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JULY 22, 2015 - Guelph resident Anthony MacDonald took his brother's advice about an equipment change on two-year-old trotting filly Onatopp, and it paid off with a harness racing Grassroots victory at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday evening. "I was stubborn; I didn't want to put the hopples on her. I felt that, the few times that I put them on her, I didn't feel that she was as strong or as fast with them on, and I felt that I could keep her trotting, at least on the bigger track, without them," said MacDonald, who co-owns, trains and drives Onatopp. "And James had schooled her for me when I was away and he said, you know, I think she needs the hopples. And, you know, he was right. I put them on her and she was really, really good." Making her debut with trotting hopples from Post 9 in Wednesday's sixth Grassroots division, Onatopp was able to secure a spot on the rail in fourth as favourite Ballykeel Rocket led the field to a :31.4 opening quarter. MacDonald was content to sit fourth through the 1:04.3 half, but when Favourite Tweet stepped into the outer lane from third, he followed suit. Rolling by the 1:36 three-quarters MacDonald tipped Onatopp out three-wide and she sailed effortlessly past the leaders to the front, pulling away to a two and one-half length lead in the stretch and stopping the clock at 2:05.1. Ballykeel Rocket settled for second and pocket sitter Sweet With Heat was third. "I know she only went in 2:05.1 tonight, but she can go as fast as any Grassroots filly out there, there's no end to her speed," said MacDonald. "I mean she come a last half in :59 or something tonight and I never pulled the ear plugs, never even asked her, I just moved her out in position where she could do her work, and she was more than happy to do it." MacDonald and his partner Rene Allard of Milford, PA purchased Onatopp out of the Canadian Yearling Sale for $11,000. The filly is a Manofmanymissions half-sister to $529,825 winner Sim Brown, and the partners had high hopes for her all winter. Onatopp made her Ontario Sires Stakes debut in the July 12 Gold Series opener at Georgian Downs, but made a break and finished eighth, a result that prompted MacDonald to take his brother, James MacDonald's, advice. In addition to his brother, the horseman said a great deal of credit for Onatopp's victory falls to his wife Amy who works alongside him in their 11-horse stable. "She works really, really hard on them and she deserves a lot of the credit, a lot of the credit," he emphasized. In addition to Onatopp, six other fillies went home from Grand River Raceway with Grassroots trophies on Wednesday, with four of them also stepping down from the Gold Series for their second Ontario Sires Stakes start. Mariana and trainer-driver Riina Rekila kicked things off in the first race with a 2:04 clocking, reeling in pacesetter Shezastrikin Loral and pocket sitter Tala Seelster in the stretch. Rekila and Esa Lahtinen bred and own Mariana through their Overseas Farms Ltd. of Campbellville, ON. Rekila piloted the daughter of Manofmanymissions to a runner-up result in the Grassroots season opener at Georgian Downs on July 7. Trainer-driver Eddie Green piloted Malia to a 2:03 win in the second $18,000 division. The Cornaro Dasolo daughter bested Tymal Tempest and Early Decision by one-half length. Green conditions Malia for Kristine Green of Ohsweken and, like MacDonald, sent her to the Gold Series for her first provincial appearance, where she finished sixth. Guelph resident Phil Hudon crafted a gate-to-wire victory for Toss It Back in the third division. The Majestic Son filly cruised across the wire four lengths ahead of Chapel Hall and Talbotcreek Jetta. Trainer Pat Hunt of Cambridge, ON shares ownership of Toss It Back with Leo Fleming of Campbellville, ON. The win gives the filly one victory and one fourth-place result through the first two Grassroots events. Magical Steph was the second filly of the evening to step down from the Gold Series and find success, capturing the fourth Grassroots division with a late sprint past pacesetter and favourite Shes In Gear. Major Muscle rounded out the top three in the 2:02.1 mile. Steve Byron engineered the Kadabra filly's first victory for trainer Gary Lance and owner GL Racing Inc. of Port Perry, ON. In the fifth division, Deweycheatumnhowe daughter Dewdle All Day hit the wire three and one-half lengths up on Windsongmusclelady and Herbe A Loral in 2:03.3. Dustin Jones of Waterdown, ON drives, trains and co-owns Dewdle All Day with partners 9177 8720 Quebec Inc. of Saint-Sauveur, QC and Greg Judson of Athens, ON. Dewdle All Day came into the test off a sixth-place result in the July 12 Gold Series event. The final Grassroots trophy of the evening went home with Myretirementticket, the fifth competitor shifting from Gold to Grassroots competition. The Cornaro Dasolo daughter and owner-trainer-driver Eli Wagler of Ingersoll, ON cruised along on the front end to a 2:01.1 victory, crossing the wire two and three-quarter lengths ahead of Very Classy and Cadillac Sally. The two-year-old trotting fillies make their third Grassroots start at Mohawk Racetrack on July 30. Grand River Raceway's next Ontario Sires Stakes event will come during the highly anticipated Industry Day program on Monday, Aug. 3. The Elora oval will host the third Gold Leg for the three-year-old pacing fillies in addition to the finals for its signature races, the Battle of the Belles for two-year-old pacing fillies and Battle of Waterloo for two-year-old pacing colts. Ontario Horse Racing

