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On this weeks Harness Racing Alumni Show.   Marty Irby 2019 Washington D.C. Top Lobbyist and Executive Director of the Animal Wellness Action, discusses the recent horse-racing indictments, his lobbying efforts in support of the Horse Racing Integrity Act and how the new animal cruelty bill signed by President Trump, could lead to more charges against the indicted.   Don't miss this informative show.......   Top DC Lobbyist on Alumni Show   Harness Racing Alumni Show Marty Irby 5 21 20   Marty with Pricilla Presley

WASHINGTON, PA, May 22, 2020 -- Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down harness racing March 16 at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, veteran trainer Randy Bendis had 25 horses in his stable. That's down to 23, as Bendis was forced to sell two mares to raise cash to pay his bills and avoid laying off staff. Now, that number may decline even further as racing venues in states other than Pennsylvania are reopening, forcing Bendis and his owners to consider moving their horses outside the Commonwealth for a chance to earn money. Not only would that reduce income for Pennsylvania horsemen, horsewomen and their supply chains, but a diminished horse population also could make it harder for The Meadows and other Keystone State tracks to assemble full, quality fields when racing does resume. All harness racing in North America shut down in mid-to-late March and has been dark since. But because trainers, grooms, security personnel and track and facilities maintenance staff still report to work each day to feed and exercise horses, the vast majority of people needed to stage live racing already are on the backside and following stringent CDC safety measures. Live racing would require only a few more people, including state judges and a broadcast production crew, action that would have negligible impact on public health. States have begun to realize this and have announced reopening schedules for their racetracks. Ohio venues will resume racing today, while the states of New York, Delaware, Indiana and Minnesota, as well as the Province of Ontario, have announced June reopening dates. (All venues will race without spectators.) If Pennsylvania doesn't take a similar step soon, Bendis, says, he'll be forced to ship some of his horses to jurisdictions where they can earn purses to offset ongoing expenses. "If we don't get any news here, two of my horses will go to Hoosier Park (Indiana), four to Ohio and two more to Yonkers (New York)," says Bendis, who owns a piece of most of the horses in his stable. "My partners have suggested sending their horses to trainers at jurisdictions that are racing, and I really can't argue with them." Bendis indicates he knows of horsemen who have taken part-time work delivering groceries and driving for Uber to keep some cash coming in. Things haven't reached that point yet for trainer Sarah Andrews, but she can see a time when they might. At the start of this week, Andrews' stable at The Meadows had nine horses. That has changed. "I sent one to Indiana on Monday," she says. "My owner has horses in four different states, so there's no reason not to move them to states where they can race. I can't hold my owners hostage." What really hurts: the Indiana-bound horse is Statham N, a fast-class pacer almost certain to turn a healthy profit this year. If Pennsylvania racing doesn't reopen soon, Andrews and her staff may not see any of it. "I'm hoping my owners will send their horses right back here once we start racing," she says. "If they don't, my stable will slowly disappear." By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

The early numbers are very encouraging for New Zealand’s largest ever online standardbred sale. And New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred representative Cam Bray says that is not just from the early bids on the May mixed sale online now at Gavelhouse. The sale which would usually be held at Karaka migrated to online because of the Covid-19 restrictions and early bidding has been very strong. “Really, really promising,” says Bray. “Obviously it is a week-long sale so bidding runs until next Wednesday, which is when things start to get very serious. “But we already have horses with bids of $27,000, $17,500,  $12,000 and quite a few in that $5000 range. “That is a great start considering we have so long to go.” The sale is predominantly of weanlings and the top bid today (Friday) stands at $27,000 for a weanling filly by Downbytheseaside out of Revere Me, an unraced sister to Have Faith In Me and Adore Me, therefore a rare chance to buy a filly from perhaps Australasian harness racing’s hottest family of the last decade. Lot 75 from the Alabar draft is the brother to Alta Maestro sitting at $17,500 and certain to fetch far closer to six figures by Wednesday’s bidding cut off. Bray says while the strength of early bids is more than encouraging he is just as excited by the new registrations to the Gavelhouse standardbred site. “We had 131 new registrations in the week to last Monday and about two thirds of those were from Australia,” says Bray. “That puts us well over 1000 registered potential buyers and of course they might come back for other sales. So this sale is already strong but with real benefits for future sellers on the site.” Bray said there had been strong interest from potential pin-hookers looking to buy stock at a time of uncertainty and re-offer them at the yearling sales next February. “I think there has actually been more pin-hooking interest on Gavelhouse than there would have been had it been under the usual sales format.” You can watch a video with James Jennings from NZB Standardbred here: You can watch a video with Graeme Henley from Alabar Stud here:   Michael Guerin

Breeding authority Peter Wharton presents all the harness racing news on breeding from Australia, New Zealand and North America every Friday brought to you by Garrard’s Horse & Hound. WA Pearl 3YO Classic winner Gardys Legacy, who won the $50,000 Pearl Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park, is a member of one of Western Australia’s top ranking standardbred families. A gelding by Bettor’s Delight, he is out of the WA Oaks placegetter Southern Legacy (1:56.7), who ranked as a half-sister to the prolific Gloucester Park winners Scram Jet 1:55.8 ($2235,076) and Pride Of Colorado 1:55.1 ($153,867) and to Bright Legacy (2:00.7), dam of Big Ben Lombo (1:57). Gardys Legacy                          --Jodie Hallows photo Southern Legacy, by Northern Luck (son of Camluck), is out of Lady Legacy (TT1:57.5), by Northern Lights from Fiscal Miss (1:59.6), by Captain Hook from the smart Out To Win mare Remit (2:01.6), who established a great winning line for prominent WA breeder-trainer Dr Ed Dewar. Remit left the dual Inter Dominion heat winner Whitby Timer 1:56.9 ($314,899), a top flight racemare in Whitby Heritage 1:58.8 ($201,758) and the WA Pearl and Golden Slipper winner Whitby’s Merit 2:00.3 ($168,598) and Fiscal Miss, the third dam of Gardys Legacy. Fiscal Miss, who won 15 races and was twice named Australian Broodmare of the Year, really established the Nora (by Glencoe) family to some purpose. She was the dam of the outstanding racemare Whitby’s Miss Penny (TT1:55.2), the winner of six Group 1 races and $568,289 in stakes, and the dual Derby winner Ace Of Whitby 1:58.8 ($317,247). There are some notable winners in almost every remove of this family. Whitby’s Solitaire, another daughter of Fiscal Miss, became the dam of the fine racemares Delightful Jade and Bettor Bling. Ima Spicey Lombo, the Australian Pacing Championship and Oaks winner, is also a member of this tribe.   Regional Championship winner’s family background Bought for $800 and now a winner of $74,995, Terryrama became the latest Group 1 winner when he won the $100,000 Western Region Championship Final at Bathurst. Terryrama, who has won three races and holds a record of 1:57.4, is a member of one of Australasia’s most successful families, that founded by the thoroughbred mare Topsy. Foaled in 2014, he is a gelding by Western Terror (now in America) from Nellirama, by Panorama from Nellie Robins (2:01.3), a Victoria Oaks winner by the Albatross horse Telemon Hanover from Helen Martha, by Courvoisier from the Armbro Del mare Armbro Averil, a half-sister to the NZ Cup winner True Averil. Besides Terryrama, Nellirama, who was only lightly raced, left the high class Tasmanian pacers Tenirama 2:00.1 ($110,830), Artarama (1:57.9), Cody Maverick (1:58.9) and Tippedintoomuch (1:58.1) and Amarillen, a Fake Left mare who left an outstanding pacer in Villagem 1:52.1 ($626,585), the Victoria Oaks winner Miss Graceland 1:54 ($244,658), Nostra Beach 1:53.5 ($266,190) and Manellira (1:56.9).  