Day At The Track
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NZ Cup & Dominion Rankings

After last weekend’s racing there were a few notable changes in the NZ Cup rankings.  Letspendanitetogetha with his auto qualification for winning the Avon City Ford (New Brighton) Cup now sits at number two. Forgotten Highway’s brave third equal sees him elevate from 22nd to 17th.  Star Galleria, A G’s White Socks & No Doctor Needed all improved their rankings as well. Last season’s NZ Derby winner, Sheriff, now sits on the cut-off for getting a start. In the Dominion rankings we saw Marcoola confirm his spot in the Dominion with the Ordeal Cup win. Harrysul moved up eight spots to 20th by virtue of his close second in the Ordeal. Other movers include Dominion rankings included Le Lievre’s Gift, Muscles Galore who’s strong run yielded good gains. Sundon’s Flyer crept up a spot also. Click here for the full list of rankings!   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Integrity.JPG

No gag orders needed for these blokes

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

Slight change in venue for MacDonald seminars

Please note there has been a slight change of venue for the Addington and Karaka seminars, with these now being held in the Blossom Lady Lounge and Garden Bar respectively at each venue. Whilst an RSVP is advised, we encourage walk ups at all events and all racing industry members are most welcome to attend. Harness Racing New Zealand is thrilled to announce that Canadian harness racing trainer and driver, Anthony MacDonald, will visit this week with free seminars to be held in Invercargill, Christchurch and Auckland starting with Invercargill this Friday night. Best known as the founder of the fractional ownership operation ‘The Stable’, MacDonald has been a driving force in increasing ownership in Canada and introducing new blood into harness racing. MacDonald ran for local government in Guelph in 2014, campaigning to help save harness racing following the loss of slot machine funding and raising awareness about the sport and what it provides in terms of local employment and economy. During his time campaigning he knocked on hundreds of doors, and realised that there was a huge untapped market of potential owners. He talked to people who had heard of horse racing, but had the perception that it was only for rich people. They had no idea that they could be involved; let alone how to become a part of it. With this in mind, MacDonald started ‘The Stable’ in September 2015, with the aim to make horse ownership easy for a whole new market, but also to break down the walls of communication and demystify harness racing to the outside world. He would take on horses that hadn’t sold at yearling sales for vendors, but also has been purchasing yearlings from sales too, and would market the horses to potential new owners as they were being broken in and worked.  This allowed people to see the horse in action and follow its progress by way of video and live drone updates, before committing to purchasing a share. MacDonald has ensured that the shares remain affordable, with shares as small as one percent available. With initial buy in costs varying, depending on the purchase price of the yearling, and then a set fee per month ensures the owners know what it will cost them. The Stable markets itself strongly on the fact that this is not a money making venture – but an affordable form of entertainment. Each yearling is then listed on www.thestable.ca  with its own profile, cost breakdown, monthly progress video reports and stunning live drone footage of the horse working in a set with other young horses. There is a strong focus on utilising social media as a communication tool also so you can watch the horse work from anywhere in the world. In fact, The Stable has owners all across the world now, including New Zealand.  The results in just three years have been outstanding.  In the first year The Stable had 65 owners join into 25 horses. The following year 140 owners went into 62 horses. And in 2017, 392 owners went into 106 horses. But what is most impressive is the retention rate. 97 percent of those owners have now gone on to join into other horses, from year one to two to three with The Stable. The Stable has been a huge success story in not only selling shares, but selling the industry of harness racing and the thrill it provides just by being an owner. Reaching a whole new market of owners who previously felt ownership was far out of their league financially. A passionate public speaker, MacDonald will bring his experience and findings to New Zealand and will hold free seminars in Invercargill, Christchurch and Auckland. These seminars will not only be open to trainers and syndicators who are interested in finding out more about how they can attract new owners, and find out more about communication options that are available to them, but to all who are interested in attending. “I’m really excited to be coming to New Zealand. It has always been a place I wanted to visit. I might have a foreign accent, but my love for racing is the same as yours,” MacDonald joked.  “The future of our industry will rely heavily on its ability to provide the general public with a fresh option for their entertainment dollars. We are the only industry that offers participation at an affordable price and that alone has the power to tip the entertainment scales in our direction in the future,” MacDonald said. “The Stable’s pillars are: Communication; Customer Service; Professionalism and Hard Work. These are things that are very attainable and sustainable in any industry, especially ours.” This will also be a wonderful opportunity for cadets and junior drivers to learn more about self-promotion and communication, first hand from a harness racing trainer and driver who has forged a new path in the international industry.   Below are the dates for the Anthony MacDonald seminars proudly presented by Harness Racing New Zealand, which will be free to anyone who wishes to attend. Please note numbers are limited at some venues: Friday 21 September 2018 7pm Mararoa Room - Ascot Park Hotel, Southland Tuesday 25 September 2018 7pm Blossom Lady Lounge - Addington Raceway, Christchurch Wednesday 26 September 2018 7pm Garden Bar – Karaka, Auckland Each seminar will run for approximately one hour, with the opportunity to have a question and answer session, followed by mix and mingle with finger food and nibbles. MacDonald will also use his time in New Zealand to visit race meetings, stables and farms and speak one on one with anyone who may be interested to meet with him and learn more about how he runs The Stable. He will also speak on the first day of the Harness Racing New Zealand annual conference (Friday 28 September), this year to be held in Auckland. To register for the seminars, or if you would more information, please contact Jess at Harness Racing New Zealand.   Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Phone 03 964 1200 or email jess@hrnz.co.nz

