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Sydney-based trainer Jarrod Alchin is heading to the Tamworth harness racing meeting  on Sunday evening with four runners, and they are all engaged in the same race. Our Ultimate Julie, Our Ultimate Mary, My Ultimate Romeo and My Ultimate Major are all engaged in the Pit Express Star Maker Prelude for three-year-olds. With a field of 10 runners, Alchin stands a pretty good chance of training a winner – and possibly driving the winner, as he will take the reins behind one of his stable’s stars. “It is a good race,” Alchin said. “My chances have improved having four out of the 10 starters.” All four runners are trained in Sydney but do have a local connection as they are raced by Tumby Park Pty Ltd which is headed up by former Armidale resident Scott Whitton. “Scott will choose the drivers for the horses,” Alchin added. “This race has been on Scott’s radar for a while now.” So how were the pacers’ names chosen? “Scott brought a horse from New Zealand – My Ultimate Fella – and he liked the prefix so now all the fillies are called Our Ultimate and all the colts and geldings carry My Ultimate,” Alchin said. From the two barrier, Our Ultimate Julie will be looking to break through for her first career win at race start eight. “Her run last start was good,” Alchin said. “She was three wide with a lap to go and she just got tired over the last 50 metres. “We expected her to get tired as she had missed a trial when the Penrith trials got washed out in a bad storm. “The draw on Sunday will suit her as she has got some good gate speed.” Our Ultimate Julie comes into the race off a last-start third at Bankstown on December 28, with Alchin indicating the filly is the second pick of his stable runners. As a two-year-old, Our Ultimate Julie finished second in a heat of the Gold Tiara at Bathurst before finishing seventh to Major Kiss in the final back in March this year when a two-year-old. The No.1 stable runner is Our Ultimate Mary, who has drawn the three barrier, with Alchin placing his name down to take the reins. “She raced at Goulburn and sat on the fence and when she got out, flew home. She has pulled up terrific,” Alchin said. Our Ultimate Mary finished fifth at Goulburn on Christmas Eve and has had eight career starts for two wins and two placings. My Ultimate Romeo has drawn the six barrier and has had seven career starts for one win and five placings. “He is a real honest horse,” Alchin said of the gelding. “Just gets the job done and will be going forward from that draw. He is wider than he is tall. He battled on well for a second last start.” My Ultimate Romeo comes in off a second at Penrith on December 27. Rounding out the stable is My Ultimate Major who has drawn the nine barrier. “He is a natural athlete,” Alchin said. “It just depends if he is in a good head space. He could surprise us – might surprise himself.” My Ultimate Major has had nine race starts with the one win, at Albion Park back in June 2018, and three placings. By Julie Maughan   Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader    

The Tamworth Harness Racing Club is wasting no time in kicking into the New Year with a Twilight harness meeting set down for this Sunday evening. The meeting will feature Heats of the Pit Express Star Maker for three-year-olds. The $15,000 final will be staged at the Sunday, January 20 meeting. Let’s start marking those calendars with the following meetings also to be contested in January as part of the January Racing Carnival at Tamworth. Wednesday night, January 16 will see the The Pub Group $10,000 Gold Nugget race. Sunday, January 20 is another Twilight meeting and will see heats of the Golden Guitar conducted, and the grand final meeting on Thursday night, January 24 will include the running of the Hygain $25,000 Listed Classic Golden Guitar final as well as the Garrard’s Tamworth City Cup. The Tamworth HRC is moving forward in a most positive fashion so don’t miss any of the action. There has also been a little bit of history created with the board of the Tamworth HRC recently announced.  For the first time in the club’s history, it has two females heading it up, with myself taking on my second term as chairperson, while Joyce Walsh has been named deputy chair. Joyce has been on the THRC board for several years, with some very positive input.  Completing the board is Graham Moon, Nicholas Walsh and Scotty Jon Welsh. All are leading the club forward in a very positive manner. THE 56th running of the Maitland Inter City Pace was won by Persimmon, with Chris Geary in the bike. The Courage Under Fire gelding is trained by Mr Inter himself, Kevin Pizzuto. Pizzuto also trained Tiger Tara, who took out the Inter Dominion final a couple of weeks earlier.   It was good to see that Tamworth pacer Bassey was in the thick of things in the Inter City Pace final, finishing seventh. It was a good training effort by Tamworth trainer Sam Ison, who engaged Richard Williams to take the reins. TAMWORTH reinswoman Madi Young also notched up some kilometres over the break. Young left the Dubbo HRC Boxing Day night meeting with two wins and two seconds. Madi had a win for the Rod Lemon stables, with Alabama Ace, and a second with Alabama Tyson. Madi drove Playing Arkabella to a win and Colonel Joy to a second placing earlier in the meeting, with both pacers trained by her stepfather, Greg Coney.  LOLA Weidemann trained and drove the last winner for 2018 at Tamworth, with  Prettycompact, so let’s see who rocks home the first winner for 2019 on Sunday evening. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

