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Young harness racing trainer Rodney Blythe is hoping for some luck this Easter with stablemates Hello Miss Kitty and Monterei Duke racing on Easter Saturday at Dubbo. Blythe's trained Hello Miss Kitty will line up in the Freechoice and Fitware Pace (1720m) aiming for her fifth career win in start number 36. The five-year-old is chasing her first victory since October last year when she won over 1755m at Wagga in a mile rate of 2.02.2. Blyhte will take the reins leaving gate four in the nine horse race. She'll likely find competition from Nathan Hurst's-trained last start winner Peggyville, while Bernie Hewitt's Ima Black Beauty has drawn nicely in gate two. Monterei Duke will race in the West Dubbo IGA Pace (2120m).  The four-year-old gelding has been a consistent performer for Blythe. While he's only had one win in 20 starts, he's registered eight minor placings including back-to-back second place finishes recently at the Riverina Paceway at Wagga. Racing at Dubbo on Saturday starts at 5.37pm. Reprinted with permission of The Young Witness  

Cometh the hour, cometh the (very young) man. That was Parade's first thought when he heard a terrific story from a couple of local harness racing identities this week. The identities made the long trek to Narrabri last weekend for a meeting and, as they explained to Parade, they had not long arrived when the PA system came to life and a very sheepish sounding official said he had an announcement to make. There had been a bit of a mix-up, he said, and the Narrabri club did not have a race caller for the meeting. "If there is anyone on the course who can call the races," the official said, almost as an afterthought, "will you please make yourself known." The first race, Parade is told, was run in near-silence - not only making it hard to follow the action on the track, but affecting the atmosphere. But when the second race started, the PA system came to life and a hesitant, uncertain, very young-sounding voice started to commentate. "Out in front is ... bringing up the rear is ..." In the absence of anyone else willing to step up and have a go, a young fellow, around 10 or so, had offered his services - and been gratefully accepted. Parade is told the young fellow called that race and the ones that followed, gaining confidence as he went and bringing some atmosphere back to a meeting that was in danger of not having any. As someone who could barely speak in front of his class when he was 10, Parade has nothing but admiration for the courageous young caller of Narrabri. Who knows, those on the course might have witnessed the debut of a star of the future. Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

While harness racing driver Nathan Turnbull was unable to make it three consecutive Cathedral Parish Cup wins in succession on Friday night, he still had something to smile about at the Bathurst Paceway. It was the tough front-running performance that saw Theartofinfusion post his first win in over four months. Friday night marked the sixth edition of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's Cathedral Parish Night meeting, one at which trainer-driver Turnbull had enjoyed good success in the past. He won the 2017 and 2018 editions of the feature Cathedral Parish Cup with Sams The Master and Parramatta respectively. In this year's cup he only managed ninth driving $51 outsider Major Score for his trainer-father Steve Turnbull, but by that stage Nathan Turnbull had already enjoyed a success story. He watched on track side in the opening race - the MacKillop College Pace (1,730 metres) - as Jason Grimson drove Theartofinfusion to an impressive win. Going from barrier two as an $8 chance, Theartofinfusion managed to cross and take the lead then blazed through the opening quarter in 26.6 seconds. Theartofinfusion kept the tempo up, clocking 55.5 through the first half, and at the 400m he held a 3m lead over $2 favourite Juice Brodgen. Down the home straight they came at Theartofinfusion, Big Bill attacking along the sprint lane and Juice Brodgen on his outside. With 100m to go Big Bill poked his head in front, but Theartofinfusion managed one final kick. It was enough to hand him a narrow half head win in a 1:53.4 mile rate. While Nathan Turnbull missed out in the feature race, it was still a success story for the Turnbull family.  Jason Grimson   His younger brother Mitch Turnbull increased his lead in the Bathurst club's junior driver premiership as he won aboard Courtsinsession ($1.60 favourite) in the Cathedral Parish Cup (1,730m). It made it five wins from seven starts this season for the runner from Steve Turnbull's Radiant Lodge team. It was yet another tough run from the Art Major x Maudie gelding, who ran the entire final lap three-wide after going from barrier 10. He surged to the lead into the home turn, covering the third quarter of the mile in 27.6 second split.  Courtsinsession finished 3.7m clear of Misterfreeze ($6, Mat Rue), rating a hot 1:53.3.   By Anya Whitelaw   Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