Trois-Rivieres, Quebec - It was most certainly "ladies night" at the Hippodrome 3R as two fillies outshined their male counterparts in winning both divisions of the $200,000 Quebec-Bred Series Wednesday. In the fifth race first division, Meganou and driver Jocelyn Gendron, despite making a break out of the starting gate, regrouped and still was able to lead the entire mile race. She was able to hold off a strong challenge on the final turn by Promesses Imperial (Jerome Lombart) to win by a half-length in 2:03.2. D'Espoir (Pascal Berube) was third. The 2014 Quebec-Bred Series champion last year, it was the first win this year for Meganou. The daughter of Kadabra is trained by Daniel Martin for owner Jean Picard of Orford, QC and paid $4.40 to win. Then in the sixth race, second division of the series, the overwhelming favorite, Intouchable, at odds of 1/5 for driver Mario Charron, could not stay on-stride before the start and was declared a non-starter in the race. Double Chance and driver Sylvain LaCaille took full advantage of her rail post position and shot to the early lead and never looked back. She was challenged late by a fast flying Champagne Panic (Denis Filion), who looked like he was going to overtake Double Chance coming down the stretch, but went off-stride. Double Chance went on to win in a romp by ten open lengths. The Sprinter (Gaetan Lamy) was second with National Trace (Stephane Brosseau) third. Double Chance equaled her lifetime mark with a clocking of 2:01.3. Trained and owned by Serge Nadeau of Scott, QC, it was the second win this year for the daughter of Majestic Son who paid $6.80 to win. The undefeated three-year-old pacing colt, JT, continued his winning ways Wednesday with his fifth straight score. The son of Badlands Hanover, driven by Stephane Brosseau, took the early lead away from Monster Magic (Gaetan Lamy) by the opening quarter mile and then in a close stretch drive, held off Monster Magic to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:58.2. JT paid just $2.50 to win for trainer Dominic Gladu. This Sunday is the fourth and final preliminary round of the $250,000 Quebec-Bred Series for three-year-old pacers. After this Sunday's program, the Hippodrome 3R will be closed for live racing due to the Trois-Rivieres Grand Prix auto races. Live racing will resume on Wednesday, August 12 at 7:00 pm. For more information contact www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

When it comes to preparing trotters in the North Island, harness racing trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett are two of the best around. Last night they lined up the talented but erratic Lady J in the first of the night. Slowly but surely Michelle and Bernie have turned the speedy but unruly daughter of Majestic Son into a racemare and lately she has started to look more like the racehorse she is bred to be. Regular pilot Todd Mitchell had Lady J away well from the 2200 metres stand and she settled three back on the inner after 200 metres. With 1200 metres to go Todd eased Lady J out into the running line to sit parked but he put no pressure into the leader, Landora's Amber with Nicky Chilcott in the bike. With no mid race moves, Todd was content to sit on her wheel until 400 metres from home where he pressed the go button and Lady J quickly put the race to bed, sprinting clear for an emphatic 4 1/4 length victory. Lady J trotted the 2200 metres from a stand in 2:56.5 with smart closing sectionals of 59.5 and 28.9. Driver Todd Mitchell was quick to acknowledge the great job Michelle and Bernie had done with the headstrong trotter. "She did that really easily tonight, I never even pulled the plugs." " The last couple of weeks she has been trotting really square and her manners have come good so a lot of the credit must go to Michelle and Bernie for the job they have done with her." " It was a timely win tonight actually as Michelle told me prior to the race that they are looking to retire her and send her to the broodmare paddock in August," Todd said. Lady J certainly has the breeding to make her mark as a broodmare. By leading trotting sire Majestic Son, Lady J is from a Muscles Yankee daughter of the former outstanding age group trotter in Inda Bank 1:58.9 ($138,660) Lady J may only have one win beside her name as she heads to stud but the ease and style of her win last night suggested she is way better than that. Harnesslink Media  