Another of Nellirama’s daughters in Pixel Perfect left the WA Pacing Cup and dual Inter Dominion heat winner Soho Tribeca 1:53.8 ($1.1 million), now at the stud in Victoria, a top racemare in Carlas Pixel (1:49.5), the APG winner Soho Nolita, Birdy Mach and Perfect Mach. All were pacers of some worth.   Eureka a real find Eureka, who is proving one of the finds of the season in Victoria, is a four-year-old Washington VC gelding from the same family as that which produced a top Australian pacer in Jay Bee’s Fella. A member of Andy Gath’s Long Forest team, Eureka has won five of his seven starts on Australian soil – including three at Melton - and has graduated to a NR72 mark. Eureka                              --Stuart McCormick photo   He has a good deal in his favour on the score of blood. Apart from being by Washington VC, a well performed son of Presidential Ball, Eureka is out of the Elsu mare Bryleigh Jewel (2:06.8), a half-sister to the exported Jay Bee’s Trump 1:50 ($473,795) and Jay Bee’s Flush 1:52.6 ($223,154), being out of Jay Bee’s Miss (1:58.9), by Preux Chevalier from Key Miss, and tracing to the foundation mare Rosalie (by Wildwood). This is also the family of the Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal (1:46.9), Bogan Fella (NZ Derby), the dual Oaks winner Foreal, Money Magnet (Fremantle Cup), Easy On The Eye, Bettor Joy, and many others.   Star four-year-old by Auckland Reactor A four-year-old to take high ranking in Victoria this season is Reactor Now, one of the second crop sired by Auckland Reactor, who is now at Tony Peacock’s Moama property. He has won six of his nine starts to date – including his last four on end - for $25,990. He equalled the track record of 1:53.4 at Kilmore recently, and appears every bit as good as the Victorians rate him. Watch Reactor Now equal the track record of 1:53.4 at Kilmore. A tall, rangy gelding, Reactor Now is out of the American-bred mare Whos Sorry Now (1:59), who left earlier winners in Jack William 1:55.2 ($96,665), a good winner at Gloucester Park, and Bettor Be Sorry (1:54.5), who has won five of his seven starts in Victoria. Whos Sorry Now, who was imported to Australia by Ballarat breeder Bruce Edward, is by Western Ideal from the Artsplace mare Art’s Touch (1:55.6), a sister to Artaffection 1:51.2 ($698,488) and to the dam of the New Jersey Classic winner Sweet Rock 1:48.2 ($799,990). Sweet Rock is the best winner from this family in recent years but in an earlier decade it produced a champion filly in Sweet Reflection, who won 26 races including the US Breeders Crown.     Ninth winner from broodmare When the Bettor’s Delight four-year-old Polar Lights won at the Globe Derby Park midweek meeting recently, she credited her dam Bella Aurora with her ninth individual winner. Polar Lights, who was bred and is raced in Victoria, won again at Globe Derby earlier this week. Others from Bella Aurora to win have been the crack racemare Bella’s Delight 1:54.3 ($442,523), a dual Breeders Crown and Vicbred champion, Rockabella Starz 1:54.3 ($112,645), Heza Modern Guy (1:53.3), Bella Sainz (1:56.2), Seaya Laterbella (1:55.8), Good Guy Mack (1:57.1), Hayabusa Flyer (1:59.2), El Bella and now Polar Lights. Bella Aurora, who died a few years ago, has since produced a two-year-old colt by Bettor’s Delight. She was a Northern Lights mare from Precious Milly, by What’s Next from Sheza Beauty, a dual Harold Park winner.   Up and coming trotter Aldebaran Ursula broke the national two-year-old mile record when she won a NSW Foundation heat at Menangle recently when she trotted the mile in 1:59.1, and soundly trounced a handy field covering the last 800 metres in 57.5. Bought for $8,000 at the 2019 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale in Melbourne, Aldebaran Ursula is a grand type of filly by Yield Boko (a Swedish bred son of Viking Kronos) from the Continentalman mare Ushuka Bromac NZ (Tr 1:59.3), a winner of 16 races and $144,985 in stakes. Ushuka Bromac was out of the Live Or Die mare Ursula Bromac, who ranks as a sister to the NZ Group winner Una Bromac, the dam of Inter Dominion Trotting champion Winterfell Tr 1:58.1 ($423,180), the NZ Oaks and dual Derby winner Escapee Tr 1:57.4 ($263,115), cups winner Needle Tr 1:57.4 ($122,481) and Caligula, holder of the Australian trotting gelding mile record of 1:54.4. A half-sister to Una Bromac is the Union Guy mare Ulrica Bromac, a good pacing winner in Victoria and NSW and who later took a record of 1:49.6 in America.  Their dam, Universal Kim, was by Holmes Hanover from Kim Bromac, by Bo Scot’s Blue Chip from Kenton Hanover, by Boyden Hanover from Bachelor’s Advice, by Bachelor Hanover from the noted producer Petulus, by Stormyway. The family, which traces to the NZ bred taproot Pride Of Lincoln, produced a champion trotter in Stig, who won 23 races, including five at Group 1 level, and other good trotters in Oscar Bonavena, Quite A Moment (NZ National Trot), Alpha Male, Aleppo Midas and Earl Of Mot. Aldebaran Ursula was bred by Duncan McPherson, of Aldebaran Lodge, Nagambie (Vic.).   Siblings win at Pinjarra It was no mean feat for the siblings Unconditional and Ultimate Offer to win on the same card at Pinjarra (WA) recently. Both won again with Unconditional scoring at Gloucester Park and Ultimate Offer at Bunbury. Both were bred by Woodlands Stud and are by their flagship stallion, the Cam’s Card Shark horse Bettor’s Delight. Dream Offer, the dam of Unconditional and Ultimate Offer, was only lightly raced but she has proved a very successful as a broodmare. She is also the dam of a talented pacer in Cant Refuse 1:54.5 ($255,736), a winner at Menangle last Saturday, Delightful Offer 1:51.4 ($336,928), the cups winner Bettor Dream 1:57.3 ($224,334) and Bettor Offer 1:53 ($207,614), all by Bettor’s Delight. By Dream Away, Dream Offer was out of New Offer (1:58.3), by Surmo Hanover (son of Albatross) from Maria Abbe, by Scotch Abbe and tracing to the foundation mare Mavis Wood. Other members of this family have been Havago, winner of the WA Pacing Cup, Captain Peacock (NZ Derby), Schinzig Buller, the top flight racemares Heavens Trend and Lombo Rapido and the star trotters Jo Anne, Dependable, Valmagne and Ima Gold Digger.    From family of Christian Cullen Gobsmacked, who outstayed a handy field at Bendigo on Monday, and who has won seven races this season, is a four-year-old pacer of some potential. He has an all-NZ breeding background and one which has been most successful. By Auckland Reactor (Mach Three-Atomic Lass), he is out of the Art Major mare Respected (2:02.3) and the first of her produce to race. Respected, who was bred in NSW, was out of Special Ball NZ (by Presidential Ball), a half-sister to the champion Christian Cullen, and to the Auckland Cup winner Kate’s First and the Artiscape mare Arty Alice, who was exported to Victoria where she became the dam of Rockstar Angel 1:51 ($406,258), Beach Shack 1:53.2 ($148,702) and others. In the back removes of Gobsmacked’s family are trotters of the calibre of True Roman, Tuffarin and Hammerhead – all Group 1 winners – and the top pacers Frosty Imp, Spare Beau and Valda’s Lad.   Changeover four-year-old impresses The four-year-old Tiz A Sizzler NZ is proving a splendid advertisement for the In The Pocket horse Changeover, a champion pacer himself and who stands at Burwood Stud in Queensland. Tiz A Sizzler                                                                             --Dan Costello photo   Tiz A Sizzler has won five of his nine starts at Albion Park to date and has graduated to a NR73 mark. He holds a mile record of 1:54. She Sizzles, the dam of Tiz A Sizzler, was an unraced Badlands Hanover mare who was also responsible for the NZ Kindergarten Stakes winner Le Sol 1:54.3 ($164,095) and the multiple Albion Park winner Oasis Dream 1:53.5 ($90,349). Changeover’s progeny has earned in excess of $1.5 million in Australia and NZ this season.   by Peter Wharton

