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Orange Harness Racing Club has confirmed its two meetings for 2019, with both once again to be held on the grass of Towac Park in February. The club’s Carnival of Cups heats will kick-off the short, two-week season on Sunday, February 3 before with the finals to be run the following week on Family Day. This year the club has also established a battle of the sexes race of sorts, with male and female drivers pitted against each other in one of the second meeting’s races.  Drivers already confirmed for that include Orange’s own Jake Davis, along with Codi Rauchenberger,  Brittany Graham, Amy Day, Isobel Ross, Martelle McGuire, Mat Rue, Anthony Frisby, Mitch Turnbull and Robbie Morris – a stellar cast by anyone’s standards. Brittany Graham will also partake in a number of other duties throughout the day, calling on her Sky Racing talents. “Some of the emerging stars in the female driving ranks will be challenging the established male drivers,” Orange Harness Racing Club’s Frank McRae said. Renowned Australian race caller Mark McNamara, now living in New Zealand, will be travelling across the Tasman to call the finals as well in a big coup for the club. On Family Day there will also be food stalls, jumping castles, face painting, mini trots, performance from local gymnastics clubs and the Orange City brass band, with all welcome to bring a picnic lunch too. Reprinted with permission of The Central Western Daily

“She's going to leave them all crying at the chapel”. That statement from harness racing race caller Craig Easey as he watched Tintin Naturally power down the home straight in the Elvis Championships Final (2,040 metres) on Wednesday might have been a little cringe-worthy, but the winning run was anything but. The Amanda Turnbull trained and driven $1.30 favourite led from start to finish in the annual Parkes Harness Racing Club feature. The five-year-old Tintin In America x Natural Hanover mare was rated nicely in front then kicked away from her rivals after turning for home, finishing 7.3m clear of second placed Reverse Psychology (Nathan Turnbull, $41). Easey, a man known for his entertaining calls across the Western Districts, embraced the spirit of the meeting which is part of Parkes’ Elvis Festival. As they ran down the back straight for the first time he quipped “They’re picking up their blue suede hooves and putting them down nicely” and later as contenders jostled behind the favourite he came out with “It’s now or never as they race down the back, Tintin Naturally out in front.” But the puns aside, Easey’s observations were spot on. Tintin Naturally got away well from barrier one to lead and travelled nicely throughout. A 52.2 first half of the last mile meant she was poised for a strong finish and she produced.  It was her fourth win from her last five starts. Wednesday night marked the fifth time Turnbull had lined up for a drive in the Elvis Championship Final, a race which first featured on the Parkes program in 2013. Turnbull placed third in that inaugural final aboard the $3 favourite Our Buller Boy and in the two years which followed, was off the pace with a 10th (Whispering Lass) and ninth (Cullectomatic). In 2017 the talented The Lagoon trainer-driver finally added an Elvis victory to her long list of feature race successes, Greenngold getting the job done for her as the $2 favourite. Turnbull did not get the chance to go back-to-back, not qualifying a finalist for the 2018 edition, but on Wednesday Tintin Naturally showed exactly why he held favouritism. While that feature win was the highlight of the meeting for Turnbull, it was not her only success. She took out the opening race of the evening, a Club Menangle Where Horses Fly Heat (1,660m) aboard My Secret Beach ($1.30 favourite). Turnbull then made it a winning treble for the meeting as Mach Le More ($1.40 favourite) won an Evolution Series Three Year Old Colts and Geldings Heat (1,660m). By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate Want to keep up to date with Bathurst sport? Sign up to our daily newsletter and breaking news alerts here:   FACEBOOKSHARE TWITTERTWEET EMAIL

