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Harnes racing trainer Steve Dolan has put his neck on the chopping board and come up with fillet steak. The Russley trainer took a punt when starting smart filly Tintinara in the Timaru Winter Cup on Sunday, but his confidence has paid off. Tintinara's previous 13 starts were all from behind the mobile but Dolan was confident his filly would step from the stand. He was right. Tintinara's blistering win over the 2600m stopped the clock at 3-16.9, just seven tenths of a second outside Miss Elsie's national record for a three-year-old filly of 3.16.2 set back in 2011. Her mile rate was 2-01.8 and the last quarter in 28.8 was impressive with no serious challengers pushing her. "I'm absolutely rapt with her, she's going from strength to strength," Dolan said. The only three-year-old in the field, Tintinara, had run most of the field off their feet before they turned for home, but with 200m to run she found another gear to increase her lead to three and a half lengths at the post. "He's a god given talent that boy," Dolan said after Dexter Dunn's perfectly rated front running drive. "He's deserving to be the world's best driver right now."  "We're really fortunate and I thank my lucky stars that we have someone like him in our hemisphere and in our lifetime to be driving our horses because he makes a big, big difference." Tintinara pinged off the tapes from her unruly mark to find the lead halfway through the first bend. Dunn poured the pace on and in the words of commentator Matt Cross, had the field "strung out like sausages on a butcher's hook" after three quarters of a lap. Such was the tempo, the field only bunched up when they went past the winning post with a lap to run. Boomer Bailey clung on for second from the trail and Sandvik Star was one of few who made ground to finish third. Favourite Naughty Maravu was never able to get close from his 20m handicap and ran on for seventh. Sunday's victory was win number five for Tintinara in just 14 starts for owners and breeders Terry and Adrienne Taylor. Dolan is pleased to have the promising filly in his stable and said she will be back next year to have a crack at some of the four-year-old mares races. The Taylor's bred the filly by Falcon Seelster out of their mare Arden's Fame who was winless from 12 starts. Tintinara was the first ballet for the three-year-old Diamond at the Harness Jewels. She is now likely to head to Ashburton for a C2-C4 fillies and mares mobile over 2400m on July 19. In the opening race of the day, Robert Dunn brought up a century of training wins for the season when Mr Meddle won the amateur drivers race in the hands of Daniel Reardon. It is the second season in a row that the Dunn stable has gone past 100 winners and it is on track to go past last years personal best of 103. Mat Kermeen Reprinted with the permission of Fairfax New Zealand

A decisive return to winning form by Saveapatrol in the $18,500 Bayleys Coromandel 2015 Thames Cup hasn’t changed plans for the horse to cross the Tasman any time soon. “Its great to get him back in the winner’s circle,” said trainer Mark Jones. “A lot of the credit goes to Regan (Todd) for the work he does with him,” he said. Following the Thames Cup on Friday, July 3, Mark, and owner Grant Hatton, confirmed their decision for the horse to remain in Auckland this month. Saveapatrol made a smart beginning from the 20m line and was in front after the opening 500m. The lightly-raced big boy son of Christian Cullen and Rondel Franco revelled in his work on the front-end, second-up after an enforced 14 month layoff. Although inclined to knock off a tad when he clearly had his rivals beaten inside the final 100m, Saveapatrol was super impressive, pacing the 2700m (stand) in a race record 3:22.2 (2:00.4 mile rate). Driver Blair Orange put the hammer down passing the final 800m, letting Saveapatrol quicken from that point in a slick 55.5s. Saveapatrol, even though knocking off at the finish, still steam-rolled the opposition over his closing 400m in 27.6s. Everything now over the next four months will prep the former Auckland Cup placegetter for the New Zealand Cup at Addington in November. “He’ll just continue to race in Auckland and come back south for the Hannon Memorial etc. in the spring as the second Tuesday in November is the aim,” Mark said. Saveapatrol has now raced only 18 times for 11 wins and a couple of minor placings, for $145,618 in stakes. Providing he stays sound, and with regular racing, he could be one of the best prepared for this year’s 3200m cup. Mark also picked up solid place money with stablemates, Zakspatrol (strong-finishing second) and the consistent squaregaiter Sunoflindenny (third) on Friday. Oasis Dream and Kowhai Monarch ran sound fourths, and Landora’s Girl finished fifth, but Rocker Band, Pomme Roy and Twice The Delight were all unplaced. Rocker Band, after sprinting hard early to wrest the lead in the C2-4 pace, over-raced and dropped away in the run home. Pomme Roy tired after working early from the outside gate to race parked in a C1-2 pace, while Twice The Delight, wilted after trailing in the C1-2 mares pace. Jeff Scott - Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here    

Harness racing junior driver Joe Moka must have wondered where his first winner was going to come from. Before tonight he had faced the starter 32 times for two seconds and two thirds but that elusive win seemed no closer. All that changed in the space of three minutes and twenty one seconds as Joe reined home the impressive  Fiery Lustre to an emphatic victory in the junior drivers race at Alexandra Park tonight. Sent straight to the front from barrier two by Joe, Fiery Lustre kept up a hot tempo in front which had most of his competition struggling well before the corner. Zakspatrol ran on well from the back but Fiery Lustre still had 3 3/4 lengths to spare at the finish and Joe had finally got the monkey off his back. Fiery Lustre paced the 2700 metres in 3:20.9, a mile rate of 1:59.7 with closing sectionals of 56.2 and 28.7. Joe was all smiles post race as you would expect. " I am really happy to have won a race." I am really buzzed to be honest to have finally cracked it." " I have to thank Scott Phelan and the Phelan family who have really supported me throughout." "Hopefully it is upwards and onwards from here,"Joe said. The junior driving ranks in the North Island are not that large and Joe is a welcome addition to the list of juniors who have driven a winner in the north. Harnesslink Media

It is not often you will find a budding star in a maiden trot in the middle of winter at a harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway. Tonight however was the exception with the beautifully bred Matatoki showing he was a horse with a big future when the two year son of Revenue S got up to win his first start after making a mistake early in the 1950 metres event. Trained and driven by Bob Butt, Matatoki had only been off the place three times prior to tonight and his lack of experience looked like it might cost him early when he had a gallop after 100 metres but he settled quickly and tacked on to the back of the bunch after 300 metres. Given a nice trip up to the leaders, Matatoki grabbed the lead half way up the straight and just managed to see off the well supported Cuddly Jess. Matatoki trotted the 1950 metres in the cold winterly conditions in 2:29.9, a mile rate of 2:03.6 with closing sectionals of 62.5 and 29.1. Bob Butt was suitably impressed with the first up run. " He doesn't know much yet but he wants to be there and that makes such a difference." " He went away good but got a bit rattled when a couple came through underneath him really quickly." "To his credit he came down trotting pretty quick and to get up and win was a great effort," Bob said. Matatoki is bred to be above average being from a Chiola Hanover half sister to the dam of Lyell Creek 1:52.4 ($2,961,137) and the latest Australian sensation, Arboe 1:55.5 who looks very special. Revenue S has been very sparingly used in New Zealand with just 14 foals two year old or older with five winners to date headed by Dead Cat Bounce 1:59.8 ($48,615) However his stint in America showed what he is capable of with earnings there of $19,401,627 headed by the champion trotter Market Share 1:50.2 ($3,684,417) who has a Hambletonian win on his card. Revenue's S average per starter in America of $115,486 is up there with the very best trotting sires in America. Matatoki would seem to inherited all the positive attributes of his maternal family and would appear to have a big future in front of him. Harnesslink Media  

