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The NZB Standardbred Harness Racing NZ Awards for the 2018/19 season were run last night, Saturday the 28th of September, at Addington Raceway.  Horse of the year honours went to Spankem, the Miracle Mile winner Harness Racing NZ are delighted to announce the following winners:   Standardbreds Make Great Pets 2YO Trotting Filly Of The Year Tailored Elegance PI & GJ Kennard  2YO Pacing Filly Of The Year Sweet On Me Clarkson Signs 2YO Trotting Colt or Gelding Of The Year Bolt For Brilliance Emblems NZ 2YO Pacing Colt or Gelding Of The Year One Change Inkwise 3YO Trotting Filly Of The Year Tickle Me Pink Vincent 3YO Pacing Filly Of The Year Belle Of Montana IRT 3YO Trotting Colt or Gelding Of The Year Lotamuscle Garrard's Horse & Hound 3YO Pacing Colt or Gelding Of The Year Ultimate Sniper Dyer Decorating 4YO Trotting Mare Of The Year Kenny's Dream Breckon Farms 4YO Pacing Mare Of The Year Elle Mac The Commodore Hotel 4YO Trotting Entire or Gelding Of The Year Sundees Son Brandwear 4YO Pacing Entire or Gelding Of The Year Spankem Trackside 5YO & Older Trotting Mare Of The Year Destiny Jones Hanley Formula 5YO & Older Pacing Mare Of The Year Dream About Me Majestic Horse Floats 5YO & Older Trotting Entire or Gelding Of The Year Speeding Spur Airpark Canterbury 5YO & Older Pacing Entire or Gelding Of The Year Thefixer The Breeders Trotting Broodmare Of The Year Della's Speed The Breeders Pacing Broodmare Of The Year Reality Check The Breeders Breeder Of The Year Charles Roberts Trotting Stallion Of The Year Majestic Son Auckland Trotting Club Pacing Stallion Of The Year Bettor's Delight Airpark Canterbury & Addington Owners Pass Owner Of The Year Jean Feiss Southern Harness Leading Junior Driver John Morrison Cruickshank Leading Junior Driver - UDR Ben Hope Harness Racing NZ Education & Training Leading Driver Blair Orange Lone Star Spitfire Leading Trainer Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen Catch Driver Cadet Of The Year Kaleb Bublitz Catch Driver Runner Up - Cadet Of The Year Alana Cameron What The Hill Trotter Of The Year Sundees Son Woodlands Stud Pacer Of The Year Spankem TAB Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing Colin & Julie DeFilippi NZB Standardbred Horse Of The Year Spankem Witches of Westview Best Moment Of The Season Overzealous - Comeback after accident Harness Racing NZ Outstanding Contribution to Life After Racing Julie DeFilippi   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc    

The name of the 2018 Horse of the Year will be announced tonight (Feb. 24) at the annual U.S. Harness Racing Writers Association's Dan Patch Awards dinner at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. But even if you aren't among the attendees you will be able to watch the announcement live via USHWA's Facebook page. After a cocktail hour and open bar sponsored by McWicked, the awards ceremony gets underway at 7 p.m. and will be available via the Facebook page, sponsored by Crawford Farms and Crazy Wow. At approximately 10 p.m., emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will announce the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Horse of the Year trophy, which follows the revealing of the names of the Pacer of the Year and Trotter of the Year. To access USHWA's Facebook page, please click here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association's YouTube page the following day (Monday, Feb. 25). Post time for the evening is 6 p.m., with a one-hour Red Carpet cocktail reception sponsored by the Southwind Frank Partners. Also starring on the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It's your guarantee to see who's wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale's Facebook page can be found here. Heather Wilder's Facebook page can be found here. Ken Weingartner

Now that the 2018 harness racing season is drawing to a close, the debate over whether McWicked or Shartin N should receive Horse of the Year honors is boiling over. Both are incredible racehorses coming off of career seasons. Both are deserving. Only one will win the honor!   What is amazing is that in a year in which the 3-year-old trotting filly Atlanta (by Chapter Seven) achieved the rare feat of beating the colts in the Hambletonian, and the 2-year-old trotting filly and colt champions both went undefeated and appear to be budding superstars (both by Chapter Seven), that it is a foregone conclusion that Horse of the Year honors will go to Shartin N or McWicked.   Shartin N (by Tintin In America who is by McArdle) raced 24 times in 2018, winning an amazing 19 times against a stellar group of North America's best pacing mares. No horse or mare won more races in 2018! She won over US$1,098,000, an amazing feat for a natural 4-year-old until late October of the year! This is even more special given Shartin N only arrived in North America from New Zealand in December 2017. She raced from mid January thru late November, always at top form....a training achievement that should afford the Jim King Jr. and Joanne Looney King training duo accolades they richly deserve.    In two of the five losses,  Shartin N broke at the start, in another race she choked - each time fighting early driver restraint. So  Shartin N was only beaten twice in 2018 races in which she got away cleanly!   McWicked (by McArdle), a 7-year-old, raced 19 times in 2018, with 11 wins, for 2018 earnings of over US$1,662,000. He raced and won on all size tracks against the best free for all horses in North America. He dominated much like Shartin N dominated! He raced from mid May thru late November, a shorter season than Shartin N's but a full and tough campaign. Trainer Casie Coleman managed him exceptionally. Shartin N's best winning time was 1:48.2 at Lexington, McWicked's was 1:46.2 at Lexington.   So which horse deserves more the award that each deserves??   McWicked wins Allerage Farms Open Pace ($179,000) in 1.46,2 at Red Mile. Lazarus 2nd   Shartin N winning the Allerage Farms Pace in 1:48.2 It is so hard to say! Perhaps the slight edge goes to  Shartin N because, as a true 4-year-old mare racing against more seasoned and accomplished North American mares, she did what few have been able to do.    Perhaps also the level of competition that  McWicked faced was unusually light compared to typical North American FFA years. Lazarus N was only himself for a few starts and beat McWicked twice and the rest of the group had seen their best days or were just not truly top class....perhaps what Shartin N did was historic, while what  McWicked did was merely dominant....But FFA is more high profile than is the pacing mare division and historically voters favor the FFA Star, renowned trainers like Casie Coleman, and horses with prior records of stardom!        Close call!   Great subject for debate!   Two world champions!      WHICH WAY WOULD YOU GO??

