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The biggest successful bets of the week were $5,000 wagers with one punter placing a place bet on the Darryll Kell trained Hell Bent at Goulburn on Monday afternoon at $1.17.  Hell Bent was able to find the front and never looked like a missing a place from soon after the start and the punter walked away with a profit of $850. Other large winning bets (stake)                        $5,000 @ $1.16 Our Waikiki Beach – Menangle May 14                              $2,500 @ $1.55 Art Mistress – Young May 14                              $2,400 @ $1.55 Soynwasabi – Newcastle May 13 One punter landed a healthy return when they placed a $500 bet at $8.00 on Wabi Sabi to win race one at Bathurst on Wednesday May 11.  Despite over racing, the Bernie Hewitt trained four year old proved too strong and the punter turned their $500 into $4,000. Other large winning bets (return)                        $200 @ $18.00 Heza Swinger – Menangle May 14                              $150 @ $21.00 Coffee Bay – Bathurst May 11                              $500 @ $7.00 Highest Mountain – Goulburn May 16 Not everyone was successful, one punter placed $3,500 at $2.00 on the Paul Fitzpatrick trained Pay Me Sam to win at Menangle on Tuesday.  The son of Pay Me Christian looked the winner at Newcastle recently before he broke gear in the home straight and while he had no gear issues on Tuesday he wasn’t good enough to win and finished third. Other large losing bets (stake)                              $3,000 @ $1.70 Sport Report (finished sixth) – Bathurst May 11                              $3,000 @ $1.50 Valoroso Hanover (finished fourth) – Goulburn May 16                               $2,000 @ $1.75 Uncle Peter (finished second) – Bathurst May 11 There was no luck on ‘Black Friday’ for the punter who had $2,000 on Terry Barry at Wagga at $3.50.  Despite showing recent good form Terry Barry was overhauled in the straight and finished second by a half-neck to the Shane Hallcroft trained Keys Tothe Village. Other large losing bets (potential return)                                 $400 @ $17.00 Always My Mate (retired from the event) – Menangle May 17                                 $1,200 @ $3.50 Our Millwood Maizie (finished third) – Newcastle May 13                                 $1,000 @ $3.80 Monifieth (finished eleventh) – Menangle May 14 Greg Hayes

While there is a lot of harness racing talent distributed across the Alabar Breeders Challenge heats at Bathurst, Penrith, Young and Newcastle this week, the field sizes are surprisingly small.  Bathurst’s two year old heats attracted 18 runners and Penrith’s heats on Thursday night have attracted six runners in both the colts and geldings and fillies divisions.  The heats at Newcastle on Friday are similar to Penrith in size however Young has attracted full fields for both divisions. Some owners and trainers are already turning their attention towards the Alabar Breeders Challenge Regional Finals, acknowledging their youngsters are not as fast as the leading horses. However, HRNSW CEO John Dumesny was quick to remind participants that horses competing in the major Breeders Challenge series get preference for the Regional Final. “It was quite surprising to see the field sizes for the first set of heats for the Breeders Challenge,” Mr Dumesny said. “Participants are reminded that those competing in the heats of the Alabar Breeders Challenge will receive preference in race field selection for the Regional Finals over those horses that did not.” Mr Dumesny also confirmed the Alabar Breeders Challenge Finals for two year olds will be twelve horse fields. “Twelve horses will start in the two year old finals, it is the current policy of HRNSW to have fields of twelve on the bigger tracks in New South Wales.  The recent Bathurst Gold Crown and Tiara both proved exciting events with similar sized fields. “The Australian Pacing Gold fillies final at Tabcorp Park Menangle saw ten horses compete, however with heats for that series conducted in NSW, Victoria and Queensland it was important that the heats and finals were the same size.” Participants can view the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge conditions by clicking here The last chance for two year olds to qualify for the Breeders Challenge semi finals will be at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday May 31 with all eligible runners guaranteed of a start. Greg Hayes

