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The pressures on harness racing industry participants from the COVID-19 pandemic have been many and varied, but they are drawing the attention of some industry bodies in Australia. Harness Racing NSW has rolled out a new welfare program known as Mates4Harness in response to COVID-19, establishing a dedicated support team and regionally-based Ambassador-mentors. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny said the program, Mates4Harness, is a peer support initiative empowering mates to look out for mates. "Research has found that effective support offered from peers and colleagues can help significantly in coping with stress and difficult situations," Mr Dumesny said. "We know there is an increased level of anxiety in our community, it is acknowledged by health professionals that mental illness, suicide, drug, alcohol abuse and domestic violence will increase during the current pandemic," he said. "The welfare of our participants is of particular importance to Harness Racing NSW and our new welfare initiative provide us with an opportunity to be proactive in supporting our participants through our support team and Ambassadors." The Ambassadors are industry participants themselves, which HRNSW believes will allow them to relate well to the concerns their peers may be experiencing. They are deemed an essential service and are permitted to attend race meetings and trials within their zone to check on the welfare of participants and promote the Mates4Harness support programs. "The Ambassadors will not provide specialised counselling; rather they are available as a port of call when industry participants are in need of a mate," Mr Dumesny said. Industry specific expertise combined with training delivered by VERETIS Psychologists is aimed at ensuring they can provide an effective link between people in crisis and professional support networks during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny "Having access to Clinical Psychologists, Counsellors and Assistance Hotlines are essential and these services are available," Mr Dumesny said. "However, people are often more likely to initially reach out to a trusted peer or colleague for support." Ambassadors for the program are: Darren Binskin (Metropolitan); Peter Allen (Hunter); Leeanne Flower (North West); Amy Rees (Western); Seryn Adams (Riverina); and Stevie-Marie Robinson (Far West). HRNSW has established a dedicated participant welfare website, with contact details of the Harness Racing NSW's Welfare Officer. The website is Information is also available on the Mates4harness page on Facebook. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has developed a specific welfare hotline to support industry participants. HRV said it was aware the health crisis was prompting feelings of uncertainty among some participants, and that stress and anxiety about the future were normal. The HRV Industry Assistance Program (IAP) and other counselling services are accessible to HRV participants at no charge and HRV said it strongly encouraged the utilisation of the services. The HRV welfare hotline is available on (03) 9214 0663 during business hours and the IAP is provided by Benestar on 1300 360 362 or at Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E   W      

Harness Racing Australia’s “tweaking” of its controversial new National Ratings system will bring some small consolation to industry participants frustrated their views are not being heard. But the sport’s peak body has missed the opportunity make the more significant changes this contentious system so desperately needs to regain the confidence of passionate industry participants. Harness Racing New South Wales chief John Dumesny is so far the only State chief to report back to industry participants on the outcomes of last week’s HRA Executive meeting, and the intense debate at the Ratings Review team meeting that preceded it. It was the job of the Review Team three weeks ago to make recommendations on any changes required, six months after the NR system was rolled out – and the executive, reportedly, duly adopted the review recommendations last week. The decisions of the HRA executive can be read here:  While other State bodies have had little to say to their constituencies about the impact and timing of the amendments, Dumesny was frank in his HRNSW Blog last week. “Is it absolutely what we wanted in NSW?  No, but we got somewhere towards the requests of our participants and that is not always easy as these meetings go.  And I’m talking about a meeting that lasted six hours, of pretty deliberate discussions,” he said. “Some states rely heavily on the data and that is pertinent…but there is another point that always must be respected, and that is your stakeholder satisfaction -- it is a balance,” he said. “We want wagering turnover, we want to provide even racing but without participants we don’t have a sport. Certainly, I played that card within reason at the Ratings Review team meeting.” Industry participants in Victoria, in particular, have been enraged by the lack of consultation by the State body.  