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High-profile Canterbury harness racing trainer Nigel McGrath has been disqualified for 8 years for the attempted administration of a prohibited substance to a horse, refusing to supply information to a Racecourse Inspector and Obstructing a Racecourse Inspector during an investigation. Full details below: BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY Information Numbers: A11684, A11685, A11686 In the matter of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing BETWEEN RACING INTEGRITY UNIT Informant AND NIGEL RAYMOND MCGRATH Licensed Driver and Trainer Respondent Judicial Committee: J Lovell-Smith - Chair T Utikere - Member Present: Mr S Irving - Informant Mr B H Dickey - Counsel for the Informant Mr N R McGrath - Respondent Mr P H B Hall QC - Counsel for the Respondent RESERVED DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE DATED 3 JULY 2020 [1] The Respondent, Nigel Raymond McGrath is a licensed Public Trainer and Open Driver under the Rules of New Zealand Harness Racing (HRNZ). He has been a Harness Trainer since 2000. [2] The Respondent admitted three charges of offending deemed to be serious racing offences under Rule 505(1) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Law. These charges are: (a) Attempts to administer (A11684) Rule 1004(1). On 13 March 2020 at Christchurch together with Robert George Burrows did attempt to administer to “Steel The Show” which was entered in Race 8 at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club’s meeting at Addington that evening, a prohibited substance by way of nasal gastric tube. (b) Refuses to make a statement (A11685) Rule 1001(1)(i). On 13 March 2020 at Christchurch refused to supply information by answering the questions of a Racecourse Investigator regarding the tubing equipment located in his possession and the attempted race day administration of the horse “Steel The Show.” (c) Obstructing a Racecourse Investigator (A11686) Rule 1001(1)(j). On 13 March 2020 at Christchurch obstructed a Racecourse Investigator by preventing him from seizing tubing equipment as evidence in the course of an investigation into a race day administration and ordering Racecourse Investigators to leave his property. The Course of the Proceedings [3] As recorded in the Committee’s Minute of 19 May 2020, the Respondent pleaded guilty to all three charges but disputes two matters in the Summary of Facts. [4] The guilty pleas to all three charges were confirmed prior to commencement of the disputed facts hearing. By consent, charge 1 was amended to record the correct Rule as Rule 1004(1). (Rule 1001(1)(q) having been deleted on 25 November 2019) which states: A person commits a breach of the rules who administers a prohibited substance to a horse which is taken, or is to be taken to a racecourse for the purpose of engaging in a race. [5] Certain facts were agreed in accordance with Mr McGrath’s guilty pleas and a Statement of the Agreed facts was provided to the Committee and is set out in full in this decision. [6] The general matters in dispute are as follows: [7] The first two disputed matters relate to the attempting to administer breach (A11684). [8] First, there is a dispute as to the nature of the substance that was attempted to be administered. The Informant identified the substance as likely to be a solution of chemicals for the purpose of alkalising the blood or increasing the levels of TCO2, which is a prohibited substance. The Respondent denies this and says that the substance is a product known as “Air Support” which can be purchased at equine stores. [9] Secondly, there is a dispute as to the method of administration. The Informant alleges that the substance was attempted to be administered by a nasal gastric tube. The Respondent says that the substance was to be squirted through a tube on the horse’s tongue. [10] The third dispute is in respect of the RIU’s allegation that the Respondent became aggressive and obstructive, after the horse had been recaptured. The Respondent denies that he was aggressive and obstructive. [11] The evidence for the Informant consisted of video footage and transcript of the Informant’s inspectors’ attendance at the Respondent’s stable, transcripts of two interviews by the Informant of George Burrows, Licensed Stablehand, expert evidence from Dr A. Grierson, a veterinary surgeon, by AVL, regarding the likely type of drug administered and the method of administration. The Respondent, Mr McGrath gave evidence. [12] At the conclusion of the evidence, submissions were made by Counsel including submissions as to penalty. [13] The Committee reserved its decision at the conclusion of the hearing. Agreed Facts Parties [1] The Respondent Nigel Raymond McGrath (McGrath) is a licensed Public Trainer and Open Driver under the Rules of New Zealand Harness Racing (HRNZ). He is 46 years old and has been a harness trainer since 2000. [2] Robert George McKay Burrows (Burrows) is a Licensed Stablehand under the Rules of HRNZ. He is 54 years old and assists McGrath and has been employed in a number of different stables over many years. He is also employed as a barrier attendant by the Canterbury Jockey Club. Background [3] Over a period of time the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) received confidential information indicating that the hours prior to the races McGrath would ‘tube’ horses in his shed between the stables and the main road. [4] It is common knowledge that ‘Tubing’ is the process of inserting a rubber or plastic tube through a horse’s nose into its oesophagus for the purpose of administering a liquid substance. A funnel is usually attached to the tube and the liquid poured into the funnel, using gravity to force the liquid into the horse’s stomach. The Facts [5] On Friday 13 March 2020 RIU Investigators conducted surveillance of the shed next to Mr McGrath’s stables. [6] At 5:40 pm Mr McGrath was observed leading the 3yo colt ‘Steel The Show’ from the covered yard at the end of the stable block into the shed, approximately three hours prior to its scheduled race start time. [7] ‘Steel The Show’ was engaged in Race 8 at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club’s meeting at Addington Raceway at 8:48 pm. [8] Minutes later RIU Investigator Simon Irving entered the property and went to the shed. [9] Located in the shed were Mr McGrath and Mr Burrows, ‘Steel The Show’ and a backpack containing tubing gear including a coiled rubber hose, a plastic funnel, a twitch and an empty 800 ml plastic drink bottle containing residue. [10] Mr McGrath immediately walked the horse from the shed and when confronted by another Investigator a short distance away, either the Respondent let the horse go or the horse got loose resulting in it running toward the stable complex. [11] Mr McGrath admitted that the horse was ‘Steel The Show’ and that it was racing that evening. [12] Mr McGrath refused to answer further questions regarding the tubing gear and the identity of his associate. [13] Mr Burrows remained in the shed and when questioned about the activity admitted that they were about to ‘tube’ the horse ‘Steel The Show’ with what he called “air supply”. [14] He acknowledged that this was in breach of the Rules of HRNZ and that it wasn’t the first time he had assisted in the procedure at the McGrath property. [15] Once the horse was recaptured and contained in its yard Mr McGrath’s demeanour changed from being resigned and he became obstructive. [16] He grabbed hold of the backpack held by Investigator Irving stating that it was his private property and initially would not release it even though he was repeatedly advised that it was being seized as part of an investigation into a racing matter. [17] Attempts were made to seize the tubing kit as evidence, but Mr McGrath continued to object and requested that Investigators leave his property and come back later. [18] Mr McGrath was repeatedly warned that Investigators were there lawfully under the Rules of HRNZ and his actions were making the matter much worse. [19] His strong objections continued, and to avoid further confrontation and to comply with his request RIU staff allowed Mr McGrath to recover the backpack and its contents and prepared to leave the property. [20] These interactions were recorded on RIU cell phones. [21] Video containing images of the tubing kit was also recorded. [22] Before Investigators left the property, Mr McGrath was advised that both his horses in Race 8 that evening would be scratched. [23] Due to Mr McGrath’s actions the RIU vet on standby was prevented from attending the property to gather further evidence and conduct drug tests on both ‘Steel The Show’ and Mr McGrath’s other runner engaged that evening ‘Cloud Nine’. [24] The Chairman of Stewards for the race meeting was advised of the incident and attempted to contact Mr McGrath by telephone (three times, two of which went straight to message so the Respondent may have only been aware of one call) and a text message requesting him a call regarding the scratching of his horses. [25] Mr McGrath did not respond to the request. [26] At approximately 3:00 pm the following day different RIU staff returned to the Mr McGrath stable to serve an Exclusion Notice on Mr McGrath and request he ‘hand over’ the tubing equipment from the previous day. [27] Mr McGrath refused to provide the tubing equipment, stating that he would contact his lawyer and that the RIU staff could come back later. [28] The tubing equipment has not been recovered and therefore could not be sent for analysis. Respondent’s Statement [29] The Respondent Mr McGrath refused to answer Investigators' questions on the day, despite being told that he had to respond, other than admitting that the horse he was found with was ‘Steel The Show’ and that it was racing that night. (a) The following day Mr McGrath attempted to contact another Investigator, Kylie Williams. He did not participate in interviews with the investigations involved. (b) He has subsequently provided a prepared, written statement to the RIU. Mr McGrath – Breaches of the Rules of HRNZ [30] Mr McGrath has committed the following offences against the HRNZ Rules: (a) Attempting to administer a prohibited substance on a raceday. (b) Refusing to supply information to a Racecourse Inspector. (c) Obstructing a Racecourse Inspector during an investigation. Conclusion [31] Mr McGrath has a previous serious racing offence charge from 2004 when he was disqualified for three years (reduced to 18 months on appeal) for three counts of administering a prohibited substance. [32] Mr McGrath also recently received a six-month suspension of his horseman’s licence after admitting a breach of the improper driving Rule, a result of Operation Inca. Evidence for the RIU [14] The video recordings of a visit to 502 Maddisons Road on 10 March 2020 made by Simon Irving, Racecourse Inspector were played. The transcript of the video recording was produced by consent. Present were Simon Irving, Nigel McGrath, George Burrows, Neil Grimstone and Oscar Westerlund. [15] Mr Irving introduced himself to Mr McGrath and asked him what was “going on “and “what was in the bag?” [16] George Burrows then hands the back pack to Mr Irving. [17] Mr McGrath walks horse out of shed. When asked what horse is that, Mr McGrath said it was racing tonight and that it was ‘Steel the Show’. Mr Irving asked Mr McGrath “You going to give it a tube tonight?” Mr McGrath said no. Mr Irving followed Mr McGrath with the horse toward the stables when the horse ran off toward the stable area. [18] Once the horse was safely tied up, Mr Irving looked inside the back pack and saw it had a twitch in it. He asked Mr McGrath to talk to him about it which he refused to do. Mr McGrath grabbed hold of the back pack again. Mr Irving said he was seizing the back pack as an exhibit, told him he was a racing inspector and that he must cooperate with them as it was part of an investigation. The request was repeated but Mr McGrath refused to hand over the back pack and asked Mr Irving and Mr Grimstone to leave his property and to give him the back pack. When Mr Grimstone told Mr McGrath they were taking the tube for analysis, Mr McGrath grabbed the rubber tube and walked off. Mr McGrath continued to argue and Mr Irving and Mr Grimstone let him take the contents of the back pack and walked away. [19] The contents of the back pack included a wooden twitch, coiled rubber tube, plastic 800 ml bottle, plastic bottle lid, plastic funnel, 2 x bags. [20] Mr McGrath indicated that he understood that both horses would be scratched that night. [21] Transcript of Cell phone Interview with George Burrows 13 March 2020 in the Green Shed at the stables of Nigel McGrath of George Burrows by Neil Grimstone and Oscar Westerlund was produced as an Exhibit by consent. Mr Burrows did not give evidence. [22] In the first interview, Mr Burrows told Mr Grimstone and Mr Westerlund that it was “stuff for its breathing” called ‘air supply’. When Mr Burrows asked if it was in accordance with the Rules, having said that he thought the horse was “Steel The Show” was running that night Mr Burrows answered, “probably not.” [23] Mr Burrows said that he had been there to do “tubing” the horse “very few times.” He agreed he was tubing the horse, that it was not ideal and that it was breaching the Rules. Transcript of Second Interview with George Burrows 17 March 2020 [24] The transcript of a second interview on 17 March 2020 with George Burrows, Neil Grimstone and Peter Lamb was produced as an Exhibit by consent. [25] Mr Burrows wanted his first statement to be disregarded as he had been smoking weed and drinking and did not want to be there. He agreed he could tube horses but denied ever tubing a horse of Mr McGrath’s. [26] In that second interview, Mr