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FINALLY ! !  Last night Australian harness racing followers got to see what all the fuss Kiwis make about Terror To Love is all about. The Cranbourne Cup on paper looked a two horse war between Christen Me and Terror To Love but it was hard to find anybody who actually thought the "Terror" could roll the Miracle Mile champ. Ricky May was one who did and when speaking to Harnesslink midweek left no one in any doubt that he was over the moon with Terror To Love's run in the Miracle Mile and gave himself a big chance of turning the tables in the Cranbourne Cup. " He went huge in the Miracle Mile and I was rapt in his run." "If I had gone three fence earlier, he would have been a lot closer," "I don't know if Terror To Love can sit outside Christen Me and beat  him but we are going to find out," Ricky said. Last night as expected Christen Me led easily from barrier one for Dexter Dunn with Terror To Love and Ricky May settling three back in the running line. With 1100 metres to go Ricky May came out three wide and found the death seat with 900 metres to go and from there it turned into a Bonecrusher/Waverley Star type of race with the two champions going head to head and the rest of the field struggling to stay in touch. On the corner Christen Me pinched a wee advantage but Terror To Love kept coming and was not to be denied as he grabbed Christen Me in the shadows of the post for a memorable win which will talked about for years to come. Ricky May is not one to show a lot ot emotion normally but last night was an exception. "I'm thrilled for the horse to finally silence the knockers and for Graham and Paul to have finally shown the Australians what a great horse Terror To Love is." " The plan was to try to turn it into a staying race and thats how it turned out. " He felt great on that track, the surface was a credit to the club". " I hadn't intended to look Christen Me in the eye but  down the back Terror To Love latched on and was really keen" "I wasn't that confident on the home turn as Christen Me was traveling as good as we were but with 100 metres to go I knew "Terror" was going to pick him up, " Ricky said. Christen Me went super but found one a touch better on the night while the rest of the field were outclassed with Flaming Flutter third over 20 metres away. While Christen Me now heads home to New Zealand, Terror To Love will head to Ballarat for a showdown with Beautide, Guaranteed and rising star Philadelphia Man which should fill the stands next Saturday night. Kiwi's have known for a while that Terror To Love is a champion in every sense of the word and he has a huge following in his homeland and last night Australians got a wee taste of why Kiwis are so passionate about this great horse. Harnesslink Media  

Today’s TAB.com.au Summer of Glory launch at Zinc in Melbourne’s CBD will forever change the way Harness Racing Victoria approaches its summer jewels – the Victoria and Hunter Cups. A two-night harness racing spectacular has been revealed, to be hosted at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday January 31 (TAB Victoria Cup night) and Saturday February 7 (Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup night), with over $1.4 million in stakemoney to be awarded over 20 races. But just as important as the Summer of Glory carnival itself was the announcement of an early nominations cut-off date of December 19 for the Victorian and Hunter Cups, which allows HRV’s wagering partner, TAB.com.au, to run futures markets on the two cup races. This opens up enormous promotional opportunities for the Summer of Glory carnival, with all races between December 19 and the Victoria and Hunter Cups potentially impacting long-term markets. “This announcement allows the TAB to set fixed odds markets on the Victoria and Hunter Cup well ahead of time, generating discussion on social media and across traditional forms of media for weeks in the lead-up to the events,” HRV Marketing Manager Brett Boyd said. “Every time a race is run from December 19 involving horses that are nominated for the Hunter Cup or the Victoria Cup, those two big races can be mentioned, because the results of all races can have an impact on the fixed odds markets.” HRV Chief Operating Officer Brant Dunshea said adjusting the nomination dates was an important step in embracing the changing wagering landscape. “The changes were made to facilitate wagering on early fixed odds markets,” Dunshea said. “The growth of fixed odds is becoming more and more significant in the wagering landscape. “These changes also allow for the opportunity to promote these races through the media as the markets adjust.” HRV Communications and Media Manager Cody Winnell said fixed odds markets would secure harness racing more media exposure. “This announcement will help generate conversation about harness racing and that can only benefit the industry,” he said. “We need to have our product front and centre in what is a competitive sporting media landscape here in Victoria. The conversation that comes with fixed odds betting will help facilitate this.” There is no fee for owners to nominate horses for the Victoria or Hunter Cup before December 19. Further details to the conditions are available on Harness Racing Australia’s Industry News page. Harness Racing Victoria

