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John Curtin, founder ,of Harnesslink and JC International Bloodstock in Auckland, New Zealand, had tested positive for coronavirus on Friday says he is already back to feeling 100 per cent. Curtin, who after returning from the United States became the sixth New Zealander to test positive, heaped praise on his "first class" treatment by officials and medical experts. He was in high spirits when he spoke with this reporter on Sunday night. "I'm 100 per cent, I'm back to normal," Curtin said. "Everybody else was worried, not me." Curtin had returned from the US on Friday, March 6, on a flight from Houston to Auckland. He had earlier been at a dinner at in New York City with people who had been in contact with friends of American horseman John Brennan. On Wednesday, it was reported Brennan died of coronavirus aged 69, becoming the first fatality to the disease in New Jersey. After arriving in New Zealand, Curtin felt fine and went to an 8.30am service on Sunday, March 8 at St Mary's church in East St, Papakura. He was not coughing, sneezing or otherwise sick during the service, and as such believed those he came into contact with would not be at risk. By Tuesday he had fallen ill and was sneezing quite often. His legs were sore enough to make standing up difficult and a fever developed, Curtin said. But the symptoms abated quickly and in his view the illness for him was not as bad as a case of the flu. He arranged to be tested on Thursday and his throat was swabbed in the car park of a Papakura medical center by a doctor wearing full medical equipment. On Friday night the call came to say he had tested positive. No one else had been tested in his family and his wife, who travelled with him to the United States, had no symptoms, Curtin said. His 14-day period of isolation continues at his home south of Auckland and he is working from home. One of the friends of the man who died of the virus in New Jersey was well, but another was seriously ill and still waiting for his results after five days, the man said. That five-day wait was a sharp contrast to his treatment in New Zealand, he said. "I think they're first-class here in New Zealand," Curtin said. "Pretty sharp here, 24 hours, we had a result, whereas in America five days — the guy's as sick as a dog, he still hasn't got a result." He believed officials in New Zealand were taking the right approach in making all visitors from overseas isolate for 14 days on arrival and suspending cruise ship visits.  From Harnesslink Media