The third in a series of stories on harness nominees for the 2019 WA Racing Industry Hall of Fame is about the champion pacer Jack Morris. The New Zealand bred gelding Jack Morris was voted Australian Pacer of the Year in 1993 and 1994 on the back of four Group One wins across the two seasons and he was voted Australian Harness Horse of the Year in 1993 - but Jack Morris was much more than just a super horse – he was the most famous pacer in Australia as controversy seemed to follow his and his trainer/driver Sean Harney. Harney had taken a fancy to Jack Morris while on a trip to New Zealand and used his not inconsiderable powers of persuasion (aka as the gift of the gab) to convince businessman and Jeans West owner Peter Volk, who Harney had only just met, to part with $30,000 to bring Jack Morris to Perth. Harney had gained a measure of fame in 1990 when he drove rank outsider Tarport Sox to victory in the WA Pacing Cup for trainer Colin Joss but he needed the funding of Volk to bring the horse to Perth. Harney worked his horses hard and in Jack Morris he had a horse that could handle the workload although he was to provide Harney with plenty of headaches as he was also a wilful race-horse who just wanted to run fast. After costing Harney dearly when he galloped hopelessly from a standing start as a heavily backed favourite Harney then settled for a mobile start at Bunbury on 9th March 1992 and, with Colin Lavin at the reins, Jack Morris won by a conservative 50 metres. He followed that with equally effortless wins as Pinjarra, Wagin and Gloucester Park. After a spell Jack Morris resumed racing in July 1992 with Les Poyser at the reins as Harney was serving a six month suspension following a foul-driving charge. As a one city win class horse Harney then started Jack Morris in the open class Winter Cup and impressed Gloucester Park regulars when he was a close third to The Harlem Boy and Zakara after the toughest run in the race. Jack Morris then won his next four starts in Perth to advance to open class ranks and then left people agog when he came from last at the 400 metre mark, after copping a chequered run, to be beaten a neck by John Owen in the James Brennan Memorial. Jack Morris then won his next three starts including the 1992 J P Stratton Cup before he lined up in the Fremantle Members Sprint on November 13th over 1700 metres. Jack Morris ran the fastest “mile” in Australia that season when he rated 1:56.5 beating Miss Bo Scott and John Owen. The ebullient Harney was on the phone to the New South Wales Harness Racing Club the next morning demanding an invitation to the 1992 Miracle Mile at Harold Park which was scheduled for November 27th. NSWHRC Chief Executive Peter Vlandys had never heard of Jack Morris or Sean Harney so he rang the gelding’s owner Peter Volk. Volk indicated that although Fred Kersley would probably drive Jack Morris in Sydney he felt that Harney would want to drive the horse as he was about to complete his six month suspension. Vlandys scoffed at the suggestion saying it was trying to compare a Rolls Royce (Kersley) with a Mini Minor (Harney). Harney heard about the conversation and rang Vlandys and opened the conversation along the lines of “Hi, Mini Minor here and I will be driving the horse, take it or leave it.” The rest is history as Jack Morris was invited into the field and newspaper headlines screamed “JACK WHO?” The Glen Tippet-trained Franco Tiger, driven by Brian Gath, surged to his third consecutive Grand Circuit victory for the season in the most open Miracle Mile on record. Franco Tiger (13-4) led throughout to win by two-and-a-half metres from Christopher Vance (3-1), with Jack Morris (8-1) five metres away third. Franco Tiger clocked 1:56.7, leaving his opponents with no excuses, although a history-making protest by Harney on behalf of Jack Morris may have suggested otherwise. It was the first protest in the 27-year history of the Miracle Mile, and Harney alleged interference by the winner on the first turn cost him the chance of leading, and ultimately, his chance of winning. After a hearing lasting nine minutes, the objection was dismissed. After that controversial third, Sean Harney declared the gelding would get better and we would be hearing a lot more about Jack Morris. At his next start after the 1992 Miracle Mile, Jack Morris led throughout to win the M H Treuer Memorial at Bankstown, beating Band Magic and Christopher Vance with Miracle Mile winner, Franco Tiger back in fifth place. Franco Tiger and Jack Morris locked horns again when Jack Morris resumed racing with a win in a heat of the WA Pacing Cup on 22nd December 1992. Franco Tiger also won that night and was again successful five nights later when he beat a gallant Jack Morris in another WA Cup heat. The stage was set for the WA Pacing Cup final on January 2nd 1993 and Harney exuded confidence in a pre-race interview declaring, despite drawing the outside of the field in barrier nine, that “I’m the best driver” and that he would drive Jack Morris as the best horse in the field. Harney started the action packed Cup by crossing to lead from barrier nine then slowing the field abruptly which resulted in a couple of moves being made early and Harney being forced to increase the tempo. In so doing his created a gap in the field which enabled Brian Gath to manoeuvre Franco Tiger away from his position three back the fence and zip around the field and past Jack Morris and into the lead. Harney bullocked Jack Morris away from the rails with a lap to travel and with 400 metres to run he moved up alongside Franco Tiger only to lose momentum as the Victorian lugged out under pressure. With Harney driving like a man possessed Jack Morris hits the front in the shadows of the post only to have victory snatched from him by the 100/1 chance The Harlem Boy which had been the last horse selected in the elite field. Harney declared post-race that Jack Morris was the greatest certainty ever beaten in the race and vowed vengeance in the upcoming Victoria Cup and Inter Dominion. While Jack Morris was to gain revenge, Harney would not as the heavily backed Franco Seven crossed Jack Morris at the start of the Group Two Mount Eden Sprint on 29th January 1993 and he elected to stay on the fence when there was sufficient room to get off the rail. Jack Morris went to the line climbing over the back of Franco Seven and Sean Harney received another six month suspension from the stewards. Rod Chambers drove Jack Morris when he won his prelude of the Victoria Cup and a week later was again at the reins when Jack Morris finished second to New Zealand star Master Musician in the Group One Victoria Cup. Jack Morris was brought back to Perth to be prepared for the 1993 Inter Dominion at Brisbane’s Albion Park track and he was pre-post favourite for the final and shortened further after a win over Warrior Khan on the opening night. He followed that with a second to his great river Franco Tiger on the second night before cementing his place as favourite for the final with an easy win over Rustic Lad and Christopher Vance on the third night. His price shortened from 6/4 to 4/6 when he drew gate three and despite being beaten out in the early speed battle Chambers soon had him settled outside the leader Franco Tiger before Chambers released the hand-brake with 500 metres to travel and Jack Morris cruised home six metres clear of Warrior Khan and Blossom Lady. In a little over 15 months Jack Morris had gone from being a complete unknown and was now the best known pacer in Australasia. He resumed racing at Gloucester Park in September 1993 with a couple of soft wins and a third placing to Zakara before Harney took him back to Brisbane for the Group One Queensland Pacing Championship where he went under to Warrior Khan by a half-head. Jack Morris next started in the Group One Australian Pacing Championship at Moonee Valley and after downing Nicholas Branach he was the first horse invited into the 1993 Miracle Mile. Harney celebrated the invitation a week later when Jack Morris accounted for the Group Two Legends and then had to survive a double protest from the drivers of Franco Tiger and Nicholas Branach. Harney then took Jack Morris to Hobart a week later when he easily won the Group One Tasmanian Pacing Championship before the pair headed to Sydney for the 1993 Miracle Mile on November 26th. The 1993 Miracle Mile received unprecedented media coverage - in the press, radio and television - mainly due to the flamboyant and colourful Sean Harney. All that pre-race publicity, plus more than 12 months hard work by NSWHRC officials, went down the drain, however, when the warning siren sounded at approximately 10.I5pm on Friday, November 26. In one of the biggest sensations to precede a major Australasian race, Jack Morris was withdrawn only seconds before the race was scheduled to start. Dominating betting at 4/6 after drawing barrier three, Jack Morris was scratched on the recommendation of veterinary surgeon, Dr David Evans, as the field lined up behind the mobile barrier in the back straight when blood was noticed trickling from one nostril. Pandemonium broke out when it was announced the odds-on favourite had been scratched. It was later estimated almost $2 million wagered in bets involving Jack Morris had to be refunded. The 1993 Miracle Mile was won in pedestrian fashion by Chokin and while it may not have packed much punch as a spectacle, it will be best remembered as the year the hot favourite was scratched at the barrier. Owner Peter Volk was understandably furious and ordered Harney to bypass the Treuer Memorial and to take Jack Morris straight back to Perth where the gelding won a heat of the WA Pacing Cup on December 22nd 1993 at his first start for some six weeks. Jack Morris disappointed in finishing fourth to Hilarion Star in the $400,000 final and was sent to the spelling paddock. He didn’t race again for some 20 months and when Jack Morris next started it was in Victoria from the stables of Andrew Peace. A suspensory problem brought a premature end to the career of Jack Morris and his last 16 starts in Victoria yielded just three minor class wins and four placings. Jack Morris retired with a career record of 70 starts for 31 wins, 17 seconds and 8 thirds. As for Sean Harney he was diagnosed with a tumour on the spine and cancer of the oesophagus and on 29th September 1994 he died a month short of his fortieth birthday.      Enquiries about tickets to the 2019 WA Racing Industry Hall of Fame Induction night on 28th February should be directed to Hall of Fame Coordinator Suzy Jackson on (08) 9445 5371 or suzy.jackson@rwwa.com.au   Alan Parker