Burrows said he went to Mr McGrath’s premises the previous Friday about 5:00 pm to drop a couple of bridles off. Mr McGrath said he was a bit worried about his horse with a slight snotty nose and it was decided to give it some Air Support, a “herbal thing” to help its breathing. Mr Burrows said they went into the shed which is detached or remote because they did not want to be seen as it is against the Rules. He went under the trees so he could not be seen and Mr McGrath brought the horse around. Mr Burrows had got the tubing bag from Mr McGrath’s wash house in his home where it is kept. He said he did not know if the bag had a twitch in it but said it probably did with the Air Support and two boost tubes used to squirt it down with. Once he had the bag, Mr McGrath said to him “we’ll go to give it the Air Support.” [27] Mr Burrows was asked where was the bottle of air supply. Mr Burrows said it was still in the shed “in the far corner where he had taken it.” [28] Mr Burrows said the bottle was a “normal one.” He just “sucked it out and squirted it down” using the boost tube to squirt it on the horse’s tongue. [29] He said there was no plan with the other horse as there wasn’t any more air supply. [30] He agreed he could not be sure what the horse was given. He said he knew what Air Support smelt like as it has a strong eucalyptus smell and comes in a brown bottle. He did not see the label on the bottle which was used. He had administered the substance with the boost tube not the tubing gear in the bag. [31] Transcript of Kylie Williams, Racing Investigator and Scott Wallis, Chief Stipendiary Steward (Greyhounds) Visit to Mr McGrath’s stable 14 March 2020. [32] The following day, on 14 March 2020 Ms Williams and Mr Wallis visited Mr McGrath’s stable premises at 2:45 pm. On arrival, Ms Williams advised Mr McGrath that the reason they were there was to give him a Notice of Exclusion. She asked Mr McGrath to date it and she put the time on it at 2 56 pm. [33] Mr McGrath then said he was going to give her a statement on the Rule breach. Ms Williams explained that that she could only serve the Notice on him and that they had only one question: “would he give them the things he was using last night, the back pack, the twitch, the funnel, the tube and the bottle.” Mr McGrath said he would give them the bottle but not the tube or the twitch. [34] Mr McGrath was given a Notice of Exclusion from the Races but said he would not sign it. There was further discussion, but Ms Williams and Mr Wallis explained that they could only talk about the Exclusion Notice and ask for the items in the bag he had the previous day. Mr McGrath then admitted he had broken the 24 hour Rule but refused to hand over the bag or the items in it including the bottle. Ms Williams and Mr Wallis left at 3:02 pm. Dr A Grierson [35] Dr Grierson gave his evidence by AVL. He has worked as a racing veterinary surgeon for 20 years in both harness and thoroughbred racing. He was well versed in “tubing” and “milkshaking” from a veterinary point of view and physiologically, as it was not initially a prohibited substance or a prohibited procedure. [36] The mechanics of tubing required a funnel, stomach tube and a twitch which could be used to restrain the horse. It required two people as it could be difficult to hold the horse, the mixture and the tube. It is easier to stomach tube a horse than squirt with a syringe as a horse is able to be stomach tubed with any amount of fluid. [37] With regard to possible substances that could be administered within the time frame of 3 hours before a race as in this case, Dr Grierson identified EPO which is administered intravenously not via tubing but said the most common procedure was to tube alkalising agents in order to increase TCO2 levels. The TCO2 levels were set at a limit of 36.0, but under the Rule the level was limited by a guard band of 37.1. Tubing alkalising substances became a bad practice when horses were seen to perform better than their ability and is now banned internationally. [38] Dr Grierson believed that the most likely substance to be administered via tubing was an alkalising agent and sodium bicarbonate was the most common. [39] When asked in cross-examination about Air Support, Dr Grierson said he was familiar with the company but not personally familiar with that preparation. As no analysis had been undertaken by NZ Racing Laboratory Service on Air Support, he was unable to say if it was prohibited. If it was administered within one clear day then it was unlikely to be detected. He accepted that two people could be required to administer 60 mls of Air Support via a Boost tube on the tongue for a fractious horse. [40] When asked if he could not rule out Air Support being administered to this horse, Dr Grierson said without a sample there was no way of being sure what it was. Dr Grierson said he had no idea if energy or stamina in horse was improved by Air Support. In response to a question from Mr Hall he agreed that there was insufficient evidence to say what the substance was. Respondent’s Evidence [41] Nigel McGrath read his evidential statement and answered questions in cross-examination from Counsel for the Informant and the Judicial Committee. [42] Mr McGrath has been a licensed trainer for over 20 years and has trained over 570 winners with $6,000,000 in stakes, including a win in the New Zealand Derby in 2018. [43] He owns his training establishment in Weedons. [44] Although he pleaded guilty to charge 1, namely attempting to administer a prohibited substance by way of nasal gastric tube, he denies that it was the prohibited substance alleged by the Informant which was administered to “Steel The Show” on 13 March 2020 and that any substance was intended to be introduced by way of gastric tube. He did commit a breach of the Rules by introducing or attempting to introduce a substance known as “Air Support” in an oral syringe commonly known as a boost tube, a substance that was vet approved and was not intended to improve the speed, stamina or courage of the horse. [45] The allegation that “he attempted to introduce an alkalinising agent via a nasal gastric tube in order to elevate the TCO2 levels of “Steel The Show” to improve his speed, stamina or courage is “not correct.” [46] Late afternoon on Friday, 13 March 2020 Mr McGrath said he was “getting organised for the races at Addington that evening.” He had “Cloud Nine” and “Steel The Show” engaged in the same race. [47] The horse “Steel The Show” has been marginally slower in recovering after fast work in the week leading up to 13 March blowing more than usual with phlegm and mucous in his nose. [48] Mr McGrath did not consider this too serious but more likely a symptom arising as a result of the abnormally dusty week which was dry and warm. He had been treating this horse with “Air Support”, a herbal remedy he had purchased from Equine 2000. It is a registered horse product which is marketed on the HRNZ website. [49] Mr McGrath said it had been approved by his veterinary surgeon who confirmed this in a letter to the Committee. According to Mr McGrath, it was a substance which contained no prohibited substances and was for the wellbeing of horses. [50] Mr McGrath said that while he was preparing the two horses, George Burrows called in to drop off some mounting bridles he had agreed to deliver earlier. They talked about the evening ahead for the two horses and it was during his discussion Mr McGrath said he “stupidly decided” to give Steel The Show some Air Support as per the manufacturer’s instructions in order to assist his wellbeing that evening and his subsequent recovery after the race.” [51] He accepted “fully that to do so was in breach of the one clear day Rule” and it was for that reason the free standing shed in a paddock behind the main block of stables was used because “we would not been seen.” [52] Mr Burrows was going to assist in introducing “Air Support” because “Steel The Show” can be difficult to handle and is a wilful horse. [53] Mr McGrath said his “motive was not financial or to improve the performance of the horse but rather to aid his post-race recovery.” Mr McGrath described a cupboard in the laundry of his house as “a dumping ground for storing stuff like supplements, empty syringes and tape.” A bag which has “Air Support” in it and equipment for salining of horses was also in this cupboard. Mr Burrows collected this bag from the cupboard and carried it into the shed. [54] Mr McGrath denied attempting to administer an alkalising agent. He said his horses were often swabbed at race meeting and have never returned TCO2 levels at or above the level of 36.0 millimetres per litre in plasma C +/- point for error and usually the levels returned were well below the threshold. [55] He emphasised that he would not put himself or his owners into such a situation. He acknowledged that he was disqualified in respect of three charges of administering a prohibited substance approximately 15 years ago. Mr McGrath said the substance he had administered at that time was “Propantheline” added to horse feed which he had bought from a chemist and cleared with his vet. He believed it did not breach the Rules. [56] Mr McGrath maintained that the Air Support was administered by Mr Burrows via a large plastic tube, commonly known as a boost tube for the oral administration of a paste and liquid substance. [57] Mr Burrows squirted the “Air Support” over the tongue of the horse. Neither a twitch nor a nasal gastric tube was used. There was no damp residue in any of the equipment apart from the boost tube. Mr McGrath said he found the boost tube together with the empty container of “Air Support” on the floor in the corner of the free standing shed where the administration had occurred, after the RIU staff had left. He picked up both items and put them inside his home. He produced both items as exhibits during the hearing. [58] Mr McGrath explained that he “did not want to part with the gastric tube, twitch and bottle because they had not been used by him or Mr Burrows. He said he told Mr Irving who was asking about the tube and twitch in the bag “there’s no substance so I didn’t do it. Out please.” [59] Mr McGrath said that when he led the horse out of the shed, he was “shocked to come face to face with a number of RIU employees.” He said he was overwhelmed at having been caught breaching the Rules, that is, the one clear day administration Rule and felt he had lost everything. His shock and bewilderment was such that he said he was not in the right state of mind at the time to discuss the matter with the RIU and I asked them to leave.” He did tell them to come back later and that he said, “I was also not prepared to part with any of my property and told them so.” [60] Mr McGrath believes that those intense feelings were due to the “stress” he has felt under since 4 September 2018 when the police arrived with search warrants as part of Operation Inca, involving himself and the persons associated with the Harness Racing industry. The only criminal charge against him was dismissed. However, subsequently he was charged by the RIU and pleaded guilty to a charge of improper driving. The penalty imposed was a six-month suspension. The psychological and economic impact on him has continued to today. [61] Mr McGrath accepts his conduct was obstructive due to his state of panic, shock and resignation and was in breach of the Rules. He regrets his behaviour because it inflamed the situation and resulted in the further charges to which he has pleaded guilty. He did expect the RIU veterinary surgeon would return and examine the horse which he was willing to have done but that did not happen. [62] Mr McGrath contacted Kylie Williams the following morning as he respected her and preferred to make a statement to her. When she visited his stables later that day with Scott Wallis, she told Mr McGrath they had been directed not to take a statement from him. [63] Mr McGrath said he has been licensed since he was 15 years old and never charged with offences relating to obstructing racecourse inspectors or refusing to make a statement. [64] His motivation to breach the Rule was solely based on his concern for the horse’s wellbeing. He was not motivated by financial gain as he had no financial share in “Steel The Show” and he does not bet on harness racing horses. If the horse had won the race, he would have earned approximately $400 only. [65] It was his belief that he breached the one day (24 hour) Rule by introducing or attempting to introduce a prohibited substance “Air Support” hence his guilty plea to charge 1. [66] In his statement, Mr McGrath said he “took immediate steps to hand over his Public Trainers Licence and move all the horses due to race in the near future to other trainers to help maintain public confidence in the industry and do the right thing in the circumstances. I very much regret my foolhardy actions. My whole working life has been devoted to the racing and training of magnificent horses. It is a seven day a week commitment to demanding work. However, it is a lifestyle that I am passionate about. I do not want to leave the profession. I believe I have more to offer the industry in the future and I ask for a further chance to prove I am not the cheat as portrayed. I am passionate about horse welfare and wellbeing. I have volunteered my time and resources to the agency HERO which is a recently launched initiative to assist the rehousing of horses after they have finished their racing careers.” [67] Mr McGrath produced an empty bottle of Air Support and a boost tube. Mr McGrath said the “Air Support” bottle and boost tube “lived” in the bag together with funnel, twitch and tube for salining. [68] Counsel for the Informant, Mr Dickey asked Mr McGrath about the improper driving