The Allport family of Crookwell has long been involved in the local harness racing scene, and on Sunday afternoon sister and brother Sallyann and Damon will be hoping their pacer Boyd Writer can take another step forward in his short but promising career. As part of the important Hewitt Memorial race day, the $10,000 Robert Allport Memorial Club Menangle Where Horses Fly heat is the race Boyd Writer has been set for. One of many horses trained by David Hewitt out of his Goulburn stables, Boyd Writer is a last start winner at the Goulburn Paceway and boasts the good record of 5 starts for 3 wins, 1 second and 1 third. “Dad always thought we had a pretty handy horse in Boyd; it’s sad he hasn’t been able to see him get there” explained Damon. Robert and Brenda Allport bred Boyd Writer out of the family owned mare Innocent Art and the prolific winner producing stallion Sportswriter. The couple has since passed, with Robert’s death coming in July 2018; however their siblings are continuing the family tradition of breeding and racing Standardbreds, and with some sadness they are now enjoying the fruits of their parent’s efforts. Boyd Writer kicked off his racing career in July 2017 with a sound third at Bathurst. At his following start, the two year old provided a glimpse of his ability convincingly winning a two-year-old colt and gelding pace in a solid 1:57.2 mile rate at the Bathurst track. Turned out to develop, the horse was severely injured in a paddock accident soon after. He was treated at the Crookwell Veterinary Hospital and then spent a number of months recuperating, firstly at the veterinary Hospital and then under the watchful eye of Robert Allport in the family stables. “Dad did a lot with Boyd; kept him stabled at home and watched over him all the time. He’s racing today because of the work and care dad put into him” said Damon. Missing his entire three year old year of racing, Boyd Writer resumed at Menangle in early December 2018 when he was a close second. He followed that performance with a dominant win at Canberra in mid-December, before scoring an easy win at Goulburn a fortnight back. While Boyd Writer will find Sunday’s race much harder than his earlier starts, Sallyann and Damon will be hoping the family’s pacer can make the transition and in doing so verify the opinion held by Robert Allport. The Hewitt Memorial race day kicks off with race 1 at 1.37 pm on Sunday afternoon at the Goulburn Paceway. Celebrating the memory of Tom and Angela Hewitt, Aubrey Frost and Robert Allport, the day is also a big fundraiser for the Crookwell Community Trust charity. Entertainment has been organised for all the afternoon with Thomas and Lachlan Bensley performing a number of classic song hits. With great raffle prizes to be won, outstanding food and facilities, mini trotting and an action packed program of exciting harness racing, the Goulburn Paceway is the place to be Sunday afternoon. Goulburn harness racing is brought to fans by the kind support of Tabcorp, Goulburn Soldiers Club, Hollingworth Crane Hire Service, Randwick Equine Centre, Southern Highlands Equine Centre, Sun Solutions Goulburn, Semco Equipment Sales, RSM Accountants, and a host of smaller businesses including Top Water Carters Crookwell, First National Real Estate Goulburn, Goulburn Livestock Transport, Landmark Southern Livestock Agenices , J.A. Communications, Crust Gourmet Pizza, Glen Mia ACT Saddlery and Ranvet. Friday’s edition of the Goulburn Post will carry a preview of Sunday’s race meeting including the fields and tips. For all the latest Goulburn harness racing news visit the club’s website at and don’t forget to like us on Facebook By Mark Croatto Reprinted with permission of the Crookwell Gazette

They have done it again! The Ison siblings - Emma, Tom and Sam - became possibly the first family to drive a winner each on the harness racing program at an Armidale meeting back in March. The Tamworth based trio repeated that achievement when all three drove winners on the 10-race program at the Tamworth harness meeting on Sunday evening. As a 16-year-old Emma drove her first career winner behind Fear No Evil at the Armidale meeting which on the day was followed by the eldest in Sam when he both trained and drove Bassey to a win which was followed by Tom who won on Gargzdai Girl. It was Emma who kick started the winning process once again when she guided Tepary to a win in the opening event at Tamworth - the TAB App Pace. “She felt like she was going good in the race and she has been working really well so I had high hopes,” Emma said of Tepary. Tepary was notching up her 10th career win at race start 111, with the Ohoka Arizona-U R Whatu Eat eight-year mare having her last win back in October 2017. “I hope I did the family proud,” the now 17-year-old Emma added. After commencing from the eight barrier, Emma was placed second last of the field