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Dublin, Ireland - Through the generous support and sponsorship of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee in Ireland and SSG Gloves in Canada, Sydney Weaver and her parents, Lisa and Don, will be going to Ireland in early August for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend. "We have invited Sydney to be our special guest speaker at our gala kickoff dinner Friday, August 12," said Derek Delaney, head of the VDM Committee. "I have been friends with her on Facebook and she is just wonderful. Her writing on harness racing and what she has achieved and done for our industry for a young woman is fantastic and she and her parents will be our honored guests at the races that weekend." The VDM weekend is the biggest harness racing weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. The VDM is named after Derek and James Delaney's younger brother Vincent, who worked with the horses at their Oakwood Stud training and breeding center. Vincent tragically died of a massive heart attack in 2011 at the age of 27 and the brothers came up with the VDM weekend as a tribute to their lost brother. The race weekend now features elimination races Saturday, August 13 for the VDM, which is for two-year-old pacers. A record number have entered and with the sponsorship support of Diamond Creek Farm and Adam Bowden, for the first time there will be a separate filly division too. The finals take place Sunday, August 14. Other top stakes that weekend include the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA that is sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Bellino Racing Stable, LeTrot races plus other stakes events. Other sponsors from down under include Yirribee Stud and Pro-Dosa Boost feed suppliments.  "The VDM committee agreed to sponsor Sydney and her family for their hotel stay, dinner tickets and racetrack VIP access," Delaney added, "And they will be part of our tours to Oakwood Stud and carriage ride through downtown Dublin and have lunch in Temple Bar. They are going to have a super time in Ireland." Then steps in Ed James, owner of SSG Gloves. Ed is a big Sydney Weaver fan and when he heard about her being invited to come to Ireland, he set up SSG Gloves to sponsor the airfare for Sydney and her parents to go to Ireland. "I called up and talked to Sydney and told her the news." Ed James said. "And she was so excited. I also have sent her a few pairs of gloves to use when she goes jogging and to bring with her to Ireland. I know she will have a fantastic time." And what did Sydney have to say about all of this? "Unbelievable news, so fantastic and I can't believe this is all happening." Sydney said. "This is a dream trip come true. What great stories I am going to write about the people I meet, the places I see, the big dinner and the bigger race weekend. I have a lot of Facebook friends from Ireland and the UK and I hope to get to meet them in person now. "When I phoned and thanked Mr. James for the sponsorship," Sydney added, "I said I would proudly display an SSG Gloves patch on my racing colors that I will bring over, and Derek Delaney is getting me a Vincent Delaney Memorial patch too that will go on my colors once I get there. "I also got a very nice check from Hall of Famer and dear friend Bill Galvin, Sydney said. I still have to pinch myself that this is all for real." Sydney Weaver and her mom and dad are not the only ones who will be traveling to Ireland for the VDM weekend. Joining the Weavers will be Heather Vitale and her mom (JoAnn Looney-King) and sister (Susan Looney), the 2015 Dan Patch Driver of the Year, Aaron Merriman, New Zealand's top driver Dexter Dunn is returning along with Hall of Fame announcer, Roger Huston, who will be calling the races at Portmarnock Raceway for his third straight year. Michael Gallenti and Bill Hutchison of Harness Racing Travel is bringing a group of 40 from New Zealand and Australia, making the total nearly 70 that are coming to Ireland from down under. Their website is www.harnessracingtravel.com.au. Dublin, Ireland will be the place to be August 12 to 14 for the VDM and more announcements of top Standardbred visitors from the USA will be made soon. For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee

Dublin, Ireland - They may only be a little crazy by name, but the Looney Family from Delaware, USA, Jo Ann Looney-King, Susan Looney and Heather Looney Vitale, are all set to invade Ireland come this August for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend at Portmarnock Raceway. The baby of the Looney family, Heather, has spearheaded this adventure and in her third straight year of going to Ireland for the Vincent Delaney (August 13th and 14th), is bringing her mom and her sister to share the adventure. "When I tell people how incredible the Delaney Memorial weekend is," explained Heather Vitale, "I just have a hard time explaining it. I tell everyone about how much fun the atmosphere is and how friendly and enthusiastic the Irish are, but words don't give it justice. "You have to be there to really be able to understand how truly special it is!" Vitale said, "I talked about the weekend so much and how much fun it was and my mom and sister knew they had to experience it for themselves." Over the past four years, brothers Derek and James Delaney have developed the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend (named after their younger brother who tragically died of a massive heart attack in 2011), the biggest racing weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. The Delaney Memorial is for two-year-old pacers and is the richest stakes race in Ireland and the UK. This year, for the first time, there is a filly division sponsored by Adam Bowden and Diamond Creek Farm. Eliminations take place Saturday and the final is on Sunday. In addition to the Delaney Memorial, there are other major stakes events including the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial Championship for four-year-olds, the Rocknroll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace, sponsored by the Bellino Stable and LeTrot Series events. "I'm so happy we are taking this girls road trip," Vitale said. "The last time the three of us went on a trip