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The field for Saturday night’s harness racing Group 3 $31,800 Ave Technologies Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile has been released.  Ten runners will start off the front row. 1.           SHANNONSABLAST 2. IMAGE OF COURAGE 3. STRATHLACHLAN ANDY 4. DYNAMITE DENN NEE 5. ALTA JEROME 6. MY JELLIGNITE 7. MACH BEAUTY 8. YAYAS HOT SPOT 9. BETTOR BET BLACK 10. BLAZIN N CULLEN 11. EXPRESSIONIST Nominations for all other races have been extended until 9:30am Tuesday morning. Greg Hayes  

The 2015/16 Carnival Of Cups bonuses were finalised and presented on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Spare Me Days was declared the leading horse in the six feature races run during the Carnival Of Cups and won his harness racing owners Brad Hewitt and Milly Marmont $15,000. Spare Me Days won two of the six legs of the bonus - the Young Cup and Saturday night's Bulli Cup. The four year old also ran second in the Goulburn Cup, Penrith's Renshaw Cup and Bankstown's Sydney Cup. Horses scored points in the series depending on finishing positions in each of the six legs while owners could earn their horse a bonus four points by attending the event and reporting to the Club Secretary. The final Carnival Of Cups bonus points tally (including owners bonus points) Spare Me Days 77 Condagen 43 Yayas Hot Spot 42 Beetson 24 Tact Tate 20 Betabcool 19 Pachacuti 17 Bling It On 16 Lochinver 16 Freyberg 15 In addition to the major Carnival Of Cups bonus there was a $5,000 participation bonus.  Horses became eligible for the participation bonus by competing in a minimum two of the six feature races and were rewarded with a ticket in the draw for every race feature meeting they competed at.  Therefore after earning five tickets in the draw, it wasn’t a shock when Spare Me Days won another $5,000 for his owners Brad and Milly. After the announcement on Saturday night, Milly confirmed winning the money was well timed with an overseas trip coming up later this year. “Brad and I are off to America later in the year so winning the $20,000 has come at a perfect time for us,” Milly Marmont said. “When it was announced there was going to be bonuses for competing in the big races during the Carnival Of Cups we made the decision to target the races and it couldn’t have worked out any better.” After competing in five of the six legs of the Carnival Of Cups bonus, Spare Me Days amassed $64,500 in prizemoney and won another $20,000 in bonuses.   Greg Hayes

It was a night to remember for Wayne and Lyn Graham. Within the space of 25 minutes, the popular Queensland couple snared their biggest double during their long and decorated careers in harness racing after claiming the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle plus the $80,000 Albion Park Gold Final. Park Life, handled by their son Shane, claimed the Sydney classic while in-form reinsman Adam Sanderson handled Jossie James in the home state feature. The respected couple have been a regular fixture in Brisbane harness racing circles for decades and has enjoyed tremendous success with such stars like Sparkling Melody, Mach Alert, Yahoo Buckaroo, Lively Highlander, Bossys Henry, Power In Disguise, Innocent Nero, Rapt In Red, French Heiress and Albert Aralar among others at Moomba Lodge, their property at Beaudesert. Their current team is headed by exciting four-year-old Major Coup, a last start winner of the QBRED Breeders Classic Final at Albion Park plus this pair of precocious fillies. Park Life, a $16,000 purchase from the Brisbane division of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale last year is raced by Victorian based couple Stephen and Narelle Dickson in partnership with local owner Pete Poulsen. The filly was bred by Mario Di Carlo. From 6 starts to date, the Rock N Roll Heaven – Strawbs Interact filly has recorded 3 wins and 3 minor placings while amassing more than $168,000 in stakes. After drawing the coveted inside gate, Park Life was handled perfectly by the reigning Australian Driver of the Year and sat just off the pace which was set by race favourite High Rolling but that filly could not withstand the strong sprint from Park Life at the top of the long straight before defeating Victorian fillies Perfect Sense and Petacular in a time of 1:53.2. High Rolling finished 5th. The time is the fastest recorded by a two-year-old this season. While celebrations and presentations were underway for the diminutive filly, the couple took time out to witness stablemate Jossie James lead throughout and beat Our Major Day and Rock With Sam in the Brisbane feature. The punters favourite rated 1:55.4 in the 1660m event, slightly slower than her heat success of 1:55.0 eight days earlier. Bred and raced by longtime stable clients Trevor and Louise O’Reilly, the Big Jim – Empty Promises filly has now won 2 of her 4 starts to date. The filly was passed in at $7500 after failing to make the reserve price of $16,000 at the Brisbane division of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale last year. Jossie James has now banked more than $39,000 in stakes. The O’Reilly’s have been breeding from this family for over three generations and have enjoyed considerable success with this lineage. Local horseman Garry Fliedner has played a major role in the development of both fillies and was on hand at Albion Park to share in the celebrations. Both fillies will be aimed at the upcoming QBRED features during the Brisbane winter carnival. Chris Barsby

