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Stening produced one of the best performances of his harness racing career and raced into calculations for the $25,000 Menangle Country Series Final with his heat victory at Wagga on Tuesday night. The well-performed pacer had to earn his 11th win the hard way racing outside the leader before holding off the favourite Lombo Newsy Scoop, who along with the third-placed Mammals Flash, won through to the decider on August 27. Stening's win in the $10,000 heat took his earnings past $60,000 and provided trainer-driver Bruce Harpley with a first-up win under his care. The winner was trained until recently by Bernie Kelly and has been driven in most of his starts by Harpley. "I think just the change of environment can sometimes help some horses," Harpley said. "That was a very good win against some nice horses. "When I saw he drew barrier six on the outside of the front row I thought that was the end of our chances." Stening falls well short of the best pacers raced by Kelly and his wife Dianne, but he has been highly consistent with 11 wins and nine placings from 31 starts. Lombo Newsy Scoop was given every chance, but couldn't haul in Stening when he kicked clear while Mammals Flash ran on well for third in a fast mile rate of 1.57.5 seconds. Comeback pacer The Real Eagle continued his charge qualifying for another final at Menangle with a win over Chickies Boy. It was a carbon copy of their last encounter when The Real Eagle kept Chickies Boy into second placing on July 19. On that occasion, The Real Eagle was having his first start for almost four years. Trainer Brad Hillyer only has The Real Eagle in training and has a real talent on his hands. Leg injuries have restricted The Real Eagle's career to just 15 starts for seven wins. "The big track at Menangle will suit him and that run will top him off," Hillyer said. "I haven't had any leg problems with him this time in so hopefully he can stay in one piece." Reinsman David Moran drove the short-priced favourite to perfection following Chickies Boy throughout before emerging late. Meanwhile, Northern Velocity won her second race at Wagga in the space of four days with a dominant display. The well-bred filly has earnings of more than $160,000 and since racing in Australia has produced four wins and two seconds from six starts. Owner Scott Robertson said Northern Velocity was purchased because of her breeding and was doing the job asked of her during her racing career. "She had a good record in New Zealand where she won most of her prize money," he said. Northern Velocity has been transferred to the care of trainer Steve Maguire after doing her recent racing with Belinda McCarthy - one of the state's leading trainers. "We will see where she is at whether or not she has another start," Robertson said. Northern Velocity also won at Wagga on Friday night. The filly is a daughter of leading sire Mach Three from Northern Franco making her a half-sister to $900,000 earner Pembrook Benny. Amanda Rando

