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Driving double for Gilligan at Dunmanway

WEST CORK, IE - Philip "Buster" Gilligan was the man in form when driving two harness racing winners at Dunmanway on Saturday evening.   Jaybee recently purchased by Ned Stafford set the ball rolling for Gilligan who made the three-hour journey down from Dublin.   This was a cracking contest with IB A Warrior Jaybee and IB Felicity all trading blows throughout the contest and turning for home it was still wide open but Jaybee stayed on the best of the three to win by a neck from IB A Warrior.   Honor Code completed the brace of winners for Gilligan in the Grade F E &D Pace .   This time around Awesome Dude a winner last week set the early fractions .Honor Code then took over on the second lap but surrendered the lead again on the final circuit .With an eighth of a mile to race the pair were locked in battle and on the run in Honor Code found more to win by a length and a half .   "I'm having a great run at the moment my horses are running well and I'm falling in for a few spare drives. Cork has been lucky for me this year and let's hope that continues next week at the Red John Memorial Meeting in Lyre," added Gilligan who trains out of Portmarnock Raceway in North County Dublin.   Like last week his brother-in-law Sean Kane made the trip down from County Meath and went home with a winner .The top-grade trot looked a real wide-open affair .Dinah Washington drew pole position on the gate and used the advantage to lead away from Brutenor .It remained the same formation all through the race and it looked like a sprint finish would settle it and this was the case with Sean Kane pulling away in the final 100 yards to win by two lengths from Brutenor with Aubade A Helene back in third.   "This fellow is trained here on the track in Dunmanway and knows his way around here. It's good to have a winner for the connections who are good sportsmen," commented Kane after the race.   Valliant Forgion has been knocking on the door in his last few outings and was at his very best today when leading for most of the mile and a quater giving driver Jamie Hurley an overdue success.   "We think he is best over a mile and a quarter and all along the races have been a mile and a half so the drop in distance today suited .I'm delighted for his owner John O'Sullivan who is a good patron of mine. The horse is easy to manage and he run in Lyre next week," winning driver Hurley quoted after racing.   Benny Camden enhanced his ever-growing reputation when taking the top-grade pace for Donal Murphy.   Punters sided with Rhyds Panache and this multiple winner this season led out from Supreme Sunshine but to be fair Murphy on Benny Camden was waiting in the wings and it was only a case of when we would be in front and he waited until the final 100 yards to swoop by his rivals and won "going away".   Shrewd judges in the crowd were talking him up as favotite for the Red John Memorial next week.   As mentioned in this column last week Right of Redemption would "win sooner rather than later" and today was the day for this three-year-old son of Foreclosure N showed guts when getting up in the shadow of the post in a blanket finish. " I raced him last year as a two-year-old and maybe it came a bit soon for him. He grew in the Winter and has matured well" Chris O'Reilly winning owner trainer and driver said after.   Next week Lyre stages the Red John Memorial the highlight of the 2020 season in Cork but with Covid 19 restrictions it may be ran "Behind Closed Doors" Mre details to follow.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS Grade F Pace 1st - JAYBEE P Gilligan 2nd - IB A WARRIOR R Kingston 3rd - IB FELICITY J Boyle DIST NK 1 1/4L TIME 2.39.2   Grade F Trot 1st - VALLIANT FORGION J Hurley 2nd - SILVANO BELLO D Murphy 3rd - BELLA DESPANA L Kelleher DIST 3/4L 2L TIME 2.40.2   Grade F E & D Pace 1st - HONOR CODE P Gilligan 2nd - AWESOME DUDE S Quill 3rd - JUST A PROMISE P McInerney DIST 1 2/4L 14L TIME 2.31.9   Grade F E D & C Trot 1st - DINAH WASHINGTON S Kane 2nd - BRUTENOR P Hill 3rd - AUBADE A HELENE L Kelleher DIST 2L 1 1/2L 2.36.8   Grade D C & B Pace 1st - BENNY CAMDEN D Murphy 2nd - RHYDS PANACHE C O'Reilly 3rd - SUPREME SUNSHINE J Boyle DIST 1 3/4L 5 3/4L TIME 2.30.9   Grade G & G1 Pace 1st - RIGHT OF REDEMPTION C O'Reilly  2nd - HAIL CAESAR P Hill 3rd - DARKHILL JOHN J M O Reilly    DIST 1L 1 1/2L TIME 2.40.1 

Rhyds Premier, harness racing

The "Shark" strikes again at Racetime

The Nortern Ireland Standardbred Association (NISA), the officially recognised governing body for the sport of harness racing in Northern Ireland staged their second meeting of the 2020 season at Racetime Raceway in Lisburn last Saturday when Eamonn O’Connors OnTop Black Shark struck again in the meetings finale the consolation final. Six went to post in this hotly contested affair and just when it looked that Ceiron DJ had the race at his mercy OnTop Blackshark dug deep to emerge victorious by ½ length in 2.03.4  Conall McGuigan is a new driver to the ranks at Racetime Raceway yet he drove Tom Wood like an old pro to win the Maiden & Novice contest. Rainstorm II with Eamon O’Connor aboard led them a merry dance in this before tiring late on. Rhyds Premier then took it up before Fold Mischief came with its customary late run but all the while Tom Wood was gradually creeping into contention. When asked for his effort by McGuigan the eight year old gelding sprinted from the pack to land the spoils by a length in 2.06.7 from Fold Mischief with Rhyds Premier another half-length back in third spot. From a new driver to somebody a little more seasoned and the veteran reinsman on duty Billy Bassett showed the younger drivers a clean pair of heels with Derrybeg in the 5 runner Grade 1&2 handicap. Owned by brother John, Derrybeg took up the running going down the back straight for the last time from the favourite Lakeview PanAm and IB Cymru to triumph in convincing fashion in 2.02.5 just a tenth of a second outside the fastest time of the day.  West Cork raider John Barley was all the rage on the bookies board before the start of the preferred free-for-all but the partisan locals then ploughed into Monugs Boy and both of these runners started joint favourites. The race didn’t go according to plan however as outsider of the 4 runners, Vyrnwy Saddlepan, swept past Monugs Boy and John Barley on the second circuit to win going away by 6 lengths in 2.02.4. Monugs Boy fended of the late challenge of Ceiron DJ to claim second a further 2 lengths adrift with the luckless John Barley appearing to have been in need of the run. In the afternoons square trot, Adrian Grahams Avetot exacted sweet revenge on Diva Valentina who beat him narrowly last time they locked horns. This time around Avetots driver employed different front running tactics and despite making ground on the straights the favourite Diva Valentina struggled on the beds and lost valuable ground. Evan Jive had a tardy start and never recovered leaving Avetot a facile winner in 2.14.8 with the distances ten lengths and the same. With Covid-19 restrictions easing somewhat in Northern Ireland a healthy attendance turned up at the venue on the day with local punters joined by visitors from Dublin and from West Cork with track promoter Greg Dean thrilled at the support that the track has built up since its re-opening back in early July. A qualifier was also held before racing and 2 horses managed to better qualifying time, Newmoors Jackie Dan and Blue Top Gun.  by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Harness racing

