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By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Legendary trainer Charlie Hunter has seen plenty of major world events during his lifetime, but he said none quite compare to the COVID-19 pandemic.   The virus has swept across the globe and resulted in New Zealand entering lockdown for the better part of two months from late-March, closing down racing.  “I don’t think I have been through anything quite like this,” Hunter said. “As a young boy we went through the war (World War II), but I don’t remember a lot of it.   “We were in Lower Hutt then and Hutt Park was taken over by the US Marines. Dad would be jogging an odd horse there and the marines were running around.   “This is certainly a lot different, I think it is more dramatic. There are a lot of people losing their jobs.”  Hunter also noted it is probably the biggest challenge he has seen the racing industry face in his lifetime.  “I don’t know what it was like back in the days of the depression, but in my lifetime this has affected racing the most,” he said.   “I don’t know where we go to from here because you depend on gaming money and TAB turnover. All of that is going to be significantly down.  “In the North Island they really just want (to race at) Cambridge and Auckland because it’s less costly to race there than having meetings around the country, which is a real shame.”  Hunter said he has been relatively confined to his Cambridge house in the last few months, but he has enjoyed being able to get out and about in the last week.  “Our age group was pretty well confined,” Hunter said. “We were doing our supermarket shopping through the internet and Fiona, our younger daughter, went and picked them up.   “We didn’t go out anywhere really, we have been confined to our barracks.  “We are close to town, so I have been able to get out and go for a walk around town.  “Since it has gone to Level 2 I have been able to go out and get a coffee.”  During lockdown, Hunter was contemplating the future of his Group One-winning trotter Lemond and elected to send him south to be in the care of trotting maestro Paul Nairn.  “I just thought it was positive to send him down there,” Hunter said. “Up here he is off 50 or 60m behind and I think the training on the track system is not as good for him as what he will get at Paul’s.  “Paul has got a 1000m track with big sweeping turns. He does work on the side of the road, there are just different advantages.”  Lemond’s season had been cut short last year after he sustained a hairline fracture to his tibia, but Hunter said he has recovered well from the injury under former trainer Ross Paynter’s care.  “When we stopped with him he had the hairline fracture of the tibia,” Hunter said. “We gave him six months off and we’ll try him in a new environment.    “The x-rays six weeks ago were totally clear. He was locked up in a stall for seven or eight weeks and then in a little paddock. He came through it very well.”  Hunter is hoping Lemond can get to somewhere near his best down in Canterbury.  “When he is right he is so very good,” he said.  “There was one time up in Auckland when David Butcher drove him and he sat parked outside the leader from the get go and went a 1:55.5 mile-rate over 1700m and he took a second and a piece off the New Zealand record which had been held by Sovereignty.  “Those are the things he can do when he is right.”  Hunter said he will leave Lemond’s spring plans up to Nairn, although a Gr.1 Dominion Trot (3200m) tilt is an obvious target.  “We will just try to get him sound so he can race at his best and I’ll leave it to Paul. He will have a chance at two or three races prior to the Dominion.”  Close to home, Hunter is looking forward to the raceday return of his other trotter, Reign.  “I have got one with Ross (Paynter) called Reign,” Hunter said. “He won a race last year as a three-year-old.   “The night he won at Cambridge, he showed a lot of speed in the last section of the race, so I think he has got quite a future.”