charge penalty hearing in January 2020. At the penalty hearing Mr McGrath had apologised and told the Judicial Committee he was committed to adhere to the Rules of Harness Racing. However, in his evidence at this hearing, Mr McGrath denied responsibility for the Rule breach he had conceded in January this year. Mr McGrath’s response was that he believed he was not guilty of race fixing. [69] When asked by Mr Dickey about the 2004 charge for which he was disqualified for 18 months, Mr McGrath maintained the substance that was administered was an ulcer treatment used for horses. [70] When Ms Williams and Mr Wallis visited his stables the following day, Mr McGrath denied he was abusive or aggressive. He said he never touched or threatened them. [71] Mr McGrath’s explanation for telling both of them to get off the property and refusing to hand over the property the subject of this enquiry, as requested under the Rules was that he could not handle the situation and that he had asked them to come back later. He sought to deflect the responsibility for his response on a friend who was present and who he described as not helpful and if he had given Ms Williams and Mr Wallis the equipment that person “would have been even more abusive.” [72] Mr McGrath agreed that he knew that Mr Ydgren was the Chief Steward and in charge of the race meeting. He was asked why he did not respond to Mr Ydgren’s phone call and text in respect of the harness racing meeting on 13 March 2020. He admitted he did not respond and said there was no urgency in the text and no suggestion that if he failed to do so he would be in breach of the Rules of Harness Racing. Standard of Proof [73] The standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities (Rule 1008A of Rules and Rule 31.1 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Judicial Committee and Appeals Tribunal (JCA Rules). Analysis [74] On Friday, 13 March 2020 the horse “Steel The Show” trained by Mr McGrath was engaged in Race 8 at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club meeting at Addington Raceway at 8:48 pm on Friday, 13 March 2020. There is no issue that Mr McGrath took the horse “Steel The Show” into a green shed some distance away from his stables in order to conceal the administration of a prohibited substance or that Mr Burrows a licenced stable hand was assisting him. Mr Burrows accessed the shed from under some trees to conceal his movements having got the tubing back pack from Mr McGrath’s wash house inside his house, where the bag is kept. [75] The tubing back pack belonging to Mr McGrath was located in the shed and contained tubing gear including a coiled rubber hose, a plastic funnel, a twitch and an empty 800ml plastic drink bottle containing residue. When Mr McGrath was surprised by the racing inspectors in the shed with Mr Burrows and the horse, he refused to answer further questions regarding the tubing gear and the identity of his associate. [76] The transcript of the video footage of Mr Burrows’ first statement records that he was assisting Mr McGrath to tube the horse “Steel The Show” with Air Support to assist the horse’s breathing. [77] When Mr Burrows asked if it was in accordance with the Rules, having said he thought the horse was “Steel the Show” which was running that night, Mr Burrows’ answer was “probably not’. [78] Mr Burrows said he had been there to do “tubing” the horse “very few times.” He agreed that he was tubing the horse, that it was not ideal and that it was breaking the Rules. [79] In his second statement, Mr Burrows clearly regretted making the earlier statement and sought to retract it on the basis he was under the influence of alcohol and cannabis. [80] Mr Burrows said he did not know what the substance was in the bottle as he did not look at the label and could not be sure that what he administered to the horse was in fact Air Support. When asked where the bottle was as it was not in the bag he said it was in the far side of the shed. He claimed that the substance had been administered using the boost tube. [81] Mr Burrows did not give evidence. We accept his account of the events of 13 March in his first interview when he was cooperating with the Investigators. Mr Burrows remained in the shed and in response to questioning admitted that they were about to “tube” the horse “Steel The Show” with what he called “Air Supply”. He acknowledged this was in breach of the Rules of HRNZ and that it was not the first time he had assisted in the procedure at Mr McGrath’s property. [82] We do not accept Mr Burrows’ subsequent claim that he gave the first interview while under the influence of alcohol and Cannabis and that he wished to retract what he said. In our view, the second interview was self-serving and a deliberate attempt on his part to discredit his first interview. We are satisfied on the balance of probabilities that he was in the shed for the purpose of tubing the horse “Steel The Show” assisting Mr McGrath. [83] Once the horse was caught and contained in its yard, Mr McGrath’s demeanour changed from being resigned and he became obstructive. He grabbed hold of the back pack held by the Investigators stating it was his private property and initially would not release it even though he was repeatedly advised that it was being seized as part of an investigation into a racing matter. [84] Mr McGrath refused to hand over the bag as requested by the racing Investigators and would not allow the racing Investigators to take it away. He immediately walked the horse from the shed and when confronted by another Investigator, either he let it go or the horse got loose resulting in it running towards the stable complex. [85] Although attempts were made by the Investigators to seize the tubing kit as evidence, Mr McGrath continued to object and requested that the Investigators leave his property and come back later. [86] The Investigators warned Mr McGrath repeatedly that they were there lawfully under the Rules of HRNZ and that his actions were making the matter much worse. Despite these warnings, Mr McGrath continued to strongly object. To avoid further confrontation and to comply with his request, the Investigators allowed Mr McGrath to recover his back pack and its contents and prepared to leave the property. [87] Ms Williams and Mr Wallis went to his stable the following day to serve an Exclusion Notice on Mr McGrath and request he hand over the tubing equipment from the previous day. Mr McGrath refused to provide the tubing equipment stating he would contact his lawyer and that the RIU could come back later. Mr McGrath’s explanation was that due to the abusive behaviour of a visitor to his stable, he was unable to comply with their instructions. We find his explanation unconvincing. [88] As a direct result of Mr McGrath’s deliberately aggressive and obstructive conduct and refusal to comply with the instructions of the RIU Investigators who were lawfully at his stables, no analysis could be carried out of the tubing equipment and the substance which was to be administered. [89] There is no issue the RIU veterinary surgeon on standby was also prevented from attending the stables to gather evidence and conduct tests on both “Steel The Show” and Mr McGrath’s other runner engaged that evening “Cloud Nine”. [90] We accept Dr Grierson’s evidence and his conclusion that the most likely substance to be administered via tubing was an alkalising agent and that sodium bicarbonate was the most common. Although Dr Grierson acknowledged in cross examination in response to questions from Mr Hall QC, he could not rule out that the substance Air Support was being administered to the horse, he clearly stated that without a sample there was no way of being sure what it was. [91] Dr Grierson was familiar with the manufacturer but not with their product Air Support. He was aware of its contents but as no analysis had been undertaken by the NZ Racing Laboratory Service there was insufficient evidence to say what the substance was. [92] Properly qualified expert witnesses such as Dr Grierson are permitted to give opinion evidence on subjects within their area of expertise beyond the general knowledge of the Tribunal of fact provided a proper evidential foundation has been laid as in this case. [93] We find that there is a clear inference to be drawn from all of the evidence that the most likely substance which to be administered via a nasal gastric tube was an alkalising agent. [94] We do not accept either Mr McGrath’s or Mr Burrows’ evidence that the substance Air Support was to be squirted using a boost tube over the horse’s tongue. [95] No boost tube or bottle of Air Support such as the one Mr McGrath produced at the hearing was visible. Although Mr McGrath produced a bottle of Air Support and a boost tube as part of his evidence at the hearing, we find his actions to be unconvincing and self-serving. Mr McGrath was given every opportunity to hand over the boost tube and the bottle of Air Support to the racing Investigators for analysis not only on 13 March but on the following day, 14 March. [96] Mr McGrath’s explanation was that he was under considerable stress at the time as a result of previous investigation by the RIU and that on 14 March, the day after race day, he was not able to cooperate with the Investigators due to the conduct of another person who was present at his stable that day. [97] In our view, Mr McGrath’s evidence was unconvincing and self serving. Mr McGrath has been a licenced trainer since 2000. He was given every opportunity to cooperate with the RIU investigation, but on being located in the green shed with Mr Burrows, “Steel The Show” and tubing equipment after the horse had been recaptured, he deliberately embarked on an aggressive and disruptive course of action to disrupt the RIU investigation to the extent that neither the horse nor the contents of the tubing bag could be tested. As a direct result, the substance could not be analysed and the horse could not be examined by a veterinary surgeon on behalf of the Informant. Mr McGrath has never surrendered to the Investigators the bottle of Air Support and boost tube he claimed to be the substance and method of administration. [98] With regard to the transcripts of the two interviews with Mr Burrows and taking into account Mr Burrows did not give evidence, we find that in Mr Burrows’ first interview he was cooperative and he admitted that they were about to tube the horse “Steel The Show” with what he called “Air Supply.” He acknowledged that it was in breach of the Rules of HRNZ. Furthermore, it was not the first time he had assisted in the procedure at Mr McGrath’s property. [99] Having considered the strength of all the evidence, we are compelled to reach the following conclusions. We find that there is strong and clear evidence the substance was an alkalising agent taking into account Dr Grierson’s evidence, Mr McGrath’s actions in concealing the horse, “Steel the Show”, the tubing bag, himself and Mr Burrows in the shed some distance from the stables on raceday, the contents of the back pack which contained tubing equipment including a funnel, gastric tubing, twitch and 800ml bottle, the involvement of Mr Burrows, and Mr McGrath’s intentional and deliberate behaviour which included his refusal to answer the Investigator’s questions, his obstructive and aggressive behaviour towards the Investigators including directing the Investigators to leave his property. As a direct result of his conduct, Mr McGrath prevented any analysis of either the substance or the tubing gear in Mr McGrath’s back pack and any veterinary examination of the horse. [100] For these reasons, we are satisfied in respect of the disputed facts on the balance of probabilities that: (a) The substance to be administered was a solution of chemicals for the purpose of alkalising the blood or increasing the levels of TCO2 which is a prohibited substance; (b) The substance was attempted to be administered via a gastric tube; (c) The Respondent became aggressive and obstructive when the horse had been recaptured. Penalty [101] The Appeals Tribunal in RIU v Habraken, 13 May 2019, at [15] stated that: [15] The life blood of racing depends upon millions of dollars wagered in New Zealand. Loss of confidence of punters and the community in the integrity of the sport/industry inevitably carries grave risk to its wellbeing. [102] With regard to the charge of attempted administration of prohibited substance Mr McGrath has accepted through his plea of guilty that the substance attempted to be administered was a prohibited one. Rule 1004(6) contains an absolute prohibition on administering any substance whatsoever to a horse on a race day. [103] We agree with Counsel for the Informant’s submission that Mr McGrath’s motivation for doing so can only have been financial in order to enhance the horse’s performance. [104] Mr McGrath involved Mr Burrows, another licenced holder, in the deliberate administration of a prohibited substance to a horse which was to race three hours later. In RIU v Lawson, 13 May 2019 at [42] an Appeals Tribunal noted that involving other licence holders so as to place them in jeopardy of facing charges was an aggravating feature. [105] Dr Grierson’s expert opinion was that he believes the most likely substance to be administered via tubing was an alkalising agent which improves a horse’s performance and is now banned worldwide. [106] Furthermore, such conduct has a significant impact on the racing industry’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare. The industry cannot maintain its social licence in order to continue to operate without maintaining high standards of animal welfare. [107] We agree with Counsel for the Informant’s submission that in addition to the attempted administration of a prohibited substance, Mr