JULY 7, 2015 - Georgian Downs hosted the Ontario Sires Stakes debut of the two-year-old trotting fillies on Tuesday evening and harness racing driver Alfie Carroll piloted three of the novice trotters to Grassroots victory over the rain-soaked oval. "The trainers had them all ready and they raced super," said Carroll. "Made my night great, made it easy - it wasn't really anything I did." Carroll kicked things off with a win in the first $18,000 Grassroots division, guiding Ballykeel Rocket to a 2:03.2 score for trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch, ON and owner-breeder Ballykeel Racing Inc. of Tillsonburg, ON. The Majestic Son daughter finished two lengths ahead of pacesetter Shes All Muscle and Darling Diva. "Richard doesn't really tell you too much how to drive, he just said don't get her on the gate too soon, so I just timed her in and she got away decent," said Carroll of Ballykeel Rocket. "Then I just moved her first up and she trotted on by. She raced good." In the second Grassroots division Carroll followed a nearly identical path to the winner's circle with Bob McIntosh trainee Tough Affair. Getting away third, the reinsman tipped the filly out heading for the three-quarters and Tough Affair pulled away from the field to a four and one-quarter length victory in 2:00.3, an impressive mile over a surface rated two seconds slower than normal. Shes In Gear and Windsongmusclelady finished behind Tough Affair in second and third. "The trainer said Bob said to say that they were better than their lines showed," noted Carroll. "So I just basically did the same thing, left comfortably, got away third and was able to move first up, and she raced tough too." Hall of Fame horseman McIntosh of Windsor, ON and C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio bred and own Tough Affair, a Muscle Mass daughter from their $462,826 winning broodmare Armbro Affair. Carroll completed the driving hat trick in the final Grassroots division aboard another McIntosh trainee, Krafty. Starting from Post 1 the fan favourites went straight to the front, cruised through fractions of :32, 1:05 and 1:35.4, and hit the wire three-quarters of a length on top in 2:05.3. Pocket-sitter Mariana and a hard-closing Malibu Seelster rounded out the top three. "They said she's a Cadillac to drive and the Kadabra filly was," said Carroll of his third winner. "She left good, I got to the front, got decent fractions and she was strong right to the end." While Carroll has visited the Grassroots winner's circle before, the Iona Station, ON resident had never captured three events on one night. Coming off a personal best season in 2014 and on track for an even more successful 2015, Carroll is hoping the Ontario Sires Stakes program becomes a regular part of his summer schedule. "I've won a few Grassroots, but never three in one night, so it was a great night for me," said the 30-year-old. "Bob (McIntosh) was wondering if I could drive some of them for him, kind of commit to some of them, so I said I'd try to do my best. And then there's a few other trainers, hopefully if I get that one of Moreau's back I'll follow it too. Hopefully it keeps rolling." The other two Grassroots divisions on the Tuesday evening program went to Jangone and Its All About Sam. Trainer Riina Rekila piloted Jangone to a front-end victory from Post 7 in the third division, sailing home three and three-quarter lengths ahead of The Power of Many and Shezastrikin Loral in 2:03.4. It was the second straight win over the Georgian Downs oval for Jangone and Rekila, who captured a two-year-old event on June 27. A daughter of Johnny William and Panderosa F, Jangone is owned by breeder Overseas Farms Ltd. of Campbellville, ON. Its All About Sam closed hard through the last quarter to earn her first victory, reaching the wire three lengths ahead of First Mission and Attitude To Burn in 2:02.3. The Angus Hall daughter, a $40,000 acquisition at last fall's Harrisburg Yearling Sale, is trained by Scott McEneny for Bradley Grant and Teresa Davidson of Milton and Michelle McEneny of Waterdown, ON. Guelph resident James MacDonald engineered the win. The two-year-old trotting fillies will make their second Grassroots start on July 22 at Grand River Raceway. Georgian Downs has a full weekend of Ontario Sires Stakes action on tap beginning Saturday, July 11 with the two-year-old trotting colt Grassroots season opener and continuing on Sunday, July 12 with the first Gold Series event for the two-year-old trotting fillies. Ontario Horse Racing

COLUMBUS, MN. - Silence Son and Keep The Dream won their respective $8000 Opens at Running Aces on Sunday night; while the 50-cent Pick 6-offering a $5000 guaranteed pool-went unsolved due to a pair of longshot winners. When harness racing resumes at Running Aces on Tuesday (July 7) night, track officials expect that the Pick 6 pool will grow to well over $10,000. Silence Son (Nick Roland) took full advantage of a two-hole trip behind favored Franky Provolone (Steve Wiseman), passing the frontrunner in deep stretch to win the Open Trot by three-quarters of a length. After comfortable fractions for the track's top trotters of :28.2, :58.3 and 1:28.1, the winner put a finishing :28.3 on his triumphant 1:57 win. Californian George Reider both owns and trains the six-year-old son of Majestic Son who now has $88,509 in career earnings. Jailer (Rick Bertrand) got the show dough in the featured race for squaregaiters. Keep The Dream gave Roland, the leading driver at the meet, a sweep of the pair of features by copping her $8000 event for the best pacing mares in Minnesota in 1:54.4. The five-year-old Mach Three mare was placed fourth through the first two fractions of :28.1 and :58, then moved first-up through the 1:26.1 third panel to pull within a length of pacesetting Part Time Lady. With a strong :28.2 closing panel, Keep The Dream passed the leader and held off fellow closers De Valeria (Tim Maier) and Rev Me Up (Mark P'Pool) to garner her third local victory, but first in open company. The winner boosted her lifetime bounty to $125,166 for owner Dr. James Findlay of British Columbia. Tawa Road and driver Tony Succarotte pulled a major upset in the first leg of the Running Aces Pick 6 on Sunday, narrowly defeating heavily-favored Super Son Of Sandy (Lemoyne Svendsen) and returning $49 to win.   Sunday's handle of $220,098 was the best of the young 2015 summer meet at Running Aces. Bigger and better numbers are expected on Tuesday when a solid 11-race card-including the 50-cent Pick 6 with an estimated $10,000-plus pool-begins at 7 p.m. (CDT). Gregg Keidel