Another "Quill" does well at Dunmanway

West Cork, IE - Seamus Quill repeated the harness racing feat of his brother Oisin last week when he drove two winners at the Bank Holiday Monday meeting in Dunmanway on Monday.   The Quills who are based in Kenmare and run a chain of Clothing Shops had seen their flagship shop in Kenmare flooded over the weekend and a change in luck was wanted.   Destin De Larre seems to have plenty of ability but has been unlucky in his last few outings but he done the job well this time round. Seamus Quill sent him about his business early in the contest and he was always a winner running out to beat Silvano Bello.   The brace of winners was notched up in the very next race aboard Awesome Dude.   Hail Spartacus was looking to make it four wins on the bounce and it was Fairdays Bret who set the early fractions .Going out on the final circuit Awesome Dude led with Hail Spartacus on his tail .It looked as if Hail Spartacus would prevail but Awesome Dude found more and ran out a winner by a neck.   "We had bad luck with the flood in the shop at home but Im sure Dad (Finbarr owner and trainer of both winners) will enjoy tonight," added Quill after racing.   Benny Camden who was a star last season made his belated 2020 debut a winning one in the Grade D & C Pace.   Lets Party won the battle for pole position to the opening corner. The pace here was sedate with no driver committing. Heading out on the final circuit Chris O'Reilly on Rhyds Panache made his move and was followed by Benny Camden. Turning for home Donal Murphy moved wide and swept past Rhyds Panache and won impressively.   "This fella had a few minor issues and we think a lot of him and didn't want to rush him so we are delighted on how he ran today. He goes for The Red John Memorial in Lyre in two weeks and he won the low grade heat and final there last year so we be hoping for more of the same" Tadhg Murphy trainer of the winner told the press briefing.   It was a good weekend for the Murphy Bros as on Saturday Bequest jointly owned by Donal Murphy and Bill Donovan from Florida took the second leg of the Irish Juvenile series for two year old colts and now boasts two wins from his two starts .Exciting times ahead for the Irish/American partnership.   Only two went to post in the Top grade Pace with Porterstown Courage a non runner but Meadowbranch Demon and Llwyns Delight served up a rip roaring contest. Demon led for most of the contest with Llwyns Delight badgering him for most of the race and just got the better of the veteran in the final 50 yards.   Hail Caesar gave Patrick Hill a timely boost when landing the opener a Grade G & G1 Pace. This four year old is closely related to Hail Spartacus and Hill got the better of Right Of Redemption who will most certainly win sooner rather than later.   Sean Kane made the long journey down from his County Meath base with Duccio to land the spoils in the Grade E & D trot. Third in his last outing this seven year old son of Nahar De Beval led home Bibi Dairpet and last weeks winner Vallanzana.   Philip "Buster" Gilligan a brother in law of Kane had as long a journey from Dublin to the Dunmanway venue and he also got his name on the score sheet .Honor Code has been playing bridesmaid in his previous runs but came home a winner today out staying IB A Warrior   Racing returns to Dunmanway next Saturday and the following week all roads lead to Lyre for the two day Red John Memorial Festival.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS All races 1 1/4 Miles unless stated   Race 1: Grade G / G1 Pace 1. Hail Caesar, P. Hill 2. Right of Redemption, C. O' Reilly 3. Mooreside Myra, S.Kane. TIME 2.38.2 DIST 1 1/4L 1 3/4L Race 2: Grade F Pace 1. Honor Code, P. Gilligan 2. IB A Warrior, R. Kingston 3. IB Felicity, J. Boyle. TIME 2.28.8 DIST 4 1/4L 4 1/2L Race 3: Grade F Trot 1 1/2 Miles 1. Destin De Larre, S. Quill 2. Silvano Bello, D. Murphy 3. Amende De Cosse, S. Kane. TIME 3.31.4 DIST 5L NK Race 4: Grade E Pace 1. Awesome Dude, S. Quill 2. Hail Spartacus, O. Quill 3. Fairdays Bret, A. Mc Carthy TIME 2.35.7 DIST NK 15L Race 5: Grade E / D Trot 1 1/2 Miles 1. Duccio, S. Kane 2. Bibi Dairpet, D. Murphy 3. Vallanzana, O. Quill TIME 3.25.7 DIST 2 1/2L 3/4L Race 6: Grade D / C Pace 1. Benny Camden, D. Murphy 2. Rhyds Panache, C. O' Reilly 3. Supreme Sunshine, J. Boyle. TIME 2.36.6 DIST 1/2L 2 3/4L Race 7: Preferred FFA Pace 1. Llwyns Delight, J. Manning Jr 2. Meadowbranch Demon, L. Kelleher TIME 2.27.6 DIST 2L

