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An Australian gambler was able to parlay A$1,600 (US$1,245) into an incredible A$56,000 (US$43,000) after pulling off an upset win during a horserace in February 2013. While he basked in his winnings and the attention he received after the long-shot victory, some began quietly questioning how it was possible. The truth has finally come out, with the gambler among 78 looking at charges of fraud. Edward Ridgway was the prophet who foresaw Alma’s Fury winning the race that day. The track was wet, which always resulted in a poor performance by the horse. Always, except for one race. That win unleashed an investigation that uncovered a history of fraudulent bets. All of the bets were perpetrated by the same individual, Stephen Charles Fletcher, who was already in hot water for receiving insider information in various gambling activities, according to The Sydney Morning Herald report. Fletcher was first introduced to authorities in 2006 after he and his betting partner, Eddie Hayson, had won millions wagering on a rugby match. Authorities accused the pair of learning prior to the match that a key player wouldn’t be on the field due to an injury, and used the information to enter their bets. Both Fletcher and Hayson denied the allegations, and there wasn’t enough proof for a conviction. However, Fletcher was subsequently banned from gambling. From September 2012 to March 2013, Fletcher used the identities of 77 individuals, including police officers, to continue his betting activities, according to the report. He has been shown to have been behind bets placed at a number of horserace tracks around Australia, and also in Hong Kong and Singapore. In one instance, he used Ridgway’s account in a horserace in Hong Kong, turning US$233 into US$13,774. In February 2013, Fletcher made 28 bets under the names of others in racing events ranging from greyhounds in Western Australia to harness racing in Penrith. Former police officers Senior Constable Marc Smith and Senior Constable Tony Williams were also caught up in the investigation. The duo face charges for soliciting fellow officers to join in on the fraud. It has been determined that Williams met Fletcher through the latter’s friend, Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, who is also under investigation. Fletcher has now been charged with 78 counts of “dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.” Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in an Aussie prison. Knowing his propensity for using others’ identities, authorities will probably want to make sure it’s really him before sending him away. By Erik Gibbs Reprinted with permission of site

A local builder has run away with a $2.7 million post-auction deal on a rundown 1890s Ascot Vale racing stable complex. Goodwood, at 42 Myross Ave, was once home to late harness-racing trainer and driver William “Bill” Davin for 60 years. The property was quoted at $2.5 million-$3 million, but John Paul Kavanagh, and his wife Erin, were the only ones to raise their hands at the auction of the 1336sq m block on Whiskey Hill, which comprised an original heritage-listed home and nine stables. A string of harness-racing champions were housed in the stables, including eight Hunter Cup winners and three-time winner of “the Melbourne Cup of harness-racing”, the Inter Dominion, Our Sir Vancelot.   Nelson Alexander Ascot Vale’s Michael Keogh said while he didn’t plan to buy horses — let alone harness-racing champions — for the stables anytime soon, he hoped to renovate the home. “We live just around the corner and we’d been looking for a bigger block in the area, but they’re aren’t too many of them around,” he said. “I’d been keeping a bit of an eye on this property though and I’ve met with heritage advisers so I know what we can and can’t do to the home.” By Charlotte Durut Reprinted with permission of news  

