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Harness Racing New South Wales Chairman Rex Horne has announced a number of significant changes for next year's Pepper Tree Farm Breeders Challenge series. The Breeders Challenge was introduced in 2008 and has grown exponentially with eligible horses competing in heats across the state before travelling to Tabcorp Park Menangle for the Semi Finals and Finals. A number of prize money increases will be well received by the industry with Mr Horne confirming the Breeders Challenge Three Year Old Finals will receive a boost for the first time since being introduced. "The NSW Breeders Challenge Three Year Old Finals will be increased to $150,000, however the Board has ensured the prize money increases are spread further across the series," Mr Horne said. "The Breeders Challenge Regional Finals will also receive an increase and will now be worth $30,000, guaranteeing group three status." With nearly $1.5 million distributed during the Breeders Challenge series in 2015, Mr Horne says the increases should give breeders and owners confidence HRNSW is committed to seeing the local breeding industry continue to thrive. "The Board understands how important the strength of local breeding is to the overall industry therefore it is important HRNSW continues to entice owners to buy locally bred horses. "After consultation with key stakeholders the Board has increased prize money in a number of areas and will also help locally bred trotters by ensuring only NSW Breeders Challenge horses can compete." The full list of changes to the 2016 Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge: Breeders Challenge Three Year Old Finals to increase to $150,000 All Regional Finals to be boosted to $30,000 which will see them run at group three level The Four Year Old Mares Breeders Challenge Semi Finals will increase to $25,000 All Heats, Semi Finals and Finals of the Breeders Challenge will be run over one mile or the nearest distance to a mile at respective tracks. The trotters Finals will be for NSWBC eligible horses only Four Year Old Trotters Prelude and Final to be open to Five Year Old NSWBC eligible trotters Greg Hayes

Our Waikiki Beach has dominated two year old racing in Australia this year and is the clear favourite for NSW 2yo colt/gelding of the year. The son of Somebeachsomewhere won eight races in New South Wales for his New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon including two group one events at Tabcorp Park Menangle, the Australian Pacing Gold Final and the Breeders Challenge. With the horse being trained by Purdon, only the gelding's performances in New South Wales can be considered however his dominance has not been seen since Lombo Pocket Watch racked up 17 wins as a two year old in 2005/06. The other nominations for this year's NSW 2yo colt/gelding of the year are: Bettermatch - Dominated the early season 2yo racing scoring in a blistering 1:55.8 on debut. Also won the Leeton Breeders Plate and produced a huge win at Tabcorp Park Menangle to win in 1:53.6. Born To Rocknroll - Raced 16 times as a two year old and recorded seven victories. Won nearly $175,000 in the season and only had his first start in a race on February 7. Salty Robyn - Performed well in New South Wales and then took on the best in New Zealand representing Australia at the Harness Jewels. Banked more than $60,000 and recorded a season best of 1:53.9 Shadow Runner - Sam Dimarco, his daughter Marissa and Shadow Runner were the stars of the Bathurst Gold Crown carnival. The Shadow Play youngster won four straight early in the season before finishing fourth in the Breeders Challenge. The NSW 2yo of the year award will be presented at the HRNSW Awards Night at Doltone House, Darling Harbour on September 19. For tickets contact Nancy O'Grady on 9722 6600. Greg Hayes

A large crowd braved a cold wintery day for a very strong Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge Regional Finals meeting at the harness racing meeting at Bathurst on Sunday afternoon. The honours were evenly, and widely, distributed. Six $20,000 finals - for two, three and four-year-olds – saw six individual trainers and drivers, from all parts of the state, make it into the winner’s circle. The locals for once were winless, unless Amanda Turnbull’s Victorian winner was granted honorary local status. Merrywood Ruby ($2.10 favourite) took out the 2YO Fillies Final, her Sydney-based trainer Wayne Dimech revealing at the presentation that he’d set her for this race all season, after her older brother won the corresponding colts event last season. Gavin Fitzpatrick took the drive, and was impressed by the filly’s front-running effort. The Colts & Geldings division went to Bettor Together ($5.90), with Todd McCarthy, another century-maker in NSW this season, handling the colt for his brother Luke and sister-in-law Belinda, who were no doubt much warmer campaigning their horses in Queensland! Miss Nickels ($9.70) scored a well-deserved win for Goulburn visitor David Hewitt in the 3YO Fillies Final, after a string of recent places, including the Group 2 Breeders Challenge Blue Final. Hewitt didn’t wait for the sprint lane, coming clear turning in for a decisive win. Chumlee ($1.90 favourite) rounded out an outstanding visit home for Shepparton-based Amanda Turnbull, with a strong front-running win, his ninth overall, in the 3YO Colts/Geldings Final. His final quarter of 27.4 was slightly flattered by a strong tailwind in the home straight but impressive nonetheless. Junee visitor Trevor White brought three runners to the meeting and was pleasantly surprised when the one he rated least, Shes a Jackson ($27.50), took out the 4YO Mares Final. With four different leaders inside the first lap, White had the last run at them, and to make matters even better, he owns the Elsu daughter himself. James Rattray dictated terms from the front in the 4YO Entires/Geldings Final with Glencore ($4.00), after a very fast lead time, and though several runners looked a little unlucky over the final stages, he held on for the win. CEO John Dumesny and Board members Alex Smith and Graeme Kelly represented HRNSW at the meeting, and were joined in the presentations by western districts identity Lex Crosby, representing Breeders Challenge sponsor Peppertree Farm. Supporting races which book-ended the fixture were the 2YO, won by Junee visitor Boundtobemad (Steven Harris) and a 3YO, with Captain Charge Over NZ giving James Rattray a double for the day, on his second visit to the new track, from an equally chilly southern highlands base of Exeter. Greg Hayes

At the harness racing meeting at Menangle on Saturday night  there was four $50,000 New South Wales Breeders Challenge "Blue" finals for horses who hadn't won or been placed in the $125,000 finals in June. As is the norm these days Greg Hayes was out and about talking to a lot of the people who were involved on Saturday night and what their future plans were after the "Blue" finals. Greg caught up with six trainers/drivers including Jack Trainor, James Rattray, Matt Rue, Gavin Fitzpatrick, Mark Hewitt and Bernie Hewitt. Harnesslink Media  

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