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STAR filly Dr Susan added some serious Kiwi flavour to Bathurst’s huge Gold Crown night, but not without a scare. Just as she did in the Victoria Oaks, the Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon-trained filly galloped in the score-up and caused a false start. Thankfully, she got everything right in the Victoria Oaks and did the same at take-two at Bathurst when she surged through from the pole to hold the lead. That was effectively the race because driver Anthony Butt then rated things to his own terms in front then fended off a challenge from Amelia Rose and later Vincenzina to win easily. It’s continued a fantastic Aussie campaign for Dr Susan (Bettors Delight - Safredra - Mach Three). Her eight runs over here have netted six wins, a second and a fourth. She’s earned over $200,000 during the raid. Butt just missed a Group 1 double when former Kiwi pacer Perfect Stride was just edged-out by the much-improved Focus Stride in the Gold Chalice for three-year-old colts and geldings. It continued Perfect Stride’s frustrating run of minor placings in major races after his Victoria and NSW Derby placings. Perfect Stride had to burn to hold the front, copped some midrace pressure and was out-slugged by Focus Stride in slick 1: 55.7sec mile rate for 2260m. It was a big result for leviathan owner Emilio Rosati, who owns the first two. Focus Stride (Art Major - Sparkling Stride - Christian Cullen), trained and driven in Victoria by David Miles, managed just one placings from 11 runs as a two-year-old, but has gone to a new level this term with seven starts netting six wins and a second. Miles put the improvement down to having Focus Stride gelded. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ WHEN Victorian owner Danny Zavitsanos won last November’s NZ Cup with Cruz Bromac he threw Mark Purdon in the air after the race. He’s have done the same with the first person he saw if Covid-19 restrictions didn’t keep him away from Bathurst last night to watch his two-year-old filly Joanna win the Group 1 Gold Tiara final. “This is a fairytale come true,” he said. “Bathurst means so much to me. I won a consolation with one of the first horses I ever bought, Jodila in 2012 and I’ve gone back every year trying to win one of the big ones. “Add to it we’ve named this filly after Joanna (Danny’s wife) and it’s just the most amazing feeling.” Joanna led, copped plenty of midrace pressure from a headstrong Orchid Stride, and just kept finding to win in fantastic style for driver Amanda Turnbull and trainer Emma Stewart. Such was the pressure, Joanna (Somebeachsomewhere - Replem - Dream Away) took a full second off the class record with a 1min53.7sec mile rate for 1730m. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ BRIAN Portelli’s fairytale ride continued at Bathurst last night. Portelli was on cloud nine after his Bettors Delight colt Tasty Delight scored an upset win in the Group 2 Sapling Stakes at Menangle on March 7. It took him three weeks to raise the bar. Tasty Delight overcome a tricky draw and the hardest run in the race to win the Group 1 Gold Crown final. Hot favourite Lochinvar Chief led and dictated, but just when he looked set for victory, he started to wilt and Tasty Delight raised another effort after sitting parked. Tasty Delight grabbed victory right on the line from Lochinvar Chief with Clayton Tonkin’s Idyllic roaring home from a mile back for an eye-catching third.   By Adam Hamilton

Dr Susan has become that filly with the habit of being in the right place at the right time. Today that right place is NOT in New Zealand. The Cran Dalgety-Nathan Purdon trained filly is a red hot favourite to give Kiwi harness fans something to smile about in the A$100,000 Gold Bracelet Final at Bathurst tonight (9.50pm NZ time). Which is pretty much how 2020 has gone for her: right place, right time. She left New Zealand soon after her Sires’ Stakes third to Amazing Dream on December 31, an ambitious call considering she wasn’t one of the leading fillies in the country and an extended Australian campaign is anything but cheap. But it has proved to be a masterstroke by the Canterbury trainers as Dr Susan has kept improving and kept getting the right draws. After an easy win at Menangle to kick off her Australian campaign she followed a Victoria Oaks heat second with a win in the classic. That was largely due to drawing better than arch rival Stylish Memphis and leading throughout, although not without a score-up gallop that caused a false start. She then returned to Menangle to win her NSW Oaks heat before a brave but luckless run in the Final, won by Stylish Memphis. And while the latter headed home to New Zealand and ultimately the spelling paddock along with almost every other horse in this country Dr Susan stayed in Australia where harness racing continues for now. Just to continue her theme of being in the the right place at the right time, she has barrier one in her three-year-old fillies final tonight and driver Anthony is supremely confident of another major win. “She has been quite remarkable since she got here,” says Butt. “She has just got better and better and she hasn’t even looked like getting tired. She is loving it and to be honest she really should win again. “She has good gate speed and I think she will lead all the way.” While New Zealand harness racing fans don’t have a whole heap to get enthused about at home it is still gratifying to see our horses winning serious races in Australia, even if is does leave us more than a touch