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With the harness racing sales getting closer we will continue to review offerings from several of the major vendors. Today we are having a look at Heart Of Art who is Lot 41 at the Australasian Classic yearling sale on February 16th. A daughter of Art Major, Heart Of Art has a "Blue Blood" pedigree and ticks a lot of the boxes that buyers look for. Her sire Art Major is having a great run at the moment in New Zealand and this filly has the maternal family to suggest that she is a real chance of making it on the track The dam of Heart Of Art is the In The Pocket mare Classic Nymph and Heart Of Art is her fourth foal. Her first foal In The Kitty has won $35,057 to date while her third foal is the very smart My Kiwi Mate 1:56.8 ($34,287) who has pushed Hughie Green and Hug The Wind all season and looms as a real Derby chance in the autumn. The grand dam of Heart Of Art is the former champion age group filly Classical 1:57.7 ($294,416) while another champion age group filly in Delightful Christian 1:52.1 ($297,501) is close up in the pedigree. Being bred on the Art Major/ In The Pocket cross which has already produced such standouts as Isaiah 1:54.6 ($548,820) and Sky Major 1:52.1 ($456,412 ) only adds to the appeal of Heart Of Art. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing in New Zealand continues to have problems with its judicial system and the just released decision regarding Mark Jones and the Remiss blood TCO2 levels case is further proof in our opinion that the system is failing the people who are the principal stakeholders in this industry. Anyone who has read the long winded report of the hearing in this case will understand the frustration that Mark Jones must feel in that he has been found guilty of being a cheat in the court of public opinion where in reality Mark has done nothing wrong. The rules of harness racing in New Zealand are crystal clear - if you present a horse to race in New Zealand whose blood TCO2 level exceeds the levels prescribed in the rules then you are guilty and have no defense. There was no inference from the hearing that Mark Jones had done anything dishonest or corrupt in this case. In fact there was a wealth of evidence presented which suggested exactly the opposite, that Mark was the victim of a horse in Remiss that had a naturally high blood TCO2 level which landed him in this predicament. All the evidence points to Mark and his employees having had no part in Remiss returning an elevated level and yet Mark has suffered a large financial hit as a result. Fines and costs totaled $6925 and you can add to that Mark's own legal costs and the loss of some owners he has suffered due to the negative perceptions cases like this generate. And all because of something over which Mark had no control. Disqualify the horse by all means but to impose all the additional costs and for Mark to lose owners over cases like this is manifestly disproportional to Mark's actions in this matter. Where is the discretionary powers of the JCA in this matter? Mark Jones did nothing wrong in this instance yet has suffered a major financial setback. Do the JCA and the RIU have any discretion. Well they certainly exercised discretion earlier in the week when they allowed Te Kawau to start in the Pelorus Classic. Stood down after he bled at the pre Xmas meeting at Cambridge, Te Kawau was not eligible to start on Friday as the race fell within his stand down period. However the RIU and JCA were consulted and used their discretion under the rules to allow Te Kawau to be nominated and accepted for the Group 2 race. When we contacted HRNZ for comment early last week we were told that everything was done within the rules and that they were happy with the process. Te Kawau had the necessary vet clearance to start and preformed admirably in Friday's race. Post race two things happened which we do find disturbing.  Firstly, taking all the circumstances into account, we would have thought the RIU would have ordered a vet inspection including a scope of Te Kawau so the RIU could reassure themselves that he was well and truly over his bleeding issues. Secondly a swab of Te Kawau was surely in order as the RIU did swab the first two home and neither of those horses had any issues leading into this race.  Not the RIU's finest hour in our view. Another case that has come to light this week is that of driver Mitchell Kerr who has admitted betting on his own drive at the Westport meeting after Xmas. Under the HRNZ rules, this is viewed as a serious racing offence. The maximum fine for this offence is $30,000 which is a reflection of how serious a breach of the rules this is. To his credit Mr Kerr admitted the offence and pleaded ignorance of the rule as his reason for placing the bet. So after considering a range of matters, the JCA fined Mr Kerr $650. For an offence that carries a maximum penalty of $30,000 and is deemed a serious breach of the rules, we don't think the bus ticket was even wet. Compare it to the situation of Mark Jones and large financial hit he has suffered for a situation over which he had no control as opposed to the fine handed out to Mr Kerr for a serious breach of the rules and one starts to have serious doubts about the fairness of the whole system. The JCA and the RIU need the industry stake holders to have complete confidence in their abilities and that they will apply the rules we operate under fairly and without favour. From the feedback we regularly receive from industry stakeholders, they are falling well short of that standard at present. JC - Harnesslink Media