One Off,Harness racing

Kiwi pacer continues to rise

Pint-sized pacer One Off continues to defy the believers. The former New Zealand pacer was bought for a ‘song’ after failing to win a race his native country but has turned his fortunes right around since arriving in Queensland. Leading owner Greg Mitchell took a punt on the McArdle – Jay Bee’s Gem gelding and placed him with his trainer, leading horseman Grant Dixon. Mitchell enjoyed good success with another of McArdle progeny several seasons ago, Only The Brave (28 wins - $268k) Since being based in the Sunshine State, One Off has never tasted defeat after winning a trial and then three racetrack triumphs. One Off scored a stylish victory in his Queensland debut when successful at Redcliffe on September 6 before conquering the Marburg to Albion Park heat/final series. Starting as a clear favourite despite an awkward second-line draw, One Off ($2.10) sat at the rear of the field before unleashing a powerful sprint with 500m left to run. In the end, he scored by a widening margin of 13.9m while rating 1:58.8 for the 2138m event. “He’s been a real surprise package for the stable, even after his trial victory I didn’t have any lofty ambitions for him but he’s continued to improve and strengthen each time we’ve taken him to the races. Obviously the pace was on but he let down nicely when I called on him going down the back straight, he’s headed in the right direction and will win more races.” Dixon said. But future plans remain unclear and Dixon is now scanning the calendar and weighing up his options. However, nothing is set in concrete at this stage. “Hopefully, we can find and target a few more of these heat/final series and keep him progressing through his grades at a nice rate. Like I said, he’s got some nice upside to him. “I like his versatility, in his three starts he’s proven he can race and adapt quickly so that’s a good thing going forward. “We’ll reassess the race and keep looking at what comes up but there aren’t really any solid plans.” Meanwhile, the Dixon/Mitchell combination struck in the Remembering Speed Ace Open Pace when Alleluia made it four straight victories. Backing-up from Monday, the Art Major gelding landed perfect one out/one back cover and proved too good in the straight holding out Bodhi Tree and Ohoka Punter in a time of 1:54.0. The perennial performer has claimed the current title as the best open class performer in the state given his recent form surge. “He’s a great old performer and his win streak is very satisfying, we’ve changed his work routine around and it’s obviously working while the track is a little softer at present and that’s playing a role. “We’ll just keep ticking him along but we’re likely to nominate for the Inter Dominion series given his current form.” The 2018 Inter Dominion series starts on December 1 and will be staged in Victoria this year. Chris Barsby

If Jimmy Takter was disappointed by Lazarus's shock defeat in Canada yesterday he was hiding it well. The champion former Kiwi pacer had to settle for second in a C$34,000 ($40,000) free-for-all at Woodbine in Toronto, closing from fourth to second at the top of the straight but easily beaten by Nirvana Seelster. Nirvana Seelster could manage only eighth in the Canadian Pacing Derby that Lazarus finished second in two weeks so after winning fresh up in North America three starts ago, Lazarus could appear to be tracking in the wrong direction. But Takter, the Hall of Fame trainer entrusted with the millionaire stallion, says he was happy enough with the performance in the 1:48.2 mile. "Obviously we would have liked to win but it is not that easy against these horses over a fast mile," said Takter. "We found out he had a virus after the Canadian Derby so he missed some work coming into this race which is why we decided to drive him further back rather than sending him down the road [leading]. "So for him to come from fourth to run second and pace his last half mile in 53.2 seconds was good. "And he will improve with that. All the mile races he can have will help." Lazarus will now head to the US$175,000 ($267,000) Hoosier Park Derby in Indiana on Friday (Saturday afternoon NZ time), the track where he won the Dan Patch in his first US start last month. The irony for Lazarus is had he started out with a performance like yesterday's in his first North American start, progressed to a second in the Canadian Derby and won the Dan Patch he would now be rated the best pacer in North America. But the expectations created by his magic mile fresh up in the Dan Patch last month mean that anything but a Lazarus win will be judged a failure by most racing fans. The six-year-old gets the chance to win them back over before the week is out. Safely through the Hoosier Park race Lazarus is still a chance to head to the super fast Red Mile in Kentucky in three weeks to chase a career best time.   Michael Guerin

CHESTER, PA - Two natives of New Zealand, born just 300 miles apart but who have spent most of the last decade 6000 miles apart, combined for a visit to the winner's circle in the Harrah's Philadelphia winners circle Friday, as the Roll With Joe sophomore filly Believe In Me, trained by Brett Pelling and driven by Dexter Dunn, won the $16,000 feature distaff pace in a career best 1:51.2. Dunn spotted third early with Believe In Me, but past the 27.1 quarter he was out and rolling with his filly, making the lead well before the 55 half. Race favorite Special Kay Deo, who defeated Believe In Me two weeks ago, came first-over down the back, but her bid stalled before the 1:22.4 3/4s, and Dunn kept the winner rolling through the lane to win by 2¾ lengths. She is owned by the Bay Pond Racing Stable of Paoli PA, only 20 miles away from Harrah's. Driver Dunn and trainer Pelling have a more interesting - and spread-out -- geographical "relationship." Both were born on the south island of New Zealand - Dunn is from Christchurch, centrally-located on the east coast of the island, while Pelling was born in Mataura at the southern tip, but only 320 miles apart. When Pelling was enjoying his success in North America and was based in New Jersey, they were separated by 8936 miles; when just over a dozen years ago Pelling "retired" to Australia, the country "next door" to New Zealand, they were still separated by over 3000 miles, as Pelling lived in Perth, on the West Coast of Aussieland. But on Friday the pair of native Kiwis were back together winning the feature in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. In the $14,500 co-feature for pacing distaffs, Diamondtoothgertie posted her third win in four starts since going to the care of trainer Richard Johnson, taking a new mark of 1:51.3. Tony Morgan, who went over $130 million in career earnings earlier on the card and who is now about 650 races behind Heinz Wewering for second place on the all-time world list for driving victories with 16,863 (Dave Palone has 18,471), guided the victorious daughter of Sportswriter for D'Elegance Stable IX, Joseph Gandolfo, NR Holdings LLC, and Anthony Fiscetti. At press time (after the 11th race), driver George Napolitano Jr. had five winners, for five different trainers. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia      

With the harness racing industry taking stock of the recent allegations and charges of several horseplayers involved in the ongoing Operation Inca inquiry, the Harnesslink Bets Of The Week is going to be taking a break for a short while. Several contributors have hinted they are uncomfortable giving out any information which might jeopardize their livelihood if taken the wrong way by the authorities. Imagine a trainer has two horses in a race and states in the public eye one is a better chance than the other. If the less fancied horse somehow happens to win, has the trainer deceived the betting public by innocently giving his honest opinion of his horses chances? Several scenarios which seem innocent on first glance have different connotations in light of recent findings, and we think it is unfair to put drivers and trainers under any undue pressure to publicly give out information or tips until further legal issues are addressed and the cases at hand have come to their conclusion.   Harnesslink Media    