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 190(1) against licensed trainer Mr Craig Knowles. ARHR 190(1) reads as follows:  A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under ARHR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Mr Knowles related to a post-race urine sample taken from the horse ‘Seven and a Half’ after it won Race 4, the ‘Haymarket Pacers Handicap’, at Ballarat on 16 September 2014. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the urine sample revealed the sample to contain the prohibited substance procaine. The Racing Science Centre (RSC) in Queensland reported confirmation of this finding in the reserve portion of the relevant urine sample.  Mr Knowles pleaded guilty to the charge and advised that he had administered penicillin to ‘Seven and a Half’ on 11 September 2014 to treat a skin infection on the horse without realising that the active ingredient of the particular penicillin was procaine penicillin, with procaine being a prohibited substance. Submissions on penalty were heard from HRV Stewards and Mr Knowles. In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board noted that Mr Knowles had an excellent record, had co-operated extensively with the investigation and indicated at an early stage that he would be pleading guilty to the charge issued. The RAD Board were also mindful of the purpose of the rules, the principles of specific and general deterrence, consistency in penalties considering past cases and Mr Knowles’ complete compliance with the requirements to keep a detailed log book regarding any substances administered to horses in his care, noting the relevant log book entry concerning the penicillin administration entry on 11 September 2014. The RAD Board further noted it accepted that the administration of the penicillin was through carelessness. After considering all of the circumstances, the RAD Board imposed a $7,000 fine upon Mr Knowles. The HRV RAD Board also ordered that ‘Seven and a Half' be disqualified from Race 4 at Ballarat on 16 September 2014 and that the finishing places be amended accordingly Harness Racing Victoria Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board

Riverina trained harness racing pacer Bettermatch was successful in the season's first two-year-old event at Maryborough on Thursday afternoon. What was so impressive is that the Kenneth J first starter stopped the clock at a 1:55.8 seconds mile rate for the 1680 metres. Driven by Nathan Jack Bettermatch is trained by Colin Thomas, the same man who puts the polish on smart pacer Business In Motion. Business In Motion took out the Leeton Breeders Plate final in 2013 and Thomas has his current star ready for the $25,000 event. "We always knew he was above average and I didn't travel 500km's to Maryborough just to give him a run," said Thomas. "He'd won his three trials and we hadn't really asked him for an effort. Today he was asked and he responded." Bettermatch will no doubt be set for the June 2015 NSW Breeders Challenge with eligibility provided by having a NSW based mare in Lively Match. The mare was purchased by Robert and Patricia Wakeman as a claimer for $1,500 at Junee in 2009. "I've paid him up for most of his races including the Bathurst Gold Crown," he said. Thomas said Business In Motion had had his fair share of issues in the past but is happy with where he is at. "I had a lot of trouble with him after suffering leg issues but he seems to be over that now," he said. Along with Business In Motion and Bettermatch Thomas has a further five 2YO's in the stable. "I like racing the two-year-olds early in the season; we take our time and get to know a bit about them, that's why I knew Bettermatch was ready today." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 190(1) against licensed NSW trainer Mr Dudley (Joe) DeMamiel. ARHR 190(1) reads as follows: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under ARHR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Mr DeMamiel related to a post-race urine sample taken from the horse ‘Mammals Maker’ after it won Race 1, the ‘Sherbourne Terrace Pace’, at Shepparton on 23 August 2014. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the urine sample revealed the sample to contain the prohibited substance caffeine and its metabolites theophylline, paraxanthine and theobromine. The Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) in NSW reported confirmation of these findings in the reserve portion of the relevant urine sample. Mr DeMamiel pleaded guilty to the charge and advised that he was unable to explain how caffeine came to be present in the sample. Submissions on penalty were heard from HRV Stewards and Mr DeMamiel. In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board noted that there had been another trainer at the Albury Showgrounds complex whose horse had also returned a caffeine irregularity in recent times and that Mr DeMamiel had already removed his horses from the Albury Showgrounds. The RAD Board also accepted that Mr DeMamiel wasn’t aware as to how the caffeine had come to be present in the horse’s system. The RAD Board also noted that Mr DeMamiel had an excellent record, a long involvement in the industry, had co-operated extensively with the investigation and indicated at an early stage that he would be pleading guilty to The Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board (RADB) , established under section 50B of the Racing Act (1958). The RADB is an independent Board established to hear and determine appeals in relation to decisions made under the rules to impose penalties on persons and to hear and determine charges made against persons for serious offences. The RAD Board were also mindful of the purpose of the rules, the principles of specific and general deterrence, consistency in penalties,considering past cases and Mr DeMamiel’s submissions that as a hobby trainer,the imposition of a fine would in many ways be a more significant penalty than other types of penalties that the RAD Board had the power to impose. After considering all of the circumstances, the RAD Board imposed a 6 month disqualification upon Mr DeMamiel and ordered that such penalty be effective immediately. The HRV RAD Board also ordered that ‘Mammals Maker' be disqualified from Race 1 at Shepparton on 23 August 2014 and that the finishing places be amended accordingly. Harness Racing Victoria Racing Appeals And Disciplinary Board