WITH the goal of driving 100 winners before he turns 18 reinsman Will Rixon could achieve that. The Sydney driver has driven 99 winners so far and will celebrate his milestone Birthday tomorrow. “It’s always been a long goal of mine to drive 100 winners before I turn 18 so we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” said Rixon. With five drives on the seven-race card at Penrith tonight, Rixon is hoping he can breakthrough to the centurion ranks in the opening race. Rixon has been assigned the drive on the James Rando-trained Southbound Train. “I’m pretty confident in Southbound train,” said Rixon. “He can do things wrong but goes well when he puts it all together and he has found a suitable race.” If Southbound Train is not the one to catapult Rixon to his century then the young driver believes his next best chance is De Santa Anna in race three. “De Santa Anna should run a good race,” said Rixon. “Fingers crossed.” And if Rixon’s win does not happen tonight, he has booked five drives at Bankstown tomorrow night. It will be a big week Rixon as he has also landed his first Group drive in Saturday night’s Inter City Pace Final at Maitland’s TAB Carnival of Cups meeting. “It’s exciting that I got the call to drive Pocket Of Terror in the Final,” said Rixon. “I missed out on driving him a few weeks ago at Newcastle because I was stuck in traffic and I didn’t get to drive him in the Inter City Pace heat last week because I was suspended. “I watched his run and he looked impressive winning his heat.” Pocket Of Terror is the $4 TAB Fixed Odds second favourite in the feature with the Kevin Pizzuto-trained Persimon the $2.60 elect. “Drawing barrier one would have been better but barrier two is the next best,” said Rixon. “It’s good to draw inside the main dangers. “It’s a strong race with a few winning chances . . . Kevin Pizzuto’s horse was impressive in his heat, Ashark copped a lot of heat and didn’t have the race run to suit but still won his heat well, you have to respect Benalong Valley from barrier one and The Bus off the back line goes well too.” The 56th Inter City Pace Final is scheduled for 9:45pm this Saturday.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

