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John and Judy Stiven got a lot of satisfaction when Countess Of Arden won in their racing colours at Ascot Park today. The Net Ten EOM filly which was bred by the Tapanui couple had a tough introduction to racing last season, fronting up as a two year old to the unbeaten Princess Tiffany. At that point she was trained by Barry Purdon. After three starts in the north she was bought home to West Otago and sent to the spelling paddock. When she went back into work it was with Oamaru trainer Brad Williamson. In today’s race from the inside of the second row, she had to be eased round Last Hurrah who was slow to start in front of her. Once the field settled Countess of Arden was second last. As the speed dropped off with just over a round to run Williamson sent the filly forward and with a lap to run she was in front and held on to win by a neck from the trailing horse Gomeo Denario. It was noticeable that Countess Of Arden was switching off and on as she went down to the line so you’d expect once she fully learns the racing game she’ll improve. Countess of Arden is out of Young Tegan and her pedigree goes back to a host of good fillies including Eden’s Joy which won six races for Henry Skinner and Young Eden which won the 1987 New Zealand Oaks. “The depth of Southland in this family is unbelievable. We took a foal out of her before this one - a filly by Panspacificflight. She was a cracker but unfortunately she got a virus and died before it was weaned. I’d only borrowed the mare at that stage and I rang Russell (owner Russell Hollows) to tell him about the dead foal and he asked me if I wanted to buy the mare. We ended up doing that and it was the first year Net Ten EOM came out so we put her to him and this is the result,” said John Stiven. Young Tegan is now part of the extensive band of broodmares at Arden Lodge. “Last year we sold A Rocknroll Dance colt out of her which Colin MacPherson bought. This year she’s got a Sweet Lou colt and is in foal to Always B Miki.” The Stivens are now the biggest Southland vendors of yearlings at the National Sales and they have five colts and six fillies on their books for next February sales. John is particularly excited about an Art Major colt out of Venus Serena. “He’s sensational.” He says others that are looking good are an Art Major colt out of Tricky Woman and a Captaintreacherous colt out of Southwind Arden. Interesting times ahead, at the track and at the Sales.      Bruce Stewart

Trainer Phil Williamson knew today that if Davey Mac had his mind on the job at Ascot Park he’d be hard to beat. Williamson had openly stated that quality trotter Majestic Man whom he also trains would be the hardest to beat but the start would perhaps be an issue for him, and that’s the way the race panned out. “Once we got round the first bend and he started to trot solid I knew then that they’d have to come and get him. Wee Majestic Man missed the start so he’s probably gone massive,” he said. Once in front Williamson put the handlebars down and it was all about ‘catch me if you can.’   “He’s always had ability but he’s been decidedly disappointing in some of his races because he hasn’t gone as good as he can do at home or at the trials. But today he got cracking a bit. Actually I couldn’t pull him up so that’s a good sign.” The winning margin was five and a half lengths with Williamson sitting quietly on the gelding. Majestic Man came a gallant second. “I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him at the end of the race because if you go into a gallop right at the end you think ‘what did you do that for?” Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart  Last season was Davy Mac’s first, and he went with a big rap. But after winning his first start as a five year old his form dropped away. “He was a whole lot more on the pulse today. He wanted to race a lot more than he did when he won his first race here. You’d have to say he’s come a wee way but there’s plenty of room for him to come a lot further. He’s got the ability of a good horse but he’s probably going to be one of those horses that’s going to be a work in progress.” He’s owned by Williamson’s wife Bev who bred the Sundon six year old out of her Britewell mare Little Contessa - making him a full brother to Irish Whisper, the winner of eleven races and Heard The Whisper, which won seven. “He’s a nervy Sundon and he wants to go out and run his first half in a quick time.” Williamson says he’s going to have to manage the gelding’s programme carefully so he reaches his full potential. “I’m going to space his races because he puts a lot in (to racing) and he takes a lot out of himself.” Phil’s win on Davey Mac was one of five driving wins by the Williamson family on the day. Meanwhile former Invercargill Cup winner Vi Et Animo made a surprise visit to his favourite track today as the mount for Clerk of the Course Sally McKay. He was on the fresh side and certainly put McKay’s arms to the test.   Bruce Stewart

Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders keeps a regular eye on racing at Addington. He’s notices horses that race at the premier circuit which run good times, but don’t finish in the top four or five. He’s made a habit for some time of buying some of them and then tries them in easier Southland graded races. Stoppitt is one such horse.   “He ran seventh to Gran Chico last start and they reckon he’s a Derby horse,” he said. By Gotta Co Cullect, Stoppitt had previously been trained by Grant Anderson and Saunders has had him for just over three weeks. “He was pretty tired after a couple of Addington runs so we haven’t done much with him. I thought he was going to be short of a run today. Matty (Williamson) said he did come to the end of it but he’d done enough.” From barrier three Williamson, who had driven the horse at his previous two starts, took him straight to the front. Matty Williamson reining up Stoppitt to win at Ascot Park today - Photo Bruce Stewart  “He’s not got a lot of speed so he just had to go out there and do it. That’s why I wasn’t sure whether he was ready or not.” Saunders has certainly found a bit of a niche in spotting these horses and bringing them south. “Now the way the maiden races are, you’re getting six or seven grand for a maiden win so if you can get them for half that or under you can turn them over pretty quick and do alright.” He shares in the ownership with John Cutler of Cutler’s Real Estate in Dunedin. “I saw him at a golf tournament and he said to me if I had anything to flick him an email. I did and he jumped in. He’s in India at the moment on a big trip so he’ll be chuffed.”   Bruce Stewart

The Invercargill Harness Racing Club's September meeting has a nine race card starting at 12.10pm today. Bruce Stewart and Southland Harness Racing have put together several pages of great information from trainers and tipsters to sort out all the winners.   Click on these links to view!   The Inside Oil   What The Trainers Say   Drive with five   Southern Harness Tip Sheet   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing        

Harness Racing New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Edward Rennell, has announced he is moving on after more than two decades in the role. Mr Rennell’s final day is 19 December 2018 and he will be active in the role until then. “It has been a privilege to lead Harness Racing New Zealand for the last 21 years,” Mr Rennell said. “It has been more than just a job. I have a real passion for the industry and a strong desire to see it thrive. “I want to thank the hard working staff of Harness Racing New Zealand and everyone in the harness community for their support over the years. “I will continue to work hard over the next few months to help guide the industry through what is a difficult time and leave the organisation in a strong position for my replacement,” Mr Rennell said. Harness Racing New Zealand Chairman, Ken Spicer, thanked Mr Rennell for his service. “Edward has been a passionate servant of the industry and we are very sad to see him go,” Mr Spicer said. “He has led the organisation extremely well and he will be tough to replace. “The Board wishes him well and is very pleased he will remain in the role until the end of the year,” Mr Spicer said. The Board will, in due course, begin a process of recruiting a new Chief Executive.    Harness Racing New Zealand

