. "I was a bit surprised he could win a cup let alone two cups. When I first got him I wouldn't have thought that, so I'm really proud of him. He's improved and he's racing really well again.” And there could be more championship points to come his way, with Manning signalling a tilt at the Mildura Pacing Cup, with heats planned for next Tuesday. "I don't know how far he can go,” she said. “I've nominated him for the Mildura Cup, if all goes ahead we might head there with him, it's a tougher assignment but he deserves a bit of a crack there." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO TROTS TALK:   HRV Trots Media

4:45pm: Any trials prior to race meetings will be suspended as Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) continues to restrict the number of people required at race meetings.  HRV earlier today said from Thursday race meetings would be run as eight-race cards with no more than eight horses in any one race, allowing participants to maintain distance in stalls and limit the number of people required at the track. HRV also announced trainers with a horse engaged could have only one stablehand attend the races, with the exception being trainers who have more than three horses engaged at a meeting. They can have two stablehands. See below for earlier updates.    2.04PM: Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has confirmed that from Wednesday night at Shepparton temperature checks will be conducted on all persons entering Victorian harness racing meetings. This includes participants and staff.  HRV has also revealed that from Thursday race meetings will be programmed for eight races only with no more than eight horses in each race. These measures are to minimise the number of people required to congregate at one time in any one venue, allowing HRV to spread participants out throughout the horse stall area. Full details available here.   12.19PM: Smaller fields and less races, the potential of a Tabcorp Park Melton quarantine and care for horses in the event of a shutdown were all discussed when Harness Racing Victoria CEO Dayle Brown joined Gareth Hall on RSN 927 today. Below is a transcript of their conversation. GARETH HALL: Now what is the latest, I know you have been in meetings all morning regarding this situation. DAYLE BROWN: The latest is Gareth we have been workshopping a number of radical ideas to try and keep racing for as long as we can. We are talking closely to our industry participants. As I said on my roadshow when I started in the role, nothing’s off the table and that certainly can’t be further from the truth now – everything is on the table. We are ensuring that our industry continues to go forward. As (GRV’s) Alan (Clayton) pointed out earlier, we are in uncertain times and we have to abide by Government policy, but also we have to take a leadership role and show that from a socialisation point of view that we are putting policies and procedures in place, which keeps our people healthy and well. And we are looking to increase those procedures as we go forward, in relation to trying to keep our footprint on race day as small as possible. So from Wednesday, we will only be racing a maximum of eight races with eight horses per race. So you are not spiking at a meeting with a number of races and entries, we are trying to smooth that out across the state so we spread the racing across the state and keep our footprint at meetings as small as we can. That will help with our socialisation and keeping distance between people and complying with no more than 100 people in areas where there is cover and all those policies are in place to ensure people can continue to race in this start in harness racing. GARETH HALL: So do you think Dale you can continue on with the meetings as scheduled or you might have to cut them back? DAYLE BROWN: I think we can continue with the meetings as scheduled, we will just decrease our footprint at meetings. That will help us to be able to compress the race day so our people are not exposed to a large number of people, of participants, on the day. We keep that footprint smaller and that will then minimise the risk to our people from a health and wellbeing point of view. GARETH HALL: Harness Racing Victoria and Harness Racing New South Wales released a joint statement today, declaring no interstate horses can come and race in their state, so you can’t border hop and compete in Victoria any more? DAYLE BROWN: Correct, in conjunction with New South Wales we will be advising our participants that they can not go over the border to compete. We believe the proper and prudent thing to do is to keep our participants healthy and well and that’s to keep them in this state. We will provide the racing for our participants in this state, and all the other states will do likewise. I think it’s important that we keep putting measures in place to keep our industry going as long as