Racetime Raceway, harness racing

West Cork star coming to Racetime

The Northern Ireland Standardbred Association (NISA), the officially recognised governing body for the sport of harness racing in Northern Ireland, is staging their second harness racing meeting of the 2020 season at Racetime Raceway in Lisburn Saturday and top West Cork trainer Mick Goggin is making the long journey from his base at Goleen to participate. Stable star John Barley will be all the rage in the preferred free-for-all, but Goggin will have to be at his very best in the bike to outfox the wily Hugh Friel and Vyrnwy Saddlepan a proven sub 2 minute performer. Young guns Cieran JD and Monugs Boy will be all out to upset the applecart in what could end up a very tactical affair. Rainstorm II, a £7200 purchase as a yearling in the annual York sale, makes his eagerly awaited debut for Eamonn O'Connor in the afternoon's Maiden & Novice mile. He will have to be at the top of his game however to fend off Tom Wood, Rhyds Premier and recent winner Fold Mischief. All eyes will be on the Mickey Connors owned Streamside Skryne in the Grades 1 & 2 Handicap. By Kikicolt out of the 1:57 racemare Artcastic, the gelding has displayed an abundance of talent in previous runs but he will have his work cut out for him if he is to lower the colours of On Top Blackshark, who landed the spoils in the grand final at the opening meeting and is in the form of his life at present. Throw IB Cymru, Lakeview Pan-Am and Derrybeg into the mix and we have the makings of a really cracking contest. The Swedish bred Diva Valentina is likely to start favourite in the mixed European square trot following her victory last time out, but having been penalised for the win she will be sharing the gate with French breds Avetot and Evan Jive. The former could upstage Diva on this occasion as he was challenging strongly last time out before a break in stride put paid to his chances. "Rising Stars" races will also be held throughout the afternoon and these pony trotting races have proved to be immensely popular at Racetime. Parents and the children are cheered on and applauded by friends and relations as they glide around the track and its hoped that the harness racing bug bites these juniors who will then become our pro drivers of the future. A consolation race will conclude proceedings and this will be free entry for all non winning pacers on the day. If there are more than 6 entries a draw will be held for those consolation spots. As ever Racetime pay out prizemoney on the day in cash. With Covid restrictions now relaxed on public events in Northern Ireland, spectators are welcomed provided they exercise social distancing, so get yourself down to Racetime Raceway on Saturday 1st August where a great days harness racing awaits allcomers. Post time 3pm. by Thomas Bennett, for the NISA

WASHINGTON, PA, July 27, 2020 -- Itsmycheck GB aggressively retook the lead at the three-eighths and made the move stand up, capturing Monday's harness racing feature at The Meadows, a $10,800 Conditioned Pace. Itsmycheck GB was away first for Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. before K Ryan Bluechip quarter-poled to the point. Itsmycheck GB and Wrenn wanted no part of the pocket, seized the lead once more and went on to defeat K Ryan Bluechip by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:51.1. Our Third Rock completed the ticket. Ron Burke trains Itsmycheck GB, an 8-year-old Check On Jack-Judy Hall gelding who has won four his five domestic starts since being imported from Great Britain by Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Burke enjoyed a four-bagger on the 15-race card while Dave Palone and Jim Pantaleano each piloted three winners. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the 15-race program features a $20,795.43 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5 and a $5,000 total-pool guarantee in the Early Pick 4 (race 3). Also Tuesday, post positions will be drawn for Saturday's $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids. First post Tuesday 1s 12:45 PM.  

West Cork, IR - Oisin Quill is on the crest of a wave at present and the Kenmare Co Kerry based teenager drove two winners at the Dunmanway harness races Sunday.   Quill has forged a great partnership with Hail Spartacus and this eleven year old son of Swingman was recording his third victory in a row in the Grade F Pace.   The pair drew pole position and led from the start with American Rebel who was well supported in the market chasing on. The order remained the same going out on the final circuit .All the while Honor Code crept into the race and at "The Road Crossing" was on terms with the leaders.   Turning for home it was between the two with Hail Spartacus holding on by a neck to deny Honor Code. In the resulting stewards enquiry the placings remained as they past the post.   "He loves it around here and I knew I had them all covered once he led in the final straight" said Quill of the winner.   Quill completed his double in The Apprentice series Trot.   Bella D'Espana was away quickly here with Valiant Forgion tagging on in second. With a quarter of a mile to race Quill made his move on Vallanzana going three wide down the back straight and hit the front turning for home and ran on to a 2 1/2 length win. This took the career earnings to just shy of 50,000.   Rhyds Panache, like Hail Spartacus, made it three wins from three in the Grade F E & D Pace. Springhill Doyle set the early fractions with IB Felicity. On the Bell Lap IB Felicity led and looked a winner but Chris O'Reilly was quietly creeping into contention and hit the front with 300 yards to go and ran out to a resounding 7 1/2 length victory.   "The plan was try and work our way up the handicap and go back to Lyre in August for The Red John Memorial which we won last year" O'Reilly briefed the media post race.   John Shanahan seems to have a nice horse in the making in Resolute Diamond who landed the odds in the Grade G & G1 Pace. This three year old son of Foreclosure N in only his second ever start was really impressive and made ever yard of the running under the confident drive of "Cool Hands" Timmy O'Leary and never looked in any danger winning by two lengths.   "He ran well in Portmarnock last week on his first ever start in the three year old series and today will bring him on a lot. My brother Denis who is based in London owns him and we always thought a lot of him" said winning trainer John Shanahan.   The top grade pace was full of drama. Rhyds Destiny "a catch drive" for Jamie Hurley was away quickly and had a right set too with Supreme Sunshine. With this battle probably taking its toll, Llwyns Delight was next to challenge and led with a quarter to race but went off stride turning for home but John Manning Jnr got him foot perfect and won by 2 2/4 lengths from the staying on King Wills Arrival.   Patrick Hill gave Brutenor a text book drive in the top Grade trot. Destin De Larre and Devoument Absolu shared the lead but Hill on the winner was never too far away and this consistent nine year old was 1 1/2 lengths in front at the finish.   The Next local meeting is on Tuesday 4th August back in Dunmanway.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS All races 1 1/4 Miles   GRADE F PACE 1st - Hail Spartacus O Quill 2nd - Honor Code P Gilligan 3rd - American Rebel T O'Leary DIST NK 3/4L TIME 2.28.6   GRADE G & G1 PACE 1st - Resolute Diamond T O'Leary 2nd - Sugar Cane Howard P Gilligan 3rd - Darkhill John J M O Reilly DIST 2L 6L TIME 2.32.5   IHRA APPRENTICE CHAMPIONSHIP 1st - Vallanzana O Quill 2nd - Bella D'Espana L Kelleher 3rd - Vaillant Forgion J Hurley DIST 2 1/2L 5 1/4L TIME 2.33.6   GRADE C & A PACE 1st - Llwyns Delight J Manning Jnr 2nd - King Wills Arrival O Quill 3rd - Supreme Sunshine J Boyle DIST 2 3/4L 2L TIME 2.28.0   GRADE F E & C TROT 1st - Brutenor P Hill 2nd - Devoument Absolu J O'Mahony 3rd - Destin De Larre S Quill DIST 1 1/2L 3/4L TIME 2.33.8   GRADE F E & D PACE 1st - Rhyds Panache C O'Reilly 2nd - IB Felicity J Boyle 3rd - Coalford Bruce D McCarthy DIST 7 3/4L 1 1/2L TIME 2.27.0            

