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Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) today announced Acting Legal Counsel John Briffa and Acting General Manager – Commercial Ryan Stanaway have been appointed to their positions permanently. Stanaway, who has been in the GM Commercial role since November last year, has an extensive industry background in the wagering and racing space. Briffa has been in the General Counsel role since November last year has been influencing a range of matters at HRV, including club governance. “Ryan and John are important members of the HRV team and I am looking forward to continuing to work with both of them as we guide the industry into the future,” HRV CEO David Martin said. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Further to events at Yarra Valley trots on 9 February, 2017, and the subsequent apology by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Board Member Danny Frawley, HRV wishes to advise the following. The matter was referred to the three independent members of the Integrity Council in February.  The HRV Board has accepted all recommendations from this Integrity Council investigation, including the imposition of a $4000 fine upon Mr Frawley for his conduct, which involved inappropriate comments made towards licenced participant Greg Sugars. In addition, Mr Frawley, of his own volition, has enrolled in an AICD Director’s course, which will take place in October this year. HRV CEO David Martin said: “We are pleased the independent members of the Integrity Council have reviewed this matter and this outcome provides closure for all parties. I thank everyone involved for their cooperation throughout this investigation.” HRV Board Member Danny Frawley said: “My comments were regrettable and I accept the decision of the independent members of the Integrity Council. My role is to serve the industry as a member of the HRV Board and I look forward to putting this behind me and getting on with the job of helping the industry thrive. I’d also like to reiterate that I have the utmost respect for Greg Sugars and I thank him for his candour throughout this process.”  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Harness Racing Victoria

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Board has announced all Group 2 and 3 Victorian country pacing cup races will be run as preferential barrier draw (PBD) events in season 2017-18. Wagering analysis of the 2016-17 country cups circuit revealed a 3.9% increase in wagering on pacing cups compared to the season prior. This increase came despite a 24.7% YoY decline in wagering for the Shepparton Cup, which transitioned from a standing start handicapped event to a non-handicapped random barrier draw (RBD) race. Hectorjayjay started a $1.20 favourite for the Shepparton Cup. In October 2016, the HRV Board agreed to discontinue standing starts in pacing races for a six-month trial period. Analysis of wagering data indicates a widening gap between mobile starts and standing starts, with mobiles now generating 30% more wagering per race compared to a standing start. That gap expands when comparing standing starts to mobile starts for two-year-old races and lower class $3500 races. Based on this analysis, the HRV Board made the decision to keep all country cup pacing races as mobile start events but with PBD handicapping applied to all Group 2 and 3 races. This is to reduce short-priced favourites and maximise revenue returns to the industry. Speaking on RSN’s Gait Speed this week, HRV CEO David Martin said: In regards to country pacing cups, “There’s been quite a degree of debate between standing starts versus mobiles and really what it comes down to is you’re moving from a handicapping system to a non-handicapping system. I think with the introduction of preferential barrier draws across all Group 3 and Group 2 cups we reintroduce a handicapping system in a different form.” Click here to listen to HRV CEO David Martin’s extended interview on RSN’s Gait Speed Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 190(1) against licensed trainer Mr Boris Devcic.  ARHR 190(1) reads as follows:     A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under ARHR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Mr Devcic related to a post-race urine sample taken from the horse ‘Noble Julius’ after it won Race 7, the ‘Weightman’s Packing & Stationary Pace’, at Mildura on 23 November 2016.  Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the urine sample revealed the sample to contain the prohibited substance caffeine.  The Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) in NSW reported confirmation of these findings in the reserve portion of the relevant urine sample. Mr Devcic pleaded guilty to the charge before submissions on penalty were heard from HRV Stewards and Mr Devcic. Further evidence was also heard from RASL Scientific Manager Mr Paul Zahra.  In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board considered Mr Devcic’s guilty plea and co-operation throughout the investigation, Mr Devcic’s record in regard to prohibited substance matters where a previous offence was some 17 years prior, both general and specific deterrence, consistency of penalty and the absolute liability nature of the offence. Mr Devcic was subsequently fined $6000. The HRV RAD Board also ordered that ‘Noble Julius’ be disqualified from Race 7 at Mildura on 23 November 2016, under ARHR 195, and that the finishing places be amended accordingly. Harness Racing Victoria