As Mildura harness racing reinswoman Kathy Watson says, when you buy a horse for $500, you don't expect much! But Kathy and her husband, trainer Luke, are the first to admit, Kathy's impulse buy a little over two years ago was "a ripper". Her six year old pacer Stonebridge Star (Stonebridge Regal-Be All Dillinger (DM Dillinger) might not be fancy and he "hits both knees", but he has just notched up his fourth win for the Watson camp, and his never-say-die attitude makes him the family favorite. "I came home from work one day and Kathy told me she'd bought a horse," Luke said. "It was just out of the blue and not really like Kath - and when I asked her how she picked him out my heart sank because she said she just looked for the cheapest one she could find!" Stonebridge Star turned up "looking like a $500 horse". An unraced four-year-old, and a lightly framed picky eater, he did little to inspire Luke's confidence. "We got him off the truck and Kathy wanted to throw the harness on him and try him, and from the moment I sat behind him I loved him," he said. "As soon as you put the bridle on and get on the track he wants to work. He's been the same every day for nearly two years. He can be a bit cheeky and have a bit of a buck, but there's no malice, he's just having a bit of fun. "He hasn't had anything more than short let-ups ever since we started racing him because he just loves to work and hates to be in the paddock." Stonebridge Star didn't race until he was almost five and Watson admits when he first got to the races he was "horrible" at Mildura. "He had real trouble with the tight track because he hits his knees, and he probably got stood down three times in his first six starts," he said. "But we knew we had something there because we took him away to the bigger tracks like Horsham and Swan Hill and he'd go great." The horse is now a model of consistency. His Mildura win last week was his second victory in eight starts and took his lifetime stakes earnings above $40,000. Watch the Mildura win here. The Watson couple are based at Merbein South, but Luke freely admits it's Kathy that's the driving force of the training operation. "We've got a few more horses here than usual because the phone's been ringing a bit more often during the regional racing with people who are keen to get their VicBred bonus. There are probably two or three of those here, but most of the others are for long-term clients," he said. "We're working 11 and that's mostly Kathy's fault - if it wasn't for her, I'd probably work two and that would be it. But in all honesty, she's the one you'd want to be doing them more than me - she's totally happy to spend all day with them," he said. "She's a cracker. She'd virtually never touched a horse until she was 30 - the first 10 years we were married she didn't even look at them. "Then she started to think she might give me a hand and I really just brushed it off and didn't think it would last. But she persisted, started from scratch with jogging a few, then eventually got her trials licence, then her full driver's licence. She just loves it." Watson said the regionalised racing model had brought changes to the local racing landscape he believes might last beyond the end of COVID-19. "I can see a little bit of this continuing on. It's been good for Kathy and good for a lot of local drivers who've got more confidence and more opportunities," he said "Drivers like Shane Smith and Danny Weinert are trainers themselves and more often than not in the past would have handed the reins to someone else. But they're getting a few drives a night, driving different horses for other trainers, getting wins and it's built their self-confidence, and the confidence of trainers. "I can see those people still driving their own horses and probably keeping a few of the drives they've got. I hope that will be the case, anyway, because I think everyone's enjoyed the regionalisation and what it's brought back to the sport."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Action returned this day to Le Croise-Laroche for the fifth harness racing leg of the Gr. III Grand National du Trot Paris-Turf for five to ten year olds (purse 75,000€, 2825 meters distance handicap). The impressive Fleche du Yucca (5f Prodigious-Vincenza) took a give and go strategy to rally for victory timed in 1.14.1kr. Jean Philippe Dubois teamed the Ecurie Victoria Dreams mare that Philippe Moulin trains to her 12th career victory now for 269,170€ earned. She has a 1-1-1 slate in her four 2020 appearances. This unchecked mare raced without front shoes. The 25- meter handicapped Drole de Jet (7m Coktail Jet-Likely Jet) was a game second timed in 1.13.6kr for trainer/driver Pierre Vercruysse. The 25-meter penalized Frisbee d’Am (5m The Best Madrik) was third for Alexandre Abrivard and trainer Richard Westerink. 25 meter handicapped Fric du Chene (5m Nobody du Chene) was fourth for Francois Lagadeuc and fifth was Altius Fortis (10m Ganymede) with Philippe Masschaele aboard. attacking for the lead Watch the Replay here Ready Cash turned age 15 this week and recently Varenne reached 25. Two great champions!!! Ready Cash Varenne There are still five positions left to fill for the 2020 Elitloppet eliminations. Saturday May 23 will be a last chance to shine as the Gr. II International V75 Gold (300,000SEK to the winner, 1609 meters autostart) field will face the mobile at Gavle. We will see who joins Earl Simon, Sorbet, Cokstile, Makethemark, Looking Superb, Missile Hill, Tae Kwon Deo, Attraversiamo, Elian Web, Chief Orlando and Vivid Wise As. Zarenna FAS Scheduling changes have been implemented in FR from now to month end as co-called RED Covid19 areas are again banned from racing. The premier cards from May 22-29 have been moved as follows: May 22 – Vincennes to Mauquenchy May 23 – Enghien to Laval May 24 – La Capelle to Chartres May 25 – Amiens to Mauquenchy May 26 – Vincennes to Mans May 27 – Reims to Lyon Parilly May 29 – Vincennes to Laval Yesterday was groupe level action at Paris-Vincennes on this last day of racing there this month. There were three top races starting with the Prix Camilla (Gr. III, purse 60,000€, 2850 meters, four-year olds with Europeans eligible). Victory went to Girolamo (4m Uriel Speed-Seduction d’Anama) with Franck Ouvrie up timed in 1.12.8kr. This Sylvain Roger trainee that Noel Lolic owns now has a 2-1-1 slate in four 2020 starts and five career wins for 148,170€ earned. Stablemare Gimy du Pommereux (4m Coktail Jet-Noune du Pommereux) was next for Mathieu Mottier for the same connections and Lolic was the breeder. Gelati Cut (4m Coktail Jet-Variety Cut) took third with Alexandre Abrivard up for trainer R.C. Larue. Girolamo The Prix Heraclite (Gr. III, 2850 meters, four-year old European females) was next with All Wise As (4f Varenne-Temple Blue Chip) the 1.14.1kr winner for Gabriele Gelormini, trainer H.E. Bondo and owner Peter Wilhemsen. This was her first win in FR and her career earnings are now 140,103€. Gamme de Busset (4f Brillantissime-Ovelinotte d’Ylea) held on gamely for second with David Thomain up for trainer Philippe Allaire, with third to Greyline (4f Sam Bourbon-Si Seulement) for owner/trainer/driver Julien Dubois. All Wise As The Gr. II Prix Kalmia (purse 85,000€, 2700 meters, three tear olds) went to Helgafell (3m Charly du Noyer-Baaria) was an impressive 1.13.8kr timed winner for Eric Raffin, trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Ecurie Normandy Spirit. Helgafell has a 2-1-0 slate in four starts this year. Hooker Berry (3m Booster Winner-Osaka Berry) was second with trainer Jean Michel Bazire up for owner Michel Aladenise. Hugh de Banville (3m Akim du Cap Vert-Sissi de Banville) took third for owner/trainer/driver Franck Anne. Helgafell Watch the replay here. It was a good day of racing and much more will soon follow.   LeTrot, ATG files/photos Thomas H. Hicks