Luke and Belinda McCarthy are one of the strongest partnerships in Australian harness racing. The McCarthy stable trained its 1000th winner on Wednesday night at Bathurst when Bullet Stride scored. It is a milestone that the couple are proud of with Luke training 440 of the winners and Belinda the remaining 560. Luke began training in the 2002/03 season with Belinda taking over in 2012/13. The stable enjoyed its best season in 2011/12 when training 217 winners. The Cobbitty property where the McCarthy's call home is state of the art and Luke confirmed they had pumped a lot of money into it. "Everything we have earned since we have moved to Sydney has gone straight into the property and when we reached the milestone it makes all of the hard work worthwhile," Luke McCarthy said. "The stable is well represented at Menangle this Saturday night and hopefully we can have a good night with so many big races being run." The McCarthy stable will have three runners in the Group 2 Carousel with Kept Under Wraps the leading chance. "Kept Under Wraps has been set for this race and while he has drawn awkwardly I'll be looking to get off the inside as soon as possible and from there I will look to put him into the race. Admiral Bronski has hit his straps at the right time and looks well placed off the front row. "Tintinara needs to keep on improving but I think she has done a good job since she has arrived from New Zealand. From her draw she will need a bit of luck and a solid speed. I think Cyclone Kate and Alotbettor are the two horse to beat." Frith will compete in the Bulli Pacers Cup and McCarthy is expecting another solid performance. "She just keeps on improving, her run last start was super and she is on target for a trip to Melbourne for the Queen Of The Pacific. The plan is to take her to the Newcastle Mile and then that will give us two weeks to have her right for Melbourne. "I am driving She Envy for David Aiken in the Australian Pacing Gold final, she needs to be at her best and have a bit of luck to win it but she is an improving filly and I don't think she will be all that far away at the finish. High Rolling has got a nice draw but I think Petacular seems to be the forgotten horse in the race, she was very impressive last week in the semi final." Greg Hayes

He is the voice of the gallops in northern New South Wales but a passion for harness racing will see Anthony Collins behind the binoculars at Inverell's Carnival Of Cups meeting this Sunday. The seed for Collins' harness racing passion was planted many years ago at the Warwick Show and despite growing up on a property with thoroughbreds he was determined to become involved in harness racing from then on. After speaking with countless people and reading as many books as he could get his hands on, Collins immersed himself in harness racing and spent a lot of time with renowned horse chiropractor and horseman Gordon McCrae learning the finer points of training. Collins had his first starter in 2004 and celebrated his maiden victory as a trainer on New Years' Day 2005 with a pacer called Regal Drum. He drove his first winner soon after and although he no longer holds a trainers or drivers licence he plans on getting them back next season. "I have been very busy with race calling and travelling between tracks has taken up a lot of my free time," Collins said. "I'm also the President of the Darling Downs Harness Racing Club that formerly raced at Toowoomba and now race at Warwick on Fathers' Day each year." From the time Collins was in the fifth grade he dreamed of being a race caller and his idol growing up was the former Toowoomba broadcaster Pat O'Shea. O'Shea recently passed away and Collins was given the opportunity to call the Toowoomba races. "Pat O'Shea was an idol of mine and I think he was an idol of many young kids growing up around Toowoomba that wanted to get involved in sports broadcasting. He had a huge influence on the region. "I can remember as a kid I would hear him on his breakfast radio show before he would head out and call the Toowoomba trots and then go back in and read the sports news at the local television channel. Then on the weekend he would go out to call the races and the footy, he was just a local legend." Collins called harness racing at Rocklea before its demise and also called a few galloping meetings at tracks like Dalby and Warwick. He was also calling the non-tab harness racing at Redcliffe on a Saturday before it ceased in 2012. "When the non-tab meetings stopped at Redcliffe it put a big hole in the number of meetings I was calling each month and I had basically gone from a part time caller to a casual one. Out of the blue I received a call from Sky Racing's Rod Gallegos and he asked if I was available to call the Bangalow Cup meeting at Ballina on October 1. "I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and was soon given the chance to call other tracks like Lismore and Murwillumbah. I had been working as a furniture salesman but calling races was something that I really wanted to do." It didn't take long for Collins to establish himself as a caller and he now is employed on a full-time basis by Sky Racing and that's how the opportunity to call Inverell arose. "Andrew Bensley rang me recently and asked if I would be interested in calling the Carnival Of Cups meeting at Inverell, I normally make the trip to all of the Carnival Of Cups in northern NSW and strap for the Weidemann stable." "I jumped at the chance, I have actually raced horses at Inverell before without much success so it will great to be back there on Sunday in a different role." At only 29 years of age, Collins is a long way from giving up calling but he is keen to be involved in racing administration later on in his career. "You can't call forever and I would like to work in administration at some stage, I really enjoy my role as President of the Darling Downs." When asked what he prefers to call - whether it is gallops or harness racing, his answer is very diplomatic. "I have been asked this recently and my answer is the same. I don't care what I am calling as long as I am calling races." The first at Inverell on Sunday afternoon is due to begin at 12:06pm. Greg Hayes

