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The skills of Mark and Natalie and the success of regular owners, Phil and Glenys Kennard , Neil Pilcher and Australian Marcus Kirkwood were underlined after Natalie's memorable drive to win her 30th Harness Racing Group One in the Len Smith Mile.   Finally after a long  history of frustration which bordered on resignation Smolda reminded Australians of his great class.   It was only in November that his career was in limbo.   His Cup preparation was in disarray and since the beginning of 2014 he had raced only five times.   This was after Mark was the man who insisted that Smolda had the full time off senior veterinary adviser Dr Bill Bishop had recommended. No short cuts.   Reassessing the situation with the horse who won eight of his 12 starts at three including a sensational Harness Jewels victory (1 52.1) and the NSW Derby and when Mark was rating him among the best horses he had trained, it was back to the drawing board.   Promising, then a little disappointing at the Auckland Cup carnival his only win since January 2014 came at Addington in March in a field he had to beat.   But Mark and Natalie sensed that all the racing was helping him after a long time off and with no opportunities here it was off to Australia where he is now unbeaten in two starts on the campaign which is likely to last longer yet.   And a cherry ripe Smolda is suddenly looming in 2015 NZ Cup contention.   But then all his life Smolda has been surprising people.   He was not in keen demand as a yearling shares being advertised on the All Stars site which brought Marcus Kirkwood into a ride he has enjoyed to the full.   Phil and Glenys of course are rarely out of the All Stars headlines and Pilch-well he has always loved his Courage Under Fire's.                                                                      Waikiki Beach   Neil Pilcher became the most successful APG two year old final winning owner in history when Our Waikiki Beach which he races with Trevor Casey and Cheryl Rasmussen won at Menangle on Sunday.   He ran his last 400m in 25.9 and 1.54.3 overall after a superb rating from Natalie who was posting her second APG final win.   Mark has figured in the training of all three of Pilch's wins which began with Mr Nickel in 2011 when the longshot came out best after Fly Like An Eagle got a horrible run.   Last year Follow the Stars was the winner with Pilch again in the partnership.   Waikiki Beach was knocked down to Neil, selected by Mark, for $A50,000 at least year's Melbourne sale and  it is hardly a matter of regret.   He is still unbeaten having won the Welcome Stakes at Addington after winning the Kindergarten Stakes and has won  his heat, semi and Final of the APG series.   OUR AUSTRALIAN RECORD THIS SEASON   13 WINS   Fight For Glory -2 wins - NSW Oaks Prelude. NSW Oaks   Follow The Stars- 3  wins - Caduceus Club   Adore Me - 2 wins - Ladyship Mile G1   Hug the Wind 1 win - NSW Derby Prelude   Waikiki Beach 3 wins - APG heat, semi-final, final   Smolda  2 wins - Penrith Cup-Len Smith Mile   EIGHT  GROUP WINNERS   FOUR GROUP ONES !   OVER $500,000 IN STAKES   Courtesy All Stars Racing Stables    

Leading reinsman Luke McCarthy tipped more feature wins are in store for All Eyes On Us after the son of Art Major’s all-the-way win in the Group Two Lands Legal Carousel Final at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Menangle today.   After sustaining pressure from equal favourite Bettor Downunder for much of the 2400-metre journey, All Eyes On Us strode away along the straight to score a three-metre win over the fast-finishing Barimah, with Stormont Czar third, rating 1:55.6.   Trained by Luke wife’s Belinda, the four-year-old missed the majority of his three-year-old season due to an operation to remove bone fragment in his hind ankle.   “In the long run that could be the best thing to have happened to him,” Luke said. “This win will also be a great tonic for part-owner Emilio Rosati, who has been having some back and foot problems.   “All Eyes On Us’ other part-owner Tony Pace has also been a great supporter of harness racing for many years and I’m sure this horse could have some more good wins in store for him.”   Spearing to the front from gate three, All Eyes On Us was given little rest as Michael Stanley sent Bettor Downunder forward, turning the race into a stern staying test.   Turning for home Bettor Downunder began to feel the pressure of his hard run, enabling All Eyes On Us to kick clear before staving off a late charge from Victorian visitor Barimah, which came from near the tail of the field with a flashing finish.   All Eyes On Us provided the McCarthy stable with consecutive Carousel wins, having scored with Beetson, which was handled by James Rattray, last season.   Michael Court - Courtesy of National Trotguide  