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have completed an inquiry into the whip use of George Schembri, when the driver of Surf On By, during the preliminary of Race 3 at the Kilmore meeting conducted on Friday, 24 March 2017. The inquiry was initially adjourned to allow Stewards the opportunity to source further footage and information regarding this incident.  Veterinary examinations conducted on Surf On By approximately thirty (30) and sixty (60) minute post-race did not reveal any significant findings. After hearing further evidence from Mr Schembri at today’s reconvened inquiry HRV Stewards issued two (2) charges against Mr Schembri under the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR). Charge one (1) was issued under the provisions of AHRR 168(1)(e) which states: A person shall not before, during or after a race drive in a manner which is in the opinion of the Stewards:-                                    (e)  improper The particulars of the charge being that during the preliminary Mr Schembri drove in an improper manner by raising his whip hand above head height and using the whip with severe force on 5 occasions. Charge two (2) was issued under the provisions of AHRR 156(2) which states: (2)  A driver shall hold a rein in each hand at all times unless he or she is adjusting approved gear. The particulars of the charge being that during the preliminary Mr Schembri used the whip on 5 occasions free of the rein when not adjusting approved gear. Mr Schembri pleaded guilty to both charges. In assessing penalty Stewards were mindful of: Mr Schembri’s guilty plea; Mr Schembri’s prior offence record; Mr Schembri’s personal circumstances; The nature of this incident, which is clearly in contrast to industry standards; The incident was visible to those persons on-course and also captured by the Sky Racing International coverage. The following penalties were subsequently imposed: Charge one (1) – Three (3) month suspension of Mr Schembri’s licence to drive in races and a $1,000 fine. Charge two (2) - $500 fine. In total a three (3) month suspension of Mr Schembri’s licence to drive in races was imposed, along with fines totaling $1,500. This suspension was ordered to commence midnight 17 April 2017. Harness Racing Victoria

With respect to the criminal investigation conducted by Victoria Police, which resulted on 11 January, 2017 in criminal charges being served on harness racing participants Nathan Jack, Amanda Turnbull, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) provides the following update: These criminal charges have been adjourned to Shepparton Magistrates Court for a further mention hearing on 19 October, 2017.   This matter has also been booked in for a contested hearing commencing 27 November, 2017. HRV is unable to make any further comment in relation to the Victoria Police investigation.  Harness Racing Victoria

In late 2016, the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Board engaged an external consultant to identify opportunities for efficiency improvement and to create new revenue streams.  Following on from that and his own appointment in January 2017, HRV CEO David Martin has continued to consult the industry in order to establish its strategic direction through the challenges faced.  One of those challenges is HRV’s increasing costs and declining revenues, which are impacting profitability and HRV’s ability to fulfil its role in the industry.  Therefore, HRV recently made changes to reduce operational costs and align the organisation’s resources with the key strategic themes. “As the governing body, it is vital that HRV has a sustainable financial model by which it operates.  HRV lost money in 2015/16 and will do so again this year, so the Board and I needed to make some difficult decisions.  We are very mindful of the impact of these changes on individuals and have offered support wherever possible,” Mr Martin said. Going forward, HRV will focus on a combination of ‘functional strategies’ such as Marketing & Wagering, Finance, People, Racing, Legal and Integrity, and concurrently work with the industry on ‘Stakeholder Strategies’ for each of Owners, Breeders, Trainers & Drivers, Clubs, Punters and Government & Public.  In all areas, decisions need to be based on putting the industry first. Mr Martin advised that: “The intent is for the two sets of functional and stakeholder strategies to be integrated, jointly owned and reviewed as implementation occurs.  Within this framework we have identified four key strategies that are vital for improving the future of our industry, namely Racing Product, Race Programming, Major Sponsorships and the Melton Masterplan.  We have already seen an uplift in field sizes and races per meeting as a result of changes to race programming and handicapping.  We have a long journey ahead to build the industry we all want, so it is important that we work together through difficult times to overcome the external challenges the industry faces.” Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Integrity Department advises that the services of unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) have recently been utilised as part of investigations into suspected race day administration and treatment. HRV engaged the services of a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approved external private company considered industry leaders in this area. HRV Integrity Department will continue to use drones in future investigations to detect trainers engaging in race day administration or treatment. These measures are paramount to the integrity of harness racing and ensuring a level playing field. The HRV Integrity Department is committed to ensuring such offences are disrupted and when detected, evidence is gathered against those responsible who are breaching the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR).