WASHINGTON, PA, July 24, 2020 -- In 2013, a young Irishman determined that he would make his living in harness racing, and that to do so, he would need to leave his homeland, where the sport is largely a part-time pursuit. Thus, he left County Cork to seek success in North America. And he found it. On Saturday, that young man, Robert Cleary, will mark his first appearance in the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows when he sends out Rockin The Aces, the New Jersey Sires Stakes champion, in race 9, the final of three $25,000 Adios eliminations. The top three finishers in each elim return Aug. 1 for the $375,000 final. After leaving the Emerald Isle, Cleary landed in Canada, where he worked for trainer Tony O'Sullivan. He soon shifted to the U.S. and launched his own stable, which now includes 15 head, the majority owned by Royal Wire Products of Ohio. Cleary knows his decision to come to North America was the right one. "I grew up around horses, and that's all I really know. That's where I'm happiest," he says. "If you're going to do it, you might as well do it where there's more money." Cleary got Rockin The Aces for his sophomore campaign from owner Robert Barry, who's based in Dublin and follows his horse via the internet. The Rock N Roll Heaven-Mattaroni gelding has blossomed under Cleary's tutelage, winning a NJSS leg as well as the $160,000 final at the Meadowlands in a sparkling 1:49.4. And he's fresh, with only three starts this year. Based on those plusses, he's been installed as a 9-2 selection in the morning line. For all that, Cleary is realistic about his horse's chances. "It's a pretty big step up for him," Cleary says, "but he hasn't done anything wrong, so we have to give him a shot. I would have preferred post 3 or 4. It would have been easier for him to get away from the middle of the gate." Although Rockin The Aces is eligible for the Little Brown Jug, he isn't heavily staked for the rest of the season, so Adios orchids may be his best chance for glory. If he should win and you're trackside to greet the victorious trainer, remember: It's Robert, Rob if you must, never Bob or Bobby. "My mother doesn't mind when it's 'Rob,' but she doesn't like the nicknames that begin with 'B." And you have to make your mother happy." The action-packed eliminations card, which kicks off at 12:45 PM, also features a pair of stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers -- a $188,682 Pennsylvania Sires Stake and a $100,000 PA Stallion Series event -- and a $16,582.20 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. Here are the eliminations fields with post positions, trainers, drivers and morning line odds: Adios Elimination, Race 5 1. Later Dudes Brian Brown David Miller 5-1 2. Roll With JR Jeff Cullipher Corey Callahan 8-1 3. Sandbetweenmytoes Jim Campbell Dave Palone 3-1 4. The Greek Freak Ron Burke Matt Kakaley 7-2 5. Put To Right Tony Alagna Andrew McCarthy 6-1 6. Captain Groovy Ray Schnittker Mark MacDonald 9-2 7. Chief Mate Tony Alagna Scott Zeron 7-1 Adios Elimination, Race 8 1. Somebodyitreasure Andrew Harris Brett Miller 12-1 2. Tru Lou Ron Burke Matt Kakaley 12-1 3. Sweet Truth Ron Burke Yannick Gingras 8-1 4. Papi Rob Hanover Brett Pelling David Miller 3-2 5. Sea Of Life Tony Alagna Scott Zeron 4-1 6. Captain Barbossa Tony Alagna Andrew McCarthy 4-1 7. No Lou Zing Nancy Takter Josert Fonseca 7-1 Adios Elimination, Race 9 1 .Rockin The Aces Robert Cleary Brett Miller 9-2 2. No Quarter Brian Brown Dave Palone 9-2 3. Mac's Big Boy Ron Burke Matt Kakaley 15-1 4. Elver Hanover Ron Burke Chris Page 5-2 5. Capt Midnight Tony Alagna Andrew McCarthy 7-2 6. Seriously Hanover Ron Coyne, Jr. Scott Zeron 7-1 7. Catch The Fire John Ackley Mike Wilder 5-1 by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