we can. GARETH HALL: There was a tweet this morning from Adam Hamilton regarding maybe a lockdown at Tabcorp Park Melton. You’ve got stable facilities there obviously, you’ve got a motel where you can accommodate the participants. Is that a possibility down the track? DAYLE BROWN: We are looking at every option at the moment Gareth. We are looking at ways that we continue to race and how do we even quarantine part of our industry. We are looking at every possibility. Tabcorp Park, we know the infrastructure is there, it’s a set-up that’s made for something like that potential. And we are looking at that and workshopping that at the moment. As I said earlier, nothing’s off the table. I’m going to be talking to industry leaders at 11’o’clock today to look at all the different options that are open to us so we can put procedures in place so that we continue to race and we continue to be at the front of this issue. GARETH HALL: The welfare of horses if racing does stop, have you thought about that – the situation that HRV might find itself in there? DAYLE BROWN: Yep, we will be talking to Government. If racing was to stop we’ve certainly got plans in place to ensure that people can continue to look after their horses. We will look at what compensation is available, what we can do from an industry point of view and also how we can access any government, at a federal and state level, funding options. GARETH HALL: Your message to the industry participants in your sport? DAYLE BROWN: I just want to reiterate the sentiments of Alan Clayton, these are really troubling times. Harness racing also is a very very tight family. We are in this together. We have to be one in this. We have to observe all the processes that are put in place. And I said very, very clearly over the weekend, if you are not well do not come to the race track. Get yourself checked, go to emergency, get a test, isolate yourself for the betterment of the industry. This virus is so persuasive, if it gets into our industry then it puts it at threat. All the processes we are putting in place are to ensure that our industry remains viable (and) it continues to race. 11.45AM: Dayle Brown reveals raceday limits on RSN HRV CEO Dayle Brown has revealed that from Thursday Victorian harness racing meetings will be limited to eight races per meeting with no more than eight horses per field. “We must keep our footprint as small as we can and limit the number of people in one place to protect the health and wellbeing of our people and keep our industry viable during these unprecedented times,” Brown said. CLICK BELOW TO HEAR HRV CEO DAYLE BROWN ON RSN 927 THIS MORNING: 10.15AM: Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula joins RSN 927 Racing will continue for the foreseeable future, Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula told RSN 927 this morning, but with COVID-19's spread the timeline of surety remained short. "As we sit here today racing, and I believe this to be the case around the country, racing is continuing today," Mr Pakula said. "I think it will certainly continue tomorrow, the premiers have indicated the National Cabinet won't meet again until tomorrow night. "Today and tomorrow is still the green light, but as we've seen in many other parts of the economy, this thing is very changable. I think we enjoy it while we can." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN INTO MR PAKULA: 9.45AM: HRV, HRNSW close borders to interstate visitors Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) and Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) have today announced strict new measures to protect harness racing populations from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. From today both HRV and HRNSW will not accept interstate nominations from any state and no interstate trainers or drivers are permitted to enter race meetings. “The message to our people is simple – do not travel,” the joint HRV/HRNSW statement from CEOs Dayle Brown (HRV) and John Dumesny (HRNSW) said. HRV and HRNSW will update the industry throughout the day as the situation continues to evolve.    Industry participants are reminded they can access the Industry Assistance Program by clicking here.   HRV Trots Media

