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Before he was a teenager Anthony Essex was considering a career in harness racing. He fondly recalls going to Albion Park trots as a ‘little tacker’, with his father Rob, now a greyhound trainer, sparking his interest further when he started racing standardbreds. When those horses had success Anthony confesses he was hooked on the sport of racing. Anthony is Racing Queensland’s newest operations employee, winning selection for the harness racing handicappers job after a national search for the position. Anthony started in his new role on Monday, replacing handicapper Darren Clayton who left RQ to travel overseas. The handicapping role is a new challenge for Anthony after working in casual roles at RQ in greyhound racing administration and integrity as well as formerly managing the Capalaba Greyhound Racing Club.  The 42-year-old is well versed in procedures at the Deagon racing office and with the rules of racing. “My previous roles at RQ have been a great step towards my future within the racing industry and I’m now keen to expand my knowledge and skills within the harness racing industry,” Anthony said. “I’m sure the handicapping role will be a steep learning curve but I am certain I will enjoy the challenge and I’m eager to learn the craft from (chief handicapper) Brett Rail. I’m really looking forward to being a member of the team” Anthony believes that he has had a good foundation for the handicapper job and says his family history in the sport has given him a good insight. “Going to the trots was a normal thing for me to do when I was younger, I loved to watch the races and I reckon harness racing is the most exciting racing to watch,” Anthony said. “Rob (Dad) raced successful pacers Badge Of Honour; Dinnygone; Group 1 winner Maywyn Jasper and Maywyn Tonz, a dual Group 2 race winner so there is plenty of fond memories there as well,”. Multi-skilled, entrepreneurial, with an artistic flair Anthony had other options for his career path but he firmly believes that he has made the right choice and that there has never been a better time to be involved in harness racing. “Harness racing in Queensland has increased prizemoney and new industry initiatives, it’s pretty positive at the moment,” Anthony said “I am really looking forward to seeing and handicapping the quality races with our top locals taking on the might of the southern states and New Zealand during Queensland Winter Racing Carnival. Let’s hope there is fantastic racing with close finishes that can excite everyone on and off the track.” by David Aldred

(April 20, 2015) - The sponsors have stepped up and the handicappers selected for the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. With the handicappers chomping on the bit, the contest finally gets underway with The Meadows Maturity on Friday afternoon, April 24, 2015, followed the next evening with racing action at Yonkers Raceway where the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial series finals will be contested. This year the sponsors have allowed the handicapping challenge to secure a record $5,250 in prize funds to be divided between the standardbred rescues of the top three handicappers at the conclusion of the contest. In addition to the presenting sponsors, additional sponsors are Green Acquisition Corporation, Harness Racing Update, Isle of Capri Pompano Park, The Raceway at Western Fair District, and Scioto Downs Racino. HANA thanks all the sponsors for stepping up to support the contest and standardbred rescue. Handicapper selections will be available on the contest website the morning of each day's events. Race fans and horseplayers may find those selections and additional contest information at the contest website http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com . In addition, fans may follow the contest on social media by searching for the hash tag #hanagc2015. Allan Schott

(April 12, 2015) - HANA Harness welcomes the Bellino Stable as a Gold Sponsor and The Raceway at Western Fair District as a Silver sponsor in the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Contest sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, Bellino Stable, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Harness Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. With less than two weeks prior to the commencement of the contest on April 24, it is Last Call for becoming a sponsor. While naming rights for the handicapping contest have been sold out, affordable sponsorship opportunities remain, starting with our Bronze Level ($100), Silver Level ($250) and topping out at $500 for the Gold Level. If you are a racetrack, horsemen association, racing stable, or a vendor who does business in the harness racing industry, sponsorship is a perfect way to get your name out within the industry as supporters of standardbred rescue. The deadline for becoming a sponsor is Friday, April 17. To become a sponsor or for further information, you may contact allan@hanaweb.org. For further information on the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge, visit the contest website here.       Allan Schott HANA Harness Coordinator Check out our contest site for the 2015 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge. Check out HANA Harness' Blog.      