Maori Time is the fifth entrant into Sweden’s famed Elitloppet as Australia bursts back on to harness racing’s European stage. The much-anticipated invitation was received overnight, which will see Maori Time leave Australia’s shores on May 9 to contest the May 27 Elitloppet at Stockholm’s famed Solvalla race track. Harness Racing Australia CEO Andrew Kelly said the invitation was a great result for connections and the Victorian trotting gait. “It is a terrific feather in the cap for all to have a horse considered good enough to make that trip,” Mr Kelly said. “This is not a small adventure to be undertaken by connections and by Maori Time herself.” Owner and breeder Fred Crews and trainer Brent Lilley have both long awaited the invitation, which was pursued soon after Maori Time produced an Australian record smashing 1:51.5 mile rate when saluting at Menangle on February 24. She will be the first Australian-trained horse to make the trip since Sundons Gift ran sixth in his heat in the 2009 Elitloppet. “It’s a very short and elite list,” Mr Kelly said of Australia’s Elitloppet entrants. “It’s the most famous race in Scandinavia if not Europe. “Fans from all over attend the day, they paint their faces and dress in their traditional grab to make the most of the day. The horses are very well known in that part of the world and have their own fan clubs.” Maori Time is only the fifth horse to have been invited for the May 27 race day, which features two heats into a final. The eight-year-old by Pegasus Spur out of Sundonna joins other invitees Readly Express (Sweden), Uza Josselyn (Switzerland), Bold Eagle (France) and Propulsion (Sweden). Her exposure on the world stage further reinforces Australia’s trotting wealth and strengthens European bonds. “It’s important not only to be sharing our racing product to Europe but that people realise the bloodstock talent that exists in Australia and that Europeans may want to invest in Australia as well,” Mr Kelly said. “It is a great opportunity to showcase some of our bloodlines. The wagering on our racing is bubbling along really well in Europe and those in Sweden are really interested in our product.” Trots Media - Michael Howard READ: ELITLOPPET A TRIP OF A LIFETIME, FRED CREWS TOLD THETROTS.COM.AU

AT last there is some great news in pacing’s open-class ranks. It’s a tough few months with horses like Vincent retiring, stars like Heaven Rocks and Have Faith In Me leaving our shores and questions marks on Lazarus’s racing future. But one of the sport’s absolute stars, the brilliant Hectorjayjay, is just weeks away from a comeback. The millionaire pacer hasn’t raced since sustaining a suspensory ligament injury after the biggest and best win of his career in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 15. Managing-owner Matt McLellan hopes Hectorjayjay could be back to defend that title. “It’s been a long road, but we are getting to the business end now,” he said. “He’s had PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) treatment, a full body scan and several extra targeted scans, four different vets go over him and eight months of rehab. “The past few months he’s been with Peter Clarke on the water-walker. “He’s been back in work for three weeks, will have another month with Peter and then head to the stables to decide when he can race again. “I’d love to think he’ll be back for a few lead-up runs in Victoria and then head to Queensland, but that’s the aim more than anything definite.” Champion driver Gavin Lang will be Hectorjayjay’s new trainer, mainly because he is Melton-based and much closer to McLellan’s home. “This horse is special to me and I want to see him regularly. I’ve had a long association with Gavin, he knows this horse so well and he’s 45mins from my place rather than two hours or so to David (Aiken’s) stables,” McClellan said. “David has done such a fantastic job with the horse, but this is last roll of the dice with Hectorjayjay and there are no guarantees he will make it back. The signs are good, but I want to be close to him to see him often as I can and stay right across his progress. “I also want to give special mention to the huge input Josh Aiken and Kima Frenning had when the horse was at the Aiken stable.” Lang has driven Hectorjayjay 12 times for eight wins – including the 2016 Group 1 Len Smith Mile and Group 2 Sunshine Sprint – three seconds and a luckless fifth. Hectorjayjay’s record sits at 79 starts for 42 wins, 21 placings and $1,143,907 in stakemoney.   Adam Hamilton