The "go" button has been pressed on a harness racing $10 million project to completely transform a once popular Macarthur watering hole. A lengthy process to obtain all necessary development approvals has been finalised and tomorrow morning, weather permitting, builders and a bevy of construction workers will descend on the Horse and Jockey Inn site at Menangle Park. If all goes to plan, former patrons, other locals and Sydney day-trippers alike will be able to enjoy a beer at the new-look venue by the end of September. The makeover is stage one of Club Menangle's ambitious plan to build a large entertainment precinct from the Inn all the way back to Tabcorp Park.    The wait is almost over: The site of the old Horse and Jockey Inn which was bought by Club Menangle. Picture: Chris Lane   Eventually, the precinct will contain a second club, hotel, movie theatre, bowling alleys and an indoor sporting complex. The pub has not traded since 2015 when NSW Harness Racing bought the site. Club Menangle chief executive Bruce Christison said much effort had gone into ensuring the revamped venue would have broad appeal, with multiple dining and bar facilities able to cater for casual and formal gatherings. The kitchen will be set up to cater for 500 sit-down diners across a 200-seat function room, a formal restaurant and casual dining areas on the upper and lower terraces. "We've been focused on creating a destination venue without losing the country pub feel," he said. "In the past, the inn was weather challenged and if the weather was wet or cold people didn't come." Mr Christison said inclement weather wouldn't be a problem in the future with louvred roofs covering the outside terraced areas. Menangle Park is home now to just 257 people but planned housing development will bring thousands of people to the area within a few years, a detail not lost on Mr Christison who expects the new complex will be popular with new residents. "We will be there when the first houses in the new estates are built," he said. " Usually something like this comes a long time after residents move in." Mr Christison said historic Menangle House, located at the front of the site, would remain untouched and protected during construction works. He said possible future uses for Menangle House were being considered but no decision was likely for some time. "We will be guided by what our patrons and local residents want us to do," he said. "There are lots of ideas being thrown about, it could be a wine or whiskey bar, a day spa even a wonderful entrance to our function centre. Watch the videos below to experience a virtual walk though showing what the revamped venue will look like once complete. The Horse and Jockey Inn - new-look exterior   Horse and Jockey Inn - new-look interiors   By Roma Dickins   Reprinted with permission of The Camden Advertiser

MONDAY'S Bathurst Harness Racing Club meeting will be used as a means to spread awareness of the Autism Community Network's cause. The day came together thanks to the work of Autism Community Network's community engagement coordinator Amie Bateup, who has a proud history with the Bathurst harness industry. Bateup, a former harness driver and sister to current trainer Ashlee Grives, said it was wonderful to receive the full support of Bathurst Harness Racing to put the day together. "We want to spread out services into the Central West and given the relationships that I have with harness racing, and having the races on TV, I thought it would be a great way to hopefully get the word out there," she said. "They've allowed us to effectively take over the race meeting, naming races after what we see fit, that create inclusion and awareness of autism." Some of those names being used for the races include Paralympic swimmer Mitchell Kilduff and ACN president Warren Thompson. With Bateup's son Phoenix being on the spectrum it's a day that has added meaning for her. "I'd taken time off my full-time role to help with his development, spending four months at home with him. There had been some major breakthroughs and changes then we got the diagnosis. "I was lying in bed one night thinking 'I need to get back to work', and then this job come about. It's crazy that I get paid to do what I do because I'm learning so much about it, which in turns helps him develop. "We'd love to bring our organisation to town and venture through the whole Central West if we can. Everything we do is for free. It's a service focused on both the children and also their carers." Grives said the meeting promotes an important cause to get behind. "It's something close to our family at the moment. Harness racing is a great way to reach out for these things, so I'm more than happy to be on board and do my part," she said. Monday's seven race meeting at Bathurst starts from 2.05pm. Being the first Bathurst event since the Gold Crown Carnival's conclusion, the meeting is dominated by two and three-year-old events. The Autism Community Network's awareness campaign is also being carried over into Tuesday's meeting at Menangle. For those looking to reach out to Autism Community Network or learn more about their services visit autismcommunity.org.au "We've got 1500 families that we currently support and Bathurst is the next place that we're trying to tackle," Bateup said. By Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

If harness racing driver Anthony Frisby wasn't a believer in the superstition that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck before this year's Gold Crown Carnival, he certainly is now. Less than 24 hours after a black cat darted in front of his car when travelling home from the opening night of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's annual carnival, the Bathurst driver was plagued by bad luck. "I had a real good night. I had four drives and three gallopers," Frisby said. "I'm not even joking about this, but on the Friday night when we were coming home, a black cat ran out in front of us. Dad said 'Geeze, I hope that doesn't mean anything', after Saturday I said 'Dad, I think it meant something.' "Hopefully these bad things only happen in threes." Two of those runners who galloped - $1.45 favourite Krafty Bart and $6.50 chance Steele - were considered good prospects to win their 1,730 metre Gold Crown heats. However, Frisby did have one piece of good luck that evening. He drove the John Boserio trained Mistery Road to victory in his Gold Crown heat to qualify for the two-year-old colts and geldings decider. Frisby will now aim to drive Mistery Road to his fifth consecutive victory in Friday night's Group 1 final, but he explained the path to getting there was not an easy one. "Leading into the carnival we just had a torrid week with him, he had a couple of feet problems and a couple of days out, you couldn't ask for a worse week to have going into these sort of series. So we were pretty surprised he went as good as he did in his heat," Frisby said. "We are hoping we can improve him from his heat, but it doesn't matter what happens, he's made it. "Once that gate folds back we'll know what he's doing, see how he feels. It's going to be a very hard race to win, but we're very happy to have made it. Fingers crossed." The Mr Feelgood x Ashuras Gold colt will go from barrier seven in the decider and while it's a tough draw, Frisby will carry the confidence of a good season with him. He snagged second in the Inter Dominion Grand Final and picked up his first Group 1 winning drive with Our Uncle Sam. "It's one of those things, everyone wants to be in the grade all the time. I've just been blessed to have the right horses at the right time ... I've had a super, super year and hopefully it continues," he said. "It helps anyone's confidence to be honest, you're not stressing as much because you've been there and done it. You're a bit more relaxed and it helps to be relaxed as you can for the horses ... if you're uptight then the horse is going to be uptight." Frisby will also drive Uncle Jord in the three-year-old colts and geldings Gold Chalice Final for his trainer-father Chris. He will go from barrier eight and as such, is an long shot. "He'll need a lot of luck from there, a bit better draw and he might have been in it, but he's going okay," Frisby said. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