(March 13, 2015) - The field has been set, the races picked, and the rescues selected for the 2015 HANA Harness Racing Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, all sponsors who have renewed their support for standardbred rescue with their sponsorship (additional sponsors are anticipated). As for handicappers, one old friend and two new faces join the returning roster of handicappers. Richard Scott returns to the contest after a one year hiatus. Scott was the winner of the 2013 handicapping contest and looks to attempt to reclaim his title. Scott is a former trainer who worked for the Bessinger, Silverman, and David Elliot stables in his career. Making their debut to the contest this year are Michael Carter, the current track announcer at Buffalo Raceway, and Mark Dezii, a racing fan who is a musician who hails from Philadelphia, PA. The complete roster, last year's placing, and selected rescues for the 2015 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge is: Garnet Barnsdale - Harness Racing Writer, WEG Handicapper for DRF Harness; (1st); TROTR; Therapeutic Riding and Off-Track Rehabilitation) Michael Carter - Track Announcer at Buffalo Raceway; (Did Not Compete); Central Virginia Horse Rescue Ray Cotolo - Internet Harness Racing Analyst and Writer; (15th); Sunshine Horse Rescue. Mark Dezii - Race Fan and Musician; (DNC); Horse Lovers United Ray Garnett -Handicapper; (14th); Rockin T Equine Rescue Derick Giwner - Editor, DRF Harness; (8th); New Vocations Sally Hinckley - On-air Handicapping Personality; (12th); Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals Brian McEvoy - Works for Harnesslink, (3rd); Helping Hearts Equine Rescue Mark McKelvie - Communications Coordinator for WEG; (2nd); Horse Rescue United Rusty Nash - Trackmaster Handicapper; (9th); Rainhill Sanctuary. Bryan Owen - Former Owner and Handicapper;(DNC); Standardbred Retirement Foundation Dennis O'Hara - Handicapper, Former Asst Race Secretary; (11th); Standardbred Retirement Foundation Earl Paulson - Handicapper, Yahoo Harness Racing Forum Director; (5th); Racer Placers Richard Scott - Handicapper/Former Trainer, (DNC; 1st in 2013); Rainhill Sanctuary. Anne Stepien - Handicapper, Former Trainer; (13th); Heading for Home Brandon Valvo - Handicapper, Writer for Harness Racing America; (6th); Horse Lovers United Josi Verlingieri - Handicapper; (7th); Heart of Phoenix Gordon Waterstone - Associate Editor, Horseman and Fair World; (10th); Changing Fates Equine Rescue A new scoring system has been implemented for this year's contest with handicappers focusing on the horse who will win the race, bringing a mix of quantity and value to the handicappers' plans this year. For those who wish details on how the scoring will be done, the rules page explains. The competition begins on April 24 with the inaugural Meadows Futurity Trot and concludes on November 29 with the Progress Stake at Dover Downs. Handicappers and fans may follow the contest by visiting the contest website at http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com. HANA Harness is the Harness Racing division of Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA), a group which since 2008 represents over 3,000 horseplayers in dealings with the racing industry. Since HANA Harness began sponsoring handicapping contests, over $10,000 has been donated to standardbred recues. All horseplayers, regardless of breed are invited to join HANA for free. For further information regarding HANA, please visit the HANA website at http://horseplayersassociation.org/. For further information on joining the current sponsors by becoming a sponsor at the Gold, Silver, or Bronze level, click here.. Allan Schott HANA Harness Coordinator allan@hanaweb.org Check out our contest site for the 2015 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge. Check out HANA Harness' Blog.

When selecting an online wagering platform, you should ask yourself this important question: Does the platform help me maximize my winning potential? For AmWager.com customers, the answer is a resounding “yes.” AmWager takes pride in providing its players with the industry’s most lucrative rewards program and highest referral commissions. That is why AmWager is raising the stakes, and their players ROI, with the introduction of a Daily 10% Winner’s Bonus on gross winning tickets. Additionally, AmWager’s wager pad was designed by professional horseplayers and offers multiple sophisticated, yet user-friendly, money management and wagering tools that will benefit veteran players and newcomers alike. It’s a terrific combination that elevates AmWager.com above the crowd, and the player feedback has been tremendous. "Masterful, brilliant job accomplished by AmWager.com,” says D.Moore, a long-time member. “It’s the first on-line pari-mutuel platform that actually delivers a common sense approach that produces an enjoyable wagering experience. Wager pad construction is efficient and simple whether you are making one wager or multiple wagers.” “Congratulations to Amwager, they listened to their wagering clients and produced the greatest wagering site I have ever used. Thank you for raising the bar as well as my R.O.I.!!! " And now AmWager has upped the ante by providing their new Winner’s Bonus. Forget about signup bonuses. They can be hard to understand and are always short-term. With AmWager’s Winner’s Bonus, it’s simple. On a winning exotic wager, AmWager will deposit the earned additional Winner’s Bonus into a member’s account the very next day. The Winner’s Bonus details: ● Get 10% back on gross winning tickets ● Only exotics wagers are eligible (WPS bets are not eligible) ● All tracks and all breeds ● Bonuses are posted daily to your account ● A maximum daily bonus of $10 The Winner’s Bonus helps further demonstrate that AmWager puts the player first. AmWager, which is owned by AmWest Entertainment, believes that giving players daily incentives is vital to supporting the overall health of this sport we all love. “We extend the most generous rewards while striving to deliver the best economics for all players,” said AmWest CEO Nelson Clemmens, an experienced Thoroughbred owner and breeder. “We also will ensure that AmWager returns the highest possible revenues to support the sport of racing.” Lucrative rewards and referral programs put money back into a player’s pocket. And the Daily Winner’s Bonus is a powerful finishing kick. While these features are terrific, AmWager’s Wager Pad is like Secretariat in the Belmont – the competition is a long way back. AmWager’s impressive array of tools help players make smarter bets and capitalize on the new Win Bonus. Among these tools is the Dutching feature, which enables you to maximize your return on investment (ROI) by removing the inefficiencies from the traditional boxed wager. When you use a traditional box you are essentially spending the same dollar amount on each of your selections, even though they likely have different odds. Thus, you stand to make more money if a selection with the longer odds wins over a selection with shorter odds. But, what if you could improve this wager to maximize your ROI regardless of which of your selections crossed the wire first? That’s exactly what the mathematics behind the Dutching tool can do! With a few simple clicks the Dutching tool, which is unique to AmWager, takes your total wager amount and divides it between your selections based on their current odds to make the best use of your total wager. Selections with shorter odds will get a larger percentage of the total wager while those with longer odds will get a smaller percentage, so that the potential payout in the end is maximized. You might call it a “Smart Box” in that it helps you to exploit the full potential of your dollar. And that’s the very essence of AmWager – maximizing your ROI and ability to win.