This year had already been one to remember for Madi Young but the up-and-coming harness racing driver added a couple more moments to her ever-expanding highlights reel at Dubbo on Boxing Day. Young drove a double at the annual Boxing Day meeting at Dubbo Harness Racing Club, both for trainers who have helped her during her rapid rise in the sport. Young took out the Western Plains Granite Pace (1720m) early on with Alabama Ace for Rodney Lemon and later in the night she saluted with Playing Arkabella, trained by her stepfather Greg Coney. The double was special, but it’s just one big moment in a 2018 which saw Young claim the Harness Racing NSW Rising Star Series while she also acted as an ambassador for the NSW Standardbred Owners Association. “I’ve been lucky enough to win rising stars and be ambassador for the owners association. I’ll be in the rising stars again next year so I’ve had a pretty good run,” she said at Dubbo. “I’ve had a few really good opportunities and it’s been a really good 12 months.” Young showed her talents on Wednesday night when guiding Alabama Ace to a classy win in the Western Plains Granite Pace. Hometown hope Medonc ($17) got away well from gate five and took the lead just outside Alabama Ace ($1.70 favourite), with Young happy to take a sit on the inside from gate one. Medonc continued to lead as the field got the bell for the final lap while Shadow Dealer ($5) was producing an incredibly tough run three wide. Young took control down the back staright as Medonc faded but Shadow Dealer continued to push despite all his work and moved into second. It was all about Alabama Ace though and after dealing with some strong pace early he still had the quality to kick clear late and win by a dominant 9.4m from the fast-finishing Tayla Studleigh ($6.50) while Punters Delight ($23) ran home for third. “He’s more over the distance type of horse and when there was only one lap to go he was plugging along like there was still an extra lap,” Young said. “But I gave him a liven up down the back on the last lap and he felt really good and did pretty easily. He gave me a good fell the whole way and there was really no point in time where I thought he was going to get beat.” The result continued a strong run of form for the nine-year-old Alabama Ace. Trained at Wyalong by Lemon, the gelding has now scored back-to-back wins after a second-placed finish at Junee. “He won last start and went really good. Let’s hope he doesn’t go through grades too quick,” Young said, before praising the work of Lemon. “I’ve been driving for him for a while and when I can’t get there he drives them himself. “I’ve probably won about seven races for him and he does a really good job.” Young scored her second win in the night’s seventh race, Playing Arkabella ($2.60 favourite) scoring by a comfortable 6.8m for trainer Coney. By Nick Guthrie Reprinted with permission of The Daily Liberal

IT was an exciting night last Wednesday for trainer - driver partnership Mat and Gemma Rue with pacer Fouroeight winning at his first start back from an injury after almost 18 months between runs. Trained by Gemma and driven by her husband Mat, the six-year-old gelding proved too strong for his rivals sitting outside the leader for the majority of the race and running away to score comfortably in a final quarter of 27.3 seconds. Winning the Group 3 Gold Chalice Final in 2016 and running fourth in the Group 1 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Colts and Geldings Final as a three-year-old Fouroeight looked to have a promising career ahead of him. “We’ve always had a high opinion of him and we knew he would mature and get better with age,” Gemma said. After only finishing 6.7 metres off of the winner in the Group 1 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Four-Year-Old Entires and Geldings Final last year the gelding went for a well-deserved spell. Unfortunately, just before he was ready to return to racing Fouroeight injured himself in the paddock resulting in a fractured pelvis and tailbone which meant seven months’ recovery with no guarantee of him returning to the racetrack. “We spoke to many people about horses who have broken their pelvis, some make it back and some just don’t,” Gemma said. “We were lucky, but even with the all clear we were still unsure as to how he would cope due to his size. “After a slow preparation back to the track everything looks to be perfect and he seems to be better than ever”. Fouroeight is set to step out in the Group 2 Kriden Park Shirley Turnbull Memorial at Bathurst’s TAB Carnival of Cups meeting this Wednesday and has drawn barrier one. “The distance (2790 metres) will be a task but with a good run on the fence he could definitely be in the money.”   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

OUR Uncle Sam, the surprise packet of the Melbourne Inter Dominion Championships and who finished runner-up in the Grand Final, has provided a timely boost for the Bathurst Gold Crown Yearling Sale. The Sportswriter gelding, who has banked $236,876 from 16 wins and 11 placings in 53 starts, was knocked down for a modest $3,500 at the 2015 Bathurst sale. Bred in Victoria by Neville Ismaili, of Ashdon Valley Racing, Undera, Our Uncle Sam is out of the lightly raced Rooftop Fairy, a Village Jasper half-sister to eight winners including the Northern Region Championship winner Smoothers ($107,065). Our Uncle Sam is the third foal and the only progeny of Rooftop Fairy to have raced so far. The 2019 Bathurst Gold Crown Yearling Sale will be conducted by Graeme Board & Company at the Gold Crown Paceway on Sunday, March 24 and has attracted more than 115 nominations.   Peter Wharton

