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At the closing of the 2016 season in the UK, the British Harness Racing Club published the final standings for leading owner, trainer and horse. In two of the categories it was a race to the wire as trainers William 'Rocker' Laidler and Teresa Haythornthwaite, and owners Raymond Huschka and Claire Fletcher, battled it out into the final meetings at Corbiewood, Scotland, to win the title. Leading owner for the 2016 season went the way of Claire Fletcher, who secured the title on the final full day's racing at Corbiewood on 23rd October when Indie Hanover and Porcelain Seelster both notched up victories to make the winning tally 30 wins and 63 top 3 finishes. Last year's leading owner, Raymond Huschka, finished in second place with 28 wins and 80 top 3 finishes. BHRC Chairman Roy Sheedy finished third in the table, with 16 wins and 48 top 3 finishes. Claire Fletcher has previously won the title in 2011, and described the highlight of this season as "winning Musselburgh (The Famous Musselburgh Pace Final with Sports Trick), "it "was the best feeling and seeing Shane's (Claire's husband and co-organiser of the race meeting at Wolverhampton Racecourse) face, we were so emotional both of us". "We can only thank Team Haythornthwaite (trainer Teresa and drivers Alan, Richard and James) for everything they do, they work so hard and love the horses. We can't thank them enough. There are a lot of highs and lows in racing but this season we finished on a high". The trainer's title was all but decided the previous week at Corbiewood, as 'Rocker' Laidler extended his lead over Teresa Haythornthwaite, a deficit which could not be overcome despite Teresa training the aforementioned Claire Fletcher-owned duo who won at the final fixture. 'Rocker' Laidler has previously won the title, before wife Alexis went on a winning streak of 8 trainer's titles in a row, making this the tenth year straight that a Laidler has won the Championship. Rocker's season highlights included winning the Park Lodge Final at Aberystwyth and the 4YO Championship with Mikey Camden, and the Bells Field Final and Tregaron Classic Final with Evenwood Sonofagun. He won the FFA at Monmouth and Newcastle with Meadowbranch Josh also. His finally tally stands at 45 wins, with 148 top 3 finishes. Second-placed Teresa Haythornthwaite recorded 43 wins, with 103 top 3 finishes; and David Taff placed third with 31 wins and 62 top 3 finishes. The driver's title was a runaway affair as the season progressed, as Scottish driver William Greenhorn stormed to the top of the leader board early in the year and maintained momentum. The achievement was made all the more impressive due to the fact that Greenhorn was not affiliated to any major stable in 2016, and although he drove a number of horses that he has an established partnership with on behalf of other trainers, he also scored with numerous catch drives, forging new partnerships with horses and trainers alike. Greenhorn described winning the title as "a great personal achievement to win as it reflects how you have done over the full season rather than how you performed on a particular day. This title hasn't been won by a Scottish driver for a good number of years so I'm proud to give Scotland this recognition also". "Competing in the VDM Final and the Crock of Gold Final were highlights of the season, although I had no success in them". Greenhorn did have success however in FFA class races with Meadowbranch Josh at Tregaron in May, as well as the SHRC 2YO Futurity with Crosshill Ace. He also proved his worth when guiding Ayr Escape to the gelding's first win in 63 starts. Numerous drives were provided by leading trainer Rocker Laidler, including winning both heat and final at Hellifield. It was good to see former leading driver Laidler showing support to Greenhorn, who has acted as catch driver for the Laidler team for many years when the stables have qualified two of more runners for major handicap finals. He topped the table with 55 wins and 135 top 3 finishes; Rocker Laidler finished second with 39 wins and 126 top 3 finishes, and SHRC Leading Driver in 2015, Grant Cullen, recorded 37 wins and 86 top 3 finishes. Leading horse for 2016 was awarded to the Sally Teeboon-trained Miraculous (Arts Conquest-Another Mattie-Presidential Ball), having won 9 of his 10 starts this season. Last year's leading 2YO colt stepped up at age three to dominate once again in his age category, but also recorded a victory in his first start of the year in open class company against aged pacers. His CV now boasts the 3YO Scottish Grass Derby at Musselburgh, the NWHOA 3YO Championship, Breeders Crown 3YO Colts, BHRC National Pacing Derby (Colts), Sire Stakes 3YO Colts and the Oakwood Stud 3YO Derby and Portmarnock, Ireland. Last year's leading 2YO filly, Jessies Conquest (Arts Conquest-Apopka Denise-Jennas Beach Boy), also stepped up at age three, recording 8 wins in 10 starts to finish second in the table for owner/trainer/driver Marc Jones. Her victories included the Monmouth 3YO Colts & Fillies Pace, where she beat Miraculous, Ceredigion 3YO Fillies, NWHOA 3YO Fillies, Little Welsh Dragoness, National Pacing Derby (Fillies) and the Sire Stakes 3YO Fillies. Rhyds Mystique finished third, winning 8 of her 9 starts in the top 2YO races this season for trainer John Gill, with the VDM Final being the only race to elude her all season. The BHRC awards for horses in the various categories will be voted on imminently by the clubs and associations around the UK, as well as individuals on the BHRC Council. The short list for each category are as follows: HORSE OF THE YEAR will be voted on by the BHRC Committee from the winners of the below categories in 2016. The winners of the below categories will be voted on at the AGM in December, with a further vote at a later date to finalise the Horse of the Year 2016. Pacer of the Year Evenwood Sonofagun From 11 starts he has only been outside the top four twice. Most notably in August he won the Bells Field Heat and Final and within the week took the Welsh Classic Heat & Final at Tregaron. Owned by Raymond Huschka, trained and driven by William 'Rocker' Laidler. Mikey Camden With 7 wins in 2016, this horse travelled for most of the big handicap races - Appleby Spring, Musselburgh, Aberystwyth and Tregaron. He was well placed in all and winner of the Park Lodge Classic Heat & Final at Aberystwyth. Owned by Raymond Huschka and trained by William 'Rocker' Laidler. Sports Trick Winner of 7 races in 2016 including the Senior Welsh Dragon at Tregaron, Appleby Spring Sunday Handicap Heat & Final, the NWSA 4YO Championship at Tir Prince and of course The Famous Musselburgh Pace Heat & Final. He was also runner up in the Park Lodge Classic Final at Ceredigion, beaten by only 1 length. Owned by Leading Owner Claire Fletcher, trained by Teresa Haythornthwaite and driven by Alan Haythornthwaite. Mare of the Year Blytheview Peach With 4 victories in 2016, this mare has advanced from Maiden through to Grade 3. Her first victory was at the Tregaron Festival in August, quickly followed by victories at Almeley and Tir Prince, with her four at York on Sale Day in October. Owned by Cheryl Podmore, driven by Jason Podmore and trained by Jason Podmore and Victoria Elvin from June. Frisco Frisk A tough and consistent mare who realised 3 victories from 12 starts in 2016. Her first victory was at Wolverhampton in June and the other two in 4YO stakes at Tir Prince; the NWSA 4YO Fillies Championship and Breeders Crown 4YO Mares. She realised £14,000 when offered for sale at Brightwells in October. Owned by the Fools Who Dream Syndicate and trained by Teresa Haythornthwaite. Shades Of Grey A terrific mare who has achieved 8 top 3 finishes from 14 races, 5 of which were victories. Her first win came at Wolverhampton in June, followed by a tough race at Musselburgh where she held on and won the top Heat of the Famous Musselburgh Pace. She won a Stayers Pace at Pikehall in some of the toughest conditions, a STAGBI Mares Pace at Tir Prince and a Red Mills sponsored Pace at Dundalk. Owned by Leading Owner Claire Fletcher, trained by Teresa Haythornthwaite and driven by James Haythornthwaite. Trotter of the Year Sacha Of Carless A late import in 2016, he squeezed in 10 races and struck up a 50% strike rate. He has raced over varying distances and had victories at Musselburgh, Newcastle and Tir Prince including the 2-mile endurance trot in September. Owned by John Foy and trained by David Taff. Sire Pazenais Another fresh 2016 import for the Le Trot series, he has been victorious in one third of his starts, placed in one third and only out of the placings on three occasions. Owner by Paul L Mather Jnr and trained by Paul Mather. Sulky Du Blequin 2016 was his second season racing under BHRC, where from 13 starts he realised 11 top 3 finishes. Racing over varying distances and on all surfaces he had back to back victories at Wolverhampton in June, the Gold Le Trot at Musselburgh, the George Dixon Memorial Trot at Tir Prince, the Le Trot Saddle race at Tir Prince and lastly an impressive 11 length win at Chelmsford. Owned by John Foy and trained by David Taff and John Foy. Tenor Meslois Imported as part of the Le Trot initiative in 2016, this trotter has been very successful with 12 top 3 finishes from 15 races. He racked up 6 victories on a variety of tracks and over a variety of distances; Tregaron over 1¼ miles, Wolverhampton over 1m100yds, Monmouth over 1¼ miles, Tir Prince over 1 mile and 1¼ miles and Amman Valley over 1m940yds. Owned by Gwenan Thomas, trained and driven by Rhys Evans. 3YO Colt of the Year Miraculous Needing no introduction, he was the 2015 2YO Colt of the Year and is exactly as his name suggests. Leading Horse by number of wins in 2016 he is the champion of the Musselburgh 3YO Grass Championship, the NWSA 3YO Championship, the Barney Joyce Memorial 3YO, the Breeders Crown 3YO Colts, the Oakwood Stud BHRC Colts Derby and the BHRC Sire Stakes 3YO Colts. Owned by Arnie Flower, trained by Sally Teeboon and driven by Patrick Kane Jnr. Truly miraculous is every way. 3YO Filly of the Year Jessies Conquest 2015 2YO Filly of the Year, her 3YO campaign lived up to all expectations. Winner of the Monmouth 3YO Fillies, the Ceredigion 3YO Fillies, the NWSA 3YO Fillies Championship, Little Welsh Dragoness 3YO, the Oakwood Stud BHRC Fillies Derby and the BHRC Sire Stakes 3YO Fillies. Bred, Owned, Trained and Driven by Marc T Jones. She boasts a very strong CV. 2YO Colt of the Year Rhyds Decoy From the mare CPR this colt was always expected to excel and add to the numerous stakes races of her other progeny. He didn't disappoint, finishing in the top 3 of all his 6 starts and winning the Ceredigion 2YO Colts, a Vincent Delaney Prep at Tir Prince and also the BHRC Sire Stakes 2YO Colts. Owned by the BKB Syndicate, trained by Joanne Cairns and driven by Andrew Cairns. Tyrion Hanover Lightly raced as most 2YOs are, this colt was rightly placed by owner John Howard and trainer Samboy Howard. He finished in the top 3 of 4 out of his 5 races, conquering the heat and final of possibly the most prestigious 2YO race of present; the Vincent Delaney Memorial. 2YO Filly of the Year Rhyds Mystique From a CPR line mare, this filly also has a catalogue of successful siblings. She proved to be the best yet winning 8 out of 9 of her starts including the NWSA 2YO Fillies, the Ceredigion 2YO Fillies, a Vincent Delaney Prep, the Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies, the Vincent Delaney 2YO Fillies Division, the Junior Welsh Dragoness, the Rhyds Stud BHRC Fillies Futurity and the BHRC Sire Stakes 2YO Fillies. Owned by Victoria Elvin, trained by John Gill and driven by Victoria Gill. Overseas Horse of the Year Any horse that has connections to an IHRA registered owner or trainer in the relevant season can be nominated under this category. Kickass Katie 4YO filly who has rarely been out of the placings all season. Under BHRC she finished 2nd in the Strata Florida Heat at Tregaron and 3rd in the final. In late September she made the trip over to Tir Prince for the Sire Stakes and was victorious in the 4YO fillies division in a very respectable time of 1.59.6. Owned and driven by John Richardson, and trained by William Flanagan. Porterstown Road First raced under BHRC in June at Tir Prince he finished 2nd in a Crock of Gold Heat, followed by second again in the FFA at Ceredigion. In July he took on the Crock of Gold heats again and was triumphant in a clock of 1.57.3, a run that gained him entry to the final in August when he excelled and held off the competition to take the Crock of Gold 2016. Owned by the family of the late RGB Webster, trained by Geoff Dunne and driven by Jonathan Dunne. Special Contribution to Harness Racing The winner of this category will be determined by the Awards Event Organisation Committee. All nominations will be considered and the winner announced along with Horse of the Year: Elizabeth O'Neil & Kareen New Sarah Thomas Heulwen Bulman Sue Williams (Tir Prince) Awards will be presented at the BHRC & STAGBI Annual Awards Event on Saturday 25th February 2017 - award winners will be invited to attend; further details to follow. by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink

Dublin, Ireland - It was a proud day for harness racing in Ireland as Trotter Francaise, Vichy de Moem, and driver Alan Richard put in a last half mile in :57.7 to rewrite the world record on a half mile track for two-miles at 4:05.7 Sunday at Portmarnock Raceway. The race was for the Barney Richardson Memorial Cup with five of the best trotter in Ireland going for the world record that was held by Ake Svanstedt's Clear Sign at 4:06.8 in Sweden in 2013. It was closing day at Portmarnock for the 2016 season and the world record attempt was the fifth race feature on the program. A huge crowd was in attendance to see if Ireland could own its first world record. It was Silvano Bello and driver Donal Murphy who took early commend and led the field for the first three laps, unofficially going to the first quarter in :31 as they raced Indian style to the half mile in 1:05, the three-quarters in 1:33.4. Then at the one mile marker in 2:35.7, the thought was that the record was out of reach, but once they passed the teletimer at the 1.5 mile mark in 3:08, Alan Richardson came charging to the front with Vichy De Moem for the final lap. Looking strong on the lead, Vichy De Moem was then challenged in the backstretch the final time by Twist Du Layon and driver Patrick Kane, Jr. of Miraculous fame, who came after the race leaders up on the outside. Those two made it a race to the finish as Vichy De Moem kicked in another gear coming down the stretch to win by one and one-half lengths. Twist Du Layon was second with Scoop's Team and driver Brenda Hudson grabbing third place. Driver Alan Richardson was beside himself as he brought Vichy De Moem back to the winner's enclosure amidst a roaring crowd cheering the world record holders on. There were nearly 100 family members, friends and well-wishers crowding the track. "What an amazing day." Richardson said as he got off the race bike. "He (Vichy De Moem) is a super horse and what a huge day this is for Ireland. We finally own a world record." A seven-year-old gelding by Viraldi De Chanu, Vichy De Moem has been one of the top Trotter Francaise in the LeTrot Series in Ireland and the UK this year. By Steven Wolf for Portmarnock Raceway  

