Day At The Track

John Meade was on Monday night downing a few stubbies and doing bit of dairy work. The 63-year-old dairy farmer/trainer was doing his best to take his mind off things after experiencing one of his toughest days in harness racing. Meade was feeling “hollow” after scans confirmed his star trotter Sparkling Success has injured his near front suspensory ligament and is set for a lengthy stint on the sidelines. “My gut was telling me something was wrong, so I got my vet to check him out. I wasn’t feeling too good when he was scanning him; I’ve seen a few scans in my time, and when you see black holes it’s not what you want to see,” Meade told RSN927. “It could be a 15-month injury. It’s like getting hit by a bolt of lightning. One day it’s chocolates, the next day it’s boiled lollies; we’re down to the boiled lollies.” A winner of Saturday night’s Group 3 Maori’s Idol Free For All at Tabcorp Park Melton, Sparkling Success was only days away from heading to America for the famed Yonkers International Trot in New York on October 13 – a race worth $500,000 USD ($700,000 AUD). “It was that big of an opportunity, I didn’t even dream about it,” Meade said. “We’re still going to go (to New York). I’m going to front up and tell the people from Yonkers that I’m sorry I couldn’t get here with him; I tried my best.” Bred by Meade (Great Success out of Diamond Insitu), Sparkling Success has won 17 of his 37 career starts, including the 2016 Group 1 Vicbred Super Series final (for four-year-old entires and geldings) and this year’s Group 1 Pryde's EasiFeed Great Southern Star for earnings in excess of $400,000. An emotional Meade, who lives on a farm with wife Mary, said: “I love my animals. My mother always told me that if you treat them right, they’ll treat you right. You can imagine how much we love this horse and how much he’s done for our farm and our lives."   Trent Masenehelder

The American dream for Sparkling Success and trainer John Meade is over before it began. Following his dominant Maori’s Idol Trotters Free win at Melton on Saturday night, John Meade has advised Harness Racing Australia that his star trotter has suffered a suspensory ligament injury and his future racing career is in doubt. It is shattering news for John and Mary Meade, as Sparkling Success was due to fly to New York later this week to compete in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot on October 13. More to follow.   Harness Racing Australia

RACECALLER Fred Hastings might not have used the precise term to summarise Amanda Turnbull’s 'Drive of the Night' at Bathurst Gold Crown Paceway on Wednesday but the horse’s name - Aintnobettor - perfectly summed up her winning effort. In the opening race of a new Bathurst season, a C0 Club Menangle heat over the sprint trip, she faced an awkward draw on the inside of the second line, but eased back following the start, got onto the three-wide train in the early stages and was actually in front for most of the last lap, dashing home in a 28s final quarter to hold off the on-pace runners Walk On Kimmy and Grosestar. The win - number two in 16 starts -broke a sequence of five seconds for the Bettors Delight gelding, his trainer-driver admitting “ I was beginning to wonder lately if he knew how to win, but to his credit he toughed it out tonight and finished the race off well.” If the win was well-deserved for the horse, and certainly for an outstanding drive, credit was also due to the owners, Adelaide-based couple Terry and Ros Cluse who have been very good supporters of Amanda Turnbull. In the following race, a C2 Country Series heat, Amanda completed a double when leading throughout with the short-priced favourite Executive Dash NZ, the Well Said four-year-old notching up his fifth win from just 11 career starts. The naming theme established by Aintnobettor was carried through to the back half of the meeting, with three appropriately-named winners. The field for the  C1-C3 Guaranteed Ladyship Pace included a Kitty, a Carly, a Suzie, a Porsha and a Ruth, but they all played second fiddle to favourite Nova Time NZ, a recent addition to Brad Hewitt’s stable. The come-from-behind winner was named for a star, perhaps, but we’ll stick with the female theme and opt instead for Nova Perris as the inspiration. A large and happy group of “senior cits” came onto the track for the presentation of the R0 grade South West Community Transport Pace, won by leader Young Cambo, for Emma and Wendy Turnbull. The winner is a Million Dollar Cam full-brother to Old Jack Cambo, named by former HRNSW chairman Graeme Campbell for his father, and Graeme’s since acquired a sister who’s to be named for his mother, so the win wasn’t as ironic as it might have seemed. Our Uncle Jim, trained by Chris “The Man from Uncle” Frisby, and driven by his son Anthony, scored an authoritative win in the 3YO Evolution Series heat. The Western Terror gelding charged home over the top of his rivals, marking a return to the Frisby home track after a very successful Queensland campaign which concludes this week. Peter and Marie Neil were on hand for the Owners Association bonus races, and presented $1,000 bonus cheques to the connections of Karloothreeothree -successful via the sprint lane in the fast-class event for Mitch Turnbull - and Our Little Digger, which bounced back to form in coming off the speed in the C0-C1 NSWSOA sprint, for Bernie Hewitt. NSWSOA subscriptions for the current season are due at the present time, and for just $55, represent wonderful value. The Bathurst HRC presentation night will take place on Friday, October 12 , following the excitement of the Bathurst 1000 race week,  when the Gold Crown Paceway will host two meetings including its own Shootout time-trial series, which proved such a hit last year Terry Neil