Newcastle Harness Racing Club chairman Jim Bell remembers it was much-loved former chief executive Ross Gigg's dream to have the track's feature race lifted to group 1 level. And Bell says the club will not forget his legacy now the Newcastle Mile has reached the elite level. Harness Racing NSW announced on Wednesday that the race will become a Miracle Mile qualifier for the first time since 2014 as well as rise from group 3 ($30,000) to group 1 ($100,000) status. The March 2 Miracle Mile at Menangle will increase from $750,000 to $1 million. Gigg, who was NHRC boss for 22 years, died in May 2014. The club renamed its feature race the Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile. A group 2 $75,000 race and Miracle Mile qualifier in Gigg's time at the helm, the event has been a group 3 the past three years.  Jim Bell   Gigg was instrumental in bringing the group 1 1997 Australian Pacing Championships to the Broadmeadow track and was working to lift the Mile to that level.     "It's just marvellous," Bell said of the Mile upgrade. "It was the only time [in 1997] that we had a group 1, and it was Ross's dream. We got the Mile up to $75,000 at one stage but the way things were funded through the industry, it didn't become possible, but it's been a dream." The change means the Gigg name will no longer be part of the race title but Bell said the club will find another event to honour him.     "Ross Gigg won't be forgotten," Bell said. "With the prizemoney comes obligations, but Ross will be remembered and the board will work out an appropriate race and a feature race." The upgrade should bring a top-class field to the Newcastle Mile, especially with its status as the first of four Miracle Mile qualifiers, and Bell was hopeful of a strong turnout trackside. “It's all happening in our 30th year,” he said. “To be part of the Miracle Mile, a million dollar race, it's fantastic.  “Hopefully it's the same as it was before. "People come out to see quality horses so hopefully we get a good crowd." Securing group 1 status and regaining its place in the Miracle Mile series is a coup for the NHRC's headline event and gives it a special place in Hunter racing.  Newcastle and Scone thoroughbred race clubs hold group 3 events as their pinnacles each year, while The Gardens greyhound track at Birmingham Gardens has the group 2 Black Top as its highest-rated feature. The other qualifying races for the Miracle Mile are the Chariots of Fire for four-year-olds on February 16 and two sprints on February 23, all held at Menangle. The winners gain an automatic place in the $1 million finale. Some of the greats of pacing, including Westburn Grant (1990 and '91), Sabilize (1994, '95, '96), Our Sir Vancelot (1998) and Courage Under Fire (2000, '01), have won the Newcastle Mile. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Maitland harness racing trainer Melanie Elder admits she has more than a soft spot for stable favourite Ashark. When the four-year-old gelding takes his place in the Inter City Pace heats on Saturday, Elder will be anxiously watching on as not as trainer but owner. “It’s great to to have my first horse in the Inter City as a trainer but it’s even more special as I bred him myself,” she said. “Pagan Love, his mother was a very consistent horse around Newcastle and she was given to me when I was about 14. “She was my first horse that really dragged me into the sport. The first horse I ever really drove so that’s his mother. “He is very spoiled.” Elder is hoping Ashark will finally break the family’s drought in Maitland’s most prestigious race. “Dad has had a few over the years but we’ve never had won win the final. “We even had Shannonsablast in the final one year and he ran fourth or fifth. That was early days in his careers.” Elder said not being caught up in the preparations for the race last year made her realise how big it was for Maitland. “Last year we didn’t have any in it but all my friends were there and so many people that never really make it to the races, it would be really good to win it,” she said. Harness racing is an Elder family affair with Melanie’s father Darren a well-established and successful trainer and brother Brad a leading driver. Brad will be in charge of Ashark in heat four (race seven). He he has been drawn second out on the front row. Darren has two horses in Saturday’s Inter City Pace heats –  Dawn Magic in heat two (race four) and Justajolt in heat three (race six). Melanie’s uncle Michael has Ashki in the first heat (race three). Elder said she was incredibly happy with her decision to take up training. “I just marked 12 months a couple of weeks ago and upgraded to my A-grade licence,” she said.  “It was a good experience, I started off in America last June and really knuckled down and learned a lot which I brought back over here. “I thought I might as well give it a go myself. I had Ashark there so why not?  “This is what makes me happy. “I love what I’m doing. It’s a great work-life balance,” she said. Elder said that win, lose or draw Ashark would always give his his best. “I definitely see him being a Menangle horse in the future. He always tries his hardest,” she said. Ashtar has already delivered Elder her first win at Menangle “He won the heat at Newcatle and then the final down at Menangle,” she said. “He has had the opportunity in many races, he just hasn’t broke through consistently yet. “He is at that mark now where he is there, he is fit and ready to go.” A quality field including several Sydney and regional NSW raiders has been assembled for the four heats of the Inter City Pace at Maitland Showground on Saturday night. Racing starts at 6.10pm with the Inter City heats are races three, four, six and seven of the 10-race meeting. The Inter City Pace final is on Saturday, December 29. Michael Hartshorn Reprinted with permission of The Maitland Mercury