Former VFL footballer Ricky McLean and his family took the harness racing honours when Broadway Classic won the first race on the new Warragul Pacing Bowl last Monday afternoon. A well known figure in harness racing over many years, McLean and his family own the seven-year-old gelding which led throughout in a fast mile rate of 1:58.9 one second outside the horse's previous best time on the much larger 1400 metre track at Menangle in Sydney, which indicates the quality of Warragul's refurbished course. Ricky, who played football for Carlton and Richmond in the 1970's, trained horses for some years but now his son Shannon prepares the family stable from their Gisborne property. Warragul property developer John Castle presented Ricky with a commemorative trophy after the event. Most races on the day were won by leaders, though this may be a reflection of the smaller fields and style of racing rather than the track itself. Most leaders were allowed to race along unchallenged in front in their events. Top reinsman Chris Alford showed what the new Warragul track is capable of in the last event, however, when he bought Balletto home with a fast finishing run to claim Stoned Again, which had led and stolen a break on the field turning for home. Balletto defied the trend of leaders and proved that if a horse is put into the race at the right time, they still can come from back in the field on the smaller track. Grande Anse and Jodis Choice were two impressive winners earlier in the day. Both horses showed improvement on their recent runs and should win further races. Local pacer Melton Little Max scored his eleventh win at start 211 for trainer Allan Preston and driver Tony Mallia in the sixth event. A much larger crowd than usual attended the meeting and witnessed Warragul Harness Racing Club life member Don Collins cut the ribbon to open the track before race one. Collins, in his 90's, part owned the brilliant Inter Dominion winning pacer Golden Reign in the 1990's. Important guests included the engineers and track design team responsible for the upgraded facility, along with re-elected Narracan MP Gary Blackwood, and Harness Racing Victoria Chairman Ken Latta and CEO John Anderson. Drivers praised the rebuild works and new surface, which was turned out in excellent condition by the track maintenance staff. Warragul races again on Monday afternoon, January 12.   Kyle Galley

At last night’s SEW Eurodrive Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame Awards evening at Melton, HRV Chairman Ken Latta announced one of Australia’s most famous identities, George Gath, had been elevated to Legend status. Gath’s elevation sees him join inaugural legends, Gordon Rothacker and Maori’s Idol. The posthumous honour was accepted by George’s eldest son Neville, who is a Hall of Fame member, who was visibly moved by the honour and spoke warmly about his father and his achievements. George was a remarkable horseman and remains the only driver to win at Richmond, Ascot, Melbourne Showgrounds and Moonee Valley as well as the first person to win 300 races in Melbourne. He won six Victorian driving premierships, four Melbourne driving premierships, two Adelaide premierships and was beaten by a victory in a Sydney drivers’ premiership. In addition, George won four Melbourne and thee Adelaide trainers’ premierships as well as training and driving Tara Meadow to record the first two minute mile in Victoria. George trained many great horses, including trotters Paddy McKinney, Bingen Redmond, Carlottas Pride and Delvin Dancer, while his best pacers were Joy’s John, Heroic Action, Gyro and Tara Meadow. The function also saw six inductees to the Hall of Fame, which now boasts 53 members. The latest additions are pioneering reinswomen Pearl Kelly, record breaking reinsman Chris Alford, the Abrahams family, journalist Max Agnew, True Roman and broodmare gem, Maori Miss. The overdue induction of Pearl Kelly was a highlight, with photographs and a remarkable life story having the audience in awe. Pearl Kelly was the first woman to win a metropolitan race against the men in Perth and Melbourne in a time when women were banned in the thoroughbred industry. At the peak of her career in 1927 officials also banned women in harness racing and it would be 50 years before they were would be licensed again to compete in races against the men. The attentive crowd included many Hall of Fame Legends and were entertained by the polished MC Rob Gaylard and internationally recognized comedian, Col Elliott. The Trainers’ and Drivers’ Association, which is an integral part of the Hall of Fame night, presented an award to Cliff Powell and a posthumous one to Neville Clarke. Also on the evening the Victorian Harness Racing Media Association presented their major award – Bob Cain Distinguished Service - to the “voice of Harness Racing” Dan Mielicki. Geoff Want, Chairman of Harness Racing Australia presented a number of national awards including one of the Joseph Coulter Awards for Best Book to Peter Collier for “ Manaroa – the People’s Champion” and Harnesslink’s Paul Courts for Best News Story for his piece title “Trigger’s Final Shot”. Harness Racing Victoria was also on stage to recognize the media with a series of state awards for journalism, radio, television and photographic excellence. JOHN PECK