The Riverina’s new multi-million dollar harness racing complex is moving closer to a starting date with work expected to commence in September. Harness Racing New South Wales is finalising the tender process and have narrowed the number to six of which one will take control of building the $6.5 million project at Cartwrights Hill at Wagga  “We have been anxiously waiting for work to start. There has been some holds ups but it’s close now,” HRNSW chief executive John Dumesny said. Meanwhile, Harness Racing NSW were in Wagga on Monday and Tuesday meeting with clubs and trainers discussing a range of issues. The regional board meetings have been well received by all who have attended with HRNSW to consider feedback they received. “The trainers had some issues which we will work through with them,” Dumesny said. The trainers have concerns with the handicapping and not being able to place their horses in races they select. Money from tax parity will be distributed to a number of areas providing potential growth and stability for the industry. The savings from tax parity for clubs means they no longer pay for ambulance fees, photo finish equipment and starters’ fees. It’s a considerable saving for clubs who will be able to channel the savings into other areas of their operation. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Young’s Jason Grimson’s win in the Rising Stars Series has provided his career with the boost it needed at just the right time. Grimson has taken up employment with trainer Jarrod Alchin at Menangle and with his concession claim he will no doubt be given his share of opportunities. What a year it has been so far for Grimson. He won the biggest race of his career when Don’t Think Twice took out the Bathurst Gold Tiara and was then named as one of the Riverina’s representatives in the Rising Stars before winning the series. Don’t Think Twice was recently announced as the Riverina’s juvenile pacer of the year. She will be acknowledged when her owners accept the award at the Wagga and Riverina awards and sponsors’ evening on Saturday night, September 3. Sporty Spook, the winner of the Junee and Leeton Cups last campaign, will be acknowledged as the Riverina pacer of the year. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Widely acclaimed Rodney Vincent will provide the entertainment at the region’s awards’ night with more than 120 guests expected to attend. The evening will be held at the newly renovated Rules Club in Wagga commencing at 7pm. More than 50 sponsors will be in contention for naming right to various feature races at Wagga during the 2016-17 season. The major prize is naming rights to the Wagga Pacers Cup to be held on Saturday night, March 4. The Riverina and Wagga trainer, driver and pacer of the year awards will also be presented. At this stage, Corey Bell leads on 42 wins ahead of Reece Maguire (33) in the Riverina drivers’ premiership. Bell hasn’t driven in the region since departing for Victoria in late May. The Riverina premiership is Shane Hillier’s for the keeping with 42 wins – two ahead of Shaun Snudden with Phil Maguire on (22). Snudden was well ahead before he made a career change to work as a handicapper with Harness Racing NSW. Hillier also leads the Wagga title while Reece Maguire leads the drivers’ premiership. The pacer of the year at Wagga is at an interesting stage with Redbank Harry and Shadesoff equal leaders ahead of Im Johnny Jet and Tactful Lady by two points. There are four meetings at Wagga in August which should ensure the award goes down to the last meeting. Two-year-old filly Simply Clever won her fourth race at Wagga at only her fifth start to help provide father and son Phil and Reece Maguire with a memorable quartet. The Leeton based duo started six horses for a personal best four wins and two seconds on July 19. They won with Drive The Dream, Im Johnny Jet, Simply Clever and Bettors Power and finished second with The Mighty Falcon and Chickies Boy. Previously, their best was a training and driving double before they passed that mark and then Bettors Power made it four. “We only have seven horses racing and they are ones that the owners have paid a bit of extra money for,” Phil Maguire said. “Reece is going to New Zealand for six weeks in October to further his driving so for him to get four winners so early in his career is good for him.” It wasn’t only the Maguire stable producing multiple winners in July, but also Shane Hillier. He teamed up with Victorian reinsman David Moran for four wins at Leeton on July 22. They won with Doctor Feld, Serene Major, Pental Survivor and Janices Cullen. Moran has never had a week like it before winning eight races including two at Wagga and one each at Melton and Swan Hill. Moran has previously driven five winners on a program at Albury while the Hillier stable has produced four winners a few times. “It’s a credit to David because he does a lot of miles and deserves every bit if success,” Hillier said. by Graeme White - Wagga HRC

Champion reinsman Gavin Lang had armchair drives in front on Heavens Trend and Lettucefirestar to win both heats of the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge at Wagga on Friday.  Lang had no cause for concern on either three-year-old as both moved through to the semi finals with the high probability both will be in the rich finals at the end of June. Lettucefirestar speared out from barrier six to find the lead after 200 metres as he maintained his unbeaten record in five starts for trainer Wayne Potter. “I was very confident of winning on what he has been doing back home,” Potter said. “He has a huge amount of speed and I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes against the better three-year-olds.” Lettucefirestar is raced by a syndicate from Wagga who are enjoying a wonderful run with the son of Courage Under Fire who was bred by Redbank Lodge Standardbreds.  Potter said he made some gear adjustments to Lettucefiretstar when he arrived at his Avenel stables and he was excited by what could lay ahead. Lang was impressed with both and said it made a big difference having gate speed to find the front. “I have had a few drives at Wagga over the years and gate speed is a big asset,” he said. “Lettucefirestar went really well and looks to have a nice future.” Lettucefirestar clocked a mile rate of 1.56.7 which was 0.1 seconds outside of the track record held by Modern Era.  There is little doubt Lettucefirestar could have broken the record had Lang wanted to. Heavens Trend’s time of 1.57.7 seconds could have also been much faster as the top class filly raced into the semi finals. Lang was at Wagga last year when Heavens Trend won the Breeders Challenge heat as a two-year-old before going onto claim the semi final and final.  It could be a similar story this time as Heavens Trend continues to dominate her age group. “I have driven her most of the time, but was only filling in on Lettucefirestar,” Lang said. “She does everything you ask of her.” Heavens Trend accounted for the gallant Sport Report by almost ten metres with Boundtobemad running on well for third.  The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven has won 11 of her 16 starts and earned in excess of $200,000. Meanwhile, reinsman Corey Bell and trainer Shaun Snudden recorded a significant victory with East Emperor.  The meeting was the last for Snudden and Bell in the Riverina as they follow new career paths.  Bell will relocate to Victoria to continue driving, while Snudden will close his stables at Narrandera and  commence working with Harness Racing NSW as a handicapper in a couple of weeks. Snudden said after six successful years it was time to move on. “I will still be in the industry, but in a different capacity,” he said. The win by East Emperor was the 150th together for the pair. “I have won ten races on East Emperor so to win this last one with Shaun means a lot,” Bell said.  GRAEME WHITE