together, it was 15 years ago! We are long overdue for some quality time like this and this race weekend is perfect. The Delaney brothers are so welcoming and the horsemen and women are so passionate and the fans are so much fun." "We love having Heather here the past two years," Derek Delaney said with a grin and a smile. "But I don't know if Ireland is ready for the whole family. It will be our pleasure to have Heather's mom and sister with us too. They are great horse people and we will show them a super time." Jo Ann Looney-King is no stranger to harness racing. She was the first woman driver ever to win a race at the Meadowlands and this past year was the 2015 Billy Haughton Good Guy Award winner at the USHWA Dan Patch Dinner. This past year she trained the top three-year-old pacer, Wakizashi Hanover and currently has the undefeated trotter Maestro Blue Chip in perfect form. "After hearing Heather talk about her trips to Ireland," Looney-King said, "I knew I had to get over there and see it for myself. I've never been to Ireland before so this is going to be fantastic. I'm really looking forward to the racing over there and meeting the horsemen and women who love this sport. The entire adventure should be wonderful from the trip to Oakwood Farm to walking around Dublin. "I'll be 70 this month (May 14)," Looney-King admits, "and I can't think of a better way to celebrate a milestone year than enjoying Ireland with my daughters." And older daughter Susan Looney, is no stranger to harness racing. She was the youngster driver ever to win a race at the Meadowlands at age 16 in 1983 and then went on to become the first woman driver ever to win at Garden State Park. She now has her Doctorate in law and education and is presently the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the Reading Area Community College. "I am so excited about joining my sister and my mother in Ireland." Susan Looney said. "After watching the videos my sister took while she was there the past two years, I couldn't resist joining her this summer. I am so looking forward to seeing the beautiful country and the inspiring harness racing in Ireland." It will not be all play and little work for Heather Looney Vitale while in Ireland. She will be doing live Facebook broadcasts from Portmarnock Raceway during the week along with added features from her trip for her show, Post Time, in the USA. Vitale, in addition to producing her Post Time show in the USA, also has co-hosted the CBS Sports Net Little Brown Jug broadcast in 2014 and 2015. For more information about the Labrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee  

World champion harness racing driver Dexter Dunn has confirmed that he will be coming to drive in Wales, UK for the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland on August 2 at Tir Prince and to return to the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin, Ireland August 13 and 14. Dunn, the reigning World Champion driver from New Zealand, took Ireland by storm last year and now is setting his sights on the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland at Tir Prince. “When Derek Delaney contacted me about coming back this summer to Ireland and if I was interested in also including the Breeders Crown in Wales, Dunn said, “It fit in good with my racing calendar and there wasn’t much hesitation in saying yes!” David Wilson, chairman of the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland that will take place at Tir Prince in Wales, August 2, was ecstatic when he heard the Dexter Dunn was coming. “This is the tenth anniversary of the BC and what fantastic news to have,” Wilson beamed, “Dexter Dunn showed everyone at Portmarnock last year of his great ability to drive a horse and I am sure his services on Breeders Crown Day will be much in demand from trainers and owners alike. “Having Dexter coming is fabulous,” Wilson added, “We have the inaugural All American Bred Filly Pace for two-year-olds this year, a bumper crop of horses eligible for the Breeders Crown and purses that could exceed £35,000, harness racing tour groups coming from around the world and now the news that Dexter Dunn will be driving on the program is just great.” “I had such a blast in Ireland last year,” Dunn said, “It was such a great experience and now I am going to enhance it by driving at Tir Prince on their Breeders Crown program. It will be awesome to get back over and catch up with all the nice people over there that treated me so well last year, and of course, to have a few beverages as well!” “We are both delighted and honoured to have a world class driver such as Dexter come to Tir Prince to drive,” said Eric Witherspoon, Racing Director at Tir Prince. “I had the pleasure of being at Portmarnock last year and like everyone else who was present I was in awe of his reinsmanship. We cannot wait to see him on the track. “On 2nd August Breeders Crown night,  it is one of the most eagerly anticipated nights of the year,” Witherspoon explained, “when the very best juveniles from Britain and Ireland compete for top prize money, the racing will be top class and Dexter’s attendance will be the cherry on the cake. We also have the Ephie Mather Memorial Trot which is a Free For All Trot For International Trotters.” Witherspoon noted that Dexter Dunn will also be in attendance on Tuesday 9th August at Tir Prince when the track hosts the 2 mile Free For All Pace that is being sponsored by John Howard. Track management hopes that the track record for 2 miles will be shattered on this night and with Dunn’s experience in long distance races makes him someone to not bet against him driving the record breaker. Dunn then returns to Dublin, Ireland for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend the 13th and 14th of August and race committee head, Derek Delaney, see’s Dunn’s return as a major boost to the weekend. “I have kept in contact with Dexter during the off-season,” Delaney said. “And he was keen to come back for the VDM and to drive at Tir Prince. So much so that he bought in as part of a syndicate on the two-year-old filly, Oakwood’s Dragoness. “Dexter, along with Cran Delgaty, Clive and Anne Dalton, Mick Harvey, Oakwood Stud, Lee Edwards, Dean Russell, Simon Elvin and Paul Johnson,” Delaney said, “are all in and this filly is eligible to the new American bred pace at Tir Prince. Wouldn’t that be great if Dexter could win that race with her?” It would seem that Dexter Dunn has his work cut out for him while on holiday this summer in the UK and Ireland. “It’s not work at all driving horses,” Dunn said, “I hope I have a drive in every race. I love it.” Will there be some traveling for Dunn this August? “Yeah, I’m looking to do a bit of tripping around while I am over,” Dunn said. “I haven’t planned what or where yet through. I had such a super time last year.