The ever decreasing numbers of harness racing  mares being bred makes it essential that we get the best use of those horses we do have racing and there can be little doubt that the drop back system is helping in that regard. Available to all horses 4 years + older who have not won in their last ten starts, the drop back provision has meant a new lease of life for a lot of horses and kept a lot of horses racing when otherwise they would have been retired or sold. One of the latest examples to take advantage of the system is Friday nights winner at Addington Raceway in Dixie Commando.  A six win mare, Dixie Commando last raced before Friday night in May against the likes of Kincaslough, Jaccka Justy and Dr Hook and she finished a tidy fourth on that occasion. With the drop back to a nine rating Dixie Commando sneaked into the C2-C4 trot over 1950 metres and co - trainer and driver James Geddes thought she would be hard to beat. " It was a big drop back in class to what she had been racing and even though she drew barrier nine I thought she would be very hard to beat." " She has always gone good fresh in the past so she had a lot in her favour on Friday night," James told Harnesslink yesterday. James has always had a lot of time for the daughter of CR Commando. " She is such a beautifully gaited mare and lovely to do anything with." "High speed is her other biggest attribute so the mobile sprints suit her," James said. Badly injured as a 5 year old, Dixie Commando had a pastern screwed together but the injury has had no long term affects on the mare. " She doesn't do much at home at all to be honest" "She is quite an athletic type and we just keep her ticking over," James said. On Friday night James and Dixie Commando made a flyer from barrier 9 and were able to slip into the trail behind the tearaway early leader The Bog. With The Bog setting a quick tempo in front, James never had to leave the trail until 150 metres from the finish and quickly claimed The Bog for a comfortable victory with the best of the rest being Astrapi who was 2 3/4 lengths away in third. Dixie Commando trotted the 1950 metres in 2:25.7, a mile rate of 2:00.2 It was Dixie Commando's 7th career victory and along with 22 placings she has now earned $76,139. James said serious consideration was given to sending Dixie Commando to the breeding barn earlier in the season. " We did give it serious consideration but with the drop back system in play we thought their might be a win or two in her yet," James said. When Dixie Commando does retire to the breeding barn, she has plenty to recommend her for that role. Dixie Commando is a daughter of the Sundon mare Galleons Tribute who is a half sister to the outstanding broodmare Rob The Nest who has left such standouts as Galleons Assassin 1:55.4 ($327,286) and King Of Strathfield 1:56.8 ($253,950) amongst a plethora of talented trotters. The way Dixie Commando won on Friday night however means that may not happen any time soon. Harnesslink Media  