Amanda Jackson is a registered nurse who works in the recovery room at Saint Francis Medical Center in the Brandermill section of south Richmond by day, and is a harness racing trainer/breeder/owner on other parts of the days, evenings, weekends and holidays when she is not working.   She has been active in Virginia's pari-mutuel harness racing circuit since 2008 when her Hillbilly Haven Farm came into existence.   The 14 acre property in Burkeville is adjacent to a 120 acre standardbred farm her parents own.   A series of dirt paths snake through the woods and connect the two farms together, which are accessible by durable golf cart or harness jog cart, including horse.   A 3/8ths mile training track is situated between both.   Jackson, whose family relocated to Burkeville when she was young, was born in Hurley, Virginia. Even though they didn't race horses at a pari-mutuel circuit then, horses were part of her upbringing. "We used to get standardbreds after their racing career and break them to ride and re-sell them, and keep some of them," she said. "In the mountains, under saddle races are really popular especially in places like Jamestown, Tennessee. There is a great market for that believe it or not."   Amanda Jackson   Her interest in racing began when one of the horses they had showed good pedigree and history. "I reached out to Dr. Charlie Dunavant, who was President of the Virginia Harness Horse Association, to see what he thought. It all started from there. He got the ball rolling and got me going in the right direction. From that point I got a trainer's license and have been doing it since. With Doc's guidance, I bought my first horse named Take You There from a friend of Chuck Perry's and he won right away. It stuck with me immediately."   Her husband Randy was a conductor for Norfolk & Southern Railroad at the time and didn't have a backround with horses so the business started out with Jackson and her father, Tim Dotson. When the family moved to Burkeville, people in town referred to Tim as "hillbilly" since he came from the mountains. That nickname carried over to the farm moniker and to the name many of her horses have as well, from earlier years until today.     Randy has a trainers license now so between the trio, Amanda's son Adam and Tim's wife Sharon, it's become a family affair. "We do it together," she said. "We divide up duties based on who is working when. We get the horses going, get them jogged and clean the stalls. One day last week, Randy had to work early so I got my son up at 6 AM to help get two horses ready that I jogged before work. It is a collective effort."   Al and Katherine Smith are long time harness owners and fans, and know the Jackson family well. Two of their retired horses, Tom Bruce and Firm Fatale, are enjoying their golden years at Hillybilly Haven. "This family truly loves their animals and take incredible care of them," said Katherine. "They would do anything they could to help you out. I remember when Tim decided that Tom and Firm, as senior members of the farm, didn't really like eating from a bucket or ground feeder. So, he cut some trees from the place, treated them, and sunk the six foot sections into the ground to make waist high feeders for the oldsters so they didn't have to bend so far."   Hillbilly Camtastic and Hillbilly Heartache have each won a Virginia Breeder's Championship at Shenandoah Downs. Hillbilly Hardtimes won a Maryland Sire Stake final in 2012. Jackson has high hopes this year for a two-year-old colt named Hillbilly Nite Shift. Her father has a filly the same age named Hillbilly Fantasy. And her best horse to date has been Hillbilly Desire. "We have a whole list of names that could follow the word Hillbilly so when it's time to register a new horse, we run down the list and see what fits best. It makes the naming process fun."   As a two-year-old in 2011, Hillbilly Desire was 3-for-3 at the Colonial Downs meet before finishing third in the Breeder's Championships that year. In 2012, she went 4-for-6 there, set a lifetime mark of 1:52.0 and went on to win the Three-Year-Old Filly Pacing Championship. In 2013, she went 3-for-5 at Colonial. Over those three years, the daughter of Real Desire was 10 for 15 there, had three runner-ups and a third. The lone "out of the money" finish came in a distance race carded at 1 1/4 miles. At retirement after the '14 season, Hillbilly Desire had 20 wins from 58 starts and $108,323 in purse earnings.   "She is the name and face of Hillbilly Haven Farm," said Jackson. "She is still here, is an active broodmare and will die here. This will always be her home. It was very difficult to break her and very hard to get her to the races. She just gave you a thrill every time she raced. She liked to stay in the back of the field and come to the front late in the race. This may be crude to say," she added, "But because of her racing style, I felt like throwing up every time she was on the track competing!"   Jackson's favorite race memory also involves Hillbilly Desire, but it did not occur in Virginia. In 2012, right after winning the Breeder's Championship, she took her sophomore pacer to The Meadows (outside of Pittsburgh) to race in a $16,200 Fillies/Mares Preferred race. "She was an outsider there," recalled Jackson. "There was an attitude among folks there that horses coming from Colonial were overrated and would never do well there. It was a horrible rainy night and the track was sloppy but she ended up pulling the upset. Dave Palone drove her and she went from last to first. It was a great win."   Even though Al and Katherine Smith didn't own Hillbilly Desire, Al quickly developed a fondness for her. "She and I go back a long way," he said. "My "crush" on her started on September 16, 2011. That was the day she made her first lifetime pari-mutuel start and I had a $20 win ticket on her as she went off at 20-1. I watched every one of her races during her career and visited her often on the backside when she was racing at Colonial. We even purchased her first foal from Hillbilly Haven, and I still believe 'Desire' is one of the most beautful and talented pacing mares I have ever seen in person."     At Saint Francis Hospital, Jackson normally works three days a week, twelve hour shifts though she is on call other times. "I work in the recovery room so if you wake up from surgery, it's very possible I'll be the first person you see when you come to." With less surgery occurring during the covid-19 pandemic, Jackson helps out wherever needed now. "It's been difficult the last few months. I check patients in, take covid patients to ICU, take people's temperatures before they come in, and help deliver personal protective equipment wherever it's needed. Some days we have as many covid patients as Chippenham Medical Center. This has been quite an adjustment to the medical field."   Aside from work, horses remain her passion. "It's great to be able to look back and realize you helped make a horse what it is. You raised and broke the horse, saw it from its first day of life then got it to the track to see how good it could do. It's a huge accomplishment and very rewarding. We are a very small time operation here but are very lucky to be able to do what we do. My husband and I both have careers outside of horses which brings income in to help fund the whole operation."   Jackson will compete in the Virginia Breeder's Championships this fall at Shenandoah Downs. "I have high hopes for both my two (Hillbilly Nite Shift) and three-year-olds (Hillbilly Kisses)," she said. "The two-year-old is keeping up tit for tat with the older one. I've had very few two-year-olds in training that have been able to do that. He's got my juices flowing again. I'm pumped up."   The fall racing season in Woodstock is scheduled to run in September and October. This will be the fifth season there since the Virginia Equine Alliance invested $800,000 in a track surface renovation/upgrade in 2016. "It's a really good half mile track," said Jackson. "It has held up well and showed some good miles. I don't think people give it enough credit. It's also wonderful to see people standing trackside. The fans in the stands are so enthusiastic and cheer when horses turn for home. The whole atmosphere is great."   For more season information, visit shenandoahdowns.com. For information on the Virginia Breeder's and Certified-Residency programs, visit vhha.net.   By Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs  