The Northern Ireland Standardbred Association (NISA), the recognised body for harness racing in Northern Ireland, staged its opening race meeting of the 2020 season on Saturday 18th July with national broadcaster the BBC on hand to cover the event which was held at Racetime Raceway, just outside Belfast. Three heats of pacers and a concluding grand final provided the main entertainment with a European bred trotters race also held on the day. In the opening heat, William McClelland drove Niall Loughrans Fold Mischief to a narrow victory over Conall McGuigan’s Tom Wood and John Murdy’s Rhyds Premier in 2:04.6 with the distances a short-head and 10 lengths. The penultimate heat was an equally tight affair with Cathal Donnellys Ceiron DJ just prevailing by a half length from longtime leader Derrybeg in 2:02.1 with the favourite Monugs Boy unable to land a blow a further four lengths adrift back in third sport. The remaining heat went to Barry Dean aboard Lucky Cam who outclassed the opposition to score comfortably in 2:03.2 with Ontop Blackshark staying on well for the runner-up spot ahead of Lakeview PanAm with the distances four lengths and two lengths. In the 6 runner final for £1000, an incident on the opening bend resulted in driver Barry Dean being decanted from favourite Lucky Cam. Under a NISA ruling this horse was precluded from taking part in the re-run.  When they finally got underway second time of asking Fold Mischief and Tom Wood engaged in an early battle with the latter getting the better of the exchange and leading them throughout the first circuit. As they got the bell with a lap to go Billy Bassett and Derrybeg surged forward from the chasing pack to take up the lead before readily going five lengths clear. Cerion DJ the favourite was then asked to improve from the tail of the field but Cathal Donnellys charge couldn’t make any inroads despite his urgings. All the while Ontop Blackjack was quietly building up a head of steam and in the final 50 yards when it looked as if Derybeg had the race in safe keeping, the seven-year-old gelding by The Preacher Pan came with a storming late charge to land the spoils for owner/trainer/driver Eamonn O’Connor. The winning time was 2:02.3 with Tom Wood Fold Mischief filling the frame.  A trotters race was also held with mixed Euopean breds and this was won by the Swedish bred seven-year-old Diva Valentina from the French bred Evan Jive with the other French bred Avetot getting disqualified by the stewards for galloping across the line when in contention. The time was 2:14 and winner won by a comfortable six lengths. The afternoon was complemented by a brace of pony trotting races where parents of young boys and girls partnered with their children on the track in some mini races covering the length of the home straight. A round of applause and a trophy was given to each child who participated and such encouragement was to be commended as these kids will be the star drivers of the future in Ireland. A carriage driving exhibition was held on the afternoon and this added to the family friendly atmosphere that was present throughout the day. Interviewed post-racing, Chairman of the NISA, Greg Dean, conveyed his satisfaction with how the opening meeting went, adding that having governed the sport in the province for the past 70 years harness racing under NISA was in safe hands for another 70. Entries are now being taken for all grades of pacer and trotter for the next meeting which will take place at the venue on August 1st.    by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

WEST CORK, IR - Hail Spartacus and Rhyds Panache both winners at the venue the previous Sunday continued on their winning runs on a night of close finishes and top class action at Dunmanway on Friday evening.   Rhyds Panache last years Red John Memorial winner was quick to leave the start followed by Coalford Bruce and Supreme Sunshine. Heading out on the final circuit Rhyds Destiny began to close in on the leaders but Chris O'Reilly on the winner had all moves covered and ran out an easy four length winner.   "Like everyone my preparations have been interrupted and after his second place in Portmarnock a few weeks back I knew he was in good form. All going well he be back to defend his crown in the Red John at Lyre in august" said Chris O Reilly of his horse.   Hail Spartacus is still owned by the Hill family but has moved a mile down the road to be trained by Mike O'Donovan and his new trainer has found a good tune out of this veteran.   Oisin Quill gave him a masterly drive .he led out the gate and everyone seemed to want to have a "rattle" off the leader . Laneside Louis badgered the leader for a lap then IB A Warrior joined in on the fun but Hail Spartacus loves it around the Dunmanway venue and the former Grand Prix winner after all the best efforts of his rivals had a 3 1/2 length winning margin.   Racing opened with a win for the West Cork/Florida alliance of Donal Murphy and Bill Donovan. IB Notorious who enjoyed a stellar 2 year old campaign but lost his way a bit in 2019 bounced back to winning ways . Driver Donal Murphy sent him to the front early and despite a late challenge of Moorside Myra the 1/2 length winning distance could have been more.   American Rebel who ran in to all sorts of traffic problems on his last outing made no mistake tonight. Timmy O Leary sent this regally bred four year old to the front after a lap and despite being headed in the last two furlongs by IB Felicity he battled back and won by 3/4 length.   "My brother Denis owns him and he won The Little Welsh Dragon last year as an immature three year old and we think a lot of him." commented winning trainer John Shanahan.   Pan Cam Income is another who has taken time to come right and Luke Kelleher on the son of Earned Income had to be patient as the "gap" to get out didn't appear until the final straight but when he saw daylight he coasted to a 3 length win.   Jeremiah O'Mahony who trains his stock at the race field seems to have picked up a nice trotter in the shape of Devonment Absolu . Sean Kane made the long spin down from Co Meath to partner this one and Bella Despana had to play second fiddle to the winner in the mile and a half contest.   Credit must go to the IHRA and Ballabuidhe Race Committee who had all the social distancing procedures and Covid 19 protocols in place at the venue which will again stage racing on Sunday 26th July.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS All races 1 1/4 miles unless stated   GRADE G & G1 Pace 1st - IB NOTORIOUS D Murphy 2nd - MOORSIDE MYRA S Kane 3rd - HAIL CAESAR P Hill DIST 1/2L 1 1/4L TIME 2.31.8   GRADE F PACE 1st - AMERICAN REBEL T O'Leary 2nd - IB FELICITY J Boyle 3rd - HONOR CODE P Gilligan DIST 3/4L 4L TIME 2.26.8   GRADE G & G1 PACE 1st - PAN CAM INCOME L Kelleher 2nd - RIGHT OF REDEMPTION C O'Reilly 3rd - WESTERN OCEAN P Gilligan DIST 2 1/2L 3 1/2L TIME 2.28.0   GRADE D C & B PACE 1st - RHYDS PANACHE C O'Reilly 2nd - SUPREME SUNSHINE J Boyle 3rd - RHYDS DESTINY T O'Leary DIST 4L 1 1/2L TIME 2.24.1   GRADE F & E TROT 1 1/2 MILES 1st - DEVONMENT ABSOLU S Kane 2nd - BELLA D'ESPANA L Kelleher 3rd - BRUTENOE P Hill DIST 4L 1L TIME 3.24.4   GRADE F & E PACE 1st - HAIL SPARTACUS O Quill 2nd - LANESIDE LOUIS J Manning Jnr 3rd - IB A Warrior J Hurley DIST 3 1/2L 7 1/2L TIME 2.28.7