123gaming, Inc. and Sportech Racing and Digital, a division of Sportech PLC, (LSE: SPO), announced recently that the handicapping contest-style 123racing wager, previously available only through racetracks and off-track-betting operators in the U.S., is now available for online distribution. On-trend with the growth in fantasy sports and horse racing handicapping contests, the 123racing wager is based on a Pick 6 format, but introduces additional elements of excitement and interactivity over traditional Pick 6 wagering. Payoffs on the 123racing wager are won by scoring points across the 6 races, with the wager that scores the highest total points claiming the pool.  In 123racing, top scorers don't necessarily have to pick the winners or 'hit the board' in every race. Rob Earle, founder and CEO of the company that created 123racing, 123gaming, Inc., noted, "We have been operating a very successful version of 123racing as a free play handicapping contest for several racetracks for many years, and we eventually transitioned that to a live money wager available only on track.  After several successful trials, and with 82% of survey respondents saying that they were likely or very likely to play the wager again, we knew it was time to expand online. 123racing is the first interactive social wager of its kind to be integrated across an entire tote racetrack, OTB and online network, pitting handicappers across the U.S. against one another on national leaderboards." Twenty five North American racetracks are already signed up to provide content for the 123racing wagering pools, including Parx Racing, Emerald Downs and Keeneland.   123bet.com will be the first online home to showcase the wager, and numerous major racetrack and OTB operators are also in the process of making the wager available online, recognizing the potential for 123racing to appeal to younger fans, and fantasy sports fans. Andrew Gaughan, President of Sportech Racing and Digital, commented, "The 123racing wager offers a great complimentary product to the classic Pick 6 and we expect it to help attract some of the 40 million Americans who are playing fantasy sports, but not wagering on horse racing. Because the 123racing wager is available on our Quantum System, which is deployed throughout North America as well as in Latin America and Europe, ultimately we see an opportunity for global commingled 123racing pools." From 123gaming, Inc.  

ELORA, ON - On August 18, Grand River Raceway kicks off the first of 12 elimination legs in which players vie for a spot in the $50,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship (WHHC). The free on-track contest runs Monday and Wednesday race nights from August 18 through September 24. Each night, the top five finishers win cash prizes and the top 10 finishers advance to the Semifinals at Grand River Raceway on September 29. The winner of the Semifinals earns a spot in the $50,000 WHHC at The Meadowlands Racetrack in April 2015, plus $2,000 for travel and lodging. Contestants in each elimination leg must select the winners of races two through seven at Grand River Raceway. A hypothetical $2 win and $2 place wager is applied to each selection, and the highest bankrolls win. In all, the contest offers $3,600 in cash and prizes. Complete rules and regulations:  Kelly Spencer

The harness racing handicapping system we have currently with the 2 and 3yrs olds should have been changed at the last handicapping meeting – why it wasn’t is beyond me.  I would like them to tell me why it wasn’t done.  I believe that my proposed system would work better than the current one as follows: 3yr olds – every 3rd win penalty free – this would free up the clogged 1 win grade which we have at present and would give better dividends to punters as the better 3yr old is now in the 2 win grade.  The 3yr old still has the ability to drop back after 10 starts if not competitive in the 2 win grade. 2yr olds – when re-graded when they turn 3, their first win if under $15,000 would be deemed penalty free then they would drop into the same category as the current 3yr olds.  If for example a current 2yr old has won 4 races under the stakes threshold above he would come back as a 2 win 3yr old.  Any 2yr old who has won 2, 3 or 4 races is obviously a horse with ability and to drop it back into the maiden grade as at present is harming our industry and again clogging up the maiden & C1 grades. It was mention at our local Trainer’s & Driver’s meeting held recently in Invercargill that this system would mean that owner’s would sell their 3yr olds if my suggested system was in place.  I disagree as owners choose to sell or not to sell their horses. I believe we are belittling racing by not having these nice horses up in the grades where they should be and competing against each other instead of beating up a C1 field.  We need horses in higher grade races. We also need Australian racing strong, it is really the only market we have.   Imagine if we couldn’t export our milk or meat, it would be worth next to nothing.    I wouldn’t want the Australian system here because the Australian buyers need to see that they can get out of the horse under their system.  If we had the same system why would they buy our horses?   As an owner you still have the option of racing your horse over there or in partnership with someone there.  With them buying our horses it generates income for our owners to then reinvest which most do whether it is by breeding or purchasing at sales.   Australia are trying to rejuvenate their breeding system with the tax on our horses going towards it which hasn’t helped our lower grade of horses being sold – good luck to them with that.  We are really a partnership with Australia – they need us as much as we need them. Anyone who has an opinion either for or against I would appreciate hearing from you as we are in this together for the future of our industry. Murray Swain.