whilst the Geoff Harding trained and driven Fakes First was leading the field with Dubbo pacer Medonc (Madison Reynolds) racing out in the breeze. As the bell sounded Cronin (Mitch Faulkner) commenced a three-wide run from the back of the field. “They were going pretty slow and I was like kind of hoping he (Cronin) would go and cart us into the race,” Emma said. Tepary went on for a 2.9 metre win over Jackeroo Shannon (Sarah Rushbrook) with Cronin another 1.9m away third. “I think she (Tepary) was getting a bit tired but she finished off well,” added Emma who also won The Pub sponsored Drive of The Night. Tom then continued on the family’s winning streak when he drove the Jarred Hetherington trained Lexy Can Wait to an all the way win in the Hygain Golden Guitar Final Thursday 24th January Pace. “It was awesome,” stated Tom of the win. “I drove him (Lexy Can Wait) the meeting before at Tamworth when he broke the track record.”  Bassey with Sam Ison in the gig going to the line at Tamworth on Sunday. Photo: PeterMac Photography.   Lexy Can Wait clocked a mile rate of 1.55.1 for 1609m for the win back on December 18, before a trip to Dubbo for the Boxing Day meeting resulting in a sixth placing. The win on Sunday night over the 1609m once again at Tamworth was contested in 1.55.4(MR) with Lexy Can Wait having a 27m win over Somebeach N Clovelly (Jarrod Alchin) with Colonel Joy (Madi Young) 2.9m away third. “I was confident” added Tom “Jarred said he was ready to go - he said I have got him as close as I can get him so be confident” “It was good as, just go as fast as we could for as long as we could tactics” added Ison. Sam then rounded out the family affair driving Bassey to victory in the Garrard’s Horse & Hound Tamworth City Cup 24th January Pace. Bassey contested the Maitland Inter City Pace the week prior where the mare finished seventh to the Kevin Pizzuto trained Persimmon. “The draw didn’t help much in the Inter City Pace but she was up near the lead tonight and she loves being there,” Sam said. After landing in the one by one for a few strides he elected to take Bassey up to race outside the leader Kenfury Lass (Caitlin McElhinney). “When Somerosesomewhere didn’t cross like I expected I went to the death anyway. She (Bassey) felt good in the run.” Raced by Rod and Di Hazell, Bassey presented the owners with a 40th wedding anniversary present of her own in producing career win seven. “It is their wedding anniversary today and they are off on holidays,” added Sam Ison of the Hazells. Bassey had a 2.5m win over race favourite Kenfury Lass. Is That So (Dean Chapple) was another 2.1m away third. “Last time Emma got her first winner that’s what happened then - we all got winners - Emma started the night off good for us,” Sam said.  And for the proud father Andy Ison, he was “just as impressed” as when the record was set back in March. “They are just too good - the best part of that was it was Emma’s first winning drive at Armidale and tonight she drove the first winner for 2019 at Tamworth,” he said. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

“It wasn’t a surprise as she is probably the best of the four with raw ability” was how Sydney harness racing trainer Jarrod Alchin summed up the win of Our Ultimate Julie in Sunday’s the Pit Express 3YO Starmaker Prelude at the Tamworth Paceway. “She (Our Ultimate Julie) worked with I’m A Mystery Girl last week and I’m A Mystery Girl won at Menangle on Saturday night so it wasn’t a surprise that the filly won.” Alchin said, adding that “she will take a lot of benefit from the win” With four runners in the race from the Alchin stables Our Ultimate Julie had the edge over stablemates Our Ultimate Mary who finished second while My Ultimate Major (Ricky Gordon) finished fourth and My Ultimate Romeo (Darren Elder) ninth. “It was good to quinella the race - we will be back for the Final on the 20th for sure,” Alchin said. Maitland based reinsman Brad Elder was engaged to take the reins behind Our Ultimate Julie, who broke through for her first win at race start eight. “It was a terrific drive by Brad and he summed up the situation - we didn’t expect her to be in front,” Alchin said. From the two barrier Our Ultimate Julie came out strong along with the Ernie Mabbott-trained Tralee Rocks (Mitch Faulkner) from the four barrier, with Our Ultimate Julie gaining the lead and certainly dictating the terms out in front. “When the field came out and Jarrod called me to see if I would like the drive, I thought the filly was  a pretty good chance,” Elder said. “She is a nice strong mare and did it easy.” “She had no problems going around at Tamworth so hopefully I will retain the drive in the final.” “It is the first time I have driven the Mach Three filly but I have driven a couple of times for Jarrod before and had a win or two - but I think she has got a bit of ability - she is a big free running horse.” Our Ultimate Julie held a 6.9 metre win over Our Ultimate Mary (Jarrod Alchin) with Maitland runner Rococo (Jamie Bond) 11m away third.   “Her lead time was pretty quick and I just kept her rolling,” Elder said with Our Ultimate Julie clocking quarters of 30.1 sec; 30 sec;30.2 sec and covering the final quarter in 30.3 seconds for a mile rate of 1.59.1 for the 1980m. “Don’t want to pump the tyres up too quick” added a jovial Elder “but I think she is a pretty good chance in the final.” Elder had a driving double at the meeting when he guided the Jarred Hetherington trained Tap It In to a win in The Pub Group Gold Nugget Race Meeting Wednesday 16 January Pace. “We landed in a good spot out of the barrier,” Elder said. “I won on him last week and he felt good in the run tonight.” Landing in the one by one with Tap It In while Pacific Coin (Stacey Weidemann) led the field, Elder made his race move with Tap It Out as the field raced out of the final turn to seize Pacific Coin by half a neck on the line with Kudos Bert (Dean Chapple) 22m away third. “We took off turning into the back straight and ended up coming away and getting them on the line,” he said. “The horse (Tap It In) is going pretty good - Jarred’s team is flying at the moment.” Hetherington himself also had a training double with Lexy Can Wait taking out the Hygain Golden Guitar Final Thursday 24th January Pace with Tom Ison in the gig. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader    

The annual Hewitt Memorial race day rolls around again this Sunday afternoon, January 13, and the Goulburn Harness Racing Club is hopeful of another great event celebrating not only the memory of Tom and Angela Hewitt, but also those of Aubrey Frost and Robert Allport. What started off as a race to honour two great stalwarts of the harness racing industry, the Hewitt Memorial race day has evolved into an afternoon of high class harness racing action and community engagement. While also remembering the contributions of Aubrey Frost, and from this year on Robert Allport, the afternoon is also recognized for its support of the Crookwell Community Trust charity. “The Crookwell community has really got behind the day, and each year it seems to get a little bit bigger with really good crowds getting to the track” said club secretary Mark Croatto. “We’re always looking to add to the day, and this year we’ll have the singing talents of brothers Lachlan and Thomas Bensley who perform as Short Notice” added Croatto. The brothers, who are great grandnephews of Tom Hewitt, will perform between races throughout the afternoon. With Thomas commencing his second year at NIDA, and Lachlan to commence his first year at the renowned JMC Academy, both boys are well entrenched in careers in the performing arts and will be a welcome addition to the afternoon. As in the last couple of years, the afternoon of racing also doubles as an important fundraiser for the Crookwell Community Trust. The Crookwell Community Trust provides aid to people of the Upper Lachlan Shire who have experienced extreme difficulties due to personal trauma and or natural disaster. The shire includes Gunning, Crookwell, Taralga, Binda, Bigga and Tuena, and each year tens of thousands of dollars are provided to those who have suffered. Tim McCarthy, Chairperson of the Trust and local solicitor at Crookwell, was delighted with the ongoing partnership between the Trust and Goulburn Harness Racing Club. “We’re looking forward to another wonderful afternoon, and we’re delighted with our ongoing relationship with the harness club. The funds we raise go to help the many people who require our assistance and we are forever grateful to the many who help us do that” said McCarthy. As in previous years, Trust members will conduct a major raffle with multiple prizes including a Reflections Holiday Park accommodation package for a family of four, a $150 dinner voucher at The Argyle Inn where patrons can delight in the delicacies of the world class kitchen. Other prizes include a McGeechans Farm Supplies gift voucher and a carton of quality wine bottles. Community Trust members will set up inside the Grace