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DAVID FAIRLIE Secretary / Manager, Franklin Trotting Club Inc. March 1980 – 2010 Dave was the Franklin Trotting Club Inc Secretary / Manager for 30 years joining the club in 1980 from NAC airlines in Tauranga. During Dave’s time at the Franklin Trotting Club saw strong racing and training interest at the Pukekohe training complex. Throughout his tenure there were several substantial additions made to the complex including increasing the acreage, new stables and housing, cafeteria and a third training track among other facilities that were completed on the site. Dave saw in this time the evolving and expansion of the Franklin Trotting Club and harness racing industry generally on a whole with the club increasing to eight race permits per season. The Franklin Trotting Cup being a major feature race for the club each season and was run under the Pak’n Save sponsorship for all the races on the night which Dave helped co-ordinate for many years. Dave took a keen interest in all aspects of standardbred racing and breeding. Over the years Dave also raced and bred horses with good success and enjoyment   HRNZ

Bruce Negus says he had an understanding with Mike Stratford: “He didn’t tell me how to train, and I didn’t tell him how to build.” The pair had known each for 35 years, with the Canterbury-based trainer saddened to hear of his friend’s death this week. “He was a character,” said Negus, ”He enjoyed it when we pointed out his failures.” “His legacy will be that he was the world’s best loser – and what I mean by that was that when he did lose he was incredibly gracious about it.” “He always looked for the good in a bad result.” He had been an administrator, owner, and driver and a prolific breeder. “He would have bred and owned 200 horses over the years,” said Negus, “ He’d load up 10-15 mares onto the truck and take them to stud every year.” In 2006 his Classiebawn stud, that his late father Bernie set up, sold Cloncullen (Christian Cullen – Abbeyshrule) for $125,000 at the sales. The best horse he ever bred was open class pacer Locharburn (Christian Cullen – Suzys Delight), who went on to win 14 from 39 starts and $418,584 for trainer Kevin Chapman. As a trainer his record was two wins in 120 starts – Supreme Estella at Roxburgh in 2014 and Classie Regal in 2017 while as an amateur driver he had four wins in 142 starts dating back to 2009. Stratford was prominent in business as well as harness racing. His company Michael Stratford Builders had been involved in many developments, including a recent $3m complex in Riccarton. “He had a real eye for detail … he could be hard nosed but in business sometimes you have to be. “ His last drive was at Addington as recently as last Sunday. Michael Joseph Stratford was 67.

Bob Lippiatt, 73, died Thursday night, June 18, of heart failure after a brief hospital stay. The likeable trainer-driver followed his father Ike into the harness racing business over 50 years ago after graduating from Salem High School. He remained continuously active with Standardbreds until two weeks before his death, except for a stint in the Army when he served during the Vietnam war. During his career he amassed 1,122 wins as a driver, earning $3,262,919 and 338 as a trainer.  Among his stable favorites were Ohio Sires Stakes trotting champions Heather Road, Take Another Puff and Fistfull Of Dollars. Lippiatt and his wife Sherry of 51 years have maintained dual residences in Beloit, Ohio and Pompano Beach, Florida for the past 13 years. Bob raced horses at Northfield Park and many Ohio county fairs during the summer; and worked on the track crew at Pompano Park during the winters. The Lippiatts have two daughters, Theresa and Bobbi Jo, as well as six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Bob has three living brothers and a fourth that died in a horse accident at an early age. Funeral arrangements will be handled by Deans Funeral Home in Salem. They will be posted as soon as available. Gregg Keidel

Real “Coco” Cormier passed peacefully on June 5, 2020. A famous harness racing man, he and his wife Tracy have owned the Pinehurst Track Restaurant for the past 24 years. Originally from Quebec, Canada his love of horses started at the age of 7 delivering milk door to door with his first horse Jessie. He came to the US in his early 20s and began his career as a harness trainer and driver. He raced in the New York/New Jersey area and in his career had over several thousand wins. Coco and Tracy moved down to Pinehurst so he could train horses and decided to buy the restaurant on the grounds. They quickly became a local favorite with their famous blueberry pancakes. Coco was loved by all that knew him. He is survived by his wife, Tracy, and their daughter, Danielle. He is also survived by his two other children; his son Lee and his wife Linda and his daughter Darcy and her husband Tom Reynolds; grandchildren Adrian, Briana, and Calvin, and great-grandchildren Jaxon and Tanner. Coco will be laid to rest in his hometown of Quebec.  Online condolences may be made at Services are entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Pinehurst.        