Expressions of Interest are being sought to participate in the selection of suitably experienced and qualified Building Contractors and Earthworks Contractors for the construction of the new harness racing facility at Wagga. Harness Racing New South Wales has placed advertisements in the Riverina and is keen to see the building process begin on time. HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny believes the announcement should be exciting for the industry in the local area. "It is very fulfilling we are edging closer to turning the first sod of soil on the new harness racing facility at Wagga Wagga," Mr Dumesny said. "The Riverina deserves a racing complex equal to what HRNSW has provided at Bathurst and when completed it will be a benefit not only for the industry but for the community of Wagga Wagga." The EOI's will be used to determine a select tender list for the project and must be received by McKinnon Design before 5pm Monday June 6. "This is going to be a state of the art complex, a new clubhouse, grandstand, race stalls and track will be built and it should be good news for all of the participants in the region." EOI's can be sent to McKinnon Design at PO Box 1929, Orange NSW 2800. For more information contact McKinnon Design on (02) 63631780 or info@mckinnondesign.com.au Greg Hayes

Teenager Jess Gilchrist had to wait until the final race of the night to make her driving debut, but it was worth it as she made a memorable start to her harness racing career at Wagga on Saturday night.  Gilchrist had all night to prepare for her only drive and it was a moment to cherish as she guided Lighting Colony to victory. The 19-year-old had the majority of her eight siblings on track plus other well wishers as her long awaited debut produced the perfect result.  Gilchrist has worked for Lighting Colony’s trainer Bernie Kelly for several years and the master trainer was delighted she could win on debut. “What a great start for her. She had her licence for a while and I wanted Jess to have plenty of trial drives before she went into a race,” Kelly said. Gilchrist took a break from harness racing for short time switching over to thoroughbreds, but found her way back into harness. “It’s pretty exciting to win at your first drive,” she said. “I was a bit nervous, but more anxious to have my first drive.” Lighting Colony was reluctant to parade correctly as the field circled for the start, but once out and running he found the lead after several hundred metres and remained there throughout.  Gilchrist gave her rivals little chance setting a time rarely seen at Wagga for the first 800 metres – 69.7 seconds.  She received a $100 fine for the slow pace, but the result was the most important part to her. “I was going a bit slow, but he won which is the main thing,” she said. Gilchrist has learned a lot from Kelly over the years and was pleased to win for the veteran trainer. “Bernie has given me a lot of trial drives and my first race drive for a win so I’m pretty happy,” she said. Graeme White

Teenage reinsman Jordan Seary did everything asked of him to win his first race with Sokys Bigbullet at Wagga on Friday. Charged with the responsibility of driving the harness racing favourite from barrier five, Seary was cool under press outwardly but inwardly there were the obvious nerves. The 16-year-old from Junee was having only his fifth race drive and having the chance to drive a pacer with the record of Sokys Bigbullet brought with it added pressure. Sokys Bigbullet worked his way to the front after 650 metres and when challenged by Franco Noriega raised another effort for an easy 15 metre record. The in-form pacer has an impressive record of 40 top three finishes from 56 starts having recently also won the Coolamon Cup after a run of minor placings in other Riverina country cups. Seary was delighted to win and be given the chance to drive a pacer like Sokys Bigbullet by trainer Bruce Harpley. "I was nervous, but I just did what I was told," Seary said. "It's good driving these better horses because they make it a lot easier." Seary has driven Sokys Bigbullet in a lot of track work and also former stablemate, Frith. Harpley was delighted to see the schoolboy break through. "It's not easy when you start out but he did very well," Harpley said. "He drives to instructions and will keep improving with experience." Sokys Bigbullet has earned close to $125,000 and could soon be on the move as he continues to rise in class. "He is best to be racing in better class races now so we will see what happens," Harpley said. Greg Hayes