Steven Reid knows what he is supposed to say ahead of Star Galleria’s comeback at Alexandra Park tonight. He just can’t bring himself to say it.  After 10 days embroiled in a scandal, harness racing gets down to the business of good horses racing again toinight, with big names in both gaits on the track at Addington and Alexandra Park.  For all the talent on show Star Galleria may be the most exciting, a pacer who has emerged as a real player in the best races this season as the open class crop reconfigures after some big-name losses. He has the speed of a very serious horse and has sharpened up for tonight’s 2200m main pace with wins in both his recent workouts.  But he still faces a 20m handicap in a small field, often a tricky assignment for horses returning in this grade when their connections don’t want them stressed fresh up.  Reid, a cunning form tactician, knows that. But he also knows how good Star Galleria is and might be.  “I know it can be difficult to win fresh up in a race like this but the way he is going I think he can pull it off,” says Reid.  “His workout last Saturday was brilliant and he has definitey improved.  “So while anything can happen, especially fresh up, I think he will still win.”  It is hard to see Star Galleria being any worse than three back on the outer starting the last 800m and unless his rivals get away with pedestrian sectionals and then sprint a 55 second last 800m, he should be able to get over the top of them. But with class opponents like Mach Shard and No Doctor Needed, punters will want $2-$2.20 to make it worth their while as more top horses lose than win off backmarks at Alexandra Park. That almost certainly sums up the fate of trotting warrior Speeding Spur earlier in the night where he faces a 50m handicap in race three, a race his trainer John Dickie doesn’t really want to start in.  “It isn’t the ideal comeback race but he needs racing to get hard fit now he is an older horse,” says Dickie.  “But I will be going to the stewards before the race to tell them we don’t intend taking off in the middle stages and making it a staying test because he is not ready for that.”  The open classers are also back in both gaits at Addington and after two dominant wins so far this season Thefixer will be expected to win the main pace.  The Ordeal Trotting Cup looks a far more complex puzzle with plenty of big names returning while Harness Jewels winner Habibi Inta steps into open class without as much as a workout.  “He only had a month off after the Jewels (June) so he is ready to go and working well,” says trainer Paul Nairn.  “Whereas my other one, Ronald J, hasn’t been working quite as well yet so probably has the right draw to be driven with a sit.”   Michael Guerin

At Winton on Saturday Bettor’s Delight mare Melina Lowe proved age is no barrier when it comes to breaking records. In winning, the seven year old aided by a perfect run behind pacemaker Shezacullengirl, covered the 2400 metres from behind the mobile in 2-53.6. The time bettered Hannah Jaye’s 2-54.3 which was a track, Southland and New Zealand posted in 2012. Driver Sheree Tomlinson was so confident inside the last 300 metres that she didn’t wait for the passing lane, pulling Melina Lowe off the back of Shezacullengirl before the two straightened up for the run home. At the finish Melina Lowe stuck her head out gamely to beat Magnetic Watch which ran home late up the inside. “Sheree said she was travelling good all the way and felt she was going to win easily. She said the horse pulled up in the last 50 metres and when I told her what time they went, that explained why,” said trainer Craig Ferguson. The all-comers record for the distance at the Central Southland Raceway is held by three year old filly Nek Time which recorded 2-53.0 in 2016. Owned by Paul and Brendan Duffy of Edendale Melina Lowe has spent most of her career with Kirk Larsen but was transferred to Ferguson’s stable at the end of last season. She was having her eighth start for the barn. “She had a few niggly issues and I think the change of scenery and the pool at Wyndham helps older horses,” said Ferguson. Melina Lowe is out of Washington VC mare Biddy Mulligan whose second dam was quality Transport Chip pacer Chipaluck. Chipaluck, trained for most of her career by Ronnie MacDonald, won nine races. Her best season was as a three year old, when she won five races including the Group One 1985 New Zealand Oaks and the Group Two Ladyship Stakes in Auckland. “I used to milk Ronnie MacDonald’s cows when he went to the races. I was only sixteen when I started doing that and we became quite good friends. We were both breeding Aryshires. Owen Crooks had Chipalong (Apollo’s Way – Chipaluck) at that stage and she didn’t have a home so Ronnie offered her to us. My son Brendan and I went off and bought the mare home. When we got home he said ‘Dad do you think we should open a bank account?’ I said what for? He thought there was going to be money coming in I think. There was a bit of learning to taking place there,” said Paul Duffy laughing. Chipalong’s first foal was Biddy Mulligan. “She had speed everywhere but up the straight so we put her aside (to breed from).” Biddy Mulligan is also the dam of Arthur Lowe which won four races in New Zealand and another six in Australia. He won at Gloucester Park on Friday night so it was a great weekend for the Duffys. Paul says the Lowe name comes from the family farm which is on Lowe Road at Seaward Downs. “I bought the farm back in 1972. The original owner was Levi Lowe. We called one horse Levi Lowe and have gone with the Lowes ever since.” Meanwhile Ferguson says Melina Lowe may well be suited to the rise in class. “She follows speed really well and I think racing against the better faster horses will suit her.”   Bruce Stewart

We all know harness racing has been hard hit by the news coming out in the last week or so and I wouldn’t want to go into the ins and outs of all the evidence that has emerged so far. That is for others to decide However I feel I must comment on some aspects of how the case has been handled. I think I can say that in that  I have been a victim of some aspects of the media coverage  which I think has been overly sensational and judgmental before any of the evidence had been properly evaluated. I can’t help noticing that harness racing seems to judged by different standards compared to other sports and businesses in these circumstances. Innocent until proven guilty is the law but you couldn’t say that was the attitude of  some commentators and authorities in connection with this case. Our industry deserves better . From the  personal viewpoint there were photos of me in the media as soon as the story broke and the property on television news when nobody at All Stars was ever involved in a race fixing inquiry. Names were being published before any court appearances had been made In my experience other  industries are not treated like that. It seems they have no respect for harness racing. In my view the media has quite a lot to answer for over these events. They seem to have a double standard when it comes to racing. I looked at the people involved in court last week on the various charges and thought how well presented all of them were and how most are high achievers who have made something of their lives. They may prove to have done something wrong but they seemed out of place in a courtroom. I have been in harness racing a long time and  consider it clean. As in all businesses things happen from time to time. However what some might be sure they see from the stands is not always what is really happening in the race. I believe harness racing deserves more respect for its overall record. That is why I am also disappointed at the lack of support to date from the code leaders for some of the most successful  people in harness racing who have not yet been found guilty of anything. This treatment does not seem to happen in the thoroughbred code. I can understand people questioning aspects of our industry and have no problems with those questions being properly answered. But to see people treated so shabbily before anything has been through the courts of law is extremely disappointing.   Mark Purdon Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables website