The harness racing drivers selected for this year’s NSW Rising Stars have been announced with the cream of the up and coming talent in New South Wales competing over a series of heats run throughout the state.  The drivers will gather at the offices of HRNSW on Monday June 20 before competing in a ten heat series at Young, Bathurst, Penrith, Newcastle and Tabcorp Park Menangle. The competing drivers are: Ellen Rixon Metropolitan Martelle Maguire Metropolitan Ellen Bartley South West & Riverina Jason Grimson South West & Riverina Mitch Turnbull Western Districts Tom Pay Western Districts James Harding Hunter Brad Elder Hunter Tom Ison North West STILL TO BE ANNOUNCED Western Australia The NSW Rising Stars selection criteria can be read in full by clicking here. It is important to note that to be eligible for the series drivers must be under the age of 23 prior to the start of the racing season, can’t compete in more than two series unless returning as the defending champion and must have driven less than 100 winners at the start of the current season. The Rising Stars gives junior drivers from all parts of the state the chance to spend a week together building friendships while enjoying the competition on the track.  As a group they will meet with the Chairman Of Stewards Graham Loch for an information session and will also undertake some media training with Media Manager Greg Hayes.  The Rising Stars will also get the opportunity to attend a game of football and will be attending the second day of the HRNSW Conference on Saturday June 25 before competing at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Alabar Breeders Challenge Day the following day. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny congratulated all of the selected drivers and wished 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 in this series 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. “I would like to make special mention of Jack Trainor, last year’s Rising Stars winner, who has decided to relinquish his spot this year to allow another driver to compete.  Jack has competed in 2014 and 2015 and would like to see another junior driver given the opportunity to compete in this series in his place.” Greg Hayes

New South Wales Rising Stars defending champion Jack Trainor has offered up his position in this year's harness racing series to another junior driver. The 21-year-old admitted it was a tough decision to make and he has thoroughly enjoyed competing in the series over the past two years but believed it was the right thing to do. "Through participating in the Rising Stars I was able to meet a lot of people and it helped further my career as a driver," Trainor said. "I am fortunate enough to have been able to establish myself as a junior driver, I have a number of drives each week at different tracks and also get the opportunity to compete in some of the feature races in Sydney. I would like to see my spot given to a driver who is younger and would use the opportunity to further their career as I have been able to do in the past two years." Trainor confirmed his success in the series last year increased his number of opportunities and believes the quality of the drivers that have competed previously proves what a success the Rising Stars has been. "Amanda Turnbull, Robbie Morris, Lauren Panella and Chris Geary have all competed in the Rising Stars and they are some of the best drivers in NSW. The series gives young drivers from across NSW a chance to meet and compete with one another, it really is a grouse week. "In 2014 I represented the Newcastle region, last year I was selected to represent the metropolitan area and after winning the series it opened up a lot more opportunities for me." Recently Trainor has started working for Blake Fitzpatrick and is enjoying working with a number of quality trotters. "I have worked for stables before that have had one or two trotters but working for Blake is something different because he has a number of high quality trotters. It is something new for me and I really like it. "Working for Blake has also helped me with my driving because while you have to ask for his feedback he is always happy to give you some advice and he is one of the top of drivers in Australia." Ten drivers are selected to compete in the NSW Rising Stars series each year. The defending champion and a Western Australian representative are normally automatic selections with the remainder of the junior drivers picked from across the state. The list of drivers competing in this year's Rising Stars series will be announced later today. Greg Hayes