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Dublin, Ireland - The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee is proud to announce today that North America's leading dash winning driver in 2015, Aaron Merriman, is committed to coming to Ireland for the Delaney Memorial Weekend, August 13 and 14, 2016. "I was shocked when I got the invite," Merriman said. "I have read about the race, knew that George Brennan went last year and had a great time and now I am getting to come over this year, what a great honor this is." The 37-year-old Ohio native is coming off a career-best harness racing season in 2015, capturing his first North American driving title and earning a personal-high $7.40 million in purses. His 873 victories last year were the most for a dash-winning champion since Tony Morgan's 959 triumphs in 2008. Merriman is one of only three drivers --- joining Morgan and Tim Tetrick --- to win at least 800 races in back to back years. In 2014, Merriman won 841 times, but finished six victories behind Ronnie Wrenn Jr. for the No. 1 spot. Over the past 10 years, Merriman has won an average of 618 races per season. "Our committee board was ecstatic that Aaron agreed without even flinching to come over for the VDM this year." Said Derek Delaney, who along with his brother James, developed the Vincent Delaney Memorial in honor of their younger brother who tragically passed away in 2011. "Aaron is a world-class driver," Delaney added, "And we are sure to show him a great time here both on and off the track. He will be sure to have some good drives at Portmarnock Raceway both on Saturday and Sunday." The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial is for two-year-old pacers with elimination divisions on Saturday and the finals on Sunday. For the first time this season there will be a separate filly division, sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm in the USA. Also on the program that weekend is the Oakwood Stud Derby, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial, The RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Bellino Stable plus other big stakes events. When it comes to his heritage, Aaron says he will fit in just fine. "My father's family is British and my mother is Swedish and Irish," Aaron said. "I think I will fit in perfectly. "I'm VERY eager to experience another continent with harness racing," Aaron said. "I've never left North America before. I've checked out some of the history of this race and have read about the great enthusiasm and real love for our sport that they have and it is so heartwarming. "Harness racing is definitely a sport where people are joined together all around the world," Aaron said. "To be offered this opportunity to represent America and show my patronage to Ireland and the UK horsemen and fans is once in a lifetime and I was not going to pass it by. I'll thoroughly embrace my days there." Merriman is already on a roll in 2016. He has a commanding lead in the driving standings in North America with 214 wins, 54 ahead of his nearest rival, Jason Bartlett. And Merriman has $1.5 million in purses won already with a Universal Driving Rating at an impressive .356, second only to Bartlett. "Missing a week of racing back home is nothing compared to the adventure that awaits me in Ireland," Aaron said. "I can't wait for the second week of August to come. And I will not be homesick because Roger Huston will be there calling the races!" For more information visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial  

From its humble beginnings in 2014, the Painted Mile race day at Portmarnock has just exploded in popularity and this year’s renewal will have a record 25 coloured (pinto) pacers going to post over 4 separate one mile contests on Sunday, June 19. There are 18 different sires represented and it clearly demonstrates that coloured breeding of Standardbreds is on the increase in double digit percentages year on year. The highlight of the meeting as always is the Senior Free For All and 6 of the best skewbald’s and piebald’s in the British Isles have been entered to do battle in their best efforts to emerge as overall supreme coloured pacing champion. Cinderella Man, the winner back in 2014 looks poised to come back for more and even at this early stage Derek Boylan’s popular colt is a warm favourite to land the spoils. A multiple winner at Portmarnock and UK venue Aberystwyth in 2014, the five year old has already won in 2:00.9, a time that remains a world record on a half mile track to this day. Although clearly not as his best in 2015, his owners have confirmed he is back as good as ever this season and they are looking forward to reaffirming Cinderella Man as top dog in 2016 with a sub 2 minute mile the ultimate aim in this campaign.    Despite the absence of great rival and last year’s overall painted mile winner, Keltic Panda, Cinderella Man still won’t get it all his own way, however as two top UK challengers have been entered. TJB has the distinction of beating the standard bay pacers around Tir Prince and York tracks, where he is immensely popular among racegoers appreciating something out of the ordinary. By coloured sire Lexies Rocky out of Miss Izzy (Churchill King), he’s demonstrated great heart in his races and his average mile times are on a par with Cinderella Man. Equally as impressive in his races at English tracks has been Big Bucks, who is by Australian import Out Of Nowhere out of a Master Scoot mare Scoots Girl, and he is many peoples idea as the new king-in-waiting.    