POPULAR horseman Toby Ryan will continue to search for short distant races as he looks to work Dont Tell William through the grades. Registering his ninth win when successful at Port Pirie on Saturday night, Dont Tell William is yet to score over a distance longer than 1800 metres. The gelding’s latest success was in 1:57.1 over a mile. “He likes the shorter course racing,” Ryan said. “If you break his record into two halves, one for 1800 metres or less and the other for races over a long trip you will see too very different tallies. “He just doesn’t get the full 2200 metres and is often found wanting. “The hope is he can strengthen up, but he just can’t seem to get that extra distance in him.” With Ryan’s reinswoman-wife, Lisa, in the cart, Dont Tell William worked to the lead from barrier six before being eased to take a trail behind the short priced favourite, The Shooting Star. Angled into the passing lane during the latter stages, the son of Bettors Delight sprinted to a two-and-a-half metre win from Rhyflective, with The Shooting Star a metre-and-a-half away third. “That was a nice run from him,” Ryan said. “He did a bit of work early before gaining the trail and then had enough left to finish it off nicely. “I’ve got nothing particular picked out for him at this stage, just stay locally and hope can progress through the grades.” HRSA

New Zealand harness racing leaders fall asleep at the switch!  There have been times, not many, in the 50 years or so that I’ve been associated with harness racing that I’ve had to admit to being ashamed of the sport I love, and the actions of figures central to it. This is one of those few times - but the shame is not because of the Operation Inca allegations! Rather it is because of the sterile and cowardly way our industry leaders are invisibly handling the controversy. Our leaders represent all harness racing participants; those now accused no less than the rest of us! Until complete facts come out, defences are heard, and decisions rendered, it is their job and moral responsibility to address the situation with delicacy but with reason, fairness, an open mind, and decency. While they must await judgement until all the facts are in, they should not stay silent and through their inaction facilitate both the general misrepresentation of the scandal’s scope and relevancy being blithely projected by police investigators and journalists, and allow individual reputations to be ruined by mere assertions. Arguably, a temporary stand down of the accused pending more information may be wise, but it should be clearly explained as a necessary self-protective gesture for an industry reliant on its image of integrity. It should be clearly said to be completely unrelated to any belief in individual innocence or guilt.  There has been no leadership voice protecting either the accused or the industry, itself, by slowing down public preconceptions, by reminding everyone of the foundation policy of innocence until guilt is proven, of clarifying the fact that police assertions to date do NOT present a picture of a scandal ridden, conspiratorial industry rife with corruption. The day of the hearing (11th of September) was interesting in that the Judge Raoul Neave was highly critical of the police for briefing the media before the hearing and he was also disapproving of the media for publishing the names of several individuals before the hearing took place. The counsel for some of the accused persons attacked the media for naming people early saying their clients have been effectively denied a right to fair trial. The next few sessions in court will possibly start to unlock the vault to see if we are really dealing with concrete evidence in some of these match fixing cases or just hearsay as has been rumoured by some. "Perhaps I am wrong perhaps I am right but I will be particularly interested to hear the evidence put forward by the police in this matter because after 18 months of investigations the more I keep hearing the more I keep thinking the police may have a lot of conspiracy theories to go on and not much else." The charges to date seem merely to throw a spotlight on what appears to be a sad proliferation of party drugs amongst some industry participants, including drivers who should be more aware of the increased potential for harm it creates in their workplace, and suggest that in a few minor races there might have been race fixing. While horrible, and deflating to affected punters, occasional race-fixing has always been assumed in thoroughbred, Greyhounds and harness racing and more recently many other first-past-the-post sports. Coordinated, endemic, large scale race fixing would, indeed, be a scandal that could bring down racing - but charges to date don’t come close to suggesting that exists! As Mark Purdon suggested in his article on his All-Stars site there is no reason to believe in an industry wide conspiracy to fix or drug race horses. Our industry leaders have done nothing to keep this asserted, self-pronounced “scandal” in perspective, a job they should be performing on a daily basis in protection of our industry! No one is asking publically what most of us are questioning privately - namely, why has this scandal been asserted by authorities now? Why a week or so after the “Messara” report, why after 15 to 18 months of investigation? This smells more like a conspiracy to harm harness racing by The Racing Minister and The Government! After attending the “Messara” report release in Hamilton (Attended by over 1,000 people from the three Codes) and watching first-hand how our harness racing bosses sat quiet throughout the public meeting in Hamilton, without a whimper, and their lack of public response to it, you have to wonder how the Harness Racing Industry is to survive much longer! It seems to me that harness racing administrators and leaders have no idea what to do next! One thing I do know is that they certainly know how to protect their jobs! As a previous Racing Minister (Mr John Carter) once told me, the only way Harness Racing in New Zealand has a chance to survive is through its own actions period. The Industry needs to replace the out-dated Club structure of running the Industry, as this has a proven record of taking the entire Industry down the slippery slope towards extinction. Now, what exactly triggered the start of this Operation Inca investigation? According to Newshub “The investigation was sparked by the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU), which tipped off police with information of the alleged illegal activity“. Well, let us look at this “Integrity Unit”. It was formed on the 1st of February 2011. How was it formed? What was it formed for? Who formed it? Who employed the people running it?  