He is already one of the most successful reinsman in Victoria’s major harness racing events, so why not become a local? That’s the logic behind New Zealand driver Anthony Butt’s decision to relocate to the state. Despite his status as a Kiwi, Butt boasts a record seven A G Hunter Cups, having scored with Blossom Lady in 1994 and ’95, Mister D G 2004, Mr Feelgood ’09, Stunin Cullen ’11, Choise Achiever ’12 and Mah Sish in ’13. Mister D G is a son of Blossom Lady. Butt has also won the Ballarat Cup (Stunin Cullen 2011 and Mah Sish’13), Australian Grand Prix (Take A Moment 2002), Australasian Trotting Championship (Lyell Creek 2000 and ’01), Bill Collins Mile (Lyell Creek ’01, Take A Moment 2002 and ’03) V L Dullard Cup (Lyell Creek 2000 and ’01), Great Southern Star (Vulcan 2013) and the Moonee Valley Inter Dominion (Lyell Creek 2000) Making the move across the Tasman to be stable driver to another former Kiwi – trainer Brent Lilley – Butt will be based on Melton. “It’s been in the pipeline for a while now, but the time is right,” Butt explained. “The clincher was being able to drive for Brent. “Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up some other drives as well. The important thing when making a move like this though is to have a good base. “Everywhere you go is a different racing style. In New Zealand they race very different in the North Island compared to the South Island and in Australia they race differently in all the states. But I’ve always been able to adapt pretty well. “It’ll take me three or four weeks to get my head around the form of the lesser races. It’s easier to know the form from the bigger races because you’ve watched those closely.” Butt hasn’t wasted time finding making way to the winners’ circle, registering a feature double at Gunbower yesterday. Driving for Lilley, Butt captured the Trotters’ Cup with Kvintet Avenger and the Pacing Cup with Lets Elope. The latter has Butt eyeing another A G Hunter Cup victory in February. “Lets Elope looks as though the Hunter Cup might suit him,” Butt said. “He’s an up-and-comer and he’s good from the stand, so it ticks a couple of boxes.” PAUL COURTS

Victoria Police and the Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner have agreed to a milestone partnership to help stamp out crime and consolidate racing’s integrity…including harness racing. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two bodies will allow the exchange of information between parties. The partnership underlines efforts to ensure the integrity of Victoria’s $2.8billion racing industry, which employs nearly 58,000 people across the three codes. “This agreement will be of benefit to both Victoria Police and the racing industry and help inform investigations by both parties,” Mr Perna said.  “The MOU not only helps both agencies gather relevant information, but leads to increasing public confidence in racing.” The agreement builds on the RIC’s agreement in 2013 with the Australian Crime Commission. Both agreements follow a recommendation made in the RIC’s 2012 Own Motion Inquiry into Race Fixing to identify the barriers to information sharing between police and racing bodies. Under the agreement, there will remain some constraints on types of information that police are able to share, including telecommunication interception information. The agreement also builds on other Victoria Police initiatives such as the creation of the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit in February 2013 and the entering of an interim information sharing agreement with the RIC in June 2013. Mr Perna said the two MOU’s emphasise an increased focus on sports integrity which demonstrate Victoria’s commitment to protecting its sporting industry. “Together with an increased focus on sports integrity and the creation of recent legislation addressing corrupt conduct in sport (The Crimes Amendment (Integrity in Sports) Act 2013), Victoria is well placed to protect its sporting industry.” Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner

As he crossed the line at Geelong yesterday, Jason Fino had arguably the most vocal cheer squad in the history of harness racing. With the cheers blanketing the race broadcaster, the happy group was expected to be in the dozens. As it turned out, Fino’s fans club was a party of three – his children, Nathan, Mitchell and Hayley. “I couldn’t believe how loud they were,” Fino declared. “You’d think there was at least a dozen of them. “After the line, Greg (Sugars) even said ‘that’s some cheer squad’ as everyone could hear them.” While he likes to believe they were barracking for their father, Fino has a sneaky suspicion the cheers were for Chestervale Jet, which they kids have shares in! Clearly a family favourite, Chestervale Jet enjoyed the perfect one-one trip before scoring by a head from Machncheese, with Giant Steps a half-neck away third. Covering the last half in 58 seconds, the son of Real Desire rated 2:01.3 for the 2100 metres to break his maiden at his 30th start. “He has run a number of placings and I always felt it was only a matter of time before he won,” Fino said. “He’s no star, and as he showed today, he just had to wait his turn. “Hopefully this will get the ball rolling and he can pick up a few more wins along the way. “The kids all pitch in around the stables, but Mitch and Hayley have other interests, whereas Nathan will eat, live and breathe horses. “I’ll never forget the day we found him with the dog tied to the float and he was trying to put the harness on it..we couldn’t stop laughing.” As for Fino’s three-member cheer squad, they only exist after one of his obligatory trips to Moonee Valley during the 1990s led to him meeting to his future wife, Rachael Pace. “I was just starting out with horses, learning the ropes, when I made my usual voyage to the Valley with a few of the junior drivers I knew,” Fino said. “It was a standard operation to be there on a Saturday night to hang out with the boys before hitting the town, then one night I met Rachael. “As soon as I saw her I knew I was going to marry her.” Fino’s introduction into the industry began years earlier via his grandfather, the late Joe Abela. Abela prepared several handy types throughout the late 1970s and ‘80s, with Romantic Joanne the best of the crew. It was a former school teacher, however, who prompted Fino into pursuing a career with horses. “I was around horses from a young age as my grandfather was a trainer, but he passed away before I was really old enough to have anything serious to do with them,” Fino said. “Then as I was a little older in High School, a lady who worked there as a guidance counsellor recommended I worked in a stable for work experience. “So I did a stint with John Thompson and haven’t stopped being around horses since. “My Aunty’s husband is the jockey Alan Cooper, so I also spent a bit of time around the gallopers, but it soon became obvious I was going to be too tall to be a jockey. “After that I migrated back to harness racing and have been loving ever since.” PAUL COURTS

The trotting side of harness racing has been one part of the industry that seems to have been holding its own in recent years. More and more North American and European sires are now available to Australasian breeders and one that is making a big impact is the son of S J's Photo in Bacardi Lindy. Imported by Ross Simpson, Bacardi Lindy has spent time in both Australia and New Zealand and these days is resident at Morley Park in Victoria. A son of S J's Photo from the brilliant Valley Victory mare Rum Boogie 1:55 ($900,908), Bacardi Lindy made $115,000 when sold at Tattersalls as a yearling and recouped that and more on the track winning $207,546 and taking a mark of 1:52.8 Bacardi Lindy made a slow start with his first crop but his stock have just kept improving and several starting showing up in the age group classics. Claudy's Princess ($198,746) was a star 3 year old last season while The Boss Man ($95,132) was another of his better performers in the 4 year old ranks as  Bacardi Lindy established himself as the the best of the Australian based trotting sires. His profile in New Zealand has been pretty low key to this point but that may be about to change with the emergence of the smart 2 year old Cocktail Waiter. Even though the season is only six weeks old in New Zealand, Cocktail Waiter has already qualified and in great fashion for a trotter this early in the season. He won his qualifying trial at Oamaru over 2000 meters from the mobile in 2:41.4, a mile rate of 2:09.8 with a closing 800 meters of 60.3 Cocktail Waiter is the second foal from the Sundon mare Gina and is owned and trained by Alan Clark of the The Fiery Ginga fame. Allan Clark was suitably impressed by the run. "He is such a lovely horse to do anything with. He is a beautifully gaited individual and has a touch of class that the good horses have and really finds when you ask him. I am pretty confident Cocktail Waiter will be a major player in all the good 2 year old trotting races later in the season", he said. Alan borrowed Gina to breed Cocktail Waiter after the mares first foal Clifden Clowers ($33,653) had been a handy winner and he remembered a full sister to Gina in The Great Pretender had raced in the Jewels as a 2 year old. As smart as Cocktail Waiter looks to be, Alan had high hopes for a filly by Bacardi Lindy until her sudden death. "I thought she was a touch better than Cocktail Waiter to be honest but I found her dead in her paddock one morning which was a real shame. The Bacardi Lindy's have really impressed me to date and I will be sending a couple of mares this season for sure,"he said. The way his stock are starting to fire on both sides of the Tasman, Bacardi Lindy could be in for a very busy stud season. Harnesslink Media

