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Gamblers Gold winner at Lisangle

Lisangle harness racing Saturday

Gamblers Gold who finished second on his initial run at Lyre produced a performance on Saturday evening in Lisangle that would suggest that a bright future is in store for this son of Cams Security.   Mike Goggin Jnr was in the bike and set the six year old alight from the start and ran out an easy seven length winner.   " Hes a six year old and look he took a while to mature. We were expecting a big run in Lyre and he didnt disappoint but met a decent horse that day but today I think he came on a lot from that run and we give a week off and plan after that" said delighted owner Marie Moloney.   Donal Murphy and Silvano Bello are a partnership as old as this scribe and were easy winners of the Low Grade Trot.   Murphy sent this veteran to the front after the opening quarter mile and were never in any danger .   Overall the last 24 hours were good to Baltimore based Murphy as on Friday night /Saturday morning Reclamation who he jointly owns with Bill Donovan (Main Sponsor of The Red John Memorial Festival) extended her winning run to seven at the Meadowlands Raceway in New Jersey USA and connections have big plans for the filly.   John Boyle at 76 years again showed the younger lads how its done when taking the Top Grade Pace on Supreme Sunshine.   Sunnyside Kildare and Hurry Up Abi set the early fractions but were passed with three furlongs to pace and Supreme Sunshine won by a length from Hurry Up Abi with Meadowbranch Demon a neck back in third   Jamie Hurley and Lakeview Panam were fastest on the clock for the evening .The pair took charge off the start and ran out 19 length winners from Moorside Captain.   "She missed out on the Red John Weekend but wee knew today that she was spot on .We see how she comes out of today and then weigh up her options" Hurley briefed the media after racing.   Brutenor and Patrick Hill were seen to good effect in the high grade trot .Winners of the Maven Derby in 2018 thay sat in behind early leader Valliant Forgion and with four furlongs to trot led and eventually led home Ultimo D'Ouville by three lengths.   There is no local racing next week with many of the West Cork Contingent heading to Tregaron in wales for the two day Festival .   RESULTS RACE ONE 1.Gamblers Gold M Goggin Jnr 2.Moorside Joseph J O Mahony 3.The Red Rebel M Goggin Snr DIST 7L 7L TIME 2.12.4 3 Ran   RACE TWO 1.Silvano Bello D Murphy 2.Vallanzanna S Quill 3. Banialouka K Sheehy DIST 2 1/4L 2 1/4L TIME 2.15.7 8 Ran   RACE THREE 1.Lakeview Panam J Hurley 2.Moorside Captain D O Mahony 3.The Hitman D Murphy DIST 19L 3 3/4L TIME 2.08.8 8 Ran   RACE FOUR 1.Brutenor P Hill 2.Ultimo D'Ouville J Hurley 3.Antigo D Murphy DIST 3/4L 5 3/4L TIME 2.16.5 6 Ran   RACE FIVE 1.Supreme Sunshine J Boyle 2.Hurry Up Abi J Manning Jnr 3.Meadowbranch Demon L Kelleher DIST 1L NK TIME 2.09.   Tim KELLEHER

Charlottetown Driving Park,Harness racing

Bugsy Maguire wears down foes

CHARLOTTETOWN, PE - Bugsy Maguire may have lost the early tussle off the gate this week but there was no stopping his march to the harness racing winner's circle in the Cecil Ladner Memorial Invitational Saturday evening at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Rose Run Quest (Driven by Marc Campbell) was quickest off the wings in the $5,500 featured event with Doctor Royal (Walter Cheverie) getting away in the pocket spot and Bugsy Maguire ducking into the three-hole in the first turn. The fractions were tripped in 27.4 and 56.4 then driver Myles Heffernan Sr., angled Bugsy Maguire out of third and began his first-over advance on Rose Run Quest before the three-quarters of 1:25.4. He was able to wear down his pacesetting foe in the final quarter and prevailed by one-and-a-half lengths in 1:55.2 on a track listed with a one second variant due to rain. Rose Run Quest was second while Euchred (David Dowling) was third. Walter Simmons of Summerside holds the ownership papers of the five-year-old son of Bettor's Delight while Bugsy Maguire hangs his harness bag in the Wade Sorrie stable of Pinette. The Cecil Ladner Memorial was the top event but the Ladner family was front and center in another top event as Jordies Hope was a winner in the $2,800 Fillies and Mares Open in 1:57.1 with Corey MacPherson at the lines. Brian Ladner, the son of the late Cecil Ladner, co-owns and trains the daughter of Astronomical with fellow Charlottetown residents Lillian and Kevin Ladner. The night was also home to a harness racing rarity with three dead heats on the evening including two different races with dead heats for the winning spot. Race 2 on the card saw Hysteria (MacPherson) hit the wire in unison with Fox Valley Riviera (Jason Hughes) in 2:00. Michael Gallant trains hysteria while Kevin Gills handles the training duties on Fox Valley Riviera. The second dead heat for victory was in race 5 as Vaughan Doyle trainee Windsun Rebel (Dale Spence) crept up in the finals strides to hit the line together with the Jackie Matheson trained Give Em Heck (Gilles Barrieau) in a mile time of 2:01.2. Gillis had two training wins on the program as Jeb closed out the card with a 1:57.4 score with Hughes in the bike. Midnight Matt tripled up Hughes in the weekly Drive For Home Series event presented by Hillside Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac. Time of the mile was 1:58 for the Jennifer Doyle owned and trained pacer. MacPheron also had three wins on the card as Soccer Hanover captured the $3,000 Junior Invitational in 1:56.3 for owner-trained Leith Waite of Summerside. Total wager on the evening was $51,511. For race replays and more go to www.Redshores.ca. By Nicholas Oakes For Red Shores