Just over two weeks after trans-Tasman equine flights resumed following a COVID-19-enforced shutdown, exports from New Zealand to Australia have been suspended indefinitely yet again, this time due to a possible case of equine piroplasmosis. On May 20, New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries informed exporters that shipments to Australia had been suspended with immediate effect. A flight Tuesday night was prevented from leaving the country, and another shipment, scheduled for Friday night, is also expected to be held over as the department negotiates alternative arrangements with their Australian counterparts, the Department of Agriculture. Friday's flight, though, was still scheduled to depart as of Wednesday night; a number of owners with horses set for that shipment had not been informed about any potential delay. Equine piroplasmosis has never been identified in New Zealand before, but MPI director for animal health and welfare Chris Rodwell confirmed that a mare tested positive to equine piroplasmosis in a pre-export blood test. The mare had arrived in New Zealand last year from a European Union country that is known to harbor the tick-borne disease. Further testing is expected to confirm that the horse is infected with Theileria equi, one of two known parasites to transmit equine piroplasmosis. Rodwell told ANZ Bloodstock News: "Further blood tests have been taken from the mare, and we expect confirmation of whether the horse is negative or positive for the disease by the end of this week. "Theileria equi is a blood disease that causes anemia and is spread from animal to animal by ticks. The horse in question was imported to New Zealand from the EU early last year for breeding. No signs of disease in the animal have been reported in its time here." While the disease cannot be passed from horse to horse without the ticks known to transmit the parasite—with those tick species not found in New Zealand—most veterinary agreements with other countries require that equine piroplasmosis has not been present in the exporting country for a certain period of time. For Australia, the requirement is three years—meaning that, under the current certification process, trans-Tasman exports would be banned until 2023. While other arrangements are likely to be determined as a matter of urgency, it is a blow to the beleaguered New Zealand industry at a time when it is already under tremendous pressure. Even a temporary ban has the potential to upset spring preparations and breeding plans for New Zealand-based mares in Australia. On Wednesday night, MPI was moving to reassure horse owners that they were working as fast as possible with an aim to find a quick solution. "MPI is aware this situation may cause some concern to those in the equine sector, and work is underway to resolve things as quickly as possible to ensure ongoing horse exports are not interrupted," Rodwell said. "Some countries, including Australia, that import horses from New Zealand require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This current suspect test result has meant that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance of country-freedom status. The ministry's market access specialists are working with Australian authorities to explore alternative assurance options to allow exports to continue." Biosecurity New Zealand has already started an investigation to confirm that it is an isolated case of equine piroplasmosis, but questions remain as to how a case could not only have occurred in New Zealand but how it could have gone undetected for so long. "The horse met MPI's importing requirements in that it had received a negative test for Theileria equi within 30 days of shipment," Rodwell said. "Before shipment, horses are quarantined and treated to remove any ticks that may be present. They are also further inspected and quarantined on arrival." According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, either of the two parasites that carry equine piroplasmosis—Babesia caballi and Theileria equi—can be found on most continents, including much of Europe. The Theileria equi parasite has also been reported in Australia in the past; the most recent case was an outbreak in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales in 1976, but it did not take hold, and Australia is now considered to be free of equine piroplasmosis. The official zoosanitary certificate, which must be certified prior to export to Australia, states that New Zealand must have been free of 16 diseases for a three-year period prior to export; equine piroplasmosis is on that list, along with the likes of African horse sickness, equine influenza, and glanders. MPI's Dr. Emma Passmore stated in an email to exporters: "The export certificate for horses traveling to Australia, either for transit or permanent import, requires MPI to certify that no clinical, epidemiological, or other evidence of equine piroplasmosis has occurred in New Zealand within the three-year period immediately prior to export. This can no longer be certified, and exports to or via Australia are suspended with immediate effect." While Australia is the biggest market to be affected and also has notoriously strict quarantine laws, exports to other countries will also be potentially compromised. Macau requires the exporting country to have been free of equine piroplasmosis for two years, and Singapore asks for extra tests and treatments to be completed if the country has not been free from equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. The United States also requires that the country has been free of equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. Japan has no time frame but also requires a piroplasmosis-free environment. However, Hong Kong's requirements are less stringent, simply requiring a horse not to have completed its pre-export quarantine on premises where equine piroplasmosis has occurred in the 60 days prior to export. Exporters on Wednesday night were digesting the ban and the potential implications that may follow if it is prolonged beyond the next couple of weeks. Most suggested that the immediate suspension of exports to Australia was an unfortunate but required step. "This is very disappointing news, but the suspension is totally necessary at this time," Equine International Airfreight managing director Cameron Croucher said. "Just as flights were starting to operate across the Tasman after the COVID-19 shutdowns, outcomes of this nature will be very disappointing to owners and trainers who now face a further delay in relocating their bloodstock. "I'm sure that both government departments in New Zealand and Australia will work very hard to find a quick solution to resume services once confirmatory testing is completed. Also, a proper investigation is needed into how this has been allowed to occur, which could have a massive impact on the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry if the suspension is prolonged, especially leading into the Southern Hemisphere breeding season." In the past week, a number of New Zealand horses have been confirmed as relocating to Australia, and Cambridge Stud last week announced that a number of its fillies would join the Te Akau assault on the Melbourne spring. In addition, almost 200 mares crossed the Tasman from New Zealand for breeding purposes in 2019, with a similar number expected this year. By Andrew Hawkins/ANZ Bloodstock News Reprinted with permission of Bloodhorse

After more than two months, harness racing is on its way back. Ohio bats leadoff — Scioto Downs will be the first to return to action, opening on Friday (May 22) with 12 races and 100 horses set to pace and trot over the 5/8-mile oval. Northfield Park is readying for a re-opening on May 26. While harness tracks across the country – many of which depend on revenue from casinos – were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, several thoroughbred tracks were able to stay open and those that did saw very good handle numbers. And, if recent handle numbers from Santa Anita and Churchill Downs tell us anything, it’s that horseplayers missed the action. Many harness tracks share their grounds with casinos and rely heavily on those revenues to boost purses. It’s one reason why tracks like Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park and Tampa Bay Downs remained open while all harness tracks closed — closed casinos means no purse subsidies. Looking ahead, to the north, Woodbine Mohawk Park will open on June 5 and the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup stays on the 2020 schedule and will be run Aug. 29 — without spectators. Jeffrey Gural, who owns The Meadowlands as well as Vernon and Tioga in New York, has been pushing for a re-opening. And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says horse racing can resume after June 1. That’s the good news; the bad news is that while harness tracks will open, the adjoining casinos