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When Park Life arrived at the stables of Queensland trainer Wayne Graham, the veteran harness racing horseman was just hoping to get the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven to the racetrack. Park Life was one of three fillies Graham had in work and was the slowest of the trio. The thought of contesting the Australian Pacing Gold hadn't entered Graham's mind but he nominated her for the Group 3 Paleface Adios Classic and despite being the stable's second elect, finished third behind Maestro Bellini. "I didn't think much of her when we first got her and to this day she's a different horse off the track," Graham said. "We've got three fillies at home and she's eight to ten seconds slower than them on her trackwork but when she gets to the races it's like she is a totally different horse." Even after winning her third start in a mile rate of 1:55.7 at Albion Park, Graham was still unsure whether Park Life would measure up to the APG in Sydney. "I didn't even know when we left Queensland whether she had a 27 second quarter in her. Her first win was very good but she did no work early and came with a late run. "While I knew she'd be competitive I wasn't sure whether we were a realistic chance in the APG." Graham stayed with John and Narelle McCarthy in Sydney and worked the filly at the property of Luke and Belinda McCarthy and was still unsure he had made the right decision to head south. "I asked Luke what a two year old should work and he gave me an indication and we worked for the first time. Lyn (Graham's wife) drove her and told me she felt good but then I looked down at my stopwatch and thought what am I doing here, I should just pack up and go home." Park Life performed well in her semi final finishing second behind Petacular and went one better in Saturday's $322,000 final and stopped the clock in 1:53.2. "That was the biggest shock, I never thought she would go within coo-ee of that time, I am so proud of her and now we can take her home and get ready for the Breeders and the Triad. "Jossie Jones won the APG race at Albion Park on Saturday night. She was meant to compete in the Brisbane heat won by Park Life but she had a hissy fit going onto the track and had to be scratched. I could have had both of them here in Sydney in hindsight but it was great to get the victory." Greg Hayes

It was a night to remember for Wayne and Lyn Graham. Within the space of 25 minutes, the popular Queensland couple snared their biggest double during their long and decorated careers in harness racing after claiming the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle plus the $80,000 Albion Park Gold Final. Park Life, handled by their son Shane, claimed the Sydney classic while in-form reinsman Adam Sanderson handled Jossie James in the home state feature. The respected couple have been a regular fixture in Brisbane harness racing circles for decades and has enjoyed tremendous success with such stars like Sparkling Melody, Mach Alert, Yahoo Buckaroo, Lively Highlander, Bossys Henry, Power In Disguise, Innocent Nero, Rapt In Red, French Heiress and Albert Aralar among others at Moomba Lodge, their property at Beaudesert. Their current team is headed by exciting four-year-old Major Coup, a last start winner of the QBRED Breeders Classic Final at Albion Park plus this pair of precocious fillies. Park Life, a $16,000 purchase from the Brisbane division of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale last year is raced by Victorian based couple Stephen and Narelle Dickson in partnership with local owner Pete Poulsen. The filly was bred by Mario Di Carlo. From 6 starts to date, the Rock N Roll Heaven – Strawbs Interact filly has recorded 3 wins and 3 minor placings while amassing more than $168,000 in stakes. After drawing the coveted inside gate, Park Life was handled perfectly by the reigning Australian Driver of the Year and sat just off the pace which was set by race favourite High Rolling but that filly could not withstand the strong sprint from Park Life at the top of the long straight before defeating Victorian fillies Perfect Sense and Petacular in a time of 1:53.2. High Rolling finished 5th. The time is the fastest recorded by a two-year-old this season. While celebrations and presentations were underway for the diminutive filly, the couple took time out to witness stablemate Jossie James lead throughout and beat Our Major Day and Rock With Sam in the Brisbane feature. The punters favourite rated 1:55.4 in the 1660m event, slightly slower than her heat success of 1:55.0 eight days earlier. Bred and raced by longtime stable clients Trevor and Louise O’Reilly, the Big Jim – Empty Promises filly has now won 2 of her 4 starts to date. The filly was passed in at $7500 after failing to make the reserve price of $16,000 at the Brisbane division of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale last year. Jossie James has now banked more than $39,000 in stakes. The O’Reilly’s have been breeding from this family for over three generations and have enjoyed considerable success with this lineage. Local horseman Garry Fliedner has played a major role in the development of both fillies and was on hand at Albion Park to share in the celebrations. Both fillies will be aimed at the upcoming QBRED features during the Brisbane winter carnival. Chris Barsby