A new harness racing track on the floodplain at North Wagga Wagga could be up and running in just over a year. The CEO of Harness Racing NSW, John Dumesny, said he is relieved the revised application was approved on the casting vote of the Chairman of the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel. North Wagga residents raised concerns about flooding, noise and light impacts from the $6.5m development. Once the complex is up, operational, I think there could be some hysteria as to what the effect is, it won't actually eventuate. Mr Dumesny says they will be addressed in revised consent conditions, yet to be released, and the industry will continue liaising with affected residents. "I would suggest we'll go out to tender early in the new year and commence the construction shortly after that," he said. "Hopefully we'll have a new facility up and running by the end of 2016." Mr Dumesny believes North Wagga residents concerns about a new track on Cooramin Street will never become a reality. He said there has been benefit in the delay to approving the track, because extra studies have been done. Mr Dumesny said the industry body looks forward to consulting further with residents who have ongoing concerns. "They correctly put it, that if you haven't lived through a flood you haven't seen the devastation," he said. "I'm relying on our consultants to say that the effects won't be any worse than any flood that's occurred in the past, so we'll have to wait and see. "There are other concerns with noise, traffic, what have you. "Once the complex is up, operational, I think there could be some hysteria as to what the effect is, it won't actually eventuate." Reproduced with the permission of ABC News

Two more harness racing drivers will qualify for the Michael Brown Planning Strategies Indigenous Drivers Invitation at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday November 1 after the Wagga meeting this Saturday night. Eight indigenous drivers will compete this weekend with the first two drivers past the post joining reinsmen Andrew Lincoln and James Sutton after they secured invitations in a similar event at Dubbo last month. The $10,000 race on Sunday November 1 will be part of the Fisher's Ghost Meeting and will be for horses assessed C1 to C3. With four drivers qualifying from the Dubbo and Wagga events, the remaining indigenous drivers will be selected by the NSWHRC. The eight drivers competing this Saturday night at Wagga are; Jeff Brown Danny Gibson Jess Prior Royce Gregory-Jack Scott Gregory Bruce O'Brien Mckayler Barnes Nathan Giles Greg Hayes

A harness track at Copland Street would help establish a new sporting precinct in Wagga and avert “catastrophic” flooding at the porposed North Wagga site, a former builder and harness driver has claimed. As debate rages over a planned $6.5 million harness track in North Wagga, John Hogan has implored council to have an urgent rethink on the alternative site at Copland Street. It comes after Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) CEO John Dumesny last week warned further delays in approving North Wagga as the site could plunge the project into jeopardy. Both Wagga council and HRNSW are pushing for North Wagga as the preferred site, despite furious protests from surrounding residents and others. At the heart of the issue is money. Council has gifted HRNSW the North Wagga site and maintains Copland Street, which has railway lines running through it, is too small for a harness facility and is a more valuable piece of community land. But Mr Hogan claims the North Wagga site breaches planning guidelines and defies commonsense. “They’re claiming it’s not a floodplain, it’s flood prone, but they’re wrong,” he said. “I’ve seen every flood in Wagga since 1952 and a serious flood would destroy that (North Wagga) site. Everything would need to be replaced.” He said if the railway line was removed at Copland Street, the site would be “more than adequate” for the harness facility. He claimed the site could be rezoned to “public recreational” and have six playing fields built on the inside of the track. A ruling on whether the track is permissible at North Wagga will be made by the Southern Region Joint Planning Panel in the coming months. Wagga councillor Garry Hiscock, a staunch advocate of developing the Equex precinct, has also emerged as a supporter of Copland Street. “There are far more benefits for the community by moving it to Copland Street than to North Wagga,” Cr Hiscock said. The Daily Advertiser

Harness Racing New South Wales has confirmed sprint lanes will be introduced at three more tracks across the state. The new tracks at Wagga and Tamworth will have sprint lanes while HRNSW CEO John Dumesny has announced an ongoing discussion will continue with the Goulburn Club about a sprint lane being introduced at its track. "The Board of HRNSW confirmed at its most recent meeting that the two news tracks, which are yet to be built, at Wagga and Tamworth will have sprint lanes," Mr Dumesny said. "There has been an investigation conducted in relation to a sprint lane being introduced at the Goulburn track and HRNSW will continue to work with the Club in relation to those findings." While confirming the introduction of the new sprint lanes, Mr Dumesny ruled out the possibility at Tabcorp Park Menangle and Newcastle. "The construction of sprint lanes at Menangle and Newcastle have been deferred due to the significant cost of installation as identified by the respective clubs." Greg Hayes