Pacific Rocket US was humanely euthanised today at owner Dr Andrew & Suzanne Daniels property near Oberon in NSW after a sustained bout of colic.  “Rocket” as he was affectionately known, joined the stallion ranks at Dr Daniels’  Calderwood Farm, in Albion Park NSW in 2008, having already started a successful stud career in both the US and New Zealand. He was a lovely black horse standing just over 16hh and was always a pleasure to handle and be around, which made stud duties a dream, as long you were quiet. Word has it that Rocket liked quiet time when it was his turn to be collected, so all mobile phone were turned off and his handlers also had to be gentle and quiet or the deed just would not get done.  His last foals in Australia were born in the 2013/2014 season. He had a respectable record in Australia with 140 starters for 89 winners at an average of $21k in stakes.  Pacific Rocket, himself was a star on the track, with a race time of 1:50  and a career of 64 starts for 30 wins & 22 placings plus prizemoney earnings of over $2.3m.  During his career,  he set and equalled world records on half and five-eighths mile tracks and held a string of track records. As a three-year-old he won $1.4million racing against top horses such as Cam’s Card Shark, Magical Mike, Armbro Macintosh, Falcon’s Future & Hi Ho Silverheels amongst others.  As a sire in the US, Pacific Rockets sired progeny with massive earnings of over $29 million. These included the dual Breeders Crown Champion, Boulder Creek 1.48.2  $2.3 million in prizemoney.  Notable performers sired by Pacific Rocket in Australasia include Shardon’s Rocket 1.54 45 wins and $626K, Rocket Reign 1.56.2 24 wins $424K, Pacific Warrior 1.54.8 28 wins $343K & Mister Skye Rocket 1.56.1 44 wins $268K amongst many others.  He also left his mark as a broodmare sire, being the broodmare sire of exceptional mare Don’t Think Twice 1.51.2 $445K 22 wins, Dynamite Denn Nee 1.52.9 $292K 22 wins  & Our Els Dream 1.51.2 $411K 38 wins.  Rest easy “Rocket” and let your progeny take the reins.    Joanne Anderson