Michael Stanley’s Burrumbeet stable is well positioned to strike gold in Saturday night’s $322,000 Group 1 for harness racing fillies. The trainer-driver has qualified Petacular and Soho Angel for the Australian Pacing Gold final at Tabcorp Park Menangle, after both delivered outstanding semi-final performances. They’ve been disadvantaged by the draw for Saturday night’s mile, drawn sixth (Petacular) and eighth (Soho Angel) when emergencies are excluded, outside short-priced runners Emma Stewart-trained Perfect Sense (barrier two), Queensland hope Park Life (barrier one) and Shane Tritton’s favourite High Rolling (barrier three). CLICK HERE FOR THE TAB'S FIXED ODDS FOR THE APG FINAL But that hasn’t dulled Stanley’s enthusiasm for his two-year-olds. Petacular, a winner at three of her four starts, has cruised through the APG heat and semi-final, leading in both and clearing out to win without much urging. “We’ve always had a really good opinion of Petacular and she’s been developing nicely with each run,” Stanley said. “There are plenty of horses that show promise that get to race day and don’t deliver, it is good that she has shown she can put it together on the race track. In the heat and semi she has been able to get two soft runs and improved each time.” Soho Angel, on the other hand, was taken north with more gentle expectation, but Stanley said “since she got up here to New South Wales she has really thrived". “I think if she had have got a clear run early she would have won her semi-final,” he said. “She is getting better every time she goes to the races. She’s got a wide barrier and will go back. She probably needs them to go hard and if they do and she gets the right run into it she will be coming. With the big straight here at Menangle we can use that speed she’s got.” Petacular’s route to the finish line is not so set in stone. Despite having led or faced the breeze in all four starts, a challenge for the lead from barrier six could come at a cost. Stanley will take the reins and said he’d respond to the opportunities that present. “The favourite runners got the better of the draw, but if (Petacular) takes the next step I am really confident she can go close,” he said. “She’s got real gate speed. High Rolling is fast out and they have put it out there that they will lead and turn it into a staying test. Petacular can settle early and make a move mid-race, or if they are going fast I can sit up on her. She’s a very versatile filly.” David Aiken’s Avenel stable will also have two representatives contest the APG final, with She Envy, who finished second in both her heat and semi-final, to start from barrier five and Jiggy Rhythm from barrier eight. A host of Victorians will also feature in the $50,000 consolation final, including Peter Manning’s Toolern Art Miss and Rocknroll Baby, Dean Braun’s Carlas Pixel, Vince Vallelonga’s All Done Up and Geoff Webster’s Intrusive. Stanley’s assault on the night doesn’t begin and end with the APG final. He has Young Modern drawn barrier two in the Group 2 Lands Legal Carousel Final, worth $50,000, and Stanley said with cover “he will hit the line really well”. Fellow Victorian trainer Vince Vallelonga has Stunning Grin drawn in barrier one. Our Overnova will contest the Group 3 Michael Gamble Bulli Trotters Cup, and Stanley said the gelding had been luckless in his three starts at Menangle but was “training really well and if she is on her best behaviour she can win it”.  And Kurahaupo Gambler, who Stanley said had been “hitting the line really well”, will contest the Pace in race two to kick off a big day for the stable. by Michael Howard

The barrier draw for the $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Final for harness racing two year old fillies was conducted on Tuesday morning and the Wayne Graham trained Park Life has drawn barrier one.  The Queensland filly was runner-up to the Michael Stanley trained Petacular in the first semi final on Saturday night. The second semi winner High Rolling will start from gate three and looks to be better suited after being forced to charge out from barrier ten on the weekend. The full barrier draw – 1. PARK LIFE - Rock N Roll Heaven 2. PERFECT SENSE - Art Major 3. HIGH ROLLING - Roll With Joe 4. MIGHT AND MAIN - Art Major 5. SHE ENVY - Rock N Roll Heaven 6. NOMI MALONE (E1) - Major In Art 7. PETACULAR - Somebeachsomewhere 8. JIGGY RHYTHM - Sportswriter 9. TOOLERN ART MISS (E2) - Art Major                  10. SOHO ANGEL - Bettor's Delight 11. JOVIAL ROCK - Rock N Roll Heaven 12. CHERISH ART - Art Major     Greg Hayes  

Share in the jubilation of harness racing Group 1 success by going step-by-step with the owners of The Storm Inside as they covet the Australian Pacing Gold. Justin Baker, part-owner of the Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin trained colt, tells of how a big group of strangers became friends behind the unbeaten freak who captured the $322,000 prize. Trots Media followed the owners as they bit their nails in anticipation and pumped their fists in exhilaration. WATCH THEIR UNFORGETTABLE RIDE Trots Media