Former Australian cricketers Ricky Ponting and Mark Waugh, Manly fullback Brett Stewart, Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, former Adelaide Crows coach Brenton Sanderson and leading Sydney jockey Tommy Berry have one thing in common. They all have been, or are currently, owners in the sport of harness racing. Another group of talented footballers has joined the list of sporting identities that are enjoying harness racing with five members of the GWS Giants buying a share in former kiwi pacer Comekissmequick. Rhys Palmer, Heath Shaw, Nathan Wilson, Aidan Corr and Jacob Townsend teamed up to buy 50% of the filly and she is set to make her debut on Friday afternoon at Wagga. Palmer won the AFL's Rising Star award in 2008 while playing for the Fremantle Dockers and joined the Giants for the 2012 season and has played more than 100 AFL games. Originally from Perth, Palmer has raced gallopers previously but is looking forward to watching his first pacer compete. "My father has had a few horses over the years, we've had a couple of winners but we've had a few slow ones as well," Palmer said. "A few of the boys were talking about getting a pacer and Reece Maguire said that he had found a suitable one from New Zealand so we decided to take a share in Comekissmequick and hopefully she does a good job for us." Palmer's interest in harness racing grew after he and his girlfriend spent some time in Europe after the 2014 AFL season. "Tina's father is Camel Benkheira, he owns a few trotters, he treats them like they are his children and they race in Sweden, France and Norway. "He has a very successful trotter called Goods Of Norway and while we were over there I got the chance to spend time in the stable, it was very impressive and I really enjoyed it." As a professional athlete Palmer spends a lot of time training but also finds time to study for a career after football. "My week is structured and I'm kept pretty busy so following the horse will be a bit of fun. "We stay in contact with Reece (Maguire) and he tells us that the horse goes ok, she is well bred, has trialled well so hopefully she does a good job for all of us." Palmer has had an interrupted 2015 season after breaking his collarbone in round four against the Gold Coast Suns but returned to play against the Kangaroos on June 20. "The team has been playing well, I copped a knock to my hamstring last week but overall it has been a good season so far." With the Giants enjoying their best season to date, here's hoping some of that form can rub off onto Comekissmequick. Greg Hayes

Harness Racing New South Wales says it is confused by a late attempt to have it consider another site for a race track in Wagga Wagga. CEO, John Dumesny, says he is confident the North Wagga site will receive approval when it goes back before the region's planning panel in the next two months. "The panel has previously raised concerns about flood impacts, lighting and noise." Mr Dumesny says the Kooringal option detailed in a Wagga Wagga City Council (WWCC) commissioned report this week could not work. He says the industry has been working with full council support since 2006 and the recent move was odd. "If I said it was farcical, that might be too strong a word, but it was quite confusing," he said. "There was a railway line through the middle, it had overhead power lines and an easement there, it's in a marsh." "Very difficult for anyone to take that site on or very difficult for us to take the site on. "It's just a little bit bewildering why it would even be put up." Wagga Council has already sold a site in North Wagga to Harness Racing NSW. Mr Dumesny says he would be extremely disappointed if the $6.5m development application for the North Wagga site is not approved. "The flooding, it's only a slight delay, we have that well and truly in hand, there were no issues with it at all," he said. "The lighting, we're looking at that but our consultants don't see any real concern. "A little bit of traffic study needs to be required. "And as far as noise is concerned, we've moved the location of the race stalls further away from the residences so that should adequately satisfy that point as well. "It will go through but we've got other options if it doesn't of course, but we've satisfied every point that we needed to satisfy. "I think we're only tick tacking over little issues at the moment. "The flooding, I don't dismiss the flooding as being a major issue but the damage it will cause, it'll be a clean up rather than devastating loss of property." Mr Dumesny says there are people trying to frustrate the development, but tenders should be called this year and it is hoped the track will be built by mid next year. "We certainly do have other sites, Tamworth is the next site we're next moving on to," he said. "But there's nothing there that the planning panel could stop this development on. "We've met every single requirement. "It'll be a purpose built facility that will provide Wagga and the Riverina with a fantastic harness racing centre which can only help grow the industry." ABC Online  - Check site here