So Addington Raceway looks to have been deemed the big winner out of the RITA track purge of 2020. Like a Stalin-esk show trial of the 1930’s it’s proving a fairly harrowing experience for those in the firing line - even the well named Leon Trotsky would have been hard pressed to see the extent of this ice-axe-driven assault!    If all of the track / race venue changes proposed by RITA do come into fruition then Addington is set to adopt a massive increase in racing dates and the obligations that come with them, and while the consultation period is ongoing it’s, at the moment, hard to envision any drastic change or recoil on the propositions announced, particularly in the Canterbury Region. Maybe Geraldine might fight the good fight and win the day? Maybe not. So what will this mean for the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club and Addington track? And can it rise to this most challenging of challenges? Apart from a short stint of smaller-stake Tuesday-run meetings that took place a few years ago Addington has (and rightfully so) been the track of the higher class racehorse. Its Christchurch City location providing an administrative hub and racing focus when presenting a higher class of race-horse to the general public and harness racing fan. Its premier race days and nights scattered across the racing calendar for all to enjoy. The overall caliber of racing generally does wane through winter but that’s to be expected with the amount of horses going around decreasing when Jack Frost is in town. Now Addington needs to become, at least in part, the track for both the superstar head-line open-class act and the common standardbred journey-horse, an advocate for both Lazarus, the bull who slayed them all to the roars of the crowd, and Kelly Evander, the maiden battler who slayed very few but kept trying despite the obvious “ability deficit” In other words Addington needs to become, to an extent, a representative of the tracks and racing cards that it’s inheriting by allocation.   Addington has to become an Addington a Forbury, and a Timaru all rolled into one. An Addburu! So can Addburu Raceway be a sound custodian of racing opportunities? A beacon and facilitator of democratic industry activity? Will its increased responsibilities provide a much needed injection of vigour and ideas into a beleaguered sport or will the increase in responsibility drive a dictator-like desire for further power and fortune?   Despite those slightly hyperbolic mutterings one thing is for sure, that if the new racing calendar does go ahead this new look Addburu will need to get its head around race programming. Lower-grade and / or non-winner stands will be an area of interest in particular. The number of these present in Addington race cards has always been limited due to the nature of historic racing and positioning within respective track hierarchies, that will need to go through something of a change with the lower grade or non-win horse playing an increased role in race cards. Standing starts,despite the mixed reaction to their existence , play a large role in a number of top stables annual race track returns and in supporting a good part of the racing landscape, fail to encourage or provide such race conditions and you’ll swiftly put a rather tight financial noose around the neck of a number of trainers.   Along with that it’ll be interesting to see if feature events from tracks closed maintain their significance when racing at Addington. Is a Timaru Cup likely to be the showcase of a Sunday card at Addington in 5 years time? I hope so (although back at Timaru the obvious best scenario) and what about the members of disenfranchised race tracks and clubs, how do you cater for those people and make them feel welcome, appreciated and valued? All questions that Addington will provide answers to soon enough I’m sure.     So what’s the sign of a successful transition to the Addington way of harness life? How about this for an idea.   Go through all of the meetings that were held at Addington, Forbury and Timaru over the last season and count up how many individual stables notched a win at any of the venues.Now subtract wins at Forbury from Southern based trainers that normally race further south anyway, you’ll be left with a number…Then go back after the season to come and count the number of individual stables that were able to win at Addington over the course of their 77 or so meetings. If Addington is representing the industry well and getting their race cards to encompass all grades and racing scenarios I do believe that the numbers shouldn’t be too far away from each-other (maybe a few less given that a proportion of the Forbury based trainers will simply not cover the miles to Christchurch like their Cantab counterparts have done) If that’s the case then well done Addington, the NZ Mett and all those involved. And if not? If there’s a large drop off in individual stables represented in the winners circles then I think we all know what that means. That the rich are getting richer and everybody else is off the mobile arm and struggling to keep up with the bills. That would be the concern but it’s also one that shouldn’t be judged right now. All signs are that Addington has been given a chance, an opportunity, for now it’s also a chance for the displaced masses if they want it and have the ability to get there.   So Addburu Raceway, It appears to be over to you!   Ben McMillan 

May 19, 2020 - A double Hall of Fame driver, a trainer of multiple world class pacers and one of the top female drivers in harness racing will be the special guests of COSA TV’s Facebook Live show this Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. Prince Edward Island native Wally Hennessey is one of the latest additions to harness racing’s 10,000-win club and has a spot in both the U.S. and Canadian Horse Racing Halls Of Fame. Wally Hennessey – courtesy Dave Landry Native Islander, Dr. Ian Moore, has conditioned some of the best pacers in the sport in recent years including Little Brown Jug champion Shadow Play and multiple stakes winners State Treasurer and Percy Blue Chip, just to name a few. Ian Moore – courtesy Mario Glynn Natasha Day is a native of Australia who now calls Ontario home. She has worked for Canada’s perennial leading trainer Richard Moreau for several seasons and has become a driving regular at many of Ontario’s Signature race tracks. The trio will join host Greg Blanchard on the broadcast. Viewers can submit questions ahead of time or during the show on the COSA Facebook Page and can also tune in via Standardbred Canada’s website. Greg Blanchard

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk Cambridge trainer Kyle Marshall is looking forward to potentially having two runners at his home meeting next week, and he has a local equestrian to thank for it. During the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, Marshall was unable to work any of his horses at Cambridge Raceway, however, he was able to utilise the services of local rider Elle Phillips. “I sent Elle Phillips, of Phillips Equine, three horses to keep ticking over - Pembrook Charlie, Itsthefinalcountdown, and Lukyanova,” Marshall said. “She just rides them out there. It’s different scenery and it really picked them up. “They have done really well out there, so I will look to send her more horses every now and then for a freshen-up.” Marshall also utilised the services of a local water-walker to keep Flying Monkey fit during lockdown, and he will be looking to line him up at the Cambridge workouts this Saturday, along with Pembrook Charlie. “Flying Monkey was out at the water-walker,” Marshall said. “He was doing a bit before that, so I should have two to the workouts this week and just see how they go and whether I line them up on the 31st (at Cambridge Raceway).” The change in training routine has done wonders for the pair, according to Marshall.  “Pembrook Charlie is a different horse since he had a freshen-up at Elle Phillips’ and Flying Monkey had a few soundness problems, but he is fine now,” Marshall said. Considering the short turnaround time, Marshall is happy to have an initial racing team of four over the winter and is eyeing the new season as a realistic raceday return for the rest of his 15-strong team. “Lukyanova and Itsthefinalcountdown, they won’t be too far away, but the rest of the team probably won’t be back until next season,” he said. Marshall has posted nine wins in his second term of training and said his team was flying before the COVID-19 pandemic put an untimely end to many of his team’s season. “I was really happy with how the team was going,” Marshall said. “Before lockdown happened we had five horses race on the Thursday and Friday, for a win and four placings. So things were starting to go well and then we had a world pandemic.” While the timing of the lockdown was unfortunate for his team, Marshall said he is happy to be back into the swing of things and he is looking forward to getting back to the races next week. “I am just happy to get things back on track and getting back to the races,” he said