Ronald Henry (Ronnie) Bencal passed peacefully on Monday, May 25 at 77 years of age after a long battle with respiratory illness. Born in New York City to Henry and Pauline Bencal, Ronnie began his career in harness racing when he went to work for noted horseman Jim Grundy after he was discharged form the Army in 1965. He then moved to the WR Haughton barn where he transitioned from caretaker to assistant trainer. In 1972 he joined his brother Bob as an assistant trainer at Roosevelt Raceway where they would enjoy many successful years racing there and Yonkers, The Meadowlands and eventually the Grand Circuit. During the 1980's Ronnie tried the civilian life for a few years, operating a Baskin Robbins franchise in Florida, but Bob eventually convinced him to return to the stable where he would remain until his retirement in 2012. Bob and Ronnie had a bond beyond their fraternal one, they were also great friends and equal partners in the training of the stable. They trusted each others judgment when it came to evaluating a horse and would bounce ideas off one another regarding how each horse in the stable could be brought to reach their potential. Ronnie was especially good with a horse that required patience. The Bencal brothers had a long relationship with Jeff and Paula Gural, training horses for them since the early 1970's led by 1990 Jugette winner Lady Genius. Ronnie thought the world of them and considered Paula to be a kindred spirit. Ronnie was an engaging and gregarious man. In his Florida retirement he'd spend his evenings at Bill Popfinger's Rattlesnake Jakes restaurant with a group of his friends, listening to the Grateful Dead and rooting for his beloved NY Yankees. He is survived by brother Bob and Bob's wife Monica, younger brother Ken and sisters Barbara and Susan, daughter Jennifer (Cosgrove), granddaughters Stella and Mareena Cosgrove and stepson William Fleming.   No arrangement details are available at this time. In lieu of flowers a donation to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame or the Standardbred Retirement Foundation may be made in his memory.   Nick Salvi

Australian harness racing has lost one of the sport's most successful trainers and influential figures, Graeme Lang. 87-year-old Lang had struggled with health issues since late last year, and passed away this morning, less than a month after his son Gavin lost a battle with cancer. Gavin Lang's death brought to an end one of the most successful harness racing father-and-son combinations in the sport, as both had been inducted as Legends of the sport's exclusive Caduceaus Club. In more than 60 years in the sport, Graeme Lang trained 12,395 starters, had 1822 career wins for $10.5 million in stakes. The Wimmera-born son of a farmer and hobby trainer, Graeme Lang was the complete horseman. Preparing his first winner in the 1950s, Graeme Lang went on to become a five-time leading Victorian state trainer and two-time leading Victorian state driver. He was crowned the leading Australian driver in 1979/80 and secured a swag of major awards in the sport through the late 1960s, 70s and 80s. A wily trainer, a skilful driver and an astute farrier, Lang's affinity with the equine cleared the way for an unforgettable ride with talented but erratic square-gaiter Scotch Notch (Scottish Bret-Ada Glenfern (Tarport Kid) in harness racing's golden era in the 1980s. Graeme Lang and Scotch Notch Lang, trained and drove Scotch Notch for most of her career, but it was his fastidious preparation that put the polish on the trotter, who went on to become a Hall-of-Famer. Scotch Notch and Graeme Lang – an unforgettable ride He rated her as "the best squaregaiter produced in Australasia" and few would argue. The dual Inter Dominion champion won 43 races in Australia, four in New Zealand, and a further 18 in a much-anticipated United States campaign. Her resume included five Group Ones for earnings of $670,000. Graeme Lang's love of the sport was passed on to his sons, Gavin and Chris - Chris, as a squaregaiting trainer and driver is unparalleled while the late Gavin Lang was superior to any driver before him in the cart. Known in the sport as "Daddy" Lang, Graeme observed last year that his sons' talents didn't come as a surprise. "Gavin and Chris drive extremely well because they are extremely good horsemen, and why shouldn't they be?" Graeme said. "I remember my mother going crook at me because I would let them drive fast work at home when they were seven or eight years old. Both of them had a lot of experience early on. It is very rare that horses don't do their best for them. They drive the race to suit the horse to start with, and they know when a horse is doing his best and when he's not." The grand-master of harness racing was presented with the Gordon Rothacker Medal on a memorable night at Tabcorp Park Melton in 2013. Lang had a massive influence on the sport for many years and still held a trainer's licence, and competed up until September last year. His last win was, appropriately, a Group race, with square gaiter Save Our Pennys in the E B Cochran Trotters Cup at Ballarat in January last year. E B Cochran Trotters Cup Save Our Pennys had finished fourth in the Inter Dominion trotting final at Melton, only a few months earlier. Farewell to one of the true champions of Harness Racing Graeme Lang. Harnesslink extends its condolences to the Lang family. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Arthur Vaughn Downey, Sr. passed away at 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 12, 2020, after a long battle with liver disease. He was 82 years old. Art was born May 4, 1938, in Girdler, Kentucky. He graduated From Greenville High School in 1957. While in high school, he was a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves then following graduation, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Art took pride in waving the Downey name. After the passing of his father, he made sure the decorating of the family gravesites continued. Art was a member of the Trinity Wesleyan Church of Greenville, the Darke County Harness Horseman’s Association, past Director of the Greenville Boys Club, past officer of the Greenville Baseball for Boys, and past member and officer of the Greenville JC’s. Art was a Greenville City Water Department employee for 30 years retiring in 1989 as the Greenville Water Department Superintendent. He took great pride in overseeing the building of the new water treatment plant in 1980. On the job site everyday knowing where every nut, bolt, water pipe and valve needed to be. In Art’s younger days, he enjoyed leading Bible study classes and doing guest sermons at the Bethel Long Wesleyan Church of Longtown, Ohio. Art enjoyed watching harness racing, Cincinnati Reds, Dayton Flyers Basketball games, hunting, fishing, and any sport that a family member was involved in. After retirement, Art enjoyed and found relaxation by spending time with his family from the north to the south. Art is survived by his wife of 61 years Korene “Rae” (Marshall) Downey, as they were married December 20, 1958, at the Nashville EUB Church. Rae rarely went anywhere without Art. Rae was always by his side. Her love and devotion to Art was more than evident especially during the last few years of Art’s life as he battled his illness. He is also survived by his five children: Jerry Downey and wife Angie, Vaughn Downey and wife Pam, Cindy Downey and fiancé Douglas, Larry Downey and Allen Downey and wife Trish; 13 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, brother George Downey and wife Phyllis of Sharonville, Ohio, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Art was preceded in death by his father Glen “Daddy” Downey, mother Alta Mae (Garland) Downey, step mommy Dorthy (Garland) Downey, sisters Marcella (Downey) Hardy and Janice (Downey) Barnes; brothers Charles Downey, Glen Downey, and Donald Downey. Funeral Services will be held at 1 p.m., Monday, May 18, 2020, at the Trinity Wesleyan Church, 1400 East Main Street, Greenville, Ohio, with Pastor Drew Bush officiating. Burial will follow in the Miami Memorial Park Covington, Ohio. The family will receive friends on Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Zechar Bailey Funeral Home, Greenville, and on Monday one hour prior to the service at the church. It is the wishes of the family that Memorial Contributions be given to the State of The Heart Hospice of Darke County. Condolences for the family may be sent to Reprinted with permission of The Early Bird

Very sadly John and Judy Stiven have had to endure the loss of their son Lee, who died in Scotland earlier this month. John and Judy are prominent in the Southern Harness Racing industry, breeding their horses at Arden Lodge in Tapanui. John is a founding member of Southern Bred Southern Reared and is unfailing positive about the SBSR brand and it's potential. Here is a note from the family today Many of you will already know that Lee passed away at Dumfries Hospital on Thursday 23rd April just four days after his 25th birthday. His sinus infection developed into an abcess in the brain and tragically he went into a coma and died just a very short time after finally being admitted to hospital. Lee will be cremated at Roucan Loch Crematorium in Dumfries at 9pm this evening our time so if you would like to share a quiet moment for us and Lee then that would be lovely. Lee Stiven, Judy and John Stiven seen here with Countess Of Arden winning photo from Ascot Park in September 2018 (Bruce Stewart Photo) We are fortunate that Lee was staying at the Goldie family farm at Newbiemains, Annan, south west Scotland and he is now at their home until the service tonight. We will be able to connect privately with the Trish, Jim and the boys tonight at their home and share some memories of Lee. We don’t know when or how but Lee’s ashes will be returned to New Zealand and there will be a memorial service held at a later date. John, Judy, David and Cindy, Scott and Danielle, and Kate