As Classiemahon crossed the finish line for his seventh win for his current harness racing owners at Wagga on Saturday night, their thoughts were with the late Garry Burns.  It was Burns who selected Classiemahon (Jereme's Jet) for the syndicate late last year, but unfortunately he didn't get to see the latest win after passing away on Friday. Burns niche was finding a horse he thought had potential to improve and forming syndicates to race it.  The former bookmaker did it numerous times and mostly with success.  Proof of this were the results of horses he acquired, or owned, last week. Amanda Von (Ifihadyourluck), raced by the same syndicate, won at Penrith on Thursday night while his own mare, Shesa A Runa (Jereme's Jet), won the $30,000 VicBred final at Melton on Friday night. Syndicate manager Terry McMillan said it was Burns knowledge and keen eye that led to many members enjoying unequalled success in harness racing. "Garry selected all of the horses he thought could improve and these last two have won a fair few races," he said. "Amanda Von has been really good for us and Classiemahon has won seven from 18 since we bought him." Trainer Shaun Snudden has got the best from Classiemahon who has also been placed six times from his 18 starts with the stable.  Reinsman Corey Bell found the lead on the short priced favourite who sprinted fast from the 400 metres and held on for a comfortable win. It was a big night for the leading combination with a treble as East Emperor (Modern Art) and Somelovesomewhere (Somebeachsomewhere) were also successful.  East Emperor has won three races for owners Jody Ward and Mel Young, while Somelovesomewhere has claimed four victories and been a model of consistency for the Pellow family.  Snudden is closing in on 100 wins in the season for the first time after finishing in the 90s in recent years. Meanwhile, trainer-driver Mark Hewitt landed a double with track specialist Kenny Trickem (Stonebridge Regal) and two-year-old Jumping Jack Jimmy (Modern Art).  Kenny Trickem's past three wins have been at Wagga, while Jumping Jack Jimmy will push on to this week's Breeders Challenge semi-finals. "He wanted to switch off a bit at the end. It's good to see him win a race before the semis," Hewitt said. "Kenny Trickem loves racing here and his three wins have all been similar coming off the speed with a strong finish." by Graeme White

With the Pepper Tree Farm Breeders Challenge finals just over six weeks away it is no surprise to see a number of the leading chances hitting the track in preparation for the rich Gr. 1 events.     The two year old colts and geldings division will be dominated by the unbeaten Our Waikiki Beach and he returned to the trials at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday with a win in a time of 1:55.8.   A number of his main rivals have also trialled this week with Bathurst Gold Crown placegetter Sams The Master winning at Bathurst on Monday.   The son of Tell All proved too strong for Bathurst Gold Tiara winner Pixies Parlour in the trial rating 1:59.3 for the mile.   Hunter Valley trainer Sam Dimarco also welcomed back his two talented two year olds at the Newcastle trials on Wednesday night with Gold Crown winner Shadow Runner and Gotta Go Gold winning.    Dimarco is eyeing off the Breeders Challenge heats at Newcastle on Friday May 22nd with his well performed pair.   “Both of them did what was expected on Wednesday night and it should have topped them off nicely for Friday week,” said Dimarco.   “The weather wasn’t great so the times weren’t all that important but Gotta Go Gold won in 2:03 while Shadow Runner recorded 2:02.4 in his trial win.”   Dimarco confirmed the recent wet weather had affected their preparations.   “I wasn’t knocked around like some people were with damage to their properties and tracks but because of the rain and the amount of water around it meant that my horses couldn’t work for about four or five days so it set me back a little bit.   “The pair had only been back in work for a few days when the storm hit so I just had to stop and start again, I gave them a few weeks off after the Gold Crown and it has helped I think.”   Gotta Go Gold has grown more than Shadow Runner during the short break.   “The little fellow (Gotta Go Gold) definitely grew during the break and I’m really happy with how the big horse (Shadow Runner) is looking too, I’m looking forward to the Breeders Challenge."   “As soon as the series is over they will both go out for a longer spell, somewhere in the vicinity of two to three months.”   Dimarco’s daughter Marissa owns both but did not look to buy another after the family’s success at Bathurst.   “I tied her hands behind her back at the sales, she doesn’t need any others at the moment especially with these two horses doing such a good job."    “Marissa has some broodmares and will breed a couple in the short term, I think that will keep her busy for a little while.”   The first of the Pepper Tree Farm Breeders Challenge heats for the two year old colts and geldings will be conducted at Wagga on Saturday night.    The Col Thomas trained Bettermatch will race the smart Emma Stewart prepared Kingofthestars.   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