envious. And Butt could combine with another of those when Perfect Stride contests the A$100,000 Gold Chalice Final for three-year-old boys (10.53pm NZ time). He has been consistent in both the Vic and NSW Derby series over the last two months and also gets the ace draw tonight. “He has good gate speed so will go close to leading but there is a bit of speed outside him from Crunch Time so if he crossed up things might get a little more interesting. “But I still think he is the best horse here.” Butts realises how lucky Australian harness racing is to be continuing with all his friends back home sidelined and he says the protocol measures there are being strictly adhered to. “We realise we have a roll to play and I can see us breaking into regions and a place like Menangle will be ideal for one-track racing two or three times a week so we can keep racing going without the risks of travelling. “So we are hoping we can race on through.”   Michael Guerin

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.   Crack colt by Alta Christiano A two-year-old to take high ranking in Western Australia was Mighty Ronaldo, one of the third crop sired by Alta Christiano, who is now at Luke Primmer’s stud at Young (NSW).   Having only his third start, he won the $25,000 Western Crown at Gloucester Park by open lengths in 1:59.3 and appears every bit as good as the Sandgropers rate him.   Mighty Ronaldo                                                        --Jodie Hallows photo   Mighty Ronaldo is out of Millwood’s Delight (1:57), by Bettor’s Delight from a useful racemare in Gliding By (1:57.4), by Vance Hanover from Significant, by Out To Win from the Scottish Command mare Black Watch, a top racemare and cups winner. This was the family founded by the NZ bred mare Regina.   From the Black Watch branch of it and to which Mighty Ronaldo belongs, others in Chicago Bull, Arden Rooney, Rocknroll Lincoln, Keayang Cullen, Katy Perry, Lauraelle, The Unicorn and Sovereign Hill – all Group 1 winners - also belong.       Siblings win in Victoria Two of Victoria’s most promising youngsters at present, and both winners last weekend, are Pacifico Dream and Momentslikethese.   Both bred by Harvey Kaplan and trained by Emma Stewart are out of Mint Julep, an unraced daughter of Presidential Ball and the champion racemare Jadah Rose (1:49.6).   Pacifico Dream                                                   --Stuart McCormick photo   Pacifico Dream, a three-year-old colt by Mach Three, won the Group 3 $40,000 Victoria Sires Classic at Melton and has won five of his 10 starts to date, while Momentslikethese, a two- year-old filly by Art Major, won impressively on debut at Maryborough.   Mint Julep, the dam of Pacifico Dream and Momentslikethese, was a half-sister to the former ‘Cups King’ Guaranteed 1:50.4 ($856,316), now at Goodtime Lodge stud in Victoria, and Jadahson 1:53.9 ($277,390).     Cruz in 1:49.9 Cruz, who hoisted a fresh lifetime record of 1:49.9 leading from end to end at Menangle, is an American Ideal gelding from the same family as that which produced a top NSW pacer in Yayas Hot Spot.     Cruz, who was bred in NZ by Helen Hayward, did most of his early racing in Victoria before transferring to Craig Cross’s Cobbitty barn in June 2019. He has now won 23 races and $210,407 in stakes.   A tough customer, Cruz is a six-year-old brother to the SA Golden Nursery winner Elijah (1:58.3) and the Gloucester Park winners Heavens Delight 1:55.9 ($105,697), Macheaven (1:55.8) and Ucanttakeitwithu (1:56.4), being out of a handy racemare in Close To Heaven (2:00.1), by the Abercrombie horse Dare You To, a world champion and Inter Dominion heat winner.   Close To Heaven, who won seven races and $55,428, left eight winners, six of whom took records of 2:00 or better. She was out of Spaxton Rebel (2:00), by Clever Innocence from Spaxton Hanover, by the Auckland and Hunter Cup winner Waitaki Hanover from the Young Charles mare Pretender, a half-sister to the NZ Oaks winner Local Lie.   Cruz was the first of two winners at Menangle sired by American Ideal, the other being The Texas Ranger who rated 1:57.4 over 2300 metres. American Ideal also figured as the damsire of a third winner, Makoa (by Art Major).       Won NZ Flying Stakes Copy That, who is proving himself a three-year-old of some worth in the Auckland area, tasted Group success in the $47,000 Vero Flying Stakes at Addington, beating a very good three-year-old in One Change (by Bettor’s Delight) and Minstrel (by Rocknroll Hanover).   Bought for a six figure amount as a late two-year-old, Copy That has now won eight races and been placed five times placed from 18 starts for $113,900 in stakes. Earlier in the season he won the Alabar 3YO Classic and was runner-up in the Sires’ Stakes Final and Northern Derby.   A colt by the Western Ideal horse American Ideal (now at the stud in Victoria), Copy That is from the Live Or Die mare Lively Nights 1:57.4 (7 wins), and the first of her produce to race.   She was out of White Nights (dam of three in 2:00), by Road Machine from B G Star, by Butler B G from the Mercedes mare Proud Star, a half-sister to the Cardigan Bay Stakes winner Top Vance.   This is the immediate family of Christopher Vance and Luxury Liner, both NZ Cup winners, Surprise Package (A. G. Hunter Cup), Napoleon and this year’s WA Pacing Cup winner Mighty Conqueror.       Eighth winner from broodmare When the American Ideal three-year-old The Code Breaker won at Northam last Saturday, he credited his dam Alldatglittersisgold with her eighth individual winner. The Code Breaker, who cost $72,500 as a yearling, had been placed at its previous outing four days earlier.   