Harness racing

Chris O'Reilly, Rhyds Panache take Red John Memorial

West Cork, IE - Rhyds Panache with Chris O Reilly in the bike took the Red John Memorial Final at Lyre On Sunday. The harness racing final will go down as one of the greatest races ever to be held in Ireland . Rhyds Destiny, who impressed in the qualifying heat on Saturday, set a strong early pace. At the half way point of the mile and a quarter race Gentleman Jim joined the leader and with three furlongs to pace took up the running, all the while the "posse" were closing in.   Turning for home Gentleman Jim was still to the fore but the chasing pack were coming from all angles with Master Plan in the centre, Porterstown Courage on the outside and Rhyds Panache up the rail.   In the shadow of the post Rhyds Panache just got up by a neck to beat Porterstown Courage with Gentleman Jim a half length back.   Rhyds Panache winner of the 2019 RJM Final at Lyre          Nadina Ironia Photo   There were emotional scenes in the winners enclosure as driver Chris O'Reilly, a life long friend of Red John, was almost speechless.   "This is the one I always wanted to win and I think I must had got a little help from my friend John up there in heaven," O'Reilly explained. "There was no room turning for home but as the horses tired a small gap appeared and my horse ran on. He tries his heart out and we will enjoy tonight." added O'Reilly, his voice tinged with both sadness and joy.    Presentation of the RJM to winning connections of Rhyds Panache   Nadina Ironia Photo   The Maven Trot Final was another epic encounter.   Emeric Du Perreux was all the rage in the betting and punters bet this one as if defeat was not an option.   Those who wedged in looked happy as the 5 year old took up the running .With a mile to race Martin Loughran on Valliant De Gueham came long side the leader and for the remaining mile and hassled the leader.   Entering the final quarter mile "Emeric" looked the likely winner but Loughran was not done for and ran out a 3 length winner.   Martin Loughran winning the Maven Trot Final on Vaillant Du Gueham  Nadina Ironia Photo   This was the cue for a mass invasion of the winners enclosure as the Roche/Joyce /Mc Aleer families, who travel en mass to all meetings and were ten deep for the photo.   The winning driver, Martin Loughran, who hails from the Cooley Penninsula, and though diminutive in size seems to have "magical powers " when it comes to driving the trotters.   Winning connections of The Maven Trot   Nadina Ironia Photo   Tadgh Murphy, who was in the past has been Southern champion driver though in latter years, is the trainer at IB Stables and donned his silks for "a catch drive " in the PJI Engineering Handicap Final on Benny Camden, who got the better of Rhyds Rival in another epic battle.   " I think I go into retirement on a winning note," joked Murphy in the post race interview.   The meeting of Abraham and Vigo De Bassiere in the Free For All Trot was eagerly anticipated and they served up another thriller with "Vigo " coming out on top, but Beach De Bellouet almost stole the glory from his more famed rivals but his day will come.   American Rebel took the 3 year old Grass Championship and the winner looks destined for stardom In the consolation finals. King Wills Arrival with 16 year old Oisin Quill, Stakes On The Pan who ran terrible on day one in the heats but showed his true mettle and Besame Mucho who John Richardson described as the unluckiest drive he had in years in the heats, were all winners.   Competing drivers at The 2019 RJM          Nadina Ironia Photo   On a weekend of 23 races this scribe could write pages on the action which was top class on a venue that owner Ger Hegarty has done so much work on and was met with with universal approval.   The Red John Committee pulled out all the stops and were rewarded for their efforts, ROLL ON TO 2020!   Caroline Collins left (RJM Committee) making presentations to Bill Donovan & Family (Main sponsors)and to Gretta Cormican   On a sad note patrons on Sunday were told of the passing of Gerry Keenan from Dublin .Gerry was a Hall Of Fame member here in Ireland.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS   RED JOHN MEMORIAL FINAL 1.Rhyds Panache C O Reilly 2. Porterstown Courage J Cowden 3. Gentleman Jim J Richardson DIST NK 1L Time 2.49.9   MAVEN TROT FINAL 1 Vaillant De Gueham M Loughran 2. Emeric Du Perreux J Richardson 3. Urbano De Selles B Roche DIST 3L 1L Time 3.17.7   PJI Engineering Handicap Final 1.Benny Camden T Murphy 2. Rhyds Rival B Roche 3. Newtown Major M McAleer DIST 1L 10L Time 2.41.0   M50 Skip Hire FFA Trot 1 Vigo De Bassiere K Sheehy 2. Abraham S Duggan 3. Beach de Bellouet F Kavanagh Jnr DIST 2L 2L Time 3.24.3   Oakwood Stud/Keohane Readymix 3 Year old Grass Championship 1.American Rebel T O Leary 2. Elski P Kane Jnr 3. IB Notorious D Murphy DIST 7L 3L Time 2.50.4   RJM Consolation Final 1.King Wills Arrival O Quill 2.Coalford Bruce T O Leary 3.Streamside Star E Joyce DIST 1L 1L Time 2.46.8   PJI Engineering Consolation 1.Stakes On The Pan P Kane Jnr 2. IB McGregor F Kavanagh Jnr 3.Panam Colt L Kelleher DIST 4L 1/2L Time 2.51.1   Maven Consolation 1.Besame Mucho J Richardson 2.Banialouka K Sheehy 3. Tarnao Josselyn DIST 2L 2L Time 3.201.1  