Talented young Melton harness racing trainer-driver Kylie Sugars was always aware her trotter Sammy Showdown had a bit of class, but his rapid rise to prominence has even given her a pleasant surprise. Sugars is doing her best to keep her feet firmly on the ground, but she has every reason to be proud of her careful management of the four-year-old. "He's the best horse I've ever had by far. He's a fantastic miler and the 1720m trips are his forte. But I suppose he's also quite respectable over the longer races as he showed two starts ago at Melton," Sugars said. "As a three-year-old he looked to be able to run a bit. I was aiming at the Holmfield and I think it was a week before that race he injured a hind tendon. So he was out last year for six months, resuming in November," she said. "It's hard to believe that he had a 54 rating not all that long ago and now he's against the fast class horses and has competed in two Group Ones. It really has been phenomenal." In the past six months, Sammy Showdown (Bacardi Lindy-Alabama Showdown (Yankee Paco) has undoubtedly established himself as one of our most exciting square-gaiting prospects. He went out a winner before his injury on May 16 last year, returned to racing (and the winner's circle) on November 30, and has continued to build a nice-looking "picket fence" since, a winner of eight of his past 11. At his most recent win at Melton last Saturday night, Sammy Showdown was nursed quietly out of the gate by Sugars to land in the one-one position. Imperial Whiz, who had good support, lobbed in front, while another with admirers in Savannah Jay Jay went to the rear after being caught wide. Sugars moved three deep on the home corner. They joined in strongly and quickly raced away to bolt in by 17 metres in a time of 1.57-6. To watch the video replay click here "Sammy" is also providing his breeder, successful real estate agent Graeme Rayner, with plenty of fun. Rayner races the horse in partnership with Sugars and is thoroughly enjoying the ride after a long involvement in the sport. Sammy Showdown and Kylie Sugars made it six in a row in the Vulcan Trotters Free for All in February.  Owner Graeme Rayner is with his partner Dot Sugars said a trip to Menangle on Miracle Mile day with Sammy Showdown in early March was a memorable experience. "I'd never taken a horse away before and to be part of such an awesome meeting was huge. I think 'Sammy' probably handled the whole thing better than his trainer-driver!" The pair competed in the Aquagait $50,000 Trotters' G1 Mile and ran a slashing third (beaten 1.1m) to Big Jack Hammer and Red Hot Tooth in a mile rate of 1.54-7. Sugars is a sister of Victoria's champion reinsman Greg Sugars, and, apart from Sammy Showdown, has two others in her team. One is, of course, a trotter, two-year-old filly Euryphaessa, a daughter of Majestic Son, who debuted at Ballarat last week for a second placing. "I like having a little team to mess around with," she said. "I really enjoy the training side of the industry, but I'll keep driving 'Sammy' because I like to handle the ones I train. And I'm probably spoilt with him because he's super easy to drive." Sugars said she planned to keep Sammy Showdown "ticking over" until it's clear when the Vicbred and other good races will be conducted following the disruption due to COVID-19. "He's also great to train with a lovely personality. He can be a sook because he likes being at home and in his usual routine," she said. "I'm sort of thinking perhaps one more run and then a short three-week break. I'll get a better guide soon when the dates for the features are released." Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E hello@newsalertpr.com.au   W www.newsalertpr.com.au      

MILTON, ON - May 19, 2020 - Woodbine Entertainment is excited to announce that the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for harness racing three-year-old pacers is scheduled for Saturday, August 29 at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton, Ontario. The eliminations will be held the week prior on Saturday, August 22. Originally scheduled for June 20, the 37th Pepsi North America Cup was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 Woodbine Mohawk Park season was suspended on March 19 and is now set to resume without spectators on Friday, June 5. "Mohawk Park in the fall is always packed full of action and now we are adding our signature event, the Pepsi North America Cup, to the end of the summer schedule which will only add even more excitement heading into the fall stakes season," said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. Woodbine Entertainment will continue to follow the most updated direction from Government and public health officials as it relates to spectators attending events. For the latest regarding fan participation with the 37th Pepsi North America Cup, stay tuned to Woodbine.com/mohawk for updates. Jamie Dykstra Woodbine Entertainment