The owner of Australasian stud Alabar Alan Galloway, was in Southland last week on the SBSR bus trip. He was also here on other harness racing business in particular to secure the down under breeding rights to kiwi bred stallion Lazarus. Southland was his first port of call and I suspect possibly the easiest part of his journey to New Zealand. Galloway was last in Southland over twenty years ago when he came here with John Coffey to conduct breeding seminars. “The place is beautiful. I’ve just sent some pictures of the big round bales to my son and said ‘you have to lift your game,” he said when I spoke to him at Dave and Dawn Kennedy’s Bayswater property in Western Southland. Alabar was founded in Adelaide in the 1950s by Alan’s parents Alan senior and his wife Barbara. The name is derived from the letters of their first names. The main breeding operation is based on 2000 acres in the Echuca area, but plans are afoot to move into the New South Wales market. “When we do, we’ll be eligible for their stakes races there. You have to look at the states in Australia as individual countries because they’re individually funded. To get access to the money you’ve got to have a stallion base in that particular state so that means buying a property and setting up a base and moving stallions there.” Galloway says he was born into the business.  “I knew what I wanted to do when I was six years old.” Before taking up the reins from his father, who is 92, he travelled the world expanding his knowledge and experience, but he still likes to be hands on.  “At one point we bred three thousand foals in four months. I think that would be a record. I like to be hands on. I’ve got scars all over my wrists and teeth marks where horses have had me on the ground trying to kill me.” Bloodstock agent John Curtin, who was travelling with Galloway, says the Australian is world renowned for his technical knowledge of breeding and semen transportation. But perhaps the most important business for the Alabar boss is to meet Duncan Taylor one of the brothers that bought and raced New Zealand champion racehorse Lazarus. “We’re trying to negotiate a deal as are all the other big farms. We’ve been interested in him since his three year old days.” The process has been going on for a while but Curtin, who is helping to broker the deal says it should be done once the yearling sales are over. During the process Galloway has gained a lot of respect for the way in which Taylor Made Stallions do business. “Not many school me on the breeding industry but the Taylor boys have. They took him (Lazarus) up there, raced him, and syndicated him for about four million American. So they’re out already. They won a million up there with him and now they’re bringing him back here and they’re going to sell him for another four million. He’s one of those horses you see every decade.” Lazarus which won 37 of his 51 starts and amassed $4,125,988 is currently standing in the State of New Jersey which New Zealand Bloodstock agent John Curtin described as being dead in the water until they got a big cash injection from the government. Lazarus is the only stallion standing in the State and has a full book of mares in this first visit to the breeding barn. Galloway is hopeful that Alabar can win the down under breeding rights but says it may have to be in partnership. “You can’t give him to anyone because you need the infrastructure to manage a horse like that. I feel as though we’ve got the advantage with location here and in Australia and we’ve got sixty percent of the market.” Alabar has certainly grown since the early days when they stood Kentucky, Windshield Wiper, Whats Next and Golden Greek. In recent years Art Major has been on their books and in 2011 they merged their stallion operation with The Stallion Station which meant Mach Three and Courage Under Fire were added to the Alabar roster. Their quality breeding bloodstock now includes A Rocknroll Dance, He’s Watching, Rock N Roll Heaven, Roll With Joe and Sportswriter. More recently Always Be Miki joined the breeding barn in a deal struck with Nevele R Stud. Galloway says Alabar Australia now wants to venture into the syndicate of racehorses and copy the model Graeme Henley from Alabar New Zealand has used with success through the deeds of Chase Auckland. “We’re copying Graeme. We need to promote that. I kind of dropped the ball there. We left that to private enterprise. We’ll be going to the public with the colt and the filly we bought in Melbourne, we want new people coming into the game.” Galloway is excited about the new venture and sees the syndicate attracting new faces to the harness industry. “It’s the first time it’s been done in Australia for a while. You need a dealer’s licence which are hard to get these days. Too many crooks in the past have given it (syndication) a bad name and the government have made it very very difficult. We’ve got industry backing with HRA and Harness Racing Victoria because they know Alabar is a blue chip company which stands by it’s name.”   The filly Alabar purchased for $42,000 is by Art Major out of Mint Julep. Mint Julep is a daughter of Jadah Rose the winner of thirty one races including the 2005 Vicbred Super Series for two year old fillies and the 2006 Vicbred Super Series for three year old fillies. So there’s a nice pedigree there. The colt which will be syndicated is by Bettor’s Delight out of Rye Hanover which was purchased for $65,000. “We thought he was way undervalued. We thought he was a hundred to a hundred and twenty thousand dollar colt.” Rye Hanover was initially bred from in America leaving four foals before she was bought to New Zealand where she left Blazin N Cullen the winner of twenty six races and Rockin Roll Lad which won nine. Rye Hanover was one mare bought here in a package deal organised by Curtin.  “She was one of the best bred mares and cost $300,000 US which was big money back then,” he said. The syndicates will be managed in Australia by Brett Coffey.   Alabar is also upgrading its broodmare band and this week purchased Nike Franco which won thirty two races, paced a mile in 1-48.0 and was the fastest mare in North America in 2017. “We spent a million bucks in the last twelve months just on mares in the Australian and New Zealand market but we’re looking at the US market as well. We’re seriously making some bids on some well-known mares at the moment.” So exciting times ahead as Alabar continues to expand its business and who knows, Lazarus could be part of that.   Bruce Stewart