Nathan Williamson has been on fire since the Gore meeting just after Xmas and Saturday at  Invercargill was another stellar day for the young harness racing trainer. Nathan added another four training wins to the resume which took him up to eleven wins since Xmas while he has also driven sixteen winners in the same period. Nathan also reached another milestone yesterday when Splash Cola won the first race with that win notching up his 500th success in the sulky. Given out by Nathan as his best drive for the meeting in the Harnesslink weekly ringaround, Spash Cola won like a horse with a big future. Nathan though wasn't entirely happy with the mare's performance. "She has still got a fair bit to learn" "She didn't trot that well early but got better the further she went" " With a bit more experience I think she can go a long way," Nathan said. The second of Nathan's quartet for the day was the smart American Ideal three year old Tas Man Bromac who took 3.4 seconds off the old track for 2700 metres from a stand by a three year old when he streaked away for an easy win by 3 1/2 lengths in 3:22, a mile rate of 2:00.4. The mark was also 1.6 seconds inside the old New Zealand record for the distance set in 1999 by Seafield Raider Registering his fifth win from just nine starts, the colt is obviously well above average and Nathan was confident going into the race. "The trip away to Addington last week did him the world of good" "He was working great before the trip north but has worked better again since his return." "He is just such a lovely horse to do anything with" "Our longterm aim with him is the Southern Supremacy but he will still need to keep improving to match it with the likes of Pulp Fiction," Nathan said.  The third of Nathan's winners was the three year old Changeover gelding Cool Changes who improved from a first up fourth to take out the maiden 2200 metres mobile in a style that suggested that there are a few more in store. Nathan has a bit of time for the inexperienced gelding. " He is one of those horses that you have to keep after a bit." "He is a real lazy laid back kind of character but he keeps going." " He doesn't have real high speed but can still run time due to his strength, Nathan said. The fourth and last of Nathan's winners was the very smart Armbro Invasion mare Poppymalda who came from a long way off them at the 600 metres mark to grab Queen Kenny close to home and notch up win number three at just her seventh start. Nathan was thrilled with her performance. " She just keeps getting better and better."  " She was timed to trot her last 800 metres in 56.4 and that was after being out three wide so it was a great run. "Our longterm aim is the Harness Jewels at Ashburton and with that in mind we thought we might take her up to Addington this week for the experience," Nathan said. Nathan is having a stellar season to date training wise with twenty five wins in the bank and he is well on the way to beating his season's best of thirty five wins set in 2013. Nathan knew at the start of the season that he had a good team around him. " I kind of  figured we might be in for a big season but we did lose a couple of our most promising horses early on to injury  but other horses in the stable have preformed better than we thought so we haven't felt the loss of those horses as much as I thought we would. " Nathan said. Nathan, who has been driving for just ten years has quickly matured into a leading driver on the New Zealand harness racing scene, having already won five Southland driving premierships. Nathan continues to go from strength to strength and it looks a given that his stature in the industry will continue to rise in the coming years. Harnesslink Media   

It took driver Josh Dickie just a few seconds to find out how good Gamma Lady was at Alexandra Park last Friday. And the talented horseman liked what he felt. The first northern fillies juvenile pace of the season was a two horse war on the tote and so it proved to be on the track, with southerner Nek Time the leader and Gamma Lady the midfield stalker. Often in a juvenile race at Alexandra Park leading is enough to get you home and that looked to be the case at the top of the 400m mark, with Nek Tike going well and Gamma Lady forced four wide. But when the daughter of Mach Three straightened she put her head down like a little pro and demonstrated high leg speed to catch the leader in the shadows of the post. It was impressive stuff from the Brian Hughes-trained filly, rating 1:58.6 for the 1700m and she must have clocked not much over 27 seconds for her last 400m. Dickie got the drive through his association with Rosslands Stud, who bred and own Gamma Lady and he was beaming. “That was a big win and she is a lovely filly,” said Dickie. “They don’t often show you speed like that so she has a big future. “And it is exciting because she has the final of this series not too far away,” he said in reference to the Delightful Lady Classic, the culmination of the Young Guns fillies series. Gamma Lady is bred to be good, being out of Maheer Lady, who won six herself and was a daughter of Fern Glen. Michael Guerin - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand  

Write-off Beautide at your own peril.  That’s the warning from trainer-driver James Rattray after a sparkling trial win at Ballarat yesterday (Saturday).  Despite going into one of the all-time strongest Victoria Cup fields first-up for nine weeks, Rattray thinks Beautide is a major winning chance.  “It’s not just how well he went in the trial, but how well he came through it. He’s fit, he’s very, very fit,” he said.  “He’s one of the horses you can really have screwed down with trackwork and trials rather than definitely needing racing.  “In an ideal world I’d have had a lead-up run, but that wasn’t an option so I’ve really poured the work into him and I’m really happy with where’s at.  “I’m not going there thinking he needs the run. I’m going there thinking he’s a big winning chance if we get the right sort of run.”  Rattray stressed Beautide’s setbacks since the Miracle Mile had both been only minor.  “It’s not lost he’s missed a big chunk of work. He’s gotten over both bugs really quickly. He had a really good foundation of fitness before it, too,” he said.  “I know this is a heck of a strong Victoria Cup, but Beautide’s shown how good he is when he’s at his top and I think he’s very, very close to his top.”  Rattray is also thankful the Victoria Cup is a relatively short race at 2240m.  “It’s better than trying to go into a 3000m race first-up,” he said. “2240m around Melton is not much more than a sprint. He’s ready for it.”  Beautide began well in his Ballarat trial then took a sit on Emma Stewart’s high-class mare Beauty Secret. While Victoria Cup favourite Guaranteed sat back off them and was happy to follow them.  “I popped off Beauty Secret’s back and let my guy run down the home straight. They flew. I’m told they ran home in 53.3 and 26sec flat,” Rattray said.  “I just grabbed Beauty Secret by a head on the line. Gee that mare went well – she’s one to follow for sure.”  Rattray said the timing of the Victoria Cup and the Inter Dominion heat (February 14) would allow him to prime Beautide for the gruelling 3009m of his defence in the Inter Dominion final at Menangle on March 1. Adam Hamilton - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