Stunning harness racing colt The Storm Inside achieved what for long has appeared his two-year-old destiny and won the Group 1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Emma Stewart’s freak by Rocknroll Hanover out of Spirited Storm appeared to do it easy, with Greg Sugars taking the lead and clearing out on the straight, requiring only a flick of the reins and a tap of the whip to claim the mantle of Australia’s finest. “He’s an absolute pleasure to drive,” Sugars said. “Clayton (Tonkin) and Emma have done a wonderful job with this horse.” The race appeared in The Storm Inside’s keeping throughout, with Sugars driving it to the lead from barrier two while Weona Sizzler took the sit on his back. Chris Alford temporarily put Our Little General, Stewart’s other runner, into the breeze, but an unsettled Three Of The Best kicked up first time down the main straight, looping Alford as Gavin Lang wrestled with the Queensland gelding. He eventually settled in the breeze, but there was little respite with Geoff Webster hooking Wrappers Delight three-wide with almost 1000m to go and there they remained to the final bend. Having raced fiercely, Three Of The Best’s bid appeared done at the final turn, on his tail Alford and  second-favourite Our Little General struggled to find a run while San Domino made ground four-wide and Weona Sizzler moved up on the pegs. The latter two would run into second and third, but removed from the commotion was The Storm Inside, who Sugars urged clear at the turn and who advanced to win by 6.8m in a mile rate of 1:55.6. “Bit of a relief to get it out of the way. I’m sure it’s a big weight off the shoulders of Emma and Clayton,” Sugars said. “He proved the best horse tonight and it all went to plan. He had a good draw and he’d probably already shown before tonight that he was the best horse in the field, but it’s still never as easy as just turning up. You’ve got to earn it.” While it may have appeared oh-so-easy for the bay colt, many hands have gone into crafting The Storm Inside, who improved to six wins from as many starts. That began with Helen Head of Manna Lodge in Congupna, who ventured to America to purchase a filly, which she brought back to Australia and utilised to breed a champion. “I’m thrilled to bits tonight to win,” Ms Head said. And then there were the owners, strong in numbers and bursting with pride, none more so than Justin Baker. “To win a race like this, wow, this is just a dream come true,” Baker said. And, of course, Stewart herself, who not only claimed the night’s grandest crown, but produced five of the card’s 10 winners. “It’s just a fantastic series,” she said. “I know sales time is Clayton’s favourite time and we really appreciate the Australian Pacing Gold.”  Michael Howard

The Storm Inside’s reputation as a freak two-year-old was only heightened when the colt produced an outstanding win in the second Australian Pacing Gold semi-final at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s Smythes Creek stable claimed both semi-finals with Our Little General (Mach Three) and The Storm Inside (Rocknroll Hanover) , and it was the latter that again dropped jaws having been tested early before finding the lead and still having plenty in the tank to draw clear and win by 9.5m. “He’s showing start-by-start that he’s an improved horse,” driver Greg Sugars said in the wake of The Storm Inside’s win. “He’s the real deal. He’s a top horse and I’m looking forward to next week.” He’ll likely start a short-priced favourite after Saturday night’s outstanding showing. In the first semi-final, Our Little General, renowned for his sprint, was instead called on to produce a dogged run to win the first of the semi-finals. With heat on in the early going Our Little General was the third of four-wide to the first corner, eventually claiming the lead inside Jilliby Kung Fu. By the bell Geoff Webster’s fancied Wrappers Delight had cornered the field and sidled next to Our Little General in the breeze, and they cooled their heels from a 27.7 first quarter to a 29.3 second. Our Little General and Wrappers Delight gained separation at the final bend but the latter lost touch and $21 shot Three Of The Best was the best of the swoopers, almost pinching the race from Stewart’s short-priced favourite. Driver Chris Alford had Our Little General hold on to win from Three Of The Best by a half-head, with Wrappers Delight third and Weona Sizzler (fourth) and None Bettor (fifth) also qualifying for the final.  “He’s a good little horse and had to earn it tonight,” Alford said. “Being in front is not ideal for him. You never know when they get pressure how they will handle it. He is probably better with the sit. Hopefully next week we can get a draw and a bit of luck.” Our Little General won in a 1:55.4 mile, a time eclipsed by 0.8s in the second semi-final.  Alford, chasing a fourth win from as many races on the night, made The Storm Inside earn the lead by pushing Redbank Blaze along early before handing up to Greg Sugars when they entered the straight for the first time. Sugars settled in on The Storm Inside but was kept honest when Bettor Be Gold loomed into the breeze on the back straight. Any thought that the $1.20 favourite was under threat though was soon erased with Sugars again barely moving as The Storm Inside rattled down the final straight to win in 1:54.3. Redbank Blaze ran second from Atomic Red, Bettor Be Gold and fifth-placed San Domino, who all qualified for Friday night’s $322,000 final. by Michael Howard