High-class mare Dance Craze was able to perform the near impossible and run past Tornado Valley to claim the Hygain Australian Trotting Grand Prix on a memorable Group 1 night for trainer Anton Golino and driver Glen Craven. The daughter of Muscle Hill’s triumph landed the second leg of an elite level double for Golino and Craven, who had earlier combined with Im Ready Jet in the IRT Australia Need For Speed Princess Final. Despite a couple of moves from rival runners, Dance Craze was able to keep her place in the one-one for much of the 2240m journey before unleashing a brilliant sprint in the home straight to charge past Tornado Valley, who had worked to the lead down the back straight the first time. The result, achieved in a mile rate of 1:58.2, ended the Andy Gath-trained star’s tilt at a third-straight Group 1 and added a third to the resume of Dance Craze. “She’s definitely special and credit to Anton to get her up for tonight,” Craven said. “Tonight she was able to get the good run. We were able to make a mid-race move when the speed slackened off and get the one-one again and that’s just the way she races best.” Golino will now ponder a trip overseas with the six-year-old, who has won 21 of 37 career starts. “I think she’s the right horse. We took her to New Zealand (in 2018) and she handled the trip really well. She was an unlucky third over there in the Jewels, but she honestly is a very, very easy horse. She takes care of herself and there’s no trick to her so that’s a big attribute, especially for a mare I guess. She’s fairly sensible,” Golino said. “Obviously it’s a dream. That’s a dream we all sort of want to strive for. If everything goes right, yeah it could be a possibility.” Im Ready Jet blitzed her rivals in the IRT Australia Need For Speed Princess Final (1720m) by close to 25m. The horse clocked a sizzling mile rate of 1:55.6 in beating Simone De Beauvoir and stablemate Imamaorijet. It was career win number six for Im Ready Jet and the second at the top level. Saturday night's all-trotting card at Tabcorp Park Melton featured two other Group 1 contests and they were both won by champion reinsman Chris Alford. Alford took the drive of Anthony Butt-trained Elite Stride, who made no mistake as a warm $1.70 favourite in the Alan Mance Holden Need For Speed Prince Final (1720m). The Muscle Hill colt won by close to 25 metres in 1:55.8, beating runner-up Andover Sun and third-placed Royalebomba.                                                                                                 --Stuart McCormick photo “That was pretty exciting. He just travelled well all the way and when he got into the back he wanted to get going so we said ‘let’s go’. He did it really well and had plenty left,” Alford said. Half an hour later Alford was back in the winner’s circle when I Am Pegasus got the job done as $1.40 favourite in the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Gold Series Final (1720m). The Joe Vassallo-trained I Am Pegasus copped some pressure in the lead and had to fight hard to hold out Chris Svanosio’s Norquay, who dived through along the sprint lane to be denied by a short half head. Once again, the mile rate was a hot 1:55.8. “She’s generally known for her speed, but she got hammered pretty hard the first half and had to be brave tonight,” Alford said. “I thought the other one had her, but she dug deep.”   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) welcomes three of the five suggested adjustments to the National Ratings Based Handicapping System (NRBHS) announced by Harness Racing Australia. “Our position has always been one of openness and transparency with our stakeholders as we transition to the ratings based handicapping system,” HRV General Manager Racing Stephen Bell said. “The HRV racing team consulted with stakeholders, namely the Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association, prior to the most recent Ratings Review Team meeting and CEO Dayle Brown provided feedback to us from his state tour about what participants had to say about the NRBHS. “We feel it is important our stakeholders know HRV’s position on the modifications that have been supported by the Harness Racing Australia executive following recommendation by the Ratings Review Team. Importantly these changes are still subject to formal adoption by the HRA members. “The Ratings Review Team comprises all participating harness racing states. While not all the recommendations were unanimously supported by all members of the Ratings Review Team, HRV certainly respects the process by which decisions are made.” Bell said in the view of HRV the most necessary adjustment would be the $15,000-$49,999 safeguard. “Before this adjustment horses competing in metro stake races – particularly age restricted features and higher stake races in other jurisdictions – received a double dropback regardless of their rating. The initial intention was for previously well-performed horses on uncompetitive ratings to reintegrate back to a level where they could be competitive,” he said. “Unfortunately this had an adverse effect on horses at the other end of the spectrum, those with a lower rating. This safeguard ensures horses are not dropping back where it is not warranted.” Bell said HRV would welcome the ‘Ratings Exempt Races upon Importation’ amendment. “We have always felt there was an imbalance weighted heavily in favour of former New Zealand horses given the proliferation of ratings-exempt races in NZ compared to Australia,” he said. “We also felt for $4500 ($3500 to $4999) races the rating