One of harness racings elite sires Mach Three has been enjoying a great time of it lately in the south with plenty of winners, quinellas and even the odd trifecta thrown in. Last night at Forbury Park, Mach Three took it up a further step when he sired the first four home in race six. The four year old gelding Scotlynn Mach in the hands of Blair Orange took the race out in a smart 3:22.9 for the 2700 metres and he was chased home by three other four year old sons of Mach Three in Somebeach N Clovelly, Rory Mach and Hokuri Railrida. Nova Time and Starskys Dream were other winners on the programme for Mach Three and this weeks performance followed on from a great night the week before. On that occasion Uncle Ben led home a Mach Three trifecta with Rory Mach and Somebeach N Clovelly filling the minors while Onedin Mach and Starskys Dream provided the quinella in the feature race of the night. While Bettors Delight continues to dominate the stallion market in New Zealand, his performance is helped a lot by the huge books of mares he serves. For instance there are 814 Bettors Delights comprising his two, three four and five year olds in New Zealand. Mach Three only has 497 horses in the same age brackets which does make it hard to compete against a super sire like Bettors Delight. However he continues to do a great job on the New Zealand Sires table. As of today, Mach Three is second on the two year old list, fourth on the three year old list, leading the four year old list and battling Art Major for second on the overall list so it has been another successful season for the son of Matts Scooter. With his progeny having topped $15,000,000 in New Zealand from his 423 winners to date, Mach Three looks certain to again serve his customary 120/150 mares this coming breeding season. Harnesslink Media                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Punters who chase the big quaddie pools in Australia will be the worst affected by a two-month hiatus in commingling that started on Wednesday. For the last eight years New Zealand punters have enjoyed being able to bet into large Australian pools, with the chance of striking much bigger dividends. But for the next two months at least, while officials negotiate a new agreement, there will be no commingling of quaddies, first4s and quinellas on Australian races, meaning only New Zealand money will be in the pools, making them vastly smaller. On Tuesday, punters were betting into a quaddie pool of more than $125,000 at Geelong. But on Wednesday the pot Kiwis were offered at Warwick Farm was a pitiful $5203 compared to the one Australians chased of more than $70,000. And, while the TAB believes its turnover will hold up pretty well. with win and place pools still combined, punters are saying the opposite. In an announcement that has seen punters vent on social media threatening to give up betting or open an Australian account, the TAB revealed there would be no more commingling of the popular exotic bet types until it reached a new agreement with Tabcorp in Australia. The TAB's agreement, in force since May 30, 2007, expired on Tuesday and with no new deal in place yet, a "transitional" arrangement until August 31 allows commingling into Australian pools only on win and place betting. Wagering consultant Martin Saunders said the TAB had been caught up in the tension between Tabcorp and Sky Channel over broadcasting rights. After Racing Victoria signed a five-year free-to-air deal with Seven West Media, New Zealand's television partner Sky in Australia had blacked out all Victorian racing. Outside 92 TAB outlets in Victoria, New Zealand was the only country watching Victorian racing live, Saunders said. "Our suite of agreements are all linked and the rights to broadcast Victorian racing go through a lot of those agreements," Saunders said. Chief executives and negotiation teams from the New Zealand Racing Board and Tabcorp have been in discussions for the past 18 months and, while Saunders said in an ideal world a new agreement would have been brokered by now, he said the TAB was determined to get the best possible deal for New Zealand racing. It was hoped an agreement could be reached by the end of August. Saunders believed the "short-term compromise" would result in little damage to the industry's crucial turnover. "As much as 70 per cent of our betting in Australia is win and place (plus trifectas, which aren't commingled because we have a higher take-out rate). "The majority of our turnover will be maintained. And there's no change to the New Zealand situation – Australians can still bet into our pools." But if figures from Wednesday's racing are anything to go by, the TAB could be in for a nasty shock. Multiples punters must have been turned off in droves when just $343 was invested here in the first four on the opening race at Ipswich. The trifecta in the same race, picking only the first three home, paid $737. At Ballarat, despite a $14 shot winning the first race, the first four dividend was again less than the trifecta, declared at just $376, the entire pool, while it paid $4747 in Australia.   Later in the day the situation had hardly improved. At the main meeting, Warwick Farm, just $1240 was wagered here on the first four in race four (compared with more than $9300 on Tabcorp), punters obviously wise to the terrible pools and not willing to risk their money on a difficult bet type with no hope of a reasonable return.    Saunders said while the TAB was aware of the appeal of betting into big pools, surprisingly commingling with Hong Kong and its gigantic pools hadn't seen a large jump in betting. And Saunders said some people might argue it was easier to win a quaddie with a $10,000 pool than one with lots more players betting into a $150,000 pool. But that view was quickly dismissed by a few serious quaddie punters. Just like Lotto players were attracted by multi-million dollar pots, racing fans sought big quaddie pools. "I won't be betting into anything in Australia that's not commingled, simple as that," said one punter not prepared to be at the mercy of small, volatile pools. Saunders would not be drawn on the financial benefit to New Zealand of commingling but in the TAB's annual report at the time the deal was signed, it predicted "significant benefit to the industry". "The Board has guaranteed an additional $12 million funding in the first season. Greater earnings are expected to accrue in the following seasons," according to the report. "The projected earnings will flow through to the industry in the form of increased race stakes." Saunders said the push on terminating Pick6 pools this month would help punters who liked chasing big pots – but the initiative was unrelated to the commingling issue. Barry Lichter

Harness racing reinsman Blair Orange has done what a lot of industry people thought might be out of reach this season and chalked up 100 driving wins. Last season Blair notched up 100 driving wins for the first time in his career but that was when he was working for the all conquering All Star barn. For this season Blair moved camps and took up a position as the stable foreman for the Ken Barron barn. While Ken always has a very strong team around him, it is not on the same scale as the All Star barn and many thought Blair would battle to hit the hundred mark this season. However right from the beginning of the season Blair has been driving in dynamic form and has chalked up some notable milestones this year. Blair joined the 1000 wins club when successful with Change Time at Addington at the end of January and it is no coincidence that the Ken Barron stable has had its most successful season since Ken went solo in 2005 and just needs one more winner to crack the fifty wins for the season for the first time. Blair went to Forbury Park tonight with ninety eight driving wins in the bag  for the season and while he had a useful book, it was hard to label one as a likely winner. That all changed pretty quickly with a couple of Blair Orange " specials" that saw him reach the 100 mark by race 4. The first of the two winners was Cerato who Blair took straight to the front and  then rated  to perfection to get him home for a comfortable victory at odds of twelve to one. Blair followed that up in the very next race with another lovely front running drive on Nova Time who lead all the way and held on gamely at odds of seven to one. To hit the 100 mark this season, Blair has had to travel and it has not been uncommon to see him at Ascot Park, Addington and Alexandra Park in the space of three days. Forbury Park is another track that has seen a lot of Blair this season and it is good to see all the hard work pay off for one of the industry's star reinsman. Harnesslink Media      