Harness racing trainer-driver Paul Fidge is hoping the win of Gus Or Bust at Globe Derby Park on Saturday is finally a change of fortune. Fidge, who has a good strike rate with his small team of horses, admits he was “cheesed off” earlier in the year. “Nothing was going right, with viruses and injuries and it all came to a head on SA Cup night,” Fidge said. “I bought two horses to the track and they were both pre-race scratchings and I thought I’ve had enough so I took a bit of a break. “Gus Or Bust is the only horse I have in work at the moment but Pocketfullofcash is due back this week and Dontsayawordmajor will be join him shortly.” Fidge showed his delight at being back in the winner’s list on Saturday with a traditional short whip wave. Gus Or Bust, specked from $13 into $11.60, came off a 20-metre handicap to score a 2-1/2 metre win from Sun Valley Road ($5.50) with The Dutchman ($44.80), four metres away third. “I could not have asked for a better run,” Fidge said. “There was a strong early tempo which ensured the leaders would tire late, then Sun Valley Road made a run going into the back and took me right into the race. “Gus Or Bust has a good sprint so I sat and waited before letting him stride in the home straight and he quickly went to the front.” Fidge said the six-year-old would now head to Port Pirie for the $8000 Kadina Trotters Cup (1609m) on Friday, April 27, a race he won last year. “He sat parked last year to win with Ken Rogers in the sulky. He is not the type of horse to do it tough but over the short trip he was okay.” Fidge said star trotter Pocketfullofcash had recovered from issues which had plagued him last preparation and hopefully could recapture his best form. Borrelli's a Fine Artist Veteran South Australian trainer-driver Peter Borrelli returned to the winner’s list when Fine Artist led throughout to win the BGC Industrial Cleaning Supplies Pace (1800m) at Globe Derby Park. After being headed early in the home straight, Fine Artist ($6) fought back to score a half head win from Clarenden Valour ($1.70 fav) with Sumarian Artist ($17.50), a neck away third. “It is good to finally have another Globe Derby win,” Borrelli said. “It has been a while – I actually can’t remember my last win here although I did drive Grinfaron to win at Mildura last month. “I have been letting Jayden (Jayden Brewin) drive Fine Artist a lot of the time – I think it is good to encourage the young drivers – but decided to do it myself tonight. “Actually, I nearly had a double as Grinfaron went really well in the opening race but just found Santa Madre too strong.” Borrelli said he was confident Fine Artist was a promising three-year-old. “He has been racing okay but is still learning. Tonight, he was able to lead and dictate and I knew he would be hard to beat. “He doesn’t give up and even though he got headed wasn’t going to go down without a fight.” Even though it was only the gelding’s second win, he also has had eight placings from just 19 starts. Borrelli, 76, is South Australia’s oldest driver following the retirement of 82-year-old Alan Smith who didn’t renew his licence this season.   Graham Fischer  

The harness racing Traralgon Pacing Cup will be run for record prizemoney this year. Scheduled for the next harness race meeting at Warragul, on Sunday, June 24, the 2018 edition of the event will be run for $10,000 in prizemoney, a substantial increase on the $7000 stake provided for last year's event. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials expect a strong field of pacers to contest this years event, especially given the increase in prizemoney. The increase has come about because of Harness Racing Victoria's improved financial position, enabling the controlling body to add extra stakes to races statewide in May and June. First staged as the Latrobe Valley Pacing Cup in 1976, the race recognises two decades of trotting at the Glenview Park Racecourse in Traralgon, from 1975 to 1995. The event was reintroduced to the local racing calendar by the Warragul Harness Racing Club in 2006. The previous record stake for the race was $7500, when the race was last staged at Traralgon at the final trots meeting there in November 1995. This year's event will be for two to