After his talented horse Tiger Thompson has been sold overseas from his stable, harness racing trainer Brad Mowbray will be looking for a replacement pacer to go through to the top grades.  Kingmaker might be that horse and he is a leading chance in the third leg of pick six at the New Zealand Metropoliton meeting tonight at Addington. The son of Mach Three has won his first two races in succession with the last win in 1-58.7 mile rate with a quick last half in better than 57 seconds.  Driver Matthew Williamson will have plenty of options on Kingmaker from gate two and he looks a good chance to make it a hat trick of wins tonight. Kingmaker is currently a $2.70 Fixed Odds win favourite with the New Zealand TAB. Tonight the pick six is on Races 4-9 inclusive guaranteed to $25,000 if struck.   Leg 1     Race 4 [7:10pm] A big finisher from last week Bettor Getta Lover has drawn badly again in tonights race but has the class to overcome the draw. Chatty Man from the in form Paul Court stable has run two good seconds at his previous two starts and is also a great winning chance. Pocket Call was well supported last start and was a good winner at recent trials and is another worth including in the first leg. A R Rose has also been ok at recent workouts.   Leg 2     Race 5 [7:40pm] There look to be several winning chances in the second leg of pick six.  Rogie Falls is the top chance and TAB favourite who draws the ace in the mobile 1950m race. He is needed along with Kapai who had good support at his first race day start. The mobile will suit Kapai and also Midnight Memories who was good running home late last start. Zeddie Marit is a bit of an unknown but the TAB bookies have kept him safe and he did win his qualifying trial and is also needed.   Leg 3     Race 6 [8:10pm] Kingmaker has won his first two races and does look to have a bit of a motor but this is a decent step up so no good thing. De Lancome should get a good run from the ace draw and could swoop late if the pace is on. Spare a thought for Nurburgring who was unlucky last start and draws ok in barrier three. Franco Texas has the gate speed and could lead but has not been finishing off his races like he can but is needed. Sails also ran home well last start and if she got a cart into the race before the turn could upset them.   Leg 4     Race 7 [8:39pm] A tricky leg of pick six here with a stand start affair over the 2000m stand. Prestonpans gets his chance from the ace if he can begin quickly and keep handy.  You really need as many horses as the budget allows in this leg but we favour Huey lewis, Hit The Sky, Flamboyant and Hercules Morse as the best of the rest in this race.   Leg 5     Race 8 [9:09pm] An even field of rated 40 to 50 trotters from the mobile. Tehoro Tease is probably the pick of them and she could lead again with Robbie Holmes in the sulky. Amabede needs to be driven with a sit but is dangerous with one run at them and Lady Beatrix Bourbon will appreciate the mobile and has drawn ok in Barrier three.   Leg 6     Race 9 [9:34pm]  The final leg is an even go and there are many chances. One Direction has been racing well and has drawn to race handy and he looks the pick of them. Others needed are Motoring Major who is racing ok and Just Dance who has been disappointing but can lob up when in the right mood.   Suggested Pick Six   ($30.00 for 10%) Leg 1     3,11,12 Leg 2     1,12 Leg 3     1,2,3,4,10 Leg 4     1,4,7,10,13 Leg 5     3,5 Leg 6     3,8   Harnesslink Media

White Out is a Northern Harness racing focused podcast hosted by Aaron White. The podcast features northern race reviews and previews and the inside word from industry participants. Plus tips from special guest selectors.

Top harness racing trainer Mark Purdon is pleased with the way the New Zealand Cup favourite Ultimate Machete is progressing after a win at yesterdays Mid - Canterbury trials. After he galloped away badly at his first trial appearance at Rangiora last week Ulimate Machete was much more behaved yesterday and he stepped well and led for the last 800m to win narrowly but under a hold from stablemate Spankem. Purdon was happy with the trial and said on the All Stars Website, "He did everything right. "He stepped well and I just moved up in the middle stages and went to the line with Spankem who is also going well. "I think they all finished in the first two or three and I was pleased with all the results.   The time for the 2400m trial was an unhurried 3-08.7 with a steady last 800m in 58.7 and closing 400m in 28.1. Ultimate Machete (Bettor's Delight - Reality Check) is set to resume in the $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic on October 5th with the winner of that race guaranteed a start in the New Zealand Cup on Tuesday 13th November. Another All Stars New Zealand Cup nominee Dream About Me will contest the time honoured (Gr3) Hannon Memorial at Oamaru this weekend. The Bettor's Delight mare is the highest rated horse in the race and will start a short priced favourite after two good minor placings at Addington in her previous two starts.   Harnesslink media

Lemond has the perfect blueprint of how to win his comeback race this Friday night even off a 50m handicap. But trainer Ross Paynter says he is not sure his stable star is fit enough to follow that plan. Just last Friday Speeding Spur, a trotter Lemond beat two starts ago in the Anzac Cup, was able to return with a win off 50m against almost exactly the same field Lemond meets this week. Speeding Spur’s connection went into the race far from confident and while a relatively sedate speed and the fact leader Mr Good And Evil galloped late helped, it was still one hell of a win.  So that suggests Lemond could so something similar at Alexandra Park this Friday but Paynter says that plan has one small flaw. “I think Speeding Spur may have been more forward than we are,” he explains.  “Speeding Spur had two trials going into his race whereas we have only had one.  “I was actually going to trial him again this weekend but with the way the race has panned out it is a good comeback one because Speeding Spur and Temporale aren’t there.  “So it will be hard off 50m but not impossible. I suppose if they go 3:30 off the front it might be too tough but if they go 3:33 then he will be right in play.” Lemond hasn’t raced since finishing fourth in the Rowe Cup in April but finished right alongside Temporale at the Pukekohe workouts last Saturday, both horses looking strong.  They are set to meet in a sprint race on Friday week that will also host Speeding Spur as all three northeners start to edge toward Cup week.  “That (Cup week) is the aim for us, it has to be because $300,000 races like the Dominion don’t come along that often.  “And I think if the trotters from up here and horses like Great Things Happen and Monbet turn up it could be the race of the week.”  Paynter and owner Charlie Hunter will also look at the Inter Dominions in Victoria starting December 1 with Lemond.  “If he comes through Cup week well then we have to seriously think about going because he is a good mobile horse with gate speed. “At the moment he is sound and happy so if he stays that way all those races will remain possibilities. Michael Guerin

