Day At The Track

WEST CORK, IRE - The 2018 Winter Road Racing season got underway at Drimoleague on St Stephens Day and despite terrible weather conditions there was some good finishes in the five-race card. Jamie Hurley who was champion jockey in 2017 kicked off the new season with two winners. Maitha Buachaill and Rhyds Ponder were arch rivals all last year and the rivalry continued in the Grade A & B. This time Maitha Buachaill got the verdict leading home Rhyds Ponder by two lengths with Tactician Du Lys a further ten lengths third. This gave Jamie Hurley his second win of the afternoon having earlier teaming up with newcomer Hillside Aurelius in the Novice Pace who led home On The Other Side by six lengths. The winner is owned by Liam O’Brien. Another Hillside Farm bred Hillside Mustang took the Grade D. This was the best finish of the day with Fair Enough and Hillside Mustang battling out a driving finish with Mustang prevailing by a neck. Sunnyside Kildare a former multiple track winner made his debut on tarmac a winning one leading from start to finish in the Grade E. Timmy O’Leary was in the plate for owner Sean Buckley. Saunders Paris notched up another win in the Grade C and Deirdre Goggin teamed up with this one who is owned and trained by her brother Micheal. New Years Day action moves to Durrus with another five-race program. Check for details of entries. By Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS GRADE A & B (The Tommy McCarthy Memorial Cup) Hegarty/Hurley MAITHA BUACHAILL J Hurley N Forbes RHYDS PONDER D Goggin G Kane TACTICIAN DU LYS T O’Leary DIST 2l 10l 3 Ran   GRADE C (The Joe O Sullivan Cup) M Goggin SAUNDERS PARIS D Goggin D McCarthy RHYDS DILEMMA A McCarthy J O Sullivan HILLSIDE DARTANIAN M O’Reilly DIST 5l 2l 3 Ran GRADE D Cuigear Racing HILLSIDE MUSTANG J Healy C O Reilly FAIR ENOUGH M O’Reilly N Forbes GADGIE PAN D Goggin  DIST NK 4l 5 Ran GRADE E S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE T O’Leary H Kelleher BLACKFIELD JENNY J Healy M O Donovan MR SECURITY J Hurley DIST 2l 4l 4 Ra NOVICE L O Brien HILLSIDE AURELIUS J Hurley D McCarthy ON THE OTHER SIDE D’Goggin J O Mahony EDERLEZI T O’Leary DIST 4l 6l 5 Ran

Harnesslink would like to wish all our harness racing readers a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.   As the year comes to a close, Harnesslink can reflect on another successful twelve months in reporting on and airing the issues that matter if Harness Racing is to have a successful and sustainable future. We thank our visitors for their continued support and we pledge to work as hard again in 2018 to keep the Harnesslink site at the high level at which it presently operates. Safe travels and Merry Christmas    Management and staff at Harnesslink.

England, UK - Today, Friday 8th December, sees the official launch of a new organisation set to work towards securing the future of racing in the UK. The British Harness Racing Development Fund (BHRDF), founded by Coalford Stud's Joseph Maw, seeks to generate sufficient funding to purchase a suitable piece of land for the development of a half mile hard track in a central location for the benefit of all BHRC licence holders to race on in 2019. In a statement to be published in the British Harness Racing Club's (BHRC) membership calendar, the BHRDF describes the present situation as follows: "British harness racing is currently at its lowest ebb; we are at rock bottom and if we continue on our current path then harness racing will cease to exist in Britain in the not so distant future. Over the last 10 years the fixture list has been reduced dramatically. The main reason? The sport's two main facilities (York Harness Raceway & Tir Prince Raceway) are owned/operated by private individuals who, for various reasons, choose not to operate a regular weekly fixture list and can take the venues away at any time (York Harness Raceway is currently for sale). Corbiewood Stadium has been purchased for development and is currently rented for each racing season, thus making it inadequate for the future development of harness racing. Tai'r Gwaith (Amman Valley) also does not operate a regular weekly fixture list. There is absolutely no sense in buying, owning, breeding, training, racing and investing in Standardbreds if we do not have regular all-weather facilities where we can race them. No sense whatsoever. The only people who can save this sport are ourselves." Under the tagline 'Save our sport - back this plan', the BHRDF has set out a detailed action plan to raise the much-needed funding to proceed with the plan to purchase land and build an all-weather track. A steering committee, featuring 15 of the UK's leading breeders, owners, trainers, drivers and commentators, has been formed to forge ahead with this plan with the full backing of the country's harness racing governing body, the BHRC. In addition to money pledged by members of the steering committee, licence holders will be asked to pay an annual membership to the fund which, further down the line, will reward them with certain benefits once the track is up and running and give them stakeholder status. The message is that this will be a track run by the members, for the members, and will secure the future of harness racing in the UK. In conjunction with the official launch of the Development Fund, a Facebook page ( has been set up which will feature regular updates on the progress of the steering committee. Another key feature of the organisation is transparency, and the committee wishes to keep interested parties up to date via an easily accessible platform. Finally, the BHRDF has set up a GoFundMe account ( and it is hoped that harness racing enthusiasts from every corner of the earth will hear their plight - UK harness racing has an enthusiastic and unique array of participants and this may well be our last chance at saving this wonderful sport on our shores before it is too late. by Sarah Thomas, for the BHRCF  