penalty was disproportionate in comparison to other tiers. The two points for a win and no points for second modification, as opposed to previously being three points for a win and one point for second, is the right way to go. “Our $7000 races, which make up the majority of our everyday programs, will no longer carry a point for running second.” Bell stated that HRV would continue to critically assess its programming under the NRBHS and make adjustments where necessary with a focus on data driven decisions. “Data doesn’t lie. Our focus will remain on improving outcomes for our participants by being versatile and dynamic in the programming space. That is essential,” Bell said. “We’re committed to continuing to communicate our position regularly with stakeholders and we’ll work with them every step of this process.” Average field sizes in Victoria were up year on year in January (from 8.22 starters per race in January 2019 to 9.09 in 2020), while the number of races run with seven or fewer starters fell from 123 to 56. Importantly the number of races with a favourite $1.50 or shorter has fallen from 98 to 53 and there were 2864 starters this year compared to 2744 in 2019 – an increase of 4 per cent. To view the HRA media release announcing the changes click here.   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

It was one of the more memorable Victorian racetrack debuts in recent times and it has Burrumbeet trainer Mick Stanley dreaming big with exciting two-year-old Soho Lanikai. While the horse’s 65m victory in the Allied Express Premiere Stakes at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night was visually stunning, the clock backed up the horse’s dominance. The son of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by strong stable supporter Rob Watson, rated a slick 1.54.0 mile rate in defeating the previously unbeaten Ultimate Exclusive and Im Lady Madeleine over the 1720m trip. The time is only half-a-second outside Nostra Beach's two-year-old track record (1:53.5 mile rate), set in the APG fillies' final on May 6 2017, and 0.3 seconds outside Dont Hold Back's (1:53.7) 2YO colts and geldings' record, which was set in the Sapling Stakes (February 27 2015). “We expected him to win, but at the trials he was very green and had a good look around and was sort of a bit dorky,” said Stanley, who gave the drive to Ryan Duffy due to commitments at Globe Derby. “Our only concern going into the race was if he raced a bit green and had a good look around like he did at the trials, but he didn’t do any of that and what he did at the trials he benefited a lot from. That was great to see that improvement in him mentally so he was able to switch-on on race day.” Stanley said the heats of the Bathurst Gold Crown would likely be the next assignment for the horse on March 20, with a hopeful run in the Group 1 final a week later. Soho Lanikai was purchased at the Melbourne Australian Pacing Gold sales and is also eligible for that upcoming series. Another highlight on Saturday night’s card was the brilliant return to racing from Mick Chircop-trained General Dodge. In his first competitive race since June 2018, the seven-year-old proved too good in the Hygain Pace (1720m, NR 80-99) after sitting three-wide in the latter stages. He rated 1.53.8 and beat a quality field including Emma Stewart-trained place-getters Liftntorque and Always Fast. Chircop said it had been a long road back to fitness for his star pacer, who has won 12 of 16 career starts. “He got this parasite called liver fluke and we couldn’t get to the bottom of it,” Chircop said. “We kept working him up and he kept getting crook and I was a bit worried at the time. It’s more common in cattle and sheep. It’s a snail and it attacks their liver - he was very sick and we nearly lost him a couple of times there.” Chircop, who trains from Parwan, said a tilt at the country cups circuit was among the future plans for the son of Courage Under Fire.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Victorian trainer Vince Vallelonga is taking an enforced break from the sport after suffering a broken leg as a result of getting kicked by a horse in December. it is the same leg that was broken about 18 months earlier.  Vallelonga, who grew up in Mildura, has been involved in the sport for over 50 years since obtaining his first horse at the age of sixteen. He has worked at the stables of both Peter Tonkin and Lance Justice at various stages and was private trainer for Eric Anderson when based at Euston in New South Wales.  He has enjoyed success with a number of horses but really hit the big time preparing Group 1 winners Franco Tiger and Major Crocker.   Len Baker