Montana McStay is fast tracking her dream of a career as a harness racing  trainer. The 19-year-old has begun a 12 month Harness Racing Internship offered by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) and Community College Gippsland’s Harness Training Centre. The internship provides a paid position working in racing stables and includes enrolment into the Nationally Accredited Certificate IV in Racing (Racehorse Trainer) delivered at Community College Gippsland’s Harness Training Centre, incorporating additional mentorship and professional development. Montana’s passion for working with horses began when she started a VET in Schools course (Certificate II in Racing (Stablehand) at Community College Gippsland’s Harness Training Centre at Warragul while she was at secondary school. “I caught the bug and continued the next year to complete my Certificate III in Racing (Advanced Stablehand) and now I’m working towards becoming a race horse trainer studying for a Certificate IV in Racing (Racehorse Trainer).” In addition to providing training, this internship will give Montana mentorship and exposure to leading industry trainers where she will work in a number of stables in Australia and overseas. “My first position has involved working with trainers Chris and Glenn Hunter at their stables in Trafalgar which has really opened my eyes to what it is like to work in the industry. The stable specialises in breaking in young horses for racing and my first few weeks have been spent working with new horses from the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sales.” “It has been incredibly challenging but over the weeks I have learnt so much and gained skills that I will take throughout my career.” Montana will spend one week at Harness Racing Victoria’s Flemington headquarters to experience its inner workings, including meeting with stewards and media staff. She will then spend time at the stables of leading woman driver Kerryn Manning in Great Western. The 12 month HRV/CCG harness internship, now in its second year, aims to recognise and nurture rising talent giving them an opportunity to further develop their skills experience and confidence to take their career forward. Community College Gippsland Chief Executive Officer, Sue Geals, said last year’s first intern to the program, Michelle Phillips, grew in leaps and bounds and is now progressing in the industry as a result. We wish our 2017 Harness Intern, Montana McStay all the very best in developing her skills and experience as a rising star in the harness industry.” For information on Community College Gippsland’s equine courses go to: http://ccg.asn.au/courses/category/equine For further information, please phone (03) 5622 6000 or email info@ccg.asn.au

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have issued charges against licensed trainer Michael Doltoff under Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR) 196B (1) and 187(2) (two charges).    The allegations being that Mr Doltoff as the trainer of the horse Valtona, which was engaged to compete in Race 3 at the Yarra Valley harness racing meeting on 9 December, 2016, administered an injection to Valtona on 8 December 2016, without the permission of the Stewards. The other allegations relate to Mr Doltoff providing false and misleading evidence to HRV Stewards during the course of their investigation. The charges will be heard by the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on a date to be determined.  