Batavia, NY --- Former Vice-President of Operations at Batavia Downs, James P. Samberg, passed away on Wednesday (Apr. 29) at the age of 85. Mr. Samberg was born in 1935 in Detroit, MI where he attended Precious Blood Catholic School and Catholic Central High School. He went on to graduate from St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto with a degree in Theology and Writing. He taught English and history for a year at his alma mater, Catholic Central HS and then at Aquinas Institute. In 1983 Mr. Samberg transitioned careers and came to Batavia Downs as their Director of Publicity. His leadership in the organization eventually moved him to overseeing the entire plant as vice-president of operations, a position he held until the tracks initial closure in 1997. In 1998 Mr. Samberg reached out to Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) with a proposal to sell the track to them and was eventually able to consummate a deal that year. The track re-opened under its new ownership in 2002. It was the efforts of Mr. Samberg to move Batavia Downs forward that gave the shuttered track a new life under the guidance of the WROTB and that interaction eventually turned out to be financially beneficial to the residents of 15 western New York counties (that include the cities of Buffalo and Rochester) by returning over $220 million in revenues generated by the now modern and thriving racing and gaming venue to the taxpayers of those municipalities over the last 18-years. Mr. Samberg was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend who loved life and everyone he knew. He was well respected by all the horsemen who raced at Batavia Downs during his tenure and will be missed by everyone who knew him. Mr. Samberg was predeceased by his parents, Louis and Martha Samberg; loving wife, Barbara P. Samberg; son, Michael P. McDonald. He is survived by his children, Martha Smith, Mark (Jacqueline) McDonald, Margo McDonald and Meghan McDonald (Scott Boone); 11 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; brother, Carl L. Samberg; sister, Suzanne (Ronald) Marmol; sister-in-law, Donna Warner; several nieces and nephews; and special friend of the family, Bonnie Jones. A Memorial Mass at St. Ann's Home will be scheduled at a later date due to the current situation. Interment at Holy Sepulchre was held privately. Memorials may be made to the American Kidney Foundation or to the Sisters of Mercy. To share a memory of James please visit   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Ina Height's love of harness racing and her horses' successes have been remembered following her passing on March 31. Ina shared many talented horses with husband Colin Height, an Echuca trainer, attending the majority of races, including Colin's "great horse" Royal Highlander when he raced at the Showgrounds. Other notable horses include Super, who won 21 of 73 starts. According to her daughter, Amanda, a licensed trots trainer and HRV HERO retrainer, "Ina had the important job of keeping Super happy pre-race, by continually rubbing his ear". "It certainly was happy times when Super won the Caduceus Club Cup in the 1990s." The family also made many memories when racing other good or promising horses like Highland Tryax, Billion Kardiamond, Jokers Wild, Steeling, Sarah Emily, Gambler, Miss Clare and Fanagalo. Among their highlights was winning the Weston Milling Championship trophy at Ouyen in January 1996, when Gambler also won, bringing home a double for the family. Colin and Ina are pictured above receiving a trophy on that day. The double also featured in a poem Ina wrote: Lucky by Ina Height (October 2013) Reading the Harness Racing paper, while I was having lunch today, memories are revived. We're hobby racing enthusiasts, from way back then in 1967. Always rushing on race day, pushing for time. Trying to cope with, our other farm work. No rush today! We're retired now, from real work! Dates and place names on the winning photos, spanning across 45 years. Remembering hot, hot summer days. Wet or freezing nights. Double at Ouyen on a very hot January day,  how lucky we were! Two trophies te'boot! How lucky are we? We're still working at it!   Ina passed on March 31, 20 days after a sub arachnoid hemorrhage on March 11. HRV extends its condolences to her family and friends.   Harness Racing Victoria