DUBLIN, Ireland - With just over 24 hours to go before the world record attempt for 2 miles, the last of the preparations are currently taking place at Portmarnock Raceway, ensuring optimum track conditions for the seasons finale. The weather forecast is currently good for this time of year with an expected high of 18 degrees and plenty of sunshine forecasted for tomorrow (Sunday). Five of Irelands top trotters are set to go to post at approx. 3.30pm (10.30am USA) and for those that cannot make it in person, this race will be covered LIVE on Portmarnock Raceways Facebook page. Likely favourite is renowned stayer Vichy De Moem and trainer/driver Alan Richardson has oozed confidence all week in the run up to the 2 mile marathon. Brenda Hudson drivers her own Scoops Team and there wont be a dry eye in the house should the only female driver in the line-up beat the boys on the day. Billy Star the youngest in the field at only 5 years old will be driven by the oldest driver in the race Christy "Hopper" Foran and a win for him will ensure SHRI Trotter Of The Year honours for popular local trainer Stephen Foran. Silvano Bello for West Cork's Donal Murphy has hit form with a vengeance in recent weeks whilst Patrick Kanes Twist Du Layon claimed the last invitation to the race with a track record win over 1¼ miles at the venue last Sunday. Both look to be up against it on form but over this extreme trip of 2 miles, four laps, all 5 runners have live chances of landing the spoils. This event has captured the imagination of harness fans worldwide with luminaries such as top announcer Roger Huston, Australian broadcaster Gareth Hall, current record holder Ake Svanstedt, world driving champion Jody Jamieson from Canada, journalist Bill Hutchinson and US based driver "Irish" Joe Hanney all posting up messages of support on Portmarnock Raceway's Facebook page so far with many more well-wishing videos expecting to being posted up by the great and the good of the sport every other hour in the lead up to the contest. Local track promoter and photographer Nadina Ironia has been thrilled with the interest that this world record attempt has generated and for such a small trotting community the Irish are certainly punching above their weight knowing the eyes of the harness racing world will be on focussed on Portmarnock tomorrow afternoon. A recent on-line poll has revealed that over 75% of respondents believe that this record of 4:06.8 held by Svansted's Clear Sign, will be broken and it will be the first time that the Irish will hold a harness racing world record. So will it be victory for Vichy? can Hudson Scoop the pot? Is there a new Star about to be born? will Silvano be the saviour for the bookies? or will there be one final Twist on the final day of the season. Come out for the closing day of racing at Portmarnock tomorrow or watch on Facebook LIVE - Portmarnock Raceway Facebook page approx 3.30 local time (10.30am in USA). by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

DUBLIN, Ireland - The curtain comes down on the 2016 Irish harness racing season at Portmarnock Raceway this Sunday 30th October where the grand finale and feature race of the afternoon will be a world record attempt for trotters covering 2 miles on a half-mile track. Current record holder is the Swedish stakes performer Clear Sign, who trotted the equivalent of 4:06.8 back on 3rd July 2013 with man of the moment Ake Svanstedt doing the steering. The promoter behind this audacious world record attempt is Thomas Richardson, part owner of Irelands top trotting star, Vichy De Moem, and he firmly believes that the Irish can strike a blow against the larger more established harness racing nations and put Ireland on the map as an emerging force. Joining Vichy De Moem in the lineup are Billy Star, Rol D'Auvignere, Scoops Team and West Cork raider, Silvano Bello, with draw for all gate positions to be held on race day. In a bold move to add further spice to the event, Richardson has also extended a wild-card entry across the water to John Foy who owns and trains the UKs top trotter, Sulky De Belquin, and his participation would make this world record attempt all the more memorable. Tom Richardson and family have put up their father Barneys memorial cup for the race and contributed a significant amount of sponsorship which will see the purse rise to approximately €3,500 euros with a small entry fee of just €50 to enter. All in all it promises to be a fantastic and fitting way to end what's been a vintage season at Portmarnock Raceway and is guaranteed to send punters home on a high with maybe one of those rare "I was there when history was made" moments. By Thomas Bennett, for Portmarnock Raceway

DUBLIN, Ireland - The annual Charity Ladies Day at Pormarnock Raceway will take place this Sunday, September 4 and is being sponsored by legendary lady driver Brenda Hudson. Also sponsorship cards from each of the participating drivers with all of the proceedings going to the chosen charity, aiding the Laura Lynn Children's Hospice of Dublin. You can visit their website at https://lauralynn.ie/. The previous year's experiences for Ladies Day have been a great success. This is the third year of the event that is run by the Kane Family. It has previously raised over €10,000 for the Beaumont Hospital Foundation and the Irish Guide Dogs for children with severe forms of autism. There will be a massive raffle amazing prizes donated for this event. Pony rides and face painting is being sponsored by Mooreside Equestrian. There will be a full supporting race card and with all the activities it promises to be a great day of racing headlined by the Grendon Memorial heats and final for the pacers. First race post time is 3:00 pm. By Nadina Ironia for Portmarnock Raceway  

DUBLIN, Ireland - Two track records, one major upset and a grand time for the thousands of people in attendance headlined the final day of the 5th annual Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway Sunday. By the end of the weekend if they had had a key to the racetrack at Portmarnock they would have given it to the World Driving Champion, New Zealand's Dexter Dunn, as he stole the show over the two-day meet. Dunn, who wowed the crowds last year in his debut at the VDM, showed the fans his universal driving abilities, scoring four winners during the meeting, capping it off with a stunning upset in the very last race of the day Sunday. It was the final of the inaugural VDM Final for two-year-old filly pacers, sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm and the Adam Bowden Family of Kentucky. Dunn, who had qualified two horses for the final on Saturday, made the right choice in selecting IB Coyote to drive in the final. The 13th race saw the overwhelming favorite, Rhyds Mystique and driver Vicky Gill, who has won two of the last three VDM finals, find early clearance starting from the second tier in post eight, and work their way to the lead before the opening quarter in :29.3. Rhyds Mystique, who had rattled off five straight wins, including a 2:02.1 triumph Saturday in her elimination race, had Jennifer Camden (Aaron Merriman) right on their backs and then was faced with Dexter Dunn coming first-over with IB Coyote. They went to the half mile marker in :59.6 and then Gill backed off the pace to the three-quarters in 1:31.5, preparing for a sprint home to the finish. But that was not in the cards for them today. With Dunn's IB Coyote looking to begin to fade on the final turn, driver Mick Lord sent Greenhill Debatable three-wide to nearly loop the race leaders and that move seemed to wake IB Coyote up as Dunn kept her alive despite being parked out for most of the one-mile race. Then in a dramatic stretch drive, IB Coyote dug down deep and Dunn kept her going through the finish to win by a half-length in 2:02.8 over Greenhill Debatable with Jennifer Camden a close third. Rhyds Mystique faded to sixth place. "I wanted to give chase early," Dunn explained, "and get her up close to the action but it didn't work out that way and we ended up getting parked. But boy was she handy today. By the final turn I did not think she would make do, but she came back super strong to win it." Sent off at odds of 5-1, it was the second straight win, a lifetime mark and the third victory on the season for IB Coyote. The daughter of Share The Delight is trained by Tadhg Murphy and co-owned by Bill Donocan and the IB Stables. In the VDM Final for the colts, it was the American-bred son of Somebeachsomewhere, Tyrion Hanover, who went off as the wagering favorite and did not disappoint the fans but gave them a bit of a scare in winning the 11th race. Dragons Den (John Richardson) started off the show and then gave way to Rhyds Rival (Billy Roche) to the opening quarter mile in :29.4. Benny Camden (Alan Richardson) was first-over and pressured the leader to a half mile in a quick :57.6 with Tyrion Hanover and driver Richard Haythornthwaite coming up into second-over position. With momentum at their advantage, Haythornthwaite allowed Tyroin Hanover to keep going and sent him three-wide by the three-quarters in 1:29.5 and despite being parked out, Tyroin Hanover kept eating up ground and once they started down the stretch he not only collared the leaders but passed them by to win with ease by one and one-half lengths in 2:01.5. Dragons Den was able to come back for second place with Harrison Camden (Martin Loughran) closing for third place. "I didn't want to rush him too much," Haythornthwaite said, "but I had to make sure I kept him on the move. He was making up ground with that big move on the final turn and he still had a little left for the finish." "He's pretty good to train and easy tempered to work with," said trainer Samboy Howard of Tyroin Hanover. "I guess we're partying tonight for sure." A $14,000 yearling purchase last year at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania by John James Howard, Sr. (Samboy's father), it was the second straight win and a lifetime mark for Tyroin Hanover. The track records at Portmarnock began to fall starting in the eighth race as driver Alan Wallace and Coalford Tetrick were able to wire the field in the 1.5 mile Paul Murtagh, Sr. 4YO Derby Pace in 2:58.5, winning with ease by three lengths. The pocket-sitting JMS Hallstar (Gavin Murdoch) was second with Evenwood Sonofagun (William Laidler) third. Sired by Rouge Hall, Coalford Tetrick is owned and trained by Stephan Jones. Then in the Oakwood Stud 3YO Derby Pace, the sensation son of Arts Conquest, Miraculous, winner of the 2015 VMD, set the track record for colts at 1.5 miles, also wiring the field by two lengths for driver Patrick Kane, Jr. in 2:59.7. Rival Newtown Rock (Dexter Dunn) was second with Arts Pace Hill (Andrew Cairns) third. It was the sixth straight win for Miraculous, who is trained by Sally Teeboon for owner S. Arnie Flower. The sixth race, the Rocknroll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American Cup FFA Pace, sponsored by the Bellino Racing Stable with Joe Bellino and his family, eight in all, coming over for the big race weekend saw Porterstown Road and driver Aaron Merriman first on the lead. They could have stopped the race right then as Merriman and Porterstown Road never looked back, strolling to the wire to win by four open lengths in 1:57 over Bath Lane (John Richardson) with Deans Alibi (Dexter Dunn) third. "What a super weekend this has been," said Derek Delaney, head of the VDM Committee that organizes the entire weekend. "Each year this race weekend gets bigger and bigger with racing fans, owners, breeders, trainers and drivers from around the world coming here to Ireland. It is just fantastic." Derek and his brother, James Delaney, developed the race weekend in 2012 in memory of their young brother Vincent, who tragically died in 2011. It has become the biggest and richest race weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend      