After last weekend’s racing there were a few notable changes in the NZ Cup rankings.  Letspendanitetogetha with his auto qualification for winning the Avon City Ford (New Brighton) Cup now sits at number two. Forgotten Highway’s brave third equal sees him elevate from 22nd to 17th.  Star Galleria, A G’s White Socks & No Doctor Needed all improved their rankings as well. Last season’s NZ Derby winner, Sheriff, now sits on the cut-off for getting a start. In the Dominion rankings we saw Marcoola confirm his spot in the Dominion with the Ordeal Cup win. Harrysul moved up eight spots to 20th by virtue of his close second in the Ordeal. Other movers include Dominion rankings included Le Lievre’s Gift, Muscles Galore who’s strong run yielded good gains. Sundon’s Flyer crept up a spot also. Click here for the full list of rankings!   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Please note there has been a slight change of venue for the Addington and Karaka seminars, with these now being held in the Blossom Lady Lounge and Garden Bar respectively at each venue. Whilst an RSVP is advised, we encourage walk ups at all events and all racing industry members are most welcome to attend. Harness Racing New Zealand is thrilled to announce that Canadian harness racing trainer and driver, Anthony MacDonald, will visit this week with free seminars to be held in Invercargill, Christchurch and Auckland starting with Invercargill this Friday night. Best known as the founder of the fractional ownership operation ‘The Stable’, MacDonald has been a driving force in increasing ownership in Canada and introducing new blood into harness racing. MacDonald ran for local government in Guelph in 2014, campaigning to help save harness racing following the loss of slot machine funding and raising awareness about the sport and what it provides in terms of local employment and economy. During his time campaigning he knocked on hundreds of doors, and realised that there was a huge untapped market of potential owners. He talked to people who had heard of horse racing, but had the perception that it was only for rich people. They had no idea that they could be involved; let alone how to become a part of it. With this in mind, MacDonald started ‘The Stable’ in September 2015, with the aim to make horse ownership easy for a whole new market, but also to break down the walls of communication and demystify harness racing to the outside world. He would take on horses that hadn’t sold at yearling sales for vendors, but also has been purchasing yearlings from sales too, and would market the horses to potential new owners as they were being broken in and worked.  This allowed people to see the horse in action and follow its progress by way of video and live drone updates, before committing to purchasing a share. MacDonald has ensured that the shares remain affordable, with shares as small as one percent available. With initial buy in costs varying, depending on the purchase price of the yearling, and then a set fee per month ensures the owners know what it will cost them. The Stable markets itself strongly on the fact that this is not a money making venture – but an affordable form of entertainment. Each yearling is then listed on  with its own profile, cost breakdown, monthly progress video reports and stunning live drone footage of the horse working in a set with other young horses. There is a strong focus on utilising social media as a communication tool also so you can watch the horse work from anywhere in the world. In fact, The Stable has owners all across the world now, including New Zealand.  The results in just three years have been outstanding.  In the first year The Stable had 65 owners join into 25 horses. The following year 140 owners went into 62 horses. And in 2017, 392 owners went into 106 horses. But what is most impressive is the retention rate. 97 percent of those owners have now gone on to join into other horses, from year one to two to three with The Stable. The Stable has been a huge success story in not only selling shares, but selling the industry of harness racing and the thrill it provides just by being an owner. Reaching a whole new market of owners who previously felt ownership was far out of their league financially. A passionate public speaker, MacDonald will bring his experience and findings to New Zealand and will hold free seminars in Invercargill, Christchurch and Auckland. These seminars will not only be open to trainers and syndicators who are interested in finding out more about how they can attract new owners, and find out more about communication options that are available to them, but to all who are interested in attending. “I’m really excited to be coming to New Zealand. It has always been a place I wanted to visit. I might have a foreign accent, but my love for racing is the same as yours,” MacDonald joked.  “The future of our industry will rely heavily on its ability to provide the general public with a fresh option for their entertainment dollars. We are the only industry that offers participation at an affordable price and that alone has the power to tip the entertainment scales in our direction in the future,” MacDonald said. “The Stable’s pillars are: Communication; Customer Service; Professionalism and Hard Work. These are things that are very attainable and sustainable in any industry, especially ours.” This will also be a wonderful opportunity for cadets and junior drivers to learn more about self-promotion and communication, first hand from a harness racing trainer and driver who has forged a new path in the international industry.   Below are the dates for the Anthony MacDonald seminars proudly presented by Harness Racing New Zealand, which will be free to anyone who wishes to attend. Please note numbers are limited at some venues: Friday 21 September 2018 7pm Mararoa Room - Ascot Park Hotel, Southland Tuesday 25 September 2018 7pm Blossom Lady Lounge - Addington Raceway, Christchurch Wednesday 26 September 2018 7pm Garden Bar – Karaka, Auckland Each seminar will run for approximately one hour, with the opportunity to have a question and answer session, followed by mix and mingle with finger food and nibbles. MacDonald will also use his time in New Zealand to visit race meetings, stables and farms and speak one on one with anyone who may be interested to meet with him and learn more about how he runs The Stable. He will also speak on the first day of the Harness Racing New Zealand annual conference (Friday 28 September), this year to be held in Auckland. To register for the seminars, or if you would more information, please contact Jess at Harness Racing New Zealand.   Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Phone 03 964 1200 or email