HOBBS - J.W. "Gary" - Entered into rest on April 3, 2020, under the care of Hospice Buffalo. Born April 8, 1944, in London, Ontario. Cherished son of Morley and Reta (nee Patton) Hobbs; loving husband of Victoria Obrochta; devoted father to Gary (Reagan) Hobbs and Josh (Jill) Obrochta; proud grandpa to several grandchildren; former spouse and friend of Barb Sullivan; Loyal friend to so many. Gary was a referee for local Junior Hockey and a member of NYSHOA. He also played Hockey on several Men's and Senior Men's Leagues before retiring his skates. He was a Sabres ticket holder for many seasons and proudly sang both National Anthems. He never felt too old to try or learn something new and even started guitar lessons at 67. His biggest passion in life was working with Standardbred Horses. He was a Driver and Trainer for Harness Racing and at one point was simultaneously ranked # 1, in both fields, according to the Universal Driver Training Rating System. He Raced Standardbred horses at multiple raceways across Canada and the United States and was well respected by all. He was a member of the WNY Harness Horsman's Association and the US Trotting Association. Gary always had a joke to tell or a good story to share, whether it be about his youth playing pond hockey, his brief stint as a boxer and racecar driver, his days as a field technician working for Com-Doc or his youth growing up in Canada. Gary was a "Proud Lefty" and true supporter of "Make America Great Again". He loved driving his truck and never passed up a chance to share a cup of Tim Hortons Coffee with a friend. There weren't many old classic country songs he couldn't sing along with word for word. He took pride in teaching Gary and Josh the value of life: to be Honest, Work Hard (Smart) and have Gratitude. He always preached to them about removing their hats inside, to keep their shoes shined, to stand up tall and keep their hands out of their pockets and how to tie a good knot in their ties. His retirement days were spent doing what he loved most, shooting pool or playing Euchre at the Orchard Park Senior Center, where he developed many close friendships. He enjoyed having lunch on Mondays with the guys at the car lot and stopping by the Tack Shop at the Hamburg Raceway, just to say Hello! Gary also loved visiting with his horse friends on a Saturday morning and engaging in "The Good Conversation". He enjoyed talking on the phone with his friends and loved spending quality time with his family often over an ice- cream cone. Gary always gave it his all and tried to inspire his family and friends to be their best self with his positive attitude. He was famous for saying "Drive On and Keep Your Stick On The Ice". A Celebration of Gary's Life will be held at a later time and date. Gary donated his body to the University at Buffalo Anatomical Gift program. With Love in our hearts and a smile on our lips, we will remember you always. Forever and Ever~ Amen.

A legend of the New Zealand racing industry, who was also a well-known Holstein Friesian breeder, has died. Charles Roberts died this week, aged 96. He owned Meadowlands Holsteins in South Auckland. The stud was "the biggest town milk supplier in the Auckland area" at the time, according to close friend Judith Geddes. "Charles was an amazing man. He was a hard worker who bred some high producing Holstein Friesians." "There were periods when the cows were milked three times a day," said Geddes. A prominent cow in the herd was Meadowlands Larawood VG88. She held the production record in the mid-1990s as a four-year-old, producing 15,550 litres of milk, or 1025 kilograms of milksolids (kgMS) in 305 days. Meadowlands Larawood VG88 was a New Zealand record holder for milk production. Photo / Supplied Her annual production never dropped below 10,000 litres. "He was one of the early adopters of feeding maize silage to dairy cows," said close friend John Rennie. "His Ardmore dairy farm was on peat flats. He built herd shelters. That enabled him to stand cows off pasture and feed them when it was wet." The farm was one of the first in the area to get irrigation to keep grass growing during dry spells, recalled Geddes. Roberts would often stay with Judith and Jim Geddes during trips to Addington for the annual trotting cup. Geddes also knew Charles through her 20-year career working for genetics company World Wide Sires NZ. "Charles did all his own artificial insemination and used a lot of North American genetics," she said. "He was a frequent visitor to the United States. When I told him about a new bull, he'd check it out while he was over there." Roberts was also a veterinarian. He was responsible for post-race drug testing of horses being adopted in New Zealand. He was a successful breeder and owner of racehorses and co-founded standardbred breeding behemoth Woodlands Stud. It grew to be one of the best in the world and home to champion stallion Bettors Delight, the best harness racing stallion to ever stand in Australasia. Courtesy of The New Zealand Herald