Others from Alldatglitterisgold to win have been the Hunter Cup and Victoria Cup winner Bling It On 1:50.2 ($1.8 million), the Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling 1:50.5 ($854,490), Bletchley Park 1:53.6 ($186,200), Hectic 1:56.7 ($97,745), Show Me The Bling (1:53.1), Blingittothemax (1:55.3), My Apache Gold and now The Code Breaker.   Alldatglittersisgold, who is now in her 20 th year, has since produced a yearling colt by American Ideal and a weanling colt by him.   A dual Broodmare of the Year, Alldatglittersisgold was a Caprock mare from Glitter, by Lordship from Sandra Del, by Armbro Del from Mist Ahead, who founded a very strong branch of the Wild Lass family.     Grandson of Oaxaca Lass A bright future is being predicted for the American Ideal six-year-old Kardesler NZ, whose success at Cobram last week was his third winning run from five starts on Australian soil.   He has a good deal in his favour on the score of blood. Apart from being by American Ideal, Kardesler is out of the Presidential Ball mare Kusadasi, a daughter of the champion racemare Oaxaca Lass (by Holmes Hanover). Oaxaca Lass, who won four Group 1 races and $426,585 in stakes, became the dam of winners in Condrieu 1:51.5 ($269,520), a multiple Listed winner in Australia, the top Tasmanian pacer Illegal Immigrant 1:55.2 ($143,836), Intrepid Traveller (1:54.8) and Weka Lass, the dam of the talented Victorian racemare Reciprocity 1:53 ($158,400).   The family traces back through mares by Ok Bye, Smooth Fella, Garrison Hanover, Light Brigade and Grattan Loyal to the noted foundation mare Tondeleyo. Recent winners from this family include the NSW Ladyship Mile winner Bettor’s Heart, Krug (Cardigan Bay Stakes), Micton Mouse (Tas. Derby), Be Jacks Legend (Cambridge Futurity) and the Breeders Crown champion Wrapper’s Delight.       SA Oaks winner’s breeding background Final Peace, who won her fourth race in the South Australian Oaks at Globe Derby Park, is by the Cam’s Card Shark horse Village Jolt, sire of a top racemare in Keayang Ebonyrose.   Final Peace is out of Peaces Of You (1:57.2), a winner of 12 races and $97,791, and is her only foal. By Peace Of Art (a 1:52 son of Artsplace), Peaces Of You was a half-sister to Forever And A Day 1:57.6 ($10 wins) and a member of the same family as the Derby winners in Carol Dillon and Exemplify (trotter) and a smart racemare in Lady Belladonna. Final Peace is a member of David Murphy’s Ballarat team.     Renaissance Man for Riverina The Art Major horse Renaissance Man has been relocated to the Riverina where he is to do stud duty. He will stand at Yirribee Pacing Stud where Lazarus, Tintin In America, Lennytheshark, Million Dollar Cam and Fear The Dragon head a select sire list.   Renaissance Man has been lightly used at the stud in Western Australia since he finished racing, and the oldest of his stock are currently racing as four-year-olds. From his first crop of 27 foals, 11 have raced and nine have been successful including the WA Country Oaks winner My Prayer 1:58.4 ($81,617), the Gloucester Park winner Yo Te Amo Haitch, Ourboybart (1:57.8), the Melton three-year-old winner Disclosure (1:56.5) and Another Snag (1:55.1)     His second crop includes the Westbred 2YO Classic winner Fifty Five Reborn (1:57.9) and the Group 2 placegetter Missbillynotsilly (1:58.6) and Medieval Man (1:58.8).   A particularly well bred horse, Renaissance Man is by Art Major from a smart racemare in My Ami Lee, the dam also of good winners in Louvre 1:54.5 ($402,665), the Oaks winner Miss Hazel 1:57 ($310,063) and My General Lee 1:52.2 ($261,897).   My Ami Lee was by Safely Kept from Cosmophylla, by Thor Hanover from the Entrepreneur mare Calophylla, who established a good winning family.   Renaissance Man proved himself a brilliant pacer on his day, taking a mile record of 1:53.1 and winning 18 races including the NSW Sires Stakes 2YO Final, the Victoria Youthful Stakes and the SA Derby. He finished up with a stake tally of $297,904.     Broodmare double Former pacing queen Foreal left important winners on either side of the Tasman last Saturday.   Im Field Marshal (by Art Major) won in Free-for-all company in 1:51.1 at Menangle, while his three-year-old brother Forsure registered his first success in 1:56.2 at Winton.   Forsure winning at Winton   Foreal, an Inter Dominion and dual Oaks winner, left earlier winners in Im Rocknroll Magic (1:51.1), a multiple Menangle winner, and the exported Madiba (1:51.4).     Half-brother to Terror To Love The four-year-old Well Said Love, who won at the opening day of the Forbury Park club’s meeting at Wingatui, ranks as a half-brother to the triple NZ Cup winner and dual Horse of the Year Terror To Love, now making a name for himself as a sire.     Bred and part-owned by Terry McDonald, Well Said Love, by the Western Hanover horse Well Said, is out of Love To Live, a Live Or Die mare from Michael’s Magic, by Michael Jonathan (son of Albatross) from the Tarport Coulter mare Dream Star.   Well Said Love is the twelfth foal of Love To Live, whose family includes the good Australian winners Bad All Over 1:56.3 ($126,444) and Cee J P (1:57.8) and the NZ winner Mach’s Love (1:58), the dam of recent Menangle three-year-old winner and Simpson Sprint runner-up Mach Da Vinci (1:51.3).   An unraced daughter of Love To Live in Spred It Round (by Soky’s Atom) became the dam of the prolific Gloucester Park winner Bad Round 1:56.8 ($162,165).     By Ready Cash Always Ready, a four-year-old by the French horse Ready Cash from the Yankee Paco mare Class Of Her Own (a half-sister to a champion trotter in Let Me Thru), was one of the best his age at two but did not race last season.   But the Ready Cash entire has proved himself to some purpose in his four-year-old racing, winning twice at Ballarat – both by wide margins - from his only two attempts.   Always Ready has won six of his 10 lifetime starts for $107,880 in stakes and holds a mark of 2:00.6. He is a very good young trotter.       by Peter Wharton