Who checks them? Does it have its own internal Integrity for self investigation? Does any outside entity has supervisory authority with respecting RIU integrity? Who investigates the Investigators? Who runs the Integrity Unit? What is their background? Let us check each and every member’s credentials. Let us look at their background. Some of their decisions over the last few years have been very questionable. Let us see if there are any indiscretions with each and every one that works there. Does the management have any untoward vendettas against any of the Codes? Does the management have any personal vendettas against any individual? Is management competent enough to make its own decisions? After all it is ‘The Racing Integrity Unit” isn’t it? And regardless of how wonderful any of these members may be, including the head, shouldn’t they be required to stand down and be replaced on a staggered base to ensure both continuity and real maintenance as investigative integrity? There should be an absolute term limit of no more than six years for all employees and maybe four years for the head. What did racing’s investigative arm see 15 to 18 months ago that started all this? Would claims of race-fixing at Nelson or Manawatu justify a 15 to 18 month effort? In my opinion probably not! Presumably whatever it was did not end up being actionable at that time because all asserted race-fixing charges seem to point to specific incidents that are quite recent! Shouldn’t the Racing Integrity Unit now disclose what worried it 15 to 18 months ago to the point of getting a police investigation started? After all, they are answerable to the three Codes! Shouldn’t we be the slightest bit concerned that human, political, business pressures are pushing the police to find corruption, and to overpublicize and overstate the importance of their discoveries, to retrospectively justify and support their expenses, time, manpower and effort expended over 15 to 18 months of industry investigation? A massive race fixing and drugging problem linked to harness racing sells papers and justifies expenses. Arresting a few prominent individuals for drug possession, personal drug use, or selling of drugs for personal use would not! Why have the police conveniently presented charges in such a way that misinterpretation is so easy? Many just read headlines and probably assume that the charges relate to drug use on horses connected to race fixing. It is just incredible that industry leaders have not jumped to clarify this point!  Are the bosses at Harness Racing New Zealand complicit with the Racing Integrity Unit? When speaking to Harness Racing Chairman Ken Spicer today, he says "HRNZ were completely blindsided by last week’s police operation. “We had no knowledge that an investigation was going on”. HRNZ has sought more information and a briefing, but at this stage had no communication from the Police and very limited communication from the RIU. “The Industry’s image has been severely damaged by this, but we just have to follow due process and see where all this goes”. HRNZ made enquiries to the RIU when there was a suggestion from media back in February 2017 that an investigation had started, but consistent with RIU policy they would not comment on operational matters. HRNZ is the responsible for setting the rules of Harness Racing, with the RIU charged with enforcing those rules." In my opinion HRNZ needs to be vocal in protecting the due process of the defendants and the good name of harness racing. HRNZ needs to respect the principles of due process, but those principles do not require that HRNZ be silient or unable to speak on the issue to safe guard individual rights and the Industry's image. From its inception the general manager of the Racing Integrity Unit has been Mike Godber, who is an ex chief executive of harness racing Addington Raceway, ex chief executive of Harness Racing Queensland and was CEO of South Australian Harness Racing before taking the current job. How did he get this job? This should be investigated. What was his reason for leaving those previous harness racing jobs? In my view this man has a lot to answer for! What is wrong with our Harness Racing Leaders? Again, how was this Racing Integrity Unit formed? I can understand having a “Racing Integrity Unit” for Harness Racing but a combined one with the Greyhounds and Thoroughbreds is ridiculous. They are three separate Industries with NO relationship except Gambling. Can you imagine now that Sports Betting is a component of the TAB’s Gambling in New Zealand that for Integrity issues in the Sport we should now combine “Netball with Cricket and Soccer” in one Integrity Unit or “The All Blacks with Cycling and Rugby League” in another Integrity Unit, That is how ridiculous this has become. The “New Zealand Racing Board” has a lot to answer for too, but I will leave that for my next report. I write this editorial not to defend the accused in Operation Inca, but to defend our industry from scurrilous attack when others who should do so, are not! We must defend it with vigilance and fairness. And we must defend the accused from prejudice and premature characterizations until we force clear presentations of evidence! We still have every reason to love our sport but we and industry leaders must prove it every day by fighting for our sport with vigour, integrity and courage. John Curtin Harnesslink Media