McGrath’s conduct when dealing with racecourse Investigators warrants a condign response. [108] Rule 1001 applies to actions involving some element of dishonesty, corruption, wilful neglect or breaches of duty or Rules, all serious racing offences. [109] The Appeals Tribunal of the Judicial Conduct Authority said in RIU v Lawson at [25]: Proceedings under the Rules are designed “not simply to punish the transgressor, but crucially are to protect the profession/public/industry and those who are to deal with the profession…The Harness and Thoroughbred racing “industry” is a profession where key participants are required to be licenced in order to practice in various ways within that sphere. Comprehensive rules of practice. behaviour, procedure and the like are set down in extensive detail in the Rules which govern the codes and behaviour. As with most professions, a careful internal disciplinary and regulatory process is set up. Those who practice within the professions (whether law, accountancy, medicine, teaching, real estate, and the like) are subject to sanctions for breaches of standards of conduct or rules designed to protect members of the profession as well as the public. Such sanctions can be at the highest end include removal from a profession for serious breaches of professional rules and standards involving dishonest or immoral conduct. Such behaviour if unchecked may greatly harm the reputation of the profession and bring it into disrepute”-that is the public loses confidence in it. [110] Mr McGrath knew that as a licenced trainer that the Rules of Harness Racing requires compliance with the horse Rules and cooperation with the RIU, the industry body charged with managing integrity issues. It is also important that all those in the industry are also deterred from acting in a similar way, contrary to the conditions of their licences and the Rules. [111] The Appeals Authority stated at [25] that disqualification is frequently imposed: Where the professional has acted dishonestly or unethically, or so far outside the standards required of him/her as to forfeit the privilege of working within the profession. Aggravating Factors of the Offending [112] There is no issue that the RIU Investigators who attended Mr McGrath’s stables on 13 March 2020 and were acting lawfully and reasonably and were entitled to take possession of the tubing gear Mr McGrath had concealed and to question Mr McGrath. Mr McGrath’s response was deliberately aggressive and obstructive culminating in him ordering the RIU Investigators off his property. We do not accept Mr McGrath’s evidence that it was not an outright refusal to cooperate, although it is correct that when he declined to be interviewed on 13 March 2020, he did say the twitch and nasal gastric tube had not been used. [113] We reject Mr McGrath’s evidence that he was in no state to be questioned at that time. Given his conduct we do not accept that the RIU Investigators could have arranged for a swab of the horse which was caught when they were present and secured it its stable. His statement was given to the Informant before he was charged with any offence. [114] Mr McGrath’s actions on 13 March 2020 and on the following day 14 March 2020 breached the Rules in ordering RIU Investigators off his property and refusing to supply information including the tubing equipment prevented the RIU Investigators obtaining the very evidence that resulted in the need for a disputed facts hearing. His deliberate actions prevented the RIU Investigators performing their functions and undermine the Rules and Licensing regime which ensure the integrity of the industry as a whole. [115] We do not agree with Counsel for Mr McGrath’s submission that while conceding that the (attempted) administration was deliberate, the nature of the substance and the manner of administration falls at the lower end of the spectrum because the substance is not a drug, rather a multi-herbal remedy which Mr McGrath believed would assist the horse’s recovery and wellbeing after a hard race rather than providing an unfair advantage to the horse. Dr Grierson’s evidence was that the most likely substance to be administered via tubing was an alkalising agent and sodium bicarbonate was the most common. Mr Burrows’ confirmed that he was assisting Mr McGrath to “tube” the horse and that he knew it was breaching the Rules. He and Mr McGrath endeavoured to conceal their actions by taking the horse and tubing gear into a shed away from the stables. When discovered by the RIU Investigators, Mr McGrath refused to cooperate as required by the Rules in any way, including behaving aggressively and obstructing. [116] Further, was Mr McGrath’s deliberate and intentional actions in withholding evidence that prevented the Investigators gathering the very same evidence which has resulted in the need for the disputed facts hearing. We regard this as a serious aggravating feature. [117] In our view there are no mitigating factors relating to the offending. Aggravating Factors relating to Mr McGrath [118] Mr McGrath was suspended from driving for six months on 10 February 2020 having pleaded guilty an improper driving breach. While subject to the suspension from driving, he incurred the current breaches of the Rules as a licensed trainer. [119] In 2004-2005, Mr McGrath was disqualified for 18 months following a breach in which two horses tested positive for Propantheline Bromide, a performance enhancing substance referred to colloquially as “Blue Magic.” [120] The current breaches of the Rules occurred within a few months of the six month suspension from driving for an improper driving breach. Mitigating Factors relating to Mr McGrath [121] Counsel for Mr McGrath, submitted that Mr McGrath’s reaction to what occurred is significant, in that he indicated within a short time he would plead guilty to a breach of the 24 hour Rule and on 18 March 2020 provided a statement to the RIU which included advice that he intended to hand in his public training licence as a demonstration of his remorse and acceptance of the consequences of his actions on Friday, 13 March 2020. [122] Mr McGrath’s reaction was “off the cuff” and later very much regretted. He offered to make a statement and offered to be interviewed the following day but the RIU decided not to engage with him. [123] The attempted administration was not an attempt to gain an unfair advantage over other competitors and the horse was scratched so no actual loss was incurred by the punters although the owners lost the opportunity to a share of the prize money. [124] Mr McGrath’s Counsel submitted a 25% discount was appropriate for his plea of guilty and the attempted administration charge is clearly a less serious charge than an administration charge. [125] Mr McGrath is saddened and apologetic. He had admitted the charges and realises that the consequences of suspension or disqualification of his licence would put his family’s investment in horses and the training facility in jeopardy because he could not meet his business commitments without a training licence. He is passionate about horses and the sport which he loves. Since he became a Licensed Public Trainer, he has had many quality horses and a loyal and long standing customer base. He has trained winners in many of New Zealand’s feature races including the Great Northern Oaks and Trotting Derby, the NZ Derby Multiple Sires Stakes and Yearling Sales finals, the Young Guns, Breakers Stakes, NZ Jewels and over 20 Country Cups in the South Island. [126] With no other qualification or work experience he would find it difficult to obtain alternative employment. The complete loss of his business and income would be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending, if a disqualification was imposed. [127] The Judicial Control Authority Penalty Guidelines suggest a three-year disqualification starting point is appropriate for a second offence of administering but that the starting point should be lowered significantly if the earlier offending was 15 years previously as in this case. Submissions as to Penalty [128] Counsel for the Informant seeks a disqualification of up to 10 years of Mr McGrath’s trainer’s licence if the substance administered to the horse “Steel The Show” was an alkalising agent and was introduced by way of a gastric nasal tube. [129] Counsel for the Respondent submits that the cases cited by the Informant namely RIU v Morgenrood  (RIU v B Morgenrood decision dated 9 June 2020) and the RWWA case do not involve raceday administration. The RWWA case is under appeal and the Morgenrood case was described by the Judicial Committee as “difficult to find any similar offending by a licenced rider.” Conclusion [130] The starting point for these three offences, before allowance is made for mitigating factors, must be sufficient to reflect the gravity of the offending, the interests of the industry, profession of harness racing as a whole and the need for deterrence, both specific and general. [131] This is a case where clearly the interests of the professional code/industry participants and the sport outweigh mitigating factors in deciding that disqualification is necessary. The evidence is largely uncontradicted and overwhelming. Mr McGrath attempted to administer an alkalising agent via a gastric tube to “Steel the Show” on raceday. In order to do this, he involved another licence holder, Mr Burrows. When surprised by the Investigators, Mr McGrath’s intentional aggressive and obstructive conduct undermined the Rules and the licensing regime and rendered the RIU investigation redundant in that they were unable to perform their core functions. If the industry cannot be effectively regulated, there are serious consequences of public confidence in the sport. In our view, disqualification is the appropriate penalty. [132] We agree with Counsel for the Informant’s submission that licence holders must not be given the impression that they can withhold or destroy evidence, so that they can argue the facts and receive a lesser penalty than otherwise would be appropriate. [133] Taking into account the submissions of Counsel for the Informant and Counsel for Mr McGrath, we adopt a global starting point of 10 years disqualification, which includes a small uplift for previous breaches of the Rules in 2004 and for further offending against the Rules while subject to a suspension as a driver imposed on 10 February 2020. [134] We take into account the fact Mr McGrath is suffering from severe stress and is genuinely remorseful. There will be very significant financial and personal implications for Mr McGrath, as a direct result of any suspension or disqualification. We also take into account his admission of the charges. [135] However, in respect of the mitigating factor we allow only a small discount given the overwhelming and largely uncontradicted evidence that Mr McGrath’s intention was to undermine the Rules and the licensing regime and render the RIU’s investigation redundant in that they were unable to perform their core functions maintaining the integrity of sport/industry and the publics confidence in it. [136] Taking into account all mitigating factors, we order that Mr McGrath be disqualified for a period of 8 years concurrently, in respect of the three charges. RIU Costs [137] The RIU is entitled to costs. The Informant’s submissions as to costs are directed to be filed within 10 days and the Respondent’s submission in response are to be filed within 10 days of receipt of the Informant’s submissions. JCA Costs [138] JCA costs are sought and will be provided to Counsel within 10 days from date of this decision. J Lovell-Smith CHAIR 

– Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Prairie has been knocking on the door for some time and he finally secured his maiden win at Addington Raceway on Sunday. The Gavin Smith-trained and driven three-year-old had finished runner-up in four of his previous five career starts and his connections were relieved to finally get on the board with the son of American Ideal. “He just kept running into nice horses,” Smith said. “All the horses who have beaten him have been pretty progressive types. “When he struck an easier field he was always going to be hard to beat.” Prairie began well from his wide draw and took an early lead for Smith where the pair remained throughout, winning by a half-head over Boom, with a further half-head back to Harrison in third. “He is very laidback so he is actually better following them, but when you are a $2 favourite and jump away you have got to use your advantage,” Smith said. “He waited for them today and halfway down (the straight) you swear he was going to get beaten, but once they got around the edge of his blinds and he could see them he lifted enough to hold them off. “He is a lot better coming off their backs, he is very classy.” While pleased to finally get a win with his promising pacer, Smith said Prairie’s future will likely be in Australia. “There were a few offers for him beforehand, so if we can get it done we will look at going down that avenue now that the owners have got a win,” Smith said. “It will probably be Western Australia, they love the American Ideals. “He is good value, he is small, and has got speed. That was one of the things in the back of my mind when I bought him at the yearling sales. He was only cheap at $10,000. They (Western Australian trainers) like the small American Ideals if they are fast.” Smith currently has 20 other horses in work, mostly young stock, and there are half a dozen juvenile trotters that are exciting him. “There are a few young trotters that are all showing a lot of promise, but they can change a lot in a short space of time,” he said. “There are half a dozen that are showing a lot, surely between them one will step up and do the job.” 