Anthony MacDonald to hold ownership seminars in New Zealand Harness Racing New Zealand is thrilled to announce that Canadian harness racing trainer and driver, Anthony MacDonald, will visit New Zealand in September. Best known as the founder of the fractional ownership operation 'The Stable', MacDonald has been a driving force in increasing ownership in Canada and introducing new blood into harness racing. MacDonald ran for local government in Guelph in 2014, campaigning to help save harness racing following the loss of slot machine funding and raising awareness about the sport and what it provides in terms of local employment and economy. During his time campaigning he knocked on hundreds of doors, and realised that there was a huge untapped market of potential owners. He talked to people who had heard of horse racing, but had the perception that it was only for rich people. They had no idea that they could be involved; let alone how to become a part of it. With this in mind, MacDonald started 'The Stable' in September 2015, with the aim to make horse ownership easy for a whole new market, but also to break down the walls of communication and demystify harness racing to the outside world. He would take on horses that hadn't sold at yearling sales for vendors, but also has been purchasing yearlings from sales too, and would market the horses to potential new owners as they were being broken in and worked. This allowed people to see the horse in action and follow its progress by way of video and live drone updates, before committing to purchasing a share. MacDonald has ensured that the shares remain affordable, with shares as small as one percent available. With initial buy in costs varying, depending on the purchase price of the yearling, and then a set fee per month ensures the owners know what it will cost them. The Stable markets itself strongly on the fact that this is not a money making venture - but an affordable form of entertainment. Each yearling is then listed on www.thestable.ca with its own profile, cost breakdown, monthly progress video reports and stunning live drone footage of the horse working in a set with other young horses. There is a strong focus on utilising social media as a communication tool also so you can watch the horse work from anywhere in the world. In fact, The Stable has owners all across the world now, including New Zealand. The results in just three years have been outstanding. In the first year The Stable had 65 owners join into 25 horses. The following year 140 owners went into 62 horses. And in 2017, 392 owners went into 106 horses. But what is most impressive is the retention rate. 97 percent of those owners have now gone on to join into other horses, from year one to two to three with The Stable. The Stable has been a huge success story in not only selling shares, but selling the industry of harness racing and the thrill it provides just by being an owner. Reaching a whole new market of owners who previously felt ownership was far out of their league financially. A passionate public speaker, MacDonald will bring his experience and findings to New Zealand and will hold free seminars in Invercargill, Christchurch and Auckland. These seminars will not only be open to trainers and syndicators who are interested in finding out more about how they can attract new owners, and find out more about communication options that are available to them, but to all who are interested in attending. "I'm really excited to be coming to New Zealand. It has always been a place I wanted to visit. I might have a foreign accent, but my love for racing is the same as yours," MacDonald joked. "The future of our industry will rely heavily on its ability to provide the general public with a fresh option for their entertainment dollars. We are the only industry that offers participation at an affordable price and that alone has the power to tip the entertainment scales in our direction in the future," MacDonald said. "The Stable's pillars are: Communication; Customer Service; Professionalism and Hard Work. These are things that are very attainable and sustainable in any industry, especially ours." This will also be a wonderful opportunity for cadets and junior drivers to learn more about self-promotion and communication, first hand from a harness racing trainer and driver who has forged a new path in the international industry. Below are the dates for the Anthony MacDonald seminars proudly presented by Harness Racing New Zealand, which will be free to anyone who wishes to attend. Please note numbers are limited at some venues: Friday 21 September 2018 7pm Mararoa Room - Ascot Park Hotel, Southland   Tuesday 25 September 2018 7pm Twiggers - Addington Raceway, Christchurch   Wednesday 26 September 2018 7pm Parade Ring - Karaka, Auckland   Each seminar will run for approximately one hour, with the opportunity to have a question and answer session, followed by mix and mingle with finger food and nibbles. MacDonald will also use his time in New Zealand to visit race meetings, stables and farms and speak one on one with anyone who may be interested to meet with him and learn more about how he runs The Stable. He will also speak on the first day of the Harness Racing New Zealand annual conference (Friday 28 September), this year to be held in Auckland. To register for the seminars, or if you would more information, please contact Jess at Harness Racing New Zealand.     Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Phone 03 964 1200 or email jess@hrnz.co.nz

High profile harness horsepeople banned from going to the races look set to challenge that today. All of the industry participants charged under Operation Inca last week, which saw several horsepeople arrested in Canterbury, were issued with race meeting bans. Although their notice of exclusion from race meetings is overseen by the Racing Integrity Unit, that role was actually secondary because most were banned from attending racing meetings under their bail conditions. But those conditions were lifted by the courts when many of those charged had their first hearings on Tuesday, meaning they are free to apply to the Racing Integrity Unit to have their exclusion notices withdrawn and be able to attend the feature Addington meeting tomorrow night. Herald sources suggest at least some of the lawyers acting on their behalf may seek for the RIU to allow them to work at race meetings until their cases are heard. New Zealand racing has little precedent for these cases. With most of those charged denying the allegations in court and the consensus being at least some are going to defend them, the cases are certain to drag into next year and potentially much longer. Some could be asking if it is fair the horsepeople involved can have a major source of income taken away while still presumed innocent but there will also be those suggesting they must stay banned for the good of the industry. That decision appears to lie with the RIU and they would not comment yesterday on the exact process to have the exclusions lifted. Often serious RIU matters go before a Judicial Control Authority panel but that looks unlikely here. The ban doesn't just apply to race meetings but to trials and workouts. While harness racing is still spinning from the cases, the racing itself raises a notch or two tomorrow night with some of the better horses in the country returning at Addington and Alexandra Park. Star Galleria and Speeding Spur headline the Alexandra Park meeting while Addington hosts the first serious open class trot of the season, the Ordeal Cup while Thefixer comes up against several fellow New Zealand Cup contenders in the main pace. Meanwhile, Lazarus is a surprise entry at Woodbine in Canada. The Kiwi champ, how trained in New Jersey, was a brave second last start on the same track and drops way back in class on Sunday afternoon (NZ time). Lazarus was found to be suffering from a virus after his last-start defeat and looks to be using this week's race as a chance to get some North American-style mile racing under his belt before the major challenges of next month, an open pace at the Red Mile and the Breeders Crown.   Michael Guerin