Always B Miki, the reigning harness racing 'Horse of The Year', is now booked full for 2018.  Once again, his book contains a list of the top pacing mares in the industry. “We are not surprised by the attention Miki has received, in both the Northern Hemisphere and now the Southern Hemisphere,” says Diamond Creek’s Adam Bowden.  “Besides being a champion on the track, Miki is a beautiful, big horse that leaves an impression on you.” The 2017 Older Pacer of the year is best known for setting the world record 1:46 during the Allerage Pace, but also chalked up victories that included the Ben Franklin, Haughton Memorial, and was a two time Breeders Crown Champion.  "We have had great support from both breeders and the owners of the horse, "says Bowden, "having that backing behind a stallion is an important component to their success."  Always B Miki’s first foals are set to hit the ground this season, with great anticipation from breeders and racing fans alike.   Always B Miki Retirement 2016      

Grand Circuit winner Bling It On was crowned New South Wales Horse of the Year at tonight's Arthur J. Gallagher Harness Racing NSW Awards Night at the Hilton Sydney. Having received 100 per cent of the votes to be given this prestigious honour, Bling It On had a stellar 2016/17 season winning the A.G. Hunter Cup, the Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint, a Group 2 Inter Dominion Heat and a fast-finishing fourth in the Inter Dominion Final. The positive news revealed when driver Luke McCarthy accepted the award was that Bling It On's rehabilitation progress has been successful following his potentially career-ending race-fall at Albion Park in June 2017. After standing a season at stud following the incident, the seven-year-old is set for a racetrack return. Harness Racing New South Wales would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of tonight's award winners and nominees. Please see full list of awards below that were presented in front of the large crowd, hosted by the legendary John Tapp, at tonight's function. HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARDS Arthur J. Gallagher NSW Horse of the Year: Bling It On Club Menangle NSW Two-Year-Old of the Year: Castalong Shadow Club Menangle NSW Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pacer of the Year: Castalong Shadow Club Menangle NSW Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year: My Sweetchilliphilly IntelliTek NSW Two-Year-Old Trotter of the Year: Viksun Cockburn & Co NSW Three-Year-Old of the Year: Don't Think Twice Cockburn & Co NSW Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pacer of the Year: Atomic Red Cockburn & Co NSW Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year: Don't Think Twice Albury HRC NSW 3YO Trotter of the Year: Pegasus Elegance KS Black & Co NSW Aged Horse of the Year: Bling It On KS Black & Co NSW Aged Entire/Gelding Pacer of the Year: Bling It On KS Black & Co NSW Aged Mare Pacer of the Year: Cyclone Kate Bulli HRC NSW Aged Trotter of the Year: On Thunder Road TRAINER AND DRIVER AWARDS TAB Kevin Newman Award For Driving Excellence: Darren Hancock Daily Form Service Junior Driver Encouragement Award (Country): Brad Elder Lexus of Parramatta Junior Driver Encouragement Award (Metro): Ellen Rixon Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Leading Hobbyist Driver: David Druitt Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Leading Hobbyist Trainer: Matt Schembri Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Leading Trotting Trainer and Driver: Blake Fitzpatrick Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Champion Junior Driver: Chris Geary Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Champion Driver: Amanda Turnbull Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Champion Trainer: Steve Turnbull Lexus of Parramatta Club Menangle First Lady: Lauren Tritton Lexus of Parramatta Club Menangle Metropolitan Driver: Todd McCarthy Lexus of Parramatta Club Menangle Metropolitan Trainer: John McCarthy BREEDING AWARDS Bankstown HRC NSW Broodmare of the Year: Miss Brazillian Wagga HRC NSW Sire of the Year: Million Dollar Cam Stablecraft Outstanding Service to the Breeding Industry: the Carmody Family DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS HRNSW Don Clough Award: Wayne Smith HRNSW Industry Contribution Award: John Crittenden HRNSW Club Volunteer Awards: Helen Leonard (Bankstown HRC), Geoff Cole (Western Districts and Parkes HRC), Ian Warren (Bathurst HRC), Jon Watts (Inverell HRC), Linda Taylor (Eugowra HRC), Bill Taylor (Eugowra HRC), Ronald Jones (Eugowra HRC) and Maree Brown (Hawkesbury Trainers Association) TABCORP CLUB AWARDS Best Community Engagement Club: Maitland HRC Best Fraternity Engagement Club: Bathurst HRC Best New Innovation Club (Promotion/Marketing): Orange HRC Best Club with a feature race to a maximum of $50,000: Leeton HRC Best Club with a feature race to a maximum of $25,000: Orange HRC Best Club with a feature to race to a maximum of $14,000: Temora HRC Best Club with a feature to a maximum of $12,000: Cootamundra HRC AMANDA RANDO

Leos Best is back on the track. The recently crowned harness racing Queensland Horse of the Year stepped out in public today (Tuesday), his first appearance since finishing unplaced in the Gr.2 $50,540 Sunshine Sprint behind speed machine Hectorjayjay back on July 8 at Albion Park. But don’t let the result put you off. The Grant and Trista Dixon prepared five-year-old finished at the rear of a four horse field, beaten some 18m from the winner. Emerging star Mattgregor won the trial comfortably, with residual fitness on his side and enjoying a perfect pocket trip, the imposing pacer strode clear for an easy victory in 1:54.9. After sitting last throughout, Leos Best just followed his rivals around. And that’s all Team Dixon were hoping for from the workout. “It’s a trial and it was a good opportunity just to take him away from home and allow him to stretch his legs. We know he’s not ready for anything special right now so there’s no point busting him chasing a horse like Mattgregor who is up and about.” Grant Dixon explained. Connections