will not and that will negatively impact purses at all the tracks. “It’s not in my best business interest to open for racing before the casinos get back, but being a horseman, I sympathize with the guys that race with us and the situation they’re in is in no fault their own,” Gural said. While Gural is eager to get back to racing, he knows that it won’t be easy. “We have to be diligent and so too, do the horsemen,” he said. ”We cannot afford a single mistake.” The New York State Sire Stakes were scheduled to begin in May and one track, Buffalo Raceway, has said that it won’t host those races this year. Gural indicated that he would take the Buffalo dates in addition to those already scheduled at Vernon and Tioga. “We got a lot to work, hopefully, things will become clearer in the next few days,” he said, “People are ready to get back to racing.” It’s possible that all eight legs might not be contested, but since payments were made at the end of last year, most feel that the schedule will be altered, but ultimately, champions will be crowned. Mike Sardella is the track announcer at Saratoga Casino Hotel and like many, has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was laid off on March 24 and is eager to return to the booth and call the races. He knows the new norm will be challenging. In fact, until the casino reopens, the schedule will be truncated. “We’re probably going to race two days a week until the casinos open; that’s the foreseeable future,” Sardella said. “It’s a slippery slope for us, but we have to think of the horsemen, they need to make some money. I don’t know how much longer we could keep this up. It’s important to get back to racing.” Saratoga Casino Hotel is likely to race Sunday and Thursday afternoons at the outset and under Gov. Cuomo’s phased reopening, casinos are under Phase 4, the last phase of the process. If all goes well with regards to COVID-19 numbers, the casinos could open Aug. 1. When the pandemic hit, Buffalo, Yonkers, and Monticello were all running and Sardella believes that they will be itching to start right after June 1. “All are planning on getting going,” he said, “Yonkers might take longer because it was the epicenter of the outbreak, but with Belmont coming back in June (June 3), they should be ready to go as well.” Harrington Raceway in Delaware will return on June 15 and like many, will see a reduction in purses — at least for the short term. “As of today (May 18) we have not raced for 63 days,” said Salvatore DiMario, the executive director of the Delaware Standardbred Owners Association. “With the casinos shut down, we have lost over $5 million in purses. Money will be tight for a while but it will improve with time. The financial difficulties have been devastating but together we can all work to get things back to the way it was soon.” Indiana’s Hoosier Park is slated to begin racing on June 16 and Prince Edward Island’s Charlottetown is scheduled to resume on June 6. While most news features a positive vibe, Pennsylvania remains a center of controversy. In the Keystone state, Gov. Tom Wolf says that racetracks cannot open until the casinos do and those are included in Wolf’s final phase of reopening. Many, including The Meadows-based Ron Burke say it’s unfair to include the race tracks with the casinos when it comes to reopening. Sardella agrees. “The horses have been on the grounds. They’ve been training, tended to and if protocols are put in place, it would seem reasonable that they could conduct racing,” he said. There is, however, no timetable for a return to racing at The Meadows, Pocono Downs or Harrah’s Philadelphia. Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson says that he hopes that The Queen’s Plate, rescheduled for Sept. 12 can have a limited number of fans. Could that carry over to the harness side? Sardella thinks it is unlikely, but not impossible. “We have enough room for fans to socially distance,” he said. “We don’t get a lot of fans, but even if there are just a few hundred, they create a buzz. It’s just not the same when the place is completely empty. I’m hoping, but maybe it is safer to wait until 2021.” In a year of the extraordinary, it looks like horse racing is taking some steps to restore some semblance of normalcy. If you enjoyed this piece, check out other articles at our horse racing news section! John Furgele As a kid growing up in the Buffalo suburbs in the 1970s and 80s, the radio was one of John Furgele’s best friends. In the evenings, he used to listen to a show on WBEN radio called “Free Form Sports,” hosted by Buffalo broadcast legend Stan Barron. The show ran weeknights from 6 to 11 pm and featured every kind of sport you could imagine. One minute, Mr. Barron was interviewing a Buffalo Sabres player; the next, he was giving high school field hockey scores. But there was always one thing that caught John’s ear. During those five hours, Barron would give the results from Western New York’s two harness racing tracks — Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs. This is where John learned what exactas, quinellas, trifectas and daily doubles were all about. From then on, he always paid attention to harness racing, and when Niatross (a legendary Western New York horse) hit the scene in 1979, his interest began to blossom. John believes harness racing is a sport that has the potential to grow and he will explore ways to get that done via marketing, promotion and, above all, the races themselves. When he’s not watching races, John is busy with his family and his job in sales. Like the pacers and trotters, he does a little running himself and you’ll occasionally find him “going to post” in a local 5K race. Reprinted with permission of US Racing

“There’s a chance the time off may not be as kind to the horses that were sharp before this break,” says Lou Sorella aka #LouKnows - a harness racing owner and guest handicapper at The Raceway. “The horses that were in need of some time off certainly got a well-deserved rest, but I think when we come back - it’ll be a pretty level playing field for everyone… Here’s hoping everyone follows the guidelines that will keep us safe and racing for the remainder of this 2020 season and beyond.” Sorella teamed up with Chatham’s Don MacLellan and Rockwood’s Katie Miller to claim Casimir Rumrunner for a $15,000 tag back on March 7 at Flambro. “Don actually scouted him out,” says Sorella. “He liked the horse and wanted to partner with Katie and I so we said sure. We’ve got a great partnership and we’re happy to have our trainer, Kyle Fellows, looking after things. He lists the driver and finds the races… We tried him on the big track at Mohawk and he just missed in his first start for us - finishing second. Then we bumped him up to the $20,000 claimer and he held his own against that group - finishing third… And then racing shut down. Now we wait to see where he fits as racing returns.” Co-owner Miller is fairly high on Casimir Rumrunner as well. “He’s an angel and does nothing wrong,” says the Cape Breton native. “He’s got a very nice way of going and literally only wears tendon boots. We love him!” Casimir Rumrunner Casimir Rumrunner had been with us at The Raceway, during the latter portion of 2019, for trainer/driver Paul MacKenzie. He’s always been a very slick-gaited free-legged pacer and now it appears he’s taken a liking to the big track surface at Woodbine Mohawk Park. We’ll look forward to seeing him back in action soon! Shadow Place Back On Canadian Soil A former top class pacer in Ontario - Shadow Place - has returned from south of the border… After seeing limited action, over the last two racing seasons, the nine-year-old son of Shadow Play is now back on Canadian soil and is with Katie Miller. “He’s been my boy since day one,” says Miller, “He’s the typical horse a girl falls in love with… A big, shiny black, beautiful animal!” Shadow Place “My cousin, Carl Stafford - whom I’m very close with, owned him with Kyle (Fellows) when he first came in the barn four years ago. He was Kyle’s first sub-1:50 win (1:49.1 at Mohawk - June 25, 2016)… I still remember that night and I still remember how nervous I got every time he raced… And obviously growing up on the east coast the Gold Cup and Saucer is the holy grail - so to take him there and let alone win it - was beyond anything I can ever describe… I actually thought I was going to pass out walking back to