Day At The Track

It was 15 years ago that Harnesslink first entered the internet world and it has grown to become one of the world’s best harness racing sites and is still going strongly. Throughout the years we grown by leaps and bounds as our stats show that we have an exceptional high return reader rate of over 70%, while most news sites throughout the world have an average of just 10% return on reader visitor rates.  It has been our pleasure to keep harness racing fans around the world informed of what is happening within our sport. We are projected to have over 3 million unique IP users in 2017 which will make Harnesslink the world’s most read harness racing site. Harnesslink was one of the first four harness racing sites on the Internet and have continued to grow ever since. Although we only got started with Facebook about five years ago we have currently surpassed 8,000 likes and continue to grow. We are still looking for ways to improve and provide you, our customers, with better coverage throughout the world, but that is not an easy task. If any of our readers have a worthy news item, please feel free to send it to and we will do our best, as always, to print your article. As we celebrate our 15th birthday, we are also looking for aspiring journalists and sales personnel to help our staff so we can continue to excel and provide more coverage world-wide. We want to thank all our readers and advertisers over the past 15 years and promise to continue to work at providing the best news coverage of harness racing around the world. The Harnesslink Staff

Phoebe Standardbreds have announced that harness racing local trotting star Royal Aspirations is to stand at stud and he is an exciting late arrival to the “Fresh Semen Trotting Scene”. And at just $1,250 +GST he looks to be outstanding value.    A Jewels winner at two he went on to win the Sires Stakes at three and Sales Series races at two and three.   Racing in a quality crop that included Habibti, Sheemon, Quite A Moment  and Blitzthemcalder he set five NZ records, some of these in the most dominant of fashion, his massive motor literally destroying his opposition at times.   A stunning 16h individual, with a wonderful temperament- something he may not have always shown on the track. Track time meant race time, race time meant go as fast and hard as you can, for as long as you can!!!   Being a son of Monarchy, out of the Sundon broodmare “Gem” Aspiring Gal, makes him a half brother to two-year-old Jewels winner Jinga Gal and a full brother to Breeders Crown winner Triumphant Monarch. His grand dam being Aspiring Lass a sister to the mighty Arndon.   Standing at Phoebe Standardbreds, Broadfield, ChCh  alongside up and coming two-year-old trotting sire Imperial Count for “newbies” in the stallion game Grant & Di Beckett, Royal Aspirations should attract plenty of interest at an affordable fee.   Grant sees a bright future for Royal Aspirations and is looking forward to the large number of mares by Majestic Son coming on stream over the next few years. These mares, particularly the ones out of Sundon mares will be a superb cross for Royal Aspirations, not only bringing in a double up of our greatest sire Sundon. But also the proven Balanced Image/ Angus Hall cross.   Although new to the stallion game the Becketts have been breeding from 6 or 7 mares for the last eight or nine years with their best performers being Quite A Moment, KD Muscles, KD Hall, Hot Chocolate Tart and Phoebe Revival   This has been a big learning curve and I would like to acknowledge our vet, Becky Reid and Richard Aubrey(former studmaster at Roydon Lodge) who is a huge asset to have helping on collection days.   Semen can be ordered and shipped around the country in the normal manner, with the first pregnancy tests occurring later this week.   Pgg Wrightson Nz Yearling Sales Series 21 Open Mobile Trot     Mitre 10 Mega Cambridge 2yo Ruby Mobile Trot     Pgg Wrightson Nz Yearling Sales Series Trotters Final(mob)     Hutton Racing Stables S/stakes Trotters Championship(mob)     Cambridge 3yo Trotting Stakes(mobile)     Glenferrie Farm 4yo/5yo Trotters Championship Handicap Trot   Methven Four Square Supermarket Trotters Green (Mobile) Mile   For further information contact Grant Beckett Phoebe Standardbreds 0211601080

The Heaven Rocks spell has been broken. Because while the extraordinarily talented pacer is already back on the New Zealand Cup trail punters could be forgiven for thinking the big fella has already lost our greatest race. Heaven Rocks stunned his connections and burnt punters when he raced erratically and dropped out to finish last in his comeback race at Addington on Friday night. So wayward was he in the home straight and proppy when returning to the stables there were initial fears he has broken down. By Saturday morning they were allayed and it turns out a greasy heel may have been the cause of the problems that dented his aura while bullet-proof stablemate Lazarus ground his way to an unexpected victory. Driver Natalie Rasmussen, who has little tolerance for mental or physical weakness in horses, was blunt in her assessment. "Plenty of other horses wouldn't have let it bother them but he is a bit of a baby like that," says Rasmussen. "It doesn't take a lot to put him off his game but the good news is he is fine now and straight back into work. "We galloped him in work today and he will hopple again tomorrow [Tuesday]." So effectively Heaven Rocks, who had been flying at the trials before the race and was expected to be too fit and sharp for Lazarus, hasn't missed much from a New Zealand Cup point of view. He is still targeting the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on October 23 and could sneak in a race at Addington on November 3, three races pre-Cup plenty for such an athletic horse who was already advanced after two trials and some dazzling work at home. And the ever-cautious TAB bookies have hardly given up on Heaven Rocks, as he is still a warm second favourite at $3.60 for the November 14 Cup, with Lazarus in to $1.75 from as long as $2.50 on Friday. But while Heaven Rocks can still win the Cup and there could still be