will definitely trial the Cammibest gelding again before looking for a suitable start point for his latest campaign. The upcoming Brisbane summer carnival during the month of December is the immediate focus before looking at other targets. During the month of December, the Albion Park Harness Racing Club will stage several features including the Gr.3 $30,540 Be Good Johnny Sprint on December followed by the $20,540 Christmas Cup (December 9) and the Gr.2 $60,540 Queensland Cup (December 16). The events will be staged over the distances of 1660m, 2680m and 2138m. In other stable news, exciting pacer Colt Thirty One is back in work. Following an outstanding rookie season which netted 7 wins from 11 starts, the Mach Three colt finished a highly commendable third in his most recent start back on August 27. Colt Thirty One finished third behind King Of Swing and Poster Boy in the Gr.1 $285,000 Breeders Crown Final at TABCORP Park, Melton. Connections are considering an interstate Derby campaign plus a raft of local features this season. Both Leos Best and Colt Thirty One are raced by Kevin and Kay Seymour. Chris Barsby

Lennytheshark’s place as a giant of the trots was reaffirmed Sunday night when David Aiken’s superstar harness racing pacer was installed as Victorian Horse of the Year for the second successive year. A breathtaking Miracle Mile win separated the “people’s champion” from stablemate Hectorjayjay in a decision that divided judges, thrusting Lennytheshark into the status of dual winner, an honour only Shakamaker, Sokyola, Smoken Up and Caribbean Blaster have achieved before him. “He’s just an amazing animal,” Aiken said. “He’s got the best attitude and that’s why he goes good at Menangle, it’s a long straight and when others are getting tired he’s the one fighting on. He’s a tiger.” He was a popular winner at the industry’s gala night at the Palladium at Crown, which hosted a big crowd for a polished celebration behind hosts Michael Guerin and Adam Hamilton. They welcomed Lennytheshark’s proud connections on stage, fresh from celebrating the Four Starzzz Shark eight-year-old’s victory in this month’s Allied Express Victoria Cup. With his second favouritism in the upcoming Perth Inter Dominion an unprecedented third Victorian Horse Of The Year triumph is not out of the question for Lennytheshark. “I’m so happy with Lenny this time in,” Aiken said. “He’s sharp and I can’t fault where I’ve got him at the moment. He likes Perth and I think he gets a little bit excited with the crowd near him. He’s pretty laid back but he’s a good half-mile track horse.” He’s also formed a special partnership with driver Chris Alford, who was presented with state and metropolitan titles on Sunday night after an extraordinary season. Alford was a key fixture throughout the night, having also been in the sulky for horse of the year category winners Nostra Villa, Poster Boy and Wobelee’s finest moments. The latter was particularly special, having been trained by Alford’s wife, Alison, and winning not only the two-year-old trophy but being named the overall trotter of the year. It brought great delight to owner Colin Murphy. “He just kept finding and finding and finding. This horse is really good,” Murphy said. “He ran about three or four track records. I’ve been in the sport for 20 years and this is the best horse I’ve had.” It was also a remarkable night of achievement for Emma Stewart, having had three horse of the year category winners in addition to being named state and metropolitan trainer of the year. But it was perhaps her being gifted the Pearl Kelly Award that would have carried most weight, having honoured outstanding contribution to the sport by a woman. “I’m accepting the award but everyone who works for me and is involved – family, owners – it’s their award as well,” Stewart said. “I’m so humbled to get this award, it’s something I never thought would happen.” Of course, the night reached its climax with the announcement that Jim O'Sullivan had won the Gordon Rothacker Medal, honouring a brilliant career on and off the track. Click here for a feature story on Jim's win.  CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS: DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS Gordon Rothacker Medal winner: Jim O’Sullivan Pearl Kelly Award winner: Emma Stewart Harness Racing Victoria’s Distinguished Services Medal winner: Doug Gretgrix HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARDS Victorian Horse Of The Year: Lennytheshark (finalists Hectorjayjay, Nostra Villa, Wobelee, Petacular) Two-year-old pacing colts and geldings winner: Poster Boy (finalists Lumineer, Tam Major) Two-year-old pacing fillies winner: Nostra Villa (finalists Molly Kelly, Nostra Beach) Three-year-old pacing colts and geldings winner Our Little General (finalists Jilliby Kung Fu, Stars Align) Three-year-old pacing fillies winner: Petacular (finalists Miss Graceland, Tell Me Tales) Four-year-old pacing entires and geldings winner: Dont Hold Back (finalists Rock Of America, Mr Mojito) Four-year-old pacing mares winner: Heavens Trend (finalists Whirily School, Rocknroll Magic) Aged pacing entires and geldings winner: Lennytheshark (finalists Hectorjayjay, Major Crocker) Aged pacing mares winner: Amaretto (finalists Milly Perez, Bettor Downunder) Two-year-old trotting colts and geldings winner: Wobelee (finalists Smashthemcalder, La Grange) Two-year-old trotting fillies winner: Moonshine Linda (finalists Aleppo Jewel, Moonlight Dream) Three-year-old trotting colts and geldings winner: Magicool (finalists War Spirit, Deltasun) Three-year-old trotting fillies winner Une Belle Allure (finalists Dance Craze, Kinvara Sue) Four-year-old trotting entires and geldings winner: Maori Law (finalists Enrolled, Conon Bridge) Four-year-old trotting mares winner Red Hot Tooth (finalists Aldebaran Eve, Into The Unknown) Aged trotting entires and geldings winner Glenferrie Typhoon (finalists The Boss Man, Maorisfavouritesun) Aged trotting mares winner Sunny Ruby (finalists Maori Time, Heavenly Sister) COUNTRY CLUB AWARDS Country Club Of The Year winner: Ballarat (finalists