CLUB Menangle along with Harness Racing New South Wales would like to announce that the 2019 Ainsworth Miracle Mile on March 2 will carry a record $1million in prizemoney. This prizemoney increase from $750,000 will make the Miracle Mile next year the richest harness racing event in the Southern Hemisphere. The new purse also makes it the most lucrative harness event ever held in New South Wales giving all stakeholders something to be proud of according to Club Menangle Chairman Mr Ray Sharman.  “Any increase in prizemoney must be both affordable and sustainable and today’s announcement is the result of the collaboration between Club Menangle and HRNSW,” said Mr Sharman. “I am confident that such a significant lift in prizemoney for the Miracle Mile will ensure that connections of all our Grand Circuit horses will endeavour to secure their place in this great race, further raise the profile of harness racing both in NSW and nationally. “Club Menangle is excited with what the future holds for our industry and I express our great appreciation to HRNSW Chairman Rod Smith and his Board who have again shown their foresight and forward planning in working with Club Menangle to ensure that this prizemoney increase is possible and that NSW maintains its status as the premier harness racing state in Australia.” This thought was echoed by HRNSW Chairman Mr Rod Smith. “Harness Racing NSW in 2019 has increased grassroots prizemoney by 20 per cent and is now excited to be able to join with Club Menangle to increase the prizemoney for the Ainsworth Miracle Mile to $1million,” said Mr Smith. “These prizemoney injections are fully funded by the harness racing industry and assures a strong future for our code of racing.” Adding to this announcement, prizemoney has also been increased for the Newcastle Mile on February 8 to $100,000. Elevating the feature to Group 1 status for the first time, the Newcastle Mile will also be a Miracle Mile qualifier where the winner will receive an automatic invitation to the Grand Circuit event. “Adding the Newcastle Mile into the Sky Racing Carnival of Miracles next February is a real uplift for participants and followers alike,” said Mr Smith. New South Wales Minister for Racing Paul Toole said the increase in prizemoney for the Ainsworth Miracle Mile and Newcastle Mile would be welcome news to the individuals and families who work in the industry. “This is an exciting time for harness racing, with the NSW Government supporting a strong and vibrant industry here in the state,” Mr Toole said.  “By providing tax parity rebates, the industry has been able to increase the prizemoney, making it the richest harness race in Australasia.”   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES

Sydneysiders will have the opportunity to celebrate all of the harness racing action and excitement of Tiger Tara's unforgettable win in the $500,000 Group 1 Interdominion Grand Final Pacing Championship at his home track, Sydney's Bankstown Paceway, this coming Friday, December 21st, 2018.   "All of Sydney is keen to salute this amazing win by our locally trained eight-year-old, by Bettors Delight USA out of Tara Gold NZ, who is trained right here at Bankstown Paceway by Kevin Pizzuto, and whose ID effort will now forever be enshired in the annals of history," Bankstown Paceway vice president David Rosen told Harnesslink from Melbourne's Melton Park.   "Owned by the Hawli and Pizzuto families, and driven to his easy and unforgettable Melton win by Todd McCarthy, the winner of Bankstown's 2017 Schweppes Sydney Cup now boasts an impressive $1.9 million in career prizemoney," Mr Rosen said.   "So, back home in Sydney, locals can celebrate Tiger's incredable win at Bankstown Paceway's Family Christmas Race Night this coming Friday, December 21st, 2018 - with Bankstown's Food Night Markets open from 5 pm and the first race scheduled to commence at 7:03 pm," he said. "Friday's big Bankstown race night will also feature free children's activities, face painting and a jumping castle among the many food stalls - and, best of all, entry is free," Mr Rosen added. Megan J. Lavender

CLASSY Kiwi pacer Locharburn is heading to NSW to continue his career. The son of Christian Cullen will be flown to Sydney to join Shane and Lauren Tritton’s stable and be aimed at the Miracle Mile. Owner-trainer Kevin Chapman said it would be an emotional time when Locharburn left the barn for Sydney on Friday. “He’s part of the family, but it’s the right thing to do for him. So much work has gone into getting him back from a tendon and a suspensory. He’s really well now, but he can only run in the best races here,” he said. “He’s also not suited to how the races are run here, just sit-up and sprint home. He can run back-to-back 57sec halves, but not a 59sec and a 54sec. “He also hates Auckland. I know he’s run some good races there as a younger horse, but he just doesn’t go anywhere near as well the opposite way.” Chapman said he chose Tritton because of his record rejuvenating older horses the “drop-back” handicapping system at Menangle. “Shane says they can earn $60,000 a year at Menangle without having to beat the best ones,” Chapman said. “It would be great to see the horse drop back in class and find winning form again. Tritton can’t wait for Locharburn to join the barn. “He’s a really serious horse at his top and I reckon he’ll love the Menangle mile racing,” he said. “It’s a real buzz for us that Kevin’s decided to send him across and give us a go with him. “He’s a bit like Franco Nelson when he came to us. He’s had his issues, but our system here seems to get the best out of these older horses. “We’re really looking forward to getting him across and into our system.” Locharburn’s 39 starts have netted 14 wins, eight seconds a third. He was a superstar at three, winning the NZ Derby and finishing second to Tiger Tara in the Northern Derby and second to Isaiah in the NZ Sales Series’ final. As an older horse, Locharburn’s best win came in the 2016 Eastern Cup at Group 1 level, beating Smolda.   Adam Hamilton