After a track record performance at the harness racing meeting at Young by Barriettas Bliss last November, Riverina trainer Shaun Snudden could have been excused for dreaming about feature race success with the talented mare.    It was her second track record in the space of three runs but there were major concerns she may never race again after seemingly breaking down soon after the Young event.   “After the win at Young Barriettas Bliss couldn’t walk, we took her home and had the vet look at her and nothing could be found that was structurally wrong,” said Snudden.   “We even took her down to Shepparton to have the dye put through her to see if anything would show up on a scan but again it revealed nothing so I decided to give her a spell and there has been no dramas since, all we can think is that she must have pinched a nerve.”   Barriettas Bliss brought up her first win since the Young victory at Dubbo on Wednesday night when she won a heat of the Red Ochre Mares Classic.   “It was only her third run back, she has been getting fitter with each run and this looked a really good series for her so I was very pleased to see her win the heat.   “It is a really even series this year, there are a number of chances in the final and it is going to be harder for Barriettas Bliss on Sunday because it will be a full field and she will draw poorly because of her assessment.”   Snudden confirmed Barriettas Bliss would not be overtaxed in the lead up to Sunday’s $30,000 final.   “We brought her home and it is four and a half hours each way from my place to Dubbo so she has spent nine hours in the float on Wednesday."    "She will spend Thursday and Friday in the paddock and I will give her a light jog on Saturday morning."   “She’s very versatile, she can do a bit of work in her races but she is fast too so Corey (Bell driver) will have a couple of options and can drive her as required.”   Bell received praise from Snudden after the heat win.   “Corey does a very good job, I think that win was his 60th for the season which is a really good effort.”   Snudden has qualified a runner for the Red Ochre Mares Classic previously.  Victoria May finished unplaced in 2013 but was unlucky after racing on the pegs and failed to get a clear run in the straight.   “Victoria May got held up a couple of years ago in the final but the Red Ochre is that sort of race because it always attracts some very nice mares and you need your fair share of luck."   “Barriettas Bliss is different to Victoria May because she can be driven a little bit more aggressively and doesn’t have to be saved up for the last shot at them.”   The Red Ochre Mares Classic is race six at Dubbo on Sunday afternoon and will begin at 3:54pm.   Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

Frustrated trainers angered by a delayed harness racing track being developed at North Wagga fear another site floated will cause further delays.   Riverina harness racing trainer Shaun Snudden said development of the $6 million first-class facility was earmarked to start in February to open later in the year.   “As far as we’re concerned, we just want it built,” Snudden said. “Hopefully they can get on with it.”   His frustration follows Wagga City (WWCC) councillors carrying Cr Alan Brown’s notice of motion on Monday night to receive a report from staff at the July Policy and Strategy meeting, which will consider an alternative site at the corner of Copland Street and Kooringal Road for sale or long-term lease.   Snudden said despite flooding concerns, North Wagga remained a viable option because the country’s premier track at Menangle was also built on a floodplain.   But HRNSW chairman Rex Horne remains confident it will go ahead at North Wagga, having inspected both sites with WWCC staff yesterday.   "As far as we're concerned, it's full steam ahead," Horne said. “Our first preference is still North Wagga.”   HRNSW will prepare further reports relating to North Wagga to submit to the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel in coming weeks.   Horne believed only 13 hectares of the alternative site could be used and therefore not large enough for the 24-hectare development.   While HRNSW purchased the North Wagga site from WWCC several months ago for just $1, stamp duties and other costs have seen them spend upwards of $200,000 planning the development there.   Cr Brown said North Wagga was unsuitable because it was flood-prone, was located out of the city centre, would impact nearby residents and couldn’t double as a multi-purpose centre.   Cr Garry Hiscock “couldn’t agree more”, questioning why it was being considered on a floodplain.   He anticipated the alternative site would create a sporting precinct alongside Equex.   Cr Greg Conkey argued North Wagga was HRNSW’s preferred site and the Copland Street site was the jewel in the CBD crown.    Ella Smith  -  Reproduced with the permission of the Daily Advertiser

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