Cobram, Horsham) Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary Of The Year winner: Marnya Watson, Swan Hill (finalists Brad Sharp, Birchip; Chrissie Hawker, Hamilton; Paul Prout, Geelong) Country Club with Best Media winner: Bendigo (finalists Ballarat, Swan Hill) Country Club Event of the Year winner: Birchip Mallee Bull Pacing Cup (finalists Bubbles In The Bush, Charlton; Dual Code Cup Night, Cranbourne) Country Club with Best Presented Track/Venue winner: Hamilton (finalists Charlton, Cobram) PREMIERSHIP AWARDS Melton Saddlery State Drivers Premiership winner: Chris Alford Renown Silverware State Trainers Premiership winner: Emma Stewart SBG Accountants Metropolitan Drivers Premiership winner: Chris Alford Taylors Metropolitan Trainers Premiership winner: Emma Stewart Alabar Concession Drivers Premiership winner: Jason Lee Aldebaran Park Leading Monte Rider winner: Kima Frenning VHRSC Owner Of The Year winner: Danny Zavitsanos BREEDERS AWARDS Woodlands Stud Victorian Breeder of the Year winners: Peter Gleeson, Craig Cameron and Bruce Cameron Niota Bloodstock Victorian Trotting Broodmare of the Year winner: Sundonna (Fred Crews) Benstud Standardbreds Victorian Trotting Broodmare of the Year winner: Amarillen (Naomi and the late Rick Hinds) Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Multiple Group winner Leos Best was crowned the UBET 2017 Queensland Harness Racing Horse of the Year in Brisbane on Sunday night, with three-time winner Avonnova dethroned for the first time since 2014.   The win capped off a memorable night for Leos Best’s trainer-driver Grant Dixon, who went home with six individual awards including a sixth-straight Queensland Trainer of the Year title, and the Harness Racing Australia Trainer of the Year Award. It was also a memorable night for owners Kevin and Kay Seymour, who took home multiple awards. Mr Seymour said he got a thrill out of taking Leos Best south to win a Group 2 at Menangle in February.  "He won well there agaisnt the very top horses down south," he said.  "I think that's what leads (trainer) Grant (Dixon) to thinking he can go down and take on the major feature events as a five-year-old."   Leos Best finished ahead of stablemate Colt Thirty One, Bettorthanspecial and Avonnova to claim the coveted title, after earlier claiming the Queensland Aged Pacer of the Year Award.   The 2016/17 season was one to savour for the connections of Leos Best, which started 20 times for 13 wins and three minor placings, including three wins in Group company.   Melpark Royal Son was crowned Queensland Trotter of the Year, in a season which included eight of the horse’s nine career wins, with the highlight being the $40,000 Group 2 DJ Alexander Championship Final at Albion Park in December.   Bettorthanspecial was crowned Queensland Filly or Mare of the Year, with Colt Thirty One (2YO Pacer), Clintal Do (3YO Pacer) and Bronski Gorgeous (Broodmare) among other equine winners on the night.   Australian World Drivers Championship representative Shane Graham was recognised as Queensland Driver of the Year for a third-straight year, after guiding home 185 winners en route to winning the Queensland Drivers’ Premiership.  "I was one told the first premiership is the easiest and every one after that is hard," Graham said. "Once you win that first one you have to keep bettering yourself." Nathan Dawson was crowned Queensland Concession Driver of the Year, and received an award for winning the Redcliffe Drivers’ Premiership.   The Owner of the Year title went to Shannon Price (Raboki Pty Ltd), while Kevin and Kay Seymour’s Solid Earth Pty Ltd was recognised as Queensland Breeder of the Year. ‘Freak of the Creek’ Destreos was inducted into the Hall of Fame, alongside trainer/driver Graeme Bowyer, breeder Mark Lichtwark and associate Gary Keep.   Each of the three harness clubs also presented awards to the leading participants and horses at their respective tracks in 2016/17. All winners on the night are listed below. 2017 UBET Queensland Harness Horse of the Year Leos Best   Seelite Windows and Doors Trotter of the Year Melpark Royal Son   Trainer of the Year Grant Dixon   Driver of the Year Shane Graham   The Courier-Mail Filly/Mare of the Year Bettorthanspecial   International Animal Health Products Aged Pacer of the Year Leos Best   3YO Pacer of the Year Clintal Do   Australian Pacing Gold 2YO Pacer of the Year Colt Thirty One   QRIC Broodmare of the Year Bronski Gorgeous QRIC Breeder of the Year Solid Earth Pty Ltd (Kevin and Kay Seymour)   James Boag’s Premium Owner of the Year Raboki Pty Ltd (Shannon Price)   Radio TAB Concession Driver of the Year Nathan Dawson   Sky Racing Hall of Fame Associate Inductee Gary Keep   Sky Racing Hall of Fame Breeder Mark Lichtwark   Sky Racing Hall of Fame Horse Destreos   Sky Racing Hall of Fame Trainer/Driver Graeme Bowyer Harness Racing Australia Trainer of the Year Grant Dixon   Lin and Laurie Feehly Redcliffe Pegasus Award Chris Garrard   Kevin and Kay Seymour Queensland Young Achiever Awards Leonard Cain and Narissa McMullen   BOTRA and Yatala Harness Racing Club Rising Stars Lachie Manzelmann and Taleah McMullen   BOTRA and Yatala Harness Racing Club Centurion Medal (Drivers) Shane Graham, Grant Dixon, Mathew Neilson, Pete McMullen, Nathan Dawson, Gary Whitaker and Narissa McMullen   BOTRA and Yatala Harness Racing Club Centurion Medal (Trainers) Grant Dixon, Vicki Rasmussen, Chantal Turpin, Jack Butler, Darrel Graham.   Marburg Harness Racing Club Awards – sponsored by Garrard’s  Horse of the Year: Domestic Art Drivers’ Premiership: Gary Whitaker Trainer of the Year: Tess Neaves   Redcliffe Harness Racing Club Awards – sponsored by Garrard’s  Horse of the Year: Royal Taz Drivers’ Premiership: Nathan Dawson Trainers’ Premiership: Grant Dixon Concession Driver of the Year: Nathan Dawson Mare of the Year: Flashing Good Time (NZ) and Rockstar Rikki (NZ)   Albion Park Harness Racing Club Awards – Sponsored by Garrard’s Horse of the Year: Joys A Babe Drivers Premiership: Shane Graham Trainers Premiership: Grant Dixon Owner of the Year: Solid Earth Pty Ltd (Kevin and Kay Seymour) Mare of the Year: Joys A Babe Racing Queensland