A pair of Queensland harness racing rookies will venture to Melbourne this week chasing gold. Following their one/two result in the Australian Pacing Gold qualifier staged at Albion Park last Tuesday, both Three Of The Best and Maestro Bellini are due to fly south to contest the semi-finals this Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. In the Brisbane qualifier, Three Of The Best overpowered Maestro Bellini in the latter stages in a slick time of 1:55.0 while covering the final half in 56.6 seconds. Three Of The Best is prepared by husband and wife combination of Scott Miller​ and ,Shannon Price no strangers to success in the garden state while Maestro Bellini belongs to the Chris Petroff stable. “We’re booked on a flight on Wednesday night at this stage and that will give us a few days to settle in before racing on Saturday night. We were always keen to go and after speaking with Chris, it made sense to book the flights and travel together.” Miller said. Three Of The Best, a $45,000 purchase from the Sydney sale last year was a beaten favourite on debut when 7th behind his stablemate Statement Made after making an early error before making amends last week. Handled by Adam Sanderson, Three Of The Best sat parked outside Maestro Bellini before outstaying him over the concluding stages that was having his first start back in Brisbane following his Bathurst Gold Crown campaign. The Mach Three – Snug Harbor (by Bettors Delight) gelding has thrived following his triumph and connections are optimistic about their chances. “We’re in with a chance and the fact we’re heading south and prepared to take on this series proves we think we have a show of getting some of the good prizemoney on offer. We’ve always rated this horse from the start and he continues to improve, anything can happen in juvenile racing. “It appears to be a fairly open series with the Victorian trained performers looking the most likely with the likes of Emma Stewart and Geoff Webster both having impressive types while it’s rare for Mark Purdon to not have one of the top ranking colts. “Our guy is going to be based with Alan Tubbs and as long as he handles everything, I think we’re in with a good chance. When you break down his winning effort last week, it was very impressive and he’s trained on a treat since.” Champion reinsman Gavin Lang has been booked to drive during the Melbourne campaign. The $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Final is scheduled for April 22 Chris Barsby. 

The nation’s most talented harness racing two-year-olds are showing early zeal in pursuit of Australian Pacing Gold, which carries a $322,000 purse that will be prized open at Tabcorp Park Melton on April 22. Wrappers Delight, trained and driven by Bannockburn’s Geoff Webster, was among those to salute when four Victorian heats of the series were held at Melton last Friday night, reward for owners Domenic Martello and Doug Webster who invested in the yearling at the 2015 APG sales. “We went along Friday night and cheered him on,” Martello said. “I took my wife and the kids and had a ball. As long as it is a healthy and happy horse we find they will run well, and when they win that’s a bonus.” The APG heats for colts and geldings at Melton last Friday also saw Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s short-priced favourites, Our Little General and The Storm Inside, live up to their top billing, while trainer-driver and part-owner Allison Chisholm claimed the other heat with Whats The Catch. DON'T MISS THE APG REPLAYS OF HEAT ONE, HEAT TWO, HEAT THREE AND HEAT FOUR The four winners will be guaranteed starts in the series’ semi-finals on April 16, which precede the April 22 final. The APG heats for fillies get underway at Melton on Friday, April 8, leading up to the semi-final (April 23) and final (April 30) at Menangle. For Geoff Webster, Wrappers Delight’s impressive win – his second from as many starts – came as little surprise. “He is quite a nice horse and we went in confident,” Webster said. “I was most concerned about coming out of barrier seven, but he got away reasonably well and showed good gate speed. “He cruised to the front without any real effort and was comfortably parked outside the leader.” When it came time to call on Wrappers Delight in the straight Webster required only a gentle urging to draw past second-placed Jilliby Kung Fu, who showed plenty for Terang trainer Marg Lee. “He got to the line very well,” Webster said, and the seasoned trainer was confident Wrappers Delight would challenge Stewart’s much lauded pair were they to meet in a semi-final or final. “I think he’s up there with them. I respect them, but I don’t think they are any better than he is.” The win was great early reward for owner Martello, who has turned many yearlings into Webster’s care in the past three years. “I didn’t go in thinking we’re going to win,” Martello said. “I’m a bit superstitious and didn’t want to mozz the horse. But he raced well and I feel blessed.” Martello’s passion for all things trots has quickly snowballed since crossing from gallops ownership. “I’ve had horses in the gallops and felt it was a bit impersonal,” he said. “In the trots I can never win the Melbourne Cup, but it is not just about that. I know the drivers, the trainers and feel involved. I reckon it’s great value. I feel valued as a trots owner, I feel significant and not just a stat. The horses run all year and they can earn big bucks.” Misterfreeze is another under Martello’s ownership, and he run a brave fourth in a photo finish of heat number three. It is a stable that also includes Big Jack Hammer, a Group 1 winner in December’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Plaitnum Hom Grown Classic. “I look at (ownership) as an intellectual challenge,” Martello said. “I’m a guy who hasn’t got a history in horses, but go to the yearling sales and buy horses that other people who have experience have also seen. “I look it as a challenge to plan to get a horse, to look at the breeding and to then buy the yearling. When they race, like was the case on Friday night, I feel like you have succeeded just by being there and being competitive.”  He said it was a joy only magnified by being able to share it with those around you. “Harness is down-to-earth big time. It’s a very friendly industry. They are normal people who value the owners and I love it.” by Michael Howard