On 6 September 2018, the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board considered a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1) against licensed trainer-driver Courtney Slater. AHRR 190(1) reads as follows: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under AHRR 190(1) related to a urine sample collected from the horse ‘Luvyacookie’ after it finished first in Race 3, the ‘Hillcroft Stables 3YO Pace’, at the Stawell harness racing meeting on 3 December 2018. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported the analysis of that urine sample revealed arsenic in excess of the allowable threshold. Ms Slater was also charged with a breach of AHRR 190B(1) being that she failed to keep and maintain a log book as required. Ms Slater pleaded guilty to both charges before submissions on penalty were heard from the HRV Stewards and Ms Slater. In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board considered Ms Slater’s guilty plea and cooperation throughout the investigation; Ms Slater’s excellent record in regard to prohibited substances; and the steps taken to prevent recurrence. Ms Slater was subsequently fined $3000, of which $2000 was suspended for a period of 12 months. The HRV RAD Board also ordered, under AHRR 195, that ‘Luvyacookie’ be disqualified from Race 3 at Stawell on 3 December 2017 and that the placings be amended accordingly. HRV RAD Board Panel: Alanna Duffy (Chair), Kerry Willcock   Harness Racing Victoria

AMERICA here we come. That’s something Victorian dairy farmers and harness hobbyists John and Mary Meade never thought they’d say. Now it’s reality as they pack their bags to head to New York of all places with their pride and joy, their star trotter Sparkling Eyes. And, judging by his farewell Aussie run, Sparkling Eyes is primed o do everyone proud in the $US1 million Yonkers International Trot in New York on October 13. John Meade looks to have timed the preparation well with two sound placings to open this campaign then a pair of dominant Melton wins. Sparkling Success sat parked with driver Chris Svanosio controlling the tempo while his only real danger, Kyvalley Blur, two back in the running line. Svanosio put paid to the leader, El Paco, rounding the final bend, opened-up and big league and easily held-off a game Kyvalley Blur to win by 3.4m in a slick 1min55.9sec mile rate for 1720m. They dashed home in56.5 and 27.7sec. What an exciting time for Down Under harness with Lazarus commanding so much attention in North America and an in-form Sparkling Success headed his way. _________________________________________________________________________ NOW we are starting to see why Team Tritton thinks former their Kiwi pacer My Alpha Rock is Inter Dominion material. The sixth year-old posted his fourth successive Menangle win and this time ran a personal best and broke with the 1min50sec barrier with a sparkling 1min49.5sec mile last night (Saturday). All this from a wide draw and being part of a slick 26.8sec opening quarter then splits of 28.1, 27.2 and 27.4sec. “We’ve always liked him and have given him time. He’s really gone to the next level these past few runs,” Shane Tritton said. “The plan is to take him down (to Melbourne) for the Victoria Cup (October 13) and then the Inter Dominion later on.” My Alpha Rock has won eight of his 11 starts since joining Team Tritton at the end of last year, Shane and Lauren Tritton also have Inter Dominion hopefuls Franco Nelson and Gotta Go Ya Hu. The other key winner at Menangle was Steve Turnbull’s emerging five-year-old Joes Star Of Mia, who sat parked to win the Group 3 Dahua final in a 1min50.9sec mile. _________________________________________________________________________ STILL on the Inter Dominion theme and gifted Victorian pacer My Kiwi Mate is another headed that way. Craig Demmler’s gelding has always shown Group 1 potential and his Melton win in The Gammlite (2240m) at Melton last night (Saturday) was the most “complete” of his career. More renowned for his lethal sit-sprint style, My Kiwi Mate worked early, was stuck wide, drifted back to last and then came five and six-wide around the entire field to snatch a half-neck win. All this in a slick 1min55.2sec mile and closing splits of 57 and 28.2sec. It’s been a fantastic training effort from Demmler to nurse My Kiwi Mate back from a bone chip in a back fetlock which required an operation. Demmler has often likened My Kiwi Mate’s potential to Breenys Fella, who he drove in a string of major races for his father, Ted, including second to Shakamaker in the 2000 Inter Dominion final. My Kiwi Mate’s win came at only his second run on the comeback trail, which saw him spend between October 14, last year and August 24 this year off the scene. Some of his best runs so far have included a second in the 2015 Queensland Derby, 3rd in the 2015 Breeders Crown 3YO final and 4th in the 2016 4YO Harness Jewels. _________________________________________________________________________ SAD news during the past week with the passing of popular and highly-talented pacer Messini. The former classy Kiwi juvenile, who spent most of his open-age career in Victoria, passed away last Wednesday. “It’s been a terrible morning for us all at Lilley racing with the passing of our brave warrior Messini. Will be missed around the place that’s for sure. RIP mate,” tweeted Brent Lilley. Messini raced 97 times for 26 wins, 28 placings and earned a thumping $711,711. His major wins included the 2018 Bendigo Cup and Group 1 victories in the 2015 Vicbred 4YO final and 2014 Vicbred 3YO final. _________________________________________________________________________ EMERGING WA pacer Vampiro is one of many who will be glad when Chicago Bull leaves the state for major races in Victoria and NZ. While not in the Chicago Bull league – certainly not yet anyway – Vampiro has raced through the grades for Greg and Skye Bond to be on the next level. And he confirmed it with another impressive Gloucester Park win, this time in free-for-all class, last Friday night. It was his third successive win at the track and he made the most of a good trail and lovely Ryan Warwick drive to easily account for Chicago Bull’s talented stablemate, Runrunjimmydunn, who worked outside the leader, Natural Disaster. Despite the dawdling midrace tempo of a 62.6sec middle half, Vampiro was simply too quick in an official 55.9sec closing half to win by 2.9m.   Adam Hamilton