Our harness racing tipsters are having a bit of the winter blues at the moment with less than inspiring results some weeks. Last week saw only two of our tipsters pick winners with Sean McCaffrey and Nathan Williamson doing the honours but we did have eight placegetters and some of those such as Shane Walkinshaw's pick, Takitimu Express paid good money ($4:20) This week we have four meetings in the country and we have picks for them all. Forbury - Thursday night Nathan Williamson - Thought Spinyback was overdue and could win race 2 Shane Walkinshaw - Thinks on his work this week, Jetsdream will win race 4 Craig Ferguson - Gives Mordecai a good chance of going back to back in race 6   Auckland  - Friday night Steven Reid - Reckons Concorde even from barrier 8 will be hard to beat in race 2 Scott Phelan - If Superimposed has any luck from his bad draw,he thinks he can win race 2  Todd Mitchell - Thinks the millionaire Vulcan can add to the bankroll in race 6 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought Vice Consul from the front line could win race 7 Tony Herlihy -  Gives The Almighty Johnson a big chance of winning race 8 John Dunn - Rates Return To Sender as hard to roll in race 9 Mark Jones - Thought Rocker Band would be very hard to beat, also in race 9   Addington - Friday night Bob Butt - Quite bullish about the chances of the two year old Matatoki in race 1 Terry Chmiel - Thinks Maddison Hill can upset them in race 2 Tim Williams - Gives Bird Of Paradise a big show even from the second line in race 6 Gerard O'Reilly - Reckons Zin Zan must win one shortly and thinks it will be in race 7 Ricky May - Thought the southern raider Tetrick would be hard to beat in race 8 Brendon McLellan - Agrees with Ricky that Tetrick will be hard to beat in race 8 Matthew Williamson - Reckons Springbank Eden can get the chocolates in race 9   Timaru - Sunday afternoon  Blair Orange - Thought the first starter My Cash would be hard to beat in race 3 Gavin Smith - Very bullish about the chances of Great Things Happen in race 4 Brad Williamson - Reckons Kylie Castleton can bounce back and win race 6 Jim Curtin - Gives Insignificant a chance to upset them at odds, also in race 6  John Curtin - Thought Naughty Maravu only needed some luck for a change to win race 8 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Contractual Issues will be hard to hold out in race 10   Harnesslink Media

One harness racing barn that has been having a great run in New South Wales this season is the stable of Kevin Pizzuto. While most of the bigger barns in the state have 60-70 horses in work Kevin only works a team of 24 at any one time. The smallish size of the team hasn't stopped Kevin chalking up 71 winners to date this season and he currently sits fifth on the New South Wales premiership. Kevin buys most of his stock in from New Zealand. " I have a lot of contacts in New Zealand who recommend horses to me and I watch them race and if I think they would suit the style of racing here I have a go at buying them." " When I think they are on their mark here I on sell them to North America or interstate and it is a system that has served me well," Kevin told Harnesslink this week. Two New Zealand horses that are doing a fine job from the Pizzuto stable are Freyberg and Alta Jerome. " Freyberg wasn't very expensive but he has done a great job since joining the stable a couple of years ago. " He has a best time of 1:51.7 and has banked $220,000 for me so I have a bit of time for him". "Alta Jerome has only been here eight months but has already won over $100,000 and looks a horse with a bit of a future." "He ran an unlucky fourth to Sky Major in the Chariots Of Fire and has kicked on since then so he could have a big season coming up,"Kevin said. Not only is Kevin importing New Zealand horses but he has now taken to importing his staff from New Zealand as well. Former New Zealand junior driver Jack Trainor landed at Kevin's barn and has not looked back since. As of today Jack sits eighth on the New South Wales driving premiership with 65 wins for the season and just recently won the Rising Stars driving title in New South Wales. Kevin is now looking for another young Kiwi driver to boost the staffing ranks. " There is room for another young driver in the barn." "We have to use outside drivers a lot for a few of the team which I rather wouldn't do and there is a great opportunity here for a young driver to get established in the industry." "As long as they have a good work ethic, they will get plenty of opportunities to prove themselves here, " Kevin said. With the success that Jack Trainor has had from the Pizzuto barn, there will a few New Zealand junior drivers tempted by the opportunity. Harnesslink Media

Class pacer Saveapatrol is to remain in Auckland for winter racing after finishing seventh to former stablemate Johnny Fox at the harness racing meetint at Auckland on Friday night, June 26. Saveapatrol, first-up for 15 months, had things go against him as the beaten favourite in the C3-7 Smith & Partners 2015 Winter Cup. “We have pulled pin on the Oz (Queensland) trip as he had to win other night to warrant going,” said trainer Mark Jones. “It was frustrating when he couldn’t get the front as it would have been good to give him every chance,” he said. Saveapatrol made a dab for the lead mid-race but when the lead wasn’t there, had to restrain to trail, then was shuffled three back. “The situation was made worst when a stablemate of the leader got handed a easy lead,” Mark said. “Saveapatrol over-raced bad after that but that is racing I guess. “I was a bit disappointed my horse didn’t finish it off better but after pulling hard and being fresh-up for so long he will only improve,” he said. Saveapatrol’s owner Grant Hatton, along with wife Katherine, had better fortunes in the previous event. Consistent stablemate Zakspatrol, raced by the Hattons’, made an impressive Auckland debut in the hands of Kim Butt, racing away for a penalty-free success in the C1-2 Pukekohe Builders Ltd Mobile Pace for junior drivers. Zakspatrol, a big Art Major gelding from Shimmering Star, was a tentative travelling companion for a Queensland winter campaign, but will also now remain in Auckland for upcoming racing. The 4YO eased to a three back trailing spot in the early stages, was forced four wide on the home turn, but ran out the 2700m strongly to win by a length and three-quarters from late finisher Flying Loose, and favourite First Home. Zakspatrol ran the mobile 2700m in 3:22.4 (2:00.6 mile rate), the leaders running their last 800m in 57.6s for his sixth win from 46 starts, for $44,604 in earnings. Kimberly Butt, in just her second season of racedriving, was recording her 17th win of the season and her 31st from 303 career drives. Kim had also won the junior drivers race at the Franklin meeting at Alexandra Park on June 19 with former Canterbury trotter Barry. A week earlier she scored with the Ken Barron-trained Bracken Ridge at northern headquarters, and began the month in the north winning with Overport Lodge filly Real Torque at Auckland on June 6. Mark’s decision to go north with a contingent of winter horses was fruitful last weekend. He also prepared and drove Pomme Roy to power home for a three lengths win in the C1-2 Thai Night At Alex Park 28th August Mobile Pace in a 1:57.9 rate (2200m). Mark also gained another training and driving win with smart filly Rocker Band at Cambridge on Thursday, June 25, and a third with stablemate Oasis Dream. “It was a good weekend for stable up here with three wins. They earned 20k for the weekend so it was a good decision to come up here and get money in owners pockets,” he said. Rocker Band’s win over Joanednobettor at Cambridge in a 1:58.7 rate (2200m), quickening over her last 800m in 56.7s was penalty-free and she will continue to try for 3YO concession wins in the north next month. Oasis Dream, a gritty third behind Rockn Ruby and Westburn Courage in the C2 and faster pace over 2200m (stand), is likely to have one more start before transferring to Kerryn Manning’s Victorian stable. Mark’s brace of northern wins has taken him to 59 wins for the season. He is currently fifth on the trainers premiership, with stable runners just over $6000 short of $600,000 in winning stakes this term. Jeff Scott - Mark Jones Racing Stables  -  Check site here