the winners circle that night. He stood there for 20 minutes, like an angel, while people took very muddy photos with him… And he hardly does anything like an angel. He is actually a major pain,” she laughed. “ And then Kyle got the call from someone interested in buying Shadow. He was racing in the WEG Preferred at the time and they were interested in him for Yonkers. My heart was broken and I couldn’t even go to the barn once I knew he was sold. I truly didn’t go, back to the barn, until he left. I watched every race… My family - my partner Lou - we all followed him… And Kyle always promised me we could keep him, as a pet, when he was done racing. So now - he’s found his way back to me… I own him.” So what’s next for Shadow Place? “He’s in training at the moment,” mentions Miller. “If he makes it back as a race horse, an amateur horse, or any sort of race horse - at all - that would be great. If not - he’s going to get fatter - than he already is and maybe get broke to saddle. Shadow is my pride and joy… His best interest is my only concern… I look forward to getting to the barn and jogging him and I love how much he loves his job - even though he may be reaching ‘Grandpa’ territory.” Shadow Place winning the 2017 Gold Cup and Saucer Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District  

Guelph, ON May 21, 2020 - Lameness is a huge focus for Dr. Judith Koenig as a clinician, researcher and instructor at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). Koenig is also a rider with a keen interest in helping grass roots riders and upcoming high-performance athletes. In the accompanying video Dr. Koenig explains her current research endeavoring to heal tendon injuries faster and also takes some time to talk about prevention. Stimulating stem cells to heal faster through the use of shock wave therapy is part of the exciting new research being conducted at the OVC by Dr. Koenig.  They were investigating whether shock wave therapy performed after injecting stem cells into a tendon will result in better quality healing.  Then they came up with the idea of pre-treating stem cells with shock wave prior to injection!    Dr. Koenig is also leading a clinical trial, currently enrolling thoroughbred racehorses.  The trial performs repeated injection of stem cells that have been harvested from umbilical cord blood, frozen and stored in Dr. Thomas Koch’s lab.  These stem cells are from unrelated horses.  Funding from the Ontario Equestrian federation has enabled OVC researchers to also follow a control group treated with platelet rich plasma as a comparison for this study. Reduced healing time is an obvious benefit to the welfare of the horse and of course the horse owner will be pleased about a quicker return to their training régime.     Realizing many will soon be in the position of starting horses back into training after a significant amount of time off, Koenig offers some important advice.  “You need to allow at least a six-week training period for the athletes to be slowly brought back and build up muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness,” says Koenig.  “Both stamina and muscle mass need to be retrained.”  She stressed the importance in checking the horse’s legs for heat and swelling before and after every ride and picking out the feet.  A good period of walking is required in the warm-up and cool down and riders need to pay attention to soundness in the walk before commencing their work out.     Want to learn more about lameness?     Equine Guelph has free healthcare tools:   Lameness Lab and Journey through the Joints    Test your knowledge and savvy for spotting lameness!   Learn more about Dr. Koenig and her research.   Biography: Judith Koenig, Mag vet med, Dr med vet, DVSc   Dr. Koenig is originally from Austria and came to Canada 1996 after graduating from vet school to gain some research experience and complete the research for her MSc. Following a large animal internship at the Ontario Veterinary College she went to Oregon State University where she did a one-year large animal fellowship. The year in Oregon gave her good exposure to Western Pleasure horses as well as Walking horses, which complemented her previous experience with Sports and Racehorse practice.   Judith came back to the Ontario Veterinary College where she did a 3-year large animal surgery residence with a concurrent graduate degree (DVSc). Judith became board certified with both the American and European College of Veterinary Surgeons and started to work as faculty in Large Animal Surgery in 2003. Since then she has been working half of the time as a surgeon with a strong interest in Equine Sports Medicine and the other half as researcher and teacher. In 2016 Judith became a board-certified diplomate for equine sports medicine and rehabilitation.   Judith’s main area of interest in research is tissue healing, particularly wound and tendon healing. She has investigated the use of different modalities (for example shockwave or stem cells) to see if they accelerate tissue healing and which cellular pathways are affected. This will help to direct treatment of tendon injuries and wounds in horses.   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Harness Racing Group one glory has commenced, with the running of the $100,000 TAB-sponsored regional championship finals. Tamworth has a shot on Saturday night in both the Hunter Region Championships Final at Newcastle and the Menangle Metropolitan Championships Final. Moonbi trainer and reinsman Dean Chapple will be carrying the Tamworth flag in the $100,000 Hunter Region Final, with Emm Aye Dee starting from the three barrier after qualifying for the race on May 9 at Newcastle in taking out the opening heat. The Sportswriter mare is raced by James Sills, and won the heat by a short half head and in a mile rate of 1min 57.1sec. For Chapple it will be another race on his "bucket list" to be ticked off in his lifelong journey in harness racing . He will have a warm-up for the feature when he contests the Hunter Regional Championships' $9,690 B consolation race with Right On With It - who he also trains and drives. The horse finished third to Elsie Gem in the eighth heat. "At the end of the day, win, lose or draw, we're there [in the final]. So, it's off my bucket list. It's great." Chapple told the Leader earlier this week. "Obviously being in a race like this it's the next level. So, I've gotta tick all the boxes going into this race." Fellow Tamworth trainer Graham Moon will see his stable runner Corsini contest the Menangle Metropolitan Championships' $14,970 A consolation race. The horse has drawn the four barrier and will be driven by Maitland reinsman Brad Elder. The Newcastle final will also be a big showcase for former Tamworth reinsman Tom Ison, who is relishing a purple patch in his career. He will take the reins behind the Adam Ruggari-trained Hazelnuts - a $3.30 favourite and the winner of the fourth heat.   And let's not forget Caitlin McElhinney - who recently moved from Nowra to Tamworth - and will take the reins behind the Neil Thompson-trained Ultra Bliss in the Newcastle final. Ultra Bliss will start from the 10 barrier after winning the ninth heat. Meanwhile, the Tamworth-owned Star Major will commence from the four barrier in the $100,000 TAB Metropolitan Regional Championships Final. The Art Major gelding is trained and driven by James Rattray and raced by Tamworth's Dean York. The championships are showcasing the best of the best in the regions, with Bathurst hosting their final on Wednesday night. The race was a dream come true for the Parkes father and son combination of Malcolm Hutching (the trainer) and his son Brett (the reinsman). Their win in the TAB Western Region Championships Final, with Terryrama, was a boil-over. Terryrama had a 2.3-metre win over the Josh Turnbull-trained and Nathan Turnbull-driven Bettor Jiggle and paid $81 for the win. Wagga will host the Riverina Regional Championships Final on Friday afternoon. +++ MAITLAND reinsman Blake Hughes was the star of last Sunday's Tamworth harness meeting, in driving five winners on the eight-race program. It is the second time the young reinsman has achieved this feat, with the other five-win day also coming at Tamworth. Hughes achieved three winners for his boss and mentor Clayton Huarmey behind Azure Express, Gold Reactor and Choisir Damour, before giving Tamworth trainer