Four-year-old Euroa trotter Im Stately won his second Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series harness racing trophy at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night, two years after he won his first as a two-year-old. The David Jack-trained son of Majestic Son/Shadows started long odds-on despite his barrier-seven draw in the four-year-old entires and geldings' trotting final and didn't give his backers reason to worry. Jack, who also drove the stallion, sat three-wide early as the leaders sorted their order out. With about 1300 metres to run Im Stately made his move, Jack taking him to the lead from initial frontrunner Law Legend. Once in front Im Stately kept a good gap between himself and his challengers, eventually finishing 4.8 metres clear of runner-up Maybetothemax (Nathan Jack) with Savannah Jay Jay running third for Neil McCallum beaten 5.8m. The winner’s closing splits were 29.9secs and 30.2secs, his mile rate 2:01.5. Ultra-talented Im Stately has now won 13 races from 19 career starts. Watch Im Stately win the 4YO Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Trotting Entires & Geldings Final Cody Winnell

Trois-Rivieres, Quebec – The $200,000 Quebec-Bred Series for three-year-old trotters gets underway Wednesday evening at the Hippodrome 3R and leading driver Denis St Pierre is just two wins away from his 4,000th career victory. The Quebec-Bred Series gets underway early on the program in the first and third races. Through the month of July there will be four weeks of elimination competition with the top eight point earners returning on Sunday, September 6 for their respective $65,000 finals. The first race is headed by the filly Double Chance, who starts from the rail for driver Sylvain Lacaille. The daughter of Majestic Son enters the race off a sharp 2:01.3 triumph in her last start, her first win in just two starts this season for owner/trainer Serge Nadeau of Scott, QC. Other contenders in the race include Gros Bill (post six) and National Trace (post 5). The second division for colts in the third race spotlights what may be the two best horses in the series, Intouchable and Promesses Imperial. Intouchable was bred to be a winner and looks the part after his first start of the 2015 season. He is sired by Angus Hall from the top mare Iceberg Angus, thus making him a full brother to top performer Maximuscle, who recently won the Quebec-Bred Series final for older trotters. Trained by Maxime Velaye for owner/breeder Ecurie Provoquante of Mirabel, QC, Intouchable may have been winless last year at age 2, but still earned more than $26,000. Now age 3, Intouchable wowed the fans in his first start of the season at Rideau Carlton with a 1:58.3 triumph and starts from post two in the third race for trotting master Mario Charron, who is also the reinsman for Maximuscle. But hometown fans also have their favorite in the race, Promesses Imperial, who starts from post three for owner/driver Jerome Lombar of Bromont, QC. The homebred son of Imperial Angus is on a three-race win streak at the Hippodrome 3R and in his last start took a lifetime mark of 2:01.3 on the Trois-Rivieres half mile oval. The late bloomer Seeyou Meh, is also a contender in the race and starts from the rail for driver Robert Shepherd. He has but one start in his career, but that was a winning effort in 2:02 at Georgia Downs. After scoring his fourth driving quadruple at 3R this past Sunday, leading driver Denis St Pierre is just two wins away from achieving career milestone victory number 4,000. He is listed to drive in six of the ten races on the program. Post time Wednesday is 7:00 pm. For more information visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club

Longtime local harness racing horseman, George Ketros, was able to steer his horse, Majestic Mystic, to victory in race four on Monday night at Grand River Raceway. Not only was it George's first training and driving win of the year but also the Majestic Son geldings first. George and wife, Mary who is the owner of Majestic Mystic, are natives of Arthur, ON and have been regulars of the local harness racing scene for over 20 years. Grand River Raceway features live harness racing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights all summer. Complete schedule info at www.grandriverraceway.com . Kelly Spencer