Debate on social media about the NR system has been “white hot”, but Harness Racing Victoria has provided no formal process or opportunity for industry to provide feedback to inform its position at the Ratings Review. And while the HR executive might not have been receiving the grass roots input via some State bodies that many industry participants wanted, there were some concessions to appease critics. The major change relates to the iniquitous “points for second place” conditions of the new NR system, and there are some welcome amendments to the NR matrix. Now, for races less than $10,000 the NR point for second place will disappear.  In addition, horses winning races with lower levels of stake money will be awarded fewer NR points. But Dumesny’s blog comments indicate, despite the compromise, not all States were fully on board to the level of NSW. “This was a concern across Australia that for running second you are actually penalised a point and while some didn’t want to lift the prizemoney level higher than $10,000, everyone was sensible about the end result,” Dumesny said. John Dumesny The Executive also approved a significant and common sense change for two year old racing, in that the system will be modified to reduce the starting point rating from 40 to 35 National Rating Points. However, efforts to get a similar concession for three year olds failed. The impact on three year olds, and the lack of protection they are provided in their juvenile season, has been one of the most hotly-debated issues around the new NR system. But Dumesny indicated the solution required by participants for three year olds was not going to get past all members of the review team. “The easiest outcome from our participants’ point of view for three years olds was to drop down (the three year old ranking) from 50 points to 45 points,” Dumesny said. “I didn’t get much traction on that with the other States – but we came up with a pretty good compromise in my opinion.” The “compromise” solution allows States to “potentially” program races that allow for a five-point concession for three year olds racing against older horses. “It was about the experience and maturity of horses, so when these three year olds do win their three year old races and they have to race against the older horses they will get a five point concession,” Dumesny said. The frustration for many industry participants currently racing three-year olds (already mid-way through their 3YO season), will be in the likely lag time for adoption of the compromise conditions. Dumesny pointed to likely further delays in the rollout, due to the time necessary for modifications to the national industry database. That is, the time it takes for RISE to change the HARVEY System. “It’s a bit of a case of when we can get it into the system – there needs to be changes to the HARVEY system because we really want it to be all automatic.  We don’t want it to be a manual system because errors will occur,” he said. It will then be up to the States (particularly those not necessarily enthusiastic about amendment of the conditions) to enact the new policy. Amendments to programming necessary to accommodate the new three-year-old concessions will also become a State-by-State responsibility.  A separate issue is how effectively the race conditions are amended to provide enough realistic racing opportunities for three year olds. Dumesny said he was “quite prepared” for further feedback on the system from industry participants. Harnesslink Media

Harness Racing NSW chief executive John Dumesny hopes an operational review of the Newcastle club will help it turn around eight consecutive years of financial losses. Dumesny confirmed HRNSW was conducting a review of Newcastle Harness Racing Club, which had a record loss of about $240,000 for the 2016-17 financial year. That followed annual deficits of $116,910, $171,000, $207,000, $103,000, $122,000, $120,000 and $97,000. The review comes as the club prepares to lose CEO Tony Drew. The 64-year-old confirmed to the Herald almost three weeks ago that he was retiring. The former Wyong Race Club boss is set to leave later this financial year after four years at the helm following the death of long-time chief Ross Gigg. Dumesny told the Herald the independent review at Newcastle was not unusual and was done “to see how clubs are doing and to improve the clubs”. “Each of the past few years we’ve assisted clubs with reducing the costs of conducting meetings,” Dumesny said. “It’s a balancing act between providing a level of prizemoney for participants, but at the same time you also need to provide for the clubs. “Newcastle is one of our ‘A’ clubs, so we’re just looking at it. It’s opportune, but it’s got nothing to do with the resignation of Tony.” He said the harness racing clubs’ committee has “each year put forward ideas on how we can help clubs and that’s what we are doing”.  