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Harness racing clubs Harness Racing Waikato, Morrinsville and Bay of Plenty have agreed to merge in a bid to grow harness racing in the Waikato and Bay Of Plenty area.  Morrinsville voted last Thursday to merge and then last night Bay Of Plenty agreed to amalgamate as well.  Harness Racing Waikato club president Rob Lawson says the move is a strategic plan for the future and will give the clubs a more sound financial base from which to work from while getting some cost savings in the administration and compliance areas. The clubs will be merging assets but they have agreements in place that will keep the identity of each club strong and alive. Mr Lawson said the merger into a new entity will enable the clubs to gather income from not only harness racing but from other means as well. This will most likely happen from copying the Auckland trotting club blue print in the future. Mr Lawson says the merger will ensure the longevity of harness racing in the Waikato and Bay Of Plenty region.  One thing they are going to do says Mr Lawson is put more of an emphasis on Scott Reserve in Morrinsville. We are certainly going to be promoting Scott Reserve as a training venue for horsemen, believing this will increase the horse numbers in the region. Rob sees providing facilities for horses and trainers as a key aspect of the merger that will enhance harness racing in the region. The model will be much like the Auckland trotting club running their workouts and trials at Pukekohe and utilizing that area as a training ground.  Rob Lawson thinks the club merger will be finalized by the end of November 2016   Harnesslink Media

Scrapping Monday racing is a win-win across the board. The New Zealand Racing Board - the current administration of which is only early in its second year - has taken a major step in turning around the move to Monday racing put in place by the previous administration. It was meant to provide more "product" (a horrible word for race lovers) for Australians to bet on. It hasn't worked. It diluted our domestic product in thoroughbred racing, something exacerbated by falling horse numbers. The public likes betting into bigger fields. By scrapping 26 racedays - 159 races - the move lessens the overall cost of producing race meetings and should increase field sizes if horse numbers reasonably plateau. Racing Board chief executive Chris Bayliss has said from day one the focus has to be on increasing financial returns to owners. Both equine codes indicated to the Racing Board a desire to downsize for the new season. Harness racing has reduced its yearly schedule by only one race meeting, but by 107 races.This is a good first stepping stone. Racing on Mondays now will be restricted to statutory holidays and the odd provincial anniversary. Monday racing has been extremely tough on industry participants. Matamata trainer Graham Richardson, one of the industry's progressive thinkers said: "Look, they had a go and it didn't work, so let's try something else. "It's like any business, some ideas work and some don't. "Certainly, it's been difficult for trainers to roster staff and losing Mondays will ease that problem. It will be a significant cost saver for owners and trainers." The Racing Board says: "The 2014/15 calendar, comprising 1062 meetings and 10,913 races across the three racing codes, has been devised to better meet the industry's objectives of optimising domestic and international betting performance. "The majority of traditional race dates for the 2014/15 season remain unchanged from previous seasons." Seven of the 26 scrapped racedays will be those held by the now defunct Paeroa racing complex, which two months ago was deemed to be unsuitable for race meetings and trial meetings. The Avondale Jockey Club will lose one meeting, as will the Counties Racing Club. However the Auckland Trotting Club gains three meetings and the Auckland Greyhound Racing Club, one. The Manukau and Kumeu Trotting Clubs both shed a meeting. In Waikato, Harness Racing Waikato loses a meeting as does the Morrinsville Trotting Club. Over to the thoroughbred code and there will be one less meeting per season at Thames and Waipa. Whangarei and Whakatane also lose one meeting each. By Mike Dillon, (reprinted with permission by