Dublin, Ireland - Two of the harness racing world's top drivers, Aaron Merriman of the USA and Dexter Dunn from New Zealand, both found their own pots of gold on day one of the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend at Portmarnock Raceway Saturday. Merriman, the world's top dash winning driver in 2015 and the current world leader this season, had to wait until the last race on the program to get his first victory outside of North America. It came in the 11th race Free-For-All Pace sponsored by PJI Engineering and Lee Edwards, a bulky nine-horse field where only four horses can have their nose on the starting gate. Merriman was in post nine, thus starting from the third tier for the one-mile race. "I really wanted to get a win today," Merriman said, "and it may have taken until the last race but man is this awesome. My horse was a little aggressive and once we had clearance I just let him do it." Driving the six-year-old Somebeachsomewhere stallion, Sepia Sands, for owner/trainer Geoff Dunne, Merriman was able to swing wide of the field after the opening quarter mile and then came first-over, clearing to the lead at the half mile. From there they were home free, coasting to the wire four lengths up on the field. Their time of 1:58.1 was not only the fastest mile of the day on Portmarnock's half mile oval, but a lifetime mark for Sepia Sands. "I'm loving it here," Merriman added. "I have never been on this type of track before and might of have been a bit nervous at the start of the day, but after a couple of races I was into the swing of things. The people here are so friendly and outgoing, coming up to me just to say hello and welcome me to Ireland. It's all awesome!" There were four elimination divisions Saturday for the 5th annual Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial for two-year-old pacers. Two divisions for fillies and two for colts. The first two finishers from each division plus the fastest six other horses from either division, return and race on Sunday in their respective finals for colts and fillies. It was in the two filly divisions where Dexter Dunn rose to the occasion, winning one division and finishing third in the other, thus now having to choose between the two fillies on which one to drive Sunday in the final. The first division (sixth race) saw the unbeaten Rhyds Mystique and driver Vicky Gill post their fifth straight victory with a five length wire-to-wire romp in 2:02.1, the fastest of all four elimination divisions. In doing so, Rhyds Mystique also posted a lifetime mark for trainer John Gill (Vicky's dad) and owner Victoria Elvin of the UK. Second in the mile was Greenhillbebatable (Mick Lord) with Newtown Amber (Dexter Dunn) third and also making the final, She's Royal (Billy Roche). Then in the second division (seventh race), Dexter Dunn came first-over with IB Coyote (by Dark Bay), cleared to the lead at the half mile and then went on to win by one length in 2:04.9. It was Dunn's second winner on the day. IB Coyote is trained by Tadhy Murphy and is owned by Bill Donoan and the IB Stables. Second was Jennifer Camden (Aaron Merriman), third went to Crosshill Ace (William Greenhorn) and also making it to the final was Theladieslovejim (Andrew Cairns) in fourth. The first colt division was the third race where Share A Smile (Hugh Menzies) went right to the early lead from post two with Frankie Camden (Rock Laidler) right on their back through easy opening fractions as the favorite, Tyrion Hanover (Richard Haythornthwaite) made an early bobble around the opening quarter mile. But then surging to come back into contention, Tyrion Hanover and Haythornthwaite came sweeping three-wide before the final turn and flying on the far outside near the fan's fence, collared the race leaders and blew by them to win by three lengths in 2:03.2. It was the second win this year and a lifetime mark for Tyrion Hanover, a gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere, who is trained by Samboy Howard and owned by John James Howard, Sr. Frankie Camden was second with Share A Smile third and also making it to the final Sunday was Dragon's Den (John Richardson) and Rodney Camden. In the fourth race second colt division, Benny Camden and driver Alan Richardson were seemly trapped in the two-hole early in the mile behind pacesetter Talavary Motivator (John Richardson) and All Good Hanover (Andrew Cairns) who was first-over early, but then went off-stride. Picking up the chase first-over at the half mile and locking Benny Camden in once again was Harrison Camden (M. Loughran), but after the three-quarters in 1:34, Richardson was able to find clearance with Benny Camden, swing to the outside and gun down Rhyds Rival (Billy Roche) to win by one length in 2:04.2. Harrison Camden held game for third place to make it to the final. A son of Pro Bono Best, Benny Camden is trained by Richardson and owned by the Kavanagh and Forari Stables. Sunday's action-packed program not only features the finals of the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial for colts, but also the inaugural VDM filly final that is being sponsored by Adam Bowden's Diamond Creek Farm from the USA, the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds at 1.5 miles, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace that is sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Elvin-Delaney French LeTrot FFA. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend    