Local harness racing participant Julie Hobday would love nothing more than to win the feature race at Inverell’s Carnival Of Cups meeting on Sunday.  The $10,000 Gallipoli RSL/RSM Carnival Of Cups is the main event and Hobday has her favourite horse Playboysholiday engaged, and despite drawing the second row, she is hoping to play a role in the finish. “Playboysholiday last raced on March 22 when he finished third at Armidale in 1:59.7, but I did take him out on the mid north coast show run and only got home last Sunday, so he is very fit,” Hobday said. “We bought Playboysholiday as a two-year-old from Victoria, he has done a really good job for us. “We sent him down to Cameron Davies for a while, where he won races at Newcastle and hasn’t been too far away at Menangle in the past either.” After a mishap the son of Blissfull Hall had only one start in 12 months. “He had to have the best part of six months in the paddock, but I was really happy with his run at Armidale,” Hobday said. “Although he has drawn gate nine, I think there will be enough speed on in the early stages to bring the horses that settle midfield into the race late. “There is no doubt the Inverell track suits a front runner, but I do think the 2000-metre distance is going to make a bit of a difference because the leaders are going to get tired.” Hobday has another four drives on the program and is hoping one of them, Starry Eyed Amanda, can race well. “She has had a slight issue with her leg, so she didn’t come on the show run with the rest of the horses, but I think she is a really nice filly and is going to win some races,” Hobday said. “Starry Eyed Amanda won a race at Bankstown on New Year’s Day and we bought her the day after. “The wide draw is going to make it tough, but I think she will be competitive.” HRNSW Media

Harness Racing New South Wales will implement measures as early as next week to assist participants who have been affected by the recent storms and floods in the Hunter Valley.  A number of trainers have been affected, and although the rain has stopped in most parts of the region, the water levels continue to rise. HRNSW chief executive John Dumesny announced the Board will meet on Wednesday to discuss what can be done to help those who are suffering as a result of the horrendous storms which swept across the state. “The Board will consider the situation at Wednesday’s meeting and a plan to help those affected will then be acted upon,” Dumesny said. “I have been in contact with a number of trainers and it is very sad to hear what some of them having been dealing with since the early part of this week.” Some trainers are struggling to come to terms with the devastation the storm has caused. “I have spoken with Barry Matterson, his training track has been cut in half…Paul Carmody told me that the only dry place on his property is where his house stands,” Dumesny said. “I would like to congratulate Kenny Smith who has been a shining light for people in the Louth Park area. He has been assisting anybody and everybody that needs it, ensuring people cut-off by the flood are receiving supplies.” The biggest concern for many participants will be the lack of food for horses once the water subsides. “Understandably trainers are worried because all of their feed has been lost, so we will be helping to provide those people with assistance,” Dumesny said. “The extent of the devastation is not only confined to those suffering from the floods, the strong winds and rain itself caused substantial damage in areas other than the floodplain.” HRNSW Media

The Newcastle/Maitland Mini Trot Association has been forced to postpone the inaugural Ross Gigg Driver Challenge, which was scheduled for tomorrow evening.  Due to the extreme conditions in the region, the decision was made to defer the challenge with an alternate date to be announced soon. “At this stage six of our nominated ponies are unfortunately affected by the floods including Megan McNamara’s, who are currently on a small island with rising waters,” Daryll Jackson said. “Although the extreme weather conditions have eased in the lower Hunter, the backlog of water is just reaching Maitland and surrounding areas causing major concerns for the district with a number of roads now inaccessible.” Jackson confirmed the decision to postpone the challenge had not been an easy one and hoped it would still be strongly supported when reprogrammed. “We didn’t make this decision lightly,” Jackson said. “We are very excited about the concept and will put forward a new suitable date as soon as it is practicable and we still hope all of the participants can attend. “Those that nominated ponies did so to assist in the memory of Ross Gigg and with that support it is only fair we give everyone the chance to attend.” Saturday night’s meeting at Newcastle is unaffected and will continue as programmed. HRNSW Media