Leading Canberra trainer Michael Hawke knows Modern Maestro is facing the biggest test of his short career. On Saturday night Modern Maestro will line up in the $50,000 Group 2 Carousel at Tabcorp Park Menangle and will travel up the Hume Highway during the afternoon. The harness racing four year old gelding has won nine of his eleven starts - the two defeats coming when the horse has travelled to Sydney. Hawke has been proud of Modern Maestro in both defeats and is expecting the son of Modern Art to put in another solid performance this weekend. "His first defeat came at Menangle, he charged home and ran fourth but not everything was right with him and he bounced straight back at his next start," Hawke said. "When he ran second at Penrith in the heat of the Carousel I thought he was outstanding. The lead time was fast and he really made Kept Under Wraps work for the win and while there would have been a fair bit of improvement in the McCarthy trained horse, I think it proved that my bloke isn't too far away." Modern Maestro holds the track record for the 2170 metres at Canberra suggesting the 2300 metres on Saturday night will not be a concern. "His versatility is one of his biggest attributes, he tries very hard and he'll have no problems handling the 2300 metres. As a result of his assessment he was always going to draw well and I think when you draw well in big races you have to make use of the good gate. "We'll go forward early and try to get to the marker pegs, it makes it hard when you settle in the running line because there will be a lot of moves in the middle stages and the horses racing off the pegs could end up near the tail of the field." Hawke's daughter Melissa will drive the gelding in what will be the biggest race of her career. "I'm sure she'll be nervous but young kids just deal with nerves and once they get out on the track she'll be fine. I'm worse than her, I get very nervous and I like to watch the race by myself. "Melissa and Fred (Modern Maestro) get on so well together. He is a really good natured animal but he doesn't like getting beaten." Modern Maestro is raced by a group of people including Wayne and Joy Gowland, Sue and Andrew Marbrow and Mark Lees. "Wayne is a great bloke and his mother Joy has a share in the horse. Andrew Marbrow works for Wayne and he and his wife are in their first horse and Mark Lees is a good family friend of Wayne's. They are a great group of people to go racing with. "I was speaking with Wayne and he would be wrapped if Modern Maestro could finish in the top four. I really think he will be a better horse in twelve months once he has had the opportunity to go to Menangle constantly." The Lands Legal Carousel is race seven at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night and is scheduled to begin at 7:24pm. Greg Hayes

Michael Stanley’s Burrumbeet stable is well positioned to strike gold in Saturday night’s $322,000 Group 1 for harness racing fillies. The trainer-driver has qualified Petacular and Soho Angel for the Australian Pacing Gold final at Tabcorp Park Menangle, after both delivered outstanding semi-final performances. They’ve been disadvantaged by the draw for Saturday night’s mile, drawn sixth (Petacular) and eighth (Soho Angel) when emergencies are excluded, outside short-priced runners Emma Stewart-trained Perfect Sense (barrier two), Queensland hope Park Life (barrier one) and Shane Tritton’s favourite High Rolling (barrier three). CLICK HERE FOR THE TAB'S FIXED ODDS FOR THE APG FINAL But that hasn’t dulled Stanley’s enthusiasm for his two-year-olds. Petacular, a winner at three of her four starts, has cruised through the APG heat and semi-final, leading in both and clearing out to win without much urging. “We’ve always had a really good opinion of Petacular and she’s been developing nicely with each run,” Stanley said. “There are plenty of horses that show promise that get to race day and don’t deliver, it is good that she has shown she can put it together on the race track. In the heat and semi she has been able to get two soft runs and improved each time.” Soho Angel, on the other hand, was taken north with more gentle expectation, but Stanley said “since she got up here to New South Wales she has really thrived". “I think if she had have got a clear run early she would have won her semi-final,” he said. “She is getting better every time she goes to the races. She’s got a wide barrier and will go back. She probably needs them to go hard and if they do and she gets the right run into it she will be coming. With the big straight here at Menangle we can use that speed she’s got.” Petacular’s route to the finish line is not so set in stone. Despite having led or faced the breeze in all four starts, a challenge for the lead from barrier six could come at a cost. Stanley will take the reins and said he’d respond to the opportunities that present. “The favourite runners got the better of the draw, but if (Petacular) takes the next step I am really confident she can go close,” he said. “She’s got real gate speed. High Rolling is fast out and they have put it out there that they will lead and turn it into a staying test. Petacular can settle early and make a move mid-race, or if they are going fast I can sit up on her. She’s a very versatile filly.” David Aiken’s Avenel stable will also have two representatives contest the APG final, with She Envy, who finished second in both her heat and semi-final, to start from barrier five and Jiggy Rhythm from barrier eight. A host of Victorians will also feature in the $50,000 consolation final, including Peter Manning’s Toolern Art Miss and Rocknroll Baby, Dean Braun’s Carlas Pixel, Vince Vallelonga’s All Done Up and Geoff Webster’s Intrusive. Stanley’s assault on the night doesn’t begin and end with the APG final. He has Young Modern drawn barrier two in the Group 2 Lands Legal Carousel Final, worth $50,000, and Stanley said with cover “he will hit the line really well”. Fellow Victorian trainer Vince Vallelonga has Stunning Grin drawn in barrier one. Our Overnova will contest the Group 3 Michael Gamble Bulli Trotters Cup, and Stanley said the gelding had been luckless in his three starts at Menangle but was “training really well and if she is on her best behaviour she can win it”.  And Kurahaupo Gambler, who Stanley said had been “hitting the line really well”, will contest the Pace in race two to kick off a big day for the stable. by Michael Howard