Harness racing driver Wes Komorowski has been involved in harness racing for more than a decade and celebrated the biggest win of his career at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night when Popfromthebeach won the Joe and Michael Ilsley Free For All. The 37-year old doesn’t have a family link to the sport, but has spent time learning from some respected industry participants.  Komorowski has learned from Dennis Wilson, Liz and John Heath and Shane Tritton during his time in the sport and is currently doing some driving for the John Wheeler stable. “It has been a bit difficult for someone who doesn’t have a family in the industry, it’s hard to learn and it’s also hard to get the opportunities,” Komorowski said. “So I decided to try and learn from as many people as I could, I’ve taken little bits and pieces from all the people and taken their advice along the way.  I’ve got my horses with John Wheeler now and I think I’ve got to the stage where I can hold my own with everyone.” Popfromthebeach came with a well timed run to score and defeated Miracle Mile runners Bling It On, Monifieth and Blazin N Cullen in the process. “The first half of the race was run in 55 seconds and it set the race right up for Pop, he got out at the right time and ran straight past them. “I thought I was going to be in the race coming to the turn and I was just trying to hold Pop up for as long as I could.  I had Todd McCarthy behind me and I knew the pace was going to suit his horse (Blazin N Cullen) so when he came out, I came out and he sprinted very quickly over the first 100 metres and that was the best part of his race.” Komorowski has driven Popfromthebeach four times in the gelding’s last seven starts with the initial opportunity coming as a result of the success he was having driving other horses trained by Wheeler. “I brought a horse down for John to train called Lumos and the horse has been doing a very good job for us.  I’ve been getting a bit of luck on Lumos and John said to me you might as well have a go on Pop. “In the last couple of starts he has just been a bit unlucky because he has been racing in small fields and they’ve gone along pretty slowly.  He should of been winning those races but the races just haven’t been run to suit.” With a busy work schedule, Komorowski is happy to enjoy driving rather than training at this stage of his career. “I get more of a thrill out of driving, the training side of things is very difficult because I do have another job so spending the time with the horses to train them properly is something that I don’t have. “I’m happy with the way everything is going at the moment.  John (Wheeler) was absolutely ecstatic with the win, he does a very good job with his horses and his family were excited too because the horse is named after his father.” Komorowski has now driven in 395 races for 38 wins and 72 placings. Greg Hayes

Teenage reinsman Jordan Seary did everything asked of him to win his first race with Sokys Bigbullet at Wagga on Friday. Charged with the responsibility of driving the harness racing favourite from barrier five, Seary was cool under press outwardly but inwardly there were the obvious nerves. The 16-year-old from Junee was having only his fifth race drive and having the chance to drive a pacer with the record of Sokys Bigbullet brought with it added pressure. Sokys Bigbullet worked his way to the front after 650 metres and when challenged by Franco Noriega raised another effort for an easy 15 metre record. The in-form pacer has an impressive record of 40 top three finishes from 56 starts having recently also won the Coolamon Cup after a run of minor placings in other Riverina country cups. Seary was delighted to win and be given the chance to drive a pacer like Sokys Bigbullet by trainer Bruce Harpley. "I was nervous, but I just did what I was told," Seary said. "It's good driving these better horses because they make it a lot easier." Seary has driven Sokys Bigbullet in a lot of track work and also former stablemate, Frith. Harpley was delighted to see the schoolboy break through. "It's not easy when you start out but he did very well," Harpley said. "He drives to instructions and will keep improving with experience." Sokys Bigbullet has earned close to $125,000 and could soon be on the move as he continues to rise in class. "He is best to be racing in better class races now so we will see what happens," Harpley said. Greg Hayes