Wind gusts of up to 130 km/h have caused major damage at the Newcastle Paceway, however, the hard working team is doing as much as they can to ensure harness racing can continue.  Newcastle’s General Manager Tony Drew confirmed the storm that wreaked havoc on the Hunter Valley had caused some major issues for the club, but a lot of work had already been done. “First and foremost I just hope everyone is okay,” Drew said. “The storm has been very intense in and around the Hunter, and while a lot of damage has been caused, it can all be fixed. “Monday night was the worst with the high winds causing some structural damage. A lot of our signs on the side of the track have been destroyed and the debris is littered all over the track, so obviously that needs to be cleaned up and removed for the safety of the horses.” The club’s function room was also damaged as were several skylights in the betting ring. “I spoke with the track manager Scott this morning and he is doing everything he can to get the track right,” Drew said. “We have called off the trials tonight and if the rain stops there is a good chance we will be able to race later in the week. “There were a number of ruts in the track and they have been levelled off, but what was most concerning yesterday was the fence panelling made of tin had broken off and was flying around which is obviously very dangerous.” Drew has been forced to remain at home since Monday due to the power outage as a result of the storm. “I live on the seventh floor of my building and the lifts haven’t been operating since Monday night,” Drew explained. “I had a double hip replacement three weeks ago and I am unable to climb the stairs, so I’m forced to be doing as much as I can from home. “As soon as the lifts are working I will get back to the track.” The Newcastle Harness Racing club is scheduled to race tomorrow and Saturday night. “We have had a number of calls from trainers wanting to come to the track to work their horses in the lead up to Saturday’s meeting, but until Scott is happy with the conditions and it is safe, it is not possible,” Drew said. Newcastle received 99.2mm of rain on yesterday, in comparison, only 88.6mm fell between February 1 and March 31. HRNSW Media

New South Wales harness racing trainer Darren Elder had been planning a Queensland trip for his talented pacer Shannonsablast during the Winter Carnival, but is now, he is just happy to be safe and dry after being forced to evacuate his property at Louth Park.  Elder had spoken with the relevant authorities yesterday and it had been thought his property would be spared, however, by this morning the situation had changed dramatically. “By 9am this morning we were forced to evacuate the horses,” Elder said. “We had 17 horses that we had to get off the place, including a mare in foal, so it has been a pretty big day for me “I had to swim the horses about 100 metres across the river, but it felt like a kilometre every time. “My arms are aching and so are my legs, but the good news is that they are all now safe.” The water was full of debris and Elder’s family had to be on the lookout for anything that could cause a problem. “The water is dirty, you can’t see anything at all, but you have to be careful of the snakes and my wife did have to alert me to a red belly black snake that was floating by,” Elder declared. “The water has come up under the house…it is still about three feet from getting in, so at the moment I have just returned to grab some clothes, have a shower to remove all the dirt and then I will leave with everything I can carry.” Even when the water does subside it is going to be a long time before everything is back to normal for the Elder stable. “I reckon it will be at least a month before we get everything fixed up,” Elder said. “The water will go down quickly, but it has risen up that high that it has covered most things. “I’ve just finished putting a walker in and the water has gone up over the motor. The thing you have to remember is that all of these things are material and they can all be replaced.” Elder confirmed he still wants to go to Queensland later in the year and believes Shannonsablast will be able to make the trip. “I made sure I had worked out which was the best way across the river and I had a distinct path before I asked Shannonsablast to swim across,” Elder said. “He handled it fine and it won’t have done him any damage, so there is no reason why I still won’t go.” “The harness community has been great…a lot of people have been helping me out and I’m very thankful for that because it makes it a lot easier to get things done.” HRNSW Media

The harness racing participants for this year’s Rising Stars Series have been announced, with the cream of the junior talent in New South Wales competing in heats conducted throughout the state.  The drivers will gather at the Breeders’ Challenge barrier draw on June 21 before competing in heats at Young, Bathurst, Newcastle, Penrith and Tabcorp Park Menangle. The competing drivers are: Daniel Morgan North East Laura Spencer North East Jack Trainor Metropolitan Thomas Ison North West Reece Maguire South West & Riverina Ellen Bartley South West & Riverina Madison Reynolds Western Districts Nathan Carroll Western Districts Chris Geary Defending Champion STILL TO BE ANNOUNCED Western Australia The Young Harness Racing Club will continue to support the concept as the major sponsor of the series.  Secretary Brian Ingram is looking forward to having the drivers compete in two heats at Young on Tuesday, June 23. “The club has always sponsored this series and it is great to see the top junior drivers in New South Wales getting the opportunity to compete against one another,” Ingram said. “I am looking forward to seeing them race at Young this year as part of the series and the chance to drive at Menangle on Breeders’ Challenge day will be a big thrill for the junior drivers too.” While racing is a major part of the week, the drivers will also get the opportunity to visit the stables of Luke and Belinda McCarthy and Steve Turnbull.  The group will travel to Success Stud and undertake media training with Trots TV while under the care of Rachael and David Micallef. Harness Racing NSW chief executive John Dumesny congratulated the selected drivers while wishing them the best of luck. “When you look back at this series over the years, so many of our top drivers in New South Wales competed at some stage,” Dumesny said. “It also gives these young drivers a chance to meet one another and build friendships that will last a lifetime. “A lot of planning goes into the Rising Stars series and I am sure they will enjoy all of the activities that have been scheduled.” HRNSW Media