A GROUP 1 dream has come true for young reinsman Nathan Xuereb. The 22-year-old has booked not only his first Group 1 drive but two at Bathurst’s Gold Crown Carnival tomorrow night. Having recently achieved the feat of driving 100 winners, this season is certainly becoming one Xuereb will cherish for a long time. “It’s very exciting to have two Group 1 drives,” Xuereb said. “This is something everyone aspires to and to not only get one but two horses qualify for Group 1 races is a dream come true.” Xuereb’s first taste of Group 1 driving will come when he partners Bella Clare in the Gold Bracelet Final. The filly is trained by Xuereb’s father Michael and has drawn barrier one for the feature. “She is a lovely filly that had to do more work in her heat than what I wanted her to do . . . I was still happy with her fourth-placed effort, she wasn’t beaten far,” Xuereb said. “This week it’s a different story, she has the draw and she won’t have to do any work. “They will definitely know she is there. “I just brought her in from the paddock and she is feeling pretty well within herself.” Xuereb will have his next Group 1 drive a race later when he drives the Katie McGill-trained Katalytic in the Gold Tiara Final. Also giving McGill her first Group 1 starter as a trainer, Katalytic has drawn barrier seven for the $100,000 test. “The draw hasn’t made it easy for her but she goes well and truly deserves her place in the Final,” Xuereb said. “I’ll have to drive her quiet and if the speed is on, she will definitely be thereabouts.” Before Xuereb heads across the Blue Mountains again, the Londonderry-based horseman will drive for his father at Penrith tonight who has Sams Cam (5) and Redbelly Jack (6) engaged in race five. Xuereb will drive Sams Cam while Josh Gallagher has been nominated to drive the latter. Xuereb trains a handful of horses with his father whilst also working as a farrier for big stables including that of Craig Cross. “I was very fortunate that Craig put me on as a farrier at a young age,” Xuereb said. “I have been fortunate enough to shoe great horses like For A Reason, Bling It On and Mach Doro. “I’ve had a lot of glory shoeing horses like that and when Bling It On won the Hunter Cup it gave me a huge thrill, just as much if I drove him to win the race. “I love what I do.”   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 a Board of Directors and is independent of Government. HRNSW MEDIA CONTACT: AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER (02) 9722 6600 •  arando@hrnsw.com.au •  @Amanda_Rando

Astute Adelaide-based harness racing trainer Greg Norman decided two months ago to target a country cup 500 kilometres away in outback New South Wales – and now he’s already planning to go back again next year.   Norman, based at Two Wells and private trainer for A.B and T. Cormack Racing Pty Ltd, believed his four-year-old gelding The Deal (American Ideal-Tamara Hall (Real Desire) would be perfect for the rich Rocky Baker Memorial Cup at Broken Hill’s Carnival of Cups meeting last Friday night.   “I was aware the track was pretty tight at 605 metres, but despite The Deal being a big horse, I was very confident he would have no problems handling it at all,” Norman said.   And that proved to be the case – although stable followers may have had their hearts in their mouths briefly when The Deal shied at the finish line with one lap to go.   The Deal shifted up the track and a cheer went up from the big crowd because it allowed their home-town pin-up horse (and $1.90 favorite) Bettatobelucky to kick up on the inside.   Bettatobelucky became a joint leader, setting up the prospect of a sentimental win for trainer, local legend Don Pimm, who hasn’t been well of late.   However, The Deal, under hard driving by Jamie Williams, kicked back in the final lap, getting the upper hand to score impressively from Bettatobelucky in a new track record of 2.02-8 for 2500m trip.   “The horse has been going great this year. He scored at Cobram in January and then back home at Globe Derby Park last month and he’s been placed in five of his six other starts,” Norman said.   “We decided to set him for the Broken Hill Cup race because the $14,000 on offer for a C1-C3 class was unreal,” he said.   “We’ve already pencilled in the event for next year, but we’ll just have to see what suitable horses we have at the time.”   Reinsman Jamie Williams made the trip to Broken Hill with one of the part owners Adam Cormack and a friend, but Norman himself missed the meeting due to campaigning a team of three in Victoria.   “But I’ll be making sure I get a seat next trip – they celebrated fairly long into the night and from all accounts they enjoyed themselves the following day at the big St Pat’s Gallops meeting. I was reasonably envious I can tell you!”   Norman has so far had two runners during this Victorian campaign with Belladonna Girl being 5th at Melton and Edwin Bromac finishing 4th at Boort. Three-year-old Cee Cee In America will compete in the opening race at Kilmore on Wednesday night.   “We are chasing Vicbred bonuses with the three of them and how long we stay will obviously depend on their performances,” he said.   Despite missing the Broken Hill trip, Norman had fond memories of a successful hit-and-run mission “about 30 years ago”.   “A friend of mine in Geoff Lehmann lived up there at the time and invited me to drive one of his horses. Geoff worked at the mines and was just a hobby trainer, but I was able to land the money for him with Amber Alto,” he said.   “I do recall the track being small and it’s quite unique nowadays, I guess. But there’s plenty of people who have similar sized circuits that they train on at home.”   Norman said while The Deal found no problems with the Broken Hill track, his half-sister in Cowgirlsnlace didn’t handle it so well.   “She did finish second, but she got on one rein for most of the trip and Jamie told me he had problems steering her. The horse is a midget compared to The Deal, but it just goes to show that size plays no part in how they run on a tight track,” he said.   “I was thrilled to see Jamie land the cup. He’s a great worker at the stables for me.”   Williams was a highly sought-after driver many years ago when John and Lisa Justice had a powerful team going in Adelaide.   “He was their third-string driver,” Norman said.   “When they left to relocate to Victoria, Jamie went out of the game for a while. He recently got his first winner for six years so now with the Broken Hill success we could say he’s on a roll!”   The Broken Hill Cup is presented (L-R) by Jensen Baker (Rocky Baker's son and owner of Carbine Chemicals) to Adam Cormack, owner of The Deal, driver Jamie Williams and stable supporter Brendan Martin    -photo Coffee Photography and Framing, Dubbo   Norman has 14 in work and is enjoying his association with Terry Cormack and his sons Adam and Ben.   Broken Hill president Tracey Robinson said official estimates put the huge cup-night crowd at around 2000.   “But that’s only people through the gates – not children, who get in free, and there were a lot – and not pass-holders and sponsors, so it was a fantastic result,” she said.   “The betting turnovers won’t be known for a couple of weeks, but the betting ring certainly seemed busy.   “It was fantastic to have Harness Racing NSW CEO John Dumesny on course again, as were chairman Rodney Smith and Director Ken Brown.   “We were excited to be able to show them, not just tell them, how vibrant the sport of harness racing is in Broken Hill, how much community support and energy there is around it, and in particular what a fantastic event the cup is.”   Broken Hill Demo Club Pace trophy presentation with (L-R) Amelia Butler (representing sponsor the Broken Hill Democratic Club), HRNSW CEO John Dumesny, Heseversoclever stable representative Christie Rogers and Coral Ford ( Demo Club)      -photo Coffee Photography and Framing, Dubbo   The opening two events at Broken Hill saw female drivers in the limelight with local Cassie Robinson successful on Rapacious (who equalled the track record) for Don Pimm and visiting SA reinswoman Kaela Hryhorec scoring an impressive win on Serene Change, prepared locally by popular Broken Hill trainer Darren McInnes.   American Beau gave Ray “Raz” Slater success in the last race of the night. Frequent Broken Hill visitor, David Vozlic, from Mildura, was successful with Magic In Her Moves. Another Sunraysia trainer in Boris Devcic, made a rare trip to “the Hill” to score an all-the-way win in the $7500 Demo Club Pace with six-year-old gelding Heseversoclever, who scooted over the 1900m trip in a fast 2.00-1.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