A brilliant victory in last season's Easter Cup in Launceston was the catalyst that earned star free-for-all pacer Pachacuti the title of Tasmania's best harness racing horse for season 2016-17. Pachacuti was crowned horse of the year at the annual gala award presentations at Luxbet Park Hobart last night. Pachacuti's Easter Cup victory in track record time gave his trainer-driver Todd Rattray his biggest win in his home state but the gallant gelding also snared the Devonport Cup, Governor's Cup and Toreace Cup as well as finishing a game second to Lets Elope in the Group 3 Tasmania Cup. The gelding amassed seven wins and three seconds from 13 starts for $73,512 in prizemoney that took his career stake earnings to well beyond $300,000. It is the gelding's second horse of the year title having won the crown as a three-year-old in 2012-13. Pachacuti spent some time in the care of Todd's older brother James Rattray in NSW where he performed well but not at the level he produced last season. Peter Staples  

 Last year it was Our Waikiki Beach but who will be crowned this year’s New South Wales Horse of the Year? The answer will be revealed at the annual Arthur J. Gallagher Harness Racing Awards Night on October 28 at the Hilton Sydney Grand Ballroom. This year voting is based on the performances of NSW trained horses and the nominations for each category are listed below:                                                                         2YO FILLIES                                                              2YO COLTS & GELDINGS ART SERIES                                                               BRIGHT ENERGY ARTS TREASURE                                                     CAPTAIN COSMONAUT LOVE MY SISTER                                                     CASTALONG SHADOW MY SWEETCHILLIPHILLY NZ                                   DIVINE STATE SHES SPORTY                                                           MAXIMUS RED TASSINI                                                                     OUR MACH JACK                                                                                      3YO FILLIES                                                              3YO COLTS & GELDINGS DONT THINK TWICE                                                 ASTRIDE OUR SOHOE                                                             ATOMIC RED ROYAL STORY                                                          BLUE MOON RISING NZ SHEZ SUGARSWEET                                              GELDOF SHEZALLAPPLES                                                     OUR LITTLE DIGGER TAKARA TRUFFLE NZ                                            REDBANK BLAZE                                                                                      OPEN MARES                                                  OPEN ENTRIES & GELDINGS CYCLONE KATE NZ                                                 ALLBLACK STRIDE NZ EYE SEE DIAMONDS                                              AZTEC BROMAC NZ GOTTA BEWITCHED NZ                                       BLING IT ON KATY PERRY NZ                                                       SALTY ROBYN NZ ONLYKIDDING NZ                                                  TIGER TARA NZ RAKARAZOR NZ                                                     YAYAS HOT SPOT NZ                                                                                      2YO TROTTERS                                                        3YO TROTTERS QUEEN OF CLEVEDON                                         GOLD SOVEREIGN NZ RUNAWAY SUCCESS                                            PEGASUS ELEGANCE VIKSUN                                                                     THE MALE MODEL NZ                                                                                                                                                                           OPEN TROTTERS                                                    ON THUNDER ROAD NZ                                      QUILLABAMBA                                                       SHETLAND                                                                  Along with the top horses, champions from across the state at every level will be recognised at this event. Tickets for the Awards Night are still available for purchase, please contact Kate Dumesny (02) 97226672 or for more information.   AMANDA RANDO                  

Harness Racing Australia has today announced its 2017 Horse of the Year Awards, headlined by Smolda as the 2017 Harness Horse of the Year. The Horse of the Year Award caps off an amazing career for the recently retired Smolda, with his 2017 season highlighted by his wins in the Inter Dominion and the South Australian and Ballarat Pacing Cups. Trained in New Zealand by Mark Purdon and predominantly driven by Mark, Smolda retired as the 6th richest Australasian bred pacer of all time for owners G & P Kennard, N Pilcher and M Kirkwood. Smolda also won the Pacer of the Year title and the Aged Horse/Gelding Pacer of the Year. Two year old trotting gelding Wobelee became the first two year old trotter to win Australian Trotter of the Year. His record-breaking year included four group ones, 10 wins from 12 starts and $180,330 in seasonal earnings. It was a phenomenal year for Wobelee and his owner Colin Murphy, drawing comparisons with champion trotter, Noopy Kiosky, who was also driven by Chris Alford. Of course, Chris’ wife Alison trains Wobelee. The performance criteria for the HRA Awards is for performances by Australian trained horses, as well as for the Australian performances of New Zealand trained horses. The HRA Australian Horse of the Year Awards are voted upon by over 60 judges including media and administrators spread across the country.  The full list of Australian Horse of the Year winners and their performances across all categories is attached:             Lawn Derby Awards – Pacers             Vancleve Awards – Trotters For details of previous winners see: Harness Horse of the Year Lawn Derby Awards Vancleve Awards For more information, contact Andrew Kelly on 03 9227 3000.