Newcastle had blamed deficits on the loss of regular TAB Saturday meetings almost a decade ago. However, an increase in Saturday dates in recent years has failed to improve its bottom line. “We just want to look at their model there and how it works and if we can help them further,” Dumesny said. “They’ve made a loss of varying amounts for the past few years now and we’ve worked with the club, changing race dates. “We gave them all those Saturdays, and those Saturdays come at a cost to the industry, but we want to see what it is that continues not to assist them with making a profit.” He said the annual losses were a concern but he was hopeful of a turnaround. “In the next allocation of race dates we looked at the balance and there were indications that a combination of Fridays and Saturdays would work better,” he said. He said wagering revenue was the industry’s lifeblood “but we are also driven to have on-track attendances”. Asked if the review could lead to a change in administrative structure at NHRC, Dumesny said that was a decision for Newcastle’s board. He added that the review will be complete before Drew leaves, “so the club will be privy to what it uncovers and they will be able to address that in their future thinking”. The review comes as Hunter participants await further news on the NSW government’s plans for the Broadmeadow sporting and recreational precinct, which takes in Newcastle Paceway. Harness racing has not been included in plans despite NHRC holding a lease on its facility until 2027, with an option for another 20-year deal. The Herald understands HRNSW and state government authorities have been looking for a site in Maitland and Cessnock to build a new Hunter headquarters taking in a training centre and racetrack similar to Bathurst. “The success at Bathurst is known, we can measure it,” Dumesny said. “We are building Wagga and it’s different to Bathurst, but Newcastle is our second-biggest club on race meetings and the Hunter Valley is a very strong harness racing precinct. So whatever occurs there, HRNSW will certainly be looking after the stakeholders throughout NSW and the future of harness racing in the Hunter.” “There’s a licence agreement there for decades, so there’s no uncertainty for the participants. There is a venue there they can race on once or twice a week. They’ve got a home and they are safe.”  By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

East Maitland thoroughbred training track Fairhall Park could be the future home of Hunter harness racing if Newcastle International Paceway is lost to the sport. The Herald understands Fairhall Park, on Raymond Terrace Rd, East Maitland, is a location harness racing authorities are looking at as a potential new headquarters for the code in the region.  The Herald reported on Friday that Wests Group had guaranteed to contribute at least $10 million towards a potential $20 million rugby league centre of excellence to be built on the Broadmeadow paceway site. The proposal has caused concern among pacing participants, who have enjoyed the top-class track and facilities at Broadmeadow since 1989. The multi-million dollar paceway is built on crown land, which Newcastle Harness Racing Club has a lease on until 2027.  Harness Racing NSW chief John Dumesny said on Monday that his organisation “will be doing everything we can to protect and grow harness racing in the area”. “Harness racing in the Hunter is an integral part of the whole network in NSW,” Dumesny said. He said the industry “wouldn’t be walking away from a property where we have a lengthy lease on” and the preferred area for the Hunter’s premier track was “right at the moment, it’s where it is, at Broadmeadow”. The Herald has reported the state government would build a new track for harness racing in or near Maitland if the Newcastle International Paceway was used for rugby league. The situation opens the door for HRNSW to add the Hunter to its list of industry-owned, redeveloped sites integrating training centres and racing tracks. “Harness racing’s focus in the Hunter is drawn quite easily from our strategies around NSW,” Dumesny said. The City of Maitland Society Of Aeromodellers set-up at Don Macindoe Memorial Flying Field in Fairhall Park. “We have a track and training centre at Menangle, we have a track and soon-to-be training centre at Bathurst. We’ve got land and are about to commence construction of a track and training centre at Wagga, and likewise in Tamworth, where we’ve purchased the showground, where a training centre can be quite easily be added.” Dumesny said there were no desire to move away from training centres at Cessnock and Maitland showgrounds. However, he said a redevelopment project similar to Tamworth at Maitland Showground was not feasible. “Maitland is a