Last year Bernie and Cath Hewitt were delighted to lay their hands on their maiden Gold Crown trophy, but now they have another career first to celebrate. The Bathurst Harness Racing Club has announced the Georges Plains couple as the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival honourees. The Hewitts are synonymous with the harness racing industry and undoubtedly had their greatest season last year with Group 1 success with College Chapel in the Gold Crown and Royal Story in the Breeders Challenge Finals. “My board’s selection of Bernie and Cath as the Gold Crown honourees for this year is a reward for their many years of service and dedication to the harness racing industry,” club president Wayne Barker said. “Any success in sport only comes about through sheer hard work and dedication to the cause and Bernie and Cath epitomise this, so it was a very easy decision for the board to select them this year as our honourees." Bernie Hewitt has trained and driven 1,400 winners since 1983 and rates Nikalong Shadow, Super Nik, Pretty Sassy and Read About Lexy as some of the best horses he has trained and driven. “I’ve been very fortunate to drive some great horses throughout my career. Nikalong Shadow was one of the best, he was trained by Dad, won 45 races and also contested the 1989 Inter Dominion in Perth. I have very fond memories of that year,” Hewitt said. “It seems such a long time ago now since I drove my very first winner, Smokey Comedy at Canberra back in the late 70s. "I would have only been out of school 12 months then, but that first win is something I’ll never forget. “This is a tough sport and a lot of long hours involved in the training and racing, however Cath and I love what we do and I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the love and support that Cath has given to me. Cath deserves the recognition as much as me.” The Hewitt family relocated to Bathurst in 2001 and had instant success, winning two Bathurst training and driving premierships. They eventually set up their home at Georges Plains, which now encompasses a magnificent establishment that can cater for up to 45 horses. “I have everything I need here at home. I can walk out the back door and basically start work straight away,” Hewitt said. “It is fantastic to see Jase, Doug and Gem all involved with harness racing. All three have been very successful in the training and driving ranks as well. I couldn’t be any more proud of them. “It’s was a shock to us both when we were informed of about the selection, and to be included in the list of Gold Crown Honourees, the who’s who of harness racing, it doesn’t get any better than that." By Danny Dwyer Reprinted with permission of The Central Western Daily