Jessica Amber has the chance to jump to an outright lead in the Wagga Horse of the Year honours on Tuesday night. With less than a month left in the harness racing season, Jake Stockton’s mare is level with Padrisimo on 16 points. She jumped from a share of third to equal first with a win at Wagga last time out. She also has an advantage over the former pacer of Rod Woodhouse, who has since moved to Sydney. Despite a spelling Tiwanaku in second there are plenty of other runners who can pick up valueable points. Serene Major and Navajo Rocky are both on 13 while Jessica Amber has to contend with barrier six on Tuesday night. She is one of two Stockton runners in the Supermix Concrete Pace (1755m) with last start winner Our Classical Art drawn in seven. However Jessica Amber is coming off an impressive second in the Group Three NSW Breeders Challenge Regional Final at Bathurst. By Courtney Rees Reprinted with permission of the Daily Advertiser

Dual Group One winner and Australia’s top three-year-old filly Rocknroll Magic has been named Harness Racing South Australia’s Horse Of The Year for the 2015-2016 season. Although trained in Victoria by Emma Stewart, Rocknroll Magic is majority owned in South Australia. The announcement was made at a well-attended Horse Of The Year function at the Grange Golf Club Function Room on Sunday. Rocknroll Magic raced five times in South Australia during the season for five wins highlighted by successes in the Southern Cross Three-Year-Old Fillies and SA BOTRA Three-Year-Old Fillies finals. In Victoria, the filly scored Group One wins in Empire Vicbred Three-Year-Old Fillies final, then the Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Fillies final at Tabcorp Park, Melton. From a win when resuming from a break at Globe Derby Park on May 13, Rocknroll Magic won 12 races in a row before being going for a spell after her Breeders Crown win on August 28. Rocknroll Magic’s South Australian connection is through syndicate manager Bruce Cameron, his wife Alison, son Henry together with Jock and Nathan Woods. John Penny and The Magic Sons Group which contains Nigel Rowe, Brenton Thompson and their families and friends. The rest of the ownership group is Cameron’s brother Craig, cousin Peter and the Fab Four Group which includes Craig’s wife and members from Queensland and overseas. The mare is also soon to become a mother with a surrogate mare due to foal to Art Major within the next few weeks. Rocknroll Magic was also named South Australia’s Three-Year-Old Filly Of The Year. Her SA awards come on top of being named Victoria’s Three-Year-Old Filly Of The Year, and a finalist in that state’s Horse Of The Year award. Rocknroll Magic has also been named Australia’s Three-Year-Old Filly Of The Year. Now a four-year-old mare, the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, is back in work but will have a light campaign which may include one SA run during the middle of 2017. In a good season for Cameron-syndicated horses Our Celebrity, also trained by Emma Stewart, was also named South Australia’s Two-Year-Old Filly of The Year. Our Celebrity won the SA BOTRA Golden Nursery and the Southern Cross for two-year-old fillies. Owner John Penny, a part-owner of Rocknroll Magic, also had dual award success as Emain Macha, in which he is also a part-owner, took out the South Australian Two-Year-Old Of The Year for colts and geldings. Emain Macha, trained in Naracoorte by Greg Scholefield, won seven of his nine starts with his best victories being the SA BOTRA Golden Nursery for colts and geldings and the Kindergarten Stakes. Jumping Jolt, bred and owned by Peter and Lesley Medhurst from Glencoe in the South-East, and trained by their son-in-law Barry Finnis, was crowned South Australia’s Horse Of The Year for three-year-old colts and geldings. The gelding won nine of his 14 starts during the season. Glamour mare Whats Emma Got, trained by Glenda Fuller in partnership with her daughter Sharon Newman, was voted South Australia’s Horse Of The Year for four-year-old and over mares. Whats Emma Got, also bred by Mrs Newman, won 12 of her 20 starts during the season including a victory at Tabcorp Park Melton. South Australia’s Horse Of The Year for four-year-old and over entires and gelding pacers went to Some Kinda Tactics. The announcement came on the day owner Lyn Proud was attending a memorial function for her late husband Rod, instrumental in buying the horse to race in South Australia under the care of trainer Jon Kingston-Mayne. Some Kinda Tactics won 13 races during the season with a victory in the Kadina Cup among his successes with a best winning mile rate of 1:53.3. The gelding also took out South Australia’s Leading State Horse. The Paul Fidge-trained Pocketfullofcash was awarded South Australia’s Horse Of The Year for four-year-old and older entires and geldings. Pocketfullofcash won eight races with strong efforts including the Victor Harbor Trotters Cup, Gawler Hambeltonian and Gramel Trot. Im Princess Sophie, trained by Ryan Hryhorec, was the South Australian Horse Of The Year for four-year-old and older mares won 10 races from 18 starts during the season. Outback Madge, bred and owned by Geoff Easom and trained by Jill Neilson, was crowned South Australia’s Three-Year-Old Trotter Of The Year. The filly won seven of her 16 starts, including five of her last six, including victories against older trotters. Soh Twisted, winner of the Trotters Classic for trainer Angela Chapman, was named South Australia’s Horse Of The Year for two-year-old trotters. To complete a big night for the Cameron family, Celebrity Ball was named South Australia’s Broodmare Of The Year. Her foals include Celebrity Guest, Celebrity Lass, Starburst Girl, and Two-Year-Old Filly Horse Of The Year Our Celebrity. The recently retired Paleface Jasper was named South Australia’s Claimer of The Year. by Graham Fischer