privately-owned property and very small, so we would not be building a new track on Maitland Showground,” he said. “The GBOTA have a lease of the track and we’re not in any mind to interfere with the greyhound industry at all. “Tamworth was a bigger property and we were able to buy it outright, it’s not flood affected and a totally different option altogether.” Cessnock City Council is also keen to provide a site for a potential new pacing headquarters. Councillors last week supported a motion to write to the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot Macdonald, and the Newcastle Harness Racing Club to set up a meeting to discuss plans. Dumesny would not comment on other potential sites, saying “we’re not at that place now”. “There’s no need to look at anything until we need to. We are nicely situated at Newcastle,” he said. Fairhall Park is a Maitland City Council-maintained crown land leased by the City of Maitland Society of Aeromodellers (COMSOA). Thoroughbred trainers, like Darryl Roberts, then sub-lease for use of the track. COMSOA secretary Jason Russ said his group had been on the 100-acre site for more than 20 years and had a five-year lease. Russ said the land was flood-prone and their clubhouse had been hit by water “five-feet” high in the past. Craig Kerry   Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Harness Racing in the Riverina received a major boost this week with the announcement of a contractor assigned to begin works on the site at Cartwrights Hill north-east of Wagga. Work is expected to commence on Riverina's new home of harness racing as early as next month with Ladex Constructions Group. Weather permitting, the timeline of this stage of the project is estimated to take around 12 months. It has been a lengthy process to get to this point according to Harness Racing New South Wales chief executive John Dumesny. "It is somewhat of a relief that this project will finally start rising from the open paddock in North Wagga," said Dumesny. "HRNSW and the harness racing fraternity have been frustrated at many stages during the past 10 years but that is all behind us now. "To all those concerned to date with the project I offer the Board Members congratulations and appreciation of their efforts. "The end result will be a racing precinct for the Riverina to be extremely proud of." Plans for the multi-million dollar racing facility will see a similar development to that constructed at Bathurst. This includes a 1070m racetrack capable of starting 10 horses across the front thus resulting in maximum field sizes as well as a sprint lane. Plans for this Riverina Supercentre began in 2007 and these are the events that have followed since: Site inspections took place at six locations in areas of Wagga, Coolamon and Junee; The HRNSW Board decided that due to the population base and centrality to the region, Wagga was determined as the preferred location; Site selection was narrowed down to North Wagga Flats as the preferred site due to the additional land available for future developments, proximity to Charles Sturt University its students and the equine veterinary clinic, the convenience by road for harness racing participants located in Junee, Coolamon, Leeton and Albury; HRNSW undertook two water studies through Wagga Council’s preferred flood impact professionals WMA Water on the site – other tracks built on flood plains/low lying areas include Tabcorp Park Menangle, Harold Park, Goulburn, Albion Park, Yarra Valley, Terang; HRNSW Stewards frequently visited the site in winter to inspect the fog conditions; HRNSW purchased the land in May 2016; Countless meetings with local residents to explain the project; Numerous meetings with Wagga City Council and the Southern Region Planning Panel to have the development approved; A thorough expressions of interest to attract the most suitable construction company. Amanda Rando

Legendary The Lagoon trainer-driver Steve Turnbull, along with his daughter Amanda, one of the best drivers in NSW – will be at Towac Park for one, or both of Orange’s harness racing meets next month. The announcement that racing in Orange will switch from Highlands Paceway to Towac Park comes a fortnight after Harness Racing NSW stewards Grant Adams and Michael Zarb gave the track its final ticks of approval. The inaugural meetings on the grass track will be on February 5 and 12. “[The move is] about having a presence here, we at Harness Racing NSW didn’t want to see the sport move away from Orange,” Harness Racing NSW chief executive officer John Dumesny explained. Turnbull drove around the track at the initial trial runs last October and was on hand on Friday for the official announcement of Orange Harness Racing Club’s move. “I found [Towac] really smooth in October, the horses got round it really nicely. There is a bit of a problem with the [sandy] crossings but that’ll be fixed up and it’s not at a bad stage of the track,” Turnbull