Country New South Wales harness racing trainer-driver Danny Gibson has always had a bit of a fascination with the famous Silver City mining town of Broken Hill. “It’s probably because we live at a small town called Elrington, near Cessnock (2 hrs north of Sydney) and there’s mining history there,” Gibson said. “It’s a little different to Broken Hill because it’s known for coal, but the similarities are there. At Elrington, though, there’s been a shift over the years because a decline in mining has seen a huge growth in the wine industry.” The other attraction to the ‘Hill was Gibson’s inquisitiveness regarding the town’s tight 602 metre harness racing track, regarded as the smallest in the country. “I’ll have to be honest and say that racing some of our horses at Broken Hill and meeting the local people ended up being on my ‘bucket list’ of things to do,” Gibson laughed. So, when he got two weeks’ holidays from his employment with a hydrocarbon company coinciding with the Broken Hill Carnival of Cups, it was obvious where Gibson and his wife Janelle were headed. Danny and Janelle Gibson They couldn’t have scripted it any better, scoring an all-the-way win with seven-year-old mare Evils Afoot (Live or Die-Smooth Idol (Smooth Fella USA) in the $3000 Seymour Ladyship Pace, one of the features at last Saturday night’s lead-up meeting to the cup. “It was a big surprise because she put on her nervous pre-race performance and that’s never a good sign,” Gibson said. “I was in two minds whether to go forward from the two alley because she had nearly run her race beforehand with all her antics, but I thought ‘what the heck’ and sent her to the lead. “We just lasted, but that’s all you have to do. “It was her first win in 33 starts and she took to the tight circuit like a duck to water!” Gibson said winning the event brought a welcome bonus, in the form of a free stallion service donated by generous supporters Kevin and Kay Seymour. “The main part of the trip, which took 13 hours all up, was to take a break and have a holiday.  We’ve done that and thoroughly enjoyed every minute,” he said. “We’ve found the trots people to be fantastic, but that also goes right across the board. Everywhere we’ve gone around the town we’ve found everyone to be great.” Local horseman Alan Rennie is playing host to the visiting horses, who are “right at home” being trained out of paddocks. Gibson said he was accustomed to driving on small tracks. “I’ve been in the game all my life.  My father Brian raced horses and when I started driving in the 70s, some of the clubs like Tamworth, Maitland and even Newcastle had little tracks,” he said. “Tamworth was special because that’s where I got my first winner during the 1975 Easter Carnival.” But without doubt a huge highlight of Gibson’s career was winning the final of an Indigenous Drivers’ series, transferring his small-track specialist skills to the wide expanses of the 1400-metre Menagle circuit. “I think it was around 2009 when I had my first drive at that track, and it was amazing,” Gibson said. “The horses don’t feel like they are going around corners and they also don’t feel they are going as quick as they are. “I’ll never forget that particular race because it provided me with a win in 1.54-7 - the first time I’d ever run a sub-1.55. That was certainly a huge thrill,” Gibson said. The Gibson team will be at Broken Hill’s only TAB meeting for the season on Friday night (featuring Sky Channel coverage) with last start winner Evils Afoot and traveling companion Kenny Rees (Major In Art-Straight Left). But win, lose or draw, you can bet Danny and Janelle are sure to be talking about their trip to the Silver City for many years to come. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

A PICTURE perfect day greeted nearly 3,000 racegoers in Wagga Wagga as the Riverina Paceway was officially opened last Sunday. The enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a great day of harness racing with some excellent performances on track highlighted by Tuapeka Glory setting a new track record in the best finish of the day.  The seven-year-old made use of the new sprint lane to defeat Pocket Of Terror by a short half -head, with the first four placegetters separated by less than one and a half metres. In the first race of the day Anthony Frisby drove Mistery Road to victory claiming a historic double. Frisby took out the first race at the grand opening of the new Bathurst track in October 2014 aboard Uncle Paul. Harness Racing New South Wales Chief Executive John Dumesny was delighted with the new track and the crowd that had come to enjoy the day. “It’s been a long time coming, but I’m thrilled that the Riverina now has this wonderful facility where trainers and drivers can really demonstrate how talented their horses are,” Dumesny said. “It really is exciting to see such a great crowd here and we’ve been blessed with perfect weather. It’s a wonderful day for people to experience harness racing for the first time, or even reconnect with the sport after many years.” The opening ceremony included Rod Smith (Chairman of HRNSW), Michael McCormack MP (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Riverina) and Paul Toole MP (NSW Minister for Racing) who all spoke about the importance of this facility for the Riverina and for harness racing in NSW. McCormack was thoroughly impressed with the facility. “This facility will be the jewel in the crown for harness racing track across all of country Australia,” he said. Meanwhile, Toole commended HRNSW on its foresight and perseverance. “There have been a number of people involved over this journey that is about making sure that this industry is going to go from strength to strength.” Leading reinsman Luke McCarthy doesn’t make too many trips to Wagga but was impressed by what he saw. “I don’t often come to Wagga but with a track and facility like this I can certainly see it attracting trainers from Sydney more often, especially for the club’s feature races which they wouldn’t have travelled to in the past,” McCarthy commented. The next feature meeting at Riverina Paceway will be Wagga’s Carnival of Cups event on Sunday 21 April (Easter Sunday) which includes the Wagga Cup.   Kyle Maher