Tuesday 7th April 2015 - Sixteen year old harness racing reinsman Patrick Power's facebook account told the story after he drove his first race winner on Monday night at Fairfield when My Whiskey Lullaby took out race four. Power had his first race drive in November last year and broke through for his maiden win at his eleventh attempt. "Over the moon with my first win tonight, more photos to come! - feeling ecstatic," Power's facebook post read. Power was still 'on cloud nine' the following morning. "I'm very happy, I've been around horses all of my life and it was a massive thrill to drive a winner," Power said. "I've been into campdrafting for a long time but I didn't get into harness racing until I took my horse out to an agistment property one day and met some people involved in the sport." In campdrafting competition, a rider on horseback must control a cow, taking the beast out of a yard and through a course around pegs. The sport requires skill and horsemanship. "I got introduced to Martin Herbert and was helping him out at Bankstown and then for the past eighteen months I have been working with Ronnie Lloyd." "I took out my C-grade licence and did all of my trial drives with Ronnie." Power thought My Whiskey Lullaby was a good chance on Monday but refused to get too excited pre-race after the mare finished last when first up at Newcastle. "She had been working well leading up to Newcastle and I was pretty confident that she would run a good race there but she had other ideas." "She had some issues in the score up and ended up galloping at Newcastle so I wasn't getting too far ahead of myself on Monday but I was very proud of her because she just kept on giving in the final lap and held on to win." Despite the thrill of winning a race, Power was back at work on Tuesday morning. "Yeah, there wasn't too much celebrating because there was work to be done today but it is definitely a feeling I will never forget." Here is the link to Power's first race win. Greg Hayes

The last time New Zealand harness racing trainer Mark Purdon was in Australia he was setting records with champion mare Adore Me.  The leading kiwi horseman will be back at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday to drive talented two-year-old Our Waikiki Beach in an Australian Pacing Gold heat. Our Waikiki Beach is owned by a syndicate including New Zealander Trevor Casey, and after a minor hiccup on Thursday morning, the popular owner is looking forward to seeing the son of Somebeachsomewhere race in Sydney. “We think a lot of the horse, but we hope the fog isn’t an issue on Friday morning,” Casey said. “It rolled in at the wrong time in Christchurch today, which meant the plane couldn’t land to pick him up, so the horse has had to stay in New Zealand for a day longer than expected. “He has only had the two starts here, he won the Kindergarten Stakes on debut beating one of his stablemates and then won the Welcome Stakes at Addington last week. “Although he didn’t run a fast time overall, his last half was very quick.” Our Waikiki Beach was purchased at the Melbourne APG Sales and Casey said he was keen to secure the colt out of Cyclone Betty - a daughter of Bettors Delight. “We bought a yearling the year prior by Somebeachsomewhere and he was called Assassinator, he was a really nice horse, but we sold him, so I was keen to get another one by Somebeachsomewhere,” Casey explained “Our Waikiki Beach still has to get through the heats, but I have already booked my tickets to come across to Menangle on the day of the Final (April 26), so I really hope he gets through.” Casey confirmed Our Waikiki Beach may spend a lot of time in Australia towards the end of the season. “He is eligible for a lot of the Aussie feature races, he has got the Breeders’ Challenge, the Vicbred and the Breeders Crown still to go,” Casey said. “Mark will drive him on Tuesday and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he goes.”    HRNSW Media