In January 2016, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards were aware of an incident that occurred at an agistment property in Avoca, whereby the Standardbred horse ‘Loveyougoodboy’ was required to be humanely euthanised. In January 2017, following an investigation by the RSPCA, which culminated in the RSPCA issuing criminal charges against licensed person Mr Chris Angove, HRV Stewards enabled Mr Angove the opportunity to provide submissions as to why the provisions of Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 183 should not be invoked. After considering such submissions, on 31 January 2017, HRV Stewards suspended Mr Angove’s trainer and driver licences in accordance with the provisions of AHRR 183. At the Maryborough Magistrates Court on 16 March 2017, Mr Angove was issued a fine of $1000 without conviction in relation to the applicable charges, as a result of breaching the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, specifically Section 9(1)(c) and Section 10(1). On 3 April 2017, Mr Angove appeared before the HRV Stewards in relation to the proceedings before the Maryborough Magistrates Court. After considering all relevant information and being provided with submissions in relation to this case, HRV Stewards considered invoking AHRR 267(1) which states: Subject to sub-rule (2) the Stewards may for such period and on such conditions as they think fit, disqualify a person who is found guilty of a crime or an offence in any State or Territory of Australia or in any country, After careful consideration, HRV Stewards invoked AHRR 267(1) and imposed a twelve (12) month term of disqualification upon Mr Angove, which was backdated to commence at midnight 31 January 2017. When assessing penalty in this instance, HRV Stewards acknowledged the following factors: The serious nature of this matter and the absolute need to uphold high standards in relation to horse welfare in line with community and industry expectations; The responsibility upon all persons involved in the harness racing industry to demonstrate adequate and appropriate care for horses; Prior penalties that have been issued under similar circumstances; That in comparison to other horse welfare related cases, this occurence was an isolated, although preventable incident; Mr Angove’s admittance to this incident, long-standing and exemplary record over a period of some 43 years and; The impact of a period of disqualification upon Mr Angove and his immediate family. Harness Racing Victoria

The stage is set for the 2017 Pryde's Easifeed Australasian Premier Trotting Sale on Sunday. The venue, Inglis, Oaklands Junction, is in supreme order and will only be surpassed by the quality of harness racing yearling available on Sunday. Prospective buyers are encouraged to attend pre-sale inspection on Saturday from 1.30pm, with all yearlings on display. The APTS begins on Sunday from 11am. The Inglis Snack Bar will be open on both Saturday and Sunday from 8am, with an additional barbecue lunch provided on Saturday from 1.30pm-3.30pm for preparers and prospective purchasers. Tea and coffee making facilities are available in the stabling area for all preparers, vendors and staff. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) will be providing advice and information on horse syndication at the Own the Moment marquee, located adjacent to the sales office. Additionally, free syndication opportunities will be available to licenced trainers subject to compliance with regulations. "The Pryde's Easifeed Australasian Premier Trotting Sale has continued to build and expand in line with the growth of trotting here in Victoria," HRV Acting General Manager Commercial Ryan Stanaway said. "With increased racing opportunities and prizemoney for trotters, we expect some competitive bidding come Sunday with nearly 60 well-related yearlings to go through the ring. "Sharing the day with the APG Autumn Sale allows the trotting breed to be showcased to new buyers and gives vendors the opportunity to present their lots in the best possible manner. "Trotters like Cruisin Around, who was an $18,000 buy and has earned close to $200,000, are our best advertisement for the sale." If you wish to follow the sale from home HRV's Trots Media will be providing live updates from the venue via @HRVnews on Twitter and www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria There will also be a live stream of the sale at www.austrottingsale.com.au Venue: Inglis, Oaklands Junction: 285 Oaklands Rd, Oaklands Junction, Vic. Harness Racing Victoria

HRV RAD Board Hearing – William Galea. The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1)  against licensed trainer Mr William Galea.  AHRR 190(1) reads as follows:     A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under AHRR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Mr Galea related to a urine sample collected from the horse ‘Rocknroll Dancer’ at the Bacchus Marsh trials on 14 November 2015. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the urine sample revealed the sample to contain a prohibited substance, namely arsenic, in excess of the allowable threshold. Note: Australian Harness Racing Rules definition of ‘Race’- means a race or official trial or official time trial or event in which harness horses race or participate. Mr Galea pleaded guilty to the charge before submissions were heard from HRV stewards and Mr Galea.  In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board considered the general sentencing principles, the nature of the substance involved, other previous cases involving the substance throughout Australia, Mr Galea’s guilty plea and his co-operation throughout the investigation.  Although noting that Mr Galea has had previous offences in relation to prohibited substances these were taking within the context of the sentencing principles outlined in the High Court decision of Veen v the Queen (No.2) [1998]. Mr Galea was subsequently fined $5000 of which $2500 was suspended for a period of 12 months.  Rocknroll Dancer was also disqualified from the relevant trial under AHRR195. ...................................................   HRV RAD Board Hearing – Allan Lousada The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1)  against licensed trainer Mr Allan Lousada. The charge related to a urine sample collected from the horse ‘Fiftyshadesofbrown’ after it won Race 2 at the Warragul harness racing meeting on 19 January 2016.   Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the urine sample revealed the sample to contain a prohibited substance, namely arsenic, in excess of the allowable threshold. During the hearing, Mr Lousada and Ms Georgina Coram (owner of Fiftyshadesofbrown) requested an adjournment to enable them to obtain further advice in regard to the matter. After considering this submission, the RAD board adjourned the hearing to a later date.   For more on Arsenic click here. And this is an interesting article!