There were no records, but still plenty of wow factor. Ride High, one of the most exciting horses in this part of the world, blazed his way to another sparkling win at Melton last night. It was his second easy win from as many runs on the comeback trail and his 12th win from just 13 lifetime starts. When he won first-up two weeks earlier, Ride High’s 52.7sec last half was the fastest ever officially run around Melton. It was capped by a 25.8sec closing quarter. This time he went a quicker mile rate for 1720m – 1min50.8sec compared to 1min51.6sec first-up – but driver Kima Frenning “nursed” him home through splits of 53.6 and 26.7sec. He coasted to a 12.8m win over Courageous Saint, who led early then took a trail on Ride High. His 1min50.8sec mile rate was the third fastest run for the 1720m at Melton, but still well short of the remarkable 1min48.6sec Lochinvar Art went beating Self Assured in the 4YO Bonanza earlier this year. Watch the race click here. Kima Frenning was oozing superlatives after driving Ride High for the first time in his comeback win and it was no different last night. “It’s a real privilege to drive a horse like him. He really is a once-in-a-lifetime horse and to be able to say I won two races on him is pretty special,” Frenning told Trots Vision. “I said to (trainer) Clayton (Tonkin) before the race ‘do you want me to pull the plugs and see how fast he can go? “It’s scary to think he’s untapped still. It’s pretty freaky. He does this in second gear. “He’s a real professional, he knows where the line is and he knows what he has to race. I’m sure there was plenty more there.” Tonkin said he now had some thinking to do. “We’ve got through these couple of runs and now it’s time to map out the way to have him really primed for the Victoria Cup (October 10),” he said. With Lochinvar Art not too far away, Victorians could be in for some awesome clashes between Australia’s two most exciting pacers in the countdown to the Victoria Cup.   Adam Hamilton

By Jonny Turner    John Morrison will take his junior driver’s premiership quest in to his own hands at Addington on Sunday. Morrison has the chance to extend his one win lead in the national competition with six drives, including two from his own stable. The trainer-driver will attempt a repeat of Standout’s impressive win in his first start from his West Melton barn. A slow beginning was not enough to stop the 4yr-old from powering home to win over 2000m, at Addington last month. Morrison is hopeful Standout can measure up when he steps up in both distance and class on Sunday in race 6. “It was a nice win last time, but this is quite a big step up in class.” “I think he can measure up to them, but it will depend on the kind of run he gets.” “He can’t afford to do too much work, because he is more of a sprinter.” Harrison will make his debut from Morrison’s stable in race 2. The 4yr-old comes in to the 2600m standing start after running third in an Ashburton qualifying trial, last month. Harrison’s lack of ring craft leading in to his debut is Morrison’s biggest concern. “He is a bit of a big, dumb bugger – he is probably six months away from his best.” “But, he is good enough to compete and if he gets away, which he seems to do, hopefully he can hit the line.” “I would say he is a top five chance.” Morrison will reunite will Champagneandwine following her narrow second to Sagano at Addington last weekend for trainer Malcolm Shinn. The standing start specialist steps up from 2000m to 2600m, which Morrison thinks will suit her even better. “The 2600m should suit her even better because she is a stayer, she is a nice mare that is better over the longer distances.” “Hopefully she can step well, which she usually does, and she can be thereabouts.” “She has been really consistent and hopefully she just holds that form.” “We have put blinds on her this week, too, so that should sharpen her up a bit, too.” Champagneandwine clashes with impressive debut winner American Sniper in race 5. Morrison combines with Sunnivue Philleah, who treks north after producing consistent form in Southland recently. Though the junior driver has not driven the mare, he has seen plenty of her recently. “I have driven in a lot of the races she has been in and she has being going nice.” “If we get a nice run somewhere – she is more of a one run type by the looks of her – she should be right there.” Time In A Bottle in race 1 and Gottagettabeer in race 8 look outside chances for Morrison. “Time In A Bottle has been looking for a short distance and she has finally got it.” “She can trot a bit, but you just don’t know which one is going to turn up.” “Gottagettabeer is probably one to watch when the grass tracks start up, I’d say.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner     Toliman Lodge proprietors Ken Barron and Blair Orange unveiled a trotter with a good future at Addington on Friday night in impressive debut winner, Cochy Malc. The Dream Vacation 3yr-old continued his dam Cochy Bondu’s perfect record when striding to an effortless win in race 1. Barron confirmed his stable has a decent opinion of the horse. “He is a lovely horse.” Cochy Malc became the fourth winner of four foals his four-win dam has had at the races. That breeding is part of the reason Barron can see his 3yr-old putting together a good record. “If he keeps improving the way he is, with his breeding, he should go up through the grades.” Cochy Malc is a half-brother to Over The Love, who rushed through to open class when winning six of his 19 starts for Barron and Orange. The talented Love You gelding has missed this entire season after being injured ahead of his last start third in the group 3 Southern Lights Trot at Ascot Park in March of last year. “He broke a splint bone on the float on the way down for the Southern Lights Trot and he still ran third,” Barron said. “When we got him home it took us quite a while to figure out why he was sore.” “He has just started fast working again now.” Cochy Malc will try to add to his family’s record while Over The Love progresses towards the races. Barron plans to give the 3yr-old a handful of starts during the winter before freshening him. Barron and Orange completed a winning double when Bettor Grunter took out race 5. The 3yr-old Bettor’s Delight gelding had made steady progress towards the winner’s circle, running second to Arden Messi leading in to the event. According to his trainer, it has been a lack of focus, rather than a lack of ability that has stopped Bettor Grunter from winning before Friday night. “He is one of those big, dumb horses that switches on and off in his races and that has been his problem.” It is hoped that more racing will help the 3yr-old develop his race smarts. Barron was not the only trainer at Friday night’s meeting to notch a winning double. Robert Dunn notched back-to-back victories when Hayden’s Meddle took out race 6 and Kensington Bill won race 7. Hayden’s Meddle held on to win race 6 by a head over Cast No Shadow in an exciting finish to Friday night’s feature pace. The 6yr-old made a sweeping run around the field before hanging tough in the home straight for driver John Dunn. Kensington came with a big finish wide on the track to win for stable junior driver Korban Newman. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Welcome to the Harness Analyst series where we take a look at New Zealand's harness racing with free previews,tips and reviews of trials and the previous weeks racing. Harness racing hits Addington again today with a nine race program starting at 12:40pm and in this video we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. The content and data on this video is provided for informational purposes only Check below the video for our selections for all of the races today for Addington.   Addington Selections 5th July   Race 1 Kahress in good form and mobile suits should run first or second here……That’s The Story ok last start and can go a big race here……Girls Let Loose a question mark on the manners but is a chance if she can trot all the way…..Time In A Bottle nice draw but some of these here are better place at best. Selections:  Kahress  (2),   That’s The Story (4),   Girls Let Loose (3),    Time In A Bottle (1)   Race 2 Franco Nathan he broke and lost his chance last start but workouts prior were good,top selection……Ashes To Ashes nice draw and good third last start. One of the major players in this race…..Praire has run two good seconds and a nice chance to breakthrough for a win today……Suzie Reignmaker good workout win at Rangiora and top driver booked. Can win first up. Selections:  Franco Nathan (5),   Praire (7),   Ashes To Ashes (1),    Suzie Reignmaker (10)   Race 3 Stick Man he strikes a winnable race here and a good chance with the top driver taking the reins…..Vintage Beach normally a good beginner and should be thereabouts with a cosy run on the fence…….Flamboyant a bit one paced but has claims here if the pace is on all the way…..Chloe has not had the best of luck and a better draw here. Dangerous if left alone in front. Selections:  Stick Man  (3),   Vintage Beach (2),   Flamboyant (6),    Chloe (7)   Race 4 Justan’s Sister has the best from in the race and a chance to grab a win here in the junior drivers race…..With Ice mobile will suit and a good chance here with a mistake free run in transit……The Eye Of The Tiger getting better with racing and smaller field suits. Include……Idle Moose has been racing better fields recently and one for longer odds in this race. Selections:  Justan’s Sister  (6),   With Ice (8),   The Eye Of The Tiger (4),    Idle Moose (7)   Race 5 Arocknatthepark broke early last start but normally reliable. Should be hard to beat with a clean getaway…..Stealth Bomber stand suits and a danger to the favourite if he can get to the pegs early…..Pats Dragon has been racing well and is a good chance with luck in the running here…..Blue Chip Delight running on last start from back in the field. Place hopes if he can land closer to the pace. Selections:  Pats Dragon (8),   Arocknatthepark  (2),   Stealth Bomber (3),    Blue Chip Delight (9)   Race 6 Go Davey getting back in the running at his previous starts but has been finishing ok. Winning claims if he can get closer to them before the home turn....Elo Louise holding them before a late gallop at the recent trials. Will be tough to beat with manners….Fynn Frost has been racing well without a lot of luck. Smaller field here will suit and he can win…..Standout easy win fresh up and will be improved. Good place claims here. Selections:  Go Davey (7),   Fynn Frost  (6),   Elo Louise (9),   Standout (2)   Race 7 Jazelle good finish in a strong field on Friday. This looks hers for the taking with a clear run in transit…..Pauls Verdict better last start and he normally holds his form. Can place……Essence Of Easton running on late last start and better draw here. Top three player…..Szybka Lane drawn to get a run through early. Can finish into the placings. Selections:  Jazelle  (10),   Pauls Verdict (5),   Essence Of Easton (4),   Szybka Lane (11)   Race 8 Megarock gets the ace draw to work with and has been running nice races. Top selection……Conquer Me great second last start and only needs manners to be somewhere near winning this…..Kwik Sport good second three starts back. Winning claims with luck in transit…..Mongolian Marshal has been freshened for this. Might start favourite and can win. Selections:  Megarock  (1),   Conquer Me (5),   Kwik Sport (6),    Mongolian Marshal (3)   Race 9 Distinguished Taste better run last start and could be on the way up. Top selection here….. Kayla Maguire good run for second last start and possible leader early. Needed here…..Magical Matty has been running on in her races and draw suits. Good place chance in this…..Machs Mareta disappointing last start but puts in the odds strong performance. Winning chance with one run at them. Selections:  Distinguished Taste  (7),   Kayla Maguire (6),   Magical Matty (2),   Machs Mareta (5)   Best Bet : Jazelle                          Value Bet : Go Davey   Harnesslink Media

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    William Wallace kept his undefeated three-year-old record intact at Addington Raceway on Friday when easily accounting for his rivals in the Allied Security Mobile Pace (2600m). The son of Bettor’s Delight was pushed forward early by driver Matt Anderson to take the lead before handing up to last-start winner Bossmaro. William Wallace was given the perfect trip in the trail and cruised to the line to win by 1-1/2 lengths over Seamark, with a further 2-3/4 lengths back to Bossmaro in third. Trainer Mitchell Kerr was delighted with the win and was just happy to get the talented pacer back to the races after a near seven-month absence. “He is a lovely horse, I have got a lot of time for him and it’s just good to have him back on the track,” Kerr said. “He has been off the scene for a while, so it’s just good to see him do his thing and hopefully he carries on with it. “Matty (Anderson) was really happy with him, he just did it under his own steam like he can do. He just does what he has to that boy.” Runner-up in the Gr.2 Diamond Creek Farm 2YO Classic (2200m), William Wallace subsequently finished fifth and sixth in the Gr.1 Garrard’s 2YO Sires’ Stakes Series Final (1980m) as a juvenile before coming of age as a three-year-old. He won first-up this season at Addington Raceway in December and was being set for a tilt at some of the Derbys, however, COVID-19 put an end to those plans. While he wasn’t able to contest any stakes races as a three-year-old, Kerr believes William Wallace has the talent to make it through to the highest level. “I had him ready for the Derbys, but it was just a disaster that they got canned,” Kerr said. “I think he is a very serious horse and he is still learning all the time. He will only get better and better and I am pretty hopeful he should go through the grades.” Kerr had a number of other representatives on Friday and he believes both Change Is Good and Matt Damon, who finished fourth and fifth respectively in the HRS Construction Handicap Pace (2600m), will take a lot of benefit from the run. “Change Is Good went massive,” Kerr said. “She did a bit of work early, she is a tough old thing. She is just in a really hard grade at the moment with the way the races are panning out with the mares. “She is going well and her turn won’t be too far away. “Matt Damon, 20m fresh-up tonight and it was his first run back in a long time. He had a good blow and will improve 10-fold off that. “I am pretty sure he will bounce back next time.” Meanwhile, Kerr was disappointed with Storm’s run when finishing fifth in the Peek Exhibition Mobile Pace (1980m) and he said he will investigate further to see if there are any underlying issues. “Storm went okay, she’s just not going quite as good as what I hoped. Something is just not quite right with her, so we’ll take some blood tests and see what is going on with her. “She is a better filly than that. In saying that she has had a couple of tough runs, so we will go back to the drawing board with her and get her right again and hopefully she will bounce back.”