Muscle Hill sired Group/Listed winners on either side of the Tasman last Friday (March 20). Star three-year-old filly Vacation Hill, after being eighth at the bell and three deep for the last 700 metres, proved too strong in the Group 2 $50,000 NZ Trotting Oaks at Addington. Tailored Elegance (by Muscle Hill) was a close third. The mile rate was 1:59.7 - the last 800 in a stunning 57.9 and 400 in 28.5. Vacation Hill has won two races and been five times placed from 12 starts for $41,622 in stakes. Bred by Bruce Hutton, the filly is out of the Dream Vacation mare Vacanza Tr 1:59.8 (5 wins) and her first produce to race. Vacation Hill winning at Addington Elite Stride, a three-year-old colt by Muscle Hill, blitzed his opposition in the Gold Coronet at Bathurst. After settling down third, the brilliant colt was sent to the top in the back straight and won as he liked by 12 metres. Fox Trot Hill (by Muscle Hill) finished third. The mile rate was 1:58.1 with the last two fractions in 28.8 and 28.9. Elite Stride winning at Bathurst The winner of four of his five starts, Elite Stride was bred and is raced by Emilio and Mary Rosati and is the first foal of the American-bred mare Real Babe USA Tr 1:52.4 ($386,103). He is a really good youngster. Muscle Hill is one of the strong Stallions Australasia frozen semen roster.   By Peter Wharton

COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Updated Order and Direction – New MPI Guidelines Regarding the Care of Horses as an Essential Activity. MPI has clarified this afternoon their expectations regarding the feeding, care and exercise of horses, while New Zealand is on Alert Level 4. Specifically the Manager of the MPI Animal Welfare has said via email today “we would be urging all horses to be agisted in order to lower the risk of spread – we understand this is happening already. I hope we can take care of this through the registration process, but I wanted to make sure it is clear” The updated Order and Direction reflects this new advice and it is imperative that all licensees understand the importance of adhering to this directive. The Order and Direction is updated as follows, 1.0 Whilst this Directive includes within its provisions the ability to exercise horses, this is permitted only where it is needed to ensure the continued welfare of the horse. 2.0 Light exercise of a horse is permitted only when: 2.1 The trainer is unable to identify a suitable agistment property or spelling paddock for the horse with that has capability to accept the horse. Relocation of horses to an agistment property is permitted within clause 12); 2.2 The horse is boxed, or is contained in a small paddock or yard due to there being no suitable yards or paddocks on the trainer’s facility; and 2.3 The stable lacks a horse walker or treadmill. 3.0 If light exercise is justified to ensure the continued welfare of a horse, the trainer must ensure that fast work is not undertaken. 4.0 Breaking, gaiting, and education of young horses is also not a permitted activity, unless required to protect the safety of the young horse or staff. Clearly, this new development will mean that racing will not resume until sometime after the Alert Level 4 is lifted by the Government, as there will not be sufficient horses available to conduct race meetings. We understand the impact that this will have on everyone associated with harness racing. The thoroughbred code is equally affected. The communication shared with you yesterday on this issue was done so in good faith and with all the information we had to hand, however the situation, which is not one of any of our making, has now changed and we implore all licensees to comply. Should you require any clarification of any of the above, please contact Darrin Williams, Liz Bishop or Peter Jensen at HRNZ.   https://southernharness.co.nz/

With the government’s announcement that the country is to go into lock-down due to the COVID-19 virus, NZB Standardbred has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 All Age Sale, scheduled to be held at Karaka on Monday 4 May. “With the recent developments that affect the entire country it is clear that we cannot operate public auctions at this time” commented Director and Operations Manager, James Jennings. “It is important to provide clarity for vendors and buyers during this period of uncertainty, with the intention of having a viable alternative to sell weanlings and other stock within the usual trading period on our subsidiary online auction platform gavelhouse.com. “Making the call now will allow a timeframe for adaption to the platform and for promotion of the online sale.” At this stage, gavelhouse.com will go ahead with their upcoming auctions, however there will be some factors to bear in mind as the COVID-19 situation is progressing rapidly. The next online auction for gavelhouse.com Standardbred will be 27 May with entries due by 20 May. For more information or to enter your stock in the gavelhouse.com online auction, visit https://standardbred.gavelhouse.com/.    