The ill-fated Rorshach was a legend the world over amongst coloured pacing enthusiasts and his presence is still as strong today as when he was alive. Cleverly named after a psychological ink blotting test to match his striking black and white colouring, Rorshach will be represented in the 2016 Painted Mile by his final foal of racing age Dangerous Shock, who is out of the mare Handsome Sum mare Dangerous. Dangerous Shock has proven to be a great servant by his English owner Matty Quinn and all puns aside he will be fancied by connections to cause a shock upset to both Cinderella Man, Big Bucks and TJB. The line-up in the senior free for all is completed by Kauto Star and Get Rockin and perhaps the most interesting of these is the latter, being out of Lyons Pandering a Ponderosa mare bred by the all-conquering Mound family from North Wales.      Complementing this year’s senior free for all is a junior free for all event and seven horses have been entered from Ireland and the UK. Hawthorns Setanta (Painted Tiger/Magical Pleasure) is a most interesting runner in this as he hails back to the great 1980’s superstar race mare, Saunders Pleasure, on the dam’s side. Saunders Pleasure, of course, bred Miladies Pleasure which is the dam of Porterstown Chris, the current record holder for 1.5 miles at Portmarnock, who was steered to this feat by crack US reinsman George Brennan in August of last year. Another link to the Dunne family who race under the Porterstown prefix is an unraced runner called Applegarth Henry T, whose dam is Porterstown Sameos, an Astreos mare, that was imported by the Dunnes into Ireland in the late 1990’s. Lyons Vivienne (by Direct Current) was a top race mare in her day around Annaghmore for Billy Roche and her coloured offspring by Indian (Who Who Gives A Toss/Meadowbranch Chi Chi) named Flying Eagle completes the line-up for the junior free for all alongside Irish Squaw, Sootys Girl, Raging Storm and UK raider Phantom.    Its testament to just how big the Painted Mile Race day has now become in the British Isles that there is now a 3 year olds only contest and eight have been entered by connections to take their chances. A lot of eyes will be the brace of runners by up-and-coming sire White Fire who was imported to Ireland from Australia nearly a decade ago. Straboe Firecracker by White Fire is out of Golden Knight (by Golden Glover out of Navigator) who harks back to the 1970’s breeding dynasty of Racing Knight and foundation broodmare Mooreland P whilst the other White Fire named Man O’Fire is out of Petit Coat Lane, a Fantastic Western mare out of Renate who was bred by Willy Flanagan of the mighty Meadowbranch Stud. The UK’s John Howard has traditionally kept a top pinto performer in his stable over the years and none more so than Howards Colormein. An English champion who took on all-comers and beat them hands-down at Corbie Wood he has now become a sire in his own right and Howards Little Mix out of Millenium Star (by Nat King Cole) becomes his first ever runner on a track. Arguably the fastest sire in the line-up for the 3 year olds contest is Hes For Real with a 1:49 record and The Real Deal is by him out of City Shock who goes right back to Velvet Harmony on the dams side. In a remarkable twist both a father and son will be in action on the day. Kauto Star has been entered in the Senior Free For All whilst his son Robbie Star is an entry in the 2 year old. The dam of Robbie Star is of course Castlewood Bridget, who was bred by Irelands leading harness racing bookmaker Dan Carlin out of his top class race mare Briget The Midget.   Theres also a Scottish connection this year as the unusually named Bingo is by Red Ross out of Burnside Angelears. Red Ross the sire of Bingo was a regular campaigner around hard track Corbie Wood in Stirling and all the local grass venues, demonstrating both ability and speed in equal measure.     If all 25 pinto pacers make it to race day, Portmarnock really will be the place to be on June 19th and it will surely be a world record to have this number of strikingly coloured Standardbreds all in the same place at the same time to contest in races. By Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Manchester, England - It would most certainly be an understatement that harness racing has been a lifelong passion for over 65 years for one family from Manchester. The Mather family. Trainer/driver Paul Mather (age 62) and his brothers Peter and George were introduced at a young age to the trotters and pacers by their late father, Frederick Ephraim Mather. Frederick was a harness racing enthusiast who owned and trained many horses and also brought his sons into the sports. At the age of 16, Paul was racing and training pacers, but there came a turning point for Paul that would see him turn away from pacers to trotters. A special horse he had named 'Star Trade', was very successful and won many races as a pacer, but Star Trade would often trot when jogging so Paul decided to convert him to a trotter and it turned out very well as he went on to win 13 trot races, including the two classics, the Prakas and the Roosevelt. Paul has never owned a pacing horse since, although pacers are still in the stable as Paul's brother Peter, continues to train and race them. Paul has imported many trotters from France and Belgium over the years and also owns British bred trotters to specifically compete in the 'Prakas' which is for British bred horses only, and that he won most recently in 2015 with Wildcat Supreme. Paul is a committee member of the TROTBritain group formed 20 years ago to enable trotting in Britain to begin to grow. TROTBritain is dedicated to the progression of trotting in Great Britain. Since 2014 and the beginnings of The 'Le Trot' agreement, Paul, his son Paul, Jr. and his brother, Peter, now own and train four French trotting horses, one of which is named Show Business, who was drawn in the 2015 March sale. Show Business has shown to become above the rest racing 16 times, winning six times with three second place and one third place finish. He was awarded Trotter of the Year in 2015 and Paul won the Driver of the Year honors and was invited to Vincennes, France to receive his award and take part in the 'Prix de Internationals' race which saw drivers from 18 European countries take part. Paul lived his dream that day of driving at Vincennes. He may have finished 8th out of the 18 drivers in the field, but just being in the race was an honor