CHESTER, PA - Harrah's Philadelphia will be hosting one of its strongest non-stakes harness racing cards in quite some time this Sunday afternoon, with three $20,000 events for the fast-class older horses set to go, topped by an appearance from the 2019 Harness Horse of the Year, Shartin N. Now seven, Shartin N is a New Zealand import by Tintin In America, and she certainly has been a ruthless force at the very top of the older pacing female ranks in North America the last two years. She has won 43 of her 58 lifetime starts, and she has bankrolled $2,153,030, the vast majority of it for present owners Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King, and Tim Tetrick LLC. She is the fastest pacing mare of all-time by virtue of a 1:46.4 victory at The Meadowlands last year, and she also holds her division's track record at Philly, 1:48. Shartin N has been assigned the outside post in the field of eight - but she has shown he can handle tough starting assignments in the past. In fact, she showed that fact as recently as this past Tuesday, where she won from the eight post at Yonkers despite a grueling trip. Co-owner Tim Tetrick will again be guiding the champion for trainer Jim King Jr., the husband of another co-owner. Shartin N's race will be race ten on the fourteen race card. The first of the three $20,000 events, a handicap event for older male pacers in race three, will also find the favorite starting from post eight. His name is Dorsoduro Hanover, a Somebeachsomewhere five-year-old gelding who has earned over $1.6 million, most of that during his three-year-old season, when he was named the top three-year-old pacing colt in North America. Yannick Gingras is listed to drive for trainer Ron Burke, with major opposition expected from the consistent Highalator and Shake That House, making his 2020 debut after a top campaign as a sophomore last year. The sixth race high-class trot finds a Canadian import, Run Director, accorded early favoritism. A son of Kadabra, Run Director comes to Philly from Woodbine Mohawk Park, where he has been triumphant in two of three seasonal races, including a 1:52.2 mile in his last start. To be driven by David Miller for trainer Andrew Harris, Run Director at his best would be right there with Eurobond, Muscle M Up, and other top contenders. The Sunday card at Philly Sunday is so good that Western Joe and Rock The Devil, both of whom have won in sub-1:50 this year, are part of the undercard! Post time for the first event is set for 12:40 p.m. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia  

The winning streak of young trotter Ultimate Stride continued at Ascot Park yesterday. The quality three year old was having only his second start back after injury forced him to miss most of his three year old season. Driver Matthew Williamson took the Love You colt back early before getting into the one one. With 600 metres to run he changed up a few gears, hooked out and speared Ultimate Stride to the top, easily opening a massive gap in the field. He went down to the line to win by seven lengths. “He got a perfect trip, so everything fell into place. He’s got great manners and he’s exciting,” said trainer Phil Williamson. The time for the 2700 metre stand of 3-27.4 established a new track and Southland record, erasing The Fiery Ginga 2010 record of 3-30.6. The time was just 0.2 seconds outside the New Zealand record of 3-27.2 held by Heavyweight Hero. So how does Williamson rate him? “Nicest colt probably I’ve had but in saying that we did have Oscar Bonavena. He’s (Ultimate Stride) probably the best I’ve gone on with because we didn’t have Oscar for very long. There’s a bit of class there alright.” Williamson says the short term plans are fairly simple. “Keep the hell away from Brad (Son Brad Williamsons trotter Cracker Hill). We’re just on our own paths at the moment. It’ll be an exciting clash. It’s hard to believe you can have two such nice horses on the same property. I’m not keen on having a dual with him and he’s not that keen on having one with me either. If its $100,000 race it’ll be gloves off and see how it goes. At this stage we’re not going head to head for 10k.” The two targets for both trotters will be the $85,000 PGG Wrightson Final at Alexandra Park on October 9th and the Haras des Trottuers Sires Stakes Championship at Addington on October 16th. Ultimate Stride is out of the millionaire trotting mare One Over Kenny which won thirty two races. Bred by Lex and Heather Williams, One Over Kenny has been an outstanding broodmare. All of her seven foals of racing age have qualified and six have collectively won forty seven races. Her seventh foal One Over All is qualified, but unraced. One Over Kenny’s best foal One Over Da Moon won twenty races.   Bruce Stewart

The Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis trained Love On The Rocks continued his good form when he won again at the Southern Harness meeting at Ascot Park yesterday. The three year old settled back early, where he stayed until the 600 when driver Kirstin Barclay followed Nota Bene Denario up three wide. Reined up, Love On The Rocks finished strongly down the middle of the track to beat Nota Bene Denario by a length and a quarter. “He’s got a really good turn of foot but he’s a funny wee horse. You don’t know how well he’s winning because you’ve got to tell him to go. He’s not one that hooks out and just goes. You have to drive him a bit but he seems to get to the line well within himself,” Barclay said. It was the Terror To Love gelding’s third win in row, having only qualified in December. “He’s coming through his races really well. We have no real plans. He pulled up so well we might give him one more race and then give him a bit of a break. It’s hard to turn them out when they’re going so well.” Love On The Rocks is one of a small handful of horses trained at the Barclay/Ellis stable at Tisbury. Most of their horses are trained at Oreti Beach. “He didn’t go that well out there. He’s just a bit lazy. For some reason he just didn’t fire at the beach but not all horses do.” Barclay and Ellis with 26 winners, sit one win behind Nathan Williamson in the race to win the Southland Trainers Premiership.   Bruce Stewart

Bluff photographer Monica Toretto started earlier this month as the Southland Harness racing on-course photographer, and is enjoying her new role. Born in Holland, Monica came to New Zealand as an eleven year old. She’s been a professional photographer for eighteen years and has been in Southland for twelve years. She has a strong connection with both standardbreds and thoroughbreds, owning her first standardbred when she was just sixteen. “I’ve grown up with them and I just love them. There’s something about them,” she said. Monica lived in Canada and America for a while and has worked in stables in New Zealand. “I used to work for Doug Gale and Colin Jillings. Right throughout everything I’ve done I’ve always taken photos. While I was in America I injured my back and a friend of mine gave me her old camera, and it was my first digital camera. I worked on a big training farm there and I just went around taking photos of horses training.” During her time with Gale in the early 1990s he had horses like Perfect Byrd and San Sabriel in his stable. Both won eight races. She’s also adopted a standardbred named Duffle Bag (Noodlum-Western Innocence) the winner of five races for Gale. “I bought the mare and bred a horse called Satchel, then sold her as a package.” Monica is also the official photographer for the Southland Shark Basketball franchise and she takes photos at rugby, wrestling and football events. Fashion is another interest. “I went back to SIT and did a degree in fashion. I now do fashion photography. We’ve set up a whole bunch of models and photographers and do a whole bunch of shoots.” She had entered the Hokonui Fashion Awards this year, but unfortunately the competition had to be called off due to Covid-19. Monica posts her photos on her website and she puts a smaller selection on her Facebook page. “I found in America they just sell the prints. Then people can organise their own frames, depending on what they like and on their decor.” Monica’s website is www.monicatoretto.co.nz   Bruce Stewart

Two year old trotter Love N The Port created a good impression when he beat older horses on debut at Ascot Park yesterday. The Love You gelding driven by Matthew Williamson stepped nicely and trotted wide early before settling three back on the outside with stable mate Springbank Mason taking up the role of pacemaker. With 600 metres to run Williamson pulled the two year old out and moved him up to challenge Springbank Mason. The two went head to head until 50 metres from the finish line when Love N The Port proved too strong, going away to win by a length and a half. “He’s shown a bit at home and has been pretty impressive at the trials,” said trainer Phil Williamson who was confident of a strong showing. The time of 2-55.1 bettered the track and Southland record of 2-58.1 held by Majestic Connies. The New Zealand record of 2-52.7 is held by Russell Galleon. “He’ll go out now for a spell and come back and race at Christmas time. We’ll look at perhaps running in the Derby if all goes well. He’s got good stamina so there’s a chance he’ll be there if he’s that good a horse. We’re not getting too carried away, we want to see more but he is a quality horse.” Love N The Port is owned by Christchurch Architect Keith Ussher and wife Sylvia White who works at ARA (Christchurch Polytechnic) as an accountant. Keith says they’ve owned horses for over twenty years. “We haven’t had one as good as this one. He looks pretty promising but he’s still got to do it,” he said. Previous winners for the couple include Clovelly Beach (4) and Ace Of Hearts (3) and they currently race Arocknatthepark and The Flying Fijian from Mitchell Kerr’s stable. Keith doesn’t have any family connection with harness racing but Sylvia’s father Tom Roberts bred and raced horses including Lumumba (Light Brigade) which won five races for Broadfield trainer Jim Winter in the mid 1960s. Love N The Port is out of the four win Sundon mare Ngaire Margaret which won once for Brent Weaver and three times for Andrew Faulks. “She was a beautiful trotter but she had so many issues. She broke her leg early on. We ended up sending her south for beach training with Andrew.  We soon learned not to go down (to Forbury Park) – every time we went down she stuffed it up and when we didn’t go she won.” Usher says the journey with Love N The Port hasn’t always been plain sailing. “When we sent him down he was a colt and a bit of a handful. I think they almost considered sending him back at one stage. He was a bit of trouble but no worries now.” This is the first horse the couple have had with Williamson. “We can’t speak highly enough of him (Williamson). When this fella was young we could see he was a little beauty so we decided to send him to the best. The main person behind sending him south was Sylvia’s son Adam (well-known Canterbury farrier Adam White). Phil’s had him down there for about twelve months and he’s said all along that he’d never be a two year old because he was too big. He’s improved so much lately Phil thought he’d give him one race and then tip him out.” The win continued Williamson’s excellent form with trotters in the south. He’s won eight of the eighteen trotting races carded at Ascot Park post Covid19 and he looks set to once again achieve being New Zealands leading trainer of trotters by the end of the current season. He currently sits on thirty three wins, ten clear of Robert Dunn. Both his winners yesterday were by star trotting stallion Love You and Williamson has another promising type in Leaf Stride qualified and ready to go in the new season. “I backed off him because he’s a great big horse. He’s got good ability and is quite an exciting horse. He’s been a work in progress because there have been lot of issues through the early part of his career. We had a few concerns around his manners early on but we’ve worked hard on that with him.” Leaf Stride is out of a daughter of Merinai – Sun Mist, and Williamson says he’s looking at lining the horse up in September.   Bruce Stewart