John Dunn knows opportunities like Uncas don’t come along very often. Because while he may not be the best trotter in the country, the stable newcomer can be a factor in all the group ones remaining for the season. Uncas backed up an outstanding workout the week before when he overcame a 35m backmark to win the feature trot at Alexandra Park last Friday, trotting the 2700m stand in a swift 3:26.1. He was having just this third start for Robert and John Dunn after being well looked after by Bevan Heron most of his career before joining the bigger stable. And John, who drove the seven-year-old perfectly, realises open class horses don’t get dropped in your lap every day. “It is great to get a horse like him, with his speed, who can race in the top level races so we are lucky,” says John. “You don’t get many open class horses coming into the stable at a time when they can still be really competitive. “But he clearly can. I am not saying he is going to beat Stent or those horses all of a sudden but he is good enough to be aimed at the big races.” Especially in the north where $15,000 trots are common at Alexandra Park and Uncas can be set for the main trots at the Auckland Cup meeting when the likes of Stent are in Australia. With Franco Nelson having returned to Canterbury for repair work, Uncas is now the flagship of the stable’s 12-strong northern team. “We are still really committed to racing up here and we have some nice horses to work with. “No Doctor Needed was a good second to Ohoka Punter and we have some handy three-year-olds like Say My Name ready to resume. “So it is working out well and I will be spending a bit more time up here driving.” Michael Guerin - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand  

Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones pulled off a satisfying training coup by transforming Johnny Fox into a G3 $40,000 Invercargill Cup winner on Saturday, January 24. Johnny Fox’s career was at the crossroads after choking down badly on NZ Cup day in November, but a brief spell and the addition of an anti-choking device has turned him around. The 6YO Western Terror gelding is relaxing in his races and growing in confidence. So much so, he added a new string to his bow by moving up in the open over the last 2000m of the G3 $40,000 Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup and proving just as effective cutting the breeze. “He is racing great and was great for him to sit parked and win,” Mark said. The win showed Mark he had toughened up as previously he was at his best as a very fast sit-sprint horse. Johnny Fox sprinted up on the corner as if he’d had trailing cover, with driver Blair Orange cleverly putting the foot down as favourite Meticulous was held up three back on the markers. Johnny Fox had Belkmyster (wide) for company turning in but held a comfortable advantage down the stretch, holding by three-quarters of a length in 4:04 (3200m). The leaders picked up the pace over their last 800m in 57.8s and final 400m in a quick 26.9s. Belkmyster held second with a length and a quarter to Meticulous winding up late to grab third ahead of early breaker The Wrath Of Robyn, who staged a big recovery for fourth. The win, Mark’s third Invercargill Cup training win in the race in the last five years (earlier winning with Ohoka Texas and Saveapatrol), and the fifth for driver Blair Orange, came on top of prelude and Nelson Cup wins by Johnny Fox two weeks ago. “I’m unsure where Johnny goes next as two weeks ago he was an out of form 4-win horse. Now he is a 7-win horse racing great.” “I guess we have to look at the Addington Summer Cup ($25,000 free-for-all, 2600m) on Friday as he is racing great.” Johnny Fox, purchased by the Butterworth Racing Syndciate after winning his first five for southern interests, has now won nine of 33 starts for $88,189. The outstanding form by Johnny Fox this month is timely for Highview Standardbreds of Riverton who are offering a half-brother to the provincial cups winner at the NZ Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch on February 17. The colt is by by the Western Hanover stallion Well Said (p3, 1:47.6 & the winner of $2.5 million), while Johnny Fox’s dam, the unraced Ivy Rose, is by Island Fantasy from the good racemare Highview Rose (eight wins $51,409, including a Winton Cup). Highview Rose (OK Bye-Rosewood Mistress), a half-sister to Highview Atom (17 wins incl. 13 in WA, 1:57.1 mile rate, 1742m) and Highview Jude (nine wins & $68,400), has left the good winners, Oreti Beach (1:52, US, five NZ wins, 22 USA wins), Highview Badlands nine wins incl. the 2007 Invercargill Cup for trainer Jimmy Curtin, and Highview Macushla (1:58.2 mile rate, 1700m, three wins). Another daughter of Highview Rose in Highview Miss is the raced placed dam of Jenna’s Highview (p3, 1:57, 1 NZ win & 4 Aust. wins, runnerup in both the Australian & Queensland Oaks) and Highview Annwell (four wins). * Blair Orange, a regular driver for the Mark Jones stable and the Butterworth Racing Syndicate, brought up his 999th NZ career win behind Johnny Fox on Saturday. He looks certain to join the 1000-win driving club at Waterlea on Sunday. Jeff Scott - Courtesy Mark Jones Racing Stables - Visit site here  