Long-time trots owner, trainer, driver and breeder John Robinson sadly passed last night at age 65. Based in the Rockbank and Gisborne area prior to moving to Coimadai, John had a life in the trots, following in the footsteps of his dad Alan 'Doonie' Robinson, owner of brilliant George Gath-trained horse Heroic Action. John began his career with George and Brian Gath and would work with numerous trainers including Alf Simons, Bob Mickan, the Abrahams family and Clinton Welsh. John would also go on to have his own considerable career, training 77 winners from 681 starts and driving 69 winners from 665 starts. Among the most successful horses he trained were Shepparton and Warragul cups winner Jane's Law, Wedderbun Cup winner Bold Counsel and Arco Belino, a multiple-time winner at Moonee Valley. John is survived by his wife Kaye and son Blake. A memorial will be held in his honour, with details to be announced a later date. HRV extend its condolences to John’s friends and family.   Harness Racing Victoria

One of the legends of the harness racing industry Charles Roberts has passed away. At 96 years old and having battled the demon that is dementia for nearly three years Roberts’s passing in his South Auckland nursing home on Monday morning wasn’t a surprise to his family. But it is still very much the end of an era in harness racing as Roberts was a giant of the industry who leaves behind a legacy that will be matched by few. Roberts was a veterinarian his entire working life and was responsible for post-race drugging testing of horses being adopted in New Zealand which changed the integrity of the industry forever. His veterinary practice aside though he was a successful breeder and owner of racehorses in both the thoroughbred and harness racing codes for decades before co-founding standardbred breeding behemoth Woodlands Stud in 1992. After moderate success at times with partner Andrew Grierson the pair changed their business model from from leasing stallions to purchasing their Southern Hemisphere breeding rights. The stud has never looked back and has grown to be one of the best in the world and home to champion stallion Bettors Delight, arguably the greatest harness racing stallion to ever stand in Australasia. Not only has Bettors Delight changed the harness racing breed in New Zealand and Australia through the deeds of champions like Lazarus but in 2014 Bettors Delight’s daughter Adore Me, owned by Roberts won the New Zealand Cup. She later went on to become little miss 1:47.7 in the Ladyship Mile at Menangle, a race Roberts took much pleasure from because he knew in 108 seconds the mare he bred and raced had change the way we thought about times in this part of the world. Adore Me was one of an army of outstanding horses Roberts bred and owned in the last decade of his life and he loved travelling to see them race, even if it was just to hold court at Alexandra Park. In later years that was often with the help of his family and eventually his walking frame. But while his body weakened Charles’s attitude (he always liked being called Charles rather than Charlie) never changed. He was loud to the point of being rambunctious, had the strong opinions of a man with seven decades experience in the industry and a fierce love of the horse, not only his but all horses. His success as a breeder and owner, Woodlands Stud’s enormous generosity as sponsors along with Charles’s contributions to our veterinary industry will ensure Roberts’s legacy in racing continues for decades. He is survived by his daughter Mary (and her husband Paul Kenny), son Mark, seven grandchildren and three great-grand children.   By Michael Guerin

Harness racing world champion Ted Demmler says he will always cherish a special few hours he spent talking and laughing with former fellow reinsman Gavin Lang. Lang, 61, an icon of the sport, lost his battle to a rare form of cancer on Friday. "It was just wonderful - I was there for a couple of hours and we spoke about a lot of things and had some laughs along the way," Demmler said. "I got a big surprise because when I turned up at the hospital Andrew Peace, who was also a brilliant driver in his day was visiting as well," he said. "And anyone who knows Andrew will know he can be the life of the party. We all just had the most special time together." All three are Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame inductees: Demmler in 2011, Lang in 2013 and Peace, a son of legendary horseman Ron "Tubby" Peace, in 2015. Demmler and Peace said during their driving days, Lang "very seldom put a foot wrong". "I drove against both Gavin and Andrew but I seemed to be the number two driver for some of the big stables. I got called upon when the main men got outed or were interstate!" Demmler said. "Gavin was just a super guy and the smartest driver I'd ever seen. We got on very well, but I'm pleased to say that I don't think I was ever on the receiving end of one of Gavin's 'headshakes' when you displeased him!" Andrew Peace was also prominent during the Vin Knight-dominated era of the 1980s but gave the sport away and got employed at Melbourne Airport. A lineup of stars contested the 1990 Horsham Driver’s Championship.  