What a difference a week has made in the Horse Racing New Brunswick year long harness racing handicapping contest.   After week number twelve ( 12 ) there is a new leader who has leap-frogged into first place. Rose Doyle had an outstanding week, earning $ 30.70 for her wagers which puts her in first.   Her new total after week twelve is $ 186.50.   Adam Saunders has also made a bold move into the number two slot. He has now earned $ 178.00 while last week's leader, Brad MacPherson drops to third with a total of $ 174.90.   Also of note, Kayden Buchanan is just eighty-cents behind Saunders in fourth place. Next leg will be hosted on Saturday, August 23rd at Exhibition Park Raceway.   This week's co-winners of Horse Player Interactive prizes are Rose Doyle and Adam Saunders. Both had an identical week's total with $ 30.70 as they both selected the same horses.   Horse Racing New Brunswick reminds patrons, there is no racing this coming Saturday.   Rose Doyle              186.50 Adam Saunders      178.00 Brad MacPherson   174.90 Kayden Buchanan   174.10 Jenn Ritchie              126.70 Bruce Smith                93.50 Wayne Hubbard         45.30 Roy Flowers               31.00 Dale Spence Sr         18.60   Scott Waddell

Hanover Raceway wrapped up its summer handicapping harness racing contest on Saturday night. 30 handicappers qualified for the Country 93 sponsored contest, and all were hoping to win the first prize, a 51 inch High Definition TV. The contest started in Race 2 and 21 of the 30 competitors picked favorite Lucky Dunk driven by J Bradley Harris, but the 3 year old colt broke in the final turn knocking out all but 9 of the competitors.   The contest was quickly down to the final four, and Susan Weatherall of Flesherton won the contest in Race 7 when the horse picked by runner-up Shelley Johnston of Chatsworth finished 4th.  Susan picked her father Wil’s horse who won the race. Johnston won a prize package including a 250 dollar shopping voucher courtesy of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce. Joe Allison of Kincardine finished 3rd winning Golf for 2 at Cobble Beach, and Bill Fitzsimmons of Meaford was 4th winning a 100 dollar prize pack courtesy of Hanover Raceway. On the track, it was the Bruce Richardson and Garret Rooney show, as the 2 Arthur men won 6 of the 10 races on the night. Richardson kicked off the night winning the opener with Passion Delight in 2:00.3  for owners Glenview Livestock.  Richardson also won 4th race with Quarter past Six in 2:03 for owners Dayle and Lynn Mcfadden of Barrie and the 8th race with Elle Machferson in 1:57.4 for owner Eugene Bauman of Drayton.   Rooney meanwhile won Race 3 with favorite All Muscled Up in 2:02.4 for owner Jim Wilson of Melancthon, Ont, Race 6 with Prettyndangerous in 1:57 for owner Hutt Stables of Pennsylvania, and got the hatrick in Race 7 with Dervish Hanover in 1:59.1 for owner Doug Riley of Seaforth. Hanover Raceway resumes its 2014 season in 2 weeks, as they break for the 150th annual Hanover Bentinck and Brant Agricultural Fair starting on Friday August 15th. Event brochures are available at the Racetrack restaurant and slot bar, or details of all the activities can be found online at www.hanoverfair.ca Hanover Raceway

Horse Racing New Brunswick have released the latest standings in the year-long handicapping challenge. Winner will receive a trip for two to Toronto.   After week eleven of the challenge, Brad MacPherson still leads the charge with a total of $170.10. Rose Doyle maintains here spot in second place, while Kayden Buchanan rounds out the top-three with $148.20.   This week's top handicapper was Jenn Ritchie with $16.10. She will receive a prize from H.P.I of $25.00. Week twelve will be held on August 9th at Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John.   Brad MacPherson 170.10 Rose Doyle 155.80 Kayden Buchanan 148.20 Adam Saunders 147.30 Jenn Ritchie 115.40 Bruce Smith 78.00 Wayne Hubbard 45.30 Roy Flowers 31.00 Dale Spence Sr. 18.60   Scott Waddell    