WEST CORK, IR - The West Cork Harness Racing season, curtailed like all sporting events in the country, kicked off last Sunday in Dunmanway and the men making the headlines were from two different sides of the age scale 76 years "young "John Boyle still enjoys his sport and drove his own IB Felicity to victory.   Right of Redemption mad most of the running but with four furlongs to pace Boyle gave his charge the office and the pair ran out easy four length winner.   Boyle originally from Co Donegal but living in Cork for over 60 years was cheered home by all in attendance and is one of the most respected and likeable characters in the sport.   Oisin Quill at 17 years of age is one of the brightest stars in racing and he drove a double on the afternoon.   Firstly, on the trotter Vallanzana Quill had early tussles with Belkalinja and after winning that duo had to fend off the late challenge of the fast finishing Aubade A Hellene but had a comfortable three lengths in ghand at the line .   The brace of winners was completed aboard pacer Hail Spartacus in the Grade F Pace.   This son of Swingman has been a loyal servant to the Hill Family and as on shrewd judge said to me "Hes almost impossible to beat around here when in front and He Stays longer Than the Mother In Law".   Another young driver John O'Mahony got a great spin out of Dinah Washington in the Grade F Trot . Trained on the track he bided his time and won going away. Eoin Murphy had his first "public" drive here on Silvano Bello and the 15 year old looks destined to follow in the footsteps of his father Tadgh and uncle Donal both able reins men.   Rhyds Panache winner of last years Red John Memorial got back to winning ways in the opener. Chris O'Reilly allowed his rivals to battle it out before creeping quietly to the front and won by 2 1/2 lengths.   IB Paddington another bred in the IB nursey in Baltimore looks to have a bright future. in only his third lifetime start he encountered a rouge passage but stayed on to beat Moorside Myra by a 1/4 length. He holds entries in all the major three year old stakes races.   Rhyds Destiny has lost none of his appetite for racing and was seen to good effect in the top grade pace .Coalford Bruce led for most of the journey but Timmy O'Leary had all moves covered and was never in danger. Bella Despana made every yard of the running in the Grade F Trot and held on for a deserved victory for driver Luke Kelleher.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS Race 1: Grade F / E Pace:  1st: Rhyds Panache, C. O' Reilly. 2nd: Two Left Feet, J. Hurley. 3rd: Fairdays Bret, A. Mc Carthy. Time: 2.29.5 DIST 2 1/2L 10 1/2L Race 2: Grade G / G1 Pace Div 1: 1st: IB Paddington, D. Murphy. 2nd: Mooreside Myra, S. Kane. 3rd: Pan Cam Income, L. Kelleher. Time: 2.33.3 DIST 1/4L 4 1/4L Race 3: Trot Grade F: 1st: Dinah Washington, J. O' Mahony. 2nd: Vaillant Forgion, J. Hurley. 3rd: Silvano Bello, E. Murphy. Time 2.33.6 DIST 5L 1/2L Race 4: Grade G / G1 Pace Div 2: 1st: IB Felicity, J. Boyle 2nd: Right Of Redemption, C. O' Reilly. 3rd: Meadowbranch Romance, C. O' Driscoll. Time 2.31.6 DIST 6l 3l Race 5: Trot Grade E / B. 1st: Vallanzana, O. Quill. 2nd: Aubade A Helene, P. Hill. 3rd: Belkalinja, D. Murphy. Time 2.31.3 DIST 3l 3/4L Race 6: Grade D - A1 Pace. 1st: Rhyds Destiny, T. O' Leary. 2nd: Coalford Bruce, D. Mc Carthy. 3rd: Tarawood CJ, P. Gilligan Time 2.26.9 DIST 3L 3L. Race 7: Grade F / E Trot. 1st: Bella D'Eespana, L. Kelleher. 2nd: Brutenor, P. Hill. 3rd: Epopee Du Layon, D. Murphy. Time 2.34.1 DIST 3L 1L Race 8: Grade F Pace. 1st: Hail Spartacus, O. Quill. 2nd: Earnies Umpire, J. Hurley. 3rd: Just a Promise, P. Mc Inerney. Time 2.29.1 DIST 2L 11L  