Harness racing

George Deane Memorial to Brywins Starship

West Cork, IE - Brywins Starship owned locally by Micheal Healy was a popular winner of the George Deane Memorial Final, the first of the big Summer Handicaps, which took place at Dunmanway on Sunday.   Three Elimination were held with two to qualify from each for the final.   In the opening heat Western Dreamer and Armoured Bear went to battle early and remained in front into the final quarter .Here Hurry Up Abi hit the front and led home Western dreamer by two lengths.   In the second heat Brywins Starship drew pole position and was never headed leading home Hail Spartacus by a length . In The final qualifier punters "waded into" Meadowbranch Demon and despite carrying a thirty yard handicap the veteran ran his rivals ragged and ran on a two length winner from Sunnyside Kidare.   In The final the "smart money " came for Brywins Starship .Hurry Up Abi led early from Sunnyside Kildare .With two furlongs to pace Brywins Starship was set alight Meadowbranch Demon this time on a 50 yard trail made his move but hit traffic on the final corner and Brywins Starship was not to be denied on his home track staying on to beat Hurry Up Abi by a length.   "My late father and George Deane were great friends and its a great honor to win here today .He takes a bit of a hit in the handicap but its full steam ahead to The Red John Memorial in two weeks, " winning owner Mike Healy said in the press briefing.   The winner was driven by his nephew Richard Kingston.   Waxies Dargle, who disappointed on his previous two starts, made amends in the Grade G /G1 Pace. This son of Connors Dragon led from the start and won by three lengths and landed some nice bets for connections and gave Ryan Manning his first winner under rules.   There was only one trot on the card and it was the ultra consistent Tarnao Josselyn who sat behind Un Boss for most of the mile and his five length winning margin could have been much more.   There is no local action next week so The Red John Memorial Festival is next for followers with over €100,000 in purse money on offer in Lyre.   By Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS  Race One  Hurry Up Abi J Manning jnr Western Dreamer K Sheehy IB A Magician D Murphy  DIST 2L 4L TIME 2.07.1 7 Ran    Race Two  Brywins Starship R Kingston  Hail Spartacus P Hill Panam Colt L Kelleher  DIST 1L 1L TIME 2.06.2 6 Ran    Race Three  Meadowbranch Demon L Kelleher  Sunnyside Kildare D Murphy  King Wills Arrival O Quill  DIST 2L 1/2L TIME 2.05.2 5 Ran    Race Four  Tarnao Josselyn S Quill  Vigo De Bassiere K Sheehy UN Boss D O Mahony  DIST 5L 2L Time 2.14.2 8 Ran    Race Five  Waxies Dargle R Manning  Cushenstown Rocky P Gilligan  Brywins One Off M Goggin Jnr  DIST 3L 1L TIME 2.10.9 7 Ran    Race six (Final)  Brywins Starship R Kingston  Hurry Up Abi J Manning Jnr  Meadowbranch Demon L Kelleher  DIST 1L NK TIME 2.05.2 6 Ran 

West Cork, IE - John Boyle was the man of the moment when recording a double at a sun drenched "Cornfield Oval " in Manch on Sunday.   Boyle one of the most popular personalities in Irish Harness Racing and at 76 years of age showed that age is only a number when steering home both of his horses where he trains from his Doneraile Base in North Cork.   Armoured Bear kicked off his winning run. Waxies Dargle set a frenetic pace up front and led to the three quarter pole but Boyle produced the winner at this point and ran out a six length winner from favorite Western Dreamer. Supreme Sunshine a half brother to Armoured Bear completed the double .Rhyds Dilemma led early in this but Boyle hit the front after half a mile and was never for heading in the mile and a quarter contest and stayed on to win by three lengths from Rhyds Panache.   "Im a non drinker all my life and walk five miles around Doneraile Park every morning before jogging the horses at home. There is a lot of young drivers out there but as long as Im fit enough and enjoying the sport I keep going, " added the "Young Man" in the press briefing.   Brywins One Off second last week on the beach went one better today. Mike Goggin Snr is another of the older generation of drivers sent the son of Share The Delight to the front in the last quarter to lead home Hail Caesar by 5 lengths .   Paul Mc Inerney made the long journey from Co Clare to the the opener with Just A Promise .A son of Fantastic Western they upset the odds to beat favorite IB Notorious by six lengths.   Philip "Buster" Gilligan made even a longer journey from his Co Meath base to land the high grade trot with Bian Luis Porsguen . Antigo and Tarnao Josselyn both made breaks but the winner was not to be out done and had one and a half lengths over Tenor Meslos .   "It's his first time racing on grass, so we enter him in the big free all Trot at the Red John Memorial In Lyre," said Gilligan .   Patrick Hill came in for the catch drive on Bella D Espana (Luke Kelleher laid up with a stomach virus) when taking the low grade trot .A recent addition to the Macroom based Kelleher Bros who are cousins of Hill led from the start and was never headed Next  week is George Deane Memorial Day in Dunmanway with heats and final for pacers.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS   Race One BRYWINS ONE OFF M Goggin SnrHAIL CAESAR P Hill MOORSIDE JOSEPH J O Mahony DIST 4 1/2L 1 1/4L TIME 2.39.6   Race Two JUST A PROMISE P McInerneyIB NOTORIOUS D Murphy CUSHENSTOWN ROCKY P Gilligan DIST 6L 5 1/2L TIME 2.32.0   Race Three BELLA D'ESPANA P HillARIANE DES TIHAIS S QuillUN BOSS J O Mahony DIST 1 1/2L 1L TIME 3.16.7   Race Four ARMOURED BEAR J Boyle WESTERN DREAMER K SheehyTHE HITMAN D Murphy DIST 1 1/2L 7L TIME 2.34.3   Race Five BIAN LUIS FORSGUEN P Gilligan TENOR MESLOS O Quill AUBADE A HELENE P.Hill DIST 1 1/2L 5L TIME 3.13.3   Race Six SUPREME SUNSHINE J Boyle RHYDS PANACHE C O Reilly KING WILLS ARRIVAL O Quill DIST 3L 2L TIME 2.30.5 Virus-free. www.avast.com