Well known Victorian harness racing identity Jean Feiss has had a weekend to remember with her brilliant two year old filly Spanish Armarda winning the $80,000 Delightful Lady final for two year old fillies at Alexandra Park and her star three year old Chase The Dream running second to Lazarus in the Woodlands Northern Derby later on the same programme.   Early this morning Jean was a plane to Invercargill via a couple of stops to watch her two year old colt Vincent make a winning debut in the Fight For Glory mobile pace for two year olds at the Northern Southland meeting held at Ascot Park.   Settling back in the seven horse field, Mark Purdon looped the field with Vincent with just over a lap to go and grabbed the front and from there it was just a matter of what he was going to win by.   At the finish he had one and a half lengths to spare from stablemate Mr Kalypso with the other All Star runner Ultimate Machete a nose away in third for an All Star trifecta.   Vincent paced the 2200 metres in 2:44.4 which was just three tenths of a second outside of the track record for a two year old.   Vincent paced his closing sectionals in 58 and 27.1 and seemed to do it with a bit still left in the tank.   Jean was thrilled with the win.   “Mark was really positive when discussing his chances today and he raced accordingly.”   “Being bred in Australia and purchased through the sales there, Vincent is eligible for both the Australian Pacing Gold and the Australasian Breeders Crown and today he was on trial to see if he should be making the trip.”   “I think he is a good chance of making the trip after that run,” Jean said.     Vincent isn't the only horse that Jean had racing at Ascot Park today.   “I have MacKenzie and Benicio in later in the day and both would be leading chances,” Jean said.   Note: Mackenzie was an easy winner.   Even though Jean is having a great run on the track with her juveniles it is not on the back of huge numbers.   “We only own three two year olds with Spanish Armarda and Vincent being two of them.”   “The other juvenile is Riccardo who is just back in work at All Stars now after being gelded and is showing a lot of promise,” Jean said.   It is not uncommon to see Jean at tracks throughout New Zealand following her horses and her enthusiasm for harness racing is there for everyone to see.  Jean is not there for the money but for the thrill of winning a race and it is very refreshing to see in 2016.   Harnesslink Media

This years round of major harness racing sales in Australasia is all but over with just the Brisbane leg of the Australian Pacing Gold sales to go this weekend. Both the Melbourne leg of the APG sale and the Australasian Classic at Karaka would have been happy with their results but Sydney was way off the pace and Christchurch had more than its share of issues as well. Now the Sydney sale last weekend was the last of the big four sales to go this year and as such you would expect the numbers not to be as strong as the other three sales that proceeded it. Last cab off the rank and the last bite at the buyer's bench was always going to make this the hardest sale for the vendors but I don't think anyone saw the carnage coming. The bald figures don't do justice to what was a major setback for the growth of the Sydney sale in the future. As someone who sat through the whole sale and watched developments unfold, the problems were multiple and not easily solved. The biggest was undoubtedly the lack of stock by the hottest sires in the marketplace at the moment. Thirteen Somebeachsomewheres and nine Bettor's Delights which together made up just over ten per cent of the total offering was nowhere near enough to cover a catalogue full of stallions who are getting a pass mark at best in the marketplace. Surprisingly Art Major whose stock continue to excel on both sides of the Tasman was given a tough ride in the ring for a stallion of his achievements, averaging less than half what he did at Karaka in Auckland. As you can see from the averages printed below, the Bettor's Delights and the Somebeachsomewheres held the sale together with averages in the range of where they have been at other sales this year. It is the backup players in the stallion offering who dragged the sale down. The demand for quite a few of them was just not there and the sale average went west accordingly. Another major issue that was apparent from early on in the day was the level of presentation was not up to the standard required for too many lots for a premier sale such as this. The cut off point for acceptance needs to be tougher because badly presented yearlings will drag a sale down very quickly. On top of that to see vendors roping yearlings in the laneway which leads to the sale ring and not successfully one might add was embarrassing to put it mildly. If they are not educated to lead by sale day, what in heavens name are they doing there?   At the end of the day you could suggest that the Sydney sale this year was the victim of a 'perfect storm" but the overall results of the sale were exacerbated by a lot of things over which APG and the vendors did have control. When you see the overall average drop 10% and the colt average a huge 17.3%, things have to change and quickly. AVERAGES                                                              Number sold                Average Bettor's Delight                                 9                             $65,555 Somebeachsomewhere                    12                           $51,666 Art Major                                           20                           $32,650 Rock N Roll Heaven                          16                           $ 27,281 Mach Three                                       7                             $24,928 Roll With Joe                                    8                              $19,750 Sportswriter                                     15                            $17,166 Shadow Play                                    9                              $14,777  Harnesslink Media