three win pacers, and should attract strong local entries as several trainers across the region have horses eligible for this class of event. Harness Racing Victoria officials have also seen fit to allocate a $10,000 stake to the Ken Miller Memorial event, to be staged on the same day as the Traralgon Pacing Cup. Three races programmed with $5000 prizemoney on the day will also carry a further $1000 bonus to the winning connections as part of another initiative by Harness Racing Victoria to increase returns to participants during the months of May and June. In a further boost to the sport locally, all remaining meetings at Warragul this year will be staged on Sunday afternoons, in an effort to increase attendances trackside. Further Sunday meetings are planned for July, August and December this year. Harness Racing Victoria officials have adjusted funding arrangements for country trots clubs conducting Sunday afternoon meetings, to help offset the increased cost of casual wages at these events.   Anthony Logan  

The 6TYO Free For All is the feature of tonight’s exciting eight event Launceston Pacing Club harness racing card. Stagger Lee has performed in sensational fashion at its two Tasmanian runs at the track, a first-up second to Isaac in its heat of the Maxfield Drilling Easter Cup after doing all the work and kicking clear at the top of the stretch. In the Cup Final the Maree Caldow-trained Major In Art–Let’s Go Cullen six-year-old gelding ran a gallant third behind the brilliant Harjet and although beaten by 24.3-metres was still putting in strongly on the line. John Caldow has the advantage of drawing four on the front line tonight with Stagger Lee and will no doubt be looking for a softer run than its punishing Easter Cup Series assignments. Isaac (pictured), which ran down Stagger Lee on heat night, has drawn in six and will have the services of Rodney Ashwood. The Juanita McKenzie-trained American Ideal–Twice as Sly eight-year-old gelding put up an unbelievable Heat performance but was disappointing on face-value in the Cup final running eleventh but is more than capable of bouncing back tonight. The Steve Lukac-trained No Spring Secrets is in search of a winning hat-trick but faces a rise in class and a tricky outside front-line draw. The Tell All–Spring Ball six-year-old gelding has claimed some massive scalps of late, defeating Scooterwillrev and 2016 Easter Cup winner Riverboat Jasper with paralysing finishing sprints. The ever consistent Black Centurian, trained by Steven Davis, chased Harjeet home in its Cup Heat before finishing fourth in the Final after being involved in a titanic battle for the placings. Gareth Rattray will have every chance to position the Jr Mint-Mon Poppy Mary eight-year-old gelding precisely where he wants him after the scratching of Scooterwillrev brings him into gate two behind the Tasracing mobile over the 2200-metre journey. Michael Smith's All Style Sammy has drawn the pole and will be handled by Rohan Hillier but takes on the silk department while the grand old campaigner Destreos has his sights set on notching up the magical 1ooth career win for Ken Rattray. Destreos will start from outside the second line from behind the mobile but is rated as one of the outsiders in the field of nine at around $33.00 in early markets. Tonights Launceston Pacing Club meeting commences at 17.38 and can be viewed on live stream service at Watch Harjeet demoralise the top hopes in tonight's 6TYO Free-For-All in the Maxfield Drilling Easter Cup. Shane Yates

Aa she has on numerous occasions, harness racing premier horsewoman Emma Stewart made a clean sweep of a race series’ heats at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. Appearing to have access to an endless supply of talented pacers, Stewart has dominated qualifiers in recent years, with her stock going on to capture the various Finals, including running quinellas and trifectas! This time around Stewart secured the three Australian Pacing Gold heats, with each of her winners heading into the Group One decider with a perfect record. The $350,000 Final is scheduled to be conducted at Melton on May 5. Winner of his four starts, Centenario led throughout from barrier two to score by 