From left to right, Andrew Peace, the late Vin Knight, Gavin Lang, Gaita Pullicino, Lance Justice, Brian Gath, John Justice, Ted Demmler, and Geoff Webster (Greg Matthews Photograph) Demmler hasn't driven for 15 years since being seriously injured in a sickening race fall at Warragul, but was a driving world champion in Europe and an eight time Victorian Drivers' premiership winner, as well as five-time leading Australian driver. He was the first Australian reinsman to land 3000 wins. "I suppose I enjoyed some time at the top levels of the sport, but in saying that, I never classed myself in the same league as Gavin," Demmler said. "He was just a professional - I always held WA's Phil Coulson in the very top bracket, but I'd also put Gavin up there as well," he said. "I can't image life without Gavin, and I've been crying ever since that visit. It can be a cruel world that we live in at times, but Gavin left a legacy that will last forever in our sport.: There will never be another Gavin Lang. Harnesslink sends condolences to Gavin's wife Meagan and daughters Danielle and Courtney.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Opinion piece - In late March, just days after first denying she was going to force the country into lock down a lugubrious looking Jacinda Ardern waved around the “flatten the curve” graphic and told us that if covid-19 was unchecked “our health system will be inundated and thousands of New Zealanders will die" and that consequently New Zealanders now needed to sacrifice fundamental civil liberties and their livelihoods to “save lives.”   There are two critical observations from that press conference.   First, it is now increasingly clear that Ardern misled the country with the claims that tens of thousands of deaths. In an excellent and courageous piece of research (read it here) economist Ian Harrison (who has worked for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements and specialises in risk modelling) demolished the fundamental research on which the government relied for compelling the country into lock down.   No doubt the Ardern government will first dissemble, distract and deny this fact. If that doesn’t satisfy the usually quiescent media expect to see the University of Otago Covid-19 Research Group go under the bus as the government claims it simply “relied on the advice it was given.”   Except this is either a bald-faced lie or chronically incompetent. Let’s be charitable and assume it’s the later: Ardern’s incompetence stems from that fact that no one, anywhere, in any position of authority, ever should take a decision of that magnitude without double and triple checking the facts on which you are relying. Ardern didn’t. If one-man band economist Harrison can figure this out why couldn’t the government’s army of advisors?   Nevertheless, emboldened by a public terrified by hysterical, wall to wall reporting from the legacy media, the government doubled down and so we found ourselves locked into lock down, with all its unintended consequences. Consequences which will be severe, long lasting and almost certain to do more damage than Covid-19 will or could.   Which brings us to the second point from that infamous press conference. The lock down we were told was all about “flattening the curve”, to stop our health system from being “swamped.” But then a funny thing happened: the health system (like those offshore here and here and here) didn’t end up getting overwhelmed at all.   So, like slaves chiselling a pretender pharaoh’s name from the pyramids the flatten curve graphics were quietly removed from the press conferences and in the legacy media. They were replaced with a new message – this time “elimination.”  The Prime Minister stated: "We will step down to level 3 in a way that is consistent with our goal to eliminate Covid-19 in New Zealand.”    To be fair to Ardern you could justify the change in course if it was going to work, no one should expected to pursue a strategy that is clearly flawed solely for political expediency (except of course she has before – see here)   The problem of course is that this new strategy is a), as hopelessly flawed in its empirical justifications as the original strategy, and b) worse, even if succeeds it will cripple New Zealand for years to come.   First, elimination means just that, elimination, and no one outside New Zealand is taking that possibility seriously. Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, told a New Zealand parliamentary committee April 14 that eradicating the virus is a “nirvana” scenario. The reasons the elimination strategy is extremely unlikely to be successful are surprisingly simple:   The R0 value of the corona virus is high and its spreads asymptomatically, so in short it spreads extremely easily, making containment with anything short of a lock down impossible. Upwards of 80% of those who contract the virus have no symptoms (ie never feel sick at all) which makes tracking the virus extremely difficult unless you implement mass population testing and contact tracing at a level far beyond New Zealand’s capacity (our contract tracing system has been described as a dinosaur).   