Pint-sized pacer One Off continues to defy the believers. The former New Zealand pacer was bought for a ‘song’ after failing to win a race his native country but has turned his fortunes right around since arriving in Queensland. Leading owner Greg Mitchell took a punt on the McArdle – Jay Bee’s Gem gelding and placed him with his trainer, leading horseman Grant Dixon. Mitchell enjoyed good success with another of McArdle progeny several seasons ago, Only The Brave (28 wins - $268k) Since being based in the Sunshine State, One Off has never tasted defeat after winning a trial and then three racetrack triumphs. One Off scored a stylish victory in his Queensland debut when successful at Redcliffe on September 6 before conquering the Marburg to Albion Park heat/final series. Starting as a clear favourite despite an awkward second-line draw, One Off ($2.10) sat at the rear of the field before unleashing a powerful sprint with 500m left to run. In the end, he scored by a widening margin of 13.9m while rating 1:58.8 for the 2138m event. “He’s been a real surprise package for the stable, even after his trial victory I didn’t have any lofty ambitions for him but he’s continued to improve and strengthen each time we’ve taken him to the races. Obviously the pace was on but he let down nicely when I called on him going down the back straight, he’s headed in the right direction and will win more races.” Dixon said. But future plans remain unclear and Dixon is now scanning the calendar and weighing up his options. However, nothing is set in concrete at this stage. “Hopefully, we can find and target a few more of these heat/final series and keep him progressing through his grades at a nice rate. Like I said, he’s got some nice upside to him. “I like his versatility, in his three starts he’s proven he can race and adapt quickly so that’s a good thing going forward. “We’ll reassess the race and keep looking at what comes up but there aren’t really any solid plans.” Meanwhile, the Dixon/Mitchell combination struck in the Remembering Speed Ace Open Pace when Alleluia made it four straight victories. Backing-up from Monday, the Art Major gelding landed perfect one out/one back cover and proved too good in the straight holding out Bodhi Tree and Ohoka Punter in a time of 1:54.0. The perennial performer has claimed the current title as the best open class performer in the state given his recent form surge. “He’s a great old performer and his win streak is very satisfying, we’ve changed his work routine around and it’s obviously working while the track is a little softer at present and that’s playing a role. “We’ll just keep ticking him along but we’re likely to nominate for the Inter Dominion series given his current form.” The 2018 Inter Dominion series starts on December 1 and will be staged in Victoria this year. Chris Barsby

