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CORBIEWOOD, UK - On Friday 8th June, Corbiewood Stadium played host to the first of two STAGBI Future Broodmares races for pacing mares aged 4 and older. Seven mares faced the starter in the Open Preferred Handicap, all seven of which are entered for the Greentree Standardbreds Mares Pacing Series which begins next week. Seasonal debutante Tarawood Joy (Hugh Menzies) led out from the gate from post position three, passing Dynamic Ace (William Greenhorn) and Victoria Camden (Grant Cullen) who were drawn inside her. The former settled in second on the rail with the latter finding herself parked two wide. The leader set good fractions with the field remaining largely unaltered in formation until Porcelain Seelster (James Haythornthwaite) tipped out down the back straight on the final lap to go three wide, looking a danger to the leader. Victoria Camden began to tire heading into the straight which allowed Dynamic Ace the room to deliver her challenge having enjoyed the pocket trip. Lady Mary (William Drysdale) followed Dynamic Ace through but found herself with little racing room in the closing stages, and Dynamic Ace went on to head long-time leader Tarawood Joy for a length victory in 2.05.9. Lady Mary was beaten a neck back in third. The track also played host to the fourth BHRC & Standardbred Horse Sales Co. Star Makers heat, with five horses lining up. Al Jolson (John Smart), who was returning to the racetrack following three seasons away from racing, led out from post position three and dictated the race from on top. Brywins Mayhem (William Greenhorn) challenged the leader in the first half; Ceiron JD (Richard Haythornthwaite) then tipped three wide to mount his challenge, a challenge which proved to be short lived. It was then Dynaramic (Hugh Menzies) which popped out of the pack to become the danger to the leader however a mistake around the stable bend left the leader clear to record a five length victory on his seasonal debut. Al Jolson now progresses to the grand final at Tir Prince on Saturday 14th July where he will join Laneside Layla (Leg 1), Soul Search (Leg 2), Father Ted (Leg 3), Borntorun (Leg 5) and Ithon Orbit (Leg 6). Three legs of the series remain, with the third and final Scottish leg due to be staged on Thursday 21st June at Corbiewood. The evening featured two open preferred heats and a handicap final, with the first heat going the way of Saunders Hoochie (William Drysdale), a victory which ended a 30-run losing streak. The second heat was won by Stoneriggs Banner (Hugh Menzies) making this his 24th career victory; both winners led out and made all in their respective races. Claire & Shane Fletcher's three-year-old filly Ella Mana Mou (James Haythornthwaite) broke her duck when she led out and made all in the maiden and novice combined event. The final race of the night was the Grades 1-10 handicap final which provided the finish of the night. Killarney Howard (Hugh O'Neil Jnr Jnr), who scraped into the final with a fourth-place finish in heat one, managed to hold his position in the final to lead out. Stoneriggs Banner (Hugh Menzies) briefly headed the leader coming into the stretch however Killarney Howard found extra to gain the upper hand; Robhall (Gregor Menzies) came with a four-wide power-packed finish to get up in the shadow of the post. Stoneriggs Banner stayed on to finish third. This was Robhall's 20th lifetime win with it being catch driver Gregor Menzies' first time behind the horse. Racing returns to Corbiewood on Friday 15th June featuring the first leg of the Greentree Standardbreds Mares Pacing Series and the SHRC 3YO Derby divisions for fillies and colts & geldings. First race 7.30pm. by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink

Harness racing fans could not have asked for better weather as they descended on Holme Farm, Appleby-in-Westmorland in the heart of Cumbria for two days of quality racing, featuring three Group events on Sunday 27th and Monday 28th May. And last season's champion trainer and driver duo Alexis and William 'Rocker' Laidler couldn't have asked for much more either as their stable notched up 9 wins from the 21 races across the festival, along with a bit of help from Scotland's leading driver, William Greenhorn. Blackwell Tiana, a winner two weeks earlier at Tregaron, dug deep in the stretch to hold off Royal Mint Howard (Grant Cullen) to record their first win of the meeting in the third of the four heats for the Group 2 Appleby Spring Sunday Final. More success followed immediately in the fourth heat, when Springhill Ruby made easy work of her competitors to finish up a 5 length winner in the top heat. It was to be three on the bounce as Rocker guided the impressive French trotter, Valseur Du Cygne, to an effortless win in the Gold Aged Le Trot. Afterwards during the interview, trainer Alexis strongly suggested that this horse could be exported to Canada to race before the season is out. The stable then recorded a training 1-2 in the maiden and novice event as William Greenhorn and Bobby Camden pipped Rocker and Laneside Layla on the line. The three-year-old son of Art Professor looks to be improving with every start having notched up his first career win on his third attempt. With three runners in the final, Rocker opted for betting favourite Springhill Ruby with William Greenhorn partnering Springhill Calaburn (runner up in heat 2) and co-owner Jonjo McMeekin taking the reins behind Blackwell Tiana. Springhill Ruby gave connections a scare when faltering on the first lap and losing ground after breaking, however in similar style to her win at Tregaron earlier in the month, she overtook the field to battle it out in the stretch with Springhill Catch (Grant Cullen), Blackwell Tiana (Jonjo McMeekin) and Royal Mint Howard (James Haythornthwaite), eventually getting up to record victory by half a length for the Stewart family. On day two, the stable's first win on the card came again in the third of the four heats, this time for the Group 1 Appleby Whit Monday Spring Races Final. And it was William Greenhorn who landed the win with Jack Swagger, a horse he and his wife Joyce bred but later sold to 2017 Leading Owners Raymond & Frank Huschka. Not content on finishing in the placings, Rocker made his debut in the winner's circle a couple of races later with their homebred Merrington Movinup, an impressive winner of heat and final at Tregaron in aged company who returned to the 3YO ranks and dominated the colts and fillies mixed event. The wins came in quick succession for Rocker as he partnered another homebred Merrington Doublel for owner/trainer Brian Liddle in the first of the maiden and novice combined races, before having to do it the hard way with Rhyds Sapphire in the second division when the pair battled it out in the stretch with long-time leader Hawthorns Henry (Leo Arnett) to get up by three parts of a length. Once again, Alexis Laidler fielded multiple runners in the final, with Rocker partnering Frankie Camden (runner up in heat 2) and William Greenhorn retaining the drive on Jack Swagger. When the latter sprinted clear for an impressive victory in his heat, Greenhorn had been clearly delighted to see the horse back to, if not surpassing, his best, although by his own admission if defeat came in the final then connections would happily accept the sole victory on the day from a horse who has suffered many issues in his career. It was not to be the case however, as Jack Swagger kicked clear down the back straight on the last lap and was clearly not for catching as his driver roared him home to a comfortable and emotional victory for everyone concerned. Afterwards, Alexis [Laidler] was overcome with emotion during her interview as it has been an established fact that not that long ago it seemed as though Jack Swagger, or 'Maxi' as he is affectionately known, might never race again. However, perseverance, dedication and ultimately faith in the horse brought him back to the track and on this day, he repaid all of those associated with him. With 9 training wins for Alexis, including all three Group races, and 7 driving wins for Rocker, it seems they are once again leading the way in British harness racing. That said, there were 12 other winners across the weekend outwith the stable. Richard Haythornthwaite opened proceedings on Sunday when guiding the Swinbank's Ceiron JD to victory in the novice pace. He returned to the winner's circle