said. “If those crossings were in the middle of the straight there’d be concerns, but we can work around where they are. All the amenities and facilities are here, it’ll be different but I’m looking forward to it.” While speculating, Turnbull said he wouldn’t be surprised if running on Towac’s grass track actually improves horses’ performance on more traditional courses. “We buy a lot of horses we see run on the grass in New Zealand, they come over and do a good job so a few runs here might do them good. But it’s all trial and error,” Turnbull said. He said it would’ve been awful to have lost harness racing completely in Orange and can’t wait to return. “A lot of us won our first race, or have good memories of Orange. Having nothing is what we were looking at [in Orange] … it’ll be good for the sport,” Turnbull said. Turnbull explained the changes to the structure of the race will be something for drivers and horses to get used to. “Speed wise, I think it’ll going to be a lot different,” he explained. “We had to get used to Menangle, that’s 1400 metres though and [Towac] is 1800. “It took a while to get used to that but then the grass might ease the speed out of them a little bit, it’ll be interesting and it’s something to look forward. “It was a bit of a concern being back-to-front, the way we’re running, but being so big it wasn’t a problem [in October], they came around the corner good as gold. “If it was tighter they could have issues and end up on the wrong foot or something, but it was fine. “I’ll be here with bells on [in February], so will Amanda.” By Matthew Findlay Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Chief Operations Officer Reid Sanders has tendered his resignation to the Board of Harness Racing New South Wales after five years of exemplary service. Having joined HRNSW in the role of Chief Stipendiary Steward in 2011 Mr Sanders has been integral in the resurrection of the integrity standing of the controlling body. Intrinsically engaged in investigating and prosecuting the infamous 'Green Light' affair Mr Sanders was also the equine industry leader in the discovery and detection of prohibitive substances in Australasia. Since late 2014 Mr Sanders has undertaken a leading role in the establishment of the Menangle Park Training Centre as well as being strategically involved in regulatory oversight. During his tenure with HRNSW Mr Sanders was presented with the Harness Racing Australia Meritorious Service Award a distinguished achievement for such a short period in the time in harness racing. Mr Sanders' resignation takes effect in December however he will continue to be involved with several major HRNSW inquiries which have recently commenced. HRNSW will undertake a restructure of roles with the departure of the Chief Operations Officer. For further information contact HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny on (02) 97226600.               Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State. HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government.       To arrange an interview or for further information please contact:   AMANDA RANDO   MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER       Harness Racing New South Wales   22 Meredith St Bankstown NSW 2200   T: (02) 9722 6600   W:              

Expressions of Interest are being sought to participate in the selection of suitably experienced and qualified Building Contractors and Earthworks Contractors for the construction of the new harness racing facility at Wagga. Harness Racing New South Wales has placed advertisements in the Riverina and is keen to see the building process begin on time. HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny believes the announcement should be exciting for the industry in the local area. "It is very fulfilling we are edging closer to turning the first sod of soil on the new harness racing facility at Wagga Wagga," Mr Dumesny said. "The Riverina deserves a racing complex equal to what HRNSW has provided at Bathurst and when completed it will be a benefit not only for the industry but for the community of Wagga Wagga." The EOI's will be used to determine a select tender list for the project and must be received by McKinnon Design before 5pm Monday June 6. "This is going to be a state of the art complex, a new clubhouse, grandstand, race stalls and track will be built and it should be good news for all of the participants in the region." EOI's can be sent to McKinnon Design at PO Box 1929, Orange NSW 2800. For more information contact McKinnon Design on (02) 63631780 or Greg Hayes