LEADING reinsman Chris Geary became the youngest driver in New South Wales to reach 500 winners. The 20-year-old has piloted 508 winners overall and achieved the 500-milestone last month. He is the second youngest driver to achieve the feat in Australia with Queensland’s Pete McMullen claiming the top honour at the age of 20 and three months while Geary was 20 years and 10 months old. “It’s something pretty special for me, more so that I’ve never really been the number one driver for a large stable,” said Geary. “In saying that, I’ve had great support from many stables and hope it continues into the future.” Geary has driven Group winners and won some of Australasia’s biggest races since he began driving in November 2013, including the Gold Tiara and the Len Smith Mile. It took him five drives to land his first winner and that was Western Gailes at Bankstown on December 7, 2013. “I’ve been fortunate to have been associated with some nice horses like My Sweetchilliphilly, Cruz Bromac, The Black Prince, Miss Streisand and many others,” said Geary. “But I’ve always really enjoyed the driving trips that I have been lucky enough to go on, meeting new people and travelling around Australia.” Geary will represent NSW in the upcoming Australasian Young Drivers Series that takes place in Queensland from November 22. As for NSW records, Lauren Tritton is the youngest female driver to reach 500 winners. Others such as Luke McCarthy, Amanda Turnbull, Robert Morris and Blake Fitzpatrick also sit amongst the top 10 youngest drivers in Australia when they reached the 500-win milestone.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER  HRNSW

GRAND Circuit winner Tiger Tara was crowned New South Wales Horse of the Year at tonight’s Arthur J. Gallagher Harness Racing NSW Awards Night at the Sofitel Sydney. Having received 66 per cent of the votes to be given this honour, Tiger Tara had a stellar 2017/18 season competing in Australasia’s most prestigious races. Harness Racing NSW would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of tonight’s award winners. Listed below are all of tonight’s award winners which were presented in front of a large crowd, hosted by Greg Hayes. HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARDS Arthur J. Gallagher NSW Horse of the Year: Tiger Tara Cockburn & Co NSW Two-Year-Old of the Year: Miss Halfpenny Cockburn & Co NSW Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pacer of the Year: Muscle Factory Cockburn & Co NSW Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year: Miss Halfpenny Stablecraft NSW Two-Year-Old Trotter of the Year: Caligula KS Black & Co NSW Three-Year-Old of the Year: Ignatius KS Black & Co NSW Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pacer of the Year: Ignatius KS Black & Co NSW Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year: Art Series IntelliTek NSW 3YO Trotter of the Year: Drop The Hammer Club Menangle NSW Aged Horse of the Year: Tiger Tara  Club Menangle NSW Aged Entire/Gelding Pacer of the Year: Tiger Tara Club Menangle NSW Aged Mare Pacer of the Year: My Rona Gold Bulli HRC NSW Aged Trotter of the Year: War Dan Destroyer Ladex Construction NSW Broodmare of the Year: Miss Brazillian Ladex Construction NSW Sire of the Year: For A Reason PARTICIPANT AWARDS TAB Kevin Newman Award For Driving Excellence: Anthony Winnell Daily Form Service Junior Trainer Encouragement Award: Melanie Elder Lexus of Parramatta Junior Driver Encouragement Award: Madi Young KARI Foundation Indigenous Participant of the Year: Royce Gregory-Jack Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Leading Hobbyist Driver: Anthony Adams Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Leading Hobbyist Trainer: Brett Woodhouse Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Leading Trotting Trainer and Driver: Blake Fitzpatrick Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Champion Junior Driver: Chris Geary Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Champion Driver: Todd McCarthy Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Champion Trainer: KerryAnn Turner Harness Breeders NSW – NSW Breeder of the Year: Colin and Cheryl McDowell Outstanding contribution to the Breeding Industry: Andrew Daniels NSW Owners Association NSW Owner of the Year: Brett Woodhouse, Sally Woodhouse, Shane Felke Lexus of Parramatta Club Menangle First Lady Award: Emma Stewart Lexus of Parramatta Club Menangle Metropolitan Driver: Todd McCarthy Lexus of Parramatta Club Menangle Metropolitan Trainer: Shane and Lauren Tritton DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS HRNSW Don Clough Award: Ray Mawhood and John Brien HRNSW Industry Contribution Award: Jim Bell HRNSW Club Volunteer Awards: Arthur Yates (Tamworth HRC), Gary Punch (Leeton HRC), Pauline Read (Bankstown HRC), Peter Dennis (Coolamon HRC), Peter Muller (Bathurst HRC), Wendy Dennis (Coolamon HRC). TABCORP CLUB AWARDS Best Community Engagement Club: Broken Hill HRC Best Fraternity Engagement Club: Coolamon HRC Best New Innovation Club (Promotion/Marketing): Tamworth HRC Best Club with a feature race to a maximum of $50,000: Eugowra HRC Best Club with a feature race to a maximum of $25,000: Albury HRC Best Club with a feature to race to a maximum of $14,000: Leeton HRC Best Club with a feature to a maximum of $12,000: Cowra HRC   AMANDA RANDO HRNSW MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