later in the day with the 4YO French Trotter Emirat Du Levant, a horse he described as 'the further he goes, the better he goes', when winning the Le Trot 4YO Gold Division. The following day he took out the second heat of the major handicap aboard Ghengis Pride who was a impressive 3 length winner. Brother James added further wins to trainer (and mother) Teresa's tally on Monday, taking the first race on the card with maiden winner Borntorun who showed potential at Tregaron, and then bringing Teresa and owners Claire & Shane Fletcher to tears when winning the top heat with Sports Trick, another horse who has overcome adversity to return to racing. A catch drive for trainer John Gill on board Imperial Deal gave James his driving treble on the day when leading from start to finish in the first two-year-old event of the racing season, a race in which Gill fielded four of the six starters and landed a training 1-2-3-4. The Scottish travelled south for the meeting with high hopes and were pleased to land the spoils in a few of the races, with the first Scottish victory coming by way of the Hamish Muirhead-trained Dynaramic, driven by Hugh Menzies in a photo finish with Western Lover (Peter Jackson) in the first heat on Sunday. Menzies was confident he had gotten up in the shadow of the line during his post-race interview, despite the lengthy wait for the official result. The second heat also went to Scotland, as Grant Cullen steered Springhill Catch to victory. The duo later took the runner up spot in the final. Cullen returned to the winner's circle on Monday when partnering ante-post favourite Live In Star to a popular victory. The 5-year-old son of Doonbeg was a heat and final winner at Corbiewood a week earlier and came to the meeting in good form, however ultimately could not hold off Jack Swagger in the final later that day. The Silver Aged Le Trot race was won by a newly-imported French trotter, Amazing, owned and trained by the Ali family and driven by Jason Ali. Jason later admitted they didn't know how good the horse was prior to his debut on British soil having previously raced at Wolvega (Holland) but he may prove an interesting addition to this division as the season progresses. The Le Trot 4YO Silver Division was won by Mike Evans with Etoile De Villodon, making this the horse's second win from nine starts since arriving in the UK last summer. Racing returns to Appleby for the New Fair meeting on Sunday 3rd June. by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink

Saturday nights’ pari-mutuel monte handicap contest at Georgian Downs carried a C$5,000 purse and went to the Sarah Town ridden Muscle Matters (5g Muscle Mass-Sister Mary Lindy-Conway Hall), trained by Benoit Baillargeon and co-owned by the trainer with Nunzio Vena, Santo Vena and Richard Thompson. The winner prevailed in a solid 2:01.1f with a final half mile in 1:00,1 in a gate to wire score. Southwind Alice (5f Muscle Hill-Accountability-Pine Chip) closed well with a final :29.3 panel to be second for Evelyn Harms and Marit Valstad teamed Massive Muscles home third. C$8,435 was wagered on the monte event, off as race three on a ten race program on which C$78,391 was handled. by Thomas H. Hicks  

The Hambletonian Monte Series Final at the new Meadowlands and two Ontario pari-mutuel races at Grand River Raceway showcased North American monte activities this weekend. On Friday evening the $27,500 Hambletonian Monte Final took place (non-wagering) at the new Meadowlands. Sponsors were Jeff Gural, Valley High Stable, Back On Track, Ron Burke Stable, Arden Homestead Stable, Crawford Farm, Aldrich Properties, George Ducharme and Winners Circle Blueberries. The final followed two $10,000 legs the previous two weekends. This week, A Penny Earned (5g Conway Hall-Penny Dream-Dream Vacation) scored for Michelle Crawford and trainer George Ducharme in 1:57.2 (last quarter :28.2), just short of the north American speed race record set by Master Pine two years ago in 1:57.1. The winner was second in a July 18 leg behind Take My Picture that was second in the final for Therese Lindgren and trainer Nikolas Drennan. O U Gus (the July 25 winner) ended third for Stephanie Werder and trainer Whitney Richards. Master Pine