Day At The Track
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There are not many harness racing meetings at Nelson that don't have a big representation from the Greg and Nina Hope barn at Woodend and yesterday was no exception. Originally from Nelson, Greg especially seems to target meetings there and Greg and Nina have a great record over the years at the Richmond track. When you then add the champion driver Ricky May to the mix you have a lethal combination as evidenced yesterday when the Hope / May partnership won five of the eleven races on offer. Ricky May was quick to deflect all the praise to Greg and Nina when spoken to by Harnesslink this morning. " They are great trainers to drive for as you know their horses are going to be spot on when you drive for them." " It makes my job so much easier when the horses are turned out like Greg and Nina do them," Ricky said. Ricky knew going to Nelson that he had a top book of drives as he had driven most of the team at trials and races leading into yesterdays meeting. So here is Ricky's assessment of the five winners he drove yesterday. Arizona Atom  " He is a really nice horse that I thought would be tough to beat. He trialed super at Methven last weekend so I knew he was ready. He is still a bit green and inexperienced so I think he will just keep getting better." Usain Colt "Very similar to Arizona Atom and is another horse I have a wee bit of time for. I drove him when he qualified and I liked him then. He has a bit of raw speed and I think he could go a fair way" Monbet " He has come back as a 3 year old in fantastic form. He has really stepped up from his 2 year old season and I think he has a huge future. He trotted 3:4 for the 2400 metres yesterday and did it easy. Greg said he would be a lot better for the run at Ashburton and he was. I am really looking forward to driving him in the big races coming up." Chattanoogachoochoo " He surprised me a wee bit with how he went. We got a long way back and I had to use him to get around them. When he straightened up he really charged home and won with a bit of authority. That was his best run for a while." Eva Sophnally " She deserved that one. She has been going good for a while back in Canterbury. She just lacks a touch of high speed but makes up for it with her toughness. Once I got to the front I knew she would be hard to beat." When looking forward to the second day at Nelson tomorrow Ricky, while acknowledging that all the winners had gone up a grade still thought the two impressive maiden winners would be hard to hold out. " I think Arizona Atom and Usain Colt are both capable of taking the step up and winning again on Sunday." "I also think the maiden trotter Everybody Knows is a big chance in the first race," Ricky said. Greg and Nina Hope and Ricky May have built up a great record at Nelson over the last few years and punters should be very wary of this lethal combination when assessing the fields tomorrow. Harnesslink Media    

The Nelson Harness Racing Club has been named in a Gambling Commission decision as loaning money to set up a trust to run pokie machines, which the club later benefited from. The Gambling Commission said last week it would shut down Blenheim gaming machines trust Bluegrass Holdings because it obtained its licence to operate pokie machines by deception. Bluegrass provided false and misleading information to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) about its funding, those involved in the society and the role of Blenheim man Mike O'Brien in particular, the commission said in its decision. "Bluegrass's deliberate and repeated efforts to deceive the Secretary [of Internal Affairs] were intolerable," Internal Affairs acting director of gambling compliance, Raj Krishnan, said. The trust said it was considering appealing the decision. O'Brien is well known in the harness racing community and is the son of Patrick O'Brien, former chairman of Harness Racing New Zealand and former chairman of Bluegrass. It primarily provided grant money to the racing sector - in its March 31, 2014 year return of its total donations of $5m, more than $4.1 million went back into the horse racing industry, to clubs through New Zealand. Bluegrass Holdings was incorporated in June 2009 and traded as Bluegrass Trust, operating 140 gaming machines in eight venues across New Zealand, including Hardy's Bar & TAB in Nelson. The trust's licence will be cancelled from August 18. Hardy's owner Carmen Cartwright refused to comment on what she planned to do when the trust lost its licence. The commission decision comes after a two-year process between Bluegrass Holdings and Internal Affairs. Nelson Harness Racing Club was listed in the ruling as lending O'Brien $100,000 in September 2009. The Kaikoura Trotting Club and Marlborough Racing Club also made loans of $100,000 each to Bluegrass. In the following days O'Brien advanced $300,000 to his father, Patrick O'Brien, who in turn advanced it to Bluegrass, the ruling found. On December 22, 2009 Bluegrass was granted a six-month class 4 operating licence to run pokie machines. In June 2010 Bluegrass repaid the loan to the Nelson Harness Racing Club. Over the five years the trust has operated, the Nelson club received a total of $620,000 in grants from Bluegrass. Department of Internal Affairs senior communications advisor Trevor Henry said while it was legal for grants from trusts to go toward racing clubs, there was an issue with the racing clubs that provided funds that then set up the trust. "Had the department known of this source of funding we would have been concerned. The Gambling Act 2003 anticipated a separation between societies that operate gaming machines, venues that host those machines, and community groups that receive grants." Nelson Harness Racing Club former president Terry Nelson said he was part of the committee that loaned Mike O'Brien the $100,000 and did not think the loan request was suspicious. He still believed O'Brien was a trustworthy person. "At the time Mike said he was trying to borrow money and the bank wanted - I would be guessing - quite exorbitant interest rates. He was happy to borrow off the club and pay us a good interest rate. The club was able to make some good money for whatever was needed at the time, and it was duly repaid." He said he was told it was a personal loan. O'Brien had helped out the Nelson Harness Racing Club over the years, and had been its raceday secretary. Nelson was president for four years, and said he left his post because it took up too much of his time. He was still a member of the club. He said the grants money the club received would often go toward its raceday stakes. He said he was never suspicious about the connection between lending the funds to O'Brien and then later getting grants from the trust O'Brien's father set up. He said all grants were used for approved purposes and the club would apply to about six different trusts around the country for grants. "Sometimes you are lucky with Bluegrass, sometime with the others." However, in the Bluegrass Trust grants records, the club was always "lucky" - records show it had never been turned down for a grant. Stacey Knott Reprinted with permission of the Nelson Mail  