The 2019 West Cork harness Racing season opened at the "Blue Flag" Inchadoney Beach on Sunday at it was veteran pacer Meadowbranch Demon who stole the headlines at this most beautiful of venues.   Rhyds Dilemma and Coalford Bruce led out the gate with Coalford Bruce leading after the first quarter .Sunnyside Kildare led at halfway and held that lead to the final turn .All the while Meadowbranch Demon was moving nearer and took up the running in the final eighth of a mile to lead home the fast finishing Rhyds Panache by four lengths,   " He might be 13 years young but is loving his racing and has been a great servant " commented winning driver Luke Kelleher .   Empereur Souverain drew pole position in the trot and was never headed .This five year old had been one of the leading four year old trotters last year and was unlucky in defeat last week in Portmarnock but Denis O Reilly had an armchair drive and his length and a half winning margin could have been more and plenty more winning days are in store.   IB Notorious who broke his maiden in Tir Prince at the end of last season took the low grade pace. This three year old son of Hasty Hall came home 12 lengths clear of Brywins One Off . winning driver Donal Murphy is part owner of the colt with Bill Donovan from Florida who is the main sponsor of the Red John Memorial Festival which takes place in Lyre On June 15th & 16th    "He will head for the Three Year Grass Championship in Lyre and is staked up for all the major three year old races both at home in the UK" said Murphy .   Oisin Quill has struck up a good partnership with Vallanzana and the pair were seen to good effect in the high grade trot .   Since his stable move to the Quills in Kenmare he had "paid The Bills" .Sixteen year old Oisin is one of the future stars of the sport .   Brywins Starship according to owner MiKe Healy"Takes time to come into form" but driver Richard Kingston a nephew of the owner had him in top shape coming of the back to win the Mid grade Pace.   "He is staked up  in the Red John and he suprised me today"    A large team of volunteers were on hand to erect and dismantle the track on the beach which drivers described as the best ever.   Next Sunday the action moves to The Cornfield Oval in Manch.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS    RACE ONE   IB NOTORIOUS D Murphy  BRYWINS ONE OFF M Goggin Jnr  JUST A PROMISE P McInerney  TIME 2.18.6 DIST 12L 4L RACE TWO  EMPEREUR SOURVERAIN D O Reilly  BRASSILA MATCH S Kane SILVANO BELLO D Murphy TIME 3.42.2 DIST 1 1/2L 3 1/2L RACE THREE  BRYWINS STARSHIP R Kingston  SPRINGHILL DOYLE C O Reilly WESTERN DREAMER S KANE TIME 2.16.1 4 1/2L 4L  RACE FOUR    VALLANZANNA O Quill  ANTIGO D Murphy  DESTINE DE LARRE S Quill TIME 3.25 1L 3/4L RACE FIVE  MEADOWBRANCH DEMON L Kelleher RHYDS PANACHE C O Reilly COALFORD BRUCE T O Leary TIME 2.15.4 DIST 4L 1/2L  

Gypsy dad’s heartwarming act for deaf and blind little boy he’s never met. Romany gypsy Watson decided to climb Britain's highest mountain to raise money for 10-year-old Sean With a mobile home and a baby daughter who he takes harness racing, Romany gypsy Watson's life is worlds away from that of non-travellers Sonia and Sean.  But that won't stop the new dad from helping the parents he's never met and their 10-year-old son, who is deaf and blind and has to be tube-fed due to a rare condition. Watson is determined to raise money so the courageous little boy, also called Sean, can undergo life-changing treatment abroad after reading a story about the youngster's plight. And he plans to do so by climbing Britain's highest mountain, breaking down what Watson admits is a 'them and us' situation between travelling and non-travelling communities. Watson and Sean - who suffers from severe cerebral palsy after being starved of oxygen at birth and is not expected to live past his teens - both feature in the Channel 5 programme The Gypsies Next Door. NCJMEDIA 9 The youngster's dad, also called Sean, and mum Sonia were delighted to meet Watson From one father to another, it means the world' The series, which also stars glamour model Danielle Mason and her traveller ex Tony, looks at the occasional conflict between travellers and non-travellers across the UK. Although professional harness racer Watson has integrated with the settled community through the sport, he's aware that other gypsies in the country have faced issues. KNICKERBOCKERGLORY TV 9 Watson, seen with his baby daughter, admits it's a 'them and us' situation between travellers and non-travellers KNICKERBOCKERGLORY TV 9 Little Sean suffers from severe cerebral palsy and is not expected to live past his teens "One of the problems is stereotyping," he says. He explains he decided to climb 1,345m-high Ben Nevis to fundraise for Sean and a sick little girl from Essex after being touched by stories he read about them. He says: "I'm doing it for two little kids. A little lass is down in Essex, she's got a rare form of cancer, God love her, and she's really bad. "And there's a little lad over in Newcastle." Inspired by stories of sick children The father travels to Sean's home to meet the youngster, who can't walk or talk. Knocking on the front door of little Sean's Newcastle home, the dad, from Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, reveals his selfless plan to raise money - and the boy's parents are delighted. KNICKERBOCKERGLORY TV 9 Watson is filmed meeting 10-year-old Sean, who can't walk or talk and has to be tube-fed KNICKERBOCKERGLORY TV 9 Grateful dad Sean, right, thanks Watson for his fundraising efforts from the 'bottom of his heart' He is filmed hugging the boy's grateful parents, who have previously had little or no contact with gypsies and are overwhelmed by the support of a stranger. The boy's dad tells Watson: "Thanks very much from the bottom of my heart, from one father to another father, it means the world honestly. Sonia says: "It's the first time I've ever met a gypsy, it's totally changed my perspective on them. I mean, Watson's just a normal man, he's absolutely lovely." When the day of the climb finally comes round, Watson, Sean and other supporters battle through tricky, snowy conditions to make it to the top of the mountain. KNICKERBOCKERGLORY TV 9 Watson successfully climbed to the top of Ben Nevis, raising thousands of pounds in the process A successful climb and a trip to Panama Sean's stem-cell treatment, which reduces seizures and spasms, costs £20,000 per visit and his parents would like him to have it twice a year. The mountain hikers successfully raise thousands of pounds for the two children. Today, Sean's family are preparing to make a 10,000-mile round trip to Panama so he can undergo treatment. KNICKERBOCKERGLORY TV 9 Watson is seen video-calling a sick little girl in Essex, whom he also raised money for.   By Sophie Jane Evans Reprinted with permission of The Sun  