One of harness racing's most promising partnerships is on the verge of reaching two significant milestones. Ken Barron and Blair Orange's first season together has been full of highlights and Change Time's victory in Sunday's Winter Cup was another exclamation mark on a season that has shattered all expectations.  With the Barron-trained Livura a winner earlier in the day at the Rangiora Harness Racing Club's meeting, the Barron-Orange combination scored a winning double. Orange now heads into Forbury Park's meeting on Thursday with 98 wins for the season. He went past the 100 mark for the first time last season with 106 winners. With Addington on Friday night and Timaru on Sunday, Orange is a strong chance to reach the century by the end of the weekend if not sooner. Barron's two winners on Sunday have taken him to 49 training wins for the season. Despite going close on a couple of occasions, on his own and in partnership with John Lischner, Barron has never reached 50 wins in a season but the West Melton trainer is certain to break the milestone before the current one is out. Orange credits getting an economical trip as the difference for Change Time who upset the field to win the Winter Cup at a $17 quote. "Finding the trail was definitely the key," Orange said. Change Time's form line was nothing to get excited about going into the Winter Cup but she has come out of the four-year-old Diamond at the Harness Jewels and some quality fields when racing in Auckland. "Last start she had to sit parked and was found wanting a bit, but she's always been better with a sit," Orange said. Change Time's win was Orange's second Winter Cup in as many weeks after he won the Marlborough version last week with Lilac Desire. The Christian Cullen mare picked up her seventh career at Rangiora but her racing days are numbered. A four-year-old mare out of Chaangerr, Change Time will head to Australia at the end of the season to be retired to the broodmare paddock. Orange will always have fond memories of the mare that brought him his 1000th driving win with her victory at Addington back in January. Talented three-year-old Bracken Ridge is another leaving the Barron stable after being sold to Perth but Orange said there was still plenty of talent in Barron's stable. Gerard O'Reilly, Ricky May and Robbie Close also drove winning doubles at the Rangiora meeting. Woodend Beach trainers Greg and Nina Hope continued their standout season with three winners in the last three races of the day. The husband and wife partnership now have 66 winners for the season, just one shy of their best of 67 in 2013. Meanwhile, Dexter Dunn brought up his 200th win of the season at Forbury Park on Friday night. Dunn started the night on 196 winners and brought up the double century with his fourth win of the night with Give Me Strength. It is the fourth time he has gone past 200 winners in a season but in 2012 and 2013 he was finished on 199. By Mat Kermeen Reprinted with permission

The cobalt saga started in harness racing at The Meadowlands and has now spread around the racing world like a virus. We've all read about cobalt. Racing's new EPO. The stuff that supposedly makes horses run like Lear Jets.  But until this week it's all been about yet another Australian trainer being caught with a high reading. That changed on Tuesday, however, when the Racing Integrity Unit dropped the bombshell that the leading Matamata stable of Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott had returned a cobalt positive with its horse Quintastics, after she won a race in March. And then on Friday, after further testing in Perth, the RIU confirmed a trawl through frozen samples from the stable had uncovered two more positives, from NZ Derby place-getter Sound Proposition and Suffire, who won at Tauranga in February. Suddenly, people in the industry are asking questions about what it means, are they at risk and exactly how high the cobalt levels are. While RIU general manager Mike Godber would not reveal the exact amount of cobalt found in the three horses, he said it "significantly" breached the internationally recognised limit of 200 adopted earlier this season. There is no suggestion the levels are anywhere near as high as the 6000 recorded in one of 21 positives returned by horses trained by Newcastle trainer Darren Smith who was disqualified for 15 years. Fairfax investigations have revealed it would take an intravenous injection of cobalt chloride to elevate levels into the thousands, a sure sign of cheating. But levels in the hundreds, believed to be the case with the O'Sullivan/Scott trio, almost certainly indicates the administration of a supplement, a practice commonplace in New Zealand. Fortified horse feeds contain only minute amounts of cobalt, nowhere near enough to elevate levels above the threshold. Industry regulators both here and in Australia adopted the trigger point of 200 micrograms of cobalt per litre of urine after extensive testing of some 2500 samples from horses in New Zealand, Queensland, Victoria, West Australia and South Australia. The New Zealand sample of 400 horses, some from race-day swabs and some from random horses at stud chosen because they had never had any medication, put the mean level of cobalt very low at 6.4. This was markedly lower than the Australian samples which found cobalt levels of between 10 and 20 – explained by the fact many racing areas in New Zealand are volcanic and the soil is deficient in cobalt. In another collaborative effort, 11 overseas countries contributed 10,300 post-race urine samples and the highest recorded cobalt reading was 78 mcg/l. The average was 5.29 mcg/l. These results included many horses on normal cobalt supplementation programmes. Given those results,  it's not surprising many in the industry here have criticised our 200 level as too generous. They say unscrupulous trainers have too much leeway to dose their horses and remain undetected. But Fairfax understands  it is highly likely that a new, lower limit of 100, already in place in Hong Kong, will be struck at the next meeting of international regulators in Paris in October. As yet the UK and European racing jurisdictions have not set a cobalt threshold. In the Australian cases pending against Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Mark Kavanagh, Cox Plate-winning trainer Danny O'Brien, and Lee and Shannon Hope, all levels detected are in the hundreds. Racing Victoria revealed the cobalt levels detected as: Danny O'Brien's Bondeiger (370mcg/l), Caravan Rolls On (380), De Little Engine (580) and Bullpit (320); Mark Kavanagh's Magicool (640); Lee and Shannon Hope's Windy Citi Bear (300), Best Suggestion (550) and Choose (440). Studies done by the Hong Kong Jockey Club have demonstrated how such levels can easily be reached through supplementation. In its study, horses which were injected with Hemo-15, an iron, amino acid and B vitamin supplement readily available here, reached a maximum cobalt level in the urine of 530 mcg/l within two hours of administration. The cobalt level decreased rapidly and was below 200 in six to 12 hours. That begs the question how the levels detected recently could be so high given it is illegal to treat horses in any way on race-day and there is no legitimate reason for administering the supplement so close to a race.    Concern that vitamin B12 medication, popular with trainers here, might result in a cobalt positive was flagged by the New Zealand Equine branch of the Veterinary Association when it gazetted a warning in February. Vitamin B12 contains five per cent cobalt and, if given repeatedly, can result in a cobalt level in the hundreds. All vets were advised that they should not use any medication that contained vitamin B12 either orally or by injection for one clear day before a horse raced. Barry Lichter Reprinted with permission  

Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's feature racing in New Zealand may be over for the season but they are still hunting down harness racing Group I victories. The All Stars stable have runners in four of the New South Wales Breeders Challenge finals at Menangle on Sunday. It is hard to imagine the Rolleston based stable will not pick up at least two of the A$125,000 Group I finals. Prominent stable owners, Meg and Merv Butterworth could be in for a successful day with Our Golden Goddess and Supersonic Miss both strong winning chances. Smart Art Major filly Our Golden Goddess, who is undefeated in two starts since making her debut in Australia, will be heavily supported in the 1609m Breeders Challenge for two-year-old fillies. Golden Goddess originally drew barrier nine but has been aided by three scratchings inside her. But Purdon, who drives all four stable runners on Sunday, will still have to start outside likely favorite Heavens Trend. Our Waikiki Beach, unbeaten in eight starts, will be a short priced favourite in the Breeders Challenge for two-year-old colts and geldings over 1609m. Purdon should have everything on his own terms from barrier three and it is hard to see him not winning. Supersonic Miss has a handy barrier draw, starting from gate four in the Breeders Challenge for three-year-old fillies 2400m. After winning her last two starts, Supersonic Miss seems to be back to her best and will tough to beat. The fourth All Stars runner is Kept Under Wraps who will starts from barrier two in the Breeders Challenge for three-year-old colts and geldings over 2400m. Kept Under Wraps, by Bettor's Delight was disappointing in his last start when run down late but is the favorite with Australian bookies. Given the season the Purdon and Rasmussen team enjoyed in New Zealand in Group I races, a day of Kiwi domination at Menangle would not surprise. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with the consent of the Christchurch Press