Two well known Victorian administrators with a combined involvement with harness racing spanning more than a century have been honoured with Harness Racing Australia Distinguished Service awards. Both men - Peter Bourke and Carl O'Dwyer - have been long time owners and breeders and among the administrative positions each has held has been more than a decade on the board of Harness Racing Victoria, both retiring in 2011. Peter Bourke has spent a lifetime in the harness racing industry where he has carried out many roles and held many titles. Joining the Harness Racing Victoria Board in December 2000 before completing his term in May 2011, Bourke and his fellow members were hit with some major hurdles during the last decade, eg. split TV vision, EI outbreak and the emergence of corporate internet bookmakers. A champion of strong integrity functions and processes, he is also a staunch supporter of country racing and hardly has there been an industry event in country Victoria that Bourke has not attended on behalf of HRV. Peter also holds the title of Chairman of the Australian Pacing Gold – the Standardbred sales company unchallenged as the most influential the Australian harness racing industry has to offer. In addition to his many titles, Peter also bred and raced a number of racehorses over the years. Carl O’Dwyer has been involved in the horse industry as a farrier for 50 years, with his main area of expertise specializing in problem horseshoeing of performance horses. His main passion is the Harness Racing industry and shoeing Standardbreds, both pacers and trotters. In 1971, Carl formed O’Dwyer Horseshoe Sales Australia as he saw a need for mechanically produced horseshoes. O’Dwyer Horseshoes used state of the art technology in the form of automation in the manufacturing process to produce quality products. More recently, the company joined with Mustad Hoofcare SA and Carl is still involved as consultant on product development and performs several clinics each year for the company. Carl has served on many committees in the Harness Racing industry, Farrier Industry and also the greater horse industry in Australia. He was a member for several years on the Australian Rural Industries Research and Development Committee (RIDIC), which was responsible for allocating funding to research in the Equine Industry within Australia. In addition to being a Businessman and Farrier he has also been a successful Harness Racing Trainer and Driver. As a trainer he won a number of major Australian races including the Hunter Cup, Cochran Cup, Dullard Cup and the Consolation Inter Dominion Trot. With a foundation of experience across the industry and in business, this led Carl to a role as a Board member of Harness Racing Victoria (2001-2011). In presenting the Distinguished Service awards to Mr Bourke and Mr O'Dwyer at Tabcorp Park Melton, HRA chairman Geoff Want paid tribute to their lengthy involvement in the sport. He said both men were highly regarded in the industry, they were passionate about and committed to fostering harness racing, and were worthy recipients of the award. Harness Racing Victoria