Freehold Raceway in New Jersey held their annual St Paddys Day harness race last weekend and fittingly two Irish born drivers finished first and second in the ever popular event. Jack Killeen from the suburb of Tallaght just outside Dublin, driving 3/1 chance Major Humor outgunned Joe Hanney from Blanchardstown aboard Black Hammer, a 10/1 shot, to claim victory in a mile time of 1:59.1 Driver of the winner, Jack Killeen, has recently taken up a five year visa to forge a career in harness racing and cited Mike and Heather Wilder as a source of inspiration and the primary catalyst for the helping to make things happen for the eighteen year old who has a handful of winners already racked up at the Meadows. Being so young he still doesn’t have his American driving licence and such was his sheer determination to participate that Jack Killeen embarked on an eight hour round trip by bus from Pittsburgh, PA, to take his place in the line-up. This trek was duly rewarded however and the victory will live long in the memory of the Dubliner. Hanney, the luckless runner up, and a previous winner of this event was ever gracious in defeat, shaking hands with the winner before posing for some pics which are almost certain to be framed and up on the walls of their family homes back in the emerald isle. Hanney undoubtedly must have felt some affinity to Killeen as he himself left Ireland as a raw teenager with an unquenchable spirit and a dream to make it stateside as a trainer and driver in harness racing. The race itself lived up to its billing and from the outset as Hanney and great rival George Brennan took each other on in a no-holds-barred early speed duel. Just as Hanneys Black Hammer started to get the better of Brennan's mount Dalton Did It and was starting to draw away from the field when along came Jack Killeen with Major Humour with a bold three-wide move at the three-quarter mile marker and despite Hanneys all-out stretch drive the fresh impetus of Killeens charge carried him past a battle-weary Black Hammer in the shadows of the post to win by three-quarters of a length. The race was well supported on the day by other drivers of Irish descent including Ron Burke and Bob Bresnahan and it’s a fantastic tribute to their Irish ancestry that these big names make the effort year after year to celebrate St Patricks Day at Freehold Raceway by taking part in the race. The Irish have earned a reputation for working hard and are recognised as accomplished harnessmen in the US and Canada amongst their peers with Stephen Loughran, Anthony Haughan, Ciaran Morrison and Robert Cleary amongst those who have successfully carved careers in the sport across the atlantic in recent years alongside Joe Hanney and yesterdays winning driver Jack Killeen. To view the St Patrick's Day race at Freehold Raceway click here. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Work continues unabated in order to get Racetime Raceway in Lisburn, United Kingdom ready for harness racing in 2019.   Although the recent inclement weather delayed progress on the resurfacing of the track, management are adamant that the scheduled opening of Saturday June 1st will go ahead as planned. The feature on the day will be the Anto Russell Memorial and a further 13 heavily sponsored race meetings will then take place throughout the summer and on into the autumn. The venue, leased by the Northern Irish Standardbred Association (NISA) is set to provide a welcome boost for the sport in Northern Ireland. The NISA collective committee wish to see harness racing in the region return back to its family orientated roots, encouraging younger enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the sport through a youth programme being established Racetime's Headquarters and 18 stable training facility as its base. The sport needs to attract a new audience in the area and NISA welcome the local youth to become hands-on in developing all the skills necessary to become a successful harness racing driver from basic animal welfare, through to jogging, workouts, training practices and eventually participating in actual races. Costs to become involved as an owner, trainer or driver of a harness horse in Ireland have sky-rocketed in recent years and NISA intend on making the sport more accessible and cheaper to become involved. Moderate membership fees, cheap entry fees to participate and all prizemoney won paid on the day in cash are just some of initiatives being implemented by NISA. A number of other innovative concepts are also in the pipeline including a prizemoney bonus every time the track record is broken and a season-long points series with a substantial cash prize awarded at the end of the year for the horse with the most appearances at the venue. Visiting horses from Southern Ireland and the UK will be accommodated with free stabling on the track being made available for all visiting horses. Racetime Raceway originally opened for business back in the late 1980s and although current track record holder Saunders Rebound has long since passed on, his time of 2:00 is in danger of falling at the opening meeting on June 1st. The track will be open for qualifiers, driving tests and work-outs from the middle of March and Racetime promoters NISA are also now seeking licensed bookmakers to stand at the track with generous terms, and for those interested please contact the NISA Facebook messenger page. by Thomas Bennett, for the NISA