Tony Missen a training double with Are You With Me and I'm So Better. "It's pretty good to equal the record," said Hughes, with I'm So Better being his fifth winner on the night. "I took off with her at the 400[m] mark and she went pretty good. "I forgot about it (the record) and didn't know how many wins I was up to for the night but it was a good feeling once I realised I had the five." Missen has only had I'm So Better for two race starts. "You can't do more than win but she is a beautiful mare to do anything with," he said. "She came to me from Canberra." Hughes almost made it six winners but had to settle for a third placing with the Russell Murray-trained Penny A Packet in the last race. By Julie Maughan with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Racing loves stories about those who strike gold but in trainer Malcolm Hutchings’s extraordinary story it is quite literally true. Because when the Western Districts of NSW harness trainer scored the first group one of his career with Terryrama at Bathurst last night (Wednesday) he wasn’t at the track, he was working down a gold mine. Like so many small-time harness trainers the 62-year-old mixes working horses with something that actually pays the bills, in Hutchings’s case that is driving a truck at the gold mine 25kms north of Parkes. It is no-phones allowed workplace so Hutchings had no idea his son Brett had partnered the 80-1 winner in the $100,000 Western Region Championship until he was able to telephone home during a break two hours after the race. “I couldn’t believe it, it was a hell of a thrill,” says Hutchings. “I got back on the radio when I went back to work and told people we had had a winner and they were pretty stoked for me. “Then I told them it wasn’t an ordinary winner, it was a group one and the winner gets $52,500 and they all started cheering and congratulating me on the radio. That was pretty special.” Hutchings usually works nights straight in the mine so the training is a family affair. Brett, who was driving his 101st winner in the group one success, found Terryrama online and he was only for sale because his previous trainer got sick of trying to teach him to pace. “I liked his breeding but thought something must be wrong with him and it turned out he could be a real handful,” says Brett. “But my brother Mitch, who works for the council here, wanted a horse so they paid $800 for him and he is now owned by his fiance Sara. They are buying a house so this couldn’t have come at a better time.” Now Terryrama is developing a brain to match his motor he could even take Team Hutchings to Victoria for Vicbred series there while Brett thinks he will be even better suited to the giant Menangle track when state-wide racing returns. But while Malcolm Hutchings may be the horse trainer who struck gold twice in one night, they party differently in the Hutchings house. “None of us drink so it won’t be that sort of party,” says Brett. “But it means so much to us. Dad came down to the stables when he got home at 7.30am this morning and it was a great moment for us all. “But then he had to go to bed,” he laughs. The regional series finals moves to Wagga on Friday where potential superstar Whereyabinboppin is the hot favourite for their final while both Menangle and Newcastle host $100,000 finals on Saturday night.   Michael Guerin

Veterinary experts are confident the latest setback to the New Zealand racing industry will be temporary. The export of New Zealand racehorses to Australia has been suspended just weeks after returning post-lockdown after a thoroughbred broodmare tested positive for the disease piroplasmosis. Equine Piroplasmosis is a disease which can cause fevers, anemia and swelling in horses and is usually transmitted by ticks or in very rare cases by contaminated medical equipment like needles being used on different horses. The disease is rarely fatal. The mare who tested positive for the disease was imported from Europe last year and tested negative for piroplasmosis before she arrived and has shown no symptoms of the disease since she has been in New Zealand. It was only detected when she had another blood test as required before she was to be flown to Australia to be mated. Because New Zealand does not have the ticks that typically spread the disease it is thought to be very low risk that the mare has transferred it to another horse but because New Zealand cannot be certified as now being free of piroplasmosis Australia has suspended flights of New Zealand horses to Australia. Any long term ban on horses crossing the Tasman for both racing and breeding purposes would be a disaster but that seems extremely unlikely. But until the Ministry of Primary Industries here has investigated the positive and reported back to Australian authorities the flights will remain grounded. “At this stage it is really a trade issue more than a health issue that MPI are trying to get to the bottom of,” Dr Ivan Bridge, chairman of the New Zealand Equine Health Association said. “Australia requires us to have no piroplasmosis in the country for at least three years. “MPI can’t sign off on that at present. “We have not had any clinical piroplasmosis in New Zealand and we don’t believe that the tick that we have in New Zealand is capable of transmitting it.” “So what might look like a problem now because we can’t fly horses right at the moment might be a 2 out of 10 problem next week and not an issue heading forward. “Basically horses get tested for this and a range of other diseases before they fly anyway, which is how this mare was diagnosed. So we can’t and won’t be sending any horses to Australia or anywhere else with any issues because it would show up in those tests. “But that is if it even spread from this one mare which would seem extremely unlikely.” With no major racing carnivals on in Australia at the moment and the breeding season still months from starting it would be surprising if a short-term ban had any great detrimental effect on the racing industry which has been hit hard by racing being shutdown for over two months. Horse racing in New Zealand return, albeit closed to the public, next Friday for harness racing with thoroughbred racing due back on July 3.   Michael Guerin

Superstar pacer Chicago Bull holds the track record of 1.51.6 for 1730m at Gloucester Park, but he must overcome the curse of the No. 3 barrier if he is to win the $20,000 Members Sprint on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred seven-year-old has started from barrier three at his past two appearances in races over 1730m and has finished third at $3.30 behind Bettors Fire ($56) and Soho Tribeca ($1.60) in December 2017 and second at $1.07 to stablemate Whozideawasthis in the Members Sprint 12 months ago. He set the pace and was defeated by a half-length by Whozideawasthis, who finished fast after trailing Chicago Bull throughout. Chicago Bull enjoyed the one-out, one-back passage and finished strongly, out four wide, when a close third behind Bettors Fire and Soho Tribeca at his previous appearance over 1730m. He started from the inside of the back line and raced in the one-out, one-back position when he ran home strongly to get up in the final stride and beat Soho Tribeca in 1.51.6 in the Mount Eden Sprint in October 2017 and he also won at his three previous starts over 1730m with rates of 1.55.9, 1.53.2 and 1.52.6. The first of his seven starts over 1730m was as a three-year-old at Gloucester Park when he made his Australian debut in November 2015. From barrier five he was a $7.30 chance who raced in the one-out, one-back position and finished third behind El Jacko ($3.20) and Franco Rayner ($1.80). El Jacko, trained by Greg and Skye Bond and to be handled by Ryan Warwick, will be one of Chicago Bull’s five rivals on Friday night and the seven-year-old who finished strongly when a head second to Chicago Bull over 2130m three starts ago, cannot be overlooked from barrier four. He is capable of unwinding a powerful finishing burst. However, El Jacko’s evergreen 11-year-old stablemate Our Jimmy Johnstone looms large as a strong chance of beating Chicago Bull this week. Our Jimmy Johnstone, who will be driven by Bailey McDonough, will start from the No. 2 barrier. He possesses excellent gate speed, and if he is able to burst past the polemarker Vultan Tin and set the pace he will take plenty of beating. Our Jimmy Johnstone caused an upset last Friday night when he was restrained at the start from barrier five and then raced in sixth (and last) position before charging home, out wide, to snatch a last-stride victory by a half-head from Chicago Bull, who had raced in the breeze before hitting the front 240m from home. Our Jimmy Johnstone will be aiming for his second success in the Members Sprint --- after starting from barrier one and setting the pace before beating Beaudiene Boaz at a 1.54.3 rate in May 2017. He has raced 13 times over 1730m for three wins, three seconds, two thirds, two fourths, two sixths and a ninth.   Ken Casellas