Ross Payne made a good fist of his temporary return to Victoria aiding All Stars to one of its biggest campaign successes of the season at the Breeders Crown. He was full of praise for the facilities at the property of Vince Vallelonga where the team was based. "It's all modern, right up to date and the track is really quick. Maybe too quick even because Follow The Stars and Major Crocker ran their last quarter there in better than 27 on the eve of the Crown " Ross rates Major Crocker, who won the three year old Breeders Crown for Vallelonga  to give the property a great Breeders Crown day, as a potential New Zealand Cup winner. "Another year on him and he will be a top stayer for Vince and a race like the Cup would suit him fine" Vince also gave Ross several drives during his stay. "I didn't win one but I had a couple of seconds and wasn't further back than fourth on any of them" Ross hasn't been letting the grass grow under his feet since coming home either. He trialled Young American trained by his brother, Greg, and after an initial deal to Australia was delayed Luke McCarthy stepped in and bought the three year old after trialling him. "He didn't hesitate" Ross said " He will probably race out of here to try for a Sires Stakes start before he goes to Australia which would make some sense. Even though it is shaping up as a hot race to get into I am convinced he is good enough" Courtesy Of All Star Racing

Australian harness racing journalist Paul Courts has joined our team. A multi-award winning scribe, Courts will begin duties with harnesslink.com on September 1 – just in time for the new Aussie racing season. Bringing more than two decades of experience and knowledge to the role of Australian Editor-in-chief, Courts will operate from Melton, Victoria, placing him close to the action at Tabcorp Park. Along with local content, Courts will also deliver the latest news from around Australia in the manner which has seen him win an international and three national journalist awards. Beginning his career as a cadet with Australian Consolidated Press, Courts has enjoyed stints as Editor of On The Pace, The Harness Racer and has just finished a 13-year term with Harness Racing Weekly. Away from the office, Courts is a sire of three ‘colts’ – Darcy, 14, Tobey, 11, and Wyatt, 7. A boxing fan, who does his share of training, ‘Courtsy’ is also a mad Carlton supporter, which some would say just makes him mad! Sadly, he has also corrupted his sons into following the Blues. “I’m looking forward to working with harnesslink.com and delivering the news quicker than ever,” Courts said. “Being with harnesslink.com also provides me with the freedom of travelling to more race meetings both in Victoria and interstate, so I will consistently be where the action is. “My phone is always on and I’m happy to hear from anyone wanting to tell their story.” Paul can be contacted via paul@harnesslink.com or 0414 348 120. Harnesslink Media

If we could hear it 'from the horse's mouth', it's pretty obvious what harness racing superstar Smoken Up will be wishing for. With today (1st of September) the beginning of the Australian season, Smoken Up and his standardbred counterparts are celebrating their birthday. Marking his 12th birthday with a party and cake at trainer Lance Justice's stable in Melton, Victoria, Smoken Up is on the verge of retirement. To be more precise, the son of Tinted Cloud is due to have his last start at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Taking that into consideration, Smoken Up is likely to be wishing for a 'fairytale ending'...least that's what Justice and the gelding's connections are looking to achieve with the multi millionaire. Justice was fortunate to enjoy a perfect end to former stable star Sokyola's career at Moonee Valley on June 22, 2007 when the son of Soky's Atom accounted for The Warp Drive and The Phantoms Guest. "We were lucking enough to have a happy ending with Sokyola and with a bit of luck we can enjoy the same with Smoken Up at Tabcorp Park next Saturday night," Justice said. "We will know how our chances are shaping up a little better on Tuesday when the fields come out and can see where he has drawn. "I'm a realist and am fully aware it's unlikely to happen, but at the same time we can enjoy the ride, hope for a good draw and then hope for the best on race night. "Whether he wins or not, it's going to be a joyful and sad occasion at the same time as it's the end of an era." Successful upon debut for Justice at Yarra Valley on March 8, 2007, Smoken Up has registered a further 71 victories and 48 placings from 141 starts for earnings of $3,588,949 to be Australasia's third richest pacer behind Blacks A Fake ($4,575,438) and Im Themightyquinn ($4,567,456). His wins include two Miracle Miles, four South Australia Cups, four Len Smith Miles and the Victoria Cup, with his best time of 1:48.5 coming at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 30, 2011. Smoken Up has claimed 13 Group Ones across the Southern Hemisphere, won at 15 tracks and set numerous records, including becoming the first standardbred on this side of the equator to better 1:50. PAUL COURTS