After last Friday night at Gloucester Park was dominated by favourites, last night was significantly harder for the punters elect’s to salute. There were 10 different trainers take out the 10 races, while Chris Lewis was the only driver on the evening to record a winning double. The first of Lewis’ winners came in the $7 Pints At JP’s Pace (1730m) with six-year-old mare The Spinster, before he completed his double with Heez About To Rock in the final event of the evening. The shortest price favourite of the evening was the Gary Hall Snr-trained Speed Man, who was looking to make it five wins from seven starts to begin his campaign in the Steelo’s Midweek Meals Pace (2536m). Driver Gary Hall Jnr made his move to the front past the winning post with two laps to go and from there was never in danger of being beaten. Hall Snr has identified the Group 1 Golden Nugget over the summer period as a target for Speed Man. Hall Jnr said Speed Man still had plenty of improvement left in him prior to the feature races in the coming months. “He’s ticking along really nicely,” he said. “He’s maturing every time and he’s quite a nice horse. “He’s got a few strings to his bow, he’s got depth, he’s got speed and he’s starting to put it all together.” Meanwhile, the Michael Brennan-trained Whenmechief has ended his time in Perth on a high, taking out the GP’s Bridge Bar Pace (2536m). Whenmechief joined Brennan’s stable in March and has won two races from 20 starts since the move. The eight-year-old held the lead from barrier one for Michael Grantham, before he held off a late charge from Trustytrev. The gelding will now head back to Melbourne, where the owners will plan out a campaign for him. Meanwhile, the Justin Prentice-trained and driven Im Stylish took out the Vale Phil Bonser Mares Pace (2130m), the other of the feature events on the night.   Tim Walker

Just when you thought Rohan Hillier’s strike rate as a trainer for the 2017/18 season of 44%   couldn’t get any better, think again. The Beauty Point mentor took two runners to the opening night of the new season in Launceston, Svennson and Smilin Geoff, and returned home with a winning percentage of 100% to kick the season off in grand style. Not only did Rohan prepare a winning double he also steered home a winning treble from his seven drives. “No Apachemee (pictured) is racing in good form and when he drew four on the front line over a mile I thought he would be hard to beat,” said Rohan. “We got a nice trail and when I let him go he dashed clear to win by eight or nine metres (9.3 metres) and recorded a smart mile rate of 1:57.3 including a last-half in 56.7seconds.” Svensson, driven by Rohan Hadley, did all the work chasing the tearaway leader Jake’s A Joy in race five over the 1680-metre trip but still proved too strong in the home straight. “I can’t take any credit for the win of Svennson apart from the fact I drove the float steadily to the track,” laughed Rohan. “Brent (Parish) forgot to renew his trainer’s license so he asked me to train her for four days, obviously I did a great job but that was her last run as Brent’s retiring her, she’s well bred and has always worked well so I wouldn’t be surprised if she threw a smart one.” Rohan was back in the cart behind the Troy Hillier-trained gelding Illegal Immigrant($3.20) in the David Mace Retirement Stakes. “Troy has done a tremendous job with Illegal Immigrant, he has raced through his classes and looks up to the big boys going forward, I know Troy is looking for an MO in Victoria in the next month,” Rohan acknowledged. “Troy usually drives Illegal Immigrant but he hurt his back during the week, I may have to give him another little tap next time he starts.” Smilin Geoff was the fourth success for the night for Rohan in the David Mace Appreciation. “We had our fair share of luck with all the carnage at the start but he showed plenty of courage in the straight when tackled by the backmarker Im Barney Rubble to hang on by a head,” said Rohan. “It was great to win both races named in honour of David’s (Mace) service as Clerk of the Course, he has done a mighty job over nearly forty years, I’ve seen first hand the ability and horsemanship of the man, you always felt safe when you knew David was on the job, I’m sure I speak for all trainers and drivers when I say I wish him all the best in his retirement.” Last season’s leading trainer Ben Yole wasted no time in notching up a winning double with No Apachmee ($1.70 fav) and Black Ops ($3.30 fav) saluting the judge while Todd Rattray also prepared a double with Lachlan Dakin guiding Koolaz Elvis to victory for favourite punters at $2.50 before Todd claimed the spoils on Hayleys Comet ($3.00). Ricky Duggan also picked up from where he left off last season driving home the Chester Bullock trained six-year-old Cardinal Coffee ($3.40) to make it six favourites for the night for punters on the eight-event card. Shane Yates

ALL the talk is about Chicago Bull, but another top Aussie is also being set for a New Zealand Cup Week raid. Top Victorian trainer Andy Gath this week unveiled plans for his star trotter Tornado Valley tackle races on both Tuesday and Friday at Addington. Tornado Valley is back in work and not far of returning from a break following his amazing first campaign with Gath which netted 10 wins a second and a third from just 14 starts. The former Kiwi roared through the grades to win a Group 1 race another eight races at Group 3 level. “We liked him as soon as we got him, but he still surprised us how well he handled every new challenge we asked of him,” Gath said. “It’s good to have been able to give him that break ahead of all the big race at the end of the year.” Tornado Valley’s meteoric rise through the ranks saw him sit alongside Australia’s best trotters when he was spelled after a third at Melton on July 21. “His first big target is the Bill Collins Mile on Victoria Cup night (October 13),” Gath said. “Then it’s over to NZ all going well. We’ve had NZ in mind for quite a while because he’s from there and the money is good for those races. “He showed last time in work he could match it with the best.” The Group 1 Dominion Handicap is Tornado Valley’s major Kiwi target and Gath is no stranger to winning big NZ trotting races, albeit a while back now when he won the 2002 Rowe Cup with the brilliant mare La Coocaracha. Beyond the NZ trip, Tornado Valley looms as the one of the key players in the reinstated Inter Dominion trotting series during the Melbourne Inter Dominion in December. In other stable news, Gath and his wife Kate have high hopes for their exciting recent Kiwi import Diamonds N Cash. One of their many horses raced by Norm Jenkin of Flashing Red fame, Diamonds N Cash was bought from Ken Breckon and the John Dunn stable and his five Aussie runs for the Gaths have been most encouraging. “We threw him in the deep end because it was Breeders Crown time and to finish second in that three-year-old final, which was the strongest Crown final I can recall for many years, was terrific,” Andy Gath said. Diamonds N Cash dropped back in grade and humbled a handy field at Ballarat last Wednesday night, sitting parked, but still dashing home in 55.3sec to win easily. “Gee he felt fantastic,” Kate Gath said. “He’s pacing better every run he has for us and the other night is as sharp as he’s been. “I think he’ll measure-up to the really good ones in time. “He’s only a C3 now so we pick our way through the classes then look at the bigger four-year-old races later in the season.”   Adam Hamilton