Punters are the biggest winners from one of the new initiatives launched by Harness Racing New South Wales with the posting of individual sectional times for all runners at TAB meetings across the state. The new tool will also be important for trainers and owners as they will be able to statistically gauge their horse's performance in a particular race. HRNSW Chief Operating Officer Reid Sanders believes the posting of every horse's sectional time on www.harnessmediacentre.com.au will be well received by the industry. "We receive a lot of feedback from all different parts of the industry about how to improve aspects of it and providing 800, 600 and 400 metre splits for every runner in a race is something that people have been screaming out for," Sanders said. "There is more to the statistical data than that, HRNSW is also providing information including distance from the leader at the half and how wide the horse was at the 800 and 400 metre marks." Currently Shane Tritton is the leading trainer in New South Wales and he confirmed he constantly refers to the sectional times to work out whether a horse has performed to its usual standard or not. "Sometimes as a trainer you get lost in a horse's performance when it is beaten despite working well in the lead up to an event but this new information allows me to assess a run on its merits," Tritton said. "It certainly assists me and it also allows me to weigh up runs from different horses at the same meeting when track and weather conditions are similar, it is something I am using a lot and I know a lot of other trainers are using as well." To access the new information log onto www.harnessmediacentre.com.au and click onto the 'racing' tab. The sectional times link is one of the options on the 'stewards' menu. Or click on the following link http://www.harnessmediacentre.com.au/racing/stewards/sectionaltimes Some of the star performers on the clock at recent meetings include: Bathurst Saturday March 28 - Only two year olds broke 56 seconds for their final half at the Gold Crown meeting. Cherry Mahoney ran fifth in the Gold Tiara but ran the fastest last half of any two year old at the meeting with an impressive 55.33 split while Time Keepa Lombo ran 55.73 winning the Gold Crown consolation. Menangle Friday March 27 - Condagen recorded a fast last half breaking 54 seconds in coming from well back to finish second behind Elrama in race one. Liberalitus finished third in race three and ran 39.88 for its final 600 metres and was the only horse to break 40 seconds on the night. Newcastle March 26 - Fountain Lakes won by three metres in the first but the sectionals tell the story. She ran the final 800 metres in 56.27 and was the only runner at the meeting that raced over the 2030 metres to break 57 seconds for the final 800 and was off the pegs. Another new resource that is also available via the Harness Media Centre is 'Follow Up Reports'. While stewards' reports have been available online to interested parties, the 'follow up report' will give NSW stewards the opportunity to brief the industry on information pertaining to particular horses, events or meetings after they have concluded. A Follow Up Report on Bathurst Gold Crown favourite Bettermatch has been posted after trainer Colin Thomas reported to stewards the two year old was showing no ill effects from his run on Saturday night after returning to his Leeton stable. "Sometimes stewards will have inquiries into incidents that may not be finalised for a week or two and while the results are published in later reports they can lost in all of the racing information," Sanders said. "It will give readers the opportunity to log onto the website and go to one area to get all of the follow up information." The follow up reports can be found on the stewards menu under the racing tab at www.harnessmediacentre.com.au Or click on the following link http://www.harnessmediacentre.com.au/racing/stewards/followupreports Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales  

Waldenburg looked to have a big harness racing career after his two-year-old season.  One of the top performers of his crop, son of Bettors Delight won a semi-final of the Breeders’ Crown before finishing second behind Three Over Three in the Final. As a three-year-old Waldenburg won the Simpson Memorial and was placed in the Victoria Derby, beating home Restrepo.  He qualified for another two Group One races that season, but after suffering a leg issue, was sent for a well-earned break.  As a four-year-old Waldenburg was back on the sidelines due to another a leg injury according to his trainer Blake Fitzpatrick.  “Waldenburg suffered an injury to his leg in a paddock accident after only a couple of runs back as a four-year-old, which was really disappointing,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve had him back in work for about five months this time and he is holding up really well. The leg is no longer an issue…he has had two trials back and I think he is ready to go back to the races.” Waldenburg trialled yesterday when he charged up on the back of dual Inter Dominion winner Beautide to hit the line full of running. “I was really happy with his trial this week,” Fitzpatrick said. “There was improvement from the first trial, so now I will look to put him into a race for M0 horses on Saturday week.” “He is only lightly-assessed at this stage and I think he will do a good job because I thought that there were some nice horses in his age group and he competed with them very strongly as a two-and three year-old.”     HRNSW Media