As someone who has spent a big part of every year for the last 35 years travelling between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres on business revolving around harness racing, I get to witness first hand trends and developments in the harness racing industry worldwide. The Northern Hemishere in the past has always been in front of their Southern Hemisphere counterparts when it comes to the development of the standardbred breed along with track surfaces, equipment and race carts to name just a few things. The industry in the Southern Hemisphere has always followed the lead on industry developments in the north to the point that in 2016 that we look like a carbon copy in many respects of our northern counterparts.  There use to be a time lag between developments in the north being adopted in the south but that gap is virtually non existent today with our industry in the south using a lot of the equipment and technology in use in the north. Tracks in the Australasia are constantly closing the gap with North America while I believe some of our premier tracks such as Tabcorp Park Menangle, Tabcorp Park Melton in Australia and Ashburton and Addington in New Zealand are condition wise the equal of anything I have seen in North America. The race bikes in use in Australasia are cutting edge these days and have certainly contributed to the dramatic fall in overall times we have witnessed in the south in the last few years. So the harness racing industry in the Southern Hemisphere now operates on a par with our Northern Hemisphere counterparts on so many levels and that development is allowing our bloodstock to show that the gap between them and their Northern Hemisphere cousins is shrinking by the day. Since the advent of shuttle stallions in the 1990s, breeders in the Southern Hemisphere have obtained access over the next 20 years to most of the best stallions stallions standing in North America. What started as a small trickle at first is now a torrent with the result that the leading sires in North America in 2016 are the leading sires in Australasia in 2016. Somebeachsomewhere, Art Major, Bettor's Delight, American Ideal, Mach Three and Rock N Roll Heaven dominate the Southern Hemisphere siring charts. Champion racehorses entering the stallion ranks such as A Rocknroll Dance, Sweet Lou and He's Watching are immediately available down under to the point that some stallions cover their first lifetime book of mares in Australasia. The impact of Southern Hemisphere breeders having access to the best stallions in the world has been to raise the standard of the standardbred breed in Australasia at a rate that is unparalled in the history of the industry down under. When you add the vast improvement in technology used in our industry alongside the bloodstock bred these days in Australasia, the end result is the speed explosion we are witnessing on a weekly basis these days. Times are being run on a regular basis now that would have been unheard of as little as three to five years ago. On Saturday night at Menangle, the three year old son of Somebeachsomewhere in Waikiki Beach posted a 1:50.6 mile in winning a race in his build up to the New South Wales Derby. It was a brilliant performance that he achieved without any real pressure from his rivals and he gave the distinct impression he had more to offer late in the straight. What made the effort even more impressive was he ran that time at night. North Americans have long reconized that there is an atmospheric advantage time wise when racing during the day. As a result most of their major classics such as Hambletonian Day or Little Brown Jug Day are staged during the day to maxmise the speed factor involved. Last years astonishing Ladyship Mile win by Adore Me in 1:47.7 was just another example of how daytime races do have an advantage over races staged at night. Both the New Zealand Cup meeting and the Harness Jewels meeting are renowned for producing times close to or better than existing New Zealand records and it is no coincidence that they are both daytime meetings. I have to admit I am really looking forward to the big day at Menagle on February 28th The Miracle Mile and Ladyship Mile being run during the daytime for me raises the anticipation of sub 1:50 races. In my opinion that is the last piece of the jigsaw needed in our classics run over a mile if we want to see our Southern Hemishere bred horses start to breach that 1:50 mark on a regular basis. JC

When it comes to Trans Tasman rivalry in harness racing, the facts usually get lost in claim and counter claim regarding the merits of horses, trainers, stallions or tracks. Agreement is seldom reached as both sides defend their position with reasoned arguments which in most cases is done in good spirit. There are few areas where either New Zealand or Australia could claim a huge advantage over their neighbour but one that does stand out in our view is the television coverage of the industry. In New Zealand we have Trackside and we cannot sing their praises loud enough. There are two channels in play which allows the programmers to give the viewer in depth previews of races from within New Zealand for every race run. We are given a three to four minute lead in for most races which allows the average viewer a chance to get a feel for our industry and why participants are so passionate about it. It is a major plus for our industry but one that we tend to take for granted. On the major race days such as the New Zealand Cup Day or the Harness Jewels meeting, we have the luxury of having one of the channels exclusively for that one meeting. Wall to wall coverage of those special meetings helps immensely in keeping the profile of harness racing as high as it is in New Zealand. The presenters are extremely knowledgeable with Michael Guerin, Greg O'Connor and the 'Whale' all having a feel and passion for the industry and they present a great shop window for our industry. In short, Trackside is providing a great service and should be accorded the kudos that their efforts deserve. And you quickly realise how good we have it when you tune in to the coverage of harness racing from Australia as we did on Saturday night. The Sky Racing service provided is just so inferior you have to wonder why they even bother. The $120,000 Ballarat Cup was an absolute beauty with Smolda and Lennytheshark going to war a long way out with neither giving an inch. It was a brilliant race and one where you would have thought that Sky Racing  would have spent a few minutes post race talking to the major players in Mark Purdon and Chris Alford. Not a chance. Off we go immediately to a low grade greyhound race from Mandurah in Perth. No follow up at all, just the odd comment from the presenters as the races are jammed together like sardines. Gareth Hall and Adam Hamilton try their best with the limited time they are given pre race with quick comments from the drivers as they parade before the start but the overall feeling is this is a service that is designed to meet the needs of Sky TV and not the actual customer, the betting public. In our view the coverage is detrimental to the image it is portraying of harness racing and is a drag on the ability of the industry to even maintain let alone grow its market share of gambling industry. As long as Sky TV continues to provide it's racing service in the format that it currently does, then harness racing in Australia will continue to struggle to be heard in the marketplace. So the next time you think you might like to take a potshot at Trackside over some minor hiccup, pause and take a deep breath and realise just how lucky we are on this side of the Tasman. JC