Successful harness racing owner Harvey Kaplan knows that his pride and joy Bling It On is up against it when he resumes from a short break at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. Bling It On last raced in the Miracle Mile and has drawn inside the second row over the mile in the Joe and Michael Ilsley Free For All. With a big campaign beckoning and possible trips to Victoria and Queensland on the cards, it is understandable why Kaplan is concerned by gate eleven. "There are two options, Luke eases back at the start, gets off the inside and then launches him which will mean he is having to do a lot of work first up and not how he is normally driven or he follows through on the back of a good beginner and hopes for a bit of luck," Kaplan said. "In the end the tactics will be up to Luke (McCarthy) but I wouldn't want to see him flattened and by staying to the inside I don't believe we are giving up our winning chance either, it just means we are going to need some luck." The 4&5YO Championship at Melton is a possible option in the short term where it is likely he would clash with Hectorjayjay. "That looks a suitable race for him but everything is being targeted towards the Len Smith Mile at Menangle at the end of June. After that he can look towards the Queensland carnival and at the end of the year the Inter Dominion is on again in Perth." Kaplan admitted he had already started to plan for the future when Bling It On is retired to become a stallion. "I haven't spent a whole lot of time but the thought has crossed my mind and being by American Ideal out of a Caprock mare there are a number of lines he will cross well with. "The best thing to say is that if I was looking at purchasing two yearling fillies at the moment and I liked them both equally as much as the other, I am buying the one that crosses best with Bling It On." Another of Kaplan's horses Whitershadeofpale will also race on Saturday night at Menangle. There have been suggestions she is coming towards the end of her racetrack career. "I think that is pretty close to the mark, whether Saturday night is her last run or whether she has another one or two starts, she is coming towards the end. John Crosbie is keen to breed with her. "She never really hit the heights that we thought she was going to get to. She has done a great job but when she first arrived on the scene I thought she could have measured up with the very best." Another of Kaplan's good horses Cruz Bromac has been spelling and he is looking forward to seeing him resume. "Cruz Bromac is very talented, he is a C4/M0 I think so it is a good place for him to be starting off from. The Melton Plate is a race that might be up his alley." Greg Hayes

The harness racing season is over for outstanding filly Park Life. A last start winner of the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle last month has been forced to the spelling paddock owing to shin soreness. The pint-sized Rock N Roll Heaven – Strawbs Interact filly pulled up “a little lame” following some work with trainer Wayne Graham this week. Initial thoughts were that the filly hadn’t fully recovered from her scorching APG victory where she paced a mile of 1:53.2 – the fastest time recorded by an Australian juvenile this season to date. But the situation took a nasty turn following some x-rays. “We sent Nelly (Park Life) to the Gatton University this week for further testing and the scans revealed it was a type of shin soreness. It’s quite bad and she will be out for the remainder of the season, we’re planning on giving her six months off.” Regular driver Shane Graham explained. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for the Graham family because they have in their care, the two best fillies in the state with Park Life and Jossie James. With the Brisbane winter carnival fast approaching, Park Life had a number of feature events to contest including the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic next month plus the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad Final in July. “It’s very disappointing because she is such a good little filly, a real racehorse but unfortunately we had no option but to shut her down otherwise we ran the risk of doing further damage. We will give her as much time as possible and hopefully she’ll make a complete recovery. “We’re lucky it didn’t happen before the APG series so when you put it into perspective, the timing could’ve been much worse. We got the main race for her this season and now we can look ahead to next season. “Obviously she would’ve played a major role in the remaining features this term but now it paves the way for Jossie James, the competition will be fierce but we rate our filly and she’ll be hard to beat. I think it would’ve been difficult for Nelly to beat Jossie James if she drew to her outside, maybe they can fight out an Oaks event next season.” Park Life has a record of 3 wins and 3 minor placings from 6 career starts to date while baking more than $168,000. Chris Barsby

Tabcorp Park Menangle is proud to host the launch of The Joe Ilsley Story - Trotting's Mr 'Nice Guy' written by Peter Collier on Saturday night. Collier has worked on the book for a number of years and has been increasingly busy over the past twelve months collating different harness racing stories and photographs. Collier was only a young boy when he met Joe Ilsley for the first time and spent a lot of time with him and his family before Joe's passing in 2007 at the age of 83. "I spoke with the family last year and asked them if they had any information for the book and I was amazed at all of the stuff they provided me with," Collier said. "I'm a bit fussy and there was a lot of information that had to be researched into Joe's family so that took me a while but I am very proud of the finished product." The feature race at Menangle on Saturday night is the Joe and Michael Ilsley Free For All and the official launch will take place after the race presentation. "I spent a lot of time just talking and listening to Joe, if I had made a time and told him what I was doing he wouldn't have said much but he was just a great talker and I could listen to his stories for hours at a time. "I would go to Morriset and we would just chat, it really has been a labour of love putting this book together." The book will be available for purchase at the Information Office at Menangle and will also be for sale on eBay. "People will be able to get a copy of the book on Saturday night at Menangle and it will go up for sale on eBay on Sunday. I will be having a chat with Garrards Horse & Hound to see if I can get the book into a few of their stores in Queensland and Newcastle as well because I think there would be a number of people in those areas interested in getting their hands on a copy." Greg Hayes