Breeding authority Peter Wharton presents all the harness racing news on breeding from Australia, New Zealand and North America every Friday brought to you by Garrard’s Horse & Hound   Black Jack Baby is WA’s best When she won the $80,000 Westbred Classic at Gloucester Park last Friday, Black Jack Baby scored her seventh success, and she is entitled to be rated as this season’s top two-year-old filly in Western Australia. Earlier in the season, she won the Westsired 2YO Classic. From eight starts, she has won seven times and been once placed for $100,511 in stakes.  Black Jack Baby                                                               --Jodie Hallows photo   One of the second crop sired by the NZ and Australian 2YO of the Year Follow The Stars (son of Art Major), Black Jack Baby is out of the McArdle mare What A Card NZ (1:58.8), a half-sister to the prolific Perth winners Dundee Three 1:55.1 ($246,018) and Scruncher 1:54.9 ($137,002) and the Menangle winner BG Three 1:56.1 ($163,639). Their dam, Lady Butler, was unraced but she produced nine winners. She was a Butler B G mare from Deborah Lobell, a half-sister to the glamour NZ filly Adios Dream 1:58.4 ($167,597) and the Victoria Oaks heat winner OK Deb (1:58.1), the grand-dam of this season’s standout three-year-old filly Stylish Memphis 1:53.8 ($228,778). Another half-sister, Advance Debra, a NZ Sires Stakes 2YO champion, was the dam of the mighty Courage Under Fire, Christian Fire and the cups winner Advance Attack, the sire of the 2017 Westbred Classic victor Cott Beach.   Redcliffe Sales Classic to Manila Playboy Manila Playboy, the season’s latest two-year-old classic winner, in outstaying a handy field in the $100,750 Garrard’s Redcliffe Yearling Sale Final, gives the impression that he could develop into one of next season’s top three-year-olds. Manila Playboy                                                      --Dan Costello photo   Failing to reach the reserve when offered at the 2019 Redcliffe Yearling Sale, Manila Playboy is a well developed gelding by Pet Rock from the Paleface Adios Classic winner Bangkok Dancer (1:56.4), the dam also of the Albion Park winners Bangkok Bravado (1:55.5) and three-year-old Cheesandkisses (1:58). Their dam, Bangkok Dancer, is a P B Bullville mare from Killarney Beauty, by Caroldon Lehigh from Killarney Betty, by Stormyway. It is an interesting fact that there is a triple strain of Axworthy blood in Killarney Beauty (grand-dam of Manila Playboy), through both Caroldon Lehigh and Stormyway. Bangkok Dancer is a half-sister to Perfect Pegasus 1:55.7 ($150,702), the winner of 29 races including the Paleface Adios Classic, and the prolific Albion Park victor Courageous Cam 1:56 ($104,154). A top Brisbane free-for-aller from an earlier decade in Manila Lover Boy belongs to this family. He won 48 races including twelve at Albion Park and one at Harold Park.     They trace to the Bell Aurore family Give Us A Wave, the winner of the $80,000 Westbred Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park, and Zennart NZ, who scored at Menangle and won his way back to a NR111 mark, are both members of the noted family founded by the Bellman mare Bell Aurore.  Give Us A Wave                                                     --Jodie Hallows photo Give Us A Wave, who defeated a useful field in the Westbred, could well train on to become one of next season’s top two-year-olds.  By Mach Three, Give Us A Wave ranks as a half-brother to the WA Sires Stakes champions Truckers Ruffnut 1:56 ($249,770) and Tuxedo Tour 1:53.9 ($194,596), being out of the Safely Kept mare Royal Tour. He is her eleventh foal and eighth winner. Royal Tour, who was unraced, was out of Zenagain, by Soky’s Atom from the grand producer Zenover (by Bachelor Hanover), the dam of NZ 2YO of the Year Motoring Magic 1:57.5 ($366,395), Interchange ($116,495) and top juvenile trotter in Zebec. Zennart, who has won 14 races to date and $156,132, is an eight-year-old Art Major entire from the Holmes Hanover mare Zena Hanover, who left others in Highview Ember 1:53.3 ($122,798) and Zena’s Art 1:55.8 ($100,298). Zena Hanover was a half-sister to six winners including the NSW Star Trek winner Zena Zara, being out Zentua, by Tuapeka Knight from the trotting mare Now And Zen, a half-sister to Zenagain, the second dam of Give Us A Wave.  Champion NZ pacer Elsu, Tintin In America (Harness Jewels 3YO and 4YO), Copper Beach, the dual Oaks winner De Lovely, Albert Jaccka, Revonez (NZ 2YO Ch’ship), Jack Farthing (1:50.6) and others all belong to Zenover’s branch of the family.   Won Frith Stakes The Camden mare Black Silhouette, who hoisted a fresh lifetime mark of 1:50.5 when she won the Group 3 Frith Stakes at Menangle, is a member of one of NZ’s top ranking standardbred families. Black Silhouette, who has won 15 races and $178,615 in stakes, is a five-year-old by the Little Brown Jug winner Shadow Play, who stood at Alabar Bloodstock in Victoria and has since returned to North America. Shadow Play has been most successful in Australia. His stock include the Victorian ‘Cups King’ Shadow Sax, a winner of three Group 1 races, Our Triple Play and Callmequeenbee. Black Silhouette is a half-sister to Ray’s Choice 1:50.5 ($123,929) and the Golden Easter Egg winner Our Antonio Rose, being out of The Coldstream, by Courage Under Fire from Lanoch, a NZ bred mare by New York Motoring from the Vance Hanover mare Heathland and tracing to the taproot Bright Alice. Lanoch was the dam of a top ranking pacer in Lanercost (1:52.5), a dual Derby winner of $509,121, Ballochbuuie 1:53.5 ($154,235), Ohoka Darcy 1:56.1 ($141,751), Get Outta Eyre 1:52 ($123,270) and the Sands A Flyin mare Hawthorne, dam of Our Missionary Man 1:53 ($214,978). At the last APG Sydney sale a gelding by Somebeachsomewhere from The Coldstream was purchased by Paul Fitzpatrick for $47,500.   Albion Park winners closely related The three-year-olds Good As It Gets and Signor Jujon – both by Mr Feelgood - and the two-year-old Frontliner (by Captaintreacherous), who all won on the same night at Albion Park recently, are members of the same family. All bred by Kevin and Kaye Seymour they trace back to the King Creed mare Browngate Girl, the dam of six individual winners and the founder of a great winning line of classic and cup winners. Good As It Gets, who has won his last three starts, is out the champion racemare Good Lookin Girl 1:53.7 ($361,445), by Perfect Art from the Oaks winner Goldrush Girl TT1:55.3 ($151,619), by Transport Chip from the Tempest Hanover mare Call Girl. The winner of three races to date, Signor Jujon is from the P B Bullville mare Red Red Robin whose dam, Red River Queen (by Riverboat King), is a grand-daughter of Call Girl. Frontliner, the winner of three of his seven starts, is out of French Charm, by Art Major from the noted producer Faith Prevails (1:58.1), a Fake Left mare from the multiple Group winner Girl From Ipanema (1:57.6), a half-sister to Good Lookin Girl, the dam of Good As It Gets.   A star from One Dream A star four-year-old in Queensland so far this season Sole Ambition, who was bred by Jill Smolenski and owned by Tumby Park. Sole Ambition                                                       --Dan Costello photo A gelding by Bettor’s Delight, he is out of a champion racemare in One Dream 1:56.7 ($846,467) and the third of her produce to win. He won the Redcliffe Gold Cup last Saturday and looks a four-year-old with the potential one would expect of his breeding.   Brothers win at Launceston It was no mean feat for the full brothers Stormy Sanz and Colby Sanz to win on the same night at the recent Launceston twilight meeting. Both are by the Bettor’s Delight horse Betterthancheddar (a promising sire of juveniles) and were bred and raced by Nathan and Sandra Bennett. Soho Summer, the dam of Stormy Sanz and Colby Sanz, was out of a capable racemare in Lombo Portrait, who took a record of 1:59.9 and earned $94,998. Besides Soho Summer, she was also the dam of Soho Monroe (1:57.4), a Gloucester Park winner at 2 and 3, Portly Mach (1:57.8) and to the Western Terror mare Soho Bordeaux, dam of Australia’s fastest ever female pacer Soho Burning Love (1:48.8) and Persimmon (1:50.2). Lombo Portrait was out a Breeders Crown and Oaks winner in Lombo Adreamin, who had a record of 1:56.8 and won 10 races at Moonee Valley. She was a half-sister to eight winners including Tosca Lombo 1:59.5 ($110,695) and Carbon Crest 1:59, who won 12.    Lost 50 metres – and won! Highlight of the Melton meeting last Saturday was turned on by the trotter Imsettogo, who broke soon after the start and gave the leaders 50 metres start. Imsettogo                                                                       --Stuart McCormick photo   With 1800 metres to run she was still 30 metres from the leaders, and her chance could have been written off. But Imsettogo joined the main body of the field, mounted a stomping run at the 600 metre mark to reach the front in the home straight and then careered away to win by 17 metres. Imsettogo’s performance was an amazing one in every respect. She is a daughter of the French bred horse Used To Me, a top trotter in his own right and who now stands at Haras Des Trotteurs, Ballarat (Vic.). Im Ready Set (Tr 1:56.6), the race-winning dam of Imsettogo, is a Monarchy mare out of Diedre’s Best (by Meadow Roydon), a half-sister to a fine straightout trotter in Diedre’s Pride. Other members of this family have been Conon Bridge and Hurricane Flyer, both Breeders Crown champions, the dual NZ Trotter of the Year Monbet, Sunny Ruby (Harness Jewels), Aldebaran Eve (Vicbred 3YO and 4YO Finals), Destiny Jones, Sunoflindenny and the successful sire Thanksgiving. Imsettogo ranks as a half-sister to last year’s Breeders Crown 2YO Final winner Im Ready Jet Tr 1:55.6 ($100,940).    Broodmare double The Christian Cullen mare Czarina Katerina left winners in both hemispheres last week. Stormont Star, a six-year-old gelding by For A Reason, won in Hobart, while Stormont Czar (by Bettor’s Delight) won in 1:52.2 at Pocono Downs, Pennsylvania. Stormont Czar holds a mark of 1:50.8. Czarina Katerina has left four sub 2:00 winners from five starters including Bronski Belle (1:51.8), a prolific winner at Menangle. She is being bred from by Romsey horseman Geoff Dodd.   by Peter Wharton