TAB Jackpots Friday night - $40,000 TURBO Pick Six at Addington and Alexandra Park September - Every Sunday will have a $20,000 Guaranteed Quaddie on the last four races.   Addington Raceway and Events Centre - Friday 14 September  CUP WEEK TICKETS HAVE BEEN LAUNCHED THIS WEEK!  This year you and three friends can ARRIVE IN STYLE WITH CHRISTCHURCH HELICOPTERS & RICHIE! Simply purchase your General Admission or Lindauer Lawn ticket before September 30 and you could BE IN TO WIN.  This phenomenal prize includes: Arrival via Christchurch Helicopters with Richie McCaw as your pilot, A Westfield Riccarton voucher each to the value of $500 to ensure you are dressed in style, A luxury stretch Limousine transfer from your Christchurch home, motel or hotel to the helipad, then at the end of the day from Addington to Christchurch Casino, or home courtesy of Airpark Limousines. Your Cup Day tickets will be upgraded to a reserved table in Spectators, with a glass of Daniel Le Brun on arrival, a $200 bar tab for your group, delicious treats from our Chef and access to live entertainment and racing action. On Cup Day there are numerous ticket choices to ensure there is something for everyone.  A General Admission ticket has access to the Public Village and is home to the Westfield Riccarton Style Stakes and The Hits Body Art fashion heats and semi-finals.  The limited Lindauer Lawn tickets are always in demand as this is the heart of the action - on and off the track. Incredible bands have been booked for both these areas and will be announced in October. Addington also offers an exceptional range of hospitality options, including private and shared marquees, prime viewing hospitality and indoor and outdoor choices. Limited availability. For full details about how you can ARRIVE IN STYLE WITH CHRISTCHURCH HELICOPTERS & RICHIE and #bepartofthemagic visit addington.co.nz. To contact us about any of the above please call 03 338 9094 or email info@addington.co.nz Take care, travel safe and we look forward to seeing you soon. From the Addington Team.   Alexandra Park News – Friday 14 September Friday 14th of September - Thai Night. Thai night features an all you can eat Thai buffet, traditional entertainment, live harness racing and more! Book for your chance to win big with Thai airways! If you have any further questions or to book, don’t hesitate to contact us via email on dining@alexandrapark.co.nz or give us a call on 09 631 1165 ATC 2019 Syndicate: Over the last two decades, the Auckland Trotting Club has formed 17 syndicates, each comprising either 40 or 50 shares and racing between 2 and 4 horses. To date, all 17 syndicates have proved, or are proving, very successful: At this year’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale or the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale, the Auckland Trotting Club 2019 Syndicate’s yearlings were selected by the top trainers Robert Dunn, Brent Mangos and Logan Hollis / Shane Robertson: Name: Alta Redeemer Trainer: Robert Dunn Name: Christianshavtime Trainer: Logan Hollis / Shane Robertson Name: Bet West Trainer: Brent Mangos When you join an ATC Syndicate, not only do you get to enjoy the thrill of owning and racing harness racehorses, but you can also be very involved in Harness Racing generally, initially at Alexandra Park and the wider Auckland/Waikato area and then quite possibly venturing further afield in New Zealand and Australia, as some previous ATC Syndicates have. There are many advantages involved with being part of one of the Auckland Trotting Club Syndicates. These include; the comparatively low costs, the opportunity to share in the ownership of well bred horses trained by some of the best trainers in New Zealand, making new friendships with like-minded people, having total involvement in the Harness Racing industry and having the opportunity to participate in social events and possibly travel throughout the year. Every month, syndicate members receive a detailed newsletter documenting each horse’s progress, member news, and other information. Regular updates are placed on a phone-in message service, which can be accessed at anytime from anywhere in New Zealand free of charge. We have already had syndicate members from a wide geographical location around New Zealand, from Kaeo and Kaitaia in the North, to Dunedin and Invercargill in the South, as well as from the USA, Canada, England, Japan, Australia (Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia) and even Iceland. Each year of establishing a new Syndicate, the Auckland Trotting Club has implemented their hugely successful formula of buying three richly bred yearlings at the Yearling Sales, with these horses being selected by and trained by some of New Zealand’s leading trainers. For further information please contact or go to www.alexandrapark.co.nz/racing/syndicates: Andrew Jamieson – ATC Syndication Manager Tel:  + 64 9 238 9212 Mob: + 64 21 253 8765 Email:  ajamieson175@gmail.com   Alexandra Park - He’s Watching Stallion Tender Alexandra Park is thrilled to offer a stallion tender to promising new sire He’s Watching, courtesy of Alabar Stud. Tenders close 8pm 21 September 2018, for more information or for a Tender Application please email Karen Blanchard franklinparktc@alexandrapark.nz   Alexandra Park Ultimate Christmas party dates announced Alexandra Park has officially announced its Christmas At The Races hospitality evenings, with eight dates confirmed for November and December.  2018’s Christmas At The Races will take place on Fridays 16, 23 and 30 November and 7, 14, and 21 December as well as Saturday 8 and 15 December. “Christmas at the Races is one of our most popular events of the year. If you’re looking for a fantastic and easy to organise Christmas party with delicious food, stunning décor, great entertainment, and an all-round fun night out for everyone then this is it,” says Roxanne Visser, Sales & Events Coordinator at Alexandra Park. Alexandra Park’s advertising campaign this year reminds people that ‘It’s never too early…’ In fact, tickets are already selling fast, with some rooms on some nights already sold out or close to it!  “These incredibly popular evenings make for the perfect work Christmas party. With just four months until Christmas, we’re encouraging people, businesses and organisations not to sit back but make that booking now,” she says. Alexandra Park is renowned for delivering delicious dining packages and exciting harness racing under lights. Then after the last race, everyone gets together at The Alex Bar & Eatery to enjoy live entertainment. “Not only are we providing eight dates to choose from, including two Saturdays, but we’re giving people plenty of options when it comes to location, the type of hospitality package, and cost. However, regardless of the hospitality package people decide, everyone gets to enjoy a sumptuous Christmas-style buffet. “We’ve got Holly packages available from $70 per person, Mistletoe packages at $115, and Pohutukawa packages in our stunning level five venue, Top of the Park, from $165 per person which includes our premium buffet, a premium drinks package and of course the best view at Alexandra Park,” says Ms Visser. For further information on Christmas At The Races or to reserve your table please call (09) 631-1165, email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz or visit www.alexandrapark.co.nz. Alexandra Park’s internationally-themed cuisine race nights continue with Thai Night on Friday 14 September where two return air tickets to Thailand will be won thanks to Thai Airways. Italian Night is on 21 September and Tropical Nights At The Races will take place on 13 and 27 October.   