The tests the government plans to rely on to identify Covid-19 are well known to generate both false negatives and false positives. It is estimated the number of unidentified cases is between 8 and 10 times the real figures, meaning New Zealand is likely to have tens of thousands of people carrying Covid19 with no symptoms.  In short it is almost inconceivable that New Zealand can eliminate Covid19 without maintaining a permanent lock down. Which begs the question: if weren’t flattening the curve and we can’t eliminate it why did we go into an economy crippling, poverty inducing, long term public health damaging lock down?   But, just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that somehow New Zealand achieves the impossible and we do eliminate Covid19 – what then? What happens when the dog chasing the car actually catches the car?   The rest of the world will still have Covid19. As mentioned, no one, anywhere else in the world is even considering this strategy. New Zealand will become a de facto prison for its 4.9M “citizens.”   Large scale in-bound travel to New Zealand will be effectively eliminated, and with it the tourism sector, our largest export earner, contributing $45 billion to GDP annually. Without offshore tourism Air New Zealand will become a domestic only airline, so expect few flights to or from our fair shores (great news if you are a hard-green environmentalist, curtains for tens of thousands of employees).   With few onshore flights the opportunities for New Zealanders to travel offshore will become few and expensive – say goodbye to that holiday in Europe or 2 weeks in Fiji and look forward to 2 weeks quarantine when you return home. It’s also very difficult to grow an international business entirely through Zoom so expect the slow but steady strangulation of New Zealand’s export orientated businesses. Likewise expect prices of imports to surge and with the virtual elimination of immigration and a collapsing economy, walled off East Germany-like from the rest of the world, property prices to fall.   And all this assumes that there are no slip ups. But as Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital who advises the Australian government on Covid19 states: “the reality is this virus is everywhere, it’s all around the world. So even if you’re successful for a short period of time, how long do you do this for? Six months? Two years? Invariably, you’re going to get the virus re-introduced.” As Steven Joyce succinctly put it the “idea that we would get rid of Covid-19 is pie in the sky fantasy”   Proponents of the elimination strategy argue that “Colditz New Zealand” won’t be needed for more than 18 months and all we have to do is wait for a vaccine. However, there is no guarantee we will get a vaccine. As David Nabarro, professor of global health at Imperial College, London, and an envoy for the World Health Organisation on Covid-19 states: “You don’t necessarily develop a vaccine that is safe and effective against every virus. Some viruses are very, very difficult when it comes to vaccine development - so for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to find ways to go about our lives with this virus as a constant threat.”   Neither will anti-body testing be anymore effective, with even the World Health Organisation warning that “there is no evidence that people who have recovered from coronavirus have immunity to the disease [and] there is no proof that such antibody tests can show if someone who has been infected with COVID-19 cannot be infected again.”   In short, there is a very, very real risk that the cavalry is not coming for New Zealand. We could be trapped here for a very long time – like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings – “we cannot get out.”   Finally, we need to consider even if an effective vaccine was developed just how high up the priority list is New Zealand really going to be? If you are handing out vaccines do you prioritise the 5M people at the bottom of the world who are at no immediate risk or other 7.5 billion who are? The US and China are already hoarding and interdicting Personal Protection Equipment – what makes us think a vaccine will be different?   In short, the government’s whole Covid-19 “strategy” from start to finish has been flawed. It was based on flawed modelling and amplified by hysterical media reporting. And now New Zealand’s plan to “eliminate” the virus looks more like a bullet wound to the stomach, the result of which will be long, painful and lonely death. If you enjoyed this article please share across on FaceBook, Twitter etc. These articles take a long time to research and your support in getting the message out there is greatly appreciated.   Both the NZ Herald and Stuff originally indicated they would publish my Covid-19 articles but then pulled the pin at the last moment, I suspect (with good reason) under political pressure. The Emperor's Robes - The Observations of Alex Davis

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