THE New South Wales harness racing scene has attracted yet another top driver. With an influx of interstate and international trainers and drivers now calling the state home, young reinsman Leonard Cain is the latest to be added to this list. Born and raised in Queensland, the 19-year-old driver has established his driving career in the Sunshine State. In only three seasons of driving, Cain has thrust himself amongst the top 10 drivers in Queensland and is now looking for a new challenge. “I’ve had good success in Queensland but it’s now time to make the next move,” said Cain. Having already driven more than 150 winners in his succinct career, Cain is eager to make his name in NSW. “I will be in Sydney now and willing to drive for any and everyone and I’m more than happy to travel for race meetings,” he said. So much so, Cain had his first drive since relocating south at the new Riverina Paceway at Wagga Wagga yesterday. And today, Cain is traveling many kilometres to make his driving commitments at Newcastle this afternoon. Cain will drive the Melanie Elder-trained Days End in race eight and earned a couple of other catch drives as well. He has also locked in a drive with the Tim Butt-trained Denstown at Menangle tomorrow afternoon. Cain drove for the Miracle Mile-winning trainer at Wagga on Sunday when partnering with Italian Delight to finish third. Ironically, Cain’s main motive to make the move to Sydney was for Italian-born owner Emilio Rosati. Cain will drive for the big-spending owner and will also work on the farm Rosati is establishing in Sydney’s South West. Joining Cain for that mission is North American trainer Noel Daley, who will be a private trainer for Rosati. Daley has just returned from a 29-year stint training horses in the United States.  Also born in Queensland, Daley had success with 2570 winners while training in North America. Others that have relocated to NSW recently on a permanent basis include New Zealand brothers Tim and Anthony Butt as well as Queenslanders Lachie Manzelmann and Isobel Ross.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

THE Bathurst Harness Racing Club has announced Bernie and Cath Hewitt as the Bathurst Gold Crown Honourees for 2019. Bernie and Cath Hewitt are synonymous names in the harness racing industry, and undoubtedly, had their greatest season last year with Group 1 success with College Chapel in the Bathurst Gold Crown and Royal Story in the Breeders Challenge Finals. “My Board’s selection of Bernie and Cath as the Gold Crown Honourees for this year is a reward for their many years of service and dedication to the harness racing industry,” Club President Wayne Barker said. “Any success in sport only comes about through sheer hard work and dedication to the cause and Bernie and Cath epitomise this, so it was a very easy decision for the Board to select them this year as our Honouree’s." Bernie has trained and driven 1400 winners since 1983 and rates Nikalong Shadow, Super Nik, Pretty Sassy and Read About Lexy as some of the best horses he has trained and driven throughout his career. “I’ve been very fortunate to drive some great horses throughout my career. Nikalong Shadow was one of the best, he was trained by Dad, won 45 races and also contested the 1989 Inter Dominion in Perth. I have very fond memories of that year,” Hewitt said. “It seems such a long time ago now since I drove my very first winner, Smokey Comedy at Canberra back in the late 70s. I would have only been out of school 12 months then, but that first win is something I’ll never forget.” “This is a tough sport and a lot of long hours involved in the training and racing, however, Cath and I love what we do and I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the love and support that Cath has given to me. Cath deserves the recognition as much as me,” Hewitt suggested. The Hewitt family relocated to Bathurst in 2001 and had instant success winning two Bathurst training and driving premierships.  They eventually set up their home at Georges Plain which now encompasses a magnificent establishment that can cater for up to 45 horses in training. “I have everything I need here at home. I can walk out the back door and basically start work straightaway,” Hewitt said. “My business has always been a family affair and it is fantastic to see Jase, Doug and Gem all involved with harness racing. All three, have been very successful in the training and driving ranks as well. I couldn’t be any more proud of them then I already am. “It’s was a shock to us both when we were informed of about the selection, and to  be included in the list of Gold Crown Honourees, the who’s who of harness racing, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Hewitt concluded. Bernie and Cath Hewitt will be formally acknowledged as 2109 Gold Crown Honouress on Thursday 28 March at the Bathurst RSL Club. Danny Dwyer

Cessnock harness racing trainer Clayton Harmey is hoping to grab another front-running win with Always A Secret on Monday at Newcastle after he dominated in a career-best time on Saturday night. Always A Secret led throughout with Leigh Sutton aboard to win by four metres in 1.55.5 in race two at Newcastle and will back up at the track in the fifth on Monday. It was a fourth win in 18 starts for the four-year-old, a brother to the former Harmey-trained Secret Jack which now races in Queensland. "He loves the front but he's half the horse in the field," Harmey said. "Secret Jack was the same. I think he won about 10 races for me and nearly all of them were when he led. "I was pretty proud of Always A Secret, especially on a rain-affected track, it was very good run to clock that time. And he just kept going. He was never on the bridle the whole race." Harmey has a soft spot for Always A Secret, which has beat the odds from an early age to still be competing. "As a foal, one of his back legs was cut up really bad in a paddock accident and the vet said he would never race. He didn't think he would even survive. "But the owners kept going with him. His leg looks terrible but it doesn't worry him. He's amazing, he just keeps pushing on. "If the race tomorrow was harder, I probably wouldn't start him but I don't think it's overly hard." Harmey also has a high opinion of Straddie, which races in the third on Monday. Although drawn wide, Straddie was "a little hope at big odds", the trainer said. Also on Saturday, Sutton drove a winning double when he saluted on Courage Lips for Jinaya Niass. Michael Formosa (Si Si Senor and Eagle Falls) and Rickie Alchin (Regulus and Crunch Time) also drove two winners each. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