Winning your home town's biggest race is a dream of anyone who ventures into the world of ownership, and that is no different for Dubbo couple Jeff and Nea Costello.  The Costellos have been stalwarts of harness racing in the city for many years, each doing a huge amount of work to help the club thrive.  So it would be a fitting reward if their mare Happy To Go could cause an upset and win Friday night's $30,000 Goodtime Lodge Red Ochre Mares Classic (2120m). The Group 3 event has drawn together a strong field of mares, headlined by classy five-year-old Bon Accord Gal, but Jeff Costello admits it will be a big thrill if their mare, which is trained by Steve Turnbull and will be driven by his daughter Amanda, crossed the line first in the final. "We're up against it this week because I think Bon Accord Gal is one of the better mares to have ever contested this series," Costello said. "But we've always wanted to win the Red Ochre and to have 'Happy' make it through to the final gives us our chance. "We bought her from New Zealand last year, and the way it has panned out she was in the right grade at the right time for us to contest this series, which was exciting in itself. "She's had 20 starts for us since we bought her and won seven races and been placed a few other times so she's done a good job." Happy To Go ran well in her heat of the series, finishing just 4.5 metres behind Bon Accord Gal when running second in a mile rate of 2:02.5.  The Bettor's Delight (USA) x Time To Fly (NZ) mare will carry a record of seven wins and 11 placings from 33 starts into the final.  With a good draw in barrier eight, Costello admits he will place his faith in the junior Turnbull to give her every chance in the main event on the Carnival of Cups program. "Steve speaks for himself as a trainer, he does a great job with the horses and his results show that," Costello said. "And Amanda, if she keeps going the way she is she will end up going down as one of the all-time greats of the sport. "Even though it will be tough for us to win the final given the class in the race, having her driving our mare just gives you that little bit more confidence." by Ben Walker