To the Editor, The Northern Irish Standardbred Association (NISA) has been the recognised body for harness racing in Northern Ireland for more than 50 years. It is a “not-for-profit” organization where all work promoting and legislating harness racing in the region is performed by democratically elected committee members and volunteers. Tracks ran by NISA through the years included Antrim, Racetime, Dundrod, Tyrella and most recently Annaghmore. NISA have always enjoyed a mutually respectful working relationship with their counterparts in Britain, the British Harness Racing Club (BHRC) and in the Republic of Ireland with the Irish Harness Racing Club (IHRC). In the early 2000s NISA embarked on a partnership approach with the IHRC and ITHRF, the largest club in southern Ireland, whereby the IHRC would become the overall governing body for the sport on the island of Ireland with equal democratically elected representatives (comprising of 3 reps each and a round-robin style of electing chairmen, an equal period of time as chairman for each jurisdiction). The IHRC was suddenly and mysteriously disbanded however in 2015 by the then IHRC chairman Mark Flanagan and a new organization formed called the Irish Harness Racing Association. This was registered as a private limited company, with the chairman personally hand-picking “lifetime directors” to be appointed to this company. Immediately NISA was concerned and duly voiced their concerns. At no stage did they agree in writing that this was the best way forward for their members in Northern Ireland but assurances were given that it would be a fully democratically run organisation for all matters pertaining to harness racing and that all monies transferred over by the members in all 3 original clubs would be accounted for in a clear and transparent manner and these monies would be “ring fenced” for promotions in their own respective regions. With trepidation, the NISA tentatively progressed to working with this private limited company “on a trial basis” according to NISA’s Collective Committee “and subject to democratic selection and equal representation from each club”. But within a year, difficulties came to the surface between NISA and the IHRA. The direction that the IHRA were taking started to alarm the majority of the members of NISA. E-mailed and written queries about finances and other matters went for the most part was never responded to. NISA committee members were neither consulted with during the collation of the Indecon Report, an Irish government backed document outlining a 5-year future strategy for the sport. Fundamental rule changes and national handicap system alterations would be announced and immediately implemented by the IHRA without consultation and without warning. The IHRA refused to engage, had no AGMs in 2016, 2017, 2018 and produced no sets of annual accounts for 2015, 2016, 2017 (information as of December 31st 2018) for analysis despite continuous requests by NISA committee members for same. NISA and its members became more and more aghast at the way the IHRA was being run.       Whereas the old IHRC was open to public scrutiny, fully answerable to members queries over financial matters and accountable to members for all finances through the publication of sets of accounts, the IHRA on the other hand being a private limited company seemed to feel that they had no obligation to respond to requests from licence holders, that they could not be held accountable and seemed to feel that they were not legally obliged to be transparent with monies received in membership fees, race fees, allocation of purses etc. The NISA found this very difficult to overcome as its members had become accustomed to, for over 50 years, being part of a democratically run club, with all club members having an equal voice and vote and all financials published and available for public scrutiny. Along with the IHRA’s non-democratic, non-consultative dictatorial style of governing the sport in Ireland NISA found the ongoing reduction in the promotion of standardbreds in favour of French bred trotters particularly hard to swallow during that time. This began with the IHRA becoming more and more entrenched with the “Le Trotteur Francais” initiative in 2014. In simple terms, there is vast over production of trotters in France and in order to balance this out, other countries are persuaded to import this overflow in favour of receiving some form of grant-aid payment from the French to top up prizemoney locally and promote this unique breed. There are very strict guidelines before French grant aid is given including the proviso that French bred trotters are forbidden to race with trotters bred in other countries. The IHRA took this one stop further however and went for full membership of the UET in 2015. This again was without consultation with NISA. It’s well documented that the UET will not accept a country for full membership of their organisation unless they agree to “not promote pacing” (these criteria of membership are clearly defined and documented on the UET website) and it was widely publicised that the IHRA were given a 10-year timeline to tip the balance of French trotters over pacers in order to maintain full UET membership. The IHRA have done remarkably well in the promotion of French trotters over pacers over the past 5 years. Take the list below as a prime example. This is the number of French trotters versus pacers competing on the final day of the season at Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin for the past 5 years: 2014 - 10 trotters and 31 pacers 2015  - 36 trotters and 29 pacers 2016 - 29 trotters and 24 pacers 2017 - 22 trotters and 16 pacers 2018 - 25 trotters and 6 pacers It’s truly alarming that the number of pacers entered for the past 5 years is as follows: 31, 29, 24, 16, 6 and this is factual data, not opinion. These numbers speak for themselves. Just 2 major events per annum are now recognised as responsible for keeping the breeding numbers of pacers up in Ireland - the Vincent Delaney Memorial Series and the annual Sire Stakes (which are privately organised race meetings just using Portmarnock as a staging venue). It’s widely regarded that if it wasn’t for these 2 events there would be very little encouragement to breed or race pacers in Ireland. The standardbred pacer population would wither rapidly to almost extinction within a decade in this country.   Another example of why the pacers are dropping in numbers is the prizemoney issue. Whilst some pacing races have had little or no “added prizemoney” at Portmarnock and Annaghmore Raceways in 2018, there were recorded incidences were purses were even less than the amount of collected entry fees for these respective races. How many owners or trainers could tolerate this situation, where your pacing horses weren’t even racing for their own entry fees money back in purses? Enough was enough at the onset of racing in 2018 and NISA decided en-masse with to withdraw support for the IHRA. A decision was made to revert back to its original status that had held firm for over 50 years. It would once again become the primary recognised body for the sport of harness racing in Northern Ireland and no longer fall under the remit of the IHRA. It has renounced all agreements that the IHRA may have negotiated in 2015/6/7/8 with the UET, Le Trotteur Francais, STAGBI, Horse Sport Ireland and the Department of Agriculture amongst others (NISA claim they were not consulted beforehand on these agreements made by the IRHA and therefore cannot legally recognise them as to this day they are not privy to the contents of these signed agreements). It also refutes any claim by the IHRA to being the sole governing body for the whole of Ireland for harness racing. NISA in particular do not agree with the registration of Standardbreds with Horse Sport Ireland. This makes a fundamental shift from being classified as a racehorse (of which harness racing Standardbreds are recognised the world over) to a sport horse – therefore ineligible for all available government grant money for the horseracing industry.  NISA have now sought recognition from the BHRC (Northern Ireland is part of Britain) and wishes to either come under licence of the BHRC or operate as an autonomous body (but recognised by the BHRC as a governing body for the sport in this jurisdiction) NISA have leased Racetime Raceway in Lisburn, near Belfast in the United Kingdom with the intention of staging full harness racing meetings in Northern Ireland in 2019 under the same rules and handicap system of its fellow counterparts in the UK. Whilst NISA has no issue with Le Trotteur Francais initiative, they believe it should not come at the expense of the Standardbred pacers, and cite that as part of the UK has got the balance right with 2 differing organisations – The BHRC for Pacers and Trot Britain solely for French trotters with both working in harmony to promote harness racing in conjunction with each other. This is the ideal model for Ireland too believes NISA. One goal both NISA and the IHRA share is the need for more promotion of the sport of harness racing and that means more tracks opening like Racetime Raceway, more participants and more fans. Acknowledging the right to each other’s existence and governing their own jurisdictions with mutual respect for each other’s members is a must. NISA can only go forward with organisations where equal rights and democracy prevail. It is abundantly clear that IHRA in its current guise uphold neither. NISA as a Standardbred organisation will support licencing and are willing to take entries from anywhere in the Republic of Ireland, the UK or anywhere horse owners find themselves unaccommodated by developments and agreements between the IHRA and UET. From Thomas Bennett, for the NISA  