to him. "I would have given good money for a drive on that track," Mather's said of Vincennes," and I was lucky enough to do it for free, a lifelong dream come true!" Show Business is 10 years old and is sired by Game Jet from the mare Ketty D'Epinay, who had a race record 1:14 over 2400m At Beaumont De Lomangne France. His first start in 2016 will be in May at Tir Prince. He races in the Gold Division, which is the same as an Invitational or Open Class in North America. "Show Business has been a real easy horse to work with," Mather explained. "He does exactly what is asked of him and puts in 110% from behind the gate. It is a pleasure to drive. I've thoroughly enjoyed the 2015 season with him and am counting the days for the 2016 season to begin. The horse makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and that's a result because I'm bald!" Currently the Mather Stable has seven horses in training. Other stars include Staz Hazelhaar, who broke the English record over one mile in 2:00, erasing a ten-year-old record. Wildcat Supreme currently holds the mile and one quarter 3yr old record for an English bred trotter while Sheila B'Devotion and Piece of Sleipner are both top performers. The future is looking very prosperous with the Le Trot deal as this is the third year of the special program. More than 15 horses are being selected from various parts of France commencing Monday 14th March and arriving in the UK hopefully the following week. All together in the first two years, 45+ horses/mares have been brought over from France with another 15 coming over soon. And for those looking to reap some of the purse money from the special LeTrot Series events, just remember, Show Business is once again eligible to the series and Paul Mather is ready to guide him to another Trotter of the Year season. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

Ft. Lauderdale, FL - A week-long trip for two to the Vincent Delaney Memorial festival in Dublin, Ireland, headlines the 2016 Dan Patch Awards Night live/silent auction at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 on Sunday, March 6. Tickets are sold out for this gala event held by the United States Harness Writers Association. The Dan Patch Awards honor the top pacers and trotters in racing and the leading horsemen and women in the industry from the 2015 season. Proceeds from the auction benefit the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and if you cannot make it to the dinner, you can still call-in or text bids on the auction items. The lone live auction item is the trip for two to Ireland. The semi-flexible travel dates for the event are Wednesday, August 10 (right after the Hambletonian weekend) and returning Tuesday, August 16. Included is $1,500 in airfare cash, six night hotel stay at the Hilton, Dublin, all transportation for events, a trip to Oakwood Stud Farm & Training Center with lunch at a local pub, carriage ride through downtown Dublin with lunch in Temple Bar, two tickets to the August 12th kickoff gala dinner and VIP tent access both August 13th and 14th for the Vincent Delaney Memorial race cards. For more information visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. The silent auction features the following items: Philadelphia Phillies Ticket Package with 2 tickets in the Diamond Club (best seats in the park!) and a parking pass for the following games: May 3 - Phillies Vs. Cincinnati, June 17 - Phillies Vs. Arizona, July 15 - Phillies vs. Mets plus three $50 VISA gift cards for food and souvenirs.  CR Kay Suzie Collection with winning blanket from her 1995 victory in the Merrie Annabelle at The Meadowlands and Rod Allen's whip from her 1994 Freehold Raceway victory in which she tied the world record in 1:59. A Bow River "for men" jewelry package including a gold & silver men's ring, money clip and cuff links all with sulky design. Two-night stay and dinner for two at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale. A rare watercolor harness racing painting by Cortland Butterfield (1904-1977) well known as a painter of figure, genre, still life and marine works. The painting features a driving finish of Lila Belle Rhythm at Liberty Bell Park. Dimensions are 36 x 18. Lovely Polish crystal dish with exclusive LV Harkness sand-carved harness racing design. Size is 10 x 6 x 4. Baseball/Harness Racing Memorabilia collection featuring an official 1998 American League Baseball/Mickey Mantle edition signed by 13 Hall of Famers: John Campbell, Robert Heyden, Wally Hennessy, Charles Keller III, Michel Lachance, Bob Marks, Sam McKee, David Miller, Ray Remmen, James Simpson, Chuck Sylvester, Jimmy Takter. Also in the collection is a Phillies warm up jacket signed by Dan Plesac (former pitcher for the Phillies) and a first edition Mickey Mantle comic book. Framed 2004 Wanda Morgan print of three horse heads. Print is numbered 6/400. Dimensions are 26.5 x 21. Large Italian flag signed by the connections of the international trotter Varenne, making it a one-of-a-kind collector's item. Hoosier Park Gift Basket stuffed full of goodies. "Nostalgic" Harness Racing Memorabilia including programs/tip sheets from Roosevelt Raceway, Garden State Park, Lewiston, Green Mountain, Foxboro, Fox Stake trivet, a Garden State Park Groundbreaking plaque, Sportsman's Park Leroy Neiman promotional poster, a copy of Chicago's Horse Racing Venues by Kimberly Rinker, Red Mile retired logo items and a PA Harness backpack. In order to bid on these items via phone or texting, please contact Steve Wolf, email at stevenwolf1956@gmail.com, phone: 954-654-3757 or Ellen Taylor, email at ellen@hhyf.org, phone: 317-867-5877. From the United States Harness Writers' Association      

Post Time host and world traveler, Heather Vitale, has released a documentary on the 2015 Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend at Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin, Ireland back in early August. The documentary features highlights and interviews with visiting horsemen Cran Dalgety, the leading trainer in all of New Zealand and America's best, driver George Brennan. Other interviews along the way include USA Hall of Fame announcer, Roger Huston and the winning trainer of the 2015 Vincent Delaney Memorial. Well worth the time to view.