Canterbury Combined Awards Dinner - Saturday 15 September 2018 There are still a limited number of tickets available for this prestigious evening which commences at 6.30pm with pre-dinner drinks moving on to the dinner and awards at 7.15pm in the Silks Lounge at Addington Raceway. Master of Ceremonies will be Mark McNamara – race caller extraordinaire! Tickets are reasonably priced at $55 each with a table of ten at $550, which includes a superb buffet dinner, introductory drink and platters, interspersed with the presentation of Awards. We have a new category this year known as the Merit Awards and who will be the Rising Star? To purchase tickets or for more information, contact Noel Kennard on 021 969 969, 347 9699, or on email: noel@goharness.co.nz The Awards Dinner bank account details for internet banking payments is 021266-0034800-00. Please include your full name as a reference. See you there!   Canterbury Combined Awards Dinner Committee - Stallion Services Purchase by Tender The Canterbury Combined Awards Dinner has two Woodlands Stud Services for purchase by Tender. DOWNBYTHESEASIDE -        Equal fastest 2yo in Standardbred history, paced 1.49 - Breeders Crown Final -        Foaled in 2014 – Son of Somebeachsomewhere -        Banked $2,179,558 from 35 career starts -        First year standing in New Zealand -        2018/19 Service Fee RRP – $6,000+GST. PEGASUS SPUR ‘Trotting’s Mr Consistent’ -        Sire of 116 NZ bred and 34 Australian bred winners including:     -        Maori Time – Australasia’s Fastest ever Trotter, t,1:51.5 -        Speeding Spur – winner of 7 Group 1’s including Prydes Great Southern Star - $879,675 -        Paramount Gee Gee – 2yo Colt of The Year  3yo Colt of The Year  4yo Entire of The Year -         2018/19 Service Fee RRP – $3,000+GST. Conditions of Tender: All tenders submitted shall be plus GST. The Canterbury Combined Awards Dinner Committee have the right to select any tender they so desire. They may decline all or any tender/s and their decision shall be final. The successful purchaser will be advised within 3 working days and will immediately be issued with a tax invoice for a deposit of $250.00+GST with payment required within 21 days. This deposit will be deducted from the amount tendered in the tender. This deposit will be refunded if the mare fails to get in foal. The Canterbury Combined Awards Dinner Committee will invoice the purchaser for the remaining amount submitted and accepted as the tender amount once the mare has a 42 day positive test, and payment of this tax invoice is due within 21 days. The tender is for the ‘Service Fee’ only. All other farm charges apply and will be payable by the successful purchaser. The successful purchaser will be required to complete and sign a 2018-19 Woodlands Stud Stallion Service Agreement. All the terms and conditions set out in this Stallion Service Agreement shall apply in full to the successful purchaser.  A live foal guarantee applies only if the conditions of the Woodlands Stud Stallion Service Agreement are complied with. Written tenders are to be posted to 7 Clare Road, St Albans, Christchurch 8014 or e-mailed to bazzad.business@gmail.com .  The closing date for tenders is Monday 17 September 2018 at 4.00 pm.   Methven – Sunday 16 September The first grass track meeting of the year is rapidly approaching Sunday 16th at the picturesque Mt. Harding course in Methven. The Methven committee has been busy sprucing up the course and surrounds led by caretaker ‘Stalky McLeod’. The club intends offering competitive stakes with maidens racing for $8,000 plus HRNZ $1500 bonus.   One of the feature leadups to the N.Z. Cup and this year sponsored by Alabar N.Z. will now be the $30,000  Alabar Methven Cup. On the same day the co-feature will be the What The Hill  mares Trot sponsored by Woodlands Stud. At the Christmas meeting the Methven 4 Square Pacers Green Mile will remain with loyal locals Gary and Lyn Eddington and the trot will become the Neumanns Tyre’s/Fast Track Insurance Trotters Green Mile both retain last year’s stake. The stake for the clubs Autumn meeting feature the Woodlands Mt. Hutt Country Cup will also be status quo. In other news at the recent annual awards dinner; The ‘Horse Shoe Brands’ leading Methven Trainer was Greg and Nina Hope The ‘Morrison’s  Saddlery’ leading Methven driver was Ricky May The John and Robyn Nicholl  leading Methven junior driver Nathan Purdon The Trouble Lodge and R.T. and J.H May young achiever award Laura Mckay   Southern Harness News  A TON OF FEED TO BE WON      Thanks to McMillan Equine Feeds, there is a ton of feed to be won during the 2018/2019 Southern Harness Racing season. At every Sunday race meeting during the season the trainer of every race winner will win a free bag of McMillan Equine Feeds. At the conclusion of the Wyndham Harness Racing Club meeting on Sunday 18 November all trainers who have won a race on a Sunday up until that time will get one entry into a draw for 20 bags of McMillan Equine Feeds. The competition then starts afresh with the trainer of each Sunday race winner for the remainder of the season getting one entry into a new draw for 20 bags of McMillan Equine Feeds to be held after the Invercargill Harness Racing Club meeting on Sunday 3 March. That is one ton of McMillan Equine Feeds up for grabs! Southern Harness Racing thanks McMillan Equine Feeds for their generous support. QUALIFYING DATES: Sunday 21 October Tuapeka HRC – Forbury Park, Dunedin Sunday 28 October Invercargill HRC – Invercargill Sunday 4 November Riverton TC – Invercargill Sunday 11 November Wyndham HRC - Wyndham Sunday 18 November Wyndham HRC - Wyndham Sunday 16 December Winton HRC - Winton Sunday 6 January Wyndham HRC - Cromwell Sunday 3 February Wyndham HRC - Wyndham Sunday 17 February Winton HRC - Winton Sunday 3 March Invercargill HRC - Invercargill    Mutt Hutt Dates Dates for the Mount Hutt Trotting Club workouts and trials for the 18/19 season? Sept 22nd Sat Oct 6th  Sat               Oct 27th Sat Nov 11th Sun Trials    Nov 17th Sat Dec 8th Sat          Dec 22nd Sat 2019  Jan 12th Sat   Jan 26th Sat Feb 3rd Sun         Feb 17th Sun  Trials      Feb 24th  Sun Mar 9th Sat       Mar 23rd Sat Apr 6th Sat       Apr 27th Sat May 11th Sat   HRNZ Marketing