Spudvegas is the 13th foal from broodmare Colada Hanover to race, but when he won on debut at Goulburn yesterday, he did something most of his siblings have been unable to do.  Of his 12, only two have won at their first race start. Left Stranded scored at Gloucester Park in 2006, while the first horse in the family to achieve the feat was the quadruple Inter Dominion winner Blacks A Fake. Blackie, as he was affectnionately-known, debuted at the Gold Coast on August 6, 2003. Spudvegas is owned by Wayne and Ann Lamb and was bred by popular breeder Eric Basham.  Basham enjoyed the victory and watched the races on the television from his home in Young. “My wife Rosemary and I watch all of the horses race that we breed,” Basham said. “Rosemary even gets the trials off the internet so we can watch them too, they are still our babies. “There are only two more foals after Spudvegas, the next filly is named Goinsenial and she was purchased by the Rattray family, while I have leased out the last filly out of Colada Hanover.” Colada Hanover died within 24 hours of giving birth to Colada Hanover, and while Basham could not have saved the mare, he still questions himself. “She had the foal just before sundown and she was fine, my son got up to check on her at 1am the next morning and she was ok, but when I went to check on her at dawn, she was dead,” Basham explained. “The vets told me there was nothing I could have done and she most likely suffered an internal bleed after giving birth, but it was still very traumatic at the time.” Since then Basham has had some issues of his own including a broken back. “In August last year I had two young horses in a yard and I was trying to put a headstall on one of them, and while I was doing that, the other horses bit the one I was working with on the bum and I was thrown to the ground, the sound my back made was like that of a whip being cracked,” Basham said. “I managed to get up, but it has been a long recovery. There was a lot of pain, and while it has now healed, I find it difficult to stand or sit in the one position for long periods of time.” Basham confirmed he decided to lease the final foal from Colada Hanover to a vet from Young after she provided him and Rosemary with a lot of help. “The filly was a poddy foal and she was a bit backward, I had her running with the colts as a weanling and Jantien Saltet my vet said to me I’m going to take that filly and feed her up,” Basham said. “She did that and it has made a great difference to the filly, so I offered to lease her to Jantien for all of her help. It was the least I could do.” By Art Major, Spudvegas is trained by leading horsewoman Belinda McCarthy. HRNSW Media

In juvenile Group One harness racing events it is very rare to find a large number of stallions represented.  In this day and age where ‘boom’ stallions are all the rage, it is interesting to look at the number of different stallions which will have runners in tomorrow night’s two feature events at Bathurst. In the Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown, with emergencies included, there are 13 stallions with progeny engaged.  This is in stark contrast to last year’s Gold Crown where only five stallions had sons compete in the $100,000 event.  Art Major is the only stallion with dual representation in the Crown. Also pleasing for HRNSW and its breeding initiatives is 10 runners are eligible for the Breeders’ Challenge series later in the year. “The Breeders’ Challenge for 2014/15 will begin in May with heats for the two and three-year-olds run across New South Wales and it is exciting to see so many breeders and owners supporting the series,” HRNSW Chief Executive Officer John Dumesny said. “With such a wide range of stallions represented on Saturday night it goes to show that there is a lot of support for the different sires available to both the hobby and professional breeders.” It is a similar story in the Slingsby Holdings Bathurst Gold Tiara, with the 14 finalists representing 12 different stallions.  If the two emergencies fail to gain a start then every runner in the race will be by a different sire.  Of the 14 fillies, 11 are eligible to compete in the Breeders’ Challenge. When the two races are combined, there are 20 stallions represented. The list of stallions include; Sportswriter, Always A Virgin, Village Jasper, Rock N Roll Heaven, Four Starzzz Shark, Village Jolt, Art Major, Mach Three, Jeremes Jet, Rock N Roll Hanover, American Ideal, Bettor Delight, Shadow Play, Kenneth J, Somebeachsomewhere, Gotta Go Cullect, Modern Art, Courage Under Fire, Tell All and Lis Mara. Of the current top 10 stallions on the NSW premiership, five have runners in the Gold Crown or Tiara, while it is no surprise that every stallion in the top 10 of the Leading Two-Year-Old Sire category has a qualifier. Five of the youngsters are also eligible for the rich Breeders’ Challenge Blue Series. HRNSW Media