DUBLIN, Ireland - The entries are out, the ante-post betting odds are out and things are really starting to hot up around the 5th annual Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial at Portmarnock Raceway. A record 80 horses have been nominated, an increase of 33% on 2015 and justifying event promoter Derek Delaney’s decision to split the race into separate colts and fillies divisions with a new sponsor on board for the filly’s final, Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farm.  There are 32 different sires represented with the progeny of Kikicolt securing most nominations on 14. He is followed by Pro Bono Best with 9, Hasty Hall on 7 and Dragon Again and Ayr Glory with 5 each. Exciting new stallions with their debut runners include Art Director, Artistic Fella, Big Jim, If I Can Dream, Rocknroll Heaven and Shadow Play, whilst domestic standing stallions My Panmar, Ayr Glory and Windsong Dynamite will also be represented for the first time ever in 2016. A lot of eyes will be on the 4 x Somebeachsomewhere offspring, especially Tothebeachandback, which was a $72,000 purchase at Harrisburg in 2015. On the subject of sales prices, it appears that owners are writing bigger and bigger cheques with each passing year in an effort to win this event and use it as a Launchpad for the remainder of their careers. In addition to a $72,000 colt, other pricey yearlings in the line-up include a $42,000, $40,000, $37,000 and $30,000 purchases. Such prices paid hallmark to the fact that the Vincent Delaney Memorial has really captivated the imagination in the UK and Ireland and owners in both countries are determined to have their name engraved on that coveted trophy. The event has also now taken on a truly International flavour with some United States, Australian and New Zealand investors getting involved in syndicates that have targeted both the colts and fillies divisions. Oakwood Dragoness and Rebel Rauser will be the first ever runners comprising of International part-ownership and a win for either horse will surely make headlines the world over, quite an achievement for a country that is still perceived as a minnow in the big wide world of harness racing.   So far the home team have been unable to keep the top prize in Ireland, a trend that seems likely to continue for this renewal with the lion’s share of the entries emanating from the UK. 44 of the 80 nominations have come from across the water and the advantage lies squarely with the UK raiders for both the colts and fillies divisions and bookmaker Dan Carlin is likely to be short odds about both prizes leaving the emerald isle once again. All out to repel the raiders will be Irelands leading trainers Billy Roche and William Flanagan with 5 nominations each. Alan Wallace, Joe Sheridan and Tadhg Murphy have 3 nominations apiece and these five trainers represent half of all Irish entries. Spearheading the UK challenge is William “Rocker” Laidler, who is down as trainer of five colts followed by Tereas Haythornthwaite and Samboy Howard, who have both entered four each. Teresa Haythornthwaite, of course, is a former winning trainer of the Vincent Delaney Memorial as is John Gill (twice) and Sally Teeboon and all three trainers have shown their appetites for targeting this event are undiminished with multiple entries each. The four Haythornthwaite stakes freshman are for established owners Claire Fletcher, Richard Walker and David Gibbons (owner of Frisco Fiddler – winner back in 2012) whilst John Gill attempts to win it for the 3rd time with three horses owned by North Wales Racing, Richard Thompson and Viccy Elvin. Sally Teeboon, trainer of last year’s winner, Miraculous, teams up again with the same owner Arnie Flower in the hopes of lightning striking twice whilst John Campbell and John O’Neil are two other new owners hoping Sally can repeat the dose 12 months on. Bookmaker Dan Carlin has just released the odds for both the colts and fillies divisions and the Belfastman has already reported a flurry of early bets on prospects that must be impressing their owners in their work so far. Co-favourites in the colts division at 5/1 are Steven Gilvear’s Someones Fantasy (Somebeachsomewhere) a $30,000 Harrisburg yearling and Raymond Hushka’s Elmo Hanover (Dragon Again) a $42,000 acquisition also from Harrisburg. In the fillies division Oakwood Dragoness is the clear favourite at 5/1. A £15,000 buy at Builth Wells sale in Wales in October 2015, the Dragon Again daughter out of Abbey Won is owned by a syndicate which includes top New Zealand trainer Cran Delgaty, current World driving champion Dexter Dunn and Australian trainer Clive Dalton amongst its members. Oakwood Dragoness is followed in the betting by 3 others priced at 6/1 – Claire Fletchers On Her Way Again a $37,000 purchase at Forest City Sale, the Scottish bred She Be Rockin by Rock’n’roll Hanover out of Utopian Hanover (imported in utero) owned by Steven Gilvear and the Flanagan Bros Meadowbranch Rose, who is out of Irish Hall of Fame broodmare Churchill Queen by super sire Kikcolt. The long journey for these 80 yearlings has begun and all roads now lead to Portmarnock for their date with destiny on August 13th and to paraphrase the festivals guest announcer/commentator, Roger Huston…..”you really must BE THERE!”   By Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Dublin, IRELAND – Records are made to be broke, but every single year? For the fourth straight season, the number of two-year-olds entered for the prestigious Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial at Portmarnock Raceway has shattered the record books once again. A whopping 80 harness racing pacing colts and fillies have been nominated for the endurance weekend of racing that takes place Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14, 2016. “This year,” said race developer Derek Delaney of Oakwood Stud, “thanks to the generous sponsorship by USA’s Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farm, there is a first time final for fillies only and with that addition, the record of 59 entered in 2015 fell quickly to the wayside.” Of the record 80 royally bred 2-year-old harness racing pacers that have now staked their claim on the 5th annual Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Cup weekend, 44 are colts and 36 are fillies. “If they were all to the make the races this year,” Delaney said, “We will have to add a race card on the Friday, just to hold the elimination races. Wouldn’t that be grand?” The Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial total purses are estimated at over €40,000 in 2016. It is by far the richest harness racing event in the history of both Ireland and the UK. The increase in nominations was a very positive 33% over last year. To win the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial, two-year-olds must race in elimination heats on the first day and then return the next to compete in the finals. Also on the program that weekend are three other signature events, the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-old pacers, the Paul Murtaugh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds and the Irish-American Junior Free-For-All. In addition there are other special trotting and pacing events on the program each day. The race series and festival weekend was developed by Derek and his brother James Delaney, as a tribute to their younger brother Vincent, who tragically died of a massive heart attack at age 26 in 2011. “Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin on August 13th and 14th is going to be the place to be at,” Said Delaney. “We had thousands of patrons come out last year and expect to increase on that in 2016. We already have racing fans from around the globe coming to our venue in Ireland, traditionally dubbed as the land of a thousand welcomes.” For more information visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial 2016 Vincent Delaney Memorial Colt Nominees link http://www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com/race-eligibles/index.php?pid=race-eligibles&raceno=2 2016 Vincent Delaney Memorial Filly Nominees link  http://www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com/race-eligibles/index.php?pid=race-eligibles&raceno=1      

Paris, France - This weekend at the meeting of the Union of European Trotting (UET) General Assembly, the Irish Harness Racing Association (IHRA) was admitted into their ranks at a presentation at Vincennes racetrack, Paris.   Over the course of the past two years, the IHRA had a one year observer status within the Union and has progressively introduced trotteur-français horses from France to its racetracks throughout Ireland during the past two years.   To become a full member, they also underwent an audit by the UET throughout 2015, which included multiple visits by UET Executives to race meetings conducted at both Dundalk and Portmarnock. The IHRA is delighted to join the twenty other member states in the UET, the governing body of the European trotting.   The Union’s purpose is ‘the promotion of trotting races and horse breeding in Europe and set up a close and lasting relationship between member federations’ and Ireland looks to benefit from the flourishing organisation.   At Vincennes for Ireland’s ratification into the UET on the $1 million Prix de l’Amerique weekend, chairman of the IHRA, Mark Flanagan, said: “This is fantastic for our organisation and for Ireland. We have already benefitted from the support of the UET and have cultivated strong relationships with France and their breeding industry, which has only helped trotting in Ireland. Full membership means we can now progress further in the sport’s growth, at home and abroad.”   Twenty-five enthusiast members of IHRA travelled to Vincennes for the weekends’ inauguration and to enjoy the Group One racing action.   During the past week IHRA received recognition in Ireland within ‘The Irish Horse Report’ prepared by the Joint Committee for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. In part its recommendations included IHRA to receive appropriate Government funding to develop the sport and to for IHRA further develop international relationships so that Irish trotting can flourish on the world stage.   Membership of the UET will enhance IHRA’s current and future opportunities. During the past two years IHRA has laid the foundations for the sport of trotting to grow in Ireland and this UET Membership is the most significant achievement to date. It is the culmination of the work achieved and the UET admittance will pave the way for the sport to develop and prosper during the coming years.    From the Irish Harness Racing Association

The Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine released its report into the The Irish Horse Industry today in the AV room at Leinster House in Government Buildings.   This was extensive work carried out by the all party committee which stated that all parties and independents had 100% signed up to the report.   The report had within it a complete section on Harness Racing in Ireland which detailed the sport on a worldwide scale, the opportunities and difficulties facing the sport in Ireland.   At the end of the report on Harness Racing, the committee detailed 3 recommendations to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, these are as follows,   Recommendation 42:    That IHRA receive appropriate funding to develop the sport of harness racing from an increased funding stream. Recommendation 43:   That a partnership such as the existing one between the IHRA and its counterparts in France be fostered and developed so that Irish Harness Racing can flourish on a world stage. Recommendation 44:   That better co-operation between HRI and the IHRA would be encouraged particularly in relation to health standards and the shared use of facilities where appropriate.   A full detail of the complete report will be released shortly on line.   Another huge step today was the authorisation by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Marine that a full and extensive report into economic benefits that harness racing has and could have in 5 to 10 years in Ireland. The full cost of this report will be borne by the Ministers department and a tendering process will start immediately.   Also coming up this Saturday for the IHRA is the general assembly of the UET in Vincennes, Paris where the IHRA will be hoping that its application for full membership of the UET will be successful.   This was reported by Mark Flanagan

Dublin, Ireland – At the stroke of midnight on Monday, February 1, all nominations for the 2016 Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial, the Oakwood Stud Derby and the Paul Murtagh Senior Memorial, are due. Please check out the new promo video for the 2016 festival weekend at https://youtu.be/mZUcaeuLvsw.  Nominations can only be made online at http://vincentdelaneymemorial.com/index.php?page=race. For 2016, the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial (VDM) for two-year-old pacers will feature a filly division that is sponsored by Diamond Creek Farms in the USA. The first nomination fee is only €150 for both fillies and colts. The VDM is entering its fifth season and continues to be the richest harness racing stakes event in all of the Ireland and the United Kingdom. This year there will be €40,000 guaranteed in total purses and prizes over the two days of racing. Race dates for the VDM in 2016 is Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14 at Portmarnock Raceway. The first nominations for the Oakwood Stud Derby is just €100 and is open to just three-year-old pacers.  Both the elimination heats and the final will be raced at 1.5 mile distance. There will be elimination heats on Saturday, August 13 and the final on Sunday, August 14. The final for the Oakwood Stud Derby is guaranteed at €12,000. The first nominations for the Paul Murtagh Senior Memorial is also just €100 and is open to only four-year-old pacers.  Both the elimination divisions and the final will be raced at 1.5 mile distance. There will be elimination divisions on Saturday, August 13 and the final on Sunday, August 14. The estimated total purses for the Paul Murtagh Senior Memorial is estimated €8,000. “Both my brother James and myself are really looking forward to this year’s VDM weekend,” said Oakwood Stud’s Derek Delaney. “Who would have thought when we first came up with the idea of a special race in memory of our younger brother Vincent, that is would develop into such a big event. “The addition of a filly division this year,” Delaney said, “thanks to sponsors Diamond Creek Farms and Adam Bowden, will make the VDM weekend even greater. I have already been contacted by people from around the world that want to come out for this weekend. I guess you could say we have come up with Ireland’s own version of the Little Brown Jug and the Gold Cup & Saucer!” For any additional information about the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend, visit their website at www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Festival