There will be an element of irony if Bathurst pacer Miss Rodriguez can claim this Friday night's Goodtime Lodge Red Ochre Mares Classic.  The $30,000 harness racing event, which once again carries Group 3 status, has drawn together a quality field of pacers through heats at the Dubbo Paceway last Wednesday. While Bon Accord Gal is arguably the class runner of the field, there will be plenty of people cheering for Miss Rodriguez, among them Red Ochre organiser Brett Wrigley. "She is a product of the Red Ochre concept because a few years back her owner and trainer Wayne White bought a service through the stallion tender that funds the series and she was the result," Wrigley said. "He bought the service to Tinted Cloud, got his mare in foal and now he has Miss Rodriguez in the final. "She's been going really well of late and her driver Jason Turnbull told me they have set her for this race so if it came off and she won the final it would be a great story." A winner of four races from 20 starts, with nine minor placings thrown in, Miss Rodriguez goes into the final on the back of a third placing behind Bon Accord Gal in the heats.  She galloped early on that occasion but still showed enormous fight to earn a spot in the final, which carries a long and proud history of winners.  With three wins and as many placings from seven starts this season, and a good draw in barrier 1, she should be hard to beat if her manners are in check through the race. "Normally a C2 or C3 mare wins this race, horses that are on the up, but this year there are a lot of horses rated C5 and up that have made the final so the quality overall is really strong," Wrigley said. "I think only three of the runners are C2 or C3 but they will get the good barrier draws that will give them their chance." In a change from recent tradition the Carnival of Cups meeting that carried the Red Ochre as its feature has been switched from the Sunday of the Dubbo Show to the Friday night.  It is hoped that will create a carnival atmosphere and provide a strong backdrop. "By the time we've started racing on the Sunday the show is wrapping up and people have left," Wrigley said. "Hopefully by moving to the Friday night there are plenty of people who will go the trots and then the show afterwards, or we get people who are over on Sideshow Alley who stop to watch the races." by Ben Walker

Former Queensland harness racing trainer Shane Sanderson was the first interstate trainer to make the move to the new Menangle Training Centre earlier this year. In total Sanderson has had 45 starters since making the fulltime move to Sydney and broke through for a metropolitan winner at Tabcorp Park Menangle when My Jellignite won Saturday night's Free- For- All. Ironically Sanderson was at Brisbane's Albion Park on Saturday night cheering home his children as they competed on their mini-trotters and missed the win. "My wife and kids are still in Queensland and it is very hard being away from them," Sanderson said. "Last weekend was one of my trips back to Brisbane to catch up with them so I actually missed my first Saturday winner but it was great to see My Jellignite win." Sanderson confirmed he was a little surprised by the victory but the small field suited My Jellignite and he got the perfect run throughout. "I was a bit surprised by the win but in saying that, at his best, he's never far away from the open company horses. He has won a couple of Free-For-All races in Brisbane with the right run, he can be dangerous in those sort of races especially when the best horses aren't there. "My Jellignite hadn't raced for a month, he had some vet work done during that time because he does have a few maintenance issues as he is getting older. He has been competing mainly at the Tuesday meetings and therefore been drawing poorly because of his assessment but has been getting back and running home quite well." The decision to make the move to Sydney was a difficult one for Sanderson and he is giving himself twelve months to establish himself. "I hope to be in Sydney for good. It is a 'suck it and see approach' and at the end of the year I will talk with my family and see how things are going. I'm happy with how everything is going - I think I've started quite well. " "I've run a lot of placings and have had three or four winners. I've lost count of the number of close seconds I've run but it has been good for the owners so far." From Sanderson's 45 starters he has trained four winners, ten seconds and four thirds. "I bought ten horses down with me and I currently have eleven on the books. I'm hoping to slowly increase the numbers with some good results. "The opportunities that could present themselves in Sydney, the prize money and the state of the art facilities were the reasons I decided to make the move and hopefully the decision turns out to be the right one." Greg Hayes

Leppington trainer Kevin Pizzuto is glowing in his praise for lightly raced three-year-old Heza Bromac.  The son of Rob Roy Mattgregor has won four of his five career starts and harness racing trainer Pizzuto expects the gelding to make it five from six after he competed at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. Pizzuto is pleading with NZ Jewels organisers to give Heza Bromac an invite to the series and is confident the horse would represent Australia proudly. “He by far and away is the best horse I have ever had in my stable, I’ve had some nice horses over the years but there is daylight between Heza Bromac and the rest,” Pizzuto said. “I’ve got no doubt given the right conditions and on the back of a good speed he could run a 1:48.0 mile, he is just a freak of a horse and has done everything I have asked him to do.” Heza Bromac was purchased by Pizzuto out of New Zealand for some clients but it took him a while to settle into his new surrounds. “He wasn’t right when he came over, he was lame and then he wanted to hang so I gave him four and a half months off and it did the trick with him.  His owner Danny (Zavitsanos) puts a lot of money into the game and I’m really happy that he has got such a good one. “Heza Bromac is one of those horses that takes a lot of work to keep him up to the mark, the harder you work him the better he goes.” Heza Bromac will be looking for his second win at Menangle this week after winning on Tuesday afternoon.  He produced a blistering turn of foot when racing off the speed and recorded a career best 1:52.5.  He also produced a stunning 25.6 final quarter when winning at Menangle three starts ago. “He should be winning again on Saturday night.  He is so versatile and so strong, I’ve looked after him and while he won’t be out to set any records this weekend, we have to be mindful that the Jewels organisers will be watching so I hope he’ll go well. “If we get the invite Todd (McCarthy) will retain the drive in New Zealand, none of the stars in New Zealand worry me and I think he would be right up there with them.” Stablemate Alta Jerome will race for the first time in four weeks on Saturday night but will have to topple Beautide if he is to be victorious. “I’m happy with where he is at, I think he is on his way back to his best and I’d like to think he could squeeze into the Len Smith Mile in a couple of month’s time.” Pizzuto’s winning strike-rate continues to be healthy and a lot of his stable’s success he puts down to the staff he has working for him. “Karen (Crouch) is great with the horses, so too is my daughter and then I’ve got Joe working for me as well.  Brendan Barnes has come down from Queensland and I think he is going to be one of the leading junior drivers in NSW.” Greg Hayes