Here at Harnesslink we are regularly amazed at some of the charges leveled against harness racing drivers and how there seems to be a disconnect between the reality of race driving and the perfect world that the Racing Integrity Unit and the JCA live in. A good example in our view is the recent appeal brought by Terry Chmiel against a JCA decision that he had driven carelessly. The transcript below had us here at Harnesslink just shaking our heads. Date of Hearing: 10 June 2015 Venue: Stewards’ Room, Addington Raceway, Christchurch Tribunal: R G McKenzie, Chairman - K G Hales, Panelist Present: Mr T S Chmiel (the Appellant) Mr S P Renault, Stipendiary Steward (representing the Respondent) Mr N M Ydgren (Registrar) Date of Decision: 22 June 2015 RESERVED DECISION OF APPEALS TRIBUNAL Background [1] Following the running of Race 10, Changeover Mobile Pace, at the meeting of Oamaru Harness Racing Club at Oamaru Racecourse on 17 May 2015, the Appellant was charged with careless driving in that, as the driver of PARRAMATTA in the race, he “drove carelessly with 400 metres to run when shifting inwards crowding ON THE TOWN (D J Dunn) with this horse locking wheels with HERETIC FRANCO (J R Dunn)”. [2] Mr Chmiel defended the charge and, following a quite lengthy hearing held after the last race on that day, Race 11, the Judicial Committee found the charge of careless driving to be proved. After hearing penalty submissions, the Judicial Committee imposed a fine of $450. [3] Mr Chmiel now appeals both the finding of the Judicial Committee that he drove carelessly and the penalty imposed. Mr Chmiel’s Notice of Appeal states that the grounds for his disagreeing with the finding and penalty are “inconclusive video evidence and also not guilty of the penalty”. Procedure [4] Rule 1205 (2) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing provides: All appeals shall, except when and to the extent that the Appeals Tribunal otherwise directs, be by way of rehearing based on the evidence adduced at the hearing conducted by the persons or body whose decision is appealed against. [5] This Tribunal must carry out its own assessment of the facts, and it should not hesitate to substitute its own findings of fact where it is appropriate to do so. While this Tribunal must apply an independent judgment to the conclusions reached by the Judicial Committee, the onus is still on the Applicant to show that the Judicial Committee was wrong. [6] The standard of proof is the balance of probabilities (Rule 1008A). This is widely understood to mean that facts are required to be proved as being more probable than not. [7] At the outset of the appeal hearing, it was agreed by the parties, at the Tribunal’s suggestion, that the “raceday” procedure for the hearing of charges be adopted – that is to say, the Stewards (in this case the Respondent) present their case showing what they are alleging with the assistance of video replays, after which the Appellant is to present his case in support of his appeal. Submissions of the Respondent [8] Mr Renault began by showing side-on and head-on video replays of the relevant part of the race – approximately 400 metres from the finish as the field was leaving the back straight. He pointed out HERETIC FRANCO (J R Dunn) leading the field at that point, with ON THE TOWN (D J Dunn) outside the leader and Mr Chmiel, driving PARRAMATTA, improving 3-wide. [9] Mr Chmiel had been racing in second-to-last position before commencing to improve 3-wide with cover, and then 4-wide past the tiring CHIEF KAPAI. He got up alongside ON THE TOWN. HERETIC FRANCO and ON THE TOWN then locked wheels and drifted back through the field, Mr Renault said. [10] At the hearing before the Judicial Committee, Mr John Dunn said that his horse’s head was turned outwards but round the bend, he said, he was holding his line rather than running outwards and going wider. Mr Dunn had said that his horse had “run out quite bad down the back” but on the bend he was not having any difficulty with the horse and it was “settled”. Mr Renault submitted that Mr John Dunn’s horse had not contributed to the incident which followed. [11] Mr Dexter Dunn, driving ON THE TOWN, had been parked for some distance and he was having no difficulty with that horse. The following evidence was given by Mr Dexter Dunn at the raceday hearing: DD Yeah just on the video there obviously I was sitting parked and half way round the bend I’ve run out of room and because my wheel is behind John Dunn on the inside. I’ve ended up running out of room and locking wheels with John. Basically, just had no room. SR So was the pressure from the outside here Mr Dunn? DD Yeah it got pretty tight. Yeah at the time it felt like it was from the outside yeah. SR And did you call to Mr Chmiel? DD I just yelled out for a bit of room. Probably a bit before, yeah it just sort of happened really. It happened pretty quick, it just sort of, we were racing there and then all of a sudden it happened you know, right at full speed. When I was out there anyway it felt pretty quick. SR You weren’t having any difficulty with your horse? DD No she was SR Travelling fine DD Yeap SR So there was contact, wheel on wheel, before? DD Just um, yeah, just our stays, obviously we’re touching. SR And he was tight to you, he was hard on your wheel before there, have you got any option to come outwards, can you relieve the pressure, with him to your outside there? Are you able to come any wider if he’s putting pressure on you? DD Yeah, it sort of happened that quick I probably, by the time, I did I’d already locked wheels when it happened SR So did you feel there was any movement from the inside? DD I couldn’t tell at the time, didn’t even look at the horse on the inside, I didn’t even SR So out there live, you felt it was from the outside, when you were out there? DD Yeah probably because I was behind John Dunn, it was mainly me and Mr Chmiel that were um. Obviously you can feel the pressure when you are cart on cart but, maybe if I was up level with John as well I would have felt if there was pressure from the inside but I couldn’t really tell when I was out there. [12] Mr Renault referred again to the video replays. He submitted that Mr Dexter Dunn was clear of Mr John Dunn and there was a clear gap between them. Mr Chmiel then came across and levelled up to Mr Dunn. The locking of wheels had not yet taken place, he submitted. Mr Dunn then looked to his outside and had called to Mr Chmiel and then he locked wheels with Mr John Dunn. [13] The stays of the sulkies of Mr Dexter Dunn and Mr Chmiel had touched, Mr Renault submitted. He pointed out on the video replay that the outside sulky wheel of Mr Chmiel could be seen to be throwing up grit from the track. This was where the “touching” took place, Mr Renault submitted, and this was prior to Mr Dunn locking wheels with the sulky of the horse on his inner. Mr Renault accepted, in response to a question from the Committee, that grit from the track had also been thrown up by the wheel of Dexter Dunn’s sulky. [14] Mr Chmiel had shifted down from a 4-wide position and placed pressure on Dexter Dunn. The onus is on the driver shifting ground, Mr Chmiel in this case, Mr Renault said. Mr Dexter Dunn could be seen to be “wiggling” in the sulky, as he was about to lock wheels. Mr Dunn had nowhere to go to relieve the pressure – he could not come wider. No driver had been in difficulty until Mr Chmiel had come around, Mr Renault submitted. [15] Mr Renault referred to the transcript of the raceday hearing and pointed out that Mr Chmiel had declined the opportunity given to him by the Chairman to ask questions of either Mr Dexter Dunn or Mr John Dunn. He submitted that Mr Chmiel had accepted the evidence given by those witnesses. [16] This was a clear case of careless driving in that Mr Chmiel had placed obvious pressure on Dexter Dunn who, in turn, has been forced onto John Dunn, Mr Renault submitted. [17] Mr Renault submitted that Mr Chmiel had not been in a true 3-wide position but, rather, 2½ carts wide. He pointed out the position of the horse, CHIEF KAPAI, which was in a true 3-wide position, he submitted. [18] Mr Renault then showed the video replay of the race from the point of the alleged interference to the finish. He said that, once Mr Chmiel came around 3-wide and the two inside runners locked wheels, Mr Chmiel continued to the lead and put a break of 2-3 lengths on the field. With the two horses locking wheels, the majority of the field behind them had been inconvenienced. [19] Mr Renault submitted that a reasonable and prudent driver would not have put himself in the position that Mr Chmiel had. His drive fell well short of the standard of that expected of a driver. He had failed to take due care. Submissions of the Appellant [20] Mr Chmiel first addressed the submission by Mr Renault that CHIEF KAPAI had been in a true 3-wide position prior to the incident. He submitted that this was not the case as SECRETS’ OUT (R T May), on the inside of CHIEF KAPAI, had commenced an outwards movement to get on his, Mr Chmiel’s, back and had forced CHIEF KAPAI wider. [21] Mr Chmiel then referred to the head-on video replay of that part the race as the field raced down the back straight. He submitted that, as the field approached the bend out of the back straight, the sulky wheel of ON THE TOWN, which wore a boring pole on its near side, was already inside the sulky wheel of the inside runner, driven by John Dunn, long before any contact was made from his outside. Dexter Dunn had put himself in that situation, he submitted. The pressure came when Dexter Dunn had “panicked” and tried to come out. Mr Chmiel submitted that Dexter Dunn had called for room after he had locked wheels. He referred to the evidence of Mr John Dunn who had said that his horse “did run out quite bad down the back”. It was possible that it had also run out around the bend but the video was not helpful in resolving this. Only a small amount of movement was required to have contributed to the locking of wheels, Mr Chmiel submitted. His own horse’s head was “as straight as a die”, Mr Chmiel submitted, and the horse was in a true 3-wide position. He was unaware that Dexter Dunn was not in a true 2-wide position. [22] Mr Chmiel said that the raceday hearing had commenced some 30 minutes after the last race on the day. This had upset him because he had his horses loaded ready to travel home. He did not have the opportunity to carefully view the videos of the incident until he had got home and was able to study them. He has appealed the raceday finding as he believes that he had done nothing wrong. He had placed no downwards pressure on Dexter Dunn, he said. Further Submissions of the Respondent [23] Mr Renault refuted the submission of Mr Chmiel that Dexter Dunn was inside John Dunn’s wheel prior to being joined by Mr Chmiel. Mr Dunn had not referred to having any difficulty or that he was getting close to John Dunn. [24] The allegation of the Stewards is that Mr Chmiel had driven carelessly by crowding Dexter Dunn. There was clear contact between the stays of the sulkies of Dexter Dunn and Mr Chmiel – this was prior to the former “wiggling” in the sulky and the locking of wheels. Further Submissions of the Appellant [25] Dexter Dunn had plenty of time to get his wheel out before Mr Chmiel got to him. However, he had allowed his horse to run in and, in doing so, had put himself in that situation. He was not just “a little bit inside” John Dunn’s wheel, he was well inside, he submitted, at least 15 to 20 centimetres. Dexter Dunn had called late and Mr Chmiel had given him room and come out. He would have given more room had he realised that Dexter Dunn was inside the wheel of John Dunn’s sulky. [26] His horse wears a rein pricker on the inside and never runs in but runs out, Mr Chmiel said. His horse’s head had not been turned in at any relevant time, he submitted. 27] Tight racing is common and carts touch in every race and that is “just racing”, Mr Chmiel said. He did not believe that he had driven carelessly. He was not aware of any respect in which he had been careless as alleged. Comments on the Video of the Whole Race [28] At the request of the Tribunal, a video replay of the entire race, a mobile start event over 2000 metres, was shown to the hearing. It was shown that HERETIC FRANCO (J R Dunn) took the lead from the start, and the lead time was 26.3 seconds. At the winning post with a lap (1200 metres) to run, ON THE TOWN (D J Dunn) challenged for the lead and took a lead of approximately 1 length without being able to cross the leader, before HERETIC FRANCO was urged along to hold the lead. As the field entered the back straight, PARRAMATTA, driven by Mr Chmiel, was racing in 2nd to last position in the 11-horse field. It then improved quickly 3-wide and then 4-wide to go up alongside ON THE TOWN which was racing on the outside of HERETIC FRANCO. When those two runners locked wheels, there was some disruption to the field and PARRAMATTA established a break of several lengths over the field. It was run down in the straight and finished in 6th placing, 2.7 lengths from the winner. ON THE TOWN finished in 9th placing and HERETIC FRANCO finished in last placing. Appeal Against Penalty [29] Mr Chmiel confirmed that his appeal was also against the level of fine ($450) imposed by the raceday Judicial Committee. The reasons given by that Committee, either at the conclusion of the hearing or in its subsequent written decision, were read to Mr Chmiel. The Stewards had submitted for a fine of between $450 and $500. The Committee took a starting point of a fine of $500 as suggested in the Penalty Guide. The Committee identified that an aggravating factor was the disruption to the majority of the field, making the level of carelessness, in the Committee’s view, at the higher end of the scale. The Committee also referred to Mr Chmiel’s “clean record”. [30] Mr Chmiel submitted that a fine of $450 was excessive. Reasons for Decision [31] Mr Chmiel has appealed against the finding of the raceday Judicial Committee that he drove carelessly when shifting inwards crowding ON THE TOWN with that horse locking wheels with HERETIC FRANCO. [32] This Tribunal has had the benefit of being able to view the various video replays of the incident, and to consider the evidence and submissions without the pressure that is inevitably on a raceday Judicial Committee. [33] We think that it is relevant, in the case of this appeal, for this Tribunal to have regard to the fact, as we were told, that the hearing commenced some 30 minutes after the running of the last race. This means that the hearing of the charge would have commenced at approximately 5.00pm. This, no doubt, placed pressure on all participants including Mr Chmiel and the Judicial Committee. Mr Chmiel told us that he had his horses loaded on his truck awaiting transport home to Leeston. [34] The grounds of Mr Chmiel’s appeal, as set out in his Notice of Appeal, are “inconclusive video evidence and not guilty of penalty”. It was not helpful to the Respondent or, indeed, this Tribunal that the grounds were not spelt out in greater detail. The Tribunal is aware of the provision in Rule 1205 (3) where it states: Except by special leave of the Appeals Tribunal no appellant shall argue or be permitted to argue any ground of appeal not set out in the notice of appeal. [35] In the circumstances, the Tribunal was prepared to allow Mr Chmiel some latitude in this regard. His reference to the “inconclusive video evidence” we took as a reference to the fact that there was no true head-on video of the precise point of the race when the sulky wheels of the two Messrs Dunn locked. This is not a slight on the video coverage, as it is just not possible to have perfect video coverage of every point in a race. [36] Of course, a Judicial Committee and, if appropriate, an Appeals Tribunal has regard to not only the video evidence but also the evidence of the parties to the proceedings and their witnesses. In this case, we had available to us a full transcript of the raceday hearing. We were able to read what Mr Renault and Mr Chmiel had said in their evidence to the Committee and, also, what the drivers of the other two runners involved had to say. [37] The Tribunal is aware that issues of credibility of witnesses arise and concedes that the Judicial Committee had the advantage of seeing the witnesses. However, no deference is required beyond the customary caution appropriate when seeing the witnesses provides an advantage. [38] Having said that, the Tribunal did not find the video evidence entirely inconclusive but, rather, found it to be of considerable assistance. So, our finding has relied on both the video evidence and the evidence given by the parties and witnesses at the raceday hearing. [39] The Tribunal allowed Mr Chmiel to make points in his submissions before us that he did not make before the raceday Committee and did not specify in his Notice of Appeal. We allowed him to do so because we felt that Mr Chmiel was placed in a position, on the raceday, in which he was not able to properly consider the video evidence prior to the hearing and to mount a full and proper defence to the charge of careless driving against him. We do not say this by way of criticism of the raceday process, other than to say that it may well have been appropriate for Mr Chmiel to have been offered the option of having the hearing of the charge adjourned in the circumstances - see paragraph [33] above. It is not ideal, and may even be prejudicial to a Respondent, for the hearing of a charge to be proceeded with in such circumstances. [40] In his submissions before this Tribunal, Mr Chmiel relied quite heavily on a video replay that, he submitted, clearly showed the line of Mr Dexter Dunn’s inside sulky wheel inside the line of the sulky wheel of the horse on his inside, HERETIC FRANCO, driven by Mr John Dunn, prior to his placing the alleged pressure on Mr Dexter Dunn. This was not something raised by Mr Chmiel before the raceday Committee. We feel sure that this was because he had not had the opportunity to properly study the video replays at that time. [41] The Tribunal is of the view that there is more than a little merit in that submission. From our own observation of the video evidence available, it did appear to be the case that Dexter Dunn’s inside sulky wheel was tracking inside the sulky wheel of John Dunn prior to the locking of wheels. In fact, we note that Dexter Dunn told the Judicial Committee: “Yeah, it sort of happened that quick I probably, by the time I did I’d already locked wheels when it happened”. [42] We do not consider the parol evidence of Dexter and John Dunn, as set out in the transcript, to be overly convincing. The former, in response to being asked if there was any movement from the inside, said “I couldn’t tell at the time, didn’t even look at the horse on the inside at the time”. He went on to say that the pressure was “probably” from the outside. Then, asked if there was any pressure from the inside prior to locking wheels, Mr Dexter Dunn stated: “I actually couldn’t actually tell you at the time yeah”. [43] Mr John Dunn, when asked whether his horse had contributed by hanging out or running out slightly responded: “Yeah running out slightly”. Later, when asked whether he was running outwards or holding his line he replied: “Probably yeah probably more holding my line”. Earlier, he had said: “My horse has run out down the back straight, he’s run off a good cart and back. Also, it had its head round a fraction round the bend. So it sort of runs out the whole way but”. [44] This Tribunal also noted that the two witnesses for the Stewards, Messrs Dexter and John Dunn, were each present at the hearing while the other gave evidence. In that situation, there is a very real danger that the evidence given by one witness will be coloured by the evidence given by the other. This should be avoided wherever possible. [45] The Tribunal’s conclusion, from studying the transcript and carefully viewing the available video replays, is that what happened was, simply, a racing incident. It is clear that the three horses concerned were racing tightly and at speed as a result of which ON THE TOWN and HERETIC FRANCO locked wheels. Any inwards movement by Mr Chmiel was not great. Mr Chmiel did not deny that the sulky stays of his and Mr Dexter Dunn’s horse had touched which, he told us and we accept, was not an uncommon happening in a race situation. That they touched was illustrated by the fact that, as shown on the video, track grit was thrown up by the sulky wheels of both of those runners. We especially note that the word “touched” was used in the raceday hearing to describe the degree of contact between the two sulkies. It appeared to be no more than a touch. [46] Mr Renault told the Tribunal that the onus is on the driver shifting ground to leave sufficient room. It does not necessarily follow, however, that any incident as on this occasion must be the result of and the fault of that driver shifting ground. [47] The Tribunal believes that the locking of wheels of the two runners was most likely the result of a number of factors. It is undeniable that the three runners were racing tightly. The possibility that HERETIC FRANCO, which had been running out prior to the incident, had contributed by hanging out on the bend cannot be dismissed. Even more cogent is the fact, which we find, that Mr Dexter Dunn’s inside wheel was tracking a path inside the wheel of HERETIC FRANCO, prior to being joined by Mr Chmiel. Mr Chmiel could not have been aware of this at the time and his submission was that he had heard a call for room from Mr Dunn as Mr Dunn was about to lock wheels, to which he immediately responded by giving room, but only after their stays had briefly contacted, or “touched”. Mr Chmiel correctly pointed out that his horse had its head straight at all material times. [48] The Rules of Harness Racing do not require a horseman to achieve standards of perfection. A horseman must drive to the standard of a reasonable, competent and prudent driver. This Tribunal is not satisfied that Mr Chmiel’s driving fell below that standard on this occasion. [49] The Tribunal finds that the locking of wheels of HERETIC FRANCO and ON THE TOWN was what is commonly referred to as a “racing incident”, which is an occurrence in a race which is not attributable to the actions of any one horse or driver but which occurs, usually, as a result of a combination of factors and as a result of the speed and very competitive nature of a harness race, and was not the result of Mr Chmiel driving carelessly. It was, we believe, the result of a combination of factors with each of the three horses involved contributing to a greater or lesser extent. We are not satisfied, to the required standard of the balance of probabilities, that Mr Chmiel drove in a manner that was careless. Decision [50] The appeal is upheld. The decision of the raceday Judicial Committee at the meeting of Oamaru Harness Racing Club on 17 May 2015 is therefore set aside and the penalty imposed of a fine of $450 is quashed. Costs [51] No order is made as to costs. The fee paid to the Judicial Control Authority on the filing of the appeal shall be forfeited to that body. R G McKenzie        K G Hales Chair                     Panelist