Everyone in the harness racing industry has an opinion on the pros and cons of most runners contesting the Harness Jewels races at Cambridge this weekend so we here at Harnesslink thought we would put our two cents worth into the mix. Not only will the best in the country compete for over $1.2 Million in prize money but punters will also get their chance to win big with several big betting pools available on this year's Harness Racing Jewels Day at Cambridge. Click here for up todate betting options from the TAB. Today we will look at the three 2yo divisions, that is the 2yo Emerald, the 2yo Diamond and the 2yo Ruby. THE EMERALD - TWO YEAR OLD PACING COLTS AND GELDINGS  1) ART UNION - (c, by Art Major - Sparks A Flyin - Sands A Flyin) Never out of the money to date and has drawn well but still needs to lift again to win this. Showed no gate speed last week from one which could lead to him being buried back on the inner.  2) BETTOR SPIRITS - (c, by Bettor's Delight - Spirit Of Eros - In The Pocket) Draw helps but too many here have the wood on him ability wise. Hard to see in first four. 3) HUG THE WIND - now scratched. 4) CHACHINGCHACHING -  (c, by Mach Three - Affairs Of State - Presidential Ball)  Drawn well and can fly the gate but has been run over in his last two with those tactics. Has won track and distance in 1:56.6 so first four player. 5) BEAUDINE BOAZ - (c, by Badlands Hanover - Beaudine Babe - In The Pocket) Seems a lovely horse but just a length or two down on the very best. Run down by Linda Lovegrace and Supersonic Miss at his last start so needs to lift to be a serious contender. 6) PARADISO - (c, Bettor's Delight - LC Tricky - Albatross) Very smart Aussie raider who with the scratching of Hug The Wind has seen his chances increase big time. Now comes into five and will go forward which is a big advantage at Cambridge. Only negative is it is his first race for two months. Don't discount. 7) EXPRESS STRIDE - (c, by Bettor's Delight - Lauraella - Christian Cullen) Game and consistent but draw is a major handicap. Will be running on and driver a big plus. 8) MIGHTY FLYING MAJOR - (c, by Art Major - Fleet's Pocket - In The Pocket) Has run some great races this season but always seems to find one or two bettor than him. Draw makes this mission impossible. SECOND ROW 9) PRESENT ONE - (g, by Santanna Blue Chip - Pride Of The River - Riverboat King) Nice maiden win at his only start but huge jump in class here. Not for us 10) STRIKE THE GOLD - (c, by Bettor's Delight - Hill Of Gold - In The Pocket) Has shown a bit of ability but too many here have the class edge. Not for us.   11) PRINCE OF POPS - (g, by Changeover - Slangevar - Cameleon) Has made it off the ballot into the field but that may be as good as it gets. Not fancied. 12) SAY MY NAME - (c, by Art Major - Shakeilah - In The Pocket) Gives 110% every start. Great close second to Alta Orlando two starts back. Definite first four contender but hard to see him winning from draw. 13) ICEOBAR - (g, by Courage Under Fire - Trammell - Badlands Hanover) Has really come to it in the last six weeks with two good wins in lesser company. Outside first four contender from draw. 14) FOLLOW THE STARS - (c, by Art Major - Smyrna Duruisseau - Cams Card Shark) He is the best horse in the race by a margin but has the worst possible draw. Has been outstanding all season but is going to have to be at his absolute best here to keep his winning record intact. COMMENT With the withdrawal of Hug The Wind, this race has really become an open affair. The best horse by a margin, Follow The Stars, has drawn so poorly that he now stands a real chance of being beaten by one of his key opponents capitalizing on a dream trip to upset him. Follow The Stars is still first pick and the horse to beat but the connections of Art Union, Paradiso and Say My Name must all fancy their chances of causing an upset with the right run. THE DIAMOND - TWO YEAR OLD PACING FILLIES 1) UNFORGIVING - (f, by Art Major - Pure Envy - Jenna's Beach Boy) Beat Linda Lovegrace earlier in the season and has won on the track in 1:57 but hard to see winning with the favourites drawing so well. First 4s 2) FIGHT FOR GLORY - (f, by Art Major - Breath Of Life - Village Jasper) Never worse than second all year and best draw for a while. She will be very hard to roll. 3) JOANNES DELIGHT - (f, by Bettor's Delight - Larrisa Rose - Falcon Seelster) Great win two starts back against most of these, but slightly disappointing last start when run down into fourth. Can bounce back and genuine winning chance. 4) BETTOR BE SUPREME - (f, by Bettor's Delight - Galleon's Supreme - Christian Cullen) ) Beaten less than a length last two runs in similar fields to what she faces here. Consistent type but hard to see winning this race. She is a definite first four chance. 5) DELIGHTFUL LANA - (f, by Bettor's Delight - Long Live Lana - In The Pocket) Scored two nice wins down South before coming North but has just battled in her last couple. A rough place chance. 6) KATE PERRY - (f, by Bettor's Delight - Karen Donna - In The Pocket) Super last start win over Joannes Delight and Fight For Glory aided by a masterful Dexter Dunn drive. If she can slot in early from six, she has the speed to run over them late. 7) NUAUA - (f, by Changeover - Forever Blue - Live Or Die) Unlikely to make field and probably six months to early any way. She should make a lovely three year old. 8) LINDA LOVEGRACE - (f, by Bettor's Delight - Linda Grace - In The Pocket) Only out of the money once in her career and that was when she drew 14 so drawing the outside of the gate is a real worry in a field of this quality. Last start was super, running home from off the pace in 55.6 to win easily. A big first four contender. SECOND LINE 9) CYCLONE KATE - (f, by Mach Three - Eyre To The Throne - Presidential Ball) Placed in young guns final but likely to get back on inner from draw. A rough place show. 10) BIRD OF PARADISE - (f, by Bettor's Delight - Times On My Side - Clever Innocence) Genuine filly but lacks the class to be a player here. 11) SUPERSONIC MISS - (f, by Mach Three - Bella Joy - Village Jasper) Has been "supersonic" all season. Beat Flight For Glory at her first lifetime start. Her last run for second after sitting parked with a last half in better than 56 was a great lead up to this race. A winning chance if she gets a run through on the back of Joanne’s Delight. 12) BETTOR THINK TWICE - (f, by Bettor's Delight - Ronna Lorraine - Christian Cullen) Has looked smart at times but beaten nearly 10 lengths at her last start by stable mate Kate Perry. Not for us. 13) ART EXHIBIT - (f, by Art Major - Mywayorthehighway - In The Pocket) Yet to win in ten starts and draw and the quality of the field means that won't change here. 14) DEMOCRAT PARTY - (f, by American Ideal - Champagne Party - Soky's Atom) Won the Young Guns Final in 1:56.1mr earlier in the season and she was top dog at that point. Wheels have fallen off a bit in the last couple of starts and draw no help but more than capable of being in the finish. COMMENT Fight For Glory and Joanne’s Delight are drawn to control the race but Kate Perry, Linda Lovegrace and Supersonic Miss all have to be given a chance to roll the favoured pair. If we had to choose one, we would lean towards Supersonic Miss but would not be surprised if one of the other four listed above won the race.  THE RUBY - TWO YEAR OLD TROTTERS 1) SIR HENRY CASTLETON - (g, by Monarchy - Castleton Gold - Evander's Gold) Seems solid but just lacks the class of a few of the others here. Still has a rough place chance from draw. 2) YOUGUNNAKISSMEORNOT - (f, by Love You - Dutch Annie - Continental Man) Bomb proof which is a big plus for a two year old trotter. She is yet to be further back than second in six starts. Manners will take her a long way. 3) PRINCE FEARLESS - (c, by Majestic Son - Fear Factor - Sundon) Manners are the key here. Big on ability but has broken at his last two starts. Big winning chance if he is on his best behavior. 4) MONBET - (g, by Love You - Diedre Don - Sundon) Looked the best juvenile around earlier in the season but not quite so sharp since a recent setback. Beaten by eight lengths at his last start by a couple he is facing here, but was super at a recent Cambridge workout. Each-way chance. 5) WANNA PLAY - (f, by Majestic Son - Miss Whiplash - Gee Whiz 11) Has gone ahead in leaps and bounds lately. Her manners are a lot better now and her last win before coming north was outstanding, running the 1950m in a brilliant 1:58.9mr. The one they have to beat. 6) ARYA - (f, by Angus Hall - Belle Galleon - Sundon) The complete package. Impeccable manners and high speed means she is always a chance in whatever she lines up in. 7) SPEEDING STAR - (c, by Pegasus Spur - Della's Speed - Chiola Hanover) Has been there about all season but just a length behind the top ones. A definite first four chance but hard to see him winning this. 8) SUNNY RUBY - (f, by Sundon - Bright Dierie - Britewell) Smart maiden winner at only start but this is a massive step up in class and from this draw she has a mountain to climb. SECOND ROW 9) THIS SKY ROX - (g, by Skyvalley - Roxie Heart - Sundon) Has shown glimpses of real talent but has never met a field of this quality. Not for us. 10) GEORGIES SMILE - (f, by Sundon - Bearhug - Wrestle) Manners have let her down all season and hard to see that changing here. 11) CYCLONE EMILY - (f, by Majestic Son - Cyclone Dani - Muscles Yankee) Bombproof but needs to find a few lengths to be competitive. Not fancied. 12) PRIMZ LUCK - (g, by The Pres - Howz Lucky - Sundon) Has looked very smart winning three race this season but recent health scare and draw make this a hard ask. Place best. COMMENT Manners are the key here and most of the major players tick that box here. We think if Wanna Play can reproduce her last start performance then she will be very hard to hold out. Arya, Yougunnakissmeornot and Monbet all look leading chances while Prince Fearless badly needs to rediscover his manners if he wants to play a part. Harnesslink media