In an era of sizzling mile rates, speed sulkies and one-mile tracks, a night at the Broken Hill trots is a truly nostalgic experience for any harness racing fan.   It’s trots “like they used to be” – and, as Broken Hill, counts down to the biggest event of its ten-meeting summer season, it’s worth thinking about putting a road-trip (or flight) to this outback city in your diary!   Simply arriving at the trotting track in this outback mining town, 1200 kilometres from Sydney, is an eye-opener. With a circumference of just 602 metres (less than half the size of Menangle), the track is likely the smallest in the country. Set on the side of a hill and flanked by mine heaps, its crucible-like layout is unique in Australia, probably the world.   But it’s the Broken Hill “experience” that’s the most memorable aspect. The people are friendly, and the trotting folk are proud of their facility and their sport…and it shows.   Despite drought and oppressive heat this summer, there’s optimism, hope and energy around the club. The rival trainers and drivers are keen to lower your colors on the track, but if that’s not the result, they’ll be the first to congratulate you over a beer in the bar later. It’s the Broken Hill way.   And while clubs such as Wentworth, just a stone’s throw from MIldura; and Tweed Heads, on the NSW-Qld border (on the famous Gold Coast), are two of many small clubs who’ve fallen by the wayside, the ‘Hill races on.   Club President, Tracey Robinson said the enthusiasm and vibe around the club was something special.   “We’ve really been up against it this season, because the extreme heat has made it tough to get people to the meetings and Victorian trainers have been understandably reluctant to make the trip up here,” Tracey said.   “But the racing’s still incredibly competitive and we haven’t had to cancel any meetings due to a shortage of horses.   “We’re hoping that now the cooler weather is here, our final two meetings (on Saturday March 9 and Friday March 15) will attract big crowds.”   The highlight on March 9 will be the $3000 Maltese Cup as well as a special mare’s event, supported by Kevin and Kay Seymour who have provided a free service worth $2000 to one of their well credentialed stallions.   But Broken Hill’s biggest annual fixture, the Carnival of Cups on March 15, draws the club’s biggest crowds. It’s run on the eve of Broken Hill’s notable St Patricks Day gallops fixture (on March 16) and is the only Broken Hill trots meeting broadcast on Sky Channel. The card has a host of features including the $14,000 Rocky Baker Memorial Pacing Cup and support events for C1-C3 horses and CO class horses, both of $8750.   Tracey said the club was thrilled to have a new major sponsor this season – Sydney law firm Redenbach Lee, which has a regional office in Broken Hill.   But she paid tribute to all of the club’s loyal sponsors.   “Many of the local businesses are doing it hard because the drought is having a domino effect, but they have all given us amazing support,” she said.   The Broken Hill Committee, led by the Robinson family, is central to the club’s ongoing success.   Tracey is enthusiastically at the fore, but husband David is never far away, including tending to track duties. Daughters Cassie (junior Vice President and a leading driver), Stevie and Nikki also have busy roles at the club and on race nights, and Tracey’s sister Nat runs the bar.   “It does get busy, and a bit crazy at times, but the bottom line is that we all absolutely love it,” Tracey said.   “The club has some amazing supporters, like Des Leo, who travels a round trip of 600kms from Mildura to drive the mobile barrier. Des is a former Broken Hill resident and just wants to see the club prosper – people like him are like gold.”   The late Rocky Baker, of Carbine Chemicals fame, was a Broken Hill legend...so much so that the harness racing centre is now the Rocky Baker Memorial Oval Paceway.   His son Jensen, despite living in Melbourne, continues the family’s commitment to Broken Hill trots, providing products for every runner competing through the season, and, as an added incentive, if the track record is broken, connections will get a $1000 Carbine Chemicals voucher. He’s also donating 24 bicycles to give away on Cup night, in an effort to attract more families to the meeting.   Broken Hill is a town that’s always done things its own way. Aside from its famed mining base, it came to note in the 1970s as the Outback retreat of the Brushmen of the Bush – Jack Absalom, Pro Hart, Hugh Schulz, John Pickup and Eric Minchin. Broken Hill also shot to popular note in the 1990s, courtesy of the film “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and its Broken Heel Festival each September is now a flamboyant three-day celebration of the “drag” scene.   This is a resourceful, self-reliant and generous community – and the history of harness racing in the town captures those best elements of Aussie spirit.   Through some difficult times, locals have been tireless in volunteering their time, recruiting supporters, calling in favors and securing sponsorship. Along with the support of Broken Hill Council, and against the odds, they’ve kept this remarkable little paceway going.   The club is now celebrating its 62nd year of “official” racing, but history shows that the sport began in the mining town back in the 1890s.   Regular “unregistered” race meetings were held, featuring ridden trotters. Businessmen would compete to buy the rights to run “the booth” and collect front gate sales from the meetings, held in the early days at the racecourse, with “settling up” payments made later in one of the many Silver City pubs.   Bob Napier and Charlie Weston.  Note the whip in mouth. - Photo Kate Attard and Broken Hill Harness Racing Club   The informal early trotting meetings were sometime conducted under the watchful eye of stewards, but the inevitable disagreements and shenanigans occurred between trainer, rider and, often, the general public.   After the First World War, Broken Hill Trotting Association took the lead in coming up with fresh ideas to re-ignite the interest of the public in competitive racing. They did it by running milk or bread cart races between rival companies with the horses permitted to gallop.   Held on Sunday afternoons, the “Milko Derbies” as they were known, were conducted on dirt tracks in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Huge crowds would turn up to watch the carts race around tracks bordered by 44-gallon drums.   The carts, featuring brightly-colored signs from the many dairies and bakeries in the area, boasted rubber wheels and, obviously, drivers with nerves of steel!   Broken Hill trotting action - Helmets optional   - Photo Kate Attard and Broken Hill Harness Racing Club   When the city’s galloping meetings moved to the current Broken Hill Racecourse, the trotters went as well – but it was short-lived. The racetrack was too sandy, so, in about 1945, the trotters moved to what was then known as Western Oval, later named Memorial Oval and now known as Rocky Baker Memorial Oval Paceway.   Barry Hodge remembers his father Les racing the first pacer seen in the region.   Les Hodge and his milk cart      - Photo Kate Attard and Broken Hill Harness Racing Club   “Adelaide blacksmith Stan Robinson, my mother’s uncle, arranged to buy a pacer for my dad. He, along with everyone else in Broken Hill, had never seen a pacing horse,” Barry said.   “The horse was named Starlight, as he was trained in the night by dad, and won his first race at the South Racecourse. He then won many more over the next few years.   Starlight       - Photo Kate Attard and Broken Hill Harness Racing Club   “I believe that Stan Robinson, my father Les and Starlight were at the forefront of harness racing in Broken Hill.”   Barry said the original track was very small.   “It had a banked cycle track around the football oval – the horses raced outside the goal posts and inside the bike track.”   He said the running rail was either 44-gallon drums or trestles on the corners with a steward on each bend to ensure they had a good view of proceedings.   The Broken Hill Memorial Trotting Club was formed in 1956 and raced for several years before the shape of the track was rearranged, new stalls constructed, and lighting added.   The first night meeting to be conducted under lights was held in October, 1959 Then followed a photo-finish post and a new grandstand.   The club became the first NSW country club to use a mobile barrier, constructed by locals George Williams and Bill Gobell from original plans obtained from SA.   Broken Hill has produced some marvellous horses over the years such as Ultra Gold, Mighty Penny, Noble Clan, Night Reveller, Golden Jug, Field Commotion, Mighty Hall, Young Cazz, Apache Court and Surstromming.   Pat Attard and Sheffield Court     - Photo Kate Attard and Broken Hill Harness Racing Club   Trainer and club stalwart Don Pimm, 77, this year chalks up over 60 years involvement in the sport.   “I got interested in racing because I had a milk cart and then it was all too easy to just go over to trotting,” Pimm said.   “I was just 16 years old when I drove my first winner. It was a horse named Deputy Lad, trained by my brother Bill. I wouldn’t be sure how many winners I’ve had, but one night I took six to the races and won with four of them.”   Don Pimm - Courtesy Shutterbug photography and print.   But it’s probably mobile barrier driver Des Leo who should have the last say.   In the club’s commemorative book, written by Kate Attard (now a trainer-driver in Mildura) he summed up the role of small, regional clubs in the sport: “I feel that every owner, trainer and driver who started their career at Broken Hill Trotting is a legend in their own right...most times it’s the little Aussie battler who keeps the big players going.”     Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