10 metres from Fides, with Soho Thunderstruck a metre-and-a-half away third. “I said before the race he was the stable’s best chance in the heats and it remains the case going into the Final,” Stewart said. “Everything he has done so far has been spot on and he’s getting better with each start. “He’s a very nice type which has a lot going for him.” Driven by Chris Alford, the son of Americal Ideal rated 1:55.4 over 1720 metres, with his time 2.3 seconds quicker than his stablemate, Hurricane Harley. Also driven by Alford, Hurricane Harley began quickly to lead from gate three before accounting for Major Exclusive and Fourbigmen, which is a stablemate of the winner. Successful at his two starts, the colt is expected to be a major improver during his next outing. “He’s got so much raw ability,” Stewart said. “It’s all coming natural to him.” Hardhitter rounded out the APG onslaught when he also set the pace on his way to a two-and-a-half metre win from Arggghhh, with Young Rooster three metres away third. Winner of his two starts, including a 1:54.7 effort upon debut, the son of Mach Three rated 1:58.2. “Like the other two, there is a lot to like about Hardhitter,” Stewart said. “He’s also going to bet better again by the Final.”   APG Media

Here we go again with the Marburg Pacing Association hosting another six race harness racing program at Marburg Showground this afternoon. Fresh from the outstanding support shown to the club by the big crowd and generous sponsors on Easter Sunday, Marburg is looking to the future in a mood of optimism. Gates will be open at 10.30am today with trials followed by racing at 12.30pm. You need to see the first as the "pick six” jackpot will operate on the whole program and is worth $1600 (shared prize) if your crystal ball is on the mark. The lucky gate prize is the $100 betting voucher for the over 18s. The race day will include all the usual features which underpin the MPA operation. That includes great food and drink plus the excitement of close up harness racing action. The MPA will be backing up on Labour Day, Monday May 7, with TAB/ Sky Channel coverage and added attractions. Better format ON the bright side, Marburg's mobile start field size and format have changed for the better. Nine runners (up from eight), in two lines of five and four, will comprise a full field from the starting gate. This means that there is potential for anything up to nine more horses to get racing opportunity on the day. The "seeded” barrier draw will also disappear, and "out of the draw” horses will run from the second line. Key positions ON the integrity front, QRIC is advertising four positions for race day stipendiary stewards. As was mooted some years ago, the QRIC policy is to spread the knowledge with race day operatives to be skilled in control of all three codes. To this end there is a requirement for a cadet, a casual position and a permanent steward. The fourth position is, however, more specific, and calls for a senior stipendiary steward to work in harness. It will be interesting to hear what the ever active rumour mill that is the life and soul of Queensland trotting throws up about this one. Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Box trifecta 2-3-5: Ima Grumpy Possum (N McMullen)-Outlaw Fella (G Dixon)-Constantly Sideways (G Whitaker). R2: Quinella 1-8: Black Belt (A Richardson) and Somepartysomewhere (N Dawson). R3: E/w 3: Our Hi Jinx (A Sanderson). R4: Quinella 1-2: Sweet As (D Graham) and Get In The Groove G Dixon). R5: E/w 1: Feel The Faith (T Dixon). R6: E/w 4: Artikulate Miss (G Dixon). R7: Box trifecta 1-2-8: Sams A Champ (T Moffat)-Riverleigh Rocket (M Dux)-Ruato Bay (C Petroff). R8: Quinella 1-2: Sky Larhain (M Elkins) and Fire One (G Dixon). R9: E/w 2: Jessica Amber (G Dixon). R10: Quinella 2-3: Miss Moneybags (G Dixon) and Maywyn No Regrets (L Weidemann). Honour board Highlights were flashing on the driver's side of the leader board with Glamorganvale star Nathan Dawson posting a massive nine wins for the week. By the nature of our scoring procedure, the trainers are somewhat disadvantaged. However, the consistent Fernvale barn of Darrell Graham had horses in victory lane on three occasions. Most pleasing result was