The recognition of the importance of the trotting sector to the overall health of the breeding and racing history by successive Harness Racing Victoria administrations paid a handsome dividend last breeding season. Five years ago there were 550 trotting mares bred from in Australia compared to 734 bred from in New Zealand, however, there has been a dramatic turnaround created by an increase in racing opportunities and split gender age classics in Victoria. Figures compiled from last season reveal that the numbers of trotting mares bred from in New Zealand had dropped 20.8% from 2009 to 581, while in Australia the situation was a mirror image with an increase of 11.8% to 615. Remarkably the percentage of trotting mares bred from in Australia in 1999/2000 represented just 4.8% (454 of 9,413) of the total mares bred from, however, the comparative figure for 2013/14 was 10.1% (603 out of a total 5,975). The figure for 2014/15 is expected to be marginally higher again. Headlining the numbers were Majestic Son USA with 97 mares, Yankee Spider with 56, Bacardi Lindy USA (43), Angus Hall USA (36), Great Success USA (28), Imperial Count USA (27), Fling It USA (25), Ready Cash (FRA) (23), Muscle Hill USA (23), Andover Hall USA (22), Victoria Trotters Derby winner Danny Bouchea (21) and La Coocaracha’s son Louey Louey Louey (20). A fascinating survey of the comparative numbers of mares served by stallions based in Australia, New Zealand, North America is illuminating, especially when looking at the situation in 1999/2000. Australian based stallions served 356 mares in the 2014/15 season (383 in 1999/2000), New Zealand based stallions served 10 mares in 2014/15 (8 in 1999/2000), North American based stallions 216 mares in 2014/15 (26 in 1999/2000) and finally European based stallions 33 mares in 2014/15 (16 in 2014/15). I think they call that internationalization. The news just keeps getting too as there is an impending announcement of the importation of a 1:53 2/5s winning son of 2007 USA Harness Horse of the Year and Hambletonian winner Donato Hanover.  Furthermore, after decades of spurning the trotter Alabar Farms will be offering the frozen semen of not only Majestic Son but also the Danish Derby winner Peak who distinguished himself by also winning the Group One NZ Trotters FFA at Addington (NZ). Peak is by French stallion Ganymede, the sire of 45 Classic winners in Europe as well the Vicbred Super Sires 4YO champion Vincennes, who won the Wagon Apollo FFA at Tabcorp Park (Melton) at his last racetrack appearance. And to think that 55 years ago there was not a single North American trotting stallion in Australia and the numbers of trotting foals being bred was less than one hundred. Thank heavens for the visionary Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Famer Chris Howe who stood Bank Note, the first American trotting stallion imported direct to Australia post WW2 in 1961, and later Mt Everest. Chris was a tireless evangelist for the trotter, however, his efforts would have counted for little had it not been for administrators such as Graeme Cochran who insisted that the Victoria Sires Stake feature three age trotting classics and furthermore under his watch the Inter Dominion Trotters Championship came to Victoria for the first time and the Victoria Trotters Oaks was inaugurated. Next Friday night at Tabcorp Park there will be a ten race all trotting programme headlined by six Group One Vicbred Super Sires Finals, a stunning endorsement of the vision of administrators who supported the never say die efforts of countless trotting breeders and enthusiasts. John Peck

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. Here is our review of the 4 year old trotting mares division 1) Poppymalda - 2015 Season:  10 starts,    4 wins,    1 seconds,    2 thirds,    Lt $34,613 Lovely Armbro Invasion mare who just seemed to get better as the season went on. Has a few strings to her claim for this division when you look at the stats. She won the most money during the season for a four year old trotting mare  as well as the most races for a four year old trotting mare. She saved her best for last when she was an outstanding third in the Harness Jewels, storming home for third to King Denny after being badly held up on the last corner and was the first mare home in the Group 1 fixture. 2) Majestic Time - 2015 Season:    11 starts,    3 wins,    2 seconds,    2 thirds,    Lt $27,416 High class Majestic Son mare at her best but didn't look at her best at times during the season. Threw the toys out of the cot a couple of times which added to the feeling she wasn't 100% right. Several good runs during the season but not as sharp as she was at three. Her two gallops at the Harness Jewels for no apparent reason typified her season for us. 3) All Royal Gal - 2015 Season:  14 starts,  2 wins,    3 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $27,757 Always looked a nice mare in the making and the daughter of Monarchy hit a purple patch of form late in the season where she looked very smart. Had her chance in the Harness Jewels after working to get handy early from the second row but just battled in the straight. Placed behind some smart horses such as Monbet during the season but just not consistent enough. Selection After weighing everything up we went for Poppymalda for the following reasons over Majestic Time. *She won the most money in this division *She won the most races in this division *First mare home in the Harness Jewels from this division. Harnesslink Media 

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is our review of the 4 year old Colts / Geldings trotters division 1) King Denny - 2015 Season:    9 starts,    4 wins,    1 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $95,375 Without doubt the star four year old of the season. The Majestic Son gelding won his way through to the best grades with several outstanding runs in the intermediate grades and once in with the older and more experienced trotters, raced with distinction against the likes of Stent, Sheemon and Master Lavros. Looked to have the Harness Jewels in safe keeping half way up the straight but as he has done in the past he can knock off when clear and give his supporters a fright. Everything points to him being a big player on the grand circuit next season as a five year old. 2) Mums Pride - 2015 Season:   8 starts,    5 wins,    0 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $60,661 Started the season with a series of outstanding wins but health issues hindered his preparation and race performance in the latter part of the season. The Monarchy gelding faced King Denny twice during the season and finished behind him on both occasions. Raced against the top liners once in the Rowe Cup and found the step up hard as many do. With only 14 runs under his belt lifetime there should be plenty of room left for further improvement and expect to see him in all the big trot races next season. 3) Belles Son - 2015 Season:    9 starts,    6 wins,    0 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $53,804 The find of the season in the four year old ranks. Was still a C1 in February but then preceded to win six in a row in a style of a real topliner. The Majestic Son gelding beat some nice horses on his way through the grades such as Majestic Time but did fail the big test when he came up against King Denny and company in the Harness Jewels. If he had won that he may have been a chance of winning this award but his ringcraft let him down badly and with that went his chances here. SELECTION Only one winner here with King Denny clearly the best four year old trotter in the country. The only four year old to race consistently against the best trotters in the country such as Stent, Sheemon and Master Lavros and performed with distinction against them. Harnesslink Media