Some horse racing trainers are moving quickly to accommodate the horse welfare lifeline the industry has been granted. And that could have the bonus of having racing ready to resume in New Zealand not long after the country returns to Covid-19 alert level 3. Horse and dog racing has been stopped since Monday and can obviously not continue at Level 4 so like most other industries is in limbo. But the three race codes have worked with the Ministry of Primary Industries to ensure stables, farms and training tracks can stay working, with strict protocols, to ensure animal welfare. That will mean trainers and stud farms with more than five staff members or those that can not achieve social distancing need to register with the MPI so they can continue to work. They will able to do so under strict protocols, including no non-working visitors, but it will mean horses and dogs can be fed, exercised, undergo veterinary work and their stables and kennels kept clean. Some high-profile trainers have already decided they would rather shut their businesses down for a variety of reasons from health concerns, staffing levels, economics or their own personal opinions on how Covid-19 restrictions should be handled. They have sent horses on non-working holidays (known in racing as giving a horse a spell) and that has resulted in many of the farms where horses take these breaks being inundated. Other trainers have reduced staff numbers but will keep up to 20-25 horses in work so they can be looked after but also kept at least at a moderate level of fitness so when racing returns, which would likely be at Level 3, there are at least some horses to race. Obviously nobody can know when that will be and those horses in work are costing their owners money without the promise of any returns for weeks or even months. That is the risk some owners are willing to take, others are not. But while animal welfare is vitally important, the long-term economic life of racing is also. Racing industry bosses, with help from trainers who choose to be involved, must have horses in each region fit enough to race the day after the country returns to a Level 3 alert, if that is allowed by Government. Every day that racing is allowed to return but there is no racing in this country because that horse or dog supply chain has been cut will be a further economic body blow. That means readiness from code bosses, clubs and the TAB to ensure racing can start when restrictions are lifted. Starting a month or six weeks later after that would be disastrous. That could become even more important as because New Zealand looks to be ahead of the curve of many other countries in its response to Covid-19 and it is hoped, or should that be prayed for, we weather the horrors of the approaching storm more quickly. If that is the case and racing can return then it could be one of the first jurisdictions in the world with racing on and it could be beamed worldwide to bring in valuable income to an industry which, like so many others, faces being on its knees. Everybody has more important things to think about now and those in the racing industry know that.  But the industry not being prepared to start up again the very first day it is allowed to is wasting that potential opportunity. One facility which was closed on Tuesday was the Franklin Park training centre at Pukekohe, home to around 200 harness horses at its peak and it is hoped it may soon be open for training with strict protocols.   Michael Guerin

All Stars stable is to follow the example of many leading barns in virtually “wiping” the rest of the 2019-2020 season as a result of the corona-virus. “From now until we hopefully prepare for the new season we are virtually an agistment farm here in Rolleston”Mark said. “The last of the yearling purchase group is at Steve Boyd’s being educated and we have some here and the racing team. Most of them will just be looked after here until we can hopefully return to our normal programme” Mark and Natalie met with the staff on Tuesday and as a result have come up with a package which will cost the partners several thousand dollars a week. “We have applied for grants for them and we will bring up the balance so that they earn 80 per cent of their present wage. In the meantime they will be using holidays and other benefits for the next 4 weeks and we will reassess things then” “We have to say we think there is more in the Government’s package for the employee than the employer. That’s certainly how it looks to us at the moment as we look at the financial input required” “But at least we have given our staff reassurance over their greatest concern which was that they would lose their jobs. We will be retaining all of them” The All Stars operation has been hit hard financially also by the shutdown of racing where the Easter carnival and the Harness Jewels as well as Sales races and the NZ Derby falls within a normally profitable period. “We probably hope to earn into the 6 figures in percentages over that period and it is a big hit for us” Mark and Natalie have joined with others in proposals that certain age group races, especially the Sires Stakes and Sales Races where owners have already subscribed toward the stake, could be run in the spring. “We have made a verbal submission to Harness Racing New Zealand and there seems a positive response. If those races were held in,say, September when many of the horses will be in racing trim again it would be something back for the owners some of whom have taken a big hit with these developments, and trainers even if the horses are officially a year older than their present eligibility. It certainly seems feasiible but that is for others to decide” While the racing shutdown is for four weeks at this stage there seems to be little optimism inside the industry that it will resume at the end of that period. And with leading stables in both codes spelling their present racing teams the number of horses available to race after that time could be limited. “We are not alone and appreciate that many people will be hurting over these developments but as a mid range business we are fully aware of the organisation required and the financial impact of the decisions made”Mark said “We just have to make the best of it like other people have had to do. Our horses are a vital part of our operation of course but our staff is just as important to us and at least they have some certainty about the situation Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables

In light of the government’s announcement that the country will move to COVID-19 alert level 4 at midnight tonight (25 March) only “essential services” are permitted to operate. Our advice from the Ministry for Primary Industries confirms that training centres, training stables, agistment properties and stud farms where horses are in containment are considered essential services under animal welfare considerations. Businesses with more than five people (including the owner) working at each business site, and those businesses with less than 5 people who cannot achieve social distancing between staff, are required to register.  The criteria and registration form can be found here. The businesses will need to answer 11 questions to provide assurance they have a plan and process to manage infection risks. Much of this will be covered in the HRNZ protocols which will be distributed later today. In addition to this HRNZ, the New Zealand Trainers and Drivers Association and the Standardbred Breeders Association will provide a template to assist with completing the paperwork in a further communication later today. MPI has requested that all businesses which need to register do so by 5pm on Friday, 27 March 2020. Businesses will be able to continue operating while going through the registration process.   Harness Racing New Zealand

Racing industry participants should know tomorrow whether they can continue to care for their animals. Racing bosses are hopeful strict new protocols around the use of stables and training facilities could see them approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries and horses and dogs can be looked after at their usual high level by those who work inside the industry. Racing was halted around the country on Monday in preparation for the Level 4 alert that comes into effect at 11.59pm tonight, as which point racing can not take place. That means there will be no racing until the Level 4 alert is reduced to Level 3, a level at which horse and dog racing would seem to be allowed again but in front of no crowds and with restrictions including travel. While nobody knows when Level 3 will be reached again those inside the racing industry don't just face the enormous financial worries many New Zealanders do but the more pressing problem of keeping that horses and greyhounds safe and healthy. The animals need to be fed and exercised, their stables or quarters cleaned daily, all of which is crucially important for not only the horse's welfare but their viability as racing animals in the future. If they can not be trained and their owners decide to retire or give up on them some horses and dogs may find new homes but many will not, especially in the economic meltdown that looms in the months and years ahead. The two equine codes, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and Harness Racing New Zealand have agreed to adhere to the same strict protocols, which would ensure only essential working personnel were allowed at training tracks and that all safety measures implemented by the MIP would be followed. NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry said the two codes applications, with the list of protocols they already have in place and new ones to be implemented, were lodged on Tuesday night at 5.55pm. "Both equine codes have had dialogue with the Ministry today and we are hopeful we will have a decision from them tomorrow (Wednesday)," said Saundry, who says his team has worked closely with HRNZ. "I have been in contact with HRNZ's chief executive Peter Jenson several times today and we both realise we have to work together and have the same measures in place." The codes are confident training tracks and stables can remain safe places of work under these protocols and that people in racing can look after their horses without in any way risking the further spread of Covid-19. "Sure there are economic issues around this further down the track and employment ones now but first and foremost this is about looking after the horses, keeping them healthy," says Saundry. "If we can't do this, it becomes a huge horse welfare issue." Already training tracks like the Franklin Park harness facility at Pukekohe have been closed but the Herald understands that will be a short-term measure and should the MPI rule positively on them being crucial to animal welfare, protocols will be put in place there that could see it open before by the weekend. News that the care and training of horses and dogs may be able to continue, albeit with restrictions, will not only ease the pressure on trainers struggling to find places to send horses who couldn't be worked, but also allow them to continue to employ staff. ************************************* At a time when so many things we take for granted are changing, sometimes by the hour, here are some Covid-19 related racing points you may have missed. ** The $1.275 million Harness Jewels meeting which was to have been held at Cambridge on May 30 has been cancelled. The meeting would have required substantial inter-island travel, which even if racing is back up and running by May, is unlikely to be possible. It will also enable industry participants who were aiming horses at the meeting to spell them now if that is deemed necessary. ** Trackside television will continue on air (Sky 62 and 63) for the time-being with its main focus being Australian racing. But there will be no domestic production from New Zealand with Trackside's Auckland headquarters shut down so racing coverage will be simulcast from overseas channels. ** Racing continues in Australia and there is still confidence in an ever-changing landscape that the major meeting at Rosehill will be held this Saturday and even possibly The Championships the following two Saturdays at Randwick. ** Harness racing in New South Wales was suspended as a precaution yesterday after one of their stewards was found to have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19. That steward has been tested and if he returns a negative test to the virus HRNSW hopes to resume racing immediately, possibly by this weekend. ** The Dubai Cup, one of the world's richest race meetings, which was to have been staged without a crowd this Saturday has been called off.   Michael Guerin

Lochie Marshall –  A club man through and through Harness racing stalwart Lochie Marshall is being remembered as a tireless worker for the industry. Born “Lachlan MacArthur Marshall” he died in his home town of Geraldine this week after a battle with Leukaemia. He had a long association with the sport, as a race-caller, trainer, and administrator. He was a past president and life member of the Geraldine Trotting Club, which is currently celebrating its 150th year.  “He was part of the club’s fabric,” says current Geraldine president Mark Weaver, “the sort that makes every club stick together.” “As a builder his skills were handy …... and the number of trials and work-outs he organised, well god knows how many.” As a commentator Marshall was described as a “chanter” and he was a regular at racetracks and on the airwaves.  He called his first races in 1964 as a 19 year old and while South Canterbury and Central Otago were his most common gigs, he did have stints further afield at Forbury Park, Hutt Park and Riccarton.   He commentated until the early nineties, about the same time he started training winners. He had 13 wins from 196 starters, exclusively with trotters. His most successful association was with Missie Castleton. She has had 81 starts for six wins and $62,701 in stakes. Marshall trained her up until his deteriorating health forced him to transfer her to other stables. Harness Racing New Zealand says “Lochie was very well known and very respected throughout the industry and his craft will be sadly missed by all.”