ELORA, ON - Longtime harness racing Grand River Raceway patron Dave Purdy triumphed in the 10-week Winter Wednesdays Handicapping Tournament which concluded on April 30. Purdy had the highest cumulative hypothetical bankroll ($346.80) of nearly 200 players. The feat earned him $2,000. The Elora, ON horseplayer kicked off the contest on February 26 with hypothetical $2 win and place wagers on six simulcast races which grossed $154.20 and propelled him to the top of the standings. Although others closed-in, he clung to the top spot for the duration of the contest. Purdy has been a fan of harness racing for over 30 years and used to own and train Standardbreds. He has finished well in several of Grand River Raceway's handicapping tournaments over the years, including a $1300 payday for a fourth-place finish in the 2011 ROMP Handicapping Tournament with his team of three called Bet The Farm. Rounding out the Winter Wednesdays top five: Name of Player Prize  Bankroll Dave Purdy $2,000  $   346.80 Larry Pyear $600  $   326.60 Paul McTaggart $250  $   294.80 Brian Evans $100  $   278.40 Ron Uhrig $50  $  275.70   The free-to-play Winter Wednesdays Handicapping Tournament awarded $5,000 in weekly and grand prizes to 65 players. Grand River Raceway's next free handicapping contest kicks off on Opening Night of the 2014 Live Racing Season (Monday, June 2 - post time 6:30 p.m.). Complete standings: http://grandriverraceway.com/handicapping-tourney/. Kelly Spencer Mgr. Marketing & Communications Grand River Raceway