other twists and turns in the five weeks before the Addington thriller, does anybody really want to back Heaven Rocks any more? There is no doubting his talent and his motor might be as big as Lazarus but he has always been a hard horse to trust, particularly when things get tough. And things don't get any tougher in harness racing than a New Zealand Cup. Any mental deficiencies can be exposed by the biggest, and noisiest, crowd in New Zealand racing and clearly Heaven Rocks doesn't need much to upset him. But perhaps more importantly a New Zealand Cup paced at sub 3:55 places a premium on courage and the ability to run through the pain barrier. Lazarus proved he can master those physical threats when he won the Cup by 10 lengths last season while Dream About Me also has nothing to prove on that front after a race record in the Auckland Cup. As good as Heaven Rocks is Friday reminded us there is no room for sulking in the sulky. So until we see glaring evidence to the contrary, it is hard to make any case he can beat Lazarus or even Dream About in our most brutal pacing race. That is not to say he can't win the Cup, but all of a sudden he feels more like a 8-1 chance. ROAD TO THE NZ CUP Friday: Holmes D G at Alexandra Park. Sunday: Methven Cup. Oct 23: Flying Stakes, Ashburton. Oct 30: Kaikoura Cup. Nov 3: Potentially open class races at both Addington and Alexandra Park. By Michael Guerin Courtesy of The New Zealand Herald

A new season of Grand Circuit harness racing action kicks off this weekend. The 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit caters for both the pacers and trotters and began in 1977 and was designed to be the showpiece of the Australian Harness Racing Industry with horses competing from every State within Australia.  Over the years, several changes have been implemented. And for the first time, the 2017/18 series starts this Saturday with the running of the $200,000 Allied Express Victoria Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton. The eight leg series run from October through to July next year and takes in the Victoria Cup, New Zealand Cup, Inter Dominion, Auckland Cup, WA Pacing Cup, Hunter Cup, and Miracle Mile before ending with the Blacks A Fake at Albion Park. Total prizemoney for the series is $4.25 million. The recently retired Smolda was crowned the Grand Circuit champion last season. The Trotters Grand Circuit commenced in 1999.  In 2012, the Grand Circuit was revamped with the Trotters competing in a stand-alone branded series, Trotting Masters. The best trotters will compete during a five leg series which commences next month with the running of the $300,000 Haras des Trotteurs Dominion Handicap at Addington in Christchurch. It’s the biggest trotting event staged in south island and is held during Cup week. Other features include the Great Southern Star, Australian Trotting Grand Prix and ANZAC Cup before ending with the Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland. The five leg series totals prizemoney of $950,000. Last season, quality mare Habibti Ivy was crowned the Trotting Master. Points are awarded during the Circuit, 100 points for a win, 60 points for second, 40 points for third, and so on, to last placing. The horse with the greatest number of points is crowned Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit Champion and Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters Champion. So, strap yourself in and enjoy the finest harness racing action over the coming months. It’s the best of the best. Chris Barsby

He hadn't raced since running thirteenth at Addington on Show Day in the South Of The Waitaki so it was a master class in training by Roslyn Bush harness racing trainer Murray Swain to prepare Jayedgar to win in a good time at Ascot Park yesterday. "He got a four mil (millimetre) tear of a muscle and had six months out," said Swain when recounting the injury that put the breaks on a promising career. Swain purchased Jayedger at the 2014 Auckland Weanling Sales for $6,500.  "We went up to buy Isaiah's brother and thought we'd have to pay up to twenty five (thousand) for him but he went for seventy five. Jayedgar was next in the ring and I said he's not a bad looking horse. I was trying to find something for the lads." The five year old Art Official gelding is owned by Wayne Pope, Swain, L. Morresey and Alistair Mackintosh. Some of the winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart "He's (Mackintosh) in Wanaka. We told him not to back him because we thought he'd need the run. It was a big effort by the horse. It was more the horse's ability than the trainer. Blair said he went to the line easily."  The winning margin was two and a half lengths and the time for the 2200 metre mobile was a smart 2-42.5.  Jayedgar easily winning  - Photo Bruce Stewart. "I thinks he'll be a nice wee Country Cups horse. If he pinged out in the Country Cups races he'd keep them honest. Today's win makes up for the South of the Waitaki race when he hung. I think he was sore beforehand when he won at Wyndham." It was one of four wins for Canterbury reinsman Blair Orange. Note: The Art Major - Natural Creation colt that Swain wanted to buy at the Auckland sale was named Magnetic Stride. He was exported to Australia where he is unraced.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing Jayedgar winning his race