DUBLIN, Ireland - The biggest and richest race weekend in all of Ireland and Great Britain, the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial, is set to go Saturday and Sunday (August 13 & 14) at Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin. With a record number of 180 horses set to compete over the two days, the limelight will be on the Vincent Delaney Memorial (VDM), which is for two-year-old pacers. For the first time colts and fillies each have their own divisions to compete in. Both divisions drew 14 entries so two elimination divisions will take place Saturday with the top four official finishers returning Sunday afternoon for their respective finals. "It is the biggest and toughest challenge for any two-year-old in the sport." Said Derek Delaney, head of the VDM committee. "No other race weekend requires 2yos to race back to back days. But every year since 2012 our entry numbers increase by more than 10 percent. The VDM has become the race that everyone wants to win in Ireland and the UK." The race was developed by Derek and his brother, James Delaney, who own and operate Oakwood Stud, one of the top up and coming breeding facilities in Ireland, to honor the memory of their younger brother, Vincent, who tragically died of a massive heart attack at age 27 in 2011. The first colt division is the third race Saturday and is headed by recent Breeders Crown UK & Ireland winner Share A Smile (Pro Bono Best), Rhyds Rock Star (Hasty Hall) and Tyrion Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere). The second division is the fourth race featuring the super tough Rhyds Rival (Hasty Hall) taking on Benny Camden (Pro Bono Best) and Talavary Motivator (Crown Manhattan). The fillies get underway in the sixth race with Breeders Crown UK & Ireland winner Rhyds Mystique (Hasty Hall) the big favorite going against Greenhilldebatable (Well Said) and Coalford Honey (Coalford Laag). The Share The Delight filly, IB Coyote heads the seventh race second filly division against Cross Hill Ace (Cam's Card Shark) and Theladieslovejim (Big Jim). "We have many of the leading owners, breeders, drivers and trainers from around the world coming to Ireland this weekend." Derek Delaney said. "Our feature drivers are Aaron Merriman from the USA, who led the world with the most wins in 2015 and currently leads all drivers in 2016. Also here for the second straight year is New Zealand's Dexter Dunn, who wowed the crowd at the VDM last year and has been racing in Wales at Tir Prince Raceway the last ten days. "We also have Adam Bowden from Diamond Creek Farm in the USA," Delaney explained, "and they are sponsoring the inaugural VDM Filly Final. Top owner Joe Bellino of Rocknroll Heaven and Pet Rock fame is here from the USA with his entire family, Alan Galloway, the owner of Alabar Stud, the biggest breeders in all of Australia and New Zealand is here. World renowned trainers John McDermott from New Zealand and Joann Looney-King from the USA are all here for the VDM weekend." Additional major stakes events over the weekend include the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds at 1.5 miles, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace that is sponsored by Joe Bellino, the Lee Edwards/PJI Engineering Junior FFA Pace and the Elvin-Delaney French FFA Trot. In the Oakwood Stud Derby, all eyes will be on last year's VDM winner, Miraculous and driver Patrick Kane, Jr. This year Miraculous has become the top three-year-old pacer of the year with five straight wins and last week set the track record at Tir Prince and prior to that took his lifetime mark of 1:55.9 at Portmarnock Raceway. "We have full fields in nearly every race," Delaney added, "which should make for some great action and odds for the fans and the bookies on site. Both race cards are very competitive and I know the fans coming out and our special guests from around the world are going to have a super time. "And for the third straight year our special guest announcer is USA Hall of Famer Roger Huston joining Darren Owen in the booth." Delaney added. "It is just amazing how this weekend has grown into such a special event. Both James and I know that our brother Vincent would be so proud of what we have done in his memory." By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial

DUBLIN, Ireland – A record number of 180 horses have entered the weekend race card for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway just outside of Dublin. “My brother James and I cannot believe how everyone wants to race this weekend,” said Derek Delaney, head of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee. “For the fourth straight year we keep growing and growing.” A total of 188 horses have been entered for the Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14 two-day meet. That is up 11.12% over prior year. The big race of the weekend is the 5th annual Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial (VDM) for two-year-old pacers. This is first year that there are both a colt and filly division with 14 youngsters entered in both events. The VDM is a rugged event that requires horses to compete in elimination divisions on Saturday and then come back again Sunday to race in the finals. The inaugural filly division is being sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm of Kentucky, USA. Each of the finals race for a purse of $16,000 euros.  Vincent Delaney was Derek and James younger brother who tragically died in 2011 at the age of 27. The brothers then developed the memorial race series in his honor and it has since grown to become the richest stakes event and weekend in the history of harness racing in Ireland the UK. Additional major stakes events over the weekend include the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds at 1.5 miles, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace, the Lee Edwards/PJI Engineering Junior FFA Pace and the Elvin-Delaney French FFA Trot. There is a gala kickoff dinner Friday evening at the Airport Hilton Hotel that is already sold out and Sunday’s VIP Marquee Tent is also sold out with over 300 to attend. Every year the VDM Committee selects a local charity to benefit from the VDM Weekend, especially at the Friday night gala dinner auctions. This year’s charity is the Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) of Dublin. The organization, which is comprised 100% of all volunteers, operates a seven-day outreach service across the city, coinciding with their mobile outreach unit. ICHH’s outreach support service operates nightly providing access to beds, sleeping bags, food or case management referrals. ICHH works a 16-hour mobile outreach service, responding to rough sleeper reports within 15 minutes of getting a call. The service also operates seven days a week. The website is at http://www.innercityhelpinghomeless.ie/. It is just grand how all of this has come together,” Derek Delaney said. “And this year we have so many great horsemen and women coming over for Vincent’s weekend. Dexter Dunn from New Zealand, Aaron Merriman from the USA are the special guest drivers, Diamond Creek Farms Adam Bowden, Joe Bellino and his entire crew, Roger Huston, Heather Vitale, Heather Wilder, Murray Brown, John McDermott, Alan Galloway, Sydney Weaver, Joann Looney-King, Susan Looney and a huge group from Australia on tour. "What a great time we will show them all!” Delaney said. "Most everyone is arriving today and tomorrow and we are looking forward to meeting everyone." The guests begin their VIP weekend with carriage ride tours of downtown Dublin plus lunch at the world famous Temple Bar, a bus trip to Oakwood Stud training and breeding facility, the gala kick-off dinner Friday and then the two big VDM race days Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend

North Wales, UK - The fields are set for the Breeders Crown UK and Ireland harness races at Tir Prince Raceway on Tuesday evening, August 2. It's the tenth anniversary of the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland and Tir Prince is rolling out the red carpet for the big race card.   Featured will be Breeders Crown finals for UK or Irish bred two, three and four-year-old pacers, the inaugural American-bred Filly Pace for two-year-old's plus the Ephie Mather Memorial Trot for the top rated LeTrot Series high steppers along with a power-packed racing card.   In addition to the live harness racing there will be live music, plenty of food and beverages available and children under age 16 are admitted free. The Tir Prince Fairground is just across the way from the track for pre-race fun, and, of course, plenty of bookies to take wagers. "I am looking forward to what promises to be one of the most entertaining Breeders Crown we have ever staged." Said David Wilson, president of the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland. "It will also be grand having world driving champion Dexter Dunn from New Zealand driving Breeders Crown night. There will be great racing and entertainment for everyone."   Harness racing fan Elizabeth O'Neil recently did this video for the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.oneil.98/videos/1165098693510603/   All eyes will be on the track for the three-year-old colt division of the BC to watch the top colt Miraculous perform. This son of Arts Conquest, winner of the Vincent Delaney Memorial last year, has only improved in 2016 for driver Patrick Kane, Jr. and trainer Sally Teeboon. Just last week at Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin, Miraculous rewrote the track record two days in a row, the fastest last Sunday with a lifetime mark of 1:55.90. Miraculous was also the 2015 Breeders Crown UK & Ireland champion two-year-old in 2015. The Ephie Mather Memorial Trot will be just a sprint for everyone in the eight-horse field. The distance of the race is at one mile but most of these LeTrot Series top horses have been racing at 1.5 miles.   The morning line favorite is Sulky Du Blequin for owner/trainer John Foy who is giving up the lines on this drive and has listed New Zealand's Dexter Dunn to be in the sulky. The ten-year-old Sulky Du Blequin has been razor sharp for Foy this year, recently winning the Malcolm Ali Memorial Silver LeTrot at Wolverhampton. Another Arts Conquest sired foal, Jessie's Conquest, is the headliner for the BC three-year-old filly pace. The homebred is owned, trained and driven by Marc Thomas Jones and has been the top competitor on the circuit this season.   Jessie's Conquest recent took her lifetime mark of 2:00.30 right at Tir Prince on July 16. The BC four-year-old mares will be slugging it out with ten entered headlined by Shesgotanattitude for owner, breeder and driver John Richardson. The Kikikolt mare has come into her own this season but faces some stiff competition. Kickass Katie comes into the race off a lifetime best 2:00.40 triumph last week at Portmarnock and will have Dexter Dunn in the sulky as this mare, also sired by Kikikolt, is also bred and owned by John Richardson. Another contender is Frisco Frisk for driver Alan Haythornthwaite, a recent 2:00.90 winner.  A full program of eleven top flight harness racing, live entertainment for both young and old, great food and drink plus bookmakers on site awaits everyone who comes out to Tir Prince Raceway Tuesday evening. First race post time is 6:00 pm. By Steve Wolf, for the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland    