A pre-start mess almost cost punters dearly before Ohoka Punter surged to his first Alexandra Park win in a year on Friday night. The dual Derby winner led throughout to down trailer No Doctor Needed in a race where Sky Major and Gold Ace never got into winning positions because of a lack of mid-race challenges. But while a 26.6 second last 400m made the win look easy, it could have been far different after Ohoka Punter galloped in the score up. “He actually shied at some horse droppings (not the actual word he used) in the score up and galloped,” said trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. “He got a real fright and almost fell over. He evened up but we had to chase the gate so it could have been a lot worse.” That was why Herlihy had to keep Ohoka Punter up to his work in the early stages of the race, with the incident denting his confidence and seeing him gawk about in the home straight the first time. “But in the end he won really well and like many of those horses he will improve,” he said. Herlihy now has to try and find suitable races for Ohoka Punter to try and get him fit enough to take on the really big guns in the Auckland Cup on March 6. “There will be the free-for-all the week before hopefully but really I’d like to have another race between now and then,” he says. “Taking on those horses won’t be easy so being really fit will be important. “But the Auckland Cup is the logical aim.” And while that means taking on Terror To Love, Christen Me and Adore Me, Ohoka Punter has of course beaten the latter over 2700m mobile at group one level at Alexandra Park, in that remarkable Northern Derby of two years ago. Since then his career has been severely interrupted by tendon problems and Herlihy admits he doesn’t even bother getting Ohoka Punter’s leg scanned any more unless there is a sign of trouble, preferring to look after it as best as possible but treat him like any other good horse. “He seems fine for now but every win is a bonus when you have had leg problems,” he offers. “But I haven’t given up on him being a New Zealand Cup horse because we know the motor is there.” Before then Ohoka Punter has the comparative luxury of dropping back to age group racing for the Taylor Mile and Messenger, although they are almost as strong as the strongest open class races these days. One of his rivals in those could be Sky Major, who stormed home into fourth last Friday in his first start back for the season. Trainer Barry Purdon had gone on record pre-race suggesting the dual Jewels winner may have to be driven with a sit from his wide draw, especially with so much gate speed inside him, and when the midfield horses failed to move down the back straight both he and Gold Ace couldn’t win. But they made ground well, with Sky Major now maybe going to race once more at The Park before heading to Menangle for a February 21 lead-up to the Chariots of Fire on March 1. With him, Ohoka Punter and Gold Ace set to be in Auckland over the next few weeks, it raises the possibility of another rematch to highlight the mid February racing. Michael Guerin - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand  

In many ways, Isaiah is close to the perfect racehorse. And Natalie Rasmussen gives the impression she wouldn’t mind a stable full of horses exactly like him. The ultra-consistent pacer added another black-type victory to his career record yesterday when he took out the Group 2 Pelorus Classic on the first of two days at the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s meeting at Waterlea Raceway in Blenheim. It was a tradesman like victory of the highest order. Buzzed out of the gate by Rasmussen to secure the lead over Venus Serena, the four-year-old entire then ensured that a fresh up Tiger Tara was made to work hard to get past him when he went in search of the lead himself with a lap to run. But despite all the early attention, Rasmussen’s confidence never waned. “I wasn’t too worried, he’s just the ultimate guy this horse,’’ she said. “You can ask him to work in his races, but you know he will still give you everything at the finish. “He was travelling so well coming off the back straight.’’ His victory – No.13 of his career – continued a great run of consistency for the son of Art Major and E J Becks. In 31 starts he has finished first, second or third on 26 occasions – often racing in black type races against some of the best horses in the business. His gate speed, toughness and will to win will make him a force to be reckoned with wherever he goes, but Rasmussen was of the opinion that it was time to see what he was capable of in Australia. The Pelorus victory comes with the added carrot of an automatic invite to the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on Inter Dominion Grand Final day – an offering Rasmussen was keen to take up. “I think a race like the Chariots would be right up his alley. “He’s done a great job this season racing in open handicaps, but I think we will stick to his own age group with him now and then hopefully have a look at some of the bigger races next season. “He never lets you down. He just gets out there and does the job.’’ Despite Isaiah’s dominant victory, the Pelorus, although small in numbers, underlined just how good the current four-year-old crop is. Tiger Tara, fresh up since his sixth in the New Zealand Trotting Cup fought as only he can to finish in second placing after looking a forlorn hope to finish in the top three half way down the straight and Te Kawau and Venus Serena were both also very meritorious in their third and fourth placings respectively. Rasmussen and Purdon won’t be at Blenheim tomorrow for the meeting’s second day but they will still be represented. Yesterday’s Cup Prelude winner, Backup, will do exactly as his name suggests in the $18,000 3200 metre event. Stable junior driver, Matt Anderson will step in to do the driving duties on the pacer and will do the same with Big Lucy earlier in the day. Matt Markham - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand  