Three harness racing clubs, Manawatu, Timaru and Forbury, have been given a lifeline for the 2020-21 season. When Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) announced their proposed new season programme recently, all three clubs had been dropped from the schedule. However, following submissions from the clubs and amendments from HRNZ, RITA (Racing Industry Transition Agency) has decided to give the Forbury club 10 dates, Manawatu six and Timaru three. Phil Holden, Acting CEO for HRNZ, said that the board has been taken by surprise by RITA’s announcement, as it included major changes to the final programme that HRNZ submitted. “The board was impressed by the depth and quality of the submissions made by the clubs and the willingness of clubs, especially those in the Central Districts, led by Manawatu HRC, to engage positively and attempt to put forward a collaborative and revitalised approach”. “However, we believe our initial thoughts on Forbury Park and Timaru were correct and in our final submissions back to RITA we did not include them in next season’s programmes,” he said. From the proposed new season calendar released to the industry on 15 May, Invercargill will lose five meetings and Addington three to accommodate Forbury, and Addington will lose a further three to Timaru. The new calendar will race at 25 venues in the 2020-21 season, down from 31 in the current year, with the number of meetings dropping from 260 (originally programmed for this season) to 257. The venues missing from last season are Wyndham, Hawera, Taranaki, Stratford, Waimate and Geraldine. HRNZ’s proposed programme was aimed at improving wagering income by racing more often at the higher performing venues, better aligning meetings with the regional horse population and helping reduce servicing costs with the fewer number of venues. This new programme remains a work in progress and HRNZ is committed to working alongside RITA as this new era unfolds. “Every club will be under close scrutiny throughout the 2020-21 season and their performances will influence the following year’s programme. This new calendar will also give clubs time in which to develop their own regional development plans as requested by RITA,” he said. A summary of the changes in the programme confirmed by RITA include: Manawatu Harness Racing Club/Central Districts Racing Clubs To add six, 8-race programmes, plus four four-race dual code twilight meetings held in conjunction with the Palmerston North Greyhound Racing Club. HRNZ also supports having a 4-race programme as a dual code meeting with the Wairarapa RC at Tauherenikau and the Kapiti Coast HRC having a 4-race programme as a dual code meeting with the Otaki-Maori RC at Otaki. These dates will form part of an initial single season review package of meetings and trials for the Central Districts/Taranaki Clubs which will be rigorously reviewed. Forbury Park Forbury will hold 10 meetings, nine at Forbury and one at Wingatui. Timaru Harness Racing Club Timaru will hold three daylight meetings. Southland Harness Racing Clubs Wyndham – There will be no racing at the Wyndham Racecourse, with the meetings being reallocated.  The club retains its summer meeting on 6 January at Cromwell. Gore - Gore Harness Racing Club will race on December 27th on the grass at Gore. All other dates are reallocated. Roxburgh - Roxburgh TC will retain its meeting at the Roxburgh Racecourse on January 4. Westport and Reefton Trotting Clubs Westport TC (12 March twilight) and Reefton TC (14 March day) will retain their meetings. Nelson and Marlborough Harness Racing Clubs Marlborough HRC will retain its summer meetings on the 15 January twilight and 17 January day meetings while the June Winter dates for the Nelson HRC have not been reinstated but the summer dates of January 8 and 10 will continue. To read HRNZ's full submission click here To read RITA's dates release click here For more information, please contact: Ken Spicer, Chair, HRNZ board@hrnz.co.nz                                                               Phil Holden, Acting Chief Executive, HRNZ phil.holden@hrnz.co.nz 027 467 1670

By Jonny Turner    Powerful wins by three-year-olds Love On The Rocks and As Sweet As Honey at Ascot Park on Thursday came at just the right time. Love On The Rocks confirmed his status of Southland’s late season star when producing a sweeping finish to win race 10. For the second consecutive start the Terror To Love pacer made light work of stepping up from his previous win to race more seasoned opposition. Having the whole field in front of him at the 800m did not prove too much of a hindrance as co-trainer and driver Kirstin Barclay angled Love On The Rocks to the outside before the turn, where he unleashed a brilliant turn of speed. The victory gave the pacer Barclay co-trains with Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis a hat-trick of post-lockdown wins. Yesterday’s win came just days after the Southern Harness Racing organisation announced it would re-run its two and three-year-old features, which were put on hold during harness racing’s recent shut down. Though their revival has been confirmed, It has not yet been known when the Group 2 Southern Supremacy Stakes Final, Group 2 Southland Oaks and Group 3 two-year-old Classics will be held. Love On The Rocks was not the only pacer who looked like a serious challenger in those upcoming events yesterday. Canterbury filly As Sweet As Honey took her first step towards qualifying for the Southland Oaks final with her win in race 9. Driver Blair Orange took no chances with the favourite, getting her away from the inner from her barrier one on the second row draw, shortly after the start. Orange took the Mitchell Kerr trained pacer around the field with a lap to go, before she ran away from her rivals to score by two and a half lengths. Fellow Canterbury filly Savvy Bromac also put herself in Southland Oaks contention with her win in Race 5. The victory came after another three-year-old Longueval boosted his Southern Supremacy Stakes hopes with long awaited maiden victory in race 6. Arguably the most impressive victory at Ascot Park yesterday came from a trotter that could not contest one of Southland’s upcoming three-year-old feature races. Though his performance yesterday and the speed at which he burst away from his opposition suggested he would not disgrace himself if he ever lined up against pacers. Ultimate Stride produced a faultless and emphatic victory in race 11. Driver Matthew Williamson barely asked the blueblood three-year-old for an effort as he charged away from his older rivals to win race 11. Though Ultimate Stride does not have any Southern features on his radar, he has targets further north. The Phil Williamson trained three-year-old will be a serious contender in the Sales Series Final on October 9 and Sires Stakes Championship on October 23.       Both races will be held at Alexandra Park.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

More than 1,000 race meetings at 51 venues throughout New Zealand were confirmed today by the Dates Committee of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) for the forthcoming racing year. The racing calendar, which covers the period from 1 August 2020 to 31 July 2021, follows consultation with the three racing codes, clubs and other recognised racing organisations of a revised draft racing calendar that reflected the impact of Covid19 on the industry and the critical need for racing industry reform. The final programme of racing includes a number of changes from the draft calendar following careful consideration of 100 submissions which covered feedback on a range of topics from scheduling changes to the allocation of racing dates. The key changes in the final calendar are: Increased number of Thoroughbred meetings from 273 to 278 and Harness meetings from 246 to 257 (including dual meetings). Greyhound meetings increase from 459 to 478 with new six race programs at Forbury and Ascot Park Conditional reintroduction of five dates to Avondale Jockey Club and ten dates to Forbury Park contingent on the development of regional racing plans before 31 December 2020 Reintroduction of harness dates at Manawatu Raceway, Gore, Tauherenikau, Otaki, Roxburgh, Blenheim and Timaru venues Venues that were scheduled to have no racing in the draft but now will are; Avondale, Forbury, Blenheim and Roxburgh Marlborough (January) and West Coast (March) Harness dates reinstated RITA Dates Committee Chair, Edward Rennell said the final calendar was intended to maximise the benefit for the thousands of New Zealaders who rely on racing for their livelihoods. "The significant effort, attention and passion that went into the submissions enabled RITA to develop a final calendar which we believe meets the immediate needs of racing next year and provides scope for the industry to address the critical need for venue intensification. "Many of the submissions provided thoughtful and constructive feedback on specific issues in the original draft, however there was also general recognition that ongoing changes to the calendar were required. In several cases suggestions were put forward to develop solutions that are in the best interest of sustaining racing in regions," says Rennell. Licences allocated to the Avondale JC and Forbury Park TC are conditional on regional reviews of racing in the Auckland and Dunedin districts being completed by 31 December 2020. This will allow the recommended outcomes of these reviews to be considered prior to the allocation of dates for the 21/22 season. RITA will also engage with the codes to ensure greater alignment with their future venue plans, including encouraging regional reviews to be undertaken in the Tasman, Mid Canterbury to North Otago and Southland regions. The calendar is also based on delivering racing in an efficient manner to maximise returns to the industry. Changes to the draft calendar allow for increased dual race meetings, highlighted by the addition of Central Districts harness and Otago/Southland greyhound meetings. "The development of regional plans for domestic racing will not only provide certainty for clubs and venues, it will also help strengthen the viability of the industry in New Zealand's regions. The Committee strongly encourages all racing codes and clubs to have well-formed plans in place prior to the commencement of consultation later this year on the 2021/22 racing calendar," says Rennell. "In allocating dates for the year, the Committee's focus has been to deliver a schedule that maximises the benefit for the entire racing industry, while also reflecting the unprecedented and ongoing impact of Covid19." Venues which have not been allocated meeting dates in 2020/21 are; Gisborne, Orari, Stratford, Te Awamutu, Te Teko, Waikouaiti, Waimate, Waipukurau, Wairoa and Wyndham. The Dates Committee is required under the Racing Industry Act to set the racing calendar to comprise all of the dates in the subsequent racing year on which betting races will occur. Aspects relating to the ongoing use of venues is now subject to a clear legislative process as part of the Racing Industry Act 2020 and aligned with the intent of the new Code-led model established by the Act.   Racing Industry Transition Agency

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