COLUMBUS, MN. – Silence Son and harness racing driver (Nick Roland) used a convincing third quarter brush to overtake pacesetting El Azteca (Tim Maier) and favored Franky Provolone (Steve Wiseman) then threw in a :29 second final panel to win the $8000 Open Trot at Running Aces on Sunday night in 1:56.1.  Franky Provolone, who had captured the weekly top trot on the first two Sundays of the 2015 meet, also overtook El Azteca to finish second in his third attempt. Silence Son is owned and trained by George Reider.  It was the sixth win this season for the six-year-old altered son of Majestic Son with the first five coming at Cal-Expo in Sacramento, California.  With 22 lifetime wins in just 78 starts the winner now sports an $82,509 career bankroll. For driver Nick Roland, the win in the feature race was one of four on the program and vaulted the 32-year-old Iowa native back to the top of the dash standings after nine nights of the 53-night summer season.  Roland’s other triumphs were with Just The Way It Is (1:53.4), Hotmones (1:55.1) and Place At The Beach (1:56.1). Luke Plano scored a driving double behind Free Girl (1:56.1) and Prana (1:52.1, quickest mile of the night). Gregg Keidel Running Aces

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is a review of the 3 year old trotting colts / geldings division. 1) Speeding Spur - 2015 Season:  11 starts,    9 wins,    1 seconds, 0 thirds,  Lt $211,296 Hard to know where to start with Speeding Spur. Not only was the son of Pegasus Spur a dominant performer all season but it was in a year where there was great depth to the three year old trotting ranks. His two defeats both came at Ashburton but he went super on both occasions and lost nothing in defeat either time. The rest of the season was nine starts for nine wins, both Derbies and the Sires Stakes and several track and New Zealand records in the process. Should be a unanimous choice in this division. 2) Monbet - 2015 Season:    10 starts,    4 wins,    3 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $68,114 One of those horses who never seems to get the rub of the green on raceday. Drew poorly and outside of Speeding Spur in most of their clashes but pushed him close a couple of times after doing plenty of work. The son of Love You was never really driven aggressively in his races as he is such a big young immature horse and that should pay off in the long term for the connections. 3) Prince Fearless -  2015 Season: 9 starts,  2 wins,    2 seconds,    2 thirds,   Lt $66,262 Has one string to his bow and that is he did beat Speeding Spur once on his merits which is something no other horse in this division can say. Another very immature looking horse still and did well to be so competitive for suck a gangly looking youngster. The son of Majestic Son has all the attributes of a top horse but just needs to strengthen up and he will more than a match for those above him. Selection With a record of nine wins and a second from eleven starts there can no doubt that Speeding Spur had a huge season and should be a unanimous choice in this division. Harnesslink Media

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is a review of the 2 year old trotters colts / geldings division.   1) Conon Bridge - 2015 Season:    4 starts,    2 wins,    0 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $47,071   From just four starts the son of Raffaello Ambrosio showed enough to suggest he has a huge future in front of him. Started off the unruly in all four starts which put him at a major disadvantage compared to his rivals but still very competitive with the very best. Races without an overcheck which led to his down fall in the Harness Jewels when he dipped his head down and galloped. His recovery to run sixth was an outstanding effort in the circumstances. Looks a certainty for this award. 2) Royal Willie - 2015 Season:    7 starts,    2 wins,    2 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $10,986 Very smart son of Majestic Son but manners let him down big time late in the season. Good enough to sit parked at Auckland and win against the maidens and very smart in the two year old trots in the north before heading south for the Harness Jewels. Ashburton can't have agreed with him as he galloped at both the workouts prior to the Harness Jewels and on the big day itself. Expect him to be a major player as a three year old. 3) Gershwin - 2015 Season:    7 starts,    2 wins,    1 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $7,053 Another smart Muscles Yankee trotter but again his manners deserted him when it counted late in the season. Galloped in the Harness Jewels for no reason but staged a big recovery to run seventh. Ran High Gait to a nose in 2:00 at Cambridge which is a good indication of his ability and thereabouts in all his starts in the north prior to heading south to the Harness Jewels. Another one to watch out for as a three year old. Selection Only one horse in the running really and that is Conon Bridge and hard to make a case for any of the others ahead of him. Harnesslink Media