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (November 16, 2016) - Always B Miki will make one final trip to the winner's circle before he goes off to his second career as a harness racing stallion. The world's fastest Standardbred of all-time will officially be retired in a ceremony at the Meadowlands on Friday, November 18. The five-year-old son of Always A Virgin capped off his brilliant career last Saturday at the Meadowlands by winning the $400,000 TVG Free-For-All Final by four lengths in 1:48.2. He retires with 30 wins, 13 seconds, and three third-place finishes in 53 lifetime starts for earnings of $2,715,368. 'Miki set the all-time speed record of 1:46 when winning the Allerage Farms Open Pace in October at Lexington. He is the likely favorite to be voted the sport's Horse of the Year. "I think it's really poetic to end his career where it started," said co-owner Bob Boni. "My partner Mitchel Skolnick and I made the deal to buy half of the horse after his third baby race at the Meadowlands. It's all of our home track, from myself and Mitchel, to Jimmy Takter, and David Miller. It all comes full circle. I've been at the Meadowlands since day one so it's nice to have this happen here." The retirement ceremony will take place after the fourth race of the evening. 'Miki will jog from the back paddock to the winner's circle while a highlight video of his career plays throughout the building. He will be presented with a commemorative blanket and pose for photos while his connections are interviewed on the Meadowlands TV broadcast. "It is our honor to send this tremendous racehorse out with a ceremony that honors his legendary career," said Meadowlands GM Jason Settlemoir. "All of us have watched with such excitement the battles that 'Miki waged with his rival Wiggle It Jiggleit this season and I don't think anyone that was here at the Meadowlands for the Breeders Crown will ever forget 'Miki prevailing after that epic stretch duel." Always B Miki will begin his stallion career at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania. He will stand for a $12,500 stud fee. For more information, please visit Justin Horowitz

The horse who has captivated a nation attracted the audience’s applause one more time when Lennytheshark was crowned harness racing 'Victorian Horse of the Year'. The David Aiken trained, Chris Alford driven, Martin and Kevin Riesley owned seven-year-old was awarded the major equine honour at Sunday night’s 2016 Gordon Rothacker Medal celebration at the Crown Palladium. The award was reward for Lennytheshark’s outstanding 2015-16, in which his successes included winning the Perth Inter Dominion and Good Form Victoria Cup, in addition to second placings in the Miracle Mile and Len Smith Mile. “It’s quite humbling to be up here,” part-owner Martin Riesley said. “The horse has done a fantastic job. “After the season, you have a look at the horses who have gone before and won these awards and it really puts it into context how special it is.” Gammalite, Popular Alm, Shakamaker and Sokyola are but some of the superstars of the trots whose company Lennytheshark rightly shares, having on the night also officially received the Harness Racing Australia Horse of the Year award. “It’s an absolute credit to the whole team that goes behind Lenny,” Mr Riesley said. “The way that David (Aiken) and the whole Aiken team manage him from the time he spends in the water walker to our vet Simon Robinson, Patrick Ryan when the horse was coming back – he spent I don’t know how many kms just walking – and the whole team has just put in an awesome effort.” And it’s also a family affair, not only for the owning father-and-son, but for many who have been adopted into the wider Lennytheshark family. “It’s not only our immediate family, staff at our work, cousins, distant cousins who you don’t even know come out of the woodwork. I went to Flemington races yesterday, I was on the bus and someone wanted to come up and talk about Lenny with me who I didn’t even know. It’s just fantastic and we all enjoy it.” Lennytheshark, who will soon head to Perth to defend his crown, won the honour ahead of fellow Victorian Horse of the Year nominees Ideal For Real, Rocknroll Magic and Keystone Del. The winners of the horse of the year categories were as follows: Two-year-old pacing filly: Petacular (trained by Michael Stanley) Two-year-old pacing colt and gelding: The Storm Inside (Emma Stewart) Two-year-old trotting filly: Kyvalley Kyrie (Brent Lilley) Two-year-old trotting colt and gelding: Illawong Byron (Jodi Quinlan) Three-year-old pacing filly: Rocknroll Magic (Emma Stewart) Three-year-old pacing colt and gelding: Dont Hold Back (Mario Attard) Three-year-old trotting filly: High Gait (Nicole Molander) Three-year-old trotting colt and gelding: Cruisin Around (Michael Hughes) Four-year-old pacing filly: Delight Me (Emma Stewart) Four-year-old pacing colt and gelding: Ideal For Real (Emma Stewart) Four-year-old trotting filly: Endsino (Andy Gath) Four-year-old trotting entire and gelding: Sparkling Success (John Meade) Aged pacing filly: Nike Franco (Dean Braun) Aged pacing colt and gelding: Lennytheshark (David Aiken) Aged trotting filly: Maori Time (Brent Lilley) Aged trotting entire and gelding: Keystone Del (Brent Lilley) Victorian Horse of the Year: Lennytheshark (David Aiken) Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Queensland harness racing heavyweight Avonnova has won the Queensland Harness Horse of the Year title for a record-breaking third time in a row. Announced at the 2016 Queensland Harness Racing Awards at Kedron Wavell Services Club, the 10-year-old gelding also won the 2016 Queensland Pacer of the Year and 2016 Queensland Aged Horse of the Year awards. Owner / Trainer Ian Gurney accepted the awards on behalf of co-owner Paul Montgomery. Avonnova has provided a great ride for Gurney and Montgomery who bought the gelding from New South Wales in October 2013 and has now won nearly $400,000 in prize money for the pair. Avonnova beat impressive horses such as Catcha Lefty (2YO Pacer of the Year), Park Life (3YO Pacer of the Year) and Our Overanova NZ (Queensland Trotter of the Year) to take out the Horse of the Year award. Shane Graham won the Queensland Driver’s Premiership for the second