One of Alexandra Park’s most frequent patrons and founder of the Anzus Standardbred Agency passed away in Te Aroha last Sunday night. John Coll of Morrinsville was 66. John, a prolific breeder and owner, was renowned for the ‘Springfield’ name. He also pioneered the shuttling of American standardbreds to New Zealand in 1991. John Geiger, of Geiger Bloodstock, bought his company two years later. John’s foundation shuttle stallions were In The Pocket and WRH, a full brother to Ok Bye, who was named after the legendary American trainer driver W.R. (Billy) Haughton. He was a committee member of the Morrinsville Trotting Club and was a past president of the Waitaki Trotting Club. His friend Malcolm Mulligan who travelled to and from Morrinsville to Alexandra Park more than 100 times, said John was an avid trotting fan. “He was a die-hard fan of harness racing, especially the squaregaiters. He really loved breeding from Armbro Invasion. “He was extremely knowledgeable when it came to trotting bloodlines. What he didn’t know about them wasn’t worth knowing. “He sat at his same little seat every week at ‘The Park’. The place won’t be the same without him,” Mulligan said. John was born in Southland and farmed sheep, beef and crops in Pleasant Point before moving north to Morrinsville in 1990. The best horse he bred was the 10-win ($94,320) Brylin Boyz gelding Springfield Hero. Other horses of note were Springfield Yankee (10 wins - $58,960), Springfield Master (7 wins - $34,211), Springfield Rocket (4 wins - $20,688). Springfield Countess, who won six races and $28,250, finished third behind Chipaluck and Maddie in the 1985 Group One New Zealand Oaks for 3yo fillies. John also bred Adios Springfield (1:53.8) – the fastest son of Sharvid Adios. He also had success in Australia, the best being his Sundon – Make No Mistake gelding named Springfield Alonzo. He won eight of his 52 starts and placed 11 times for $41,881. He also recorded a 1:58.6 mile when winning at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 14 2012. John also briefly owned Speedy Summit before selling him to Australia. That son of Speedy Crown later raced in the United States. John’s latest claim to fame is the promising Armbro Invasion gelding, Foray. That 5-year-old trotter has won five of his 18 starts, including a last start Manawatu win (February 6) for Woodville trainer Mathew Hickey. John’s death notice read: Coll, John Gilbert. – Passed away peacefully at the Te Aroha Community Hospital, after a courageous battle. Loved father of Robert of Pleasant Point. John was the dearly loved eldest son of the late Daniel McLaughlin and Kathleen Cyrilla Coll. He was the loved brother and brother-in-law of Cedric (Timaru), Alwyn and Sue (Christchurch), Gerard and Sue (Cheviot), and Pat and Donna (Timaru). Also a much loved uncle and great-uncle. A funeral service for John will be held at St Patrick's Catholic Church, 625 Alexandra Street, Te Awamutu, on Wednesday February 12,at 1.30pm, followed by private cremation. All communications please to the Coll Family, c/- PO Box 137, Te Awamutu. By Duane Ranger

The man who at 17 was once New Zealand’s youngest licenced harness racing trainer has just landed what he has termed a “dream job”. There’d be few horsemen or committee men who have more passion for the game than 29-year-old Teaz. And the New Zealand Racing Board has realised that by appointing Teaz as their race-caller in Otago, the West Coast and Tasman. Ohaupo-based Teaz will relocate to Dunedin next month. His first job will be calling the trots at Forbury Park on November 21. “I finally nailed it,” he told HRNZ. “I have dreamt about being a race-caller for as long as I can remember. I am grateful to the Racing Board for putting their faith in me. It’s quite mind-blowing to be honest,” Teaz said. Teaz was formerly employed by the Racing Board several years ago but was let go due to cost cutting. He called several trotting, galloping and greyhound meetings before returning to train full-time. He has trained 11 winners since 2003 and together with his reinswoman wife Megan has trained a further five more since 2011. They currently work a team of seven in the Waikato including the good four-win trotter Mingara. “At this stage Megan will remain at Ohaupo and train our team but I will have to give away the training for now. I’m also going to have to resign from my parent’s scrap metal business. “There might be a few trips back home but for now Megan and I have decided to make a go of it in both Islands. The Racing Board have been quite accommodating on this,” Teaz said. “The Morrinsville Trotting Club also wants me to stay on their committee and I’m keen to carry on helping them out, but it could be difficult from down south,” he added. To say Teaz is committed to race-calling is a big understatement. He calls every Saturday at the Cambridge Trials and also travels the three-hour return trip every Tuesday to call at the Pukekohe Trials and Workouts. “I’m really looking forward to the new job especially the West Coast circuit at Christmas time. This is something I have wanted to do for more than 20 years now.” Teaz called his first trial as a 10-year-old and sometimes filled in for a couple of races when official commentators had their arrival on course delayed. “I’ve spent a lot of my life commentating at trials and workouts and now I've got the chance to do it fulltime on race-day. It still hasn’t really sunk in,'' he said. Teaz takes over from Tom Wood and Dave McDonald. The former now calls in Wellington and the Central Districts, while McDonald will continue to call in Southland and some Central Otago meetings. Teaz married Megan (Shepherd) when he was a cadet commentator and trainer five years ago. He said the possibility of starting a family had already been put on hold once – and now that had to be further postponed due to his appointment. “It will happen one day, but just not yet. We are going to both be so busy,” he said. Teaz was appointed to the position two weeks ago and signed his new contract last week. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