The old saying in harness racing that the cream always rises to the top all things being equal is never more appropriate than in the case of young North Canterbury trainer Gavin Smith. After  a promising start to his training career, Gavin had struck one problem after another from blood issues to soundness problems and it seemed to be never ending and as a result, Gavin was on the verge of giving the training game away as recently as earlier this year. The harder he tried the worse it seemed to get and not surprisingly Gavin was having thoughts of getting a Monday to Friday job to pay the bills. This from a horseman who looked just a few years earlier to have a huge future in the harness racing industry after a stellar junior driver career. Gavin started out in the industry helping out Murray Hamilton during the school holidays. " Murray was a friend of mum and dads and I would help out there during the school holidays." " The first time I sat in a cart I was hooked and from that time on this is all that I have wanted to do," Gavin told Harnesslink this week. While his parents raced the odd horse, there is no family history of involvement in the industry. " I am pretty sure I am the only one from either side of the family who is involved in the racing industry as a career," Gavin said. Hooked by harness racing, Gavin got his first job in the industry at age 16 when he went to work for Doug Gale. " Doug was really good to work for and I was there for over two years before doing a three year stint with Mark Purdon." " You never stopped learning off Mark and he was always good to watch and learn from." " From there I did over four years with David and Catherine Butt and I can never thank them enough for all the opportuniities they gave me." "It was while there that I got established as a driver and I don't think I would still be in the industry if it hadn't been for their help." " After that I did 18 months working for Graham Rogerson when he was in partnership with firstly Peter Simpson and latterly with Steven Reid and like everyone you work for, you pick up little things from them that helps give their horses that edge," Gavin said. Deciding it was time to go out training on his own, Gavin returned to Canterbury and purchased a 20 acre block at Leithfield beach and it wasn't long before he brought another adjacent 20 acre block. While his driving for outside trainers such as Phil Burrows and Robert Dunn was going great, his own team was forever having issues. " I got a bad virus that went right through the stable and the horses struggled to get over it." " I could never get their blood right and I tested everything to try to get to the source of the problem with no luck." " I just had one of those runs where nothing went right." " It got to the point where I was thinking seriously about giving the training away." " Then I got the opportunity to lease the complex at Dancingonmoonlight and I thought a change of scenery might change my luck so I moved here on April 2nd this year." " The horses were coming right before I moved here and since the move they have continued to improve." "I have put a lot of time into understanding the results of blood tests and I now like to think I can nip a lot of things in the bud before they become a major problem,"Gavin said. Gavin is thankful to his owners who stuck by him even when things weren't going that well. "Trish Dunell has been with me since I started out on my own and she has been great to train for." "She has been so loyal to the stable and its good she is getting a bit of payback now," Gavin said. Over the last few years Gavin has brought a handful of cheaper yearlings at the sales with the aim to turn them over quickly at a profit and been reasonably successful in doing so but now the plan has changed. " I am not buying as many as I use to but the quality is a lot better and they are by better sires." "I really like three that I bought at this years sales." * Filly by The Pres from Howz Lucky for $16,000 * Colt by Muscle Mass from Whosinthenest for $19,000 * Colt by Artsplace from Sirius Flight for $38,000. " They have all shown plenty to date so I am really looking forward to racing them next season," Gavin said. Gavin is also breeding from three mares in Hanover Glory, Bute Falcon and All Settled Down and has covered them with high profile stallions with Hanover Glory going to Sportswriter, Bute Falcon to Mach Three and All Settled Down to Majestic Son. As with all stables Gavin has one horse that he has really high hopes for next season. " I think Scarlett Banner could be very competitive in the big fillies races next season." " I gave her one start this season when she ran fifth to Dream About Me and Arden's Choice and then had to put her aside." " She has just blossomed in the last couple of months and I am really looking forward to next season with her," Gavin said. Since the move to his new stables Gavin has really got his mojo back, racking up 15 wins as a driver and more importantly 10 winners from his own barn. The highlight though was undoubtedly his drive on the Fred Fletcher trained Sunny Ruby to win the 3 year old Ruby on Jewels day. " Fred and Sam did such a great job just to get her there." " She never started to come right until ten days before the race so to have her ready to run 1:54 was a great training achievement." " She use to over race quite badly but they have got her to settle now so they deserve a lot of credit for the turnaround in her attitude." "She has an all round game and I think she will measure up in the best company in time," Gavin said. With the massive turnaround in stable fortunes since the move to his new stables, Gavin is looking to the future with a lot of confidence. " The move has been positive on so many fronts." Not only with the horses but I get to see a lot more of the family not having to travel so much up to Leithfield. "Sara is running the breeding side with her father Robert and so we work in together a lot with the two operations." It is working out really well, Gavin said. Gavin knows how lucky he is to be in the position he now finds himself in. "I know how hard it is for people who don't have family in the industry to get established." "When I have a look now at all the drivers who were about in my junior driving days, only Nathan Williamson and Jay Abernathy have made it in the training ranks which shows you how hard it is for a young trainer to get established in harness racing," Gavin said. With the way his team is performing at the moment and the confidence he is gaining from driving so well at present, Gavin looks poised to reach the high levels that many astute judges in the industry always thought he was destined for. Harnesslink Media