Victorian harness racing licenced participants Nathan Jack, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley were today found guilty of charges under Section 195C of the Crimes Act (1958), which relates to engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt the betting outcome of an event or event contingency. Mr Jack was found guilty of charges relating to Race 4 at Cobram on 22 June, 2015, and the training arrangements of Airbournemagic leading up to the event. Mr Pitt was found guilty of a charge relating to the aforementioned race. Ms Bartley was found guilty of charges relating to the training arrangements of Airbournemagic. Mr Jack and Mr Pitt were convicted and fined $20,000 and $15,000 respectively. Ms Bartley was fined $5,000 without a conviction being recorded.  In light of the parties being found guilty Mr Jack, Mr Pitt and Ms Bartley have had all harness racing licences suspended. Horses owned by them are prevented from racing or trialling and all three have been excluded from attending any Victorian racecourse. These restrictions were imposed immediately pending submissions being provided as to why these embargoes should not remain in place until the completion of a HRV investigation. A final decision with respect to these embargoes is expected to be announced by the HRV Integrity Department by 5pm on 19 September 2018. As today’s decision of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria is subject to an appeal period, and all parties being required to appear before HRV for further proceedings, HRV will not make any further comment at this time.   Harness Racing Victoria

Some great stories will be re-lived at Albion Park tomorrow night. The Albion Park Harness Racing Club will celebrate 50 years of night trotting at 'The Creek'.  The first meeting under lights took place on Saturday 7 September 1968, in front of packed grandstands with an estimated crowd of 15,000 and over 60 bookmakers fielding at the meeting. Curly Adios won the opening race on the program while the feature event was taken out by star performer Stormy Water at a very short quote. Many that have played a role during that time will be present while other family members will also be represented; it’s a night of celebration and a great chance to reminisce. Ian Gurney has many fond memories of Albion Park, largely owing to the deeds of mighty pacer Avonnova, a triple Queensland Horse of the Year. The Chambers Flat horseman returns to the famed Breakfast Creek oval with a team of four pacers competing across two races. Smooth Showgirl and Ideal Scott will contest the Welcome Advice Open Pace over 1660m while Our Hi Jinx and Sparkling Cullect start in the Stanley Rio Pace over 1660m. The quartet are resuming from lengthy breaks. “It’s good to be back, I’ve had an ordinary time of it lately owing to viruses and other niggling setbacks in my team but we’re back amongst it. I’m happy with all of them but obviously they will improve with whatever they do this weekend.” Gurney said. All four runners have had a number of trials in recent weeks to be readied for their respective assignments and Gurney is hoping for some luck. Talented reinsmen Adam Sanderson (Smooth Showgirl & Our Hi Jinx) and Paul Diebert (Ideal Scott & Sparkling Cullect) will handle the team. “Most have been off the scene for 15 weeks or longer so it’s tough coming straight back into this grade but there’s no other options for them. All their work and preparation has been pleasing and now it’s just a matter of getting back out there and getting the miles into their legs. “Smooth Showgirl won her most recent trial on Tuesday night when leading most of the way; she’s got class and landed a good draw so I’m hopeful she will measure up. Ideal Scott has drawn a touch wide with some in-form runners drawn to his inside so he might require some luck. “Both Our Hi Jinx and Sparkling Cullect should prove competitive, their trial form is pretty good and the small field will suit both of them. It looks like being a good night and I’m happy to be part of it.” Gurney listed the victory of Avonnova in the Gr.1 $100,000 Sunshine Sprint back in 2015 as his best memory at the track while Our Hi Jinx deserves special mention following his triumph in the 2015 Gr.1 $200,000 Queensland Pacing Championship.   Chris Barsby