BEFORE THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY -HELD AT NELSON IN THE MATTER of New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing                                                     BETWEEN Mr N Ydgren Stipendiary Steward (Racing Integrity Unit) - Informant                                                         AND Mr M Kerr – Open Horseman - Respondent Date of Hearing: 11 January 2015 Information No: A6188 Venue: Richmond Park Judicial Committee: Mr T Utikere, Chairman - Mr P Williams, Committee Member Plea: Admitted Date of Decision: 11 January 2015 THE CHARGE Information A6188 alleged a breach of Rule 505(1) and stated " as the engaged driver of WEBB ELLIS you did place a combination bet involving that horse in Race one at the Westport Trotting Club's meeting." THE RULE Rule 505(1) states: "A horseman may not bet on any horse or combination of horses in a race, in which he or she is driving; Rule 505 (2) states: “ A breach of this sub-rule (1) is declared to be a serious racing offence;" EVIDENCE At the commencement of the hearing the committee was satisfied that the administrative and procedural matters had been attended to. This included the filing of the Information (A6188), the authority to lodge the information from the General Manager of the RIU and the Notice of Appointment of the Judicial Committee. Mr Kerr acknowledged receipt of these papers. The rule was read and Mr Kerr confirmed he understood the rule and accepted that this alleged breach was defined as a serious racing offence. He also confirmed that he admitted the breach. The applicable penalties for serious racing offences were read and Mr Kerr confirmed he understood the applicable penalties and that he was prepared for the hearing to proceed. The horse WEBB ELLIS is co-trained by Mr Mitchell Kerr in partnership with his father Mr P Kerr. Mr M Kerr confirmed he was its driver in Race 1 at the Westport Trotting Club's meeting of 26 December 2014. Mr Ydgren advised that Mr Kerr had placed a bet on his runner at 9.17am on the morning of the race meeting. This bet was placed via Mr Kerr's internet account and was a $100 All Up bet in nature. Webb Ellis was the first leg of the four leg bet and would have resulted in a dividend of $6221 if successful. Mr Ydgren supplied the committee with a report from Betting Analyst Mr Basil Payne, which was confirmed as accurate by Mr Kerr. Mr Ydgren said that as a result of questioning Mr Kerr about the performance of WEBB ELLIS it transpired that Mr Kerr had placed the bet on raceday morning. Mr Ydgren stated that Mr Kerr presented his phone to show the bet he had placed and that he had been very co-operative throughout the investigative process. He also submitted that the stipendiary stewards had no issues with how Mr Kerr had handled the horse during the race. They believed it had been given every possible chance. Mr Ydgren advised that when the betting rule was changed in April 2014 it was published extensively through HRNZ publications, and that it was a responsibility of licence holders to familiarise themselves with the rules. Mr Kerr agreed with everything Mr Ydgren had submitted, and indicated that he had been a junior driver for five years, but had only had three drives in the current season. He said he had decided to drive WEBB ELLIS on this occasion because he was in part-ownership of the horse, and that he was not happy with how the horse had been driven previously. He stated that his breach was a complete misunderstanding on his part as he was not aware of the new rule. As a trainer, he was aware that trainers were permitted to place bets, but was not aware that, as the driver of a runner in a race, he was not permitted to place a bet on any horse in a race in which he was driving. He was embarrassed by this breach as he did not want to tarnish his reputation or public image as a trainer. DECISION As the breach was admitted, the committee found the charge proved. PENALTY SUBMISSIONS OF INFORMANT On behalf of the RIU, Mr Ydgren submitted that the stewards did not believe Mr Kerr's actions to be sinister by any means. They did not believe there was any attempt to deceive, but rather that the offending was born out of ignorance of the rule. Mr Kerr had been very upfront and honest with the investigative process and he had made an early admission of the breach. Mr Ydgren referred to the 2009 case of HRNZ v Donald, where a combination of bets were placed resulting in four breaches of the rule. In that case the respondent received a $1500 fine and $850 costs. Mr Ydgren referred to two other cases where he believed the circumstances bore some similarities with Mr Kerr's offending. The 2013 case of RIU v Jones and the 2012 case of RIU v (Jockey) J Collett both resulted in a $500 fine. Considering all factors, Mr Ydgren submitted that as the circumstances were similar a $500 was appropriate. Under questioning from the committee, Mr Ydgren acknowledged that both of the latter breaches were not classified as a serious racing offence, as the nature of those bets related to a Drivers and Jockeys Challenge bet option. Mr Ydgren also submitted that Mr Kerr should be given credit for his clear record and advised that the RIU were not seeking any costs. PENALTY SUBMISSIONS OF RESPONDENT Mr Kerr stated that he was very disappointed in himself and that he felt very silly. He submitted that a modest fine would be appropriate as he was currently in a training partnership with his father and received no percentages at this stage, but did receive weekly wage of a modest amount. Mr Kerr had nothing further to submit. REASONS FOR PENALTY The committee considered all of the submissions placed before it. Mr Kerr has admitted a breach of Rule 505(1), when he placed a $100 All Up bet at the Westport Trotting Club's meeting on 26 December 2014, where he was driving the horse WEBB ELLIS in the first leg of that bet. A breach of this rule is declared to be a serious racing offence. Accordingly, the penalty provisions of Rule 1001(2) apply. The committee noted that historically there were not many breaches of this specific rule, and considered the decisions submitted by the RIU in their submissions. The Donald case was a result of four breaches, while the other cases submitted by Mr Ydgren may have been under similar circumstances, they were not