ALL of the action took place inside the Clubhouse when the awards for last season were presented at a highly enjoyable Gold Crown Paceway function last Friday. Guests included Harness Racing New South Wales Chairman Rod Smith, Board Member Peter Nugent, Bathurst Regional Council Mayor Cr Graeme Hangar and NSW Owners Association representatives Peter and Marie Neil, the current Gold Crown Honourees. The Chairman, in a brief address, touched on several current topics:  the $200,000 funding increase for the Gold Crown (which will provide four Group 1 finals in 2019, for the first time);  the decision to stage a  Group 1 series for both four and five-year-olds at Wagga next season (eligibilty for horses which were paid up as juveniles for the Bathurst Gold Crown) ; and the extension of the current drought assistance to participants. He then made the presentation for Trainer of the Year to Steve Turnbull, who trained 63 winners, including five trebles, 15 doubles and Group wins with Art Series in the Gold Bracelet and NSW Regional Final. Steve’s children Amanda and Mitchell completed a family trifecta of major premierships, by taking out the Senior and Junior Driver of the Year Awards respectively, to the evident pride and delight of their grandfather 'A.D.' Tony Turnbull, the legend himself. Amanda’s 49 winners included five winners at one meeting, back in October 2017, the Soldiers Saddle Final, Oberon Cup, Sales Graduate Final and both feature wins by Art Series. In making the presentation to Amanda, Mayor Hangar recalled his days as a teacher at Kelso High School, reminding Amanda that she still owed him a history assignment from back in Year Nine! Amanda’s focus then was clearly on the future, and not writing about the past, and nothing’s changed since. Mitchell was dux of a very strong class of Bathurst junior drivers  - the likes of McKayler Barnes, Justin Reynolds, Doug Hewitt and Jake Davis - with 17 wins for the season, which included a treble and several doubles. Three of his wins came courtesy of the Bathurst sprint lane. HRNSW Board Member Peter Nugent made presentations for Horse and Juvenile Horse of the Year and UDR Trainer and Driver of the Year. Bathurst couple Lester and Linda Hewitt accepted the trophy and rug for Horse of the Year. What A Jolt, a four-year-old Village Jolt gelding, registered seven wins during the season, including three consecutively at one point. Hewitt paid tribute to driver John O’Shea, who formed a strong connection with the horse, using his brilliant gate speed to advantage many times. Jenny Turnbull, mother of Amanda, received the award for Juvenile Horse of the Year Shoobee Doo. The two-year-old Shoobees Place colt lined up at Bathurst seven times for four wins, which included heat and final of the Graeme Board Sales Graduate series, and a heat of the NSW Breeders Challenge. Bathurst was a regular destination for a number of metropolitan stables last season, including KerryAnn Turner and Robbie Morris from Menangle, and the UDR Trainer and Driver winners, Cobbity-based Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy. Luke drove a winner every 2.9 starts, including a number for other stables, while Craig was successful every 3.6 starts, with winners such as Majestic American, Blackened, Rocknroll Dude, Zahven Banner and Darkershadeofpale. With Craig and Luke lining up with  Mach Doro in the following night’s Victoria Cup, the awards were collected on their behalf by Matt McCarthy, a Bathurst HRC director and the uncle of Luke. Jake Davis, likewise, represented his grandparents Ray and Pat Davis in accepting their Owner of the Year award from NSWSOA representative Marie Neil. The Davis family milk 650 cows twice a day at their Browns Creek dairy near Blayney, yet still find time to race a nice team of horses, mainly at Bathurst, the likes of Browns Creek Boy, Studleigh Kristen and two-year-old winners Nifty Studleigh and Rainbow Comet. Jake, who expresses a hope of making a full-time career in harness racing, does most of the stable driving, alongside father Leigh and uncle Brett. Art Major was acknowledged as the leading sire of winners at Bathurst, with 28 individual winners during the season. Bernie Hewitt, runner-up in the Trainer and Senior Driver premierships, was acknowledged for his achievement in winning his first Bathurst Gold Crown, with College Chapel, and spoke about the outstanding season for the youngster, finishing with his hopes for the coming season. Which was possibly the thought uppermost in most minds as folk headed home after this year’s awards.   Terry Neil

SYDNEY — Thousands of angry demonstrators gathered outside the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday night to protest the use of its iconic roof to promote a horse race. Racing authorities projected 20 minutes of images of the draw for the starting positions for Saturday’s The Everest horse race at Sydney’s Royal Randwick Racecourse. Protesters yelled “Shame” and used lights to attempt to obscure the projected images. The New South Wales state government triggered a public backlash last week when it overturned a decision by the Opera House’s chief executive, Louise Herron, not to allow the World Heritage-listed building to be used to promote such a commercial event. Since last Friday, more than 250,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Herron’s decision to be upheld. Anti-gambling advocates say the controversy is evidence of the political sway of the horse racing industry. Racing NSW, the race organizer, had planned to project the draw live onto the Opera House. But it opted to conduct the draw hours earlier in case the protest disrupted the Opera House promotion. Betting was suspended between the time of the draw and when the result was projected. Demonstrators protest against the decision to project race results on the Sydney Opera House.AP Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres called on Sydney to end the bitter division over the Opera House’s use. “I think it’s been a little bit hysterical to be honest with you,” Ayres told reporters. “This is a good opportunity for New South Wales and Sydney to come together.” The NSW Heritage Council, an adviser to the government on heritage issues, said it was disappointed with the government’s decision to turn the “international architectural masterpiece” into a billboard. “The use of the Opera House for the commercial advertising of this event is completely unsatisfactory and is an inappropriate use of this significant heritage place,” council chair Stephen Davies wrote in a letter to state Premier Gladys Berejiklian delivered on Tuesday. The Everest has 13 million Australian dollars ($9 million) in prize money and is billed as the world’s richest turf race. By Associated Press  

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