Talented young reinswoman Ellen Tormey will fly out of Melbourne on Monday bound for the US and Canada where she will spend six weeks honing her skills. Tormey, 24, will first land with leading Canadian trainer Blair Burgess in Canada where she will gain invaluable experience near the famous Mohawk track in Ontario. Tormey will then have the opportunity to visit the Little Brown Jug Carnival in Delaware, Ohio, before joining the Linda Toscano stable – based in New Jersey – and travelling with Toscano’s team to the massive carnival at the Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky. Tormey’s trip came about after she was awarded the 2014 Leigh Plunkett Scholarship. The Leigh Plunkett Foundation was inaugurated in 2013 as a harness racing charity that would raise money for charitable organisations as well as providing an international scholarship for a young participant. In year one the charitable organisation selected was the Leukaemia Foundation, with the Leigh Plunkett Foundation able to deliver a $50,000 cheque to the foundation. The foundation wishes to thank everyone around Australia who donated their time and money to such a worthy cause. The Leigh Plunkett Foundation will be launching again soon and young participants who want to experience what Tormey has been afforded should start thinking about their application. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

JUST days out from the TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day and the generosity just keeps flowing. Already a major sponsor in two areas, Alabar Bloodstock has once again increased its involvement in what has developed in Victorian harness racing’s biggest social event. One of the first to support last year’s inaugural edition, Alabar was quick to return this time to cover the costs of the foot and netballs. On top of that, the leading breeding establishment has donated a service to Grinfromeartoear as the headliner for the mega raffle. Now Alabar has joined forced with Amart Melton and Burley to deliver ‘Auckland Reactor’ soccer and footballs to the first 60 kids to attend the big day. The latest gesture also compliments the two bikes Amart Melton has donated for the lucky boy and girl who guess the correct (or closest to) amount of snakes in a jar, which will be displayed throughout the day…entry is FREE!. Not to forget prominent owner Kevin Riseley, who has generously offered to cover the cost of hiring a jumping castle for children to enjoy, or Allan McNeil, who has donated lolly bags. “Alabar, Amart, Kevin and Allan have just been so generous,” event organiser Robbie O’Connell said. “Their focus on the kids’ activities will help turn this into a massive family day, just the kind of event harness racing needs. “Now we have the dads playing footy, the mums hitting the netball court and the kids going nuts, as kids should.” Other sponsors include Tabcorp, James and son, Seelite Windows and Doors and Glenn Sharp. A fun occasion for all industry participants, Sunday’s event also has a serious side – raising valuable funds for the Childrens’ Tumour Foundation. That’s where a small fee of $50 for players and spectators (under 16 free) comes into play. Not only does the fee cover the costs of the games, sausage sizzle and the night’s function, it adds to the tally to aid children suffering from Neurofibromatosis. Last year’s event raised $14,000, which is outstanding considering the foundation receives just $18,000 from the government. Along with the fun and games, the function will also include a memorabilia auction. It was last year’s auction that proved to be the biggest money spinner for the cause. Paul Smart from Azuma International supplied the various pieces of memorabilia, which raised almost $8000. Smart will be back this year with “some sensational memorabilia”, so attendees better make sure their wallets are loaded! Teams from four districts – Melton (Go Blues), Ballarat, Shepparton and Bendigo – will do battle throughout the day, with the first event, a netball match, to begin at 11:30am at the Strathfieldsaye Sports Club. The first footy game is scheduled to start at noon. “The Strathfieldsaye Club has offered us free use of their grounds and facilities,” O’Connell said. They have two footy ovals and three netball courts, so it’s the perfect pl ace for us. “Last year’s day was big, but this year will be huge.” For more information please contact Robbie O'Connell on 0404 728 885. Paul Courts

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