finished fourth for Helene Gregory and trainer Julie Miller in the competitive (seven starters timed in 2:00.1 or better) ten horse field. In Ontario, Grand River Raceway hosted two pari-mutuel events on August 1st and 4th. The August 4th International Monte was part of the raceway's Industry Day and attracted riders from Canada, Belgium and Finland. The US rider-entrant Jennifer Connor was a scratch due to travel problems. Previous monte winner Radical Dreamer (Marit Valstad) made the fast pace, tracked and battled by eventual winner Tragically Shipp (Saara Jalasti aboard), that pulled away late for an comfortable win over Angies Lucky Star (Philippe Massachaele) in 2:02.4h over a rain soaked surface. Tragically Shipp (8g Shipps Speed-CH On Tour-Armbro Laser) is trained by Lee Watson for owners Lynne and David Magee. Jalasti and Massachaele regularly ride in monte races in Europe, where monte is very popular and part of most pari-mutuel racing cards at French and Scandinavian tracks. Race replay follows: The August 1 race at Grand River was billed as the Canada vs. Norway Challenge and it went to Callie Magoo (5g Magoo-Callie Alyssa-Wesgate Crown) with Norway's G. Berg up for trainer John Braid. This pair scored in 2:04.3h over King Tut (Sarah Town up for Canada) and Charlie Tuna. Both Grand River races were well received in the pari-mutuel wagering, as had been the case in previous Ontario pari-mutuel monte races. Standardbred Canada and Meadowlands files Thomas H. Hicks  

Rina Rekila won her second straight Ontario monte contest, this one on August 4th at Clinton Raceway aboard Harlequin (12g Balanced Image-Wellesley Doll-Dream of Glory). Rekila, a veterinarian and accomplished trainer/driver from Finland, rallied the veteran to a four length win in 2:07h to defeat pacesetter Whitesand Diego reined by Sarah Town with Leonardo de Lindy finishing third for Marie Brooking in the six horse field. http://rusontario.com/RUS/HOME_files/RUSposterB%26W1.jpg By Thomas H. Hicks  

ELORA, ON — The Racing Under Saddle (RUS) Ontario series makes its next stop at Grand River Raceway on Friday, July 26.  The group of talented riders will be accompanied by trotters normally seen in harness racing, showcasing the versatility and speed of the Standardbred. RUS organizer Julie Walker is working hard to promote and expand RUS in Canada.  “Our goal is to become a regular pari-mutuel wagering event in Canada.  We see ourselves attracting riders and business people from other equestrian sporting events including thoroughbred, quarter horse racing, eventing and jumping,” says Walker. The RUS event is carded as race 9B (approximate post time 9:55 p.m.). The RUS riders will also meet-and-greet patrons on the tarmac from 7:00 – 7:30. Sarah Town, who rides Entry Hanover in the one-mile dash, will be the guest announcer on the Friday night feature, From Bike To Mic. Town will make her race calling debut in race three. Sharleen MacDonald and Sixth Man look to defend their victory in the most recent RUS event at Hanover Raceway on July 6. Julie Walker owns and trains the four-year-old trotter. Two weeks earlier at Hanover Raceway, Walker piloted him to her first-ever driving win in a harness race. Riina Rekila joins the field of RUS riders for the first time this year. In 2010, the Finnish-born trainer-driver was the first-ever female nominee for the prestigious O’Brien Award Of Horsemanship. #              HORSE                                       RIDER                                   RESIDENCE 1     Hetties Honey     Anna Humphris       Campbellville, ON 2     Oaklea Uptown     Marit Valstad       Moffatt, ON 3     Leonardo Da Lindy     Marie Brooking      Rockwood, ON 4     Entry Hanover         Sarah Town          South Hampton, ON 5     Sixth Man             Sharleen Macdonald   Paisley, ON 6     Harlequin             Riina Rekila         Campbellville, ON 7     Lollipop Gal          Linnea Lindstrom     Guelph, ON 8     All Cantab            Jenni Judin          Campbellville, ON Post time for race one on July 26 is 7:05 p.m.  For more information about RUS Ontario: www.RUSontario.com Kelly Spencer Mgr. Marketing & Communications Grand River Raceway

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