New Zealand harness racing leaders fall asleep at the switch!  There have been times, not many, in the 50 years or so that I’ve been associated with harness racing that I’ve had to admit to being ashamed of the sport I love, and the actions of figures central to it. This is one of those few times - but the shame is not because of the Operation Inca allegations! Rather it is because of the sterile and cowardly way our industry leaders are invisibly handling the controversy. Our leaders represent all harness racing participants; those now accused no less than the rest of us! Until complete facts come out, defences are heard, and decisions rendered, it is their job and moral responsibility to address the situation with delicacy but with reason, fairness, an open mind, and decency. While they must await judgement until all the facts are in, they should not stay silent and through their inaction facilitate both the general misrepresentation of the scandal’s scope and relevancy being blithely projected by police investigators and journalists, and allow individual reputations to be ruined by mere assertions. Arguably, a temporary stand down of the accused pending more information may be wise, but it should be clearly explained as a necessary self-protective gesture for an industry reliant on its image of integrity. It should be clearly said to be completely unrelated to any belief in individual innocence or guilt.  There has been no leadership voice protecting either the accused or the industry, itself, by slowing down public preconceptions, by reminding everyone of the foundation policy of innocence until guilt is proven, of clarifying the fact that police assertions to date do NOT present a picture of a scandal ridden, conspiratorial industry rife with corruption. The day of the hearing (11th of September) was interesting in that the Judge Raoul Neave was highly critical of the police for briefing the media before the hearing and he was also disapproving of the media for publishing the names of several individuals before the hearing took place. The counsel for some of the accused persons attacked the media for naming people early saying their clients have been effectively denied a right to fair trial. The next few sessions in court will possibly start to unlock the vault to see if we are really dealing with concrete evidence in some of these match fixing cases or just hearsay as has been rumoured by some. "Perhaps I am wrong perhaps I am right but I will be particularly interested to hear the evidence put forward by the police in this matter because after 18 months of investigations the more I keep hearing the more I keep thinking the police may have a lot of conspiracy theories to go on and not much else." The charges to date seem merely to throw a spotlight on what appears to be a sad proliferation of party drugs amongst some industry participants, including drivers who should be more aware of the increased potential for harm it creates in their workplace, and suggest that in a few minor races there might have been race fixing. While horrible, and deflating to affected punters, occasional race-fixing has always been assumed in thoroughbred, Greyhounds and harness racing and more recently many other first-past-the-post sports. Coordinated, endemic, large scale race fixing would, indeed, be a scandal that could bring down racing - but charges to date don’t come close to suggesting that exists! As Mark Purdon suggested in his article on his All-Stars site there is no reason to believe in an industry wide conspiracy to fix or drug race horses. Our industry leaders have done nothing to keep this asserted, self-pronounced “scandal” in perspective, a job they should be performing on a daily basis in protection of our industry! No one is asking publically what most of us are questioning privately - namely, why has this scandal been asserted by authorities now? Why a week or so after the “Messara” report, why after 15 to 18 months of investigation? This smells more like a conspiracy to harm harness racing by The Racing Minister and The Government! After attending the “Messara” report release in Hamilton (Attended by over 1,000 people from the three Codes) and watching first-hand how our harness racing bosses sat quiet throughout the public meeting in Hamilton, without a whimper, and their lack of public response to it, you have to wonder how the Harness Racing Industry is to survive much longer! It seems to me that harness racing administrators and leaders have no idea what to do next! One thing I do know is that they certainly know how to protect their jobs! As a previous Racing Minister (Mr John Carter) once told me, the only way Harness Racing in New Zealand has a chance to survive is through its own actions period. The Industry needs to replace the out-dated Club structure of running the Industry, as this has a proven record of taking the entire Industry down the slippery slope towards extinction. Now, what exactly triggered the start of this Operation Inca investigation? According to Newshub “The investigation was sparked by the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU), which tipped off police with information of the alleged illegal activity“. Well, let us look at this “Integrity Unit”. It was formed on the 1st of February 2011. How was it formed? What was it formed for? Who formed it? Who employed the people running it?  Who checks them? Does it have its own internal Integrity for self investigation? Does any outside entity has supervisory authority with respecting RIU integrity? Who investigates the Investigators? Who runs the Integrity Unit? What is their background? Let us check each and every member’s credentials. Let us look at their background. Some of their decisions over the last few years have been very questionable. Let us see if there are any indiscretions with each and every one that works there. Does the management have any untoward vendettas against any of the Codes? Does the management have any personal vendettas against any individual? Is management competent enough to make its own decisions? After all it is ‘The Racing Integrity Unit” isn’t it? And regardless of how wonderful any of these members may be, including the head, shouldn’t they be required to stand down and be replaced on a staggered base to ensure both continuity and real maintenance as investigative integrity? There should be an absolute term limit of no more than six years for all employees and maybe four years for the head. What did racing’s investigative arm see 15 to 18 months ago that started all this? Would claims of race-fixing at Nelson or Manawatu justify a 15 to 18 month effort? In my opinion probably not! Presumably whatever it was did not end up being actionable at that time because all asserted race-fixing charges seem to point to specific incidents that are quite recent! Shouldn’t the Racing Integrity Unit now disclose what worried it 15 to 18 months ago to the point of getting a police investigation started? After all, they are answerable to the three Codes! Shouldn’t we be the slightest bit concerned that human, political, business pressures are pushing the police to find corruption, and to overpublicize and overstate the importance of their discoveries, to retrospectively justify and support their expenses, time, manpower and effort expended over 15 to 18 months of industry investigation? A massive race fixing and drugging problem linked to harness racing sells papers and justifies expenses. Arresting a few prominent individuals for drug possession, personal drug use, or selling of drugs for personal use would not! Why have the police conveniently presented charges in such a way that misinterpretation is so easy? Many just read headlines and probably assume that the charges relate to drug use on horses connected to race fixing. It is just incredible that industry leaders have not jumped to clarify this point!  Are the bosses at Harness Racing New Zealand complicit with the Racing Integrity Unit? When speaking to Harness Racing Chairman Ken Spicer today, he says "HRNZ were completely blindsided by last week’s police operation. “We had no knowledge that an investigation was going on”. HRNZ has sought more information and a briefing, but at this stage had no communication from the Police and very limited communication from the RIU. “The Industry’s image has been severely damaged by this, but we just have to follow due process and see where all this goes”. HRNZ made enquiries to the RIU when there was a suggestion from media back in February 2017 that an investigation had started, but consistent with RIU policy they would not comment on operational matters. HRNZ is the responsible for setting the rules of Harness Racing, with the RIU charged with enforcing those rules." In my opinion HRNZ needs to be vocal in protecting the due process of the defendants and the good name of harness racing. HRNZ needs to respect the principles of due process, but those principles do not require that HRNZ be silient or unable to speak on the issue to safe guard individual rights and the Industry's image. From its inception the general manager of the Racing Integrity Unit has been Mike Godber, who is an ex chief executive of harness racing Addington Raceway, ex chief executive of Harness Racing Queensland and was CEO of South Australian Harness Racing before taking the current job. How did he get this job? This should be investigated. What was his reason for leaving those previous harness racing jobs? In my view this man has a lot to answer for! What is wrong with our Harness Racing Leaders? Again, how was this Racing Integrity Unit formed? I can understand having a “Racing Integrity Unit” for Harness Racing but a combined one with the Greyhounds and Thoroughbreds is ridiculous. They are three separate Industries with NO relationship except Gambling. Can you imagine now that Sports Betting is a component of the TAB’s Gambling in New Zealand that for Integrity issues in the Sport we should now combine “Netball with Cricket and Soccer” in one Integrity Unit or “The All Blacks with Cycling and Rugby League” in another Integrity Unit, That is how ridiculous this has become. The “New Zealand Racing Board” has a lot to answer for too, but I will leave that for my next report. I write this editorial not to defend the accused in Operation Inca, but to defend our industry from scurrilous attack when others who should do so, are not! We must defend it with vigilance and fairness. And we must defend the accused from prejudice and premature characterizations until we force clear presentations of evidence! We still have every reason to love our sport but we and industry leaders must prove it every day by fighting for our sport with vigour, integrity and courage. John Curtin Harnesslink Media