Department of Agriculture funded Veterinary Welfare Commission leads Irish Harness Racing industry to become world leader for horse welfare and anti-doping. In light of the Programme for Government set out by Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party to have funding to the equine industry be related to horse welfare outcomes the newly established Veterinary and Welfare Commission (VWC), funded by the Department of Agriculture to help regulate the integrity of the Irish Harness Racing industry, are announcing that all regulatory medical records for the Irish standardbred community will be moving from paper to a digital system. This will ensure that records can not be lost, damaged or tampered with once closed on the system greatly increasing transparency and accountability in relation to anti-doping and equine welfare for the sport of harness racing across Ireland. Together, thanks to support from the Irish Department of Agriculture, VWC and the Irish Harness Racing Association (IHRA) have commissioned world leaders in anti-doping and equine welfare software, Equine MediRecord, and are mandating this system for all of the horses that fall under their regulatory scope. While other regulators have switched to digital records for horses in training and competition, Harness Racing under the remit of the IHRA and its integrity arm, the VWC, is now the first equine sport to make it a mandatory regulation that digital medical records be maintained by breeders and keepers of standardbred horses, ensuring a continuous flow of data on the horse throughout its life. This is the first time that an equine industry will ensure that the records of a horse are digitally kept from birth to death. It is the first equine sport to do so, anywhere in the world. These changes ensure proper tracking of medical histories, making it easier for vets, trainers, keepers and owners to ensure better outcomes for horses under their care. This ensures that Irish Standardbred Industry is a world leader in animal welfare for all of its horses from birth to the end of their days.  “Funding for animal welfare in any sport that involves animals is always welcome and it is especially welcome in these formative years of the exciting sport of Harness Racing in Ireland” said Peadar Ó Scanaill, MVB, Chairman of the Veterinary and Welfare Commission. “Harness Racing in Ireland is growing and maturing into an extremely exciting equine racing sport and it has always set itself the highest and best of standards with regard to animal welfare from the very outset. It carries out all its racing on the track and it strives to instil public confidence in Harness Racing as it distances itself from any form of horses running on the road”. The VWC was established in 2015 by the IHRA as the integrity body within the sport of Harness Racing. Its funding comes from within the sport itself through a Memorandum of Understanding agreed with the Board of the IHRA with some financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture. Its aim is to ensure animal welfare reaches the highest standard possible and its mission is to instil public confidence both inside and outside the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland. Its role within the IHRA is to cover all aspects of the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland, with similar duties to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board for thoroughbred racing.  The VWC, with this newly announced Department of Agriculture funding, boasts some of the top equine veterinarians in Ireland. Peadar Ó Scanaill, the founding head of the VWC, was the President of the Veterinary Council of Ireland in 2018 - 2019. The Veterinary Council is mandated by the government to regulate and manage the practice of all veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in Ireland in the public interest. This means that Mr Ó Scanaill, MVB,  brings the perfect experience and expertise for this new regulatory role. He is joined by Marcus Swail, MVB, the founder of EquiVET and Team Ireland Equestrian Olympic team’s veterinary surgeon, who is the deputy head of the new VWC. The formation of the VWC is a great boost to ensuring and improving the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland.  Pierce Dargan, CEO of Equine MediRecord stated, “We are delighted to see further steps towards better equine care in the world. We are proud and delighted that the VWC and the IHRA decided to partner with us for this project and we hope this will be the beginning of meaningful change that helps improve outcomes for horses and the industry as a whole.” The Irish Harness Racing Association is the internationally recognised governing body of harness racing in Ireland. It is a member of the Union of European Trotting (UET) and World Trotting Association. The IHRA works closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (in Dublin) to develop the sport both domestically and internationally. Equine MediRecord is the global leader in equine anti-doping and horse welfare software. It currently operates in Ireland, the UK and France and recently partnered with the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) in the UK to make the ARO the first in Europe and second in the world to mandate electronic medical records be kept by their registered trainers. Equine MediRecord based on the Curragh, county  Kildare, has availed of many Local Enterprise Office Kildare financial and advisory supports as well as representing Kildare in the National Final for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition. For more information about Equine MediRecord, see:    

Technology is great and it has been used extensively by harness racing tracks around the world to bring their races to your home on your TV or computer. Race tracks now even feature live streaming of qualifying races with live race calls. But York Harness Racing track in the northern part of England is taking it a step further, featuring a trial stage of payperview for the qualifying races scheduled on Saturday, June 13. Under the sanction of the British Harness Racing Club, the governing body for Harness Racing in Great Britain, the qualifiers will be offered at a price of £1.99 ($2.53US). "This is a first for the UK," said Craig Stevenson, Racing Manager at York. "Now anyone in the world will be able to watch our qualifiers at York's half mile hard track." The race announcer and host for the payperview show will be none other than Darren Owen, who is one of the premier race callers in the UK and Ireland and is also Chairman of the BHRC. The payperview setup is being conducted by Rich Green. First race post time for the qualifiers is 1:00 pm UK time. The pre-show gets underway at 12:30 pm. For further information about getting the payforview qualifiers go to The first day of live harness racing in the UK will take place on Saturday, July 4 at York Harness Track. From York Harness Track

With the start of the harness racing season delayed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, supporters and participants of the sport have turned their attention instead to raising money to support NHS Charities via a series of fantasy harness races. Back in April, Northern Harness Racing co-founder Julie Park launched the concept of a virtual 'race night' using old footage of harness races from across the UK. The initial plan was to stage 8 races with 10 horses in each race, with those wishing to take part purchasing a horse for £10 each and choosing a name for their horse, the theme being names associated with the current situation. Businesses and individuals were also invited to sponsor each of the 8 races for £50 to generate additional funds. The aim of the fundraiser was to raise £1200 for the NHS Charities, however it became apparent very quickly that this target was going to be surpassed as owners, trainers, drivers, grooms and avid followers of the sport jumped on the bandwagon. Before long the list of race sponsors had reached 18, made up of businesses, individuals and organisations associated with the sport of harness racing and the total number of horses sold was 138. Once the footage had been collated for the races, renowned Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing commentator and British Harness Racing Club Chairman, Darren Owen, recorded fresh commentary using the names submitted by those who had purchased horses. On Saturday 2nd May the fantasy racing series was launched via the Northern Harness Racing Facebook page and the British Harness Racing Club YouTube channel (, with two races per night being released for viewing. The series culminated on Saturday 9th May with the two 'finals' (horses who had finished in the first two in earlier races in the week 'raced' again on Finals Night) and the Champion of Champions Pace, which featured the top 10 UK and Irish Standardbred racehorses of all time as voted for by the general public - with the finishing order reflecting the number of votes each horse received during the nomination and voting process. Julie Park explained the inspiration behind the idea: "I came up with the idea as lots of people were posting old harness racing videos on Facebook and it was clear everybody was missing live racing. I was blown away by the bravery of the NHS staff who were continuing to work as I had only spent a short time in school without PPE or procedures before the schools were closed and it was a scary time. The final straw that pushed me to do something to raise money was that a friend of mine who I know through volunteering at Appleby Harness Races, her daughter who is also an ex-student of mine, was already working in a northern hospital and volunteered to work with coronavirus victims in the Nightingale Hospital in London. I just felt I had to do something." In addition to the 17 races, a fantasy trainer's table was created, won by Teresa Haythornthwaite, and a fantasy tipster competition ran concurrently to the series with the prize of a £50 bet from Avalon Bookmakers awarded to the winning tipster, Jessica Dyer (a young harness racing driver from Cardiff) for use when the racing season can begin again. In total, just under £2500 was raised and donated to the NHS Charities Together. Everyone involved in harness racing would like to thank all NHS staff and key workers for their dedication and bravery during these difficult times. All BHRC NHS Fundraiser fantasy races can be viewed on the British Harness Racing Club YouTube channel. by Sarah Thomas, for Harnesslink