defined as serious racing offences under the rules. When the Donald decision was released, the maximum monetary penalty was one of $25,000. The maximum monetary penalty for a breach of this rule has since been increased to one of $30,000 and is a reflection of the deterrence aspect that any breach of this rule must bring. In Mr Kerr's particular circumstance, the committee considers a monetary penalty to be appropriate on this occasion. The current JCA Penalty guidelines do not identify a starting point for a breach of this rule. In this circumstance, which is fact-dependent, we have adopted a starting point of $1000. In aggravation, as a licence holder, Mr Kerr has a strict liability to familiarise himself and be aware of the rules under which he is licensed. Breaches of this nature can create a perception that goes to the heart and integrity of racing. Serious racing offence provisions are in place to protect this integrity and are paramount for public confidence in racing and the administration of racing. In mitigation, the committee considered Mr Kerr's co-operation throughout the investigative process and his early admission of the breach. He has a very good record and no previous breaches of an integrity nature. He is very remorseful and is clearly concerned about the perception others might have of him as a trainer as a result of a breach of this rule. The committee accepts that there was no attempt to deceive at any time, and that his actions as a driver in the race were not sinister; therefore there is no suggestion that he did not attempt to drive Webb Ellis out on its own merits. Mr Kerr simply assumed that, as the trainer of the horse he could place a bet, when, as the driver, he could not. PENALTY After considering all of the above matters we believe a fine is an appropriate penalty and Mr Kerr is fined $650. As this matter was heard on a raceday, there will be no order for costs. Tangi Utikere            Paul Williams CHAIRMAN               COMMITTEE MEMBER Courtesy of the Judicial Control Authority

Harness racing returned to Alexandra Park for the first time this year and Scott Phelan quickly made his mark for the new year with a smart winning drive on Prince Of Pops. The three year old son of Changeover from the Telfer and Garlick barn has always shown plenty of potential, winning three races as a two year old late last season. Tonight he drew terribly at five on the second line in the 2200 metres mobile and settled seven back in the running line in the early running and Scott stayed put through the first 1200 metres. With just under 1000 metres to go Scott launched Prince Of Pops three wide around the field at full throttle and went from near last at the 950 metres mark to the front at the 600 metres mark. Allowed to steady for a furlong by Scott, Prince Of Pops was off again as they straightened for home and was never seriously challenged in the run to the line. At the finish Prince Of Pops still had 1 3/4 lengths to spare and seemed to still have a bit in reserve. What made the run even more impressive was Prince Of Pops cut out the 2200 metres in 2:42.1, a mile rate of 1:58.6 with closing sectionals of 56.7 and 28.4 Scott was not surprised by the performance of Prince Of Pops. " I have always liked him and on his work  I knew he would go good." "He is just a notch below the really good three year olds so he was always going to be hard to beat back in maiden grade," Scott said Scott thought while not up to the best three year olds at this stage, he may be in the Autumn " If he keeps taking the next step up then we may have consider that down the line," Scott said. The immediate plan with Prince Of Pops is to head to Addington next week for the $40,000 PGG Wrightson Pace for three year olds by a sire standing for less than $5,000. "That looks a great race for him and the trip will do him the world of good." "All we need now is a decent draw so if you could organize that it would be great," Scott joked to Harnesslink this evening. Going by his winning effort tonight Prince Of Pops will be a serious challenger next Friday night. Harnesslink Media   

Harness racing stallions have there ups and downs throughout their careers but every now and then they leave a crop that is just one out of the box. The further the current season has progressed the more apparent it has been to us that the current 3 year old crop of Art  Major is one of those crops. Numbering just 85 foals, this crop has produced some lovely individuals from not an overly big crop. First and foremost we have to discount Follow The Stars as one of them due to his Australian heritage but the remaining players are still a great bunch of 3 year olds. They are headed by the brilliant colt, Art Union 1:55.6 ($114,143) who has won 11 races to date and who has just headed to Australia for the Victorian Derby heats.  There are plenty of others who are nipping at the heals of Art Union as the list below shows: * Fight For Glory 1:55.6 ($110,166) * Mighty Flying Major 1:55.3 ($93,452) * Say My Name 1:57.9 ($88,423) * Field Marshall 1:55.1 ($75,175) * Major Reality 1:57.2 ($65,385) * Pulp Fiction 1:58.2 ($46,503) * Unforgiving 1:57 ($46,373) * The Odd Lover 1:56.1 ($43,720) * Hughie Green 1:57.6 ($41,621)  There are quite a few others that are showing real promise as well such as Titan Banner who has won three from six to date and Kiwi Legend who is considered a Derby horse by his trainer, Robbie Holmes. Add to that list horses such as Tact Major who was sold recently to Western Australia for a large six figure sum off the back of a sensational trial and you can see that this crop is really delivering on the racetrack. The broodmares of  the thirteen horses we have mentioned above are represented by twelve individual stallions with the only broodmare sire with two credits being In The Pocket which is a real testament to Art Major clicking with a wide cross section of broodmares regardless of what stallion they are by. So to sum up, the overall stats for Art Major's 3 year old crop bred in New Zealand are 85 foals eligible to race for 25 winners to date and another 30 who have qualified or being placed at the races. The Australasian earnings for this crop have already topped $1,100,000 and with so many horses putting their hands up for starts in the classics that bankroll is going to grow substantially by the end of this season. Harnesslink Media