two winners, Jack DoubleYou and Proficient for owners Margaret and Rachel Scott. Albion Park, April 6: Somepartysomewhere (Nathan Dawson for Greg Franklin); Subtle Advice (Nathan Dawson for Terry Hancock); Surface To Air (Justin Elkins for Greg Elkins); Slippery Jade (Gary Whitaker for Bill Hancock); Supaliner (Robert Morris for Darrell Graham). Albion Park, April 7: Bettabe Perfect (Hayden Barnes for Chantal Turpin); With Authority ( Narissa John); Another Broadway (Nathan Dawson for Darrell Graham); Call Me Yours ( Darrell Graham for Tess Neaves); Handsome Major (Adam Richardson for Tayla Gillespie). Albion Park, April 10: Proficient (Chris Petroff for Trevor Lambourn); Bettor Be Lucky (Adam Sanderson for Shannon Price); Only One Promise (Adam Sanderson for Shannon Price). Redcliffe, April 11: Julia Mac (Nathan Dawson for Kay Crone); Miraclesdoappen (Nathan Dawson for Mark McNee); Western Jewels (Adam Sanderson for Shawn Grimsey); Never Haveiever (Nathan Dawson for Ryan Veivers); Jack Double You (Dan Russell); Ivanov (Gary Whitaker for Brad Connelly). Redcliffe, April 12: Barboo (Nathan Dawson for Steve Bunz); Writeaboutchelsea (Narrissa McMullen); Truet (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Oyster Stride (Gary Whitaker for Kay Crone); Pale Bear Boo (Nathan Dawson for Mitchell Dawson); Its All Go (Matt Elkins). by TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

Paul Hill has enjoyed a sensational run over the years training some of the state's top harness racing juveniles. The Old Beach mentor is the man with the Midas touch, last season applying the polish to reigning two-year-old Filly of the Year, Iden Bliss, and three-year-old titleholder Playing Arkabella. Paul is equally at home in the sulky but one of his qualities as a top horseman and trainer is knowing that when one of the leading drivers in the state is available you utilise their talent get the job done. Paul's impressive three-year-old Feelin Dusty is engaged tonight in Hobart in race three, the Roberts Sprint Lane Pace, and he has called upon the services of Hall Of Fame reinsman Ricky Duggan. Duggan has driven the Mr Feelgood-Maybe Elite colt on six occasions for three victories and three placings and will need to be at his best tonight to navigate a successful path after drawing wide on the second line in 11. Last year’s Dandy Patch winner has come back strongly as a three-year-old winning three races this season including a runaway 15-metre victory in Hobart on March 18. “It’s a tricky draw so I will be looking to settle back and assess the race from there if the cards fall our way I’d like to travel into the race with a cart up at the bell, hopefully on the back of Streetside Classic,” said a thoughtful Duggan. “I drove Streetside Classic last time out when he ran fourth to Mister Magic Man in Launceston and he has a lot of ability so I won't be underestimating him and Gareth will more than likely try and find the top with Lead Singer so I’m excepting a very competitive race.” “I wouldn’t be swapping my bloke for anything, he’s a talented colt with plenty of courage, he trialled well earlier in the week and Paul always has him ready to race, he’s only missed a place once in 13 starts and that was when he finished in a different suburb after being knocked out of the race, there are not many pacers with a record like that,” said Ricky with a touch of confidence. Tonight's seven-event Tasmanian Pacing Club card, commencing at 18.08, can be viewed via the live service at   Shane Yates  

Racing Minister Winston Peters has called on Australian horse owner, breeder and administrator John Messara to review the New Zealand racing industry's governance structures. Messara is one of Australia's most successful racing administrators and the founder of one of its most prominent horse breeding businesses, Arrowfield Stud. The New Zealand industry has been ailing for some time, with low prizemoney levels a big beef for owners and trainers. There has also been widespread dissatisfaction with the sport's administration and also its structure. Peters said on Thursday he would ask Messara to review the industry and provide recommendations on future directions. To read the full article click here.