Just over two weeks after trans-Tasman equine flights resumed following a COVID-19-enforced shutdown, exports from New Zealand to Australia have been suspended indefinitely yet again, this time due to a possible case of equine piroplasmosis. On May 20, New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries informed exporters that shipments to Australia had been suspended with immediate effect. A flight Tuesday night was prevented from leaving the country, and another shipment, scheduled for Friday night, is also expected to be held over as the department negotiates alternative arrangements with their Australian counterparts, the Department of Agriculture. Friday's flight, though, was still scheduled to depart as of Wednesday night; a number of owners with horses set for that shipment had not been informed about any potential delay. Equine piroplasmosis has never been identified in New Zealand before, but MPI director for animal health and welfare Chris Rodwell confirmed that a mare tested positive to equine piroplasmosis in a pre-export blood test. The mare had arrived in New Zealand last year from a European Union country that is known to harbor the tick-borne disease. Further testing is expected to confirm that the horse is infected with Theileria equi, one of two known parasites to transmit equine piroplasmosis. Rodwell told ANZ Bloodstock News: "Further blood tests have been taken from the mare, and we expect confirmation of whether the horse is negative or positive for the disease by the end of this week. "Theileria equi is a blood disease that causes anemia and is spread from animal to animal by ticks. The horse in question was imported to New Zealand from the EU early last year for breeding. No signs of disease in the animal have been reported in its time here." While the disease cannot be passed from horse to horse without the ticks known to transmit the parasite—with those tick species not found in New Zealand—most veterinary agreements with other countries require that equine piroplasmosis has not been present in the exporting country for a certain period of time. For Australia, the requirement is three years—meaning that, under the current certification process, trans-Tasman exports would be banned until 2023. While other arrangements are likely to be determined as a matter of urgency, it is a blow to the beleaguered New Zealand industry at a time when it is already under tremendous pressure. Even a temporary ban has the potential to upset spring preparations and breeding plans for New Zealand-based mares in Australia. On Wednesday night, MPI was moving to reassure horse owners that they were working as fast as possible with an aim to find a quick solution. "MPI is aware this situation may cause some concern to those in the equine sector, and work is underway to resolve things as quickly as possible to ensure ongoing horse exports are not interrupted," Rodwell said. "Some countries, including Australia, that import horses from New Zealand require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This current suspect test result has meant that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance of country-freedom status. The ministry's market access specialists are working with Australian authorities to explore alternative assurance options to allow exports to continue." Biosecurity New Zealand has already started an investigation to confirm that it is an isolated case of equine piroplasmosis, but questions remain as to how a case could not only have occurred in New Zealand but how it could have gone undetected for so long. "The horse met MPI's importing requirements in that it had received a negative test for Theileria equi within 30 days of shipment," Rodwell said. "Before shipment, horses are quarantined and treated to remove any ticks that may be present. They are also further inspected and quarantined on arrival." According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, either of the two parasites that carry equine piroplasmosis—Babesia caballi and Theileria equi—can be found on most continents, including much of Europe. The Theileria equi parasite has also been reported in Australia in the past; the most recent case was an outbreak in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales in 1976, but it did not take hold, and Australia is now considered to be free of equine piroplasmosis. The official zoosanitary certificate, which must be certified prior to export to Australia, states that New Zealand must have been free of 16 diseases for a three-year period prior to export; equine piroplasmosis is on that list, along with the likes of African horse sickness, equine influenza, and glanders. MPI's Dr. Emma Passmore stated in an email to exporters: "The export certificate for horses traveling to Australia, either for transit or permanent import, requires MPI to certify that no clinical, epidemiological, or other evidence of equine piroplasmosis has occurred in New Zealand within the three-year period immediately prior to export. This can no longer be certified, and exports to or via Australia are suspended with immediate effect." While Australia is the biggest market to be affected and also has notoriously strict quarantine laws, exports to other countries will also be potentially compromised. Macau requires the exporting country to have been free of equine piroplasmosis for two years, and Singapore asks for extra tests and treatments to be completed if the country has not been free from equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. The United States also requires that the country has been free of equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. Japan has no time frame but also requires a piroplasmosis-free environment. However, Hong Kong's requirements are less stringent, simply requiring a horse not to have completed its pre-export quarantine on premises where equine piroplasmosis has occurred in the 60 days prior to export. Exporters on Wednesday night were digesting the ban and the potential implications that may follow if it is prolonged beyond the next couple of weeks. Most suggested that the immediate suspension of exports to Australia was an unfortunate but required step. "This is very disappointing news, but the suspension is totally necessary at this time," Equine International Airfreight managing director Cameron Croucher said. "Just as flights were starting to operate across the Tasman after the COVID-19 shutdowns, outcomes of this nature will be very disappointing to owners and trainers who now face a further delay in relocating their bloodstock. "I'm sure that both government departments in New Zealand and Australia will work very hard to find a quick solution to resume services once confirmatory testing is completed. Also, a proper investigation is needed into how this has been allowed to occur, which could have a massive impact on the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry if the suspension is prolonged, especially leading into the Southern Hemisphere breeding season." In the past week, a number of New Zealand horses have been confirmed as relocating to Australia, and Cambridge Stud last week announced that a number of its fillies would join the Te Akau assault on the Melbourne spring. In addition, almost 200 mares crossed the Tasman from New Zealand for breeding purposes in 2019, with a similar number expected this year. By Andrew Hawkins/ANZ Bloodstock News Reprinted with permission of Bloodhorse

The Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee regrets to announce the cancellation of the 2020 VDM festival due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was a hard decision to make, and we pushed it as long as possible,” said chairman Derek Delaney. “Not only are we looking at the issues with the racing schedule, but we are also looking at the social aspects of the festival. Without being able to host international and local visitors at the track, we believe that canceling is the best choice to make.” The plans are already being laid for next year, which will mark the big 10-year anniversary of the VDM weekend. “Ten years is a huge achievement, both for us as a family and for Irish harness racing,” said Delaney. “When we started with a race in memory of our brother, Vincent, we could never have envisioned we would be here, gearing up for the 10th anniversary. We have big dreams in the works.” All fully paid up horses will be refunded. For questions please contact Derek Delaney at

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