Guelph, ON - May 14, 2020 - There are many important questions pertaining to equine conditioning and fitness as we all look forward to returning to work.   Dr. Hilary Clayton recently shared some cautions and considerations in a Skype interview with Equine Guelph.   Dr. Clayton is a veterinarian, researcher and horsewoman.   For the past 40 years she has been conducting amazing research in the areas of equine biomechanics and conditioning programs for equine athletes.   Dr. Clayton has also been a guest speaker in Equine Guelph’s online course offerings.   1. What are the differences between conditioning and training?  training is the technical preparation of the athlete  (learning the skills and movements they will need to perform in competition) conditioning strengthens the horse, progressively making them fit and able the goal of conditioning is to maintain soundness while maximizing performance 2. Considerations for horses that go from full work to just pasture turn-out?  a gradual decrease from full work to less days a week, lessening intensity is ideal. also, ideal that they stay in light work a day or 2 a week, however horses are resilient. when workload decreases, diet decreases do not change things suddenly 3. How long before a horse begins to lose muscle mass and fitness? What about bones/connective tissues? horses maintain their muscle and cardio-vascular ability longer than humans a month before horses start to lose cardio-vascular capacity and muscular strength bone and tissue adapt in accordance with the work they are doing with no work bones become weaker, muscles smaller and endurance decreases good news is the strength of bone & muscle will increase again when work resumes ligaments, tendons, cartilage of horse mature by 2yrs and are a bit more of an unknown resilience is the ability to stand up to the performances 4. When getting back to work, where do you start and how do you know how to move forward? 1st address condition of feet, saddle fit, and plan for increasing nutrition requirements. start very gradually with walking for the first 2 – 4 weeks. start with 10 min under saddle, working just 3 – 4 days in the first week increase amount of walking by 10 min/week  by 3 weeks = 30 min walk/day, start introducing 20 seconds of trot then slowly introduce short canters performing lots of transitions between gaits is great for improving fitness 5. What are the signs of “too fast, too long and too soon!” and how do we avoid this? back pain, limb pain, inflammation monitor any changes carefully horses will fool you with their cardio-vascular fitness improving before their strength. to avoid injury, don’t let an energetic horse dictate how much work you will do. 6. What are some of the similarities and differences in training programs for different disciplines? initial phase of conditioning is similar, building aerobic capacity and strengthening muscles first 2-3 months can be dedicated to general conditioning then start specializing depending on the intensity and endurance required for your sport. 7. What advice do you have for horse owners that are worried that leaving the horse alone is detrimental to its well-being? Plenty of horses living outside 24/7 with little exercise that are doing just fine. Horses are far from their natural lifestyle Maximizing turnout and forage are ways to benefit our horses welfare. They need water, food, shelter and an attentive care-taker. Biography: Dr. Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, FRCVS is a veterinarian, researcher and horsewoman. For the past 40 years she has performed innovative research in the areas of equine biomechanics, conditioning programs for equine athletes and the effects of tack and equipment on the horse and rider. She has written 7 books and over 250 scientific articles on these topics. She is a charter diplomate and past president of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, an Honorary Fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science and has been inducted into the International Equine Veterinarians Hall of Fame, the Midwest Dressage Association Hall of Fame and the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.   From 1997 until she retired in 2014, Dr. Clayton was the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University. She continues to perform research through collaborations with universities in many countries and is active in publishing and presenting the findings. In addition, she is president of Sport Horse Science through which she applies the results of scientific research in the development of practical tools and techniques to help riders, trainers and veterinarians.   As a lifelong rider Dr. Clayton has competed in many equestrian sports, most recently focusing on dressage in which she competes through the Grand Prix level.    

TRENTON, NJ -- May 19, 2020 -- As shuttered sectors of New Jersey's economy begin inching back to life with more outdoor activities approved, such as horseback riding, Assemblyman Ron Dancer has sponsored a resolution supporting the Meadowlands Racetrack to resume harness racing, initially without spectators. "With a proper plan in place, the Meadowlands Racetrack should be allowed to operate, especially with Governor Cuomo announcing the re-opening of all New York racetracks without fans effective June 1," said Dancer (R-Ocean). "By resuming horseracing, the gaming and racing industries would be able to generate revenue while stimulating our economy from internet wagering within the State, as well as, simulcasting the races to other states that have already approved the return of horse racing." He noted that the industry supports 13,000 jobs and has led to the preservation of more than 175,000 acres of farmland and open space in New Jersey. "We cannot let the gaming and racing industry fall to the wayside and must ensure they can reopen in the safest way possible," concluded Dancer. "This resolution would do just that and keep one of New Jersey's staple industries afloat." The resolution supports the Equine Center at Rutgers University and the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey proposal to safely phase in the return of horseracing to the Meadowlands Racetrack with the "trifecta" health-related protocols of social distancing, hand sanitizing and face coverings. Courtney Stafford

The Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee regrets to announce the cancellation of the 2020 VDM festival due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was a hard decision to make, and we pushed it as long as possible,” said chairman Derek Delaney. “Not only are we looking at the issues with the racing schedule, but we are also looking at the social aspects of the festival. Without being able to host international and local visitors at the track, we believe that canceling is the best choice to make.” The plans are already being laid for next year, which will mark the big 10-year anniversary of the VDM weekend. “Ten years is a huge achievement, both for us as a family and for Irish harness racing,” said Delaney. “When we started with a race in memory of our brother, Vincent, we could never have envisioned we would be here, gearing up for the 10th anniversary. We have big dreams in the works.” All fully paid up horses will be refunded. For questions please contact Derek Delaney at derek@oakwoodstud.ie.