The announcement from the government yesterday that New Zealand is moving to Alert Level 4 has seen racing across all codes cease until at least April 23rd. This will result in a significant restructuring of the balance of the current season. At present, we have no more insight into when racing might resume than the public does, however we need to be prepared to race again as soon as a revised Alert level allows us to do so.   The HRNZ board has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the Harness Jewels and has formally advised the host club, Waikato BOP Harness, that this is the case. There has been no decision reached yet regarding what this means for where the 2021 Harness Jewels will be held. HRNZ understands that the connections of those horses striving for qualification will be disappointed by this news, however it is important that this be communicated as early as possible to allow connections to make decisions regarding the placement of their horses. All codes will be under significant financial pressure as the TAB is impacted by the suspension of most global racing and sports. This is the most significant factor, along with the uncertainty around when racing will resume, in the board’s decision to cancel the Harness Jewels.   A number of feature races were due to take place over the next four weeks, including a number of Group Ones; New Zealand Derby, Easter Cup, NZ Trotting Derby, with the Rowe Cup due to run on May 1st.  The suspension of racing will also affect qualification for the feature race administered by the New Zealand Sires Stakes board, including the new Harness Millions races. Any decisions on rescheduling these very important races will be a key element of the season review that the HRNZ team is currently working on. The NZSS board is committed to working with HRNZ and the industry to find a workable solution. HRNZ will continue to issue regular updates the harness racing community as the situation evolves. 021 320 106 021 998 982     HRNZ

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    At just 14 hands high it was no surprise when the racemare formerly known as Trina Jaacka got the nickname Peanut.  Now she lives in Balfour in Southland,  with owner Jane Orr describing  her as like “a little Labrador who follows you around the paddock.” “She’s a kind little soul”. After her deeds on the track which included one win for Southland trainer Murray Brown the now 13 year old is enjoying life after racing .  “She was bred by Charlie and Ailsa Smail, and bought off Shannon and Archie Armour for my daughter Madeleine four years ago to learn to ride,” says Orr. Her latest exploit has been pulling a wagon for eight days at the Goldfields Cavalcade. It was her first attempt and Jane Orr’s fourth. The 28th Cavalcade  was held in  South Otago and Eastern Southland  with  the finish at Owaka in the Clutha District,  with Peanut covering around 25 kilometres a day.    “She worked hard, but she enjoyed it.” And Peanut clearly looked good doing it too. So good that she was the winner of the 2020 Cavalcade photo competition. A shortlist of the ten best looking Standardbred photos was drawn up, and after an on line vote Peanut took out the first prize of a $250 voucher courtesy of Dunstan Horse Feeds. Other Standardbreds living on the Orr farm include  6-race winners Hurricane Banner and The Receptionist.  “ I love promoting my little standy for life after racing, she has attended Waimea Plains Pony Club, pony camps, in December last year Madeline did the Wyndham A & P Show SB classing, pony trot and jumping,  also I’ve joined the Gore Shafts n Wheels Club for driving her.” The 2021 Calvacade will finish in Twizel,  Peanut may just be getting a trip north.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Racing industry bosses are appealing to keep training tracks and stables open as a national horse welfare issue looms. Horse racing, like the rest of the country, is set to come to a crashing halt on Thursday when the Covid-19 alert level 4 comes into effect, although racing itself stopped yesterday, with no meetings of any of the three codes going ahead today or tomorrow. The TAB will continue to operate, offering betting on overseas sports events and, more importantly from a turnover point of view, Australian racing. That and Hong Kong racing will now be the focus for any Kiwis who enjoy their racing, as Australian racing has survived its Government's latest restrictions, with racing there to continue for now but with no crowds and no crossing of borders. The loss of horse and greyhound racing for at least a month will be felt hard by those inside the New Zealand industry, few of who have meaningful cash reserves and the shutdown raises an enormous array of future problems, many of them financial. But the most immediate issue racing bosses will seek clarity on today is the welfare of the horses and dogs. New Zealand has thousands of racehorses and horses in training to become racehorses and they need to be looked after daily. Unlike domestic pets, they can't come live in people's homes. They have strict diets, exercise regimes and need controlled and safe living environments. They also need their stables cleaned, medical needs seen to and even their shoes replaced, all of which are essential to preserve their health. If stable and farm workers can't go to work, the health and even lives of horses could be endangered. "That is the first and most important focus for us now," said New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chief executive Bernard Saundry. "The horses have needs and we need skilled people to look after them. At that most basic level, they have to be fed and their stables cleaned, they are all health issues. "But so, too, is their exercise. It is potentially dangerous to have a fit and healthy horse, and then stop working it and leave it in a stable." So the three codes will appeal to the Ministry for Primary Industries today to declare training tracks, stables and farms used to train horses essential work places. That may confuse some non-racing people who will question why a racing stable should stay open on a basic level while their business has to close. The simplest explanation is this: would you tell the staff at Auckland Zoo they can't go to work and leave the animals to fend for themselves? Right. Then it's really pretty simple. Already there is the problem of the huge financial hardship the racing industry is going to be put under at