A Midura harness racing trainer who continued to be involved in the industry despite being banned over a post-race blood sample taken from one of his horses will now have to serve another year’s disqualification after VCAT overturned a decision to let him off with a fine.  Harness Racing Victoria began an investigation late last year, finding evidence Mr Andrew Vozlic continued to conduct activities, which relate to equine hooves care, for a number of trainers in the Mildura and Ouyen regions. He was serving a five-year disqualification at the time after a post-race blood sample from his horse Our Girl Dolly in 2011 showed a plasma total carbon dioxide concentration higher than allowed.  The HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board in October found that although it was a serious offence, unusual circumstances meant a $2000 fine was appropriate.  HRV RAD Board chairman Tony Burns at the time said Mr Vozlic was a “fine practitioner” and there was very limited opportunity for local horse people in the Mildura region to find quality farrier services.  But HRV stewards asked VCAT to review the decision. VCAT acting president Judge Felicity Hampel this week set aside the fine and ordered Mr Vozlic serve another 12 month period of disqualification.  She noted the importance of deterrence for him and the wider community, along with the significance of integrity to the harness racing industry. Judge Hampel ordered that the 12-month period of disqualification start in December, which is at the completion of his current period of disqualification. For more of this story, purchase your copy of Saturday's Sunraysia Daily 25/03/2017.To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here By Daniella White Reprinted with permission of The Sunraysia Daily  

John Dickie, trainer of Speeding Spur NZ, has advised Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards that the horse has suffered swelling in a hind fetlock ahead of its engagement in Race 7 the ‘Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix (Group 1)’ to be conducted on Saturday 11 March 2017. Given this information HRV Stewards advise that a veterinary examination will be conducted on Speeding Spur NZ by an official HRV Veterinary Consultant on Friday (tomorrow) morning with the result of such examination to be released as soon as possible. Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 11 March 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 11 March 2017

Tabanan broke through for his first victory since 2015 to cap Harness Racing Victoria’s first supplementary race, an initiative to increase racing opportunities. Monday’s sixth race at Kilmore, the All Day Café Menu @ Trackside Pace, was the first supplementary race to be held, featuring a C3 to C8 class pace for $5000. The Alison Alford-trained six-year-old, who was classed as a C7 prior to the race, won by a neck from $2.60 favourite Love Ina Chevy (C7) and 3.1m clear of Ymbro Toto (C7). Pole marker Twoforsixty, a C3, was a close fourth, just 4.8m off the leader, with all eight runners finishing within 16.6m. Monday marked the beginning of a one-month trial of supplementary races, in which connections who want to enter a Victorian race meeting but don’t believe there is a suitable race can nominate for a supplementary race. Open to any class or gait, if HRV handicappers believe they can compile a competitive race from nominations received a supplementary race will be included on the race fixture. HRV CEO David Martin said it was pleasing the format had already created racing opportunities. “It’s great to see trainers entering into and benefitting from the supplementary races,” Mr Martin said. “We are keen to run more and if trainers don’t believe there is an appropriate race for their horse at a meeting, then they should nominate for the supplementary race.” Click here to view the conditions for the supplementary races. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

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