Dubbo & Parkes Harness Racing Clubs are excited to announce a new series culminating in a final to be held on the last meeting for the season at Dubbo. The new series is to be known as the Garrards RIO Meteor Repechage. The series caters for horses that have had a minimum of five starts at Dubbo or Parkes during the 2015/16 season including a minimum of one start at each venue. Maximum of three lifetime wins. No concessions will apply with the barrier draw to be conducted on lifetime wins. Two heats are to be conducted at Parkes' final meeting this season on August 14 and two heats conducted at the Dubbo meeting conducted on August 21. Horses must have had five starts as per conditions prior to nomination for respective heats. Preference for a start in the heats will be given to horses with the most number of starts at Parkes & Dubbo during the 2015/16 season. Horses qualifying at Parkes will be ineligible for the heats conducted at Dubbo with the final conducted at Dubbo on August 28 over 1720m. Prize money for the final is yet to be determined however the winning trainer will receive a new RIO Meteor Race gig. The series is in addition to the popular Garrards Iron Horse Series Invitation which is already in into its third year. It is designed to cater for the lower grade horses that have consistently raced at both venues throughout the season, giving trainers the opportunity to win a substantial prize with a horse that may not necessarily earn a huge amount of money. With the season passing the hallway point there are already 450 horses that have competed at both Dubbo and Parkes and therefore have registered points in the Garrards Iron Horse. Over 100 of those horses have already earned double digit points. The current leader is Nathan Hurst's Tulhurst Stacey on 36 points two points clear of Go Lassie Go for Jason Gaffney. Bullion Hall & Mod Conns are a further point away in a tie for third. At this stage fourteen individual trainers have horses placed in the top 20 list. Included on that list is evergreen claimer Catch Your Breath who continues to earn points merely from starting, proving that all you have to do is keep racing at both clubs and you're in with a chance. Greg Hayes

In recent years horses like Mister Zion and On Thunder Road have started their careers as pacers before switching to a lucrative trotting career.  Mister Zion won a Group One event as a pacer and trotter and while Menangle harness racing trainer Shane Tritton has no plans to set Gaius Caesar for feature trotting events at this stage, he is hoping the three time Group One winning pacer can make a successful switch to trotting. Gaius Caesar needs to trial as a trotter on two occasions and the nine-year-old gelding completed the first of those on Tuesday afternoon at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  Gaius Caesar won the trial in two minutes and covered his final 400 metres in 27.5 seconds. Tritton is happy with Gaius Caesar’s progress and is hoping the change can rejuvenate the 131-start veteran. “Trotting has always made up a large part of his training programme even when Darren Binskin was training him, so he is a very fluent trotter,” Tritton said. “It has always been in the back of my mind to try something like this with him and recently I wanted to use him as a galloping pacemaker for one of my two year olds and all he wanted to do was trot.  Gaius Caesar ended up trotting the entire session and beat the pacer so it got me thinking seriously about giving it a go.” Gaius Caesar won the Bohemia Crystal FFA, Cordina Sprint and Len Smith Mile in 2013 and defeated some talented pacers including Caribbean Blaster, Mah Sish and Excel Stride. He has won 35 races pacing and has $546,935. “His racing style would be better suited to trotting rather than pacing because he is so dour and just keeps on grinding away so races over further than a mile would be right up his alley. “He is working as well as a trotter I have in stable at the moment called No Potato and he will be racing this Saturday night so if he keeps on trotting and doesn’t want to naturally switch back to a pace I think he’ll make a good go of it.” Tritton confirmed the son Julius Caesar would find himself on a tough mark as a trotter as his pacing wins would be counted towards his trotting assessment. “As I understand it he would be very highly assessed in Australia because his pacing assessment would just switch over to a trotting assessment but he would still be viewed as a trotting maiden in New Zealand which brings up a whole other possibility. “He has been shod differently but I actually think he trots better when shod as a pacer which is strange but I worked him recently and he trotted a mile in two minutes, got home in 58 seconds and wasn’t pushed to do it.  So while he still needs to improve on the clock I am happy with how he is progressing.” Gaius Caesar last raced on December 19th when he finished sixth behind Lettucerockthem at Menangle. Greg Hayes