The well bred Doitson did just that at his first start at Ascot Park yesterday. The Bettor's Delight colt is part owned by Tony Hickman who was on-course yesterday to see the three year old beat second favourite Franco Santino. "He's gone alright at trials but it's a different story on race day, " said Hickman whose brother Kevin owns Valachi Downs - a thoroughbred stud near Matamata. Tony's owned a handful of nice horses including In The Pocket gelding Jackson Browne. He won six races for Gerard O'Reilly before Davey and Catherine Butt won another five races with him including the 2006 Northern Southland Cup.   Doitson (Red) beating Franco Santino - Photo Bruce Stewart. Doitson had been sighted at two trials - running second in May to the Nigel McGrath trained Sheriff while he won his second trial on the same course last month.  "We expected him to go well and hoped he'd do things right. He'll come back for the final and if he's going good in April he'll come back again for the Supremacy," said co-trainer Davey Butt. The final he's referring to is the second final of the Nuggets Series at the Riverton Trotting Club meeting on Sunday 5th November. If he wins that final he'll also be eligible for the $20,000 Super Nuggets Final in which all Nugget winners and second place getters are eligible to start. That race will be held at the Northern Southland meeting in March. Winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart. Doitson is the first colt out of the one win Christian Cullen mare Sister Bertrand. Her third dam is Hazel Hanover the dam of Holmes Hanover.  Butt has reined 1,134 winners. However he's been suffering from vertigo and prior to yesterday hadn't driven at the races since June when he drove Wilma's Mate to win the $100,000 Four Year Old Ruby at Ashburton.  "I'm still driving work at home but not at the races. The specialist reckons in another three to six months it should be gone. I can't balance properly and everything's a bit shaky when I'm moving." When asked if he was missing race day driving he said, "A wee bit with horses like Wilma's Mate. You miss the good ones." Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing   Doitson winning his race

Ambro Ameigo has been with a few trainers but none more patient than Knapdale horsewoman Kath O'Connor. She's had the Armbro Invasion gelding for three seasons now and everything went right yesterday at Ascot Park when the seven year old won his first race at start number sixteen.  "A couple of trainers had tried him, sacked him and he was going on the truck to Gore. My daughter Serenity works at Macca Lodge. She liked him and we thought that if he couldn't make it as a trotter he might make a nice hack," she said. So Kath rang the gelding's breeders Maurice Horton, Ray Paterson and Henry Ford to see whether she could take him on. "They were thrilled. Maurice still thanks me for saving him and we've become really good friends."  In yesterdays race Ambro Ameigo began well to lead early before Cuddly Trouble took over. At the 500 metres driver Robin Swain came away from the trail and was up challenging Cuddly Trouble. Ambro Ameigo trotted down to the line to beat a late finishing Our Budd by a length and a quarter.  "Rob (driver Robin Swain) drove him very positively. He stepped good and did everything right. Returning to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart.  At his last start he got knocked over. The time before that at Invercargill be was a bit sore in the feet so we've put pads on. He's a super sensitive horse. We've had good weather down here and the tracks have been hard. That's what tripped him up last time so that's why we've gone back to the pads." O'Connor says that when she got the gelding, he lacked confidence. "He's a girls horse and loves his pats and kisses. That's what turned him round. It taken a long time just to win his trust." He's only the second horse O'Connor has trained. The first was Ronnoco which she won three races with (as a trainer). O'Connor's cousin, the late Brian O'Connor, trained horses in the Dunedin area for many years and Kath has taken over his colours. "I said to Brian when he was alive, one day I'll nab those colours and it's his cart that we use too. Brian loved his trotters so he will be thrilled."  O'Connor grew up going to the races at Forbury with her father and when she moved to Southland the late Colin Baynes was her neighbour at Knapdale. "I worked for him for twenty years. Robin (Swain) taught me how to drive and it went from there."    Ambro Ameigo is a very well related gelding. He's out of the Simon Roydon mare Princess Afton which is a half sister to Frances Jay Bee the winner of six races and the dam of One Kenny (19 wins), One Under Kenny (11 wins) and millionaire trotter One Over Kenny (32 wins and $1,098,007). Princess Afton is also a half-sister to Raymauwarrhen Sun the winner of twenty two races. Andrew Stuart has a three year old colt by Monkey Bones out of Princess Afton called Kenny Del and she's about to have a foal by Superfast Stuart.  Meanwhile Eye Candy became the first winner for Christian Cullen sire Stunin Cullen. The three year old filly trained by Paul Court held on to win by a neck to beat Delightful Deal. Returning with Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart. Eye Candy has a strong Southland connection being out of Have A Look whose dam Private Encounter was bred by Brian Church and Betty Lee. Private Encounter is a half-sister to Pacific Playgirl which won two races here for Wyndham trainer Gordon Lee before winning a further 16 in Australia.  Stunin Cullen which stands at Pinelea Farm in Canterbury has 84 live foals and nine qualifiers. A handful of those qualifiers have recorded placings on race day.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing   Ambro Ameigo winning his race

Twenty three year old Charlotte Purvis hoped her first win was going to be on a Phil Williamson trained trotter because that was always going to be the perfect start to her career. That's what happened yesterday at the Northern Southland meeting when she drove Pyramid Magic to win the GJ Gardner Homes Handicap Trot.  Phil is her employer and the trainer of Pyramid Magic and his son Matty Williamson is Charlotte's partner.  "Yeah it was a great thrill especially being on one of Phil's horses. He's been right behind me the whole way," she said.  Purvis has been interested in harness racing for a while, her father John having owned horses for a good number of years and her brother Matt, (currently working for Nathan Williamson), has been employed in the industry since he was sixteen. Her grandfather Les Purvis was a Stipendiary Steward in the Canterbury and Otago region. Charlotte returning to the birdcage. - Photo Bruce Stewart "I was into the pony club and went showing every weekend. The pretty side of horses. I met Matt two and a half years ago and that's when I first drove a horse."  