Kylie Sugars will give airborne trotter Sammy Showdown his first crack at elite level racing in next week's Ascend Trophies The Knight Pistol. The son of Bacardi Lindy has been in devastating form right through the summer, winning all five runs back from a spell. His dominant triumph in last Saturday's DNR Logistics Vulcan Trotters Free For All was perhaps his best yet and the Myrniong trainer is certainly not afraid to give the four-year-old a shot at Group 1 glory. "It's a big leap next start, a Group 1 in open company, so we'll see how we go," Sugars told thetrots.com.au. "We've got to see where we are at so we might as well have a go while he is feeling good and he's firing on all cylinders. "While he's feeling well and the opportunity is there to race in these races, you might as well have a go and see where you're at." Sammy Showdown has quickly become one of Victoria's most promising squaregaiters, taking his career record to eight wins from 18 starts with a string of big triumphs in recent months. Sugars said it would be an amazing feeling to train her first Group 1 winner next Friday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. "I can't believe that it has happened this quickly with him - I didn't think he'd get here this quick - and it goes to show you never can tell what lies in the future," she said. "He's certainly taking us on a ride and accelerating very quickly." Sammy Showdown's win last weekend was an extra special one for Sugars, who drove the teal colours to victory in support of an annual ovarian cancer fundraising initiative. At the meeting, HRV officially launched another Team Teal campaign, teaming up with wagering partner Tabcorp to donate $400 for every ‘teal’ winner during the period between February 1 and March 15. Female drivers in Australia and New Zealand are supporting the cause and Sugars will be out to add some money to the total when she partners Jess Tubbs-trained The Hervey Bay in the Alabar Vicbred Pace (1720m, 4YO+) at Melton this Saturday night. "I'm a big advocate for things like this, raising awareness, because cancer is something we probably all think will happen to someone else and won't happen to us," she said. "If I can help in a little way that makes me very happy." Tomorrow night's 11-race card is highlighted by the $24,000 Allied Express Premiere Stakes (1720m) for the two-year-olds. Ted Caruana's Ultimate Exclusive will be looking to make it four-straight wins against a field featuring a number of debutants. The meeting kicks off with race one at 5.40pm. GET READY FOR THE WEEKEND'S RACING WITH THE GRAND CIRCUIT PODCAST:   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

Ivy's "beautiful nature" helped trots trainer Nick and horse lover Angela overcome difficult times and shown them "what life is all about". The racehorse who couldn't compete has left a much more profound impact than any race win could do, in an extraordinary life-after-racing story. It begins with trainer Nick Beale, who speaks with deep-seated fondness about a 2014 mare who failed so dismally in her racing career she was never officially named. Pacing bred, but with an inclination to trot, the daughter of Grinfromeartoear and Miss Superlative was tried at both gaits but lacked the co-ordination or ability to be competitive at either. “She always had a beautiful nature and tried really hard to please but lacked speed as a pacer and couldn’t balance herself at top speed as a trotter,” Nick said. “I even galloped her one day and she couldn’t break 32 for a quarter. “Perhaps with maturity she may have improved, but honestly, she was never going to make it to the races. For a long, long time though, she was the best thing in my life – perhaps she even stopped me ending it – and I owe her for that.” Nick acknowledges that when the mare, now known as Ivy, joined his stable, he was in a dark place and struggling with his mental health. “She became my light at the end of the tunnel and made life fun. She helped me to turn things around, gave me a reason to keep going," he said. “Horses have the ability to pick up on your emotions but there’s no sense of judgement. You form a really strong connection.” Inevitably, the practicalities of training racehorses became a priority and Ivy was retired. “If I had my own property there’s no question I would have kept her because I loved her but I didn’t have that choice,” Nick said. Enter Harness Racing Victoria's HERO Program, Gippsland teen Angela Pearson-McIntosh and a new chapter in the story. Angela’s family had previously re-educated a number of standardbreds under the HERO banner and welcomed Ivy with open arms. They intended to saddle train and rehome the mare before fate stepped in and she found her most perfect happily ever after. “My stepdad says that as soon as he laid eyes on Ivy, he knew that she would be a keeper, and when she arrived home my mum and I instantly fell in love,” Angela recalled. “It was pretty much decided there and then that she would be my special project.” Timing, as they say, is everything. Like Nick, Angela was finding life tough “When Ivy came to us, I was having a bit