Dublin, Ireland – Tickets are still on sale but going fast for the annual Standardbred Horse Racing Ireland (SHRI) awards dinner to be held on Saturday, February 13, 2016. The gala dinner/dance will be held at the Kettles Country House in Swords, Dublin starting at 7:00 pm with awards being presented to the top horses, horsemen and women from the 2015 race season in Ireland. Tickets are 50 euros per person and can be purchased online at http://portmarnockraceway.ie/awards-night/ . Some of the big events in Ireland have selected their race dates in 2016 with more to come. So make sure to mark your calendars now Sunday, June 12 – has been assigned as the provisional* date for ‘French Day’ at Dundalk Stadium with Le Trot intending on sending some of their leading drivers to race against our Irish drivers which promises to be a fun-filled day. Race date still pending Harness Racing Ireland approval. Sunday, June 19 – will be the Painted Mile Day at Portmarnock Raceway with 2 and 3-year-old divisions, plus FFA A & B divisions, all for coloured horses. Saturday/Sunday, August 13/14 – is the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend (VDM) at Portmarnock Raceway with VDM Final, new VDM filly division for two-year-olds, Oakwood Stud 3YO FFA, Paul Murtagh 4YO Derby, Irish/American FFA Pace, Le Trot events and more. There will also be VDM prep races in Ireland and throughout the UK. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

The following statement came from the Irish Harness Racing Association. The foundation is in place, we now need to build an industry together. The Joint Committee for Agriculture will shortly prepare a comprehensive Report on the horse industry in Ireland. This will include an extensive chapter on Harness Racing in Ireland and will contain the Committee’s recommendations to the Minister for Agriculture.   The Report from the Turf Club concerning the race meeting in Dundalk in September and recent Veterinary Stable inspections will be sent to the Minister for Agriculture and the Oireachtas Joint Committee for Agriculture in early January.   All the criteria set out by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has now been met which should pave the way for clearance to race at Dundalk in 2016, once clearance is received dates will be announced for racing to include both Trotteur Francais and Pacing with a potential starting date in April.    IHRA is in advanced negotiations for the export of Irish Harness Racing from Dundalk which will allow these races will be bet on internationally with a commission to be paid to the IHRA based on recognized international rates. Contracts are being prepared and the aim is for finalization during the coming weeks.   Advanced discussions are also in progress for the development of a dedicated tote for harness racing which will initially cover races from both Dundalk and Portmarnock which will allow betting both on and off course on our races.   The tote is an integral and extremely important part of our development as it will form the basis for our races to potentially be bet on nationally as well as internationally. A strong tote is the proven formula for a strong industry funding. Apart from online tote offering IHRA is also seeking the inclusion into bookmaker shops.   The 2016 Trotteur Francais program will see a sizeable increase in prize money distribution which is expected to be in the region of €300,000 with continued and additional supports from Le Trot.   A further 20 Trotteur Francais horses have been added to the pool following the recent sale in November.   June 19th has provisionally been assigned for ‘French Day’ at Dundalk. Le-Trot intend sending some of their leading drivers to race against our Irish drivers which promises to be a fun filled day.   IHRA application for Full Membership of the Union of European Trotting is looking promising and we should receive the confirmed position in late January. If IHRA is successful in achieving this it will create more racing and promotional opportunities for Irish Harness Racing.   The process of registering the first Irish Standardbred horses in the IHRA’s new Stud Book has now commenced which gives official recognition for the first time in our history to the Irish Standardbred Horse.   A concerted effort to rebuild our breeding industry is also required as part of the overall strategy to build a strong racing industry over the coming years and various initiatives are being considered in this respect.   There is a solid foundation being laid and we are in a position to capitalize on the many ongoing developments. For all of these areas to be successful it will be a matter for all IHRA members to support where they can. This is only the beginning and a lot more work is required but much has been and will continue to be achieved. Every Member has a part to play whether you have one horse or twenty horses in training and we now need to work collectively to help in achieving these goals. From the Irish Harness Racing Association

Horse Racing Ireland and Horse Sport Ireland to discuss Harness Racing with the Agriculture Committee The Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine will tomorrow meet with representatives of Horse Racing Ireland and Horse Sport Ireland to resume their deliberations on the Irish Harness Racing Industry. The meeting will commence at 2.00 pm in Committee Room 3 tomorrow, Tuesday, 15 December 2015. Committee Chairman, Andrew Doyle TD, said “Tomorrow’s meeting allows us to continue our deliberations on the Irish Harness Racing Industry. This is a growing sector which we have looked at previously and now look forward to expanding the context of our considerations with the HRI and HSI.” “Access to facilities was cited as a key issue for the IHRA and we look forward to hearing more about the legislative footing on which horse racing facilities operate. Harness racing offers opportunity for economic gain and so we look forward to hearing from the HRI and HSI on their thoughts on possible collaborative growth.” Committee proceedings can be viewed live here. Committee proceedings can also be viewed on the move, through the Houses of the Oireachtas Smartphone App, available for Apple and Android devices. From the Houses of Oireachtas

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