At that point she was working as a beauty therapist in Christchurch. "Every weekend I'd come down to Oamaru, see Matt and work for Phil." She's now been working fulltime for Phil for two years so has spent a bit of that time with Pyramid Magic.  "He's always been my favourite and I've been driving him at trials. His manners are impeccable but he can get on the nickel. He knows me well."  Yesterday's drive was only her nineteenth and she is thankful not only to Phil Williamson for his support but also to other trainers who've given her the opportunity to drive their horses.  "Ross Wilson and Bruce Negus really supported me early on in my career."  Purvis says once she had her first drive behind a trotter she was hooked but some of her family weren't overly keen on her pursuing it as a career.  "I never thought I'd get out there on race day and give it a go. Matt (Williamson) pushed me. I wanted to give it a go but my Dad said 'do you know what you're getting in to? It's tough out there and not as easy as it looks.' I put my big boots on and said no, I can give it a crack."     From the thirty metre mark Charlotte had Pyramid Magic away well, settling last of the nine horse field. When Jaccka Josh improved Purvis hopped onto his back and progressed forward. Jaccka Josh flattened out with 400 metres to run and Purvis pulled the right rein and hopped off his back. In a sharp burst of speed Pyramid Magic hit the lead at the top of the straight. Pegarose, which had trailed Pyramid Magic then came off his back, but the call 'Charlotte's in' by commentator Dave McDonald confirm her first win. The winning margin was a neck. Pyramid Magic (9) beating Pegarose (6)     - Photo Bruce Stewart.  "He was travelling nice the whole way and at the 400 metres I pulled him out and asked him to go. I was very worried at the finish when Nathan (driving Pegarose) came up. I thought he was going to get me. It was cool having Nathan beside me because he's been a big supporter too. Matty was stoked. It was cool to do a Williamson first four." So all the Williamson family got a great view of their newest recruit winning. Brad was six and half lengths back in third and Matty was another three quarters of a length back in fourth. Phil and Bev were of course in the stand cheering.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

The Bus trained by Mark Jones proved too good for eight other rivals in the inaugural $12,000. Caduceus Club Of Southland Nuggets Finals at the Northern Southland Meeting at Ascot Park yesterday.  He held on to beat Kilowatt Kid by three quarters on a length.  "It's a good series down here and there's the final in March so that's good. The Northern Southland Club used to fly me down, the owner likes coming and you've got the Supremacy so it works in good," said trainer Mark Jones.  The Bus (outside) beating Kilowatt Kid - Photo Bruce Stewart. The Art Major colt qualified for yesterday's final when he won at Gore at the end of September. After that win he ran second to Hail Christian at Addington before winning on the same track eight days ago. With just over a lap to run driver Sam Ottley took the three year old forward to sit parked outside leader Benio Ben. When Some Excusesomewhere improved with a lightning move at the 500, The Bus had got the lead. Some Excusesomewhere broke turning for home and The Bus was left in front. The only challenge came from the trailing horse Kilowatt Kid which got within three quarters of a length of the winner.  "He's lazy and knocks off and only has to do what he has to, but when they come at him he goes again." The Bus is out of the 37 win Falcon Seelster mare Rondel Franco who raced extensively in America. He's owned by Grant Hatton who also raced The Bus's half-brother Saveapatrol which won the inaugural 2013 Northern Southland Autumn Futurity. Sam Ottley, The Bus, Andrew Suddaby (obscured) Bill McDonald President of the Northern Southland TC, Grant Haddon and Neil Timms - Photo Bruce Stewart. Jones says The Bus will continue to race here before heading to Australia at the end of the season.  "After the Supremacy he'll go to Australia where he's paid up for a few series."  And after that he sees him racing in some of the staying races next season.  "He's probably a Country Cups type horse. He's not up with the elite three year olds."  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Timaru harness racing fixed odds movers as at 11:40am Race 1 - The O'Reilly trained No Fears $2.20 is the leader in multi betting early but overall there hasn't been a lot of early action. Race 2 -  Frankie Jones $8.80 in to $3.00 is the best backed runner today and is easily the leader in multi betting.   Race 3 - Opawa Mach $33.00 in to $21.00 is the best backed in this race. Loydin Magic is leader in the  multis.   Race 4 - Baileys Knight is the best backed runner on the win 'book' and is the only horse wanted in multi ticket sales.   Race 5 - The Court trained runner Mongolian Mars is the best backed runner early and he leads multi betting followed Maahes and Mororing Major.   Race 6 - Sheza Trendy Monarch is the best backed in this race in what is a quiet market early. Some money also for the Dexter Dunn driven Belmonts Greatest.    Race 7 - The best backed runner early here has been Elmers Image who easily is leading multis from Laytons Lass   Race 8- Vandanta is well backed in this race and he leads multis from Vintage Beach    Race 9- The best backed runner early has been Lintons Shard $5.00 - $4.00. Some early money for Leading The Way $35.00 in to $18.00     Harnesslink Media     