On Saturday, September 8, the Albion Park Harness Racing Club will celebrate 50 years of night trotting at 'The Creek'.  The first meeting under lights took place on Saturday 7 September 1968, with packed grandstands with an estimated crowd of 15,000 and close to 80 bookmakers.  Some legends of the sport both past and present will be in attendance to share their memories of the night, and to cheer on the current generation on the 10-race metropolitan program. In the lead-up to the meeting, we caught up with some people who have played a leading role in Albion Park over the past 50 years. Racing Queensland will have many more in next month's edition of PACE Magazine.  Kevin Thomas – former leading harness trainer/driver Kevin Thomas was the leading Australian driver for three seasons running, his most prolific being the 1976/77 season when he steered 174 winners. He is now well-known for his highly successful spelling and pre-training facility Washpool Lodge near Aratula, which has hosted champions such as Black Caviar, Buffering and Black Heart Bart. My favourite moment was probably finishing third in the 1977 Inter Dominion with Sporting Sun. He was owned by Victorian interests and they sent him here to Queensland to race with me. He was always a good horse but he really thrived here in Queensland. He ran third in the final that night and I can remember the stands were packed. They were the days when there was 40 bookmakers under the trees at Albion. Silks Restaurant was always full, you couldn’t get in there unless you booked. It was unbelievable, the crowds, the bookies and the competition very fierce. We had some really good trainers ... They had big teams of horses and were really competitive. Kevin Seymour AM – Lifelong harness fan, former APHRC committeeman and owner/Breeder Mr Seymour has bred and raced some of the greatest horses seen on Queensland race tracks. On opening night back in 1968, Mr Seymour was working at the club. He remembers the night fondly. And, despite the countless feature wins he has shared in over the years, one Albion Park winner stands above the rest. There was 15,000 people there on opening night and the club employed 110 staff and 79 bookmakers. The crowd was that big we had tractors with carriages towed behind them to bring customers from the infield across to where the stand was. The chair of the club was Sir Clive Uhr, who was also the chair of the Brisbane Amateur Turf Club at the time, and it was the first time that a trotting meeting had been held under lights. The first race was won by Curly Adios and was trained by Sam Zammit. It was a very popular result. I think there was eight races on the night and the (standard) prize money was about $775 per-race. That was pretty good prize money for the day, in relative terms. One win that stands out for me over the years was a horse I owned called Crazy Chief – I bought him with a deposit for a lounge suite that I was to buy for my wife. I went down and put $200 on the nose and he won at 10-1. He paid for himself right there and then. That’s what hooked me on harness racing and I’ve been hooked ever since. Brett Rail – Racing Queensland Harness Manager (Operations) Brett Rail has a lifelong love of harness racing, which has extended into a career in administration at both Harness Racing Queensland based at Albion Park and now at Racing Queensland. Once upon a time, Mr Rail was a keen owner and punter. This is just one of his favourite memories of Albion Park over the many years. I have many fond memories of Albion Park over the years not only with horses I owned that were successful at Albion Park such as The Power Of Chris, Lethal Reign, Cams Crusader, Tilman and The Demolition Man but memories of great wins such as Village Kid’s Interdominion, Thorate’s track record breaking win and Riverlea Jack’s Winter Cup win against an outstanding field in a closing quarter of 27 flat which was unheard of at the time. Importantly I also met my wife Amanda at Albion Park. Perhaps my greatest memory is a win by a horse called Sammy Batman. I spent about $10 on a multiple double with bookmaker Andy Pippos who was keen to take my money with Sammy Batman in the last leg at 25/1. Horses in my earlier legs had won and, if I remember correctly, two of them were Peppermint Pattie and Toura. The late Darrell Alexander celebrating a win in-front of a packed house at Albion Park. Coming into the last race my brother Craig Rail, who at the time was practising race calling into a hand-held recorder from the grandstand, declared Sammy Batman as no chance. In the straight Sammy Batman stormed home to win by a nose with Craig declaring “he’s won” in astonishment as they crossed the line. To this day I consider this his greatest ever race call. Needless to say, Andy Pippos was not overly happy in paying out the substantial sum won on the multiple double. Sammy Batman never won another race. Ron Wanless – former trainer, driver and owner Ron Wanless made his name across a variety of sports, but had a real love for harness racing. Son of the great trainer/driver Merv Wanless, who prepared the great Queensland champion Lucky Creed, Ron and his brothers Keith and Leigh were steadfast figures at Albion Park. There was one night at Albion Park that holds special memories for me. I had won the first 18 races for two-year-olds in Queensland in the 1981 season and it was the Sapling Stakes for two-year-olds. My horses ran first, second, third and fifth, but I can’t remember the fifth horse off the top of my head. It was a proud moment and I believe the first time anyone had trained the winning trifecta in a feature race in Queensland. Ron Wanless' father, Merv Wanless, prepared the great Lucky Creed.  The success of Albion Park trotting wouldn’t have been possible without Russell Hinze (former racing minister). I remember walking into Silks Restaurant during the 1980s and you’d see Russell and his wife Fay sitting there with his two Rottweilers in the corner – he was the only person allowed to bring dogs in. I trained horses for Russell, he was a good bloke. One day, he rang me and said, “Son, I’ve done it. I’ve got Albion Park for the trots.” I couldn’t quite believe it. That was a very special moment because we’d been fighting for years to get it. He loved trotting more than racehorses or greyhounds, although he did own a couple of successful thoroughbreds (notably Our Waverley Star).  Former Queensland Racing Minister Russell Hinze (right), with then Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.  I loved trotting because it was a family sport. My dad was a champion trainer. He reared me and my three brothers and sisters on trotting horses. What I loved was that you could own, train and drive your own horse. Damian Raedler – CEO Albion Park Harness Racing Club Damian Raedler has enjoyed a close association with ‘The Creek’ for 35 years. Mr Raedler was the club’s longest-serving CEO (1983-2003) before spending time as the CEO of HRNSW and as the Racing Operations Manager for Harness Racing Queensland and Racing Queensland. I was the CEO responsible for the conduct of three successful Inter Dominion Carnivals at Albion Park in 1986 (Village Kid), 1993 (Jack Morris) and 2001 (Yulestar). I was also heavily involved in the conduct of the 2009 series (won by Mr Feelgood USA) hosted by the APHRC at the Gold Coast. I’d have to say hosting all three at Albion Park was a real honour for me to successfully run and represent the club at an executive level. In those days the series was heavily covered by all of the publications in Queensland. Village Kid winning every heat and the final was a special memory. There was the best part of 20,000 people there on the night of the final, with a temporary grandstand and infrastructure placed in the Member’s carpark. During this time there was no SKY Racing Channel so I negotiated with the ABC to cover it. They produced a half-an-hour special, which showed the last lap of the heats and then an hour-long special on the night of the final.  Jack Morris’ win in 1993 holds both fond and sad memories. Jack Morris’ trainer Sean Harney, who I was close friends with, was suffering cancer and died soon after. This meeting was also covered by the ABC at a cost of $40,000.   RQ Media