"Pancho Power" could be coming to the races. Local harness racing owner Jim Reuther has submitted paperwork to the U.S. Trotting Association to change the name of his horse, Bee True Hanover, to Pancho Power after getting permission from Veronica Borjon, Bills super fan Ezra "Pancho Billa" Castro’s longtime partner. Reuther spoke with Borjon on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of Castro's death at age 40 after a long battle with cancer. Reuther expects the process to go renaming smoothly because he researched the name in November to make sure that it had not been previously issued. "There shouldn't be any issues," he said Monday. The horse has been training for 6 1/2 months at the Butler Fairgrounds in Pennsylvania. She went to the Meadows Racetrack in Washington, Pa., last Friday and clocked at 2:12. Reuther said the plan is for the horse to continue to work at the Meadows each of the next two Fridays in hopes of getting to qualify to race when the track opens and then race ono the Pennsylvania fair circuit this summer. Trainer Steve Schoeffel is based in Pennsylvania. Reuther and Pancho struck up a friendship through Reuther’s memorabilia hobby, where he obtains mostly Bills-signed items and resells them. “I used to send him stuff, whenever I had a signing I’d always get an extra piece for him,” Reuther told The News last fall. “We became friends and then the last year he was alive he told me about this fundraiser he did at two Bills Backers bars in Dallas. They’d auction off the memorabilia to raise money and use the proceeds to buy toys for kids at Christmas.” #BillsMafia My partners & I bought this yearling race horse last month..Her name is Bee True Hanover.. Awaiting permission to change her name to Pancho Power.   Reprinted with permission of The Buffalo News

Statement from Ken Spicer, Chair, Harness Racing New Zealand It is with regret that the board has accepted the resignation of our CEO, Peter Jensen, for health reasons. Peter has guided HRNZ through a period of great change, including the present proposal concerning the number of venues at which our sport will be held in the new season. While disappointed to receive Peter’s resignation, the board is fully supportive of his decision to focus on his own personal health and wellbeing. Peter Jensen said that this was both an extremely difficult, yet easy, decision to make. “I have underlying health issues and realise these have got to the point where I cannot give 100% to HRNZ, at a time when it requires 150%. I know the timing is far from ideal, but I also understand that I am not able to give the organisation the energy and guidance that it requires at this time, hence my decision to retire and concentrate on my health.” Ken Spicer said that in the interim, the board will help cover the various roles of the CEO and will look to start the recruitment process shortly with a view to making an appointment in the new season. Peter leaves HRNZ on May 22.

By Jonny Turner    The COVID-19 pandemic has set up an old school New Zealand Cup preparation for last year’s seventh placegetter, Nandolo. The 5yr-old showed he was ready to rumble when racing resumes at Addington next week with a comfortable trial win on the same track, last week. Trainer John Howe had Nandolo ready for a run at the South Island’s late season open class features before the COVID-19 pandemic put racing on hold. The current situation has led to Nandolo now working towards a New Zealand Cup preparation that adheres to the previously long held notion that a cup contender must be racing by the National Meeting (in August) to be fit enough to win in November. “We had him ready for the good races at the end of the season, like the Rangiora Classic, before everything stopped,” Howe said. “He had three weeks off and we thought we would carry on and just see what races they would have for horses like him.” “I spoke to the handicappers and he will get five points for every win.” “So, we will try to win a couple of races and that would have him rated 95 [points].” “He races those top horses anyway, so it should work out pretty good for him.” Nandolo emerged with one of the several hard luck stories in last year’s New Zealand Cup when badly held up on the home turn. Howe is hopeful the pacer will return a better prospect after a season of clashing with some of the country’s best horses. “He should be a little bit better this year.” “He is a big horse and he has been getting better every season.” Clearly, modern training techniques and the refinement of today’s standardbred mean Nandolo will not be as busy as the cup horses of the 1970s and 1980s, who raced through winter. One of the limited number of starts the pacer will have before the spring is set to come when racing resumes next week. “He is very well and he will be ready for the first meeting,” Howe said. “We had eight at the trials last week and most of the team are about 80-90% at the moment.” “We will have eight at the trials again this week to get them ready.” Howe, stable reinsman Jonny Cox and breeder-owners, Phil and Christine Smith, doubled up at last week’s Addington trials when winning both the fast class 2600m trot and pace. Aladdin Sane showed he was also on track to resume next week for the quartet when beating a talented field. The 4yr-old won first up in December after a year away from the track. That meant the Aladdin Sane found himself in the intermediate grades with just four starts behind him. The trotter is now refreshed, recharged and ready to measure up to his rating. “He is quite a nice horse and I think he can go on with it,” Howe said. “He and Phoebe Onyx should both do good jobs.” Phoebe Onyx ran second to Sioux Princess over 2600m in rating 46-55 company at last week’s Addington trials. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