Chase Auckland and Heaven Rocks have both been cleared of serious injury, after major concerns on Friday. Heaven Rocks finished a disappointing last in the Canterbury Classic on Friday night, and driver Natalie Rasmussen thought the big gelding had broken down. After vetting him on Saturday it was found that Heaven Rocks only has a minor heel injury, which will not curtail his season like first thought. Heaven Rocks has eased out to $3.20 on the Futures NZ Cup market, while Lazarus has firmed in to favourite at $1.80. Chase Auckland managed to get cast in his box on Friday morning and was scratched from the 2nd Sires Stakes heat that night, but he too has been cleared and will continue his current preparation. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Charlotte Purvis drove her first winner at Ascot Park yesterday behind the Phil Williamson trained Pyramid Magic. The 23 year old sister of junior driver Matt Purvis and boyfriend of Matthew Williamson, landed her first win at her 18th race-day drive.  Pyramid Magic had a good run on the outer most of the way, before looming up on the turn to hit the lead and then hold of all the challenge of Pegarose and Nathan Williamson.  Charlotte driving Pyramid Magic to win at Ascot Park Harnesslink Media

Amid fears the horse had broken down, giant pacer Heaven Rocks appears to have no major injuries after a disappointing raceday return at Addington last night. Heaven Rocks faded out to finish last in a five horse field last night, while stablemate Lazaurus won the race and Have Faith In Me finished a game second. After being vetted this morning, Heaven Rocks was found to be suffering a heel complaint, for which he has begun treatment.  Chief Stipendiary Steward Nick Ydgren, said this morning that "the horse will be tried with spreaders next time and possibly returned to trials/workouts, but remains stood down pending a vet clearance". The TAB bookmakers have reacted by putting his New Zealand Cup Futures odds out to $3.20, while last night race winner Lazarus has caved in to $1.85.   Lazarus narrowly winning the (G2) $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic Harnesslink Media

Northern Southland fixed odds early movers as at 10:30am Race 1    Lundqvist $2.00 in to $1.90 is best backed in both FF win and multis. $2000 at $1.90 the biggest bet so far Race 2    Ambro Ameigo is best backed in this race from $6.00 to $4.50 Race 3    Delightful Deal  $2.90 to $2.60 is best backed in both FF win and Multis over Eye Candy Race 4    Si Si Senior is easily the best backed in this race and he also leads multis. Freehold $35.00 in to $23.00 has taken some early money Race 5    Sundons Wish is best backed in both FF win and Multis Race 6    A quiet market here but Happy Styx is best backed in multis. Race 7     Doitson $2.90 to $2.70 is the best backed over Franco Santino  Race 8    Another quiet market here but Erin Jackka is best backed in multis. Race 9     Benio Ben is best backed from The Bus Race10    Glenferrie Classic $7.50 to $6.00 is best backed here  ...Robs Ideal $9.80 to $8.00 has also taken some early money. The Manipulator leads multi-betting Race 11    Sheezus leads both FF win and Multis from Arthur Lowe.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Amateur harness racing driver Ray Reekie has been handed a near maximum suspension of ten months, for not giving his horse Zakspatrol every opportunity to win, in a race at Addington on the 16th September this year. Reekie was originally given a two and a half year sentence, but this penalty was quashed, after Chief Stipendiary Steward Nick Ydgren pointed out to the JCA, the maximum penalty for the charge could only be 12 months. A new hearing was held on the 29th September. The JCA concluded that Mr Reekie’s drive between the 2100 metres and the 1100 metres fell far short of the standard of a reasonable and prudent driver and that the chances of Zakspatrol in the race were significantly adversely lessened or reduced by the actions that Mr Reekie took.  They then handed down a near maximum penalty of 10 months suspension, meaning Reekie will not be able to drive again until the 5th August 2018. Full details of the hearing below: BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY HELD AT CHRISTCHURCH IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing IN THE MATTER of Information No. A09571 BETWEEN S W WALLIS, Stipendiary Steward for the Racing Integrity Unit Informant AND RAYMOND ALFRED REEKIE of Leeston, Licensed Advanced Amateur Driver Respondent Judicial Committee: R G McKenzie (Chair) S C Ching (Committee Member) Present: S W Wallis, the Informant T J Sissons, Counsel for the Respondent N M Ydgren, Chief Stipendiary Steward (Registrar) Date of Hearing: 29 September 2017 Date of Decision: 5 October 2017 RESERVED PENALTY DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE Background [1] Following Race 1, Bishopdale/Bush Inn TAB’s + Tavern Harewood (Amateur Drivers) Mobile Pace, held at the meeting of New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club at Addington Raceway on Saturday, 16 September 2017, Mr Reekie was charged by Stewards with a breach of Rule 869 (3) (g) in that, as the driver of ZAKSPATROL in the race, he “drove in a manner capable of diminishing his chances by challenging for the lead between the 2100 metres and the 1100 metres unsuccessfully resulting in his horse tiring badly from the 900 metres.” [2] Rule 869 provides as follows: (3) No horseman in any race shall drive:- (g) in any manner capable of diminishing the chances of his horse winning. [3] Mr Reekie denied the charge and, after a hearing before this Committee, the charge was found proven. [4] Submissions in relation to penalty were then heard from Mr Wallis at a hearing at which Mr Reekie elected not to be present, following which the Committee suspended Mr Reekie’s Advanced Amateur licence for a period of 2½ years up to and including 15 March 2020. [5] By Memorandum of this Committee dated 19 September 2017, the Committee quashed and set aside that penalty decision on the grounds set out in that Memorandum. [6] A hearing as to penalty subsequently took place on 29 September 2017 and, at that hearing, penalty submissions were heard from Mr Wallis and Mr T J Sissons, representing Mr Reekie. [7] At the conclusion of that hearing, the Committee reserved its decision. Submissions of Informant [8] Mr Reekie has had three drives this season prior to the drive in question. He had 16 drives in the 2016/2017 season and has had a total of 109 career drives since obtaining an amateur driver’s licence in 2009. He is, therefore, a busy amateur driver, consistently driving in races in the Canterbury area. [9] Mr Reekie’s actions have had a detrimental effect, not only on punters who invested on