Since being opened last October, Bathurst’s 1000-metre harness racing circuit has been widely praised. In fact, highly respected horseman Luke McCarthy referred to the track as the best of its size in Australia and early results suggest it could well be the fairest track too.  While many would consider front row barrier draws over the 1730 metres a big advantage, statistics compiled by Harness Racing New South Wales dispel the common belief. Although there is only a relatively small sample size for the statistics, the data makes for interesting reading.  A total of 83 races have been run at Bathurst over 1730 metres since the track opened, with 10 the most successful barrier.  Barrier Starts Wins % 1             83          9              10.8          2 83 7 8.4 3 83 9 10.8 4 83 5 6 5 83 9 10.8 6 83 9 10.8 7 77 8 10.4 8 46 5 10.9 9 72 4 5.6 10 60 10 16.7 11 48 5 10.4 12 26 3 11.5 13 9 0 0.0 So which trainers are smiling now?  Hunter Valley trainer Sam Dimarco’s stable representative Shadow Runner was the fastest qualifier after a comfortable victory in his heat and has drawn 10 in the Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown. TAB has the son of Shadow Play listed as the second favourite at $4.20 behind the Col Thomas-trained Bettermatch $1.50. In the Slingsby Holdings Gold Tiara, Art Mistress has drawn barrier 10 as a $51 chance. Two fillies dominate the market, with Three Squared the favourite at $2.30 while the Steve Turnbull-trained Pixies Parlour is the $2.80 second pick.  TAB Media Manager Adam Hamilton reports the favourites in both races have been supported, but there have been runners backed to beat them. “In the Gold Tiara there was some money for Three Squared when the markets first went up, but that has dried up a little bit and there has been good support for the stablemate Soho Madeleine,” Hamilton said. “Pixies Parlour has been very solid in the market at $2.80, but we are expecting money for Three Squared as the race gets closer.” “Bettermatch has eased slightly from $1.40 out to $1.50, which doesn’t surprise me, because while he won his heat, I think a little bit of gloss came off him when he wasn’t as impressive as everyone was expecting.” HRNSW Media

October 12, 2001 seems so long ago to Hunter Valley harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco.  On that Friday evening Dimarco geared up talented pacer Bills Bingo for the first race at Harold Park. Bills Bingo started favourite in the race but locked wheels and ran last…it was the last time Dimarco took a horse to the races for more than a decade. After some major health issues that kept Dimarco away from the sport, including a battle with depression, it was fitting he returned on Valentines Day, February 14th 2014.  He loved his horses and through the support and love from his daughter Marissa, Dimarco was back doing what made him feel good. Fast forward to this week and Dimarco is about to enjoy a thrill many trainers never get to experience.  Dimarco will have two runners - Gotta Go Gold and Shadow Runner - in Saturday night’s Group One Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown, with both owned by Marissa. “Marissa is very keen on the horses,” Dimarco said. “She has a few broodmares and breeds a couple every season, but has always had a love for the horses since she was a young child. “We went out to Brooklyn Lodge last year, and when she picked the two of them out, I asked her which trainer she was going to send them to and she told me she wanted me to train them. “She wanted to help me and thought the horses would do that.” Shadow Runner was super impressive winning his heat by 11 metres last weekend, while Gotta Go Gold had to work a bit harder to record his five-metre win…something the son of Gotta Go Cullect has become accustomed to. “Rickie Alchin broke them both in and told us they would both make it, so we took them home and spelled them at a property at Wyee,” Dimarco said. “But we got a call to say Gotta Go Gold wasn’t very well and looked to be suffering from colic. “We raced to see him and he looked to be in a bad way. The vets were treating him for colic, but he wasn’t improving, so took him to an equine hospital in Newcastle and they did some investigations and worked out he had a blockage in his intestine.” After discussions with a surgeon about the operation, Sam and Marissa contacted Alchin to see whether he thought it was worth spending $10,000 to try and save him. “We put Rickie on the spot and he suggested we try and save him and I know Marissa would have had him operated on no matter what the cost,” Dimarco said. Gotta Go Gold debuted last month and was an impressive winner at Newcastle winning by more than 25 metres. “He has only been beaten once and that was when Shadow Runner proved too strong for him at Newcastle,” Dimarco said. “He is very speedy, but probably isn’t as strong as Shadow Runner. “Shadow Runner has won all three starts, but his biggest test is going to be this Saturday night in the Final.” At Monday night’s barrier draw neither freshman fared wellm with Gotta Go Gold drawing barrier sevenm while Shadow Runner has drawn gate 10. HRNSW Media

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