Alabar has announced its 2015/16 roster and service fees. The leading stallions Art Major, Mach Three and Majestic Son head the roster and all will stand for unchanged fees this season. Peak and Sunshine Beach will be exciting new additions to Alabar and they believe they will both really suit the Australian and New Zealand broodmare population. Peak, being bred in Denmark, brings some European flair to the roster and the fact that he is a Group One winner in both hemispheres will no doubt be appealing to breeders. Sunshine Beach is a World champion son of Somebeachsomewhere. He is a stunning looking stallion and hails from a maternal family that has produced many outstanding stallions. We of course speak of the Golden Miss family, which has given us Rocknroll Hanover, Safely Kept, Panorama and Grinfromeartoear. Two of the proven stallions, Courage Under Fire and Grinfromeartoear, will see their service fees drop and we believe both now represent even greater value given what their progeny have done on the track – especially with Courage having such a stellar year with his two-year-olds this season. “Being able to keep our flagship stallions at the same fee and also reduce the fees of some of our other stallions is extremely pleasing for us. It’s an acknowledgement to the breeders who have given us such wonderful support over so many years. “We’re really excited about the new season – the arrival of our two outstanding new stallions, the first foals by A Rocknroll Dance and Alta Christiano, the first yearlings to sell by Auckland Reactor and Betterthancheddar and the first two-year-olds to race by Big Jim – who is off to such a promising start with his first youngsters in North America.” Graeme Henley, on behalf of the Alabar group. For further details visit Alabar website – www.alabar.com.au Stallion Australian Fee (incl GST) New Zealand Fee (plus GST) A Rocknroll Dance $6,000 $6,000 Alta Christiano $2,750 $2,750 Art Major $12,000 $11,000 Artiscape (frozen) $2,200 N/A Auckland Reactor $3,000 $3,000 Betterthancheddar $4,400 $4,000 Big Jim $3,850 $3,500 Courage Under Fire $5,500 N/A Elsu $2,200 $2,200 Gotta Go Cullect $2,200 $2,200 Grinfromeartoear $3,300 $3,000 Mach Three $12,000 $11,000 Majestic Son $5,000 $5,000 Peak $2,500 $2,500 Shadow Play $4,400 $4,000 Smiling Shard $2,200 $2,000 Sunshine Beach $4,000 $4,000 Village Jasper $2,200 N/A  