Harnesslink would like to offer our good wishes to all our readers over the festive season and hope you have a happy and safe holiday period. As the year comes to a close, Harnesslink can reflect on another successful twelve months in reporting on and airing the issues that matter if Harness Racing is to have a successful and sustainable future. Our visitor numbers continue to grow at a double digit rate and that has been reflected in our advertising base being the biggest we have ever had. We are about to re-launch our phone and IPad feeds after a long gestation period but you will notice a huge improvement early in the new year which will make all the effort worthwhile.  There are too many people to thank here for the continued success of Harnesslink but for the staff across the hemispheres, it really is a labour of love. The staff repeatedly go the extra yard to make sure that Harnesslink is at the forefront of harness racing coverage worldwide and for that I am eternally grateful. There are huge challenges facing harness racing worldwide and our aim is to keep you fully informed and up to date as to what is going on in harness racing. We thank our visitors for their continued support and pledge to work as hard again in 2016 to keep the Harnesslink site at the high level at which it presently operates. John Curtin

A United Code of Conduct should be introduced so there is consistent international governance in harness racing Associations, Clubs, Boards, and Commissions throughout the world.

The U.S. Trotting Association, which will conduct its annual meeting in congress with Harness Horsemen International, Harness Racing Tracks of America and the U.S. Harness Writers’ Association from Feb. 28 through March 4, will provide live, online video streaming of several events and same-day online video coverage of several discussion panels.

The founder and owner of Harnesslink - and International horse agent - John Curtin, of JC International, will speak at the sixth Harness Racing Congress at the Westin Beach Resort and Spa at Fort Lauderdale in Florida on Sunday March 3.

Before an array of harness racing officials, Harnesslink.com and Jim Winske were bestowed with awards last night (Sunday October 21) at the the New England Harness Writers Association 'Hall Of Fame' dinner. Winske, a Marlborough native, became the 72nd inductee to the writers 'Hall of Fame' which dates back to 1962.

Auckland Reactor will not line up in the $60,000 Ashburton Flying Stakes next Monday (October 22). The once 'pin up boy' of harness racing in New Zealand has succumbed to yet another injury.

The next three days will determine whether or not the former Auckland Cup champion Auckland Reactor will start in harness racing's $80,000 Group two Ashburton Flying Stakes next Monday (October 22).

It's hard to believe but as of Wednesday (October 10) Harnesslink celebrates its 10th birthday. Harnesslink was the brainchild of international horse agent, John Curtin (J.C. International), who 10 years ago saw a need for a world-wide harness racing website.

It's almost time to blow out the candles on the cake in celebration of its 10th birthday. On this coming Wednesday, October 10th, John Curtin's Harnesslink's web site reaches that goal. What began in 2002 has grown into one of the world's most informative web sites for harness racing and Standardbred information.

The 34th awards dinner of the New England Harness Writers is just three weeks away. Tickets are still available to the October 21 awards program which features citations to two web sites--the ustrotting.com and harnesslink.com.

When John Curtin and Mike Tanner meet at the New England Harness Writers 34th awards harness racing program, they will have plenty to talk about.

Two New Zealand harness racing stars who have won 61 races between them and $3 million in purses left Pukekohe this morning (Tuesday June 19).

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