The 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold harness racing Grand Circuit is drawing to a climactic finish. Last week’s Victoria Cup hero Lennytheshark leads the race to be crowned champion open class pacer this term but it’s far from a done deal. With his success in the Inter Dominion and the Victoria Cup, the David Aiken trained star heads to the final leg of the season, the Gr.1 $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle on February 28 with a healthy lead over his rivals. It’s a lead but he’s not across the line and those rivals won’t go quietly. Lennytheshark has banked 200 points, 40 clear of his nearest rival, Kiwi star Smolda while WA Pacing Cup winner My Hard Copy sits in third with 108 points. The latter both start this weekend in the Gr.1 $500,000 Del Re National A G Hunter Cup at Melton on Saturday, another leg of the Grand Circuit series. And both pacers boast terrific claims of winning the 3280m stand-start feature and catapulting Lennytheshark with the one leg remaining. Smolda took down Lennytheshark in the Ballarat Cup two starts ago before the roles were reversed in last week’s Victoria Cup and many expect the Mark Purdon prepared pacer is the horse to beat this weekend. His two mile stand start form is solid with placing’s already this season in both the New Zealand and Auckland Cups. Another New Zealand trained pacer commanding respect is the Tony Herlihy trained Ohoka Punter, a winner of the Shepparton Cup in track record time two starts ago before scoring comfortable again last week in the Pure Steel. The former Victoria Derby winner will be handled by champion reinsman Anthony Butt, a winner of 7 previous Hunter Cups. Mossdale Conner, fresh from his excellent effort in last week’s Victoria Cup with his fast finishing third behind Lennytheshark and Smolda is another Kiwi trained star with solid credentials. The Greg Hope trained six-year-old has emerged strongly this season with placing’s in the New Zealand and Victoria Cups plus the New Zealand FFA. Franco Nelson is no stranger to stand-start features with a placing in the 2014 New Zealand Cup before running an almighty fourth in the latest edition after starting first-up after several months and has now joined the stables of Tim Butt, a five times Hunter Cup winning conditioner. Punters should closely respect New Zealand bred pacers after winning 16 of the past 23 editions while 14 have been trained across the ditch. The last Perth trained winner of the Hunter Cup was Another Party back in 2001 for the Reed family and the sandgropers are pinning their faith in My Hard Copy and Jason Rulz. My Hard Copy carries excellent recent form in his home start and can be forgiven for his effort last week in the Victoria Cup after drawing poorly while Jason Rulz has excellent stand-start form and is aiming to break maiden ranks on Australian soil. Former South Australian horseman Geoff Webster has a dual pronged attack with Franco Ledger and Flaming Flutter; both boast excellent stand-start form. Franco Ledger was runner-up last year behind Arden Rooney while Flaming Flutter has been twice placed in the Inter Dominion. The Emma Stewart trained Yankee Rockstar is chasing his biggest victory and after winning the Stawell Cup in track record time four starts ago, his scintillating victory last week at Melton gives his a great chance. Im Corzin Terror is a multiple Country Cup winner and thrives under the stand-start conditions, luck has deserted him at his past couple of starts but can’t be treated lightly here. Popular pacer Messini always performs on the big stage and his effort last week in the Victoria Cup was great, a proven stand-start performer who rates highly. Recent Geelong Cup winner It Is Billy is looking for another Cup victory and the proven stand-start performer has a knockout chance. Five Star Anvil could provide talented young reinsman Zac Phillips with his biggest moment in the sport but faces a big challenge after drawing awkwardly on the second-line. Tasmanian owned pacer Star Chamber is a stand-start specialist and although yet to win at Melton, he has blowout claims. The last Australian bred pacer to claim victory in the Hunter Cup was the greatest champion of all in Blacks A Fake who won it back in 2008 after starting from a massive handicap of 30m defeating Smoken Up. This edition of the Hunter Cup will be historic in many ways and should not be missed, its race 7 on the program and timed to start at 9.32pm local time. The Hunter Cup will switch back to mobile start conditions next year. by Chris Barsby

Our Waikiki Beach has dominated two year old racing in Australia this year and is the clear favourite for NSW 2yo colt/gelding of the year. The son of Somebeachsomewhere won eight races in New South Wales for his New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon including two group one events at Tabcorp Park Menangle, the Australian Pacing Gold Final and the Breeders Challenge. With the horse being trained by Purdon, only the gelding's performances in New South Wales can be considered however his dominance has not been seen since Lombo Pocket Watch racked up 17 wins as a two year old in 2005/06. The other nominations for this year's NSW 2yo colt/gelding of the year are: Bettermatch - Dominated the early season 2yo racing scoring in a blistering 1:55.8 on debut. Also won the Leeton Breeders Plate and produced a huge win at Tabcorp Park Menangle to win in 1:53.6. Born To Rocknroll - Raced 16 times as a two year old and recorded seven victories. Won nearly $175,000 in the season and only had his first start in a race on February 7. Salty Robyn - Performed well in New South Wales and then took on the best in New Zealand representing Australia at the Harness Jewels. Banked more than $60,000 and recorded a season best of 1:53.9 Shadow Runner - Sam Dimarco, his daughter Marissa and Shadow Runner were the stars of the Bathurst Gold Crown carnival. The Shadow Play youngster won four straight early in the season before finishing fourth in the Breeders Challenge. The NSW 2yo of the year award will be presented at the HRNSW Awards Night at Doltone House, Darling Harbour on September 19. For tickets contact Nancy O'Grady on 9722 6600. Greg Hayes