the race, but also on potential punters who may have been “turned away” by his actions. Those actions have only served to dent the reputation of harness racing. [10] As with all drivers, Mr Reekie carries with him the weight of public money and the integrity of harness racing - two things that cannot be compromised. The Stewards and the JCA must be seen to be protecting these. The Committee is charged with the responsibility of enhancing confidence and integrity within harness racing by imposing the right penalties when asked. [11] The penalty imposed in this case should reflect the serious nature of the breach and also serve as a deterrent to any other driver who believes that style of driving to be acceptable. Mr Reekie’s offending falls towards the higher end of the scale. He has challenged for the lead for approximately 1100 metres, tiring rapidly from the 900 metres and finishing some 35 lengths from the winner. [12] Mr Reekie cannot be given any credit for admitting the breach although a person charged is entitled to defend himself. [13] There have been no charges under the Rule since the new Penalty Guide came into force in May 2015. There have been charges under the race duelling and miscounting the rounds provisions but not for incompetent driving as in this case. The Penalty Guide starting point for incompetent driving under Rule 869 (3) (g) is 60 drives or a $3,000 fine. [14] Mr Reekie has the opportunity to drive in only 24 races per year on the basis of there being two amateur drivers’ races per month. The maximum term of suspension for a breach of the Rule is 12 months so the starting point of 60 drives is irrelevant in this case. [15] While the penalty in this case must be seen as a deterrent, it must also be seen as being fair and reasonable. Stewards submit that a fair and reasonable penalty in this case, in the circumstances, is a suspension of Mr Reekie’s amateur driver’s licence for 7 months and a fine of $500. If there was to be no fine, the Stewards would be seeking a suspension for 12 months. Submissions on Behalf of Respondent [16] Mr Sissons indicated that Mr Reekie would accept either a fine or a suspension but, if possible, not a combination of both. [17] Although there were no relevant recent cases under the Rule, there were a number of earlier cases to which the Committee should have regard. [18] This case was not at the higher end of offences under the Rules, Mr Sissons submitted. He submitted that the appropriate penalty is a suspension of 3-6 months. It was not clear which of the three categories of diminishing chances applied to this case and there was a wide range of starting point for the various starting points, Mr Sissons submitted – from 15 drives (miscounting rounds) to 40 drives (race duelling) to 60 drives (incompetent driving). [19] Mr Sissons referred the Committee to the case of O’Connell (January 2017) in which the Judicial Committee said: Mr O’Connell has made a mistake. He has miscounted the laps and, in doing so, he has improved his horse into the passing lane and asked it for an effort before realising his error. The horse has subsequently dropped away finishing second last behind a horse that had broken early in the race. The connections of the horse and those persons who invested on the horse have been adversely affected by his actions. Mr Sissons submitted that such comment could well apply to Mr Reekie who, instead of miscounting the rounds, had misjudged the pace. The penalty starting point in that race was 15 drives. A starting point of 60 drives in Mr Reekie’s case is not consistent. [20] Mr Sissons then showed a video replay of a race from June 2014 involving an amateur driver contesting the lead for about 1500 metres before the horse compounded and finished last. The Judicial Committee, in that case, imposed a 10-weeks’ suspension, he said. The circumstances of that case were almost identical, Mr Sissons submitted. He quoted from the Judicial Committee decision: We take into account that this is a serious breach and that Mr Frampton has admitted the breach at the first opportunity. Balanced against that is the fact that Mr Frampton persisted in attempting to take the lead when it was clear that the driver of the leading horse was not intending to relinquish the lead, and in doing so extinguished his horse’s chances. The video films confirmed the duelling occurred over various stages of the race and carried on until the 700 metres when MISTER DANN weakened badly to finish a long last. Clearly Mr Frampton made a poor decision and an error of judgement in assessing the pace of the race. In this instance the standard of driving was well below what is acceptable, with the chances of LOFTY BROGDEN being diminished when finishing unplaced and 17 lengths from the winner. The Committee did have regard to the fact that Mr Frampton is an amateur driver. In assessing a suitable penalty in this matter the Committee has to have regard to the penalties handed down to other drivers who have breached this Rule, and to look at the circumstances surrounding those penalties. Those recorded penalties showed a range between 2 days and 12 weeks suspension from driving in races. [21] Mr Sissons then referred to the decision of the Appeals Tribunal in Chilcott (March 2010), a speed-duelling case, in which the Tribunal, referring to the decision in J & C (2000), said: Each case has to depend on its own facts, but the Tribunal identified as a particularly relevant factor, the extent to which the chances of the horse were diminished by the particular driving tactics adopted. Also of relevance to penalty, was the degree of experience of the drivers involved. Ready admission of fault and any previous breach of the Rule were also to be weighed. [22] Mr Sissons dealt with those factors in turn. Mr Reekie has no previous breaches. It is accepted that Mr Reekie cannot receive credit for admitting the breach. While Mr Reekie has been an amateur driver for a number of years, the standard required of an amateur driver is not the same as that for a professional driver. In the case of a breach of a Rule, the professional horseman is held to a slightly higher standard. It