The following letter was sent to Harnesslink Sunday, February 3.  Dear Harnesslink Editor, Please be advised that a recent article advertised on the Harnesslink Website regarding Harness Racing in Ireland is grossly inaccurate, misleading and damaging to our sport both nationally and internationally. The Irish Harness Racing Association (IHRA) is the internationally recognised Governing Body of Harness Racing for the Island of Ireland and as such licenses all race tracks and personnel who compete under rules. The IHRA has worked hard over the last five years in particular to move our sport to a professional level which includes a report commissioned by our Department of Agriculture which was compiled by International Consultants Indecon and clearly identifies the strategic roadmap for this development. A five year Strategic Plan has been compiled by an independent Consultancy firm as part of the Indecon Report and this plan has been signed off by Department of Agriculture Officials and is currently with the Minister for Agriculture for evaluation and funding of our industry. To date the IHRA has no application to license any new race track in Northern Ireland and any racing activity that may take place at the suggested venue will happen outside of any official rules and governance. Any suggestion that our counterparts in Great Britain the British Harness Racing Club would license any tracks or individuals on the island of Ireland are without foundation. Yours in Sport, The Board of Directors IHRA  In response to his story that appeared on Harnesslink, click here, author Thomas Bennett offered the following reply.  My article is factually correct and accurate. Racetime Raceway is located in Great Britain/United Kingdom and the IHRA have no jurisdiction over Racetime Raceway, who will seek affiliation to the Governing Body in that jurisdiction - the British Harness Racing Club BHRC....Thomas Bennett More will be forthcoming on this situation in Ireland.   

Robyn Camden, unbeaten in 12 starts at 2 and 3 won her first race in the US at Yonkers on Monday night Jan 28th. The best of her generation in the British Isles, the four year old filly had made a pleasing start to her career stateside being placed in all 3 of her starts so far at the Meadowlands in December and had paced the mile in 1:51 on one of these occassions Lining up against some stiff local opposition on Monday night the filly by Art Professor out of Keystone Havoc was driven to victory by crack New Zealand reinsman Dexter Dunn who kept things simple by taking cover from the gate before producing her in deep stretch with an electric turn of foot to triumph a shade cosily in 1:57.3 much to the relief of trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and the delight of co-owner Clive Kavanagh, spokesman for the All Out Syndicate. After the race Norman admitted that it had taken a while for Robyn Camden to acclimate to life in the US and being a precocious sort it had just took a little while longer for her to readjust than some of the others that had made the journey from Ireland before her. One of these recent exports Rebel Rouser continues to impress and is a winner of his last 4 at The Meadowlands for trainer Robert Cleary. Another, Reclamation who travelled over shortly before Robyn Camden has shown great promise and is a multiple winner both at Harrahs Philadelphia and The Meadowlands. Reclamation and Rebel Rouser are joined owned by Bill Donovan from Delray Beach, Florida and Donal Murphy from Baltimore in Cork, Ireland and both horses along with Robyn Camden spent their formative years being reared on the lush green pastures of Ireland - which many claim have given them a strong constitution and solid foundation, perfect springboards to achieve success across they are all currently enjoying across the atlantic. Now that shes resumed her winning ways got her first win on the board, its onwards and upwards for Robyn Camden and connections are confident that she will have many more victories under her belt before returning home to Ireland in utero from a yet be named a top sire. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Lisburn, UK - In an era where track closures have become all too commonplace, the opening of a new venue to stage harness racing is set to give the sport a welcoming boost in the United Kingdom, with the opening of Racetime Raceway this coming March. Located just outside Belfast in the United Kingdom, the track actually held regular meetings in the late 1980s before owner Greg Dean decided to turn it into a private training centre and livery yard. Stuck for somewhere for local horsemen to race, representatives from NISA the Northern Irish Standardbred Association approached Dean at the back end of last season with a view to re-opening the track for racing in 2019 and beyond and plans are in place to stage 14 meetings at the track from May through to September. A fund has been made available to resurface the track, renovate the public areas and a fresh layer of tarmac over the car park has just been completed meaning the promoters are on schedule for their opening date of March 2019 for qualifiers. NISA are hoping that race dates are ratified from the governing body in that jurisdiction the British Harness Racing Club and hopes are high that the track could stage its first race meeting as early as May 11th. And what brought about the change of heart with the tracks owner Dean to allow the re-opening of Racetime Raceway after such a long hiatus? Dean, a lifelong supporter of the sport acknowledge that over 60 local horsemen had no venue to race at and as currently these men faced a 4 hour round trip to race at Portmarnock in County Dublin or a trip overseas on the ferry to race on the mainland in the UK. Annaghmore on County Armagh would be their nearest track and although this is an option, the fact that this venue stages just a handful of meetings every year and cater for 90% French trotters only this simply isn’t enough to accommodate those pacing referred trainers and owners who want regular weekly meetings to compete at.   Uncertainty over “Brexit” was also a major factor. With the United Kingdom due to exit the European Union at the end of March, the likelihood of a hard border, with lengthy customs and immigration checkpoints for those travelling from Northern Ireland into Southern Ireland and vice-versa competing by crossing this proposed border will make it very onerous on horsemen and patrons to undertake this journey on a weekly basis. Racetime will be the ultimate panacea to this problem as it will provide weekly meetings for local horsemen without the necessity to travel and endure the complicated arduous trek down South. With the other tracks in the island of Ireland also primarily concentrating on Le trotteur francais and the French initiative, Racetime’s main aim is to become the true home of the standardbred pacer in Ireland with races held predominantly for pacers and if there are French bred trotters entered by trainers they will be accommodated and mixed in with Irish, UK, Swedish and Dutch breds in International open trots. NISA have confirmed that they’ve been inundated with offers to sponsor races and financially contribute to the new venture ensuring that success is virtually guaranteed from the outset. Another unique appeal for horseowners participating at Racetime will be the payment of prizemoney/purses instantly on the day in cash, after each meeting and such an initiative is bound to prove immensely popular. So its onwards and upwards for the re-birth of Racetime Raceway over the coming months giving a much needed boost to Northern Irish harness enthusiasts and making it 5 hard tracks in existence in the UK with Racetime joining Corbie Wood in Scotland, York in England and Tir Prince and Amman Valley in Wales. by Thomas Bennent, for Harnesslink