DUBLIN, Ireland - It was a weekend of record breaking at the second annual Barney Joyce Memorial festival of harness racing at Portmarnock Raceway last Saturday and Sunday where a bumper attendance were treated to twenty races and two track records. Miraculous, a half-brother to the ill-fated Titanium, owned by Derbyshire's Arnie Flower, was billed as the star of the show and just like Wiggle It Jiggleit continues to enthrall harness lovers in the US, Miraculous does the same for enthusiasts in the UK and Ireland. On Saturday evening he blitzed the 3 year old pacers record to win his heat comfortably by 2 lengths in 1:56.6 whilst the following afternoon he lowered it further down to 1:55.9 in the final by five lengths, scooping the  €10,000 first prize for trainer/driver Patrick Kane, Jr. Honourable mention must go to Alan Wallace aboard the vanquished Newtown Rock, the gallant runner up, who still clocked under 1:57 himself, a performance that would have been considered good enough to win on any other year. Two more juvenile prep races for the forthcoming Vincent Delaney Memorial and these were well supported by owners desperate to get more experience into their babies in advance of the big festival weekend at Portmarnock on 13th/14th August. First up were the Ladbrokes sponsored colts and Rhyds Rival justified long odds-on favouritism for driver  iBilly Roche, who laid out his stall from the outset by establishing a commanding early lead. The much-hyped Benny Camden, who was making his debut, ran very green at the early stages of this event before finishing with a flourish to be only 3/4l of a second ahead of Talavary Motivator, who stayed on to be third, a further 3 lengths in arrears. The time was an electrifying 2:01.6 and whilst overjoyed connections collected their prize, some shrewd punters instead invaded bookmaker Dan Carlin's pitch in order to try and grab some value about Benny Camden, who will arguably come on leaps and bounds for the run and could be the dark horse of the entire championship. His odds in the betting are now 6/4 second favourite from 8/1. But take nothing away from Rhyds Rival, he could do no more than win and the Roche camp will be happy with their colt, who was backed from 40/1 into 4/1 earlier on in the year. He is not likely to go down without a fight and must surely have one hand on the winners trophy with the finals just days away. The females were next up and a calamity on the first turn resulted in Oakwood Eternity, Newtown Onyx and Jennifer Camden all being hampered. That left What Mam out in front pursued by IB Coyote, Shes Royal and Earnies Casino. Jonathan Dunne who managed to avoid the carnage on the opening turn, then made a sweeping forward move with Triplicity at the ¾ pole and the momentum carried the debutante past IB Coyote and a tiring longtime leader What Mam. By Kikicolt out of Tripleplay Hanover, Triplicity went on to triumph in 2:08.1 to the delight of trainer Geoff Dunne who admitted this was his first ever 2 year old winner, having never really concentrated his efforts on juveniles before. Marc Elvin, owner of Rhyds Mystique, current even money ante-post favourite for the Diamond Creek Farms sponsored event, was on hand to size-up the competition his filly is likely to face and a comparison of winning times of all the prep races so far indicate that the Welshman's Hasty Hall bred star remains the one they all have to beat. Coalford Honey is next best at 2/1 followed by She Be Rockin at 9/4. Rhyds Voodoo is 8/1 and Sundays winner Triplicity represents real value at 12/1. Other winners over the weekend included a heat and final for Matt Roches Deans Alibi. On Saturday in a heat he trailed 10 yards at the off and won in 1:55.7 just a half second outside the all-comers national record whilst in the final on Sunday a 40 yard starting deficit was not able to prevent him winning again, this time in a scintillating 1:55.8. Junior and senior free for alls were also held during the festival and these were won by Stoneriggs Chris in 1:57.4 and Meadowbranch Demon in 1:58.8 respectively. But the Barney Joyce Memorial weekend belonged to Patrick Kane and Miraculous, who has now brought his winnings to almost  €50,000 in less than 2 seasons and with the Breeders Crown in Tir Prince and the Oakwood Stud Derby at Portmarnock, more big prizes await the Arts Conquest colt out of Another Mattie. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

DUBLIN, Ireland - When good friends Derek Delaney in Ireland and Simon Elvin in the UK were talking over both harness racing and football (soccer), they decided to sorta mix the two together and came away with an excellent special edition LeTrot race set for Saturday, August 13 during the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway. It's Great Britain vs Ireland and the added purse is now totaling €4500 in addition to the bragging rights of the country that wins the race. The Invitational Free-For-All will be a one-mile race with ten horses entered, five of the best from Great Britain and five from Ireland. "We talked about what else we could to make the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend that much more exciting," said Derek Delaney, chairman of the VDM Committee. "This was during the UEFA Euro Football Championships and Simon gets the credit for coming up with the idea at first for having Great Britain vs Ireland and then the idea for the excellent artwork." "It's all about the bragging rights," laughed Simon Elvin. "Derek and I love harness racing and football so we have combined the two together and I fooled around on my computer and came away with the artwork, covering both our diehard football fans with harness racing." The leading racing officials in both Great Britain and Ireland will decide on who the top ten horses currently racing in the LeTrot Series in both countries that will receive invitations to the special race. LeTrot in France has made a three-year agreement both in Great Britain and Ireland to help improve the trotting races and breeding with French horses. LeTrot matches funds with owners in both Great Britain and Ireland, for the purchase of racehorses and broodmares (that must be bred back to French stallions) in addition to helping fund the LeTrot Series races held throughout Great Britain and Ireland. The program has been sensational in helping bring back trotting races and has seen an increase of more than 200% in races held from 2015 to 2016. In addition, there are special LeTrot friendship races featuring French, Great Britain and Irish drivers, held in France, Great Britain and Ireland during the year. "Derek and I first co-sponsored a LeTrot race in 2014 during the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend." Simon added. "And now it has become something special during the big weekend. The first edition was won by USA's Wally Hennessey, then last year Dexter Dunn from New Zealand won it in track record time. "The series had developed a great following at Portmarnock during the VDM weekend," Simon said. "It will be great to see if USA's Aaron Merriman gets a drive in it or perhaps Dexter Dunn, who is coming back this year, can win it a second time." Does Derek Delaney and Simon Elvin have a friendly wager on which country will win the LeTrot race at Portmarnock Raceway August 13th? "Not as of yet," Delaney added, "I'm gonna have to wait and see what horses are invited and what post positions they draw. At Portmarnock they race five on the starting gate, so that will mean two tiers going on a half mile track." "I say the loser must paint his face like on the poster, only in the winner's colors and then have to wear it the next day at Portmarnock!" Elvin laughed. "Now that is a real bet!" "We will see," Delaney said, "We will see." For more information about the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. by Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend  