Every day here at Harnesslink we have a look at the harness racing results from the previous day in Australia, and one relatively unheralded stallion's name has cropped up quite a bit in the last twelve months. We are referring to the son of Christian Cullen in Quick Approval who for a stallion with few progeny on the ground has done a more than a passable job. Brought back by his breeder Matthew Harris when he didn't make his $20,000 reserve at the yearling sales, Quick Approval spent most of his career in the Riverina district Good enough to win a heat of the Australian Pacing Gold at two, Quick Approval went on to be a handy performer in New South Wales with his best performance coming when he won the $30,000 Group 3 four and five year old Carnival Of Cups Classic at Dubbo where he broke the track record held by Smooth Satin. Retired with a record of 23 wins from 58 starts for stakes of $108,559 and a best time of 1:57.1, he was understandably not rushed when offered as a sire. " When he was racing I had a lot of people approach me to ask if I was thinking of standing him at stud when his racing days were over." He is such a great looking individual and performed so well on the country circuit in New South Wales that I thought he deserved his chance at stud." "However as you would expect he has never been rushed with mares," Matthew told Harnesslink this week. With his oldest crop just four years of age, Quick Approval has never had either numbers or quality in the mares he has served. His oldest crop of four year olds numbers just nine but it has already produced four winners which taking everything into account is a great result. Matthew has been a bit hamstrung in his ability to support his own stallion. "I am breeding from quite a few mares from Quick Approval's immediate family including his half sister Clever Tune 1:59.5 ($112,958) who is already the dam of the smart Reneging 1:55.1 ($117,617)." "So I can't breed any of those mares to Quick Approval which hasn't helped him at all," Matthew said. Probably the most impressive of Quick Approval's recent winners has been the two year old With Authority who blitzed a two year old field at Young on Tuesday night. It was With Authority's second win at just his fourth lifetime start.  In the previous race at Young on Tuesday night was another winner by Quick Approval the three-year-old Geronimo Beau. Everybody knows how hard it is to get established as a colonial sire these days but Quick Approval is putting some handy stats together in New South Wales which should see him serve a bigger book of mares in the coming breeding season. Harnesslink Media 

The unbridled glee shown by Jason Lee on Saturday night after winning a Group 1 race perfectly exemplified what harness racing is about. Passion, excitement, enthusiasm. Lee ticked each box with his victory salute aboard Jilliby Jitterbug in the closing stages of the Australian Pacing Gold Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Melton.  There was no doubt a sense of achievement for the gun reinsman, winning aboard a filly trained by his mother Marg at the family's Terang property. About 12 months ago Lee said he would love to one day win an Inter Dominion when asked about his ultimate goal. But then, in the same sentence, he quickly adjusted his answer to say “actually any Group 1 win. Or a Terang Cup" would be his idea of living the dream in the trots. Lee, like all his family, lives and breathes harness racing and many within the sport think his name could potentially, in time, go down as one of the greats. This win was an important step on that trajectory, evident by the public celebration as Jilliby Jitterbug crossed the line victorious. Relief too must have been an ingredient in that victory salute because plans A, B and C were thrown out the window for Lee as soon as the mobile barrier arms folded back. Polemarker Hazels Girl was touted as the race leader, expected to come out humming tonight and Jilliby Jitterbug, drawn inside-back-row, looked the likely beneficiary. After all, the leader’s back – and indeed behind Hazels Girl – was exactly the situation where the Terang pacer and Lee found themselves one week ago in the APG semi-final before using the sprint lane and unveiling a powerful burst to win. But when the starter said go tonight Hazels Girl broke into a gallop, losing her chance at finding the top and forcing Jilliby Jitterbug to go right back to last. Over the short-course 1720m trip at Melton, this is never ideal. Lee though remained calm under pressure, allowing the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven time to balance up before easing three-deep with 1200m to go and latching on to the back of Hot Shot Woman and Gavin Lang, who would provide a beautiful three-wide cart-up. When leader Three Squared swung off the back straight the final time, Hot Shot Woman had worked to the breeze, which left Jilliby Jitterbug to manoeuvre the sweeping run for home three-wide without cover. In the stretch nor Three Squared or Hot Shot Woman were going to go down without a valiant tussle, but Jilliby Jitterbug had their measure and came clear to score a super-impressive victory. Late in the straight Lee looked left, right, left once more time and when it was clearly mission accomplished, it was party time. Jilliby Jitterbug won by 3.8 metres in a mile rate of 1:56.5 with the sectionals clocked at 29.4, 30.4, 27.8 and 29.3. The winner is out of Keppel Bay, whose dam Nickel Castle is a proven producer, and she is also related to Cold Major, who took out the Bold David Free-for-All on Saturday night to give trainer David Aiken one of his four victories for the evening. Of the beaten brigade in the APG Final Hot Shot Woman was bold for trainer Daniel Neagoe, comfortably holding down second despite covering plenty of ground in the run, while Three Squared improved on her semi-final fifth to finish third, beaten 11.6m. Magical Delight ran on OK for fourth, Lettuce Reign likewise for fifth from a tough draw, while heavily backed favourite Zaras Delight finished sixth after racing handy throughout. Jilliby Jitterbug is raced by the Levarg Racing Group. Relive Jilliby Jitterbug's thrilling APG Fillies Final win - HRV Media

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