It was just a month or so ago that harness racing trainer/driver Watson Harrop, Jr. from County Durham in the North of England, started #foodbanknomination and raised tens of thousands of dollars in food supply donations. He did it by challenging his harness racing friends from around the world on Facebook to go out, fill a shopping cart with food, and take it to their local Food Bank. People from around the world took part in #foodbanknomination and needy families around the world had a special holiday season because of Watson’s efforts. Well, the man from Durham is back at it again! “I guess I am a little crazy,” Harrop said. “When I see those people less fortunate than we are, I just want to do something to help them. This is the craziest idea I have come up with yet. “I have organized a team of friends to climb Great Britain’s highest and most dangerous mountain, Ben Nevis in Scotland,” Harrop explained. “And we are raising money with this event to aid two special children that need to travel to Panama and then the USA for life saving treatment that’s not available in the UK.” The fund-raising climb set for the end of February depending on the weather, will raise funds for four-year-old Isla Caton from Hornchurch Essex and ten-year-old Sean Gallagher of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Isla has Neuroblastoma while Sean has Cerebral Palsy. Both children are special needs and must go to Panama and then the USA for their treatments. “I have a team of non-climbers and none are hikers,” Harrop added.   “Not one of us have ever climbed anything higher than the steps to a night club but we have high hopes to raise a quarter of a million pounds.” Harrop said that he now has 55 people making the climb along with seven guides to help assist. And some of the crew are big celebrities in Great Britain. One of the UK’s top reality show TV stars, actor Alfie Best is taking part in the climb. Also participating is undefeated WBO Middleweight world champion boxer Billy Joe Saunders and soccer star, Tony McMoahan of Scunthorpe United, on loan from Oxford United. But Tony was recently injured in a game and cannot do the climb, but is still supporting it. There is a special Go Fund Me page by clicking here where everyone can make a donation and help the climbers reach their goal of raising £250,000. Just this Monday morning, Watson and three of his friends that are doing the climb, were practicing in the Yorkshire Dales in North East England.   “We were huffing and puffing a bit,” Harrop said. “Yorkshire Dales is five times smaller than Ben Nevis in Scotland. We will keep training hard and get the job done." By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

West Cork, IE - The Irish Trotting and Harness Racing Federation Awards 2018 Dinner was recently held and the ITHRF has made a wonderful video of the awards night. Video courtesy of David Sheehy  Click on link to watch the video,    ITHRF AWARDS 2018 .m4v   The 2018 ITHRF awards night was held last Friday night at The Drimoleague Inn.    The "oscars" for Harness Racing in the South Of Ireland were presented to both the young and old in the sport.   The Murphy family who run the IB Stables in Baltimore took three of the awards with Donal getting driver of the year his brother Tadhg received trainer of the year and his son Eoin was judged as joint saddle jockey winner.   Near neighbour of the Murrphy boys Kieran Sheehy was the recipient of trotter of the year Everyfor Vigo De Bassiere who also claimed the national award and the Sheehy family were guests of Le Trot in Paris recently to honour the French bred gelding.   This scribe is the proud owner of the pacer of 2019 Meadowbranch Demon the veteran securing a well deserved gong.   It was an emotional night for the O'Donovan family from Leap who were on hand to accept the best meeting of the season for The Red John Memorial meeting which was a huge success with record attendances and record purse money.   The achievements of Reclamation and Rebel Rouser who were exported to the USA were also mentioned.   Everyone is looking forward to 2019 in the Cork region as they are set to begin in early May with Portmarnock Raceway to open on St Patrick's Day March 17th.   From Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink

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