year in succession, adding the 2016 Albion Park and Redcliffe Premiership titles to his trophy cabinet. Graham, who was runner up on the National Driver’s Premiership, scored his biggest success in the $322,000 Group One Australian Pacing Gold Final with Park Life. Grant Dixon won the 2016 Queensland Trainer’s Premiership for a fifth year in a row, an outstanding achievement which he matched at a national level. Dixon also won the Albion Park and Redcliffe Trainer’s Premiership with 246 winners. Amongst Dixon’s many fantastic achievements was a Group One double on 28 May when Get In The Groove and Frankie Rocks were both successful in their respective QBRED Triad Finals. Nathan Dawson capped a great season collecting the 2016 Concession Driver of the Year Premiership and the 2016 Queensland Young Achiever of the Year (Male). Dawson, Queensland’s busiest concession driver, finished the season with a career best 91 wins and also took out the Marburg Driver’s Premiership. Isobel Ross was crowned the 2016 Queensland Young Achiever of the Year (Female), finishing the season with 50 wins, more than double her previous career best, a significant achievement considering she missed a portion of the season due to a wrist injury. Solid Earth Pty Ltd, for Kevin and Kay Seymour and their daughter Leigh Fullager, collected both the 2016 Queensland Breeder of the Year and Owner of the Year titles after another dominant season.  As owners, Solid Earth completed the season with more than double the number of winners of any other owner or group of owners in Queensland. Amongst its many highlights was a Group One double with Get In The Groove and Frankie Rocks in their respective QBRED Triad Finals, and a Group Three double in Victoria when Frankie Rocks and Cherish The Moment claimed the Australasian Breeder’s Crown Consolation Finals. There were four inductees into the Queensland Harness Racing Hall of Fame on the night. The prestigious honour was given to champion Queensland race horse Peter Profit, Noel and Christine Denning’s Burwood Stud, champion race horse and brood mare Lefty, and Don Ross Snr for his outstanding service to the industry as Clerk of the Course. Peter Profit Champion Queensland race horse Peter Profit was inducted into the Queensland Hall Of Fame, recognising his outstanding career which is fondly remembered by many within the industry across Australia. Born in 1966 Peter Profit was a Queensland hero winning 43 races at Albion Park and was a dual winner of the Albion Park 10,000.  Peter Profit won 45 races when trained by Frank Donohoe whose son Alan Donohoe drove the harness great to a few wins in his early career. Peter Profit, by the great James Scott, retired at the age of 13 with a personal best time of 2:01:5 and prize money worth $61,643 regarded as a true legend of the sport. Margaret Donohoe accepted this prestigious award on behalf of his connections. Burwood Stud The Denning family was honoured with Hall of Fame induction in the breeding category.  Noel and Christine Denning’s Burwood Stud located at Pittsworth was established in 1982 on 615 hectares of fertile land. The Denning family has built this business from the ground up and can lay claim to be the leading standardbred stud in Queensland.  Continuing to evolve with the times, Burwood Stud offers the latest technological advancements for foaling, catering for permanently agisted mares and their offspring, as well as short-term visiting mares. Burwood Stud has continually stood quality stallions over the years and offers a wide variety of stallions from all over the world through its semen transport service and currently stands three standardbred stallions on their property. Horses bred at Burwood have won the last four Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series Finals and are producing winners in Queensland, interstate and New Zealand.  The time, effort, sponsorship and results of Burwood bred over many years ensure the Denning family are worthy inductees into the Queensland Hall of Fame. Lefty The former outstanding race mare Lefty was the first broodmare inducted into Queensland’s Hall of Fame. After a career that produced 17 wins from 67 starts and $117,033 in prize money, and highlights of the 1997 2YO QBRED Final and four metropolitan wins, Lefty retired in 2000 for a career at stud.  Lefty produced 11 foals which have all won races. 2001 Chucka Lefty (9 wins, $51,410) 2002 Shes A Lefty (10 wins, 102,396, QBRED 2YO Triad & Breeders Classic winner, dam of 2 winners) 2003 Lotsa Lefty (4 wins, $17,996, dam of a winner) 2004 Another Lefty (7 wins, $24,500) 2007 Major Lefty (17 wins, $88,685) 2008 Just A Lefty (9 wins, $29,175) 2009 Royal Lefty (2 wins, $9431) 2010 Feelin Good Lefty (2 wins, $11,696) 2011 Bring On Lefty (7 wins, $42,208) 2012 Catcha Lefty (13 wins, $170,523, QBRED 2YO Breeders Classic, Queensland Derby) 2013 Lucky Lefty (1 win, $3,215) Lefty unfortunately passed away at the age of 22 this year. The award was accepted by her breeder, owner and trainer Cristina Monte. Don Ross Snr  Don Ross Snr has provided outstanding service to the industry as a Clerk of the Course where he is considered a leader in his field. Don has also offered outstanding support assisting many industry participants with their horses in many areas including organising mares for surrogate breeding. Don is famous for providing his Chariots for Shows and movie work with the Chariot races, formerly held at the Brisbane Exhibition and is fondly remembered by all who witnessed his great horsemanship. Don is an absolute gentleman and friend of so many in the harness racing industry, and continues to provide fantastic service at the age of 82. His family is following in his footsteps, including son Don and grandson Donald, who are continuing the quality family horsemanship as Clerks of the Course with granddaughter Isobel also training as a Red Coat while developing a successful career as a harness driver. The full list of winners from last night's 2016 Queensland Harness Racing Awards;  

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