all levels. The loss of TAB turnover will severely impact racing codes and clubs for years and that will quickly effect the stakes racing clubs can offer. Less stakes means less money to pay bills and plenty of the ordinary New Zealanders who own racehorses as a hobby or passion are also set to lose their jobs or undergo severe financial pressure. So some will struggle to pay their horse trainers, who in turn may struggle to pay staff, who are tax-paying members of the economy like most other people. So this isn't a racing problem, this is an economic problem, no different to the hospitality industry or any other in New Zealand. Racing bosses will try and advise industry participants as soon as possible on what measures the MPI deem appropriate for training tracks, stables and farms while they will also work with horse people and dog trainers on what assistance is available from the Government for their loss of earnings. But the problems are only beginning. What happens if 100, or 1000, horse and dog owners realise they can't afford to pay their horse bills next month? That raises the very painful question of what happens to those horses and dogs. Trainers do their best to re-home retired horses and dogs but there are only so many homes to be found. Unless racing can return soon, there are going to be horses and dogs who have nowhere to go. Racing bosses are confident the industry can return to racing with the very strict protocols which were already in place if and when the Covid-19 alert reverts to level 3. The goal now is for them to be ready to act on that as soon as it happens, whether next month of further away. Because thousands more New Zealanders will lose their job unless racing starts up again inside a few months. And to do that, the horses and dogs, the stars of the show, need to be fit, healthy and in training. If that isn't allowed to happen, they will ultimately be the first victims in racing's sad chapter in their national tragedy. RACING'S DARKEST DAY •  All New Zealand horse and dog racing finished for at least a month yesterday. •   Industry bosses are now fighting to keep training centres open for animals and staff. •   If that is not allowed it will create an enormous animal welfare issue. •   The economic impact on the racing industry will be brutal but could be lessened by horses and dogs staying in training to allow a quicker resumption when the Covid-19 alert level returns to 3.   by Michael Guerin

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    Champion reinsman Blair Orange is now a tantalising one win away from 2000 winners, but like everyone else he will now have to wait and see if, and when, the milestone will be his.   The escalation of the COVID-19 alert to level 4 means all racing is off for at least four weeks.  It’s an uncertain time for all. At the Forbury Park Trotting Club’s 6 race grass track programme at Wingatui he kept the best for last as he piloted Well Said Love to a narrow win. It was an impressive finishing burst from the four year old younger brother of three-time NZ Cup winner Terror to Love. Paying $4.90 it started a second favourite to Black Ops, who broke before launching mid race and then wilting. Orange started the day on 1998, needing two wins to become just the seventh New Zealand driver to crack the 2000 barrier and join Tony Herlihy (3530), Maurice McKendry (3268), Ricky May (2949), David Butcher (2428), Dexter Dunn (2226) and Colin de Filippi (2028). Before his win in the sixth and final race of the day,  Orange had finished second on three occasions, with Windsor in the opening trot, and then Fiery Reactor and Coolhand Easton. “Fiery Reactor” was beaten by the impressive Graeme Anderson-trained Celebrating in race three. The three year old was having just his second start and the win wasn’t an easy watch for backers.  The $2 favourite driven by Matthew Williamson broke mid-race and was a clear last before circling the field and winning comfortably by three quarters of a length.  Coolhand Easton was beaten by 23-to-one outsider Gomeo Denario for trainer Amber Hoffman and driver Brent Barclay. And that wasn’t the only upset winner on the programme, at more lucrative odds was $30 outsider Miss Bamboocha who  held on to win the Dunedin City Motors Handicap Trot. It was win number three from 67 starts for the seven-year-old. That gave Edendale trainer Craig Laurenson a double.  He won both the day’s trotting races after Sage Trouble took out the Shearing Handicap Trot, ahead of Orange’s drive Windsor. It was just win number two from 34 starts. With Wingatui being the last meeting for a while, just when and where the next winners come from no one knows. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The announcement from the government today that New Zealand would move to Level 4 of the COVID-19 Alert System in 48 hours means that all racing will cease for the next four weeks from Tuesday 24 March. Harness Racing New Zealand, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Greyhound Racing New Zealand and the TAB, have met to discuss what steps the industry needs to take to protect the livelihoods of its participants. While the country will effectively be in lockdown, the welfare of our animals remains as an essential service during this time. Horses and dogs will still need to be fed, worked and cared for during this time. Trainers will need to look at stringent procedures around staffing levels and ensure they are adhering to the requirements of Alert Level 4. The codes will be addressing this in more detail tomorrow. We recognise that these are challenging times for everyone within our industry and we will be working closely with those impacted to help them through the coming weeks. As has been announced, the government is providing financial assistance for those impacted and the codes will provide guidance for those wanting help as to how they go about seeking that assistance. While the country is presently at level 3 alert moving to level 4 on Wednesday will involve the following: People instructed to stay at home Educational facilities closed Businesses closed except for essential services (eg supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities. Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities Travel severely limited Major reprioritisation of healthcare services. The codes will issue regular updates to their participants as this situation evolves.   HRNZ

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