By Jonny Turner    If recent trials are anything to go by, the Hope stable is set to make a mark when winter racing resumes next week. Husband and wife trainers Greg and Nina Hope, who work their team with the aid of son and junior driver, Ben, had a field day at Wednesday’s trials at Addington racking up four wins and two quinellas. The effort came nearly a week after three of the Hope team scored at the first post-lockdown trial meeting. Talented, but frustrating trotter Matua Tana looked set for victory last week before rolling in to an all too familiar late gallop. The big, free striding square-gaiter was back to the kind of form that saw him sent out a New Zealand Cup day favourite when scoring in Wednesday’s fast 2600m class trot for driver Gerard O’Reilly. The turnaround was put down to a key gear change that is hoped will help the six-year-old deliver on his potential. “Last week led all of the way, but had a gallop again,” Ben Hope said. “Gerard suggested we put an undercheck on him, so we did.” “And when he came back in he said he was a different horse, so we were rapt.” Midnight Dash showed he was on target for the upcoming rescheduled three-year-old trotting features when running in to second, three quarters of a length behind his stablemate. “Midnight Dash went really good, he was held up by a tiring horse on the home bend and ran home really nice,” Hope said. It is possible both Matua Tana and Midnight Dash could race at next week’s first post-lockdown meeting at Addington, but no firm race returns have been set for either horse. The Hope stable also notched a quinella when unveiling two smart two-year-olds in yesterday’s 2600m qualifying trot. Just a half-head margin separated Tedesco and Summer Lovin, who were both bred by the Hope family. “Summer Lovin will probably press on a hopefully aim towards the good two-year-old races that are going to be run.” “Tedesco is a nice horse, but I feel like he is probably six months away.” “The plan was to qualify him and then then give him a couple of workouts before giving him a spell.” Franco Jorik is another of the Hope team’s two-year-old trotters is also on a path towards races like the NZ Sires Stakes Championship. Though the Muscle Mass trotter was well beaten by impressive winner, Mighty Flying Rocker, Hope was pleased with his horse’s effort. “Even though he was beaten by eight lengths I was pretty stoked with how he went considering he is just a wee two-year-old against older horses over 2600m.” “He is probably not going to be one of the favourites when the big races come around, but if he got the right trip he could definitely feature in them.” Makura was another of the Hope team that showed she was on track for a good return to racing on Wednesday when winning a non-winners’ trot over 2600m. The Andover Hall three-year-old failed to flatter in three starts earlier than this season, but is better than those performances suggest. “We took her to Westport at Christmas time and she didn’t handle the track, then she ran off the track in her next start and nearly touched the outside running rail,” Hope said. “She stepped really well in her trial and showed great manners to lead the whole way.” Mossdale Mac showed his promise when winning at Wednesday’s trials. The two-year-old is likely to need more practice at trials and workouts before heading to the races. Mossdale Mac’s  half-sister, Mossdale Art won at last week’s trials for the Hope stable. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

A prominent harness racing figure in the mid north region of South Australia has decided it's time to take a change and pursue other interests. Lyndon Hall, who is based at the popular coastal tourist city of Port Pirie, 225 kms from Adelaide, has been training horses for more than 40 years, with an imposing strike-rate. "We've met a lot of lovely people, made a lot of friends and had heaps of fun during our long involvement, but we are now looking to take a different direction," Hall said. "My wife Jacqui and I have two married daughters in Tammi and Jo-Ann, and there's six grand-daughters. So when sporting activities are allowed to start again, there will be lots of netball and basketball on Saturday afternoons," he said. "And of course, I still enjoy my fishing. We plan on getting back into the camping and fishing scene." Hall said he got the harness racing bug as a teenager through the late Bob Clarke, who was a well-known outstanding conditioner of horses in the area. "I learned a great deal from Bob, not only in the training aspects, but also driving. Bob actually let me to drive one of his star pacers in Already to get my driver's licence. I had to do a few satisfactory drives in front of the stewards," he said. "Already was a class horse and I remember him winning a heat and final of the Mildura Pacing Cup in good style. Bob's son Andrew is still training horses at Mt Gambier." Hall said as a youngster he was an apprentice butcher. "Dad owned two shops and asked me which one I would like to take over. I told him that I didn't want either because I was going fishing," he said. "I ended up being a professional fisherman for 14 years and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I had a go at the hotel business and owned a few over a period of 24 years and we've still got one at Port Broughton." Hall established his training complex on a "couple of hundred acres" near Port Pirie, with a 900metre training track, stables and large paddocks. "We were big supporters of trotting around the area, always racing big teams at our home track as well as others like Whyalla. Jacqui also had three years as Port Pirie President," he said. "I remember taking a record 18 horses one night to Port Pirie, while the most we ever raced at Whyalla was 14. There were plenty of other times when we'd load up the truck and head off to race at other tracks, including Broken Hill and Mildura which were long hauls. "A favorite memory from Broken Hill was one night throwing seven on the truck and getting five winners and two second placing cheques. That was a fun night." Hall was the leading trainer at Port Pirie on five occasions. His career record stands at around 3200 starters for 280 victories, 400 second placings and 480 thirds. He regards a win in a heat and final of the Sunraysia Cup years ago with talented pacer Fifty Gorillas (D M Dilinger-Roxy Bay (Whata Baron) as among his best. "We had Ryan Hryhorec drive the horse in the heat, and the late Gavin Lang in the final. It was the only time we ever had Gavin drive for us," Hall said. "Fifty Gorillas won 20 races for us and then John Heath won a few more when they sent the horse up to him at Menangle. He was first emergency in an Inter Dominion final at Sydney and narrowly missed getting a start because there was a scratching at 9.10 am-10 minutes too late to get a start! "I think Fifty Gorillas was the fastest horse bred by D M Dillinger for a while-he could still even hold that mantle." Hall said he also admired a pacer who is still at his place recovering from a hoof injury in Mymatethomo. "He is one of the nicest horses I've ever had. He had a strong will to win and possessed sheer speed when he was right. One of his greatest wins was as a C1 assessed pacer up against FFA horses and he come out and took the Whyalla Cup," he said. So while it's a safe bet to say that fish, crabs and other seafood delicacies will be on the dinner plate if you visit the Halls in the future, there's a chance you may even be challenged to a game of darts. Hall has a sharp eye and still harbors a love for the sport. But a word of warning: he was the state champion in the 90s and won several championships. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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