It didn’t take long to realise harness racing trainer Brent Lilley might be in for a good night at Tabcorp Park Melton. But not many could have predicted just how well the script would play out for the Bolinda horseman, who walked away from tonight's Trotters Oaks meeting with five wins – including the two feature races. It all began with five-year-old Live Or Die/Trustee Mota gelding Crusader Acey, who showed his last-start win at Shepparton was no fluke with victory in the DNR Logistics Pace over 1720m to open the program. From barrier seven reinsman Anthony Butt produced a carbon copy of his steer aboard Hollywood Sign last month when it won the Rising Stars Final, driving Crusader Acey across the field early to find the pegs before handing up to the favourite, Macho Comacho. Crusader Acey out-sprinted Macho Comacho late along the sprint lane to win by a neck in a mile rate of 1:54.1. Lilley notched a winning double in the fourth race with five-year-old Monarchy/Sun Mist mare Rosemma. The foolproof trotter dashed to the lead early from barrier five for Rodney Petroff, while stablemate and race favourite Kyvalley Pink blew its chances by galloping away. Rosemma rated 2:00.7 to hold off a fast-finishing Mister Independent by 1.1m in the Garrards Horse and Hount Trot. Lilley and Butt then snared Race 7, the TAB.com.au Pace ,with impressive gelding Lets Elope (by Real Desire out of Alta Vista), finding the lead from barrier two before staving off all comers at the finish. Lets Elope carved out splits of 30.4secs, 29.8secs, 28.5secs and 27.6secs, clocking a 1:56.4 mile rate. Punters backed Lilley and Butt in to do it again in Race 8, the night’s feature, the $60,505 Group 1 Noel Simpson Memorial Trotters Oaks. Favourite backers were grinning 2mins and 47secs after the mobile arms folded back, My Arya leading from start to finish to register a 3m win over Amarula with Little Miss Zigzag flashing home for third. The Angus Hall filly held out an early challenge from Fiery Mountain Girl to lead before getting away with a 61.3secs first half at the head of affairs. She upped the tempo down the back the last time and took the zing out of any chasers with a 28secs third quarter. Sprinting home in 29.8secs, My Arya never looked like being headed and has now won 10 of her 11 Australian starts. Her winning mile rate for tonight’s 2240m trip was 2:00.4. Lilley and Butt capped the night in Race 9 by taking out the Pryde’s Easifeed Tatlow Stakes for two-year-old trotters with Kyvalley Tinman. The son of Majestic Son/Kyvalley Kitty sat on the speed in the run before out-staying his rivals, quickly getting the better of early leader Calder Knight turning for home before seeing off a late charge by impressive filly Princess Phoenix for a 1.3m win in 2:04.2 for the 2240m journey. While Lilley made the headlines with five winners, Butt’s performance should be undersold, finishing with a metropolitan quartet of his own. In other results, Aldebaran Macha easily took out the Good Form Pace over 2240m for David and Josh Aiken, the son of Mach Three/Aldebaran Bromac too good for runner-up Hez The Wild Card in 1:56.2. Anton Golino and Todd McCarthy took out the Group 2 Bacardi Lindy Mares Trot with rising star Arboe, who held off Vics Cheval at the finish by 3.2m. Arboe, by Love You out of Lough Neagh, has now won five of six starts and has genuine star power. Arboe rated 1:59.0 over the 2240m, Claudys Princess finishing third beaten 13.2m by the winner. Bringing up a double for Todd McCarthy was Glenferrie Hood, a pacer making a name for himself in Victoria with two straight wins here. The son of Christian Cullen/Niftey Franco found the lead from gate seven early and ran along to record a mile rate of 1:53.7, defeating Sapphire Swayze by 3.6m with Im Barney Rubble third. Shes A Runa notched her 16th win at start No.27 by taking out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Championship Final for trainer Amanda Turnbull and driver Nathan Jack. The Jeremes Jet/Runacullen mare, a four-year-old, was 7.3m too strong for Gollahman, while in-form Ithappenstobeametro stuck on gamely for third. The winner’s mile rate was 1:55.5. Trainer Dean Braun looks to have another star on his hands in the form of Wardwell, who won tonight’s Pegasus Club 3YO Pace Final over 2240m. The gelding by Mach Three out of Ohappy Daze won by 7.4m over Starwyn Jasper with Brighty Valentine third in a rate of 1:59.0. Wardwell has now won three from three and bigger races look on his agenda moving forward. David Miles and his talented four-year-old Smokey Quartz capped the night with a gutsy success over Masterofthurles, that pair racing well clear of third placegetter Thunder Fee in the last race, the 2Construct Pace Final over 1720m. Smokey Quartz and Masterofthurles were involved in a speed war early, the latter eventually holding up and Smokey Quartz dropping to the leader’s back. From there Smokey Quartz eventually got out, rounded up the early pace setter and went on to score by 2.8m in a rate of 1:56.4. Smokey Quartz is a son of the great Courage Under Fire out of Pareen. View replays of all tonight's races and get full results by Cody Winnell

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