It has been described as "a mess" by one Morrinsville local after two of the town's harness racing folk almost came to blows at the Cambridge Workouts - a programme which was transferred to Morrinsville earlier this month.

He might only be 18 but Kyle Marshall will remember the Thames Harness Racing Club's annual grass track meetings for as long as he lives. Twelve months after having his first race-day drive on the track Marshall has saluted the judge for the first time.

The death occurred recently of Temuka breeder and owner Esme Mulligan. She was 78. As an owner Mrs Mulligan achieved success when she raced Light Foyle (Bay Foyle - Judy Light) from the then Chertsey based stable of Dick Prendergast. Light Foyle won 9 races here including the 1987 Hororata Cup in abysmal conditions at Ashburton Raceway.

Harness Racing New Zealand has released its weekly stipendiary stewards report for the four harness racing meetings which were conducted from Thursday December 9 25 to Sunday November 12. They read as follows:

Someone has to tell Greg Brydon just how old he is. Harness racing's 'pacing dinosaur' won his 14th race from his 181st start at the Morrinsville Trotting Club's meeting held at Cambridge tonight (Thursday December 9).

Former Waikato horseman Tommy Litt passed away at the Rhoda Read Hospital in Morrinsville last Friday (November 19). The popular harness racing identity had suffered from illness for sometime. He was 84.

Harness Racing New Zealand has released its stipendiary stewards report from the weekend of trotting dated october 14 to 17. It reads:

For a junior driver who has only sat in the sulky twice this harness racing season promising reinsman Sailesh Abernethy sure knows how to time a run on a $2.10 favourite. The 25-year-old notched up his second career win with a perfect drive at the Morrinsville Trotting Club's meeting at Cambridge Raceway tonight (Thursday October 14).

The Tony Herlihy trained Millwood Miami has 20,000 reasons to line up at the Bay Of Plenty Harness Racing Club's meeting on the Gate Pa grass track at Tauranga on Sunday week (January 31). The 3-year-old filly is the only horse that can win the Cambridge-Te Awamutu, Thames, Morrinsville and Bay Of Plenty Club's Grass Track Bonus.

North Island horsemen Peter Scaife and David Kaa shared the training honours at the Morrinsville Trotting Club's meeting at Cambridge Raceway tonight (Thursday),while the Butcher father and son harness racing combo of David and Zac Butcher shone in the sulky.

Indian Wells recorded his fifth harness racing win from 55 attempts in the feature trot - the $7000 BLM Handicap for three-plus-win trotters at the Morrinsville Trotting Club's meeting at Cambridge Raceway tonight (Thursday October 15).

The NZ TAB is to extend Final Field wagering to cover all harness races on Thursday night meetings. The Morrinsville Trotting Club meeting to be held at Cambridge Raceway on the 15th October will be the first to feature this. Friday twilight harness meeting will also have Final Field betting on all races after 3:00pm.

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