WEST CORK, IE - The dates for the 2018 Red John Memorial Festival of Harness Racing in Lyre ,Clonakilty West Cork were released this week. Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th of June have been chosen for the 4th running of the event which honors the late "Red" John O Donovan from Leap who tragically passed away in Janurary 2015. From humble beginings the festival has grown to become the biggest turf meetings in Ireland and the UK. In 2017 the meeting moved from Manch to Lyre approx 5km from the bustling town of Clonakilty . Caroline Collins of the RJM committee takes up the story. " In 2015 and 2016 we raced in Manch but due to farming of the venue we could only avail of around 1/3 of the field," Collins explained. "and with Bill Donovan, a leading owner in the USA coming on board as our major sponsor, we felt we needed a bigger venue. James Hurley and Donal Murphy came to us saying that a venue in Lyre would be worth looking at and Ger Hegarty who owns the high quality dairy farm where the track is located was willing to allow us use the venue. "This year the event grew beyond our expectations with massive crowds flocking to the meeting." Collins said. "When the dust settled we began planning for 2018.To be fair Ger Hegarty was anxious to improve the track and remedial works have been carried out to get a few "bumps" out of the track. "As the venue is a top class dairy farm we looked at the dates and came up with mid June as the best possible date. "June is traditionally a month when there is no big clashes with other festival meetings and the weather is more predictable at that time aswell. "People say you learn from your mistakes and we as a committee set very high standards to ensure we can offer the best to all who attend . "We sat down and ironed out the mistakes and look ahead with real excitement. "2018 will again see The Maven Trotting Derby and the Red John Memorial Pace as our main events . "One issue that struck us was that we needed to accomadate as many pacers as possible so this year we are along with The Red John Memorial we are having a Low Grade handicap for pacers. This ensures that every pacer can have a crack at the big prizes on offer . "Again there will be three sustaining payments for The Maven and RJM . "We will be posting details of payment dates over the next few weeks." Collins concluded. So its all systems go for the 2018 Red John Memorial Festival, June 16th and 17th are dates for your calender. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink  