is more understandable for an inexperienced driver to “make poor choices” and lapse in judgement. [23] Mr Sissons then referred to three other case in which the inexperience of the driver was specifically referred to. The fact that Mr Reekie is an amateur driver is very relevant in this case and should be weighed in his favour, Mr Sissons submitted. This case should, therefore, not be regarded as being at the high end of the spectrum in terms of penalty. [24] Mr Sissons submitted that, in terms of diminishing the horse’s chances, the “calibre and ability” of the horse is relevant in these cases. Mr Reekie’s horse was 9/10 in the betting. In the recent case of Williamson, the horse was 3rd favourite - the penalty was 24 drives. [25] Mr Reekie has been driving the horse with different tactics in the horse’s recent races. On 10 September, Mr Reekie went back from the start then went around with cover to sit outside the leader. He tried to sprint, but only “plugged”, finishing 6th. The start before that the horse was driven by Open Horseman, Mr J R Dunn. It settled mid-field and finished 8th. On 13 August, driven by Mr Reekie, the horse went around to sit outside the leader before getting cover. It was pulled out at the home turn and only ran on for 9th. ZAKSPATROL is not a good horse, Mr Sissons submitted. While it was accepted that the horse’s chances were diminished, this scenario was different from favourites duelling out in front. The horse’s chances were not significantly affected by Mr Reekie’s drive, Mr Sissons submitted, as it was never going to run in a stakes-bearing position. Neither did it upset the balance of the race, as the favourite won and the 3rd favourite was 4th by a nose. The 2nd favourite had a similar run to the favourite but could not run into it racing down the back. [26] Mr Sissons submitted that amateur drivers’ races are clearly identified as such and the level of risk in investing on such races is increased. [27] Mr Sissons then referred to the case of Stratford (2013), in which the charge was under 869 (3) (a) – incompetent driving – a starting point for penalty of 80 drives or a $4,000 fine. This is a more serious offence, Mr Sissons submitted. He referred to the penalty in that case of a 4-months’ suspension and a $750 fine. Consistency and common sense required that Mr Reekie’s penalty be less severe than that, he submitted. [28] Finally, Mr Sissons reiterated his earlier submission for a penalty of a suspension in the range of 3-6 months. This would be in line with the Stratford and more serious cases. Mr Reekie has been inconvenienced by having to retain counsel and face public reaction to the charge and, even though the original penalty has been vacated, some damage has already been done to Mr Reekie. He submitted that calculation of a suspension for an amateur driver in terms of number of drives may not be appropriate. [29] Mr Reekie had not instructed Mr Sissons as to whether he would prefer a suspension alone or a fine alone. However, Mr Reekie regards a suspension as being the more appropriate penalty for amateurs as they do not earn money from their drives, Mr Sissons said. The Penalty Rule [30] Rule 1003 provides as follows:- (1) A person who commits a breach of any Rule shall (subject to the provisions of Rule 111(1), 113(5), 451(3), 507(3), 1001 or 1004 hereof) shall be liable to the following penalties: (a) a fine not exceeding $10,000.00; and/or (b) suspension from holding or obtaining a licence for a period not exceeding 12 months; and/or (c) disqualification for a period not exceeding 12 months. Reasons for Penalty [31] The starting point for a Judicial Committee tasked with imposing penalty for a breach of any Rule is the Penalty Guide for Judicial Committees (effective 1 May 2015). That guide provides that: Committees are expected to operate within the guidelines unless the committee has good reason to believe that the case before it has some special characteristic that justifies the imposition of a penalty greater or lesser than that suggested by the guidelines. [32] That Penalty Guide, for a breach of Rule 869 (3) (g) – diminishing chances by incompetent driving – provides for a starting point of 60 drives or a $3,000 fine. [33] The Committee is satisfied that the present case has a “special characteristic” in that Mr Reekie is an amateur driver and, as such, has the opportunity generally speaking to drive in two races per month and any penalty calculated with reference to a number of drives would result in a very long period of suspension. It was accepted by both parties that, in the particular circumstances of this case, it was inappropriate to adopt a starting point of a particular number of drives. [34] We could deal with Mr Reekie under the fine provision in the Penalty Guide - that is to say, a fine with a starting point of $3,000. However, Mr Sissons, on behalf of Mr Reekie, told us that Mr Reekie’s preference was for a suspension rather than either a fine or a combined penalty of a suspension and a fine. We have considered penalty on that basis and, in any event, we are of the view that a term of suspension is the appropriate penalty for this particular breach. [35] Although, for the reasons given, the Committee does not intend to assess an appropriate period of suspension on the basis of a number of drives, the Penalty Guide starting point of 60 drives is, nevertheless, relevant as we note that particular starting point is the second highest for all breaches provided for in the guide, ranking behind only incompetent driving, Rule 869 (3) (a), for which the starting point is 80 drives, and alongside improper driving in a major race, which is 60 drives. This fact points to the charge of diminishing chances by incompetent driving as being one of the most serious of driving offences and the Committee is treating it as such. Mr Reekie’s drive on ZAKSPATROL in the race in question was more than an error of judgement and displayed a high degree of culpability. [36] This Committee found, in relation to Mr Reekie’s drive in question: The Committee is satisfied that Mr Reekie’s drive between the 2100 metres and the 1100 metres fell far short of the standard of a reasonable and prudent driver and that the chances of ZAKSPATROL in the race were significantly adversely lessened or reduced by the actions that Mr Reekie took. These actions basically involved hotly contesting the lead, resulting in a hot pace . . . with no chance of the lead being available to him. Notwithstanding that, throughout the relevant part of the race, between the 2100 metres and the 1100 metres, Mr Reekie activated the removable deafeners at an early stage and urged his horse throughout with the reins and the whip. That the chances of his horse were diminished is evidenced by the fact that the horse commenced to tire some 900 metres from the finish before dropping out and finishing a long last . . . 