What does Golden Slipper winner Sebring, five time Group 1 winner Theseo, Magic Millions winner Driefontein and Flight Stakes winner Danglissa all have in common? They were all syndicated by Star Thorougbred's Denise Martin and Denise will make a presentation about growing ownership in today's harness racing landscape at the HRNSW Conference - Harnessing Our Future. Star Thoroughbred has been in business for more than 20 years and continues to deliver quality service and exceptional customer care ensuring that owners receive individual attention at every stage of their racing experience. Denise Martin will discuss the best way to attract new customers and retain loyal ones in regards to horse ownership. HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny is looking forward to Denise's presentation on the first day of the two day conference that will be held at the Campbelltown Catholic Club on June 24 and 25. "Harness racing can learn a lot from the success stories in the thoroughbred industry and Denise's Star Thoroughbreds is definitely one of those stories," Mr Dumesny said. "Prize money in this state is at an all time high, currently more owners are winning races than ever before and we need to learn how to market the industry to potential owners and what should be delivered to them, it will be a very important session at the conference." People are invited to attend Harnessing The Future and can register for the two day conference by visiting the website The cost is $110 and it includes a ticket to the Gala Dinner at the Catholic Club on the Friday evening. People will be travelling from all parts of the country to attend and anyone interested in the future of the industry should register. Greg Hayes

A new Harness Racing New South Wales policy for two-year-olds has been announced and will take effect from the commencement of the 2016/17 Harness Racing Season.  The policy was developed through a series of submissions and consultative electronic surveys to enhance, strengthen and guarantee the racing opportunities of two-year-old pacers in NSW. Submissions were received from industry stakeholders in July and October last year culminating in an electronic survey in January.  To read the new policy in full click here. HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny stated a lot of work and time had gone into the formation of the strategy and it will provide assurance to the industry. “The Board and Management of HRNSW believe the policy provides a degree of certainty for connections and also takes into consideration the longevity of a horse’s racing career,” Mr Dumesny said. “There is the distinct possibility that breeders and owners will have improved opportunities to collect bonuses in NSW which have the notional value of $6,000 for a two-year-old maiden win.  Certainty for two-year-old fillies will be provided also.” Under the new policy two-year-old races will commence on January 1 and end on the August 31 each year.  This will now be known as the Two-Year-Old Racing Season.  A schedule of all two-year-old races programmed during the Two-Year-Old Racing Season will be released by HRNSW in October, preceding the commencement of the season. The schedule will take into consideration established Feature and Futurity Races and will focus on NSW Breeders Challenge eligible horses. The schedule will be regional based. The schedule will create race opportunities for fillies on a regional basis. The schedule will not include two-year-old races for prize money below $5,000.Therefore two-year-old races will not be programmed at NON-TAB or Graduation Penalty (R) meetings.The schedule will only be amended by HRNSW taking into consideration imperative industry requirements. Race conditions will be released in accordance with standard HRNSW practices. Scheduled two-year-old races will be guaranteed at the value of HRNSW funding if there is a minimum six (6) pacers nominated when the original nominations close. The maximum field size for all two-year-old events will be ten (10); however two (2) emergencies will be drawn into all Finals and Group events. Two-year-old pacers can be nominated in 3YO and upwards races by choice of connections with an advantage in the barrier draw however will be limited to one lifetime win only under this concession. Two-year-old pacers will not be permitted to start in races conducted in NSW prior to January 1. Greg Hayes

One of the leading harness racing female trainers in New South Wales Belinda McCarthy has thrown her support behind the ovarian cancer awareness campaign currently underway. Belinda offered for some of her horses to carry the Women's Cancer Foundation colours during the campaign and went one step further offering to donate money to the cause. "I caught up with Duncan McPherson at Melton last weekend and I told him as a female trainer I was keen to be a part of Team Teal so he offered to get the stable a set of Women's Cancer Foundation silks," Belinda said. "I then spoke with Harness Racing NSW boss John Dumesny and said that I would donate $100 to the Women's Cancer Foundation each time one of my horses won carrying their silks and he agreed to match my donation." The Women's Cancer Foundation silks will be the reverse of those worn by ambassadors Lauren Panella, Emma