If Jimmy Takter was disappointed by Lazarus's shock defeat in Canada yesterday he was hiding it well. The champion former Kiwi pacer had to settle for second in a C$34,000 ($40,000) free-for-all at Woodbine in Toronto, closing from fourth to second at the top of the straight but easily beaten by Nirvana Seelster. Nirvana Seelster could manage only eighth in the Canadian Pacing Derby that Lazarus finished second in two weeks so after winning fresh up in North America three starts ago, Lazarus could appear to be tracking in the wrong direction. But Takter, the Hall of Fame trainer entrusted with the millionaire stallion, says he was happy enough with the performance in the 1:48.2 mile. "Obviously we would have liked to win but it is not that easy against these horses over a fast mile," said Takter. "We found out he had a virus after the Canadian Derby so he missed some work coming into this race which is why we decided to drive him further back rather than sending him down the road [leading]. "So for him to come from fourth to run second and pace his last half mile in 53.2 seconds was good. "And he will improve with that. All the mile races he can have will help." Lazarus will now head to the US$175,000 ($267,000) Hoosier Park Derby in Indiana on Friday (Saturday afternoon NZ time), the track where he won the Dan Patch in his first US start last month. The irony for Lazarus is had he started out with a performance like yesterday's in his first North American start, progressed to a second in the Canadian Derby and won the Dan Patch he would now be rated the best pacer in North America. But the expectations created by his magic mile fresh up in the Dan Patch last month mean that anything but a Lazarus win will be judged a failure by most racing fans. The six-year-old gets the chance to win them back over before the week is out. Safely through the Hoosier Park race Lazarus is still a chance to head to the super fast Red Mile in Kentucky in three weeks to chase a career best time.   Michael Guerin