35.3 lengths from the winner. The hard run to which Mr Reekie had subjected it had, clearly, taken its toll on the horse and it inevitably weakened out a long way from home. Its chances had been diminished. [37] The Committee has taken into account the seriousness of this breach in comparison with other types of driving breaches. Taking the maximum term of suspension permitted by Rule 1003 of a 12 months’ suspension, we must impose a penalty near to the maximum in this case, since the offending in this case is, in the Committee’s view, near to the most serious of cases for which the penalty is prescribed. At the same time, we must impose the least restrictive penalty that is appropriate. [38] The most important purposes of sentencing to which the Committee has had regard in this case are to hold Mr Reekie accountable for his actions, to promote in him a sense of responsibility for and acknowledgement of his actions, to denounce his driving tactics and to deter him or other persons from committing the same or a similar breach. We have also had regard to the need to assist Mr Reekie in his rehabilitation with a view to enabling him to pursue, in the future, his passion of driving standardbred racehorses in amateur races. [39] The Committee believes that those purposes can all be adequately served by the imposition of a term of suspension of Mr Reekie’s Advanced Amateur licence for a period of 10 months from the date of this decision. A term of suspension of that duration is required to make the penalty for a serious breach of the Rule meaningful in the case of an amateur driver. [40] In arriving at that penalty, the Committee has taken into account Mr Reekie’s previous good record. He has driven, we were told, in 109 races since obtaining his licence in 2009. We accept that Mr Reekie is one of the most experienced amateur drivers in the country and his record is, therefore, a good one. However, along with recognising his experience, comes the expectation of a higher standard of driving than was demonstrated by him in this case, even allowing for the fact he is an amateur driver. [41] Finally, the Committee does not propose to address individually in this decision the previous cases and principles referred to by Mr Sissons in his submissions, except to say that we have taken them into account, where relevant, in deciding the final penalty. We were grateful to Mr Sissons for his most helpful submissions. Penalty [42] Mr Reekie’s Advanced Amateur licence is suspended immediately from the date of this decision for a period of 10 months, expiring on 5th August 2018. Costs [43] There will be no order as to costs as this was the conclusion of a hearing commenced on raceday. R G McKenzie       S C Ching Chair                    Committee Member

Champion harness racing pacer Lazarus has won the (G2) $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic at Addington tonight, and in the process reclaimed his status as New Zealand Trotting Cup favourite with the TAB bookmakers.  Lazarus who was only in to the field to get the race off the ground, began well for driver Mark Purdon and trailed for most of the race, before zipping up the passing lane to grab the leader Have Faith In Me with 50m to go. The winner paced the the 2600m stand in 3-19.3 with a final 800m in a quick 55.3 and 400m in 26.1 seconds.  Heaven Rocks who was expected to be more forward than Lazarus and a better chance tonight, never paced well at any stage and dropped out to finish last of the five horse field. Driver Natalie Rasmussen said, "early indications by the vet, was that Heavens Rock had suffered a fractured pastern, but they would be investigating further after the horse had cooled down". Earlier in the night Bordeaux won the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup for Flaxton (North Canterbury) trainer Philip Iggo.  Bordeaux was taken to the front by driver Dexter Dunn after 600m and he led for the rest of the race, before holding off the strong finish of Great Things Happen and Gavin Smith, to win by a narrow margin. Dexter drove a double for the night when Pat's Delight surged to an impressive win in the 2nd NRM Sires Stakes Heat.  Pat's Delight rated 1-56.0 when defeating a strong field, with a closing 800m in 55.7 and 400m in 27.7 Lazarus narrowly winning the (G2) $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic   Harnesslink Media  

Unbeaten 3yo gelding Chase Auckland has been scratched from tonights Sires Stakes heat at Addington, after getting cast in his box last night.  The classy Auckland Reactor gelding was a short $1.50 fixed odds favourite to win tonights race. Last night the TAB bookmakers had also opened the Sires Stakes Final market and installed Chase Auckland a $3.60 favourite for the $170,000 Sires Stakes Final on November 14th. Natalie Rasmussen said on the All Stars Website, "At this stage we don't know how serious it is from a Sires Stakes season point of view and we will probably not be sure until Monday. He just got cast in his box and rapped something while he was at it". "He is a great drive at the races but can be a bit playful at home so it is a case of waiting to see how long he will have to be out of work." Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen still have The Devils Own and Funatthebeach entered in tonights Sires Stakes Heat, with The Devils Own now a clear $1.90 favourite on the fixed odds win market.   Harnesslink Media