Champion trainer Gary Hall’s talented four-year-old Speed Man looks a strong prospect for Perth’s Group 1 Golden Nugget later this year and he is the most popular best bet selection given by WA Harness Racing Guild members for Gloucester Park on Friday night. Speed Man appears to have a class edge on older rivals in the Steelo’s Midweek Meals At Gloucester Park Pace (2536m) and gate four is a bonus as he attempts to notch his fifth win in seven starts since a spell. His stylish win at Gloucester Park last Friday night had been preceded by two victories there in July and a Pinjarra success on August 20. Leading the band of Speed Man fans is long-time media guild member Stuart Lowe, who last Friday night was at his best when tipping nine of the 10 winners. “Speed Man won convincingly last week,” Lowe said. “He will be hard to beat again, after four wins from his past six starts. Ryan Havercroft, Matt McDermott and Ernie manning have also nominated Speed Man as their best bet. “He broke his metro class maiden last week and can now rise further in class,” Havercroft said. McDermott said: “His form this time in has been exceptional  and he was outstanding from the breeze at Pinjarra. The distance is no concern. His only unplaced runs over 2500m have been in the WA Derby and Western Gateway.” Manning said’ “Speed Man has the gate speed to go forward from barrier four and reinsman Gary Hall Jr is likely to put him in a commanding position during early stages.” Long Shot King Pat Harding is naming Vampiro as his best bet, while Media Guild newcomer Hayden King has gone for Qtown Rip Roaring and consistent leading tipster Matt Young favours Whenmechief. “Vampiro can overcome gate seven and record his third straight victory after being impressive last week,” Harding said King said: “Qtown Rip Roaring, who has the speed to hold up and lead all the way, gets his chance to break a winning drought.” Value Bets: Stuart: Qtown Rip Roaring is racing better than his numerical form suggests and he has his best draw for a long time. Ryan: Whenmechief is suited from gate one and he meets only moderate opposition. Matt McDermott: Soho Chelsea is competing over the distance at which he last won and another victory is close. Hayden: The Spinster has the early speed to clear rivals. He had quick closing sectionals and hit the line strongly last week. Pat: Free To Air goes well for reinsman Chris Voak and will be suited by the journey. Ernie: Algranco Under Fire ran an eye-catching first-up second last month after leg trouble had kept him out of racing for almost two years. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good Punting   Ernie Manning

In form trainer Sonia Zucchiatti is set to have her stable charging with all guns blazing after coming up with two sensational barriers over the short course at Gloucester Park this coming Friday night. The Spinster from gate 2 in Race 2 has been in dazzling form as of late with a metro victory 4 starts ago from a backline draw. This time the mare has got a chance to lead throughout in the $7 Pints Every Friday Night Pace (1730M). Bordering on $100,000 in stakemoney the now 6 year old Mare by American Ideal is well known for her tremendous gate speed and over the short course she’s likely to utilize this. Chris Lewis will retain the drive Friday night at headquarters and with a personal best winning mile rate of 1.55.5 she is sure to give punters a bold sight. Stablemate Destined To Rule who is racing in solid form is knocking on the door for a win. The 6yo son of Shadow Play has drawn the ace and master reinsman Chris Lewis will attempt to steer the Westbred pacer to victory. Millendon trainer Zucchiatti will be hoping the gelding can lob handy enough as he generally lacks gate speed. Victory by Destined Rule would break a 13 start losing streak in “The Bridge Bar At GP Open For Footy Finals Pace”.   Matt Young

8 year old journeyman Whenmechief has a chance to bounce back into the winners circle on Friday night after coming up with the coveted barrier draw. The Michael Brennan trained gelding looks to break a 13 start losing sequence in Race 4, the “Watch Sydney v GWS at GP’s Bridge Bar Pace” (2536m). The son of Stoneridge Regal has the gate speed to lead and with his last win being over the same distance back in May, he is likely to be fancied by punters to return to the winners circle. Brennan’s nephew Michael Grantham retains the drive and will look to use the former South Australian’s gate speed early to his advantage and control the race. Brennan heads from his Coolup property on Friday with three runners in, the well fancied Whenmechief as well as free for all stablemates The Bucket List and stable favourite Cut For An Ace who will be give bold performances.   Matt Young