of a rough time in school and it affected my life at home,” Angela said. “With some other personal issues going on it felt as though life was pushing down on me and I wasn’t sure how to carry the weight. “But then I got the opportunity to work with this horse and it gave me something to look forward to when I got home from school. “I know it may sound a bit cliched but it’s true. Ivy gave me a reason to get up in the morning and a reason to fight for happiness. She saved me in her own little way.” Angela and Ivy are kicking serious life after racing goals. They attend pony club each month, participate in freshman showjumping events and regularly practice at the Tooradin Estate cross country course. Their first show even produced two blue ribbons. “No horse has ever changed my perspective on life the way that Ivy has, she’s shown me what life is all about,” Angela said proudly. “She has taught me to keep trying over and over again no matter how many times I may get it wrong. “And to believe there is a way to achieve the things we would like to have in life no matter how long it takes or what obstacle is in our way. “Now that I have Ivy and she has me, we can both improve and overcome anything because we are a team that always tries to please one another. “I believe that one day we will be able to achieve whatever we put our minds to.” Nick follows Ivy’s progress via social media but can’t bring himself to accept the invitation to visit just yet. “It brings me so much pride and happiness to know she’s been given this opportunity to have a new life outside racing. I’d love to see her, but it would be too hard. I’m not sure I could go home without her,” he said.   HRV HERO - Tanya McDermott

Jodi Quinlan has been involved with Team Teal since day dot and says she is enormously proud of the campaign’s reach in 2020. Speaking with Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Trots Media on Saturday night, Quinlan recalled the ovarian cancer and fundraising initiative kicked off with “a set of colours”. Six years one the powerful message has been embraced not only nationally with women drivers in all Australian harness racing states now wearing teal pants, but also into New Zealand. “It’s a privilege to be involved. I was one of the fortunate ones to start off with it with a set of colours and form there we’ve gone to pants and sulkies and it’s gone global now, which is really rewarding,” Quinlan said. “My mother was diagnosed with the disease about 10 years ago and she’s one of the lucky ones touch wood, she’s been a survivor. It’s a killer disease and it creeps up on people before they realise it so I hope everyone out there can dig deep and give to Team Teal.” At Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night HRV officially launched another Team Teal campaign, teaming up with wagering partner Tabcorp to donate $400 for every ‘teal’ winner during the campaign period (February 1 to March 15). As of this morning $4000 has been donated by the HRV/TAB team via 10 Team Teal winners, with Ellen Tormey (x2), Kylie Sugars, Kate Gath, Kerryn Manning, Lisa Miles, Shannon O’Sullivan, Anne-Maree Conroy, Kima Frenning and Rebecca Bartley all driving at least one winner since the weekend launch. “HRV is proud to have been involved with the Team Teal campaign since the very beginning. It’s a wonderful initiative and it’s so important because it’s promoting the work of ANZGOG (Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group), and our drivers are so committed to this, which is great to see,” HRV Board member Judy Rothacker said. “Harness racing has promoted Team Teal in every possible way and Duncan McPherson has just been wonderful with all his work behind the scenes and we’re very grateful for what he does as well.” Monique Burnett, who is one of HRV’s Team Teal ambassadors alongside Quinlan, Kate Gath, Kerryn Manning, Jackie Barker, Rothacker and Pony Trots driver Courtney Laker, said she was proud to be wearing teal. “Harness racing in Australia and New Zealand has done such an amazing job to get this message out there and raise awareness and do as much as we can for Duncan and Lyn and every other person who is dealing with such a horrible thing,” Burnett said. ANZGOG CEO Alison Evans described harness racing and McPherson’s commitment to the cause as “just amazing” and added the campaign “enabled more research across a whole lot of sites in city, regional and remote areas, where women can be treated for ovarian cancer”. Tabcorp Park Melton and HRV will again host the Team Teal major fundraiser on Saturday night February 29, an event which everyone in the industry is encouraged to support. “We need to raise as much money as we can and I encourage everyone to come along on the 29th and bring your friends,” Rothacker said.       HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

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