They say to be good bookmaker you need to have the following attributes: the computing mind of an actuary, nerves of steel and the heart of a lion. But in Dan Carlin's case you also need to have the patience of Job for this is the man who prices up all 4 classics of the Ladbroke's Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend a full 6 months in advance. A former trainer and driver himself back in the 1990's, Carlin turned from poacher to gamekeeper when his father Liam, a fearless layer himself, passed away leaving a thriving bookmaking business centred around harness racing in Ireland, which was the envy of all the other oddsmakers at the time. With nobody at the helm anymore, Dan felt this too good an opportunity to let slip and reluctantly surrendered up his colours, whip and helmet and traded them in for a satchel, an odds board, and some chalk. He began using his wits and cunning that were once quite able on the track steering Bridget The Midget to countless victories in favour of a life in the betting jungle where a mistake doesn't lose you lengths, its loses you thousands of euros. Ouch! Having settled into the role as the largest harness racing bookmaker in Ireland, Dan soon began to spread his wings and started travelling to the larger UK classic meets where he now stands shoulder to shoulder with the largest layers on the UK scene, Barry "Pinno" Pinnington, John "Smarty" Smart, and Tim "The Shark" Brown. He's come a long way but put in all the hard yards to get where he's got. Approached by Derek Delaney in February 2012 about the possible ante-post book for the first ever Vincent Delaney Memorial, Dan accepted the challenge and quickly grasped the nettle. It's hard to price up a book where you have to sift through the form of 40+ horses but when its 2 year olds that have yet to hit the track, with many who havent even qualified yet, it's like a tight-rope walk over the grand canyon without any safety net. Dan will testify that the owners of Frisco Fiddler, Camden Tino, Titanium and last years winner Miraculous all had substantial punts on their horses many months before they even went behind the starting car for the first time, but that must also be weighed up by the number of hapless owners whose pride and joy got the virus or broke down just days before the event with their dreams in tatters and their money gone down the drain. You could probably stable a lot of horses with the beaten dockets in the shredder as race day approaches. But we all live in hope of holding an ante post bet of €100 at fancy odds of 66/1 and to see our horse cross the line in front. It's manna from heaven. This is a numbers game you see, and after four years of trading in this specialist market, Dan has now become a past master. Asked last night what were the latest prices for all four classics on August 13th/14th at Portmarnock Raceway, he quickly e-mailed through his updated lists. For the Ladbrokes sponsored VDM for 2 year old colts, Tyrion Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere) is the hot favourite at 4/5, whilst Rhyds Rival has experienced sustained support since the market opened back in February and is now as low as 2/1. In the VDM Diamond Creek sponsored fillies event, the as yet unraced Coalford Honey is 2/1 followed by She Be Rockin is 9/4. In the Oakwood Stud 3 Year Old Derby last years top juvenile, Miraculous, heads the market at 5/4 with local Irish hope Newtown Rock currently on 5/2. Rumours are circling that Jody Jamieson might be flying in on the day again to renew his association with "The Rock" as he is dubbed, and that could be why his price is so short. Dan is taking no chances there. Last but not least the Paul Murtagh Memorial 4 Year Old Classic is arguably the most intriguing contest of them all. Sportstrick has been supported in from 9/1 to 7/4 favourite on the back of victories at Appleby and Musselburgh but the early market leader, Rewrite History, is now friendless and drifting out from 7/4 out to 9/4 on the back of a lack lustre reappearance at Musselburgh where he appeared to labour at a pivotal stage of the 1 mile 3 furlong turf track contest. Eventually finishing down the field. Don't write him off just yet though and the Gilvear family from Scotland are sure to leave no stone unturned in an effort to see their stable star to recapture the form of his 3 year old campaign that seen his post a 1:56 mile at York. On a quick call to place my own ante-post bets on the races, Dan kept his cards very close to his chest when quizzed on what are his largest liabilities are, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that Oakwood Eternity was a huge 50/1 not so long ago and shes now at a lowly 4/1 following her victory last Thursday at Annaghmore. She could be the dark horse in the field. Dan was then quick to add that theres still some 66/1 shots out there so its all still very much to play for as we count down the days to the eliminations, which start on August 13th, with the finals to be held on the following day. Don't be fooled by the nice guy image that trades under the banner of "Dan Carlin The Punters Darlin" for this man is in the business of making money and if your selection gets beaten on the day don't come looking for a refund. You win some, you lose some and whilst some of us travel home from the races on a bus, Dan and his ilk always seem to have the latest model Mercedes. But we all love the thrill of a punt and need Dan Carlin and the rest of the oddsmakers to add a dash of excitement to a raceday. Long live the on-course bookies! by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