Millsom Function Centre and the harness club encourages all those attending the race meeting to generously purchase tickets in the raffle. All funds raised on the day will be used to bolster a pool of money that can instantly be made available to people who are in distress, when they needed it the most, which is usually immediately after the emergency has arisen. To meet the needs of those who require help, the Trust must remain financial and Sunday’s raffle is but one of the annual fund raising efforts the Trust conducts. The $12,720 Tom and Angela Hewitt Memorial has been won by an array of quality horses with last year’s event taken out by the Bernie trained and driven Royal Story. One of three sons of Tom and Angela Hewitt, Bernie had not previously met success in the race. Royal Story confirmed her quality as a race horse going on to win a further six races including a $20,000 Country Series Final at Menangle last October. Supporting the Hewitt Memorial will once again be the $12,720 Walla Walla Stakes for the C4 and better grade pacers. With the immortal pacer buried adjacent the Goulburn Paceway’s home straight, the Walla Walla Stakes is being held for the fifth year and provides trainers with the ideal lead up race to the Group 3 $31,800 Goulburn Soldiers Club Frank and Edna Day Goulburn Cup scheduled for the January 28 Carnival of Cups meeting. Goulburn harness racing is brought to fans by the kind support of Tabcorp, Goulburn Soldiers Club, Hollingworth Crane Hire Service, Randwick Equine Centre, Southern Highlands Equine Centre, Sun Solutions Goulburn, Semco Equipment Sales, RSM Accountants, and a host of smaller businesses including Top Water Carters Crookwell, First National Real Estate Goulburn, Goulburn Livestock Transport, Landmark Southern Livestock Agenices, J.A. Communications, Crust Gourmet Pizza, Glen Mia ACT Saddlery and Ranvet. For all the latest Goulburn harness racing news visit the club’s website at and don’t forget to like us on Facebook Goulburn Harness Racing Club Reprinted with permission of The Crookwell Gazette 

EARLY tactics will be vital in tonight’s Group 2 Simpson Memorial at Menangle according to reinswoman Lauren Tritton. The premiership winning driver is taking the reins behind the $1.33 TAB Fixed Odds favourite Muscle Factory and drawing barrier one with the colt has not made the situation any easier Tritton admitted. “It’s an awkward barrier for him as he does have early speed but for his whole two-year-old season we drove him with handbrakes on early and just drove him out easy to stay out of trouble,” said Tritton. “This draw won’t allow us to do that and this is a pretty fast front line.” One rival Tritton will have her eyes on early is Victorian visitor Lochinvar Art. The colt is the only other starter in single figure odds at $4.20 and will begin from outside the front line. “It will be interesting to see what they do with him early and it will be interesting to see Muscle Factory and Lochinvar Art race each other again,” said Tritton. “Muscles is tough whereas Lochinvar Art has a quick last half in him. “Lochinvar Art has been running some ridiculous sectionals in Victoria and just drawn where he has, you would expect that they will have to put him into the race at some stage.” Muscle Factory and Lochinvar Art clashed in the Breeders Challenge Final last June with the pair finishing third and second respectively. Lochinvar Art has had two starts this season for a win and a second while Muscle Factory is first up from a spell. “We couldn’t have him any better,” said Tritton. “He went super winning his trial and there has been some good form come out of that trial too.” Meanwhile, Tritton’s other two starters have already raced this season. This includes Petes Big Jim which finished sixth at Menangle on December 18. “He got himself beat last start over-racing, pulling outside the leader which is not his go,” said Tritton. “He is the fastest two-year-old out of the gate that I’ve ever driven so should be suited by his draw.” Tritton’s other starter is Petes Said So. “He has blistering early speed as well,” said Tritton. “He is the highest assessed horse in the race so deserves his spot in the field.” Petes Said So will be driven by Lachie Manzelmann while Josh Aiken has obtained the drive on Petes Big Jim.   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

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   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

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