Forbes will host a Carnival Of Cups meeting on Sunday afternoon and Toby Vautin is hoping to take out the harness racing feature event. Vautin has two runners in the $12,240 Forbes Services Memorial Club Final and both were impressive winners in the heats. Vautin will drive Playful Fella (Artistic Fella) while Casey Williams will partner Early Decision (Dawn Ofa New Day) with both horses set to start off the front row. "It was great to see Playful Fella finally win a race this time in, he has been a little bit frustrating for me and funnily enough I only nominated him for the heats so Early Decision had a travelling companion," Vautin said. "Playful Fella won a number of races early in his career and I decided to give him a good long break after a run at Menangle in January last year. I thought he had the makings of a nice horse and the break might take him to the next level but he has come back and he is not the same horse." Playful Fella defeated Tuapeka Glory in a heat but Vautin has nominated the Wendy Turnbull trained runner as the hardest to beat. "I was able to beat Tuapeka Glory in the heat but it has drawn barrier one this Sunday so it is the logical horse to beat. I'll be trying to get the front early and if I can't I'll race up on the pace because that's where he likes to be. "I actually think Early Decision is the better of my two chances, I'm driving Playful Fella because he can be a bit of a handful to drive." Early Decision has been plagued by bad barrier draws recently and that trend continued this weekend with the gelding set to start from barrier six. "I think he has drawn inside gate five once in his last fourteen or fifteen starts, he is the most honest horse you could find. He tries hard every start you give him and he'll just need a little bit of luck in the early stages. "I will be instructing Casey to come out on him early and look to slot in somewhere. The owners wanted to give Casey a chance to drive him because she helps out around the stable when she can, it was definitely the right thing to do." Early Decision won his heat by more than ten metres and Vautin is confident the gelding can win more races if he can get some luck with the barrier draws. "His luck will come, hopefully he gets the luck on Sunday. If I was to run first and second this weekend I reckon it would make my day a great one." Forbes will run seven races on Sunday with the first timed to begin at 1:20pm. Greg Hayes

Our Waikiki Beach remains unbeaten after 16 runs and a large majority of harness racing followers expect the three year old to make it 17 on Saturday night at Newcastle when he resumes from a short break. The son of Somebeachsomewhere last raced in the New South Wales Derby and after winning that narrowly was taken home to New Zealand to prepare for another raid on the Australian racing riches. Should Our Waikiki Beach win on Saturday night he will join Glenerrol, Lombo La Fe Fe and Auckland Reactor with 17 successive victories and will only be one behind Radiant Venture, Garry's Advice, Take A Moment and I Can Doosit. Courage Under Fire won 24 in a row before he tasted defeat while San Simeon holds the record with 29 straight wins. Owner Trevor Casey will make the trip from New Zealand to Newcastle this Saturday but is not feeling any nerves in the lead up to Our Waikiki Beach's resumption. "I don't get nervous that he is going to lose because all horses get beaten. It is going to happen one night so instead of dreading that moment I'm going to enjoy having him," Casey said. "He is back in New South Wales to target the Alabar Breeders Challenge and then Mark (Purdon) is keen to take him down to Victoria so he can have a crack at the Breeders Crown." Our Waikiki Beach has had two trials in New Zealand and was beaten in both of them however the defeats are of little concern to Casey. "He ran third behind Locharburn in his first trial at Addington and then he went to Rangiora and he went head and head with (My) MacKenzie all the way down the straight and she just pipped him." "Mark is happy with where the horse is at so that gives me confidence and I'm just hoping I can find my way to the track on Saturday night because I have never been there before." Casey would have liked to see Our Waikiki Beach compete in the Jewels but understands why the gelding wasn't invited. "I think the horse would have been a drawcard for the day itself but I understand why he wasn't invited. He hasn't won the prizemoney at home to earn a start, there has been a bit of a fuss made of it here in New Zealand but I accept the final decision. "It wouldn't have been ideal for the horse anyway because he would have had to fly back and forth between New Zealand and Australia which is something he can probably do without." Our Waikiki Beach will compete in race six at Newcastle on Saturday night. Greg Hayes