Following two very successful runnings of the Seasonal Super Series held at Addington in 2013 the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (NZMTC) will stage a third Super Series on Friday 2 May, 2014.   The two rounds of the Series held in October and December last year proved to be very successful with a good level of runners (an average of 13 starters) competing in both the finals and consolations.   It was encouraging to see a “spread” of winners from a wide range of trainers taking out their share of the stakes, providing a number of different owners with a healthy return. As well as some current top 20 premiership placed trainers including Robert Dunn, Terry and Glenys Chmiel, Ken Barron, Tim Butt, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen cashing in, wins were achieved by Peter Bagrie, Brian Fahey, Gavin Cook, Craig Edmonds, Alex Hastie and Noel Taylor. Total stakes paid out in the new Series will result in $316,500 including the May round.   The third Series, to be staged also at Addington, will once again cater for lower grade horses with projected stakes totalling greater than $100,000 over six events.   There will be opportunities for:    C0There will be opportunities for:    C0 pacers at 21 December 2013 – Stake $23,500    C1 to C2 pacers at 21 December 2013 – Stake $23,500    C0 to C2 trotters at 21 December 2013 – Stake $23,500   Consolations for these races will be run should numbers warrant, with each consolation carrying a total stake of $12,500. All starters in the open race (final) are to receive a minimum stake of $500 and all starters in the consolations will receive a minimum stake of $250.   Field selection will be based on a points system.   To qualify to start in these races on 2 May 2014, a horse must have started in at least one race at a NZMTC meeting between 17 January 2014 and 24 April 2014. There is no enrolment fee payable.   It is the intention of the NZMTC that a similar series will take place later in the year on 8 August 2014 under like conditions.   Full details and conditions are to follow and will be able to be viewed at www.addington.co.nz from Friday 21 February. Alternatively, please call Brian Rabbitt or Richard Bromley of Addington’s Racing Department on (03) 338 9094.   Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington  

Following last week’s announcement by Racing Queensland (RQ) to increase the Metropolitan penalty threshold to $15,000, we continue to receive feedback regarding the change. The Queensland Harness Racing Board (QHRB) first raised the proposal to increase the threshold in line with other states in November 2013 and then sought feedback from stakeholders and industry groups. Feedback was received supporting both an increase to the threshold and for it to remain at the current level. All feedback was duly considered by the members of the QHRB before the decision to increase the threshold was voted upon. The QHRB considered that the benefit of increasing the threshold outweighed any potential drawbacks. The decision was made to benefit the wider harness racing industry in Queensland and in particular owners. The QHRB placed particular value on the ability for Queensland horses to race in Career Penalty assessed races locally for greater prizemoney than that offered in most other states. Additionally, the potential for Queensland horses to race interstate in lower assessed Metropolitan Penalty racing when travelling was also considered a benefit of the change. As an example; A horse that starts a campaign out as an M1 C11 R11 competes under the existing threshold and wins an M1 assessed race, then an M2, an M3, and finally M4 with one of these being the $16,000 final. Its total earning would be circa $31,700 and would end the campaign a horse assessed M5 C15 R15 throughout Australia. Under the new system the same horse would win a Q1 assessed race, a Q2, a Q3, and a Q4 with one of these being the $14,999 final. Its total earnings would be circa $31,000 and would end the campaign a horse assessed Q5 C15 R15 in Queensland, however outside Queensland it would be assessed as M1 C15 R15.   This leaves the opportunity for four metropolitan graded wins outside of Queensland before reaching the same mark. This could amass a potential prizemoney earning of between $40,000 and $50,000. As with all changes introduced by RQ, the implementation will be monitored to ensure that the foreseen benefits are realised. RQ will continue to work with RISE to implement this change. Racing Queensland  

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