Turnbull and Ellen Bartley. The silks will be teal with a Women's Cancer Foundation logo. "It is a fantastic cause and it is great to see the sport involved and raising money. Many of our owners are contributing by allowing the drivers to wear the colours and donating money." The McCarthy stable also confirmed the connections of Bling It On had agreed to donate five percent of the money he earns on Saturday night to the Women's Cancer Foundation. Bling It On will compete in the $200,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Sprint and is the $1.70 favourite. Should he win it would mean a donation of $6,000. "A big thank you to the owners of Bling It On - Harvey Kaplan, Peter O'Shea and Sammy Kilgour are right behind the idea and hopefully he can do a great job for the foundation this weekend." Greg Hayes

Harness Racing New South Wales will deliver on its promise of a world-class training facility with the grand opening of the Menangle Training Centre this Saturday morning.  Horses will move into the new facility over the next two weeks and HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny is welcoming all interested parties to the official opening ceremony this Saturday morning from 11am. “The Menangle Training Centre will play an important role in the future of harness racing in the state of New South Wales and there has been great interest in the development even before construction began on the facility,” Mr Dumesny said. “The incumbent Board of HRNSW has been behind the massive infrastructure planning development around the state.” Adverse weather conditions in the Macarthur region over the past three months has not forced the opening of the Menangle Training Centre to be delayed however it has caused issues with parts of the project. “Whilst not all parts of the facility are absolute, the centre is ready to accommodate horses and with the opening proceeding this Saturday it is important to recognise the work of the current HRNSW Chairman Rex Horne and his predecessor Graeme Campbell and the Board Members Rod Smith, Alex Smith, Graham Kelly and Chris Edwards. “As a group these gentlemen have facilitated the successful development and opening of the Bathurst track, pushed the development application at Wagga across the line, have been working steadfastly on the Tamworth project and delivered on the Menangle Training Centre.” The concept for the Menangle Training Centre was first presented to local council ten years ago and to witness the development and construction has been exciting. “This has been a vision since it was first presented to the Campbelltown Council in 2006, the first stage has now been completed and some work will continue over the next twelve months to finish the project entirely. “I would like to single out some people who have been working on the site putting the finishing touches on it for this weekend - Rex Horne, Alex Smith, HRNSW Chief Operating Officer Reid Sanders, Racing Manager Adam Fairley, Dan Westwood and some of the staff from Tabcorp Park Menangle have all been working under trying circumstances but have finished the task.” A morning tea will be served on Saturday morning from 10:30am with the official opening ceremony set to begin at 11. Greg Hayes

Harness Racing New South Wales has opened registrations to attend the HRNSW 'Harnessing Our Future' Conference on June 24-25, 2016 at the Campbelltown Catholic Club in Sydney's Macarthur region. HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny said the inaugural conference will play an important role in educating and informing clubs as well as industry affiliates on how to improve the overall harness racing product in NSW. "The harness racing industry is going through significant change currently and with increased and changing demands from our participants and partners, it is important to embrace the future and the changes that will come with it," Mr Dumesny said. "If we can ensure the many changes taking place within the industry are being acknowledged and planned for, then we will be in a better position to shape the future." The Conference will have an impressive line-up of speakers and presenters designed to inform, challenge and inspire the wide range of delegates in attendance. Breakout sessions will also allow participants to explore a number of specialised issues in more detail in a more refined environment. After participating in the planned conference activities on Friday June 24, delegates are invited to attend a Gala Dinner at the Catholic Club. The conference will resume on Saturday June 25 at 9am. A Partners Program has also been designed to ensure everyone travelling to the conference is entertained. The two-day conference has been planned to coincide with the Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge Finals at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday, June 26. Registrations are now open. For more information visit: To view the Harnessing Our Future promotional video please click here Greg Hayes