The connections of Warana Court are realistic, they know their horse is no equine star. The son of Lombo Mandingo, known in the stable as Marty Moo or Moo for short, has won six races in his 44 start career and has banked just over $24,000. The gelding has become a favourite of harness racing junior driver Katie McGill and has provided her with two of the five winners in her career. The pair has become great mates and their bond is as strong as could be so when Warana Court was 'out of sorts' last Thursday night at Penrith, McGill knew something was wrong. Warana Court was set to compete in the fifth race but in the lead up to the fourth event, McGill sensed not all was right with the five year old. "When he gets to the races he is normally half asleep but he just wasn't himself, he was very agitated and was kicking out," McGill said. "The HRNSW vet came to take blood prerace and a couple of minutes after he had left I told Mum and Dad that the horse wasn't happy so they told me to go and get the vet back to have a look at him. The vet came and checked his temperature and heart rate but everything was normal." After a discussion between the family and the vet, a decision was made to scratch the horse and he was administered with medication to help him relax. "The medication was meant to last for a few hours but within 40 minutes he was agitated again, we started walking him and then drenched him with some paraffin oil. The vets told us we needed to get him to the nearest vet practice if we wanted to save him so we headed off to the Agnes Banks clinic." On arrival at Agnes Banks Warana Court was scanned and a twisted bowel was diagnosed by Dr Derek Major. "Derek told us it was in a bad spot and even if he was to operate there could be other complications." Katie's mother Jill Cubitt could see the horse was in a bad way but so was her daughter and Dr Major spoke to her about the options for Warana Court. "I didn't want to see the horse in pain but I didn't think the horse deserved for us to give up on him either," Cubitt said. "Dr Major said there was a three hour window before the horse's gut would start to die so if he was going to improve it had to be in that three-hour window. Katie was in the stable with Warana Court's head in her lap so we decided to give him a chance and hope for a miracle. The bowel would need to untwist but the chances were slim" The family took some photos with Warana Court and left the vet with the instruction to put the horse down if he was suffering. The staff promised to make a phone call during the night if there was any improvement but wouldn't wake the family with a call in the early hours of Friday morning if they were forced to put the horse down. Katie and her parents returned home and when their phone failed to ring during the night, the family assumed the horse must have been put out of his misery. A call was made to the Agnes Bank clinic to confirm the worst, however surprisingly the news was good. "Dr Major had stayed with him during the night and he told me he had started to pick up at 2am, exactly three hours after telling us that his gut would start to die within three hours," Cubitt said. "Katie skipped a class at university to go and see him on Friday and the connection between them is very evident. When we arrived, the staff told us they had renamed Moo and they were calling him Jesus because he had comeback from the dead. I'm not very religious but I think we all said a few prayers on Friday night hoping he would improve." "Warana Court had improved so much they put him out in a paddock at the vets and when Katie arrived and called out to him he lifted his head, whinnied and came running over to her. It was very special." McGill was relieved to see Warana Court running around and she confirmed Dr Major let him go home on Friday night. "We brought him home on Friday and he had a pretty easy weekend but it is great to have him home," McGill stated. "He has been so hungry since he has come home, we haven't stopped feeding him since Friday night," Cubitt added. After speaking with Dr Major about Warana Court's short term future, Cubitt revealed the gelding returned to work on Monday and should be back at the races in the near future. "They have told us to take it slowly with him but while he is happy and eating to keep going with him. The only thing we have to check is what the withholding period is for all of the medication he has been given. "Once we know that then he can go back to the races, I think his first start back is going to be a special night for all of us." Greg Hayes

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