WEST CORK, IE - The Drimoleague Inn will play host to the annual trotting & harness racing awards night on Saturday night November 18th at 9 PM. Every year presentations are made to honor both human and equine stars of the sport which has two distinct codes in one year. From St Stephens Day to Easter Sunday saddle racing of pacers and trotters takes place on roads in the West Cork region . Mid May signals the start of the turf racing with Inchadoney beach the opening venue for the Summer season . This year the road racing season was cut short due to weather conditions and scarcity of entries with six meetings going ahead . Drimoleague on St Stephens Day hosted the opening meeting and with mild weather the crowds flocked to this famous venue. Tradition says that Durrus on New Years Day is next on the fixture list and again mild weather ensured a bumper Bank Holiday crowd. Ballygurteen was followed by the big Memorial Day in Skibbereen with Dunmanway and finally Goleen ending the season on a high note . Deirdre Goggin again won leading female jockey and her partnership with Saunders Paris was a match made in heaven and Saunders Paris was Road Horse of the Year. Jamie Hurley took the overall jockey of the year with his father James getting the leading trainer award . Inchadoney beach saw a well run meeting setting the standard for a successful year of turf racing. Honoring deceased members of harness racing is a very important part of the sport . The George Deane and Paddy Connolly Memorials are long standing pacing handicap classics on the West Cork circuit and with the addition of The Red John O Donovan Memorial and the emergence of The Willie Bradfield Memorial there is plenty for horse owners and trainers to aim for and with support coming from the USA through Bill Donovan and others the sport is on an upward curve both here in Cork and nationwide. The Willie Bradfield Memorial is promoted by Ballineen Race Committee and this meeting was to be the judged as best turf meeting overall . Cruise Howard who tragically past away recently following an illness was the Pacer of The Year . Luke Kelleher was Top C Class Driver and was joint second to overall driver (Behind)Donal Murphy who is retained driver for IB Stables .His brother Tadhg was the leading trainer. The Le Trot scheme has become very popular and Cupidon De Breteil taking totter of the year with Ecrin De Brusseres voted as three year old trotter. Rhyds Panache owned by Chris O Reilly took the award for leading saddle pacer and his jockey Cian O Reilly was champion jockey. Eoin Murphy, Chelsie O Driscoll , Ryan Manning and Oisin Quill were other jockeys to compete and will also get merit awards Hurry Up Abi owned by John Manniong took three year old pacer accolade and was also voted as Mare of the year . 2017 saw the introduction of a few new awards . Newcomers to our sport are always welcome and Richard Kingston , Anthony McCarthy and John O Mahony although all involved in the sport for a few years were honored as they began new careers as drivers this season . People working behind the scenes in the sport are sometimes taken for granted . Con O'Sullivan and Angela Hurley have been involved in the sport for decades and both will honored with Contribution to racing Merit Awards The full list of awards reads as follows ROAD RACING Jockey - Jamie Hurley Female Jockey - Deirdre Goggin Horse - Saunders Paris Traine- r - James Hurley  FIELD RACING Jockey - Cian O'Reilly Merit Awards - Oisin Quill, Chelsie O'Driscoll, Eoin Murphy,Sean Twomey, Ryan Manning Pacer (Harness) - Cruise Howard Pacer (Saddle) - Rhyds Panache 3 Year Old Pacer - Hurry Up Abi Mare of the Year - Hurry Up Abi Trotter - Cupidon De Breteil 3 Year old Trotter - Ecrin De Bruisseres Driver - Donal Murphy C Class Driver - Luke Kelleher Trainer - Tadhg Murphy Newcomers  - Richard Kingston , Anthony McCarthy & John O Mahony Best Turf Meeting - Ballineen Contribution To Racing Merit Awards - Con O'Sullivan and Angela Hurley by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink  

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today published the Indecon Review of the Irish Harness Racing Sector. Commenting on the Review, the Minister said; “I am delighted to be able to publish this report which will provide the sport with a road map for its potential development. From the outset, I can support the recommendations within my Department’s remit”. Following a stakeholder consultation process and a review by Indecon, Minister Creed has accepted the Indecon report which includes the following recommendations: that the responsibility for the operation of the Harness Racing industry in Ireland should be vested in the IHRA the early implementation of IHRA plans to enhance their corporate goverance to align with best practice. that the board of IHRA shoild develop a 5-year strategic plan for this sector. That the Board of IHRA shouild identify funding requirements to support the expansion of the sector including the potential role of seed funding from the Exchequer. that the pilot integration programme implemented should continue. On foot of the report, Minister Creed announced that the Pilot integration programme will not only continue, but also be expanded.   This educational integration programme focuses on areas such as Horse Welfare, Rules and Regulations of Harness Racing, and Animal Husbandry inter alia.   The Minister also voiced his support for the IHRA to be vested with the responsibility for the operation of the Harness Racing Industry in Ireland, subject to the agreement of relevant Harness Racing Clubs.  The report can be found on the Department’s website right here. Harnesslink Media