The head of Harness Racing New South Wales said progress is being made on building a new track for Tamworth, in northern New South Wales, despite claims to the contrary from a local MP. Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson last week criticised the organisation for what he described as a decade of delays in getting a new facility up and running. John Dumesny has labelled calls to urgently start the development of a new track in Tamworth as unnecessary, as progress is being made. Mr Dumesny said money for new facilities across the state only came through in last five years. "I'm unaware of a ten year delay, I don't know where [Mr Anderson] gets that date from," he said. "There was no money, absolutely zero money, for any developments of any country track to such magnitude til 2010. "In 2010 was the only time that any real money came and that was through the sale of Harold Park." He said two other projects were in line before Tamworth. "Bathurst has been completed, the second one was Wagga, which gained DA approval last week," Mr Dumesny said. "Now we'll move on to Tamworth, we actually have a meeting with the Tamworth club next Monday and at that time we'll be discussing the way forward with the club as to what we're doing." Harness Racing purchased a parcel of land on Burgmann's Lane in Tamworth in 2013, to enable the construction of a new facility. That land has since been rezoned to allow a development application to be submitted. Mr Dumesny couldn't indicate when that would happen. He said he'd welcome any discussion with Mr Anderson but he would've appreciated a private approach from the MP. "We've had no contact from Mr Anderson and we're always open to having contact," he said. "I see he's going to go directly to the Deputy Premier and Racing Minister Troy Grant but I would have thought he would have come to us to ask any sort of questions first. "It's just confusing to us, that's all." ABC News  -  Check site here

A new harness racing track on the floodplain at North Wagga Wagga could be up and running in just over a year. The CEO of Harness Racing NSW, John Dumesny, said he is relieved the revised application was approved on the casting vote of the Chairman of the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel. North Wagga residents raised concerns about flooding, noise and light impacts from the $6.5m development. Once the complex is up, operational, I think there could be some hysteria as to what the effect is, it won't actually eventuate. Mr Dumesny says they will be addressed in revised consent conditions, yet to be released, and the industry will continue liaising with affected residents. "I would suggest we'll go out to tender early in the new year and commence the construction shortly after that," he said. "Hopefully we'll have a new facility up and running by the end of 2016." Mr Dumesny believes North Wagga residents concerns about a new track on Cooramin Street will never become a reality. He said there has been benefit in the delay to approving the track, because extra studies have been done. Mr Dumesny said the industry body looks forward to consulting further with residents who have ongoing concerns. "They correctly put it, that if you haven't lived through a flood you haven't seen the devastation," he said. "I'm relying on our consultants to say that the effects won't be any worse than any flood that's occurred in the past, so we'll have to wait and see. "There are other concerns with noise, traffic, what have you. "Once the complex is up, operational, I think there could be some hysteria as to what the effect is, it won't actually eventuate." Reproduced with the permission of ABC News

Harness Racing Australia has announced the winners of the 2015 Joseph Coulter Media Awards and NSW journalists have been recognised. Harness Racing New South Wales CEO John Dumesny congratulated all of the winners but made special mention of the local journalists. "The media play an important role in the harness racing industry and it is through journalists that the stories from within harness racing are told," Mr Dumesny said. "In the past a number of talented journalists have worked on harness racing in New South Wales and there is no doubt the current group of men and women who cover the sport do an outstanding job." Mr Dumesny congratulated all awards including; BEST NEWS STORY - National Trotguide's Michael Court for his article 'It's Dexter - by the length of the straight' BEST FEATURE ARTICLE - HRNSW's Amanda Rando for her article on Pat Driscoll. 'Building an empire' AWARD OF MERIT FOR DEMONSTRATED EXCELLENCE IN PROMOTION - Trots TV for its coverage of the World Drivers' Championship. The team that worked on the coverage included Mike Ko'cass, Greg Hayes, John Harbor and Guy Southwell. Greg Hayes                          

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