White Out is a Northern Harness racing focused podcast hosted by Aaron White. The podcast features northern race reviews and previews and the inside word from industry participants. Plus tips from special guest selectors.   This week's guest - Andrew Jamison

It could be seen as most appropriate that the top lot of the 2018 Yearling sales at $230,000 went to Australian owner, Jean Feiss. Australians were responsible for the establishment of the foundation of Smooth Deal’s family long ago and it can safely be bet that he is the only standardbred sale topper with a Melbourne Cup winner in his pedigree. And of course, his co-trainer also hails from across the sea. Smooth Deal traces to Verity rated the last time such an exercise was undertaken as the third most successful family founder in Australasia (up from no 20 when the NZ figures were first compiled). Verity was from an unregistered mare by the Melbourne Cup dual winner, The Barb, and was brought to New Zealand by her breeder John Buckland at the turn of the 20th century. She was the result of the worst decision probably in the history of New Zealand breeding and made by none other than Robert Wilkin the founder of harness breeding here with his imports from America. He brought three stallions in the early 1880’s but leased one out to Australia and later sold him. That horse, Vancleve, was easily the greatest sire of the three and Buckland, who had purchased him some years before, became the only Australian ever to be the leading owner in New Zealand- through the stock of Vancleve belting Kiwi horse’s heads in during spring raids on this country. Fortunately he sold Verity to Harry Nicoll of Ashburton then just expanding his trotting interests. From the same owner Nicoll bought Durbar who won the 1908 NZ Cup for him. According to the late Ted Lowe, a mine of information on early trotting in Canterbury, Verity was an outstanding racemare but a renowned road horse, who could go from Ashburton to Mt Somers faster than any other of the era and also travel longer distances to Peel Forest at consistently high road speeds. At stud she founded a family too successful to go into detail here but by her death in 1921 it was already established and through the next two decades in particular would almost dominate many of the best age group races. One of the more recent of the top level pacers was Sapling, The Smooth Deal branch reflects a recent resurgence in his part of the tree. Most would have expected a Bettor’s Delight sale topper to be from a Christian Cullen mare but Jean Feiss’s youngster goes one step back in being from a mare by CC’s sire In the Pocket who kick started a resurgence in track speed among New Zealand pacers in the 1990’s. His dam, Linda Grace, has already left serious speed fillies, Linda Lovegrace and Gina Grace and her dam, Jessie Grace by the many times champion sire Vance Hanover, whose mares were not quite so successful at stud, has bucked the trend leaving Pacing Grace (8 wins and a sister to Linda Grace) whose son Pacing Major did a great job for All Stars as a two and three year old before being sold to America where he is racing well. Pacing Grace has also left All U Need is Faith (like Pacing Major by Art Major) a hard hitter for All Stars now ready to trial and Grace Way the dam of Three Ways and Forgotten Highway, Three Ways now racing well in Australia. There are numerous other smart winners tracking to Jessie Grace in recent times when the family has been nurtured by Woodlands Stud, her owner. Until then this was one of the lesser known branches of the Verity tribe but Jessie Grace’s dam, Ollies Chance, made her mark even if it was far from the lush fields of Woodlands. She was raced and trained by Barney Tisdall of Dunback (no we haven’t been there either), often driven by Stu Allcock. Her best effort in a 7 win career was her third to standouts Gina Rosa and Michele Bromac in the DB (now Nevele R) Filly final.The genial Barney also trained the high class mare Idolmite. Ollies Chance was by Colonel Kenton a 3x3 Volomite full brother to champion filly Golden Oriole, sold for then mouth watering “set you up for life” money by Murray Butt to America in the early 1960’s. A full sister, Mia Mocca, established a successful breed for another All Stars owner, Phil Creighton and his wife Margaret. Ollie’s Chance’s untried dam Take a Chance, and her untried dam and moderate stud performer, Glen Russ, had the family fading but Glen Russ was from Sahara Queen a high class racemare for Charlie Isaccson and Mary Bourner at Addington in the days when there were no races for fillies and mares and they had to compete with the boys. Further back in the pedigree is Verity’s granddaugher Childe Pointer who beat the boys in the Sapling Stakes and then beat them again in the NZ Derby, so the age group potential has always been hovering. What the future holds for Smooth Deal we are yet to know but if strains of “Aussie Aussie Aussie oi ! oi! oi!” are heard after he wins a big race it will be no surprise.   Courtesy of All Stars Website http://www.allstarsracingstables.com  