BRING on Round Three! There is a horse that ain't too frightened of the mighty Tiger Tara . . . and his name is Thefixer. The New Zealand Cup winner darted up on the rails to beat Tiger Tara in November's New Zealand Cup and the Kiwi star, with star reinswoman Natalie Rasmussen aboard, was at it again at Menangle tonight winning the Allied Express Sprint, the first of two qualifying races for the Miracle Mile. Thefixer had to earn his stripes, coming from one-out and one-back to register another victory over Australia's best pacer, nabbing Tiger Tara right on the nine to score by a head in a 1:50.7 mile rate. While Tiger Tara will be revved up and ready for next week's return bout in the Ainsworth Miracle Mile, it was the way that Thefixer found the line which will have harness fans assured that next week's $1m Group One is anything but a one-horse race. Taken straight to the front by Todd McCarthy at the start from the inside barrier, it was expected to be a cakewalk for Tiger Tara, chasing his sixth win in succession. After a 28.1s first split of the mile, Todd was able to back off the speed with a 29.5 second split, suggesting the son of Bettors Delight would have too much pace in the run home. The speed went on with a 26.9 third split and as they dashed home in 26.2 Thefixer came with a dash and knuckled down over the last 100m to score by a head from 'The Tiger', with Cash N Flow (Luke McCarthy) one and three-quarter metres back in third place. The winner's stablemate Ashley Locaz was a close fourth. The second Sprint, the Canadian Club Sprint saw an upset right from the start when Kevin Pizzuto's other big hope Majordan bombed the start, losing almost 100m before finishing well out of the placings. The race went to New Zealand's No.1 stable, the All Stars, with Mark Purdon spearing Spankem straight to the front and leading all the way for an impressive victory. With little mid-race pressure, Purdon was able to back off the speed after a 26.1s first split with a 30.4 second quarter and a third split of just 29.4. That enabled the Bettors Delight four-year-old to dash home in 25.6s for a 1:51.5 mile rate in defeating outsider My Alpha Rock (Lauren Tritton) and the winner's stablemate Cruz Bromac (Natalie Rasmussen). That meant six of the eight spots in the Miracle Mile were decided with Club Menangle directors heading into conference to decide the rest of the field. Those already qualified were Newcastle Mile winner Yayas Hot Spot, Chariots Of Fire winner Poster Boy and the first two home in the two sprints, Thefixer and Tiger Tara, Spankem and My Alpha Rock.   FOR MORE INFORMATION TELEPHONE CLUB MENANGLE RACING MANAGER DAVID WONSON ON 0438-398-251.   Mandy Madern

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