DUBLIN, Ireland - Renowned Florida based owner Bill Donovan was the toast of Portmarnock Raceway yesterday when IB Coyote, a filly he co-owns with West Cork trainer Donal Murphy, won the final of the fillies division of the Irish 2 Year Old Sire Stakes at the County Dublin venue.   Donovan a longtime supporter of harness racing in the US is best associated with the legendary trotting mare Maven who he owned from a yearling right through to when she was sold for a record fee of $750,000 at Harrisburg in November 2014. Serendipity played a big part in how Donovan and Murphy became partners in the resultant quest to win the coveted Vincent Delaney Memorial a race that's firmly captured the hearts of harness fans the world over.  Overhearing a conversation between Irish trainers Donal Murphy and Finbarr Quill at the USA Harrisburg Sale last year, Donovan introduced himself and discovered that Murphy lived in the same town of Skibbereen West Cork as Donovan's famed ancestor Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa who was exiled to the US in 1870 for plotting an uprising against the British Government who controlled Ireland at the time. A partnership was quickly struck up and Donovan and Murphy subsequently acquired 2 prospects a colt and a filly to race in Ireland with a view to winning both divisions of the Vincent Delaney Memorial. IB Coyote, a filly by Share The Delight out of Jill N Jones (Hasty Hall), is the first of the pair acquired to hit the track and she was contesting Sunday's final of the Irish 2 Year Old Sire Stakes sponsored by the IHRA, Oakwood Stud and Brian Doyle Air Cargo. Five went to post in this and despite showing signs of greenness at the starting gate, IB Coyote and driver Donal Murphy was settled in second spot behind favourite She's Royal before showing a scintillating turn of foot in the home straight to land the spoils with plenty in hand. The mile went in 2:10. Donovan will now go down in the history books as the first US owner to ever have a winner in Ireland and he now intends to be there in person when the filly next appears at the Vincent Delaney eliminations at Portmarnock on August 13th. The 2 year old colts division of the Irish Sire Stakes was also held yesterday and had only 2 runners but both put in stellar performances to clock 2:03 for the mile. At the business end of the race at was Rhyds Rival and driver Billy Roche that outgunned Talavary Motivator and wild celebrations ensued in the winners enclosure post-race by connections. Again only 2 went to post in the 3 year olds Sire Stakes final, but the healthy attendance were treated to a nail-biting speed duel between Meadowbranch Roman and Meadowbranch Titus, both by stallion Kikicolt. Although Titus tried valiantly to peg back Roman throughout the mile, driver Billy Roche used the inside draw to best effect and was holding on to win quite snugly in 2:00. In speaking with promoter of the event, James Delaney claimed that he was thrilled with the whole occasion highlighting the fact that almost €9,000 was on offer for the 3 races on the day. He was quoted as saying "for a series that's only in its infancy, more and more stallion owners are now signing up to become a part of the Irish Sire Stakes which can only be a good thing for the sport of harness racing and safeguarding its future in Ireland." For more information visist http://sirestakesireland.com/ by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Dublin, Ireland - Through the generous support and sponsorship of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee in Ireland and SSG Gloves in Canada, Sydney Weaver and her parents, Lisa and Don, will be going to Ireland in early August for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend. "We have invited Sydney to be our special guest speaker at our gala kickoff dinner Friday, August 12," said Derek Delaney, head of the VDM Committee. "I have been friends with her on Facebook and she is just wonderful. Her writing on harness racing and what she has achieved and done for our industry for a young woman is fantastic and she and her parents will be our honored guests at the races that weekend." The VDM weekend is the biggest harness racing weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. The VDM is named after Derek and James Delaney's younger brother Vincent, who worked with the horses at their Oakwood Stud training and breeding center. Vincent tragically died of a massive heart attack in 2011 at the age of 27 and the brothers came up with the VDM weekend as a tribute to their lost brother. The race weekend now features elimination races Saturday, August 13 for the VDM, which is for two-year-old pacers. A record number have entered and with the sponsorship support of Diamond Creek Farm and Adam Bowden, for the first time there will be a separate filly division too. The finals take place Sunday, August 14. Other top stakes that weekend include the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA that is sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Bellino Racing Stable, LeTrot races plus other stakes events. Other sponsors from down under include Yirribee Stud and Pro-Dosa Boost feed suppliments.  "The VDM committee agreed to sponsor Sydney and her family for their hotel stay, dinner tickets and racetrack VIP access," Delaney added, "And they will be part of our tours to Oakwood Stud and carriage ride through downtown Dublin and have lunch in Temple Bar. They are going to have a super time in Ireland." Then steps in Ed James, owner of SSG Gloves. Ed is a big Sydney Weaver fan and when he heard about her being invited to come to Ireland, he set up SSG Gloves to sponsor the airfare for Sydney and her parents to go to Ireland. "I called up and talked to Sydney and told her the news." Ed James said. "And she was so excited. I also have sent her a few pairs of gloves to use when she goes jogging and to bring with her to Ireland. I know she will have a fantastic time." And what did Sydney have to say about all of this? "Unbelievable news, so fantastic and I can't believe this is all happening." Sydney said. "This is a dream trip come true. What great stories I am going to write about the people I meet, the places I see, the big dinner and the bigger race weekend. I have a lot of Facebook friends from Ireland and the UK and I hope to get to meet them in person now. "When I phoned and thanked Mr. James for the sponsorship," Sydney added, "I said I would proudly display an SSG Gloves patch on my racing colors that I will bring over, and Derek Delaney is getting me a Vincent Delaney Memorial patch too that will go on my colors once I get there. "I also got a very nice check from Hall of Famer and dear friend Bill Galvin, Sydney said. I still have to pinch myself that this is all for real." Sydney Weaver and her mom and dad are not the only ones who will be traveling to Ireland for the VDM weekend. Joining the Weavers will be Heather Vitale and her mom (JoAnn Looney-King) and sister (Susan Looney), the 2015 Dan Patch Driver of the Year, Aaron Merriman, New Zealand's top driver Dexter Dunn is returning along with Hall of Fame announcer, Roger Huston, who will be calling the races at Portmarnock Raceway for his third straight year. Michael Gallenti and Bill Hutchison of Harness Racing Travel is bringing a group of 40 from New Zealand and Australia, making the total nearly 70 that are coming to Ireland from down under. Their website is www.harnessracingtravel.com.au. Dublin, Ireland will be the place to be August 12 to 14 for the VDM and more announcements of top Standardbred visitors from the USA will be made soon. For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee

Dublin, Ireland - They may only be a little crazy by name, but the Looney Family from Delaware, USA, Jo Ann Looney-King, Susan Looney and Heather Looney Vitale, are all set to invade Ireland come this August for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend at Portmarnock Raceway. The baby of the Looney family, Heather, has spearheaded this adventure and in her third straight year of going to Ireland for the Vincent Delaney (August 13th and 14th), is bringing her mom and her sister to share the adventure. "When I tell people how incredible the Delaney Memorial weekend is," explained Heather Vitale, "I just have a hard time explaining it. I tell everyone about how much fun the atmosphere is and how friendly and enthusiastic the Irish are, but words don't give it justice. "You have to be there to really be able to understand how truly special it is!" Vitale said, "I talked about the weekend so much and how much fun it was and my mom and sister knew they had to experience it for themselves." Over the past four years, brothers Derek and James Delaney have developed the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend (named after their younger brother who tragically died of a massive heart attack in 2011), the biggest racing weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. The Delaney Memorial is for two-year-old pacers and is the richest stakes race in Ireland and the UK. This year, for the first time, there is a filly division sponsored by Adam Bowden and Diamond Creek Farm. Eliminations take place Saturday and the final is on Sunday. In addition to the Delaney Memorial, there are other major stakes events including the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial Championship for four-year-olds, the Rocknroll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace, sponsored by the Bellino Stable and LeTrot Series events. "I'm so happy we are taking this girls road trip," Vitale said. "The last time the three of us went on a trip together, it was 15 years ago! We are long overdue for some quality time like this and this race weekend is perfect. The Delaney brothers are so welcoming and the horsemen and women are so passionate and the fans are so much fun." "We love having Heather here the past two years," Derek Delaney said with a grin and a smile. "But I don't know if Ireland is ready for the whole family. It will be our pleasure to have Heather's mom and sister with us too. They are great horse people and we will show them a super time." Jo Ann Looney-King is no stranger to harness racing. She was the first woman driver ever to win a race at the Meadowlands and this past year was the 2015 Billy Haughton Good Guy Award winner at the USHWA Dan Patch Dinner. This past year she trained the top three-year-old pacer, Wakizashi Hanover and currently has the undefeated trotter Maestro Blue Chip in perfect form. "After hearing Heather talk about her trips to Ireland," Looney-King said, "I knew I had to get over there and see it for myself. I've never been to Ireland before so this is going to be fantastic. I'm really looking forward to the racing over there and meeting the horsemen and women who love this sport. The entire adventure should be wonderful from the trip to Oakwood Farm to walking around Dublin. "I'll be 70 this month (May 14)," Looney-King admits, "and I can't think of a better way to celebrate a milestone year than enjoying Ireland with my daughters." And older daughter Susan Looney, is no stranger to harness racing. She was the youngster driver ever to win a race at the Meadowlands at age 16 in 1983 and then went on to become the first woman driver ever to win at Garden State Park. She now has her Doctorate in law and education and is presently the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the Reading Area Community College. "I am so excited about joining my sister and my mother in Ireland." Susan Looney said. "After watching the videos my sister took while she was there the past two years, I couldn't resist joining her this summer. I am so looking forward to seeing the beautiful country and the inspiring harness racing in Ireland." It will not be all play and little work for Heather Looney Vitale while in Ireland. She will be doing live Facebook broadcasts from Portmarnock Raceway during the week along with added features from her trip for her show, Post Time, in the USA. Vitale, in addition to producing her Post Time show in the USA, also has co-hosted the CBS Sports Net Little Brown Jug broadcast in 2014 and 2015. For more information about the Labrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee  

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