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After last weekend’s racing there were a few notable changes in the NZ Cup rankings.  Letspendanitetogetha with his auto qualification for winning the Avon City Ford (New Brighton) Cup now sits at number two. Forgotten Highway’s brave third equal sees him elevate from 22nd to 17th.  Star Galleria, A G’s White Socks & No Doctor Needed all improved their rankings as well. Last season’s NZ Derby winner, Sheriff, now sits on the cut-off for getting a start. In the Dominion rankings we saw Marcoola confirm his spot in the Dominion with the Ordeal Cup win. Harrysul moved up eight spots to 20th by virtue of his close second in the Ordeal. Other movers include Dominion rankings included Le Lievre’s Gift, Muscles Galore who’s strong run yielded good gains. Sundon’s Flyer crept up a spot also. Click here for the full list of rankings!   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc
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
Please note there has been a slight change of venue for the Addington and Karaka seminars, with these now being held in the Blossom Lady Lounge and Garden Bar respectively at each venue. Whilst an RSVP is advised, we encourage walk ups at all events and all racing industry members are most welcome to attend. Harness Racing New Zealand is thrilled to announce that Canadian harness racing trainer and driver, Anthony MacDonald, will visit this week with free seminars to be held in Invercargill, Christchurch and Auckland starting with Invercargill this Friday night. Best known as the founder of the fractional ownership operation ‘The Stable’, MacDonald has been a driving force in increasing ownership in Canada and introducing new blood into harness racing. MacDonald ran for local government in Guelph in 2014, campaigning to help save harness racing following the loss of slot machine funding and raising awareness about the sport and what it provides in terms of local employment and economy. During his time campaigning he knocked on hundreds of doors, and realised that there was a huge untapped market of potential owners. He talked to people who had heard of horse racing, but had the perception that it was only for rich people. They had no idea that they could be involved; let alone how to become a part of it. With this in mind, MacDonald started ‘The Stable’ in September 2015, with the aim to make horse ownership easy for a whole new market, but also to break down the walls of communication and demystify harness racing to the outside world. He would take on horses that hadn’t sold at yearling sales for vendors, but also has been purchasing yearlings from sales too, and would market the horses to potential new owners as they were being broken in and worked.  This allowed people to see the horse in action and follow its progress by way of video and live drone updates, before committing to purchasing a share. MacDonald has ensured that the shares remain affordable, with shares as small as one percent available. With initial buy in costs varying, depending on the purchase price of the yearling, and then a set fee per month ensures the owners know what it will cost them. The Stable markets itself strongly on the fact that this is not a money making venture – but an affordable form of entertainment. Each yearling is then listed on www.thestable.ca  with its own profile, cost breakdown, monthly progress video reports and stunning live drone footage of the horse working in a set with other young horses. There is a strong focus on utilising social media as a communication tool also so you can watch the horse work from anywhere in the world. In fact, The Stable has owners all across the world now, including New Zealand.  The results in just three years have been outstanding.  In the first year The Stable had 65 owners join into 25 horses. The following year 140 owners went into 62 horses. And in 2017, 392 owners went into 106 horses. But what is most impressive is the retention rate. 97 percent of those owners have now gone on to join into other horses, from year one to two to three with The Stable. The Stable has been a huge success story in not only selling shares, but selling the industry of harness racing and the thrill it provides just by being an owner. Reaching a whole new market of owners who previously felt ownership was far out of their league financially. A passionate public speaker, MacDonald will bring his experience and findings to New Zealand and will hold free seminars in Invercargill, Christchurch and Auckland. These seminars will not only be open to trainers and syndicators who are interested in finding out more about how they can attract new owners, and find out more about communication options that are available to them, but to all who are interested in attending. “I’m really excited to be coming to New Zealand. It has always been a place I wanted to visit. I might have a foreign accent, but my love for racing is the same as yours,” MacDonald joked.  “The future of our industry will rely heavily on its ability to provide the general public with a fresh option for their entertainment dollars. We are the only industry that offers participation at an affordable price and that alone has the power to tip the entertainment scales in our direction in the future,” MacDonald said. “The Stable’s pillars are: Communication; Customer Service; Professionalism and Hard Work. These are things that are very attainable and sustainable in any industry, especially ours.” This will also be a wonderful opportunity for cadets and junior drivers to learn more about self-promotion and communication, first hand from a harness racing trainer and driver who has forged a new path in the international industry.   Below are the dates for the Anthony MacDonald seminars proudly presented by Harness Racing New Zealand, which will be free to anyone who wishes to attend. Please note numbers are limited at some venues: Friday 21 September 2018 7pm Mararoa Room - Ascot Park Hotel, Southland Tuesday 25 September 2018 7pm Blossom Lady Lounge - Addington Raceway, Christchurch Wednesday 26 September 2018 7pm Garden Bar – Karaka, Auckland Each seminar will run for approximately one hour, with the opportunity to have a question and answer session, followed by mix and mingle with finger food and nibbles. MacDonald will also use his time in New Zealand to visit race meetings, stables and farms and speak one on one with anyone who may be interested to meet with him and learn more about how he runs The Stable. He will also speak on the first day of the Harness Racing New Zealand annual conference (Friday 28 September), this year to be held in Auckland. To register for the seminars, or if you would more information, please contact Jess at Harness Racing New Zealand.   Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Phone 03 964 1200 or email jess@hrnz.co.nz
Pint-sized pacer One Off continues to defy the believers. The former New Zealand pacer was bought for a ‘song’ after failing to win a race his native country but has turned his fortunes right around since arriving in Queensland. Leading owner Greg Mitchell took a punt on the McArdle – Jay Bee’s Gem gelding and placed him with his trainer, leading horseman Grant Dixon. Mitchell enjoyed good success with another of McArdle progeny several seasons ago, Only The Brave (28 wins - $268k) Since being based in the Sunshine State, One Off has never tasted defeat after winning a trial and then three racetrack triumphs. One Off scored a stylish victory in his Queensland debut when successful at Redcliffe on September 6 before conquering the Marburg to Albion Park heat/final series. Starting as a clear favourite despite an awkward second-line draw, One Off ($2.10) sat at the rear of the field before unleashing a powerful sprint with 500m left to run. In the end, he scored by a widening margin of 13.9m while rating 1:58.8 for the 2138m event. “He’s been a real surprise package for the stable, even after his trial victory I didn’t have any lofty ambitions for him but he’s continued to improve and strengthen each time we’ve taken him to the races. Obviously the pace was on but he let down nicely when I called on him going down the back straight, he’s headed in the right direction and will win more races.” Dixon said. But future plans remain unclear and Dixon is now scanning the calendar and weighing up his options. However, nothing is set in concrete at this stage. “Hopefully, we can find and target a few more of these heat/final series and keep him progressing through his grades at a nice rate. Like I said, he’s got some nice upside to him. “I like his versatility, in his three starts he’s proven he can race and adapt quickly so that’s a good thing going forward. “We’ll reassess the race and keep looking at what comes up but there aren’t really any solid plans.” Meanwhile, the Dixon/Mitchell combination struck in the Remembering Speed Ace Open Pace when Alleluia made it four straight victories. Backing-up from Monday, the Art Major gelding landed perfect one out/one back cover and proved too good in the straight holding out Bodhi Tree and Ohoka Punter in a time of 1:54.0. The perennial performer has claimed the current title as the best open class performer in the state given his recent form surge. “He’s a great old performer and his win streak is very satisfying, we’ve changed his work routine around and it’s obviously working while the track is a little softer at present and that’s playing a role. “We’ll just keep ticking him along but we’re likely to nominate for the Inter Dominion series given his current form.” The 2018 Inter Dominion series starts on December 1 and will be staged in Victoria this year. Chris Barsby
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