Queensland horseman Shane Sanderson is looking for his biggest harness racing victory since making the move south earlier this year. Sanderson decided to relocate from his home base of Gatton, west of Brisbane and head for the bright lights of Menangle in Sydney and take on the best. So far, the move has been successful. But he wants more. And he gets that opportunity this Saturday night when he heads to Newcastle to chase the Gr.3 $31,800 AVE Technologies Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile. Sanderson is duly represented with My Jellignite and Expressionist in the sprint feature. “Both horses are in really good form and have recent winning form at Menangle, like most places, draws are so crucial and you need that luck at Menangle. I thought My Jellignite went really well in the Bulli Cup while Expressionist had little luck in his race last week, both can feature with some luck this weekend.” Sanderson said. My Jellignite will start from gate 6 while Expressionist will start from gate 11, the sole runner on the second-line. Queensland reinsperson Narissa McMullen will partner My Jellignite while Michael Formosa lands the drive on Expressionist. Both horses lead the charge for Sanderson and his team of ten at Menangle. “I probably would’ve liked a better draw for My Jellignite, a little closer to the inside but he should end up with a fairly good trip given all the power drawn to his outside and I think the draw is ideal for Expressionist because he’ll just follow through at the start and stay close to the pegs. “The same two horses (Mach Beauty & Bettor Bet Black) who ran that unbelievable opening quarter of 24.8 seconds last week in the Bulli Cup are both engaged again so pressure looks guaranteed. I think we have a sneaky chance if they go hard and we can land good trips. “I’m happy with the way things are going, the facilities are excellent and the team is performing well currently but I’d like to keep building on my numbers, I’ve got room for a few more and I’d interested in gaining a few more clients with those “MO’ type horses.” With a barn of 20 boxes, Sanderson is preparing his team of 10 while McMullen is currently working her team of 6 which is spearheaded by Bettor Draw. The Queensland trained Avonnova proved successful last season winning the Newcastle Mile in a track record time of 1:52.2. Chris Barsby

The first harness racing training partnership in New South Wales will have its first starter this Friday afternoon at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  Husband and wife combination Joe and Mary Rando have become the first recognised training partnership in the state. Mary has worked alongside Joe for more than a decade and is looking forward to watching Sundons Comet race for the partnership in race three on Friday afternoon. “I had no idea that Joe and I were going to be the first partnership in the state, we have worked together for years and I wasn’t really worried that my name didn’t appear as the trainer,” Mary Rando said. “Joe spoke to me and thought it was the best thing to do because we both put in the same amount of work around the stables and at the races.  It was worthy recognition for what I do and now that it is all about to happen I’m getting quite excited.” Mary is surprised by her excitement levels and enjoyed watching horses trial for the new partnership on Tuesday afternoon. “I didn’t think I would get too worried by it because nothing has really changed at home, we are still doing the same jobs we have done since we started out in 2000 but I’m looking forward to Friday. “When the process all started I had to complete some study online, attend the police station for a record check, have an interview with a steward and everything else that goes along with getting a trainers’ licence and I thought what have I got myself into, but now I’m proud that I have gone through the process. “Joe and I have always bounced a lot off each other.  At home I gear the horses up and Joe works them, it works well because we get a cycle going.  When we take the horses to Hawkesbury for work we will work them together.” A policy from HRNSW is available should other participants be interested in forming a partnership.  Some of the important factors effecting training partnerships include: Each partner shall be subject to any disability, fine suspension, disqualification or other penalty that may be imposed under the rules on any partner HRNSW may licence up to three persons to train as a training partnership A person who is licensed to train as a member of a training partnership in NSW shall not train as an individual or in another partnership in Australia or elsewhere An application for permission to train in a partnership shall be made by submitting the required application form completed in full, providing such information as required by HRNSW . Greg Hayes

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

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