CHESTER, PA - Two natives of New Zealand, born just 300 miles apart but who have spent most of the last decade 6000 miles apart, combined for a visit to the winner's circle in the Harrah's Philadelphia winners circle Friday, as the Roll With Joe sophomore filly Believe In Me, trained by Brett Pelling and driven by Dexter Dunn, won the $16,000 feature distaff pace in a career best 1:51.2. Dunn spotted third early with Believe In Me, but past the 27.1 quarter he was out and rolling with his filly, making the lead well before the 55 half. Race favorite Special Kay Deo, who defeated Believe In Me two weeks ago, came first-over down the back, but her bid stalled before the 1:22.4 3/4s, and Dunn kept the winner rolling through the lane to win by 2¾ lengths. She is owned by the Bay Pond Racing Stable of Paoli PA, only 20 miles away from Harrah's. Driver Dunn and trainer Pelling have a more interesting - and spread-out -- geographical "relationship." Both were born on the south island of New Zealand - Dunn is from Christchurch, centrally-located on the east coast of the island, while Pelling was born in Mataura at the southern tip, but only 320 miles apart. When Pelling was enjoying his success in North America and was based in New Jersey, they were separated by 8936 miles; when just over a dozen years ago Pelling "retired" to Australia, the country "next door" to New Zealand, they were still separated by over 3000 miles, as Pelling lived in Perth, on the West Coast of Aussieland. But on Friday the pair of native Kiwis were back together winning the feature in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. In the $14,500 co-feature for pacing distaffs, Diamondtoothgertie posted her third win in four starts since going to the care of trainer Richard Johnson, taking a new mark of 1:51.3. Tony Morgan, who went over $130 million in career earnings earlier on the card and who is now about 650 races behind Heinz Wewering for second place on the all-time world list for driving victories with 16,863 (Dave Palone has 18,471), guided the victorious daughter of Sportswriter for D'Elegance Stable IX, Joseph Gandolfo, NR Holdings LLC, and Anthony Fiscetti. At press time (after the 11th race), driver George Napolitano Jr. had five winners, for five different trainers. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia      

With the harness racing industry taking stock of the recent allegations and charges of several horseplayers involved in the ongoing Operation Inca inquiry, the Harnesslink Bets Of The Week is going to be taking a break for a short while. Several contributors have hinted they are uncomfortable giving out any information which might jeopardize their livelihood if taken the wrong way by the authorities. Imagine a trainer has two horses in a race and states in the public eye one is a better chance than the other. If the less fancied horse somehow happens to win, has the trainer deceived the betting public by innocently giving his honest opinion of his horses chances? Several scenarios which seem innocent on first glance have different connotations in light of recent findings, and we think it is unfair to put drivers and trainers under any undue pressure to publicly give out information or tips until further legal issues are addressed and the cases at hand have come to their conclusion.   Harnesslink Media    

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