The All Stars harness racing juggernault continues to perform on both sides of the Tasman. David McCarthy from the All Stars team has done a wrap on the Australian team and how they are progressing and with their kind permission we reproduce that here. BRISBANE Don't believe all you see in the Brisbane fields this week. Both Hug The Wind and Fight For Glory are not going around in the Breeders Crown heats and only Linda Lovegrace will start this week. Natalie might also have to pull the pin on the Country Cup series she had her eye on for Gentle Western as he battles back to his best. "I put the others in the Breeders Crown assuming they were nominated and Queensland harness put them in but it turns out they are not paid up for the Breeders Crown series" Natalie said. "Queensland Harness have apologised for not being aware of it but as it turned out I wasn't either having taken it for granted they would be paid up as nearly all our horses are. " The problem for Hug The Wind is that he faces a big test next Saturday (July 4) in the  G1 Nursery Stakes of $A100,000 so missing a race this week is bad news. "He will trial on Friday to give him a hitout for next week now" Natalie said. She put down his gallop when winning at Redcliffe as partly her fault. "He is a bit funny sometimes going past horses." "He gets up to them and gets a narrow lead and then he doesn't want to go on." "I gave him a bit of a prod and he didn't like that ! But he is thriving and that is why he needs another hitout before next week" Smolda also has his first big run in Queensland on July 4 in the  $A100,000 Sunshine Sprint but he is well race seasoned. Fight For Glory has the A$100,000 Queensland Oaks on July 11 as her next major target so missing a race is not a problem at this stage. She has come thru her Gold Coast Oaks win in fine order and not being in the Breeder's Crown is a matter of regret after that performance. Linda Lovegrace continues to thrive. Gentle Western has given Natalie a few worries though and he is more likely than not to miss the Country Cup series the heats of which are next Friday. "He was just a bit off leading into the Premier's Cup which is one reason I copped a fine for going to slow in front with him." "I wanted to be as easy on him as I could." "And he wasn't really right for the final either but was just too good for them." "He is coming right but I don't want to go into a series like that unless he is 100 per cent." "At this stage the best target for him looks the Four Year Old Championship (July 18) which he was always going to be looking at." That is on Queensland Derby night, a major aim for Hug The Wind.   SYDNEY The Sydney campaign continues on a positive note and the horses are doing so well there that Mark is expecting to extend the horse's stay before heading to Melbourne  for the Breeder's Crown. "It's  warmer here and the horses are thriving so it makes sense to keep things going like that" Mark said. "The draws for most of the horses on Sunday is good and everything is looking good at this stage" However luck this week in Melbourne is not quite as good. Follow The Stars has drawn one on the second line and Chris Alford who has been driving him can't do so. "I asked the club to split his drives but they refused saying they now only do that for trainers not drivers." "I am sure Anthony Butt is available and he will be a good substitute but it means Chris misses out  on an opportunity." "They have put most of the form horses in the same heat which doesn't help us from the draw" Mark is pleased with how Follow the Stars is handling the travelling to and from Melbourne. He will be home again after Friday's race. "He has usually been a good traveller but he had a long trip last week and seemed to recover well. He is thriving over here too" Dream About Me and High Gait have arrived for the Breeder's Crown series but Mark is in no hurry with them. "We haven't got them nominated for anything and it is early days yet. They will tell us when they are ready to go' David McCarthy - All Stars Racing Stables    Check site here

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