Brian West has been preparing horses for the harness racing yearling sales longer than he would care to admit and knows that there are so many variables that can affect the result on the day. A lot of those variables are outside of his control so Brian just concentrates on presenting his stock in the best condition possible on the day. Mother nature plays her part with regards to the makeup of his draft and in that regard this year, Brian couldn't be happier. " This would be one of the nicest groups of yearlings I have had to sell for quite a while. "I couldn't be happier with them a month out and I am going into the sales with a fair bit of confidence," Brian said. It is never easy to get the preparers involved in the sales prep to agree on the "best " one in their draft but the Studholme team agreed on a top three from their prospective. Lot 462 - Undercurrent A son of Somebeachsomewhere, Undercurrent is the third foal from Under The Odds, a Bettors Delight daughter of champion racemare Under Cover Lover 1:51.8 ($864,925). The first foal from Under The Odds is the smart Australian three year old The Odd Lover 1:56.1 ($43,720) who has won five from nine to date and looks to be a major player in the three year old classics in Western Australia this season. Brian has been really taken with the colt. " I just love his attitude when you dealing with him." "He is one of those horses that is with you 100%." "It doesn't hurt that he is such a great looking/moving horse as well," Brian said. Lot 267 - On The Rantan A son of Bettors Delight, On The Rantan is the fifth foal from the In The Pocket mare Funontherun 1:58.3 who already has the runs on the board. Funontherun has left three winners to date including On The Razzle 1:53.1 ($137,478) Ohoka Cooper 1:56.7 ($44,674) and last weeks super impressive debutant at Addington On The Town 1:57 All three winners are by Bettors Delight so On The Rantan has plenty to live up to. " This boy is different to Undercurrent in that he will boss you if you let him. " He is all colt and is fiercely determined." " He is a lovely bodied horse and the more you do with him the more you like him," Brian said. Lot 336 - Saint Laurent  A son of Bettors Delight, Saint Laurent is the second foal and first colt from the former brilliant racemare Lancome 1:54.9 ($461,278) who from a two year old to a four year old raced and won at the highest level in New Zealand. A descendant of the "Guest" family with which the late Jack Smolenski had so much success with especially at age group level, Saint Laurent is an out and out "Blue Blood" " I think this one does know who his parents are." " He has got that bit of arrogance about him that the good horses have." " He is a really athlectic individual to boot," Brian said.   All vendors with large drafts have a "sleeper" in their group which due to any number of factors are unlikely to make the money they should. It could be due to the sire being out of "fashion" or the mare having yet to leave a black type winner or a combination of reasons. Brian has no doubts which horse is his "sleeper" this year Lot 239 - He's Official A son of Art Official, He's Official is the first foal from the Bettors Delight mare Delightful Lover. Delightful Lover is a half sister to the smart filly Castellina Lover 1:55.3 while the grand-dam is Delizioso 1:56.6 who is a full sister to Under Cover Lover 1:51.8 ($864,925) Brian has noticed the response to the colt from the many trainers and owners previewing his draft at his Coes Ford property. " Being an Art Official means he probably wont be on the top of any buying lists but any one who has seen him parade has gone and had a second look after the parade. "He has a real presense about him and is a lovely type." " If he was a Bettors Delight or Art Major he would fetch big money on his looks," Brian said. With fifteen yearlings entered this year Brian and his staff have had their hands full keeping everything on track but going by the appearance of the yearlings when we visited yesterday, the Studholme Park crew are in for a very successful sale. Harnesslink Media 

Canterbury harness racing trainer Barry Ward has always got a nice horse or two in his racing team and his runners often turn up at lucrative odds when you least expect them too. Add in the grass track at Motukarara and Barry's runners are a must include in any combinations for punters as his record at the rural Canterbury track is second to none. Today Barry lined up the three year old Bettors Delight filly Bird Of Paradise in the C1-2000 metre mobile and even though her form looked pretty bleak on paper, punters were well aware of the ability of the Ward runners on grass and sent her out third favourite in the 14 horse field. Taken back off the gate by driver Sam Ottley from barrier eight, Bird Of Paradise settled fourth last in the strung out field and didn't start to improve until she joined the three wide line with cover at the 600 metres mark.  Sam pulled her out four wide as they turned for home and she quickly ran to the leaders and just kept getting further in front the further they went. At the line Bird Of Paradise held a four length advantage over her nearest challengers in Party Rage and Expressive Victor. Barry Ward wasn't surprised by the ease of the win. " Her work at home has been super for a while but she has just been so unlucky on raceday." "Bad draws, checks in the running, you name it and she has copped it in the last few starts" " I thought the draw might be enough to stop us again today but Sam drove a beautiful race and Bird Of Paradise did the rest. "She may lack a touch of high speed but she will stay all day," Barry said. Bird Of Paradise is bred to be good being the ninth winner from Barry's former top racemare Time's On My Side (10 wins) ($85,865) Other smart winners from the mare include Wonderful Tonight (6 wins) ($118,740) Child In Time (10 wins) ($85,144) and Carl Lewis 1:52 ($71,350). Time's On My Side is now the ripe old age of 24 and is suffering badly from arthritis and Barry is concerned about her health. " She is like part of the furniture at home but the arthritis is really bad now and I don't think she will cope with another winter." "I  would really hate to see her suffering," Barry said. Todays win by Bird Of Paradise continued the great run of success that Barry has enjoyed on the track and punters have learned long ago to always include the Ward runner in your trifecta and first four bets at Motukarara. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing syndicate maestro Noel Kennard has been having a good run with his syndicates lately and that continued today at Motukarara when the smart three year old filly Eilish Aimee cleared maidens at her fourth lifetime start. Part of the three horse Go Harness Trotting For Fun Syndicate, Eilish Aimee has looked smart from day one and proceeded todays win with two seconds at the recent Nelson meeting. Away well to trail early today, Eilish Aimee didn't cover an inch of extra ground during the running and used the Go Harness sponsored passing lane to claim Everybody Knows close to home for a well deserved win. The favourite Tornado Valley provided a minor highlight of the race by storming home late for third after missing away badly. The Go Harness Trotting For Fun syndicate has 120 members and you could certainly hear the ones on course today with a real crescendo of noise over the closing stages as Eilish Aimee wore down the leader. The syndicate manager John Robinson was full of praise for the trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds when spoken to by Harnesslink this afternoon. " They have done a great job with this filly right from the start" "They have encouraged us to be patient and we are reaping the rewards now," John said. Leased from well known trotting breeder Ivan McNicholl, Eilish Aimee has some big targets if she continues to improve over the next few weeks. " Craig and Aimee have earmarked a C0-C1 mobile three year old event at Geraldine on January 31st as her next race and if she performs well there then a start in the Hambletonian would be considered." "We know it is a massive step up but the trainers do have a big opinion of her," John said. The Go Harness team have tried several variations with how to fund and structure their syndicates and believe the model that they use with the Go Harness Trotting For Fun syndicate is the best one going forward. " The model of a set fee to become a part of the syndicate and then a small ongoing monthly amount has worked great with this syndicate and all our future syndicates will be run using this model,"John said.  Noel and John and the Go Harness team have put a lot of time and effort into establishing their syndicates and deserve all the success they are presently enjoying. Harnesslink Media    

Harness racing can be cruel at times as a lot of our tipsters found out last week when a lot of the selections had little luck on raceday. Both Playaway and Sweet Art had no luck on the first day at Otaki but both won on the second day so it does pay to not drop them in a hurry, Our best performer last week was Steven Reid who nailed Clarius at Otaki at $13:40 and he was unlucky not to make it a double for the weekend on the second day, again at good odds. Other selectors to pick winners were Ricky May, Peter Scaife,Scott Phelan, Blair Orange and Brad Williamson and we picked up three placings as well and a string of fourths. This week we have selections at Motukarara, Blenhiem, Auckland, and Invercargill and Gate Pa. Don't let the selections for Blenheim slip under your guard on Sunday if they miss on Friday. Motukarara - Thursday afternoon Robbie Holmes - Gave us two he couldn't separate. At the Mott it is Willie Shine in race 8 Ricky May - Thought Cullen Keefe could get back on track in race 10 Craig Thornley - Rates Franco Hammond highly and thought he could win again, also in race 10   Blenheim - Friday afternoon Jimmy Curtin - Likes the chances of the Brian O'Meara trained Mach Winger in race 2 Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Royal Caroline is due a change of luck and can win race 3  Robbie Holmes - The second of his selections this week is the talented Cyclone Kiwi in race 9 Blair Orange - Rates Take After Me a big chance of making it two wins in a row in race 11   Auckland - Friday night Tony Herlihy - Gives Uandmebabe a big show even from the second line in race 2 Maurice McKendry - Rates Hanoverdakash a great each way bet in race 3 Scott Phelan - Thought that Prince Of Pops could bounce back after a brief break and win race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink)- Thought Gamma Lady on her workout win last weekend would win race 5   Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates Charleston Belle a big chance to take out race 9 Todd Macfarlane - Knows the draw is dead against him but still likes Simply Stunning, also in race 9    Invercargill - Saturday afternoon Nathan Williamson - Thought if Splash Cola could get around the first bend then she would win race 1 John Dunn - Gives Alta Las Vegas a big rap even from barrier eight in race 3 Clark Barron - Gives I'm Full Of Excuses a big chance of taking out race 4 Matthew Williamson - Thinks Alley Way on last weeks run should win race 5 Brad Williamson - Thought he might be able to upset big brother with Father Christmas, also in race 5 Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Acolyte off the mobile a big chance to turn his form around in race 8 Tim Williams - Thought Meticulous had trained on great this week and would win race 9   Gate Pa - Sunday afternoon Peter Scaife - Confident that a shoeing change will have recent import Winsome Luck winning race 2 Todd Mitchell - Thought Shardon's Pearl would carry on the good work and win, also in race 2 Sean McCaffrey - With no Gold Ace or Adore Me about, he thought Norvic Nightowl could win race 9     

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