May 17, 2020 - Ble du Gers (9g Quinoa du Gers-Moorea-Baccarat du Pont) rallied three wide early in the last lap from his 40 meter handicap to win the harness racing Summer Meeting Stayer (purse to the winner 100,000DKK, 2950 meter distance handicap, voltstart, 14 starters) at Charlottenlund. He scored timed in 1.14.8kr and went off as the 2.33/1 favorite. There were four false starts. This Jean Michel Bazire trainee was reined superbly by Joseph Verbeeck. Ble du Gers won for the first time in three 2020 appearances and now shows a 21-13-6 slate in 70 career starts. His life earnings increased to 8,935,242DKK. Tuxedo Bi (8g Love You-Iberia Bi-Supergill) was second with a strong late run for pilot Rick Ebbinge and far back third was Peakadilly (6m Mythical Lindy) with trainer Steen Juul aboard. Ble du Gers Replay http://sportech.webstream.dk/player_vod/?date=2020-05-17&countrycode=DK&track=ch&race=11&checksum=f7f94276a73cb84bddbce0f08657ab215885f476 Thomas H. Hicks  

Columbus, OH — Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryan Clements, a harness racing fan and video game developer, has been doing his best to make sure the sport continues to be “off and pacing.” Clements created an app by the same name (Off And Pacing) in 2017, and in 2018 he added Catch Driver to his arsenal of racing-related entertainment apps. His goal was to use modern technology to keep racing relevant and help attract a new, younger audience to the sport. Now, in the absence of live racing, Clements is working overtime to help provide compelling content for harness racing fans all over the world. “Initially after everything settled in and people were stuck at home, we saw a pretty significant uptick in our daily users and the amount of people who play our games,” said Clements. Clements and the four others who make up The Farm Ventures — Mathew Corey, development manager; Nick Smilovic, junior developer; Landon Mulhall, marketing coordinator; and Alexander Wong, 3D game artist — saw a silver lining in the COVID-19 shutdown and wanted to help. They’ve ramped up production and have been offering specialized content. “Our games have been built in a way where they weren’t going to crash,” said Clements. “Servers aren’t going to have any issues dealing with the extra traffic; things were smooth on that front. What we needed to react to quickly was planning special things for the games, because they were getting more attention. We’re doing some things with the USTA, simulated races, and some stuff with Catch Driver and some races there. So, planning these events took a lot of our attention.” One of these special events included partnering with the USTA. When USTA Social Media coordinator Michael Carter approached Clements with the idea to create simulated stakes races he immediately said yes. It was something The Farm team had considered but hadn’t done before. “We knew we could do it, but unless we have a partner that wants to put a broadcast together, it was just something we didn’t really have time to focus on,” said Clements. “So, when I heard that the USTA wanted to put together these broadcasts and call the races, and have a guest handicapper, I just thought it sounded like a ton of fun and we put it together.” In effort to continue to bring racing to fans during the quarantine, Clements and his team have worked with Carter and USTA Digital Brand Strategist Jason Turner to create virtual races that simulate actual real-world races. Using the Off And Pacing software, Clements and his team were able to give virtual horses real-life character traits such as gait, speed, stamina, and heart. “It’s a fun way to stay tuned into racing,” said Carter. “My guest and I handicap it like it’s a real race, using past performances and performances in other virtual races if there are any. It’s our way of helping fans see what may have happened in certain stakes races even if they were postponed or canceled.” The Farm’s plans for growing harness racing’s fan base extends beyond the current pandemic, however, with plans in the works to create a virtual reality experience for current and prospective fans. Recently they received funding from the Central Ontario Standardbred Association to develop their first virtual reality unit. The original plan was to launch the first model at a track in May, but plans came to a halt with the onset of COVID-19. “Obviously, I don’t think there are going to be any racetracks open to spectators by then, but as soon as the tracks are open, we are going to have that geared up, ready to go,” said Clements. “It’s going to be basically Catch Driver but you’re going to be able to sit in the sulky, hold the real reigns through the VR (virtual reality) headset and be put right into that virtual world. So that’s our next thing to come. We are hoping to roll that out around the world, hoping to have that at as many racetracks as possible.” by Skyler Kraft, Hoof Beats Intern

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