Margo Nyhan and Peter Davis always have a sizeable team at the Nelson harness racing meetings and this weekend was no exception. Their horses are always thereabouts and not many meetings go by without the black and white colours being seen in the winners circle. But even they wouldn't have expected Sounds Like Us to turn around a pretty bleak form line today. Developed initially by noted Mid-Canterbury horseman,Kerry O'Reilly and raced by him with well known Mid-Canterbury breeder, Vic Lamb, Sounds Like Us showed a lot of promise early in her career, running several placings to nice horses without ever breaking through for that elusive win. Sent to the Margo Nyhan barn for help with a leg problem in May 2013, Sounds Like Us was then leased by the Red and Blue syndicate in October last year. Since then she has lined up over 20 times for the syndicate with two seconds and three thirds her best performances in that time. With the Nyhan barn having three runners in todays race, a catch driver was required for Sounds Like Us and who better to fill in than Dexter Dunn, New Zealands leading reinsman. Sent straight to the front from a wide draw by Dexter, Sounds Like Us then trailed the stablemate Royal Cynic driven by Peter Davis who took over after 300 meters. She was still in the trail as they turned for home before Dexter angled her down on the inside and surged through for a narrow but deserved victory. Dexter Dunn has been in sublime form in the bike in recent weeks and todays inch perfect drive on Sounds Like Us was just another example of how good he is driving at present. Harnesslink media

West Melton based reinswoman Amanda Tomlinson experienced her most successful day in the sport of harness racing at Nelson during the weekend.

With a helping hand from boyfriend and training partner, Jamie Keast, Norwegian bred horsewoman Henriette (Henri) Westrum was able to capture that elusive first training success at Nelson yesterday (Sunday June 9).

After an emphatic victory on day one of the Nelson meeting, many expected Givethejobtobarnsy to repeat the dose in today’s (June 9) $12,500 Nelson Winter Cup, and the giant Washington VC pacer who reportedly stands at 17.2 hands didn’t let his supporters down.

The New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association is excited to announce a new nationwide harness racing series starting mid-May.

Like a good game of cat and mouse harness racing driver Dexter Dunn played the start of yesterday's (Sunday January 8) Nelson Cup to perfection with favourite Tom and Jerry which provided the highlight on the second day of the two day meeting held at Richmond Park.

The third heat of the Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association's Mares Speed Series was held at the Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting last Friday (January 6).

Woodend beach training specialists Greg and Nina Hope had a day to remember at the Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting held today (Friday June 10) at Richmond Park in Nelson. The husband and wife partnership produced three winners on the ten race program, beginning with Gretna's Best in race two which ran out a comfortable winner in the hands of Dexter Dunn.

Rakaia harness racing trainer/driver Gerard O'Reilly was right on top of his game on day two (Sunday) of the Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting held at Richmond Park. O'Reilly trained a double, drove a treble and supplied the winner of this year's Stellar Artois Nelson Cup when Woman In Black scored a narrow victory over Elite Under Fire.

A fresh winters day at the top end of the South Island was made all the more pleasant for Templeton horseman Peter Davis when he bagged four driving wins for the day at the Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting today (Sunday June 13).

The Dave and Cath Butt trained Jazmin Robyn put some valuable runs on the board when winning the Nelson Winter Cup Prelude held at Richmond Park today (Friday). It was a perfect preparation for the ever consistent racemare as she sets her sights on Sunday's Nelson Cup, which carries a harness racing purse of $12,000.

A century of raceday starts by Living Blue Boy was celebrated in style Sunday 10th January, when the Marty Larter trained son of Live Or Die won the Star & Garter Nelson Summer Cup (3000m), from Soky's Gain (Soky's Atom), and Belle Eyre (Tinted Cloud) on the second of the two day Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting at Richmond Park.

It was a son of Mach Three that stole the show on the first of the two day Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting at Richmond Park today (Friday). The Peter Jones trained Red Army was driven a treat in the Star & Garter Cup Prelude (2400 std), by son Mark Jones who also took out the last race with Jackaroozy.

The New Zealand racing industry has hit out at Labour MP Brendon Burns, who has urged gaming trusts which give large percentages of their distributed funds to racing stakes money to stop. "Even if their own trust deeds allow such practices, the funding of gambling through gambling is regarded as inappropriate by many New Zealanders," the Christchurch Central MP said.

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