History will be made at The Weeky Advertiser Horsham Pacing Cup on Sunday April 22nd with all adult patrons in the running to become an 'owner for a day' in a new competition being conducted by the Horsham & District Harness Racing Club. Club President Justin Lane said the Dunn-Ezy Seed Cleaning 'Owner for a Day' concept had been incorporated into the Club's flagship event to promote the sport of harness racing and encourage patrons to consider future involvement in the industry.   All members of the public attending the Cup meeting will be eligible to enter the competition, with up to 8 names drawn from the Dunn-Ezy barrel in the mounting yard at 3pm.   Each person drawn will become an official 'owner for the day', with their randomly assigned horse set to compete in an actual race later in the afternoon.   The 'owners for a day' will enjoy all the benefits experienced by actual owners attending the meeting to watch their horse compete.   They'll have access to Horsham's dedicated owners enclosure with complimentary drinks and finger food and the opportunity to meet their new trainer, driver and horse prior to the race.   When their horse scores up behind the barrier they will experience the nervous anticipation felt by owners and through the race ride the usual wave of ups and downs right to the finish line.   After the all clear is given by the chief steward the 'owner' of the winning horse pockets a cheque for $3,990 - the same amount the 'real' owner of the horse will receive.   "There are many ways people can be involved in the harness racing industry apart from being hands-on as a trainer or driver," Mr Lane said.   "Opportunities include becoming the owner of a standardbred as an individual, partner or member of a syndicate, through to simply getting involved with the club, becoming a member and volunteering on race days.   "Every sport needs grass root participants to survive and thrive and we think this new competition ticks all the boxes as far as getting the public involved," he said.   The Weekly Advertiser Horsham Pacing Cup meeting promises to be a great community event - in addition to the action out on the racetrack the afternoon will feature a community sulky sprint race, live music with local musician Darryn Wardle, a TAB punters club, Cup sweeps, giveaways and the giant video screen.   For the kids there's a host of free fun activities including the Pat Your Harness Hero, giveaways,competitions and the opportunity for one lucky child to win an ipad mini. Gates will open at 12.30pm.   "We strongly encourage everyone to get their backside track side on Sunday week and enjoy a great day out at the Cup said Mr Lane. " At the same time they'll have a chance to become an 'owner for a day' and maybe take home that cheque for $3,990." Tony Logan

The late Billy Grima was a well-known harness racing identity who sadly passed away in 2016, but his name and legacy are continuing on in the sport he loved. On Friday night, a 10-race program at Tamworth includes the Billy Grima Memorial.  Billy’s sons, Michael and Paul, have Quincy Storm engaged in the Memorial race. Eldest son Michael is listed as the trainer while Paul will take the reins. Michael will have three runners at the meeting, with Blissful Quincy and Freddies Delight also set to run. “We have the whole stable competing at the meeting,” he said. “Dad was always involved in harness racing. It wasn’t his livelihood – it was his hobby.” Billy and his pacer Tangaratta Thor were certainly a combination that was known in the early days of harness racing, having success both in the North West and at Harold Park. Last year was the inaugural running of the Billy Grima Memorial, with the Andy Ison-trained Franco Seville taking the feature.  But this year is the first time that the Grima name will appear in the race. “It was through Dad’s involvement that got us all involved in the sport,” said Michael. He was referring to himself and his three siblings. The two boys handle the horses. Their sister Joyce is a director of the Tamworth Harness Racing Club while another sister, Jenny, also has a strong involvement in the sport. “Jenny is still keen – she is always following us,” Michael said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without the involvement of the family.  “Our niece Rachel comes out and works with the horses every day.” Billy’s grandson Nicholas calls trials at Tamworth while Billy’s wide Carmen will also be trackside on Friday night.   “There are many chances in the race – it is a very good field. Actually, it’s a big meeting,” Michael said. “The mare [Quincy Storm] is very honest and has got good gate speed but she will have to make her own luck from the five barrier.” Quincy Storm comes into the race off a last-start win at Narrabri, where she had a short half head win over Mini Masterpeice from the David Munsie stables.  “It would be nice to win the race as Paul is doing the driving but we are not expecting it,” Michael said. “You get a kick out of someone else winning it as well.” Paul Grima was happy with the efforts of Quincy Storm in the Narrabri win. “She is a real good race horse,” he said. “She hasn’t got much guts but she does everything right and she has got good manners.” By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Three members of the WA Trotting Media Guild believe punters can line their pockets early if they support the in-form Raffaello in the opening event at Gloucester Park tomorrow night. The West Australian’s Ernie Manning, Guild president Wayne Currall and The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft have all made the Peter Kimberley-trained gelding their star bet. Manning believes Raffaello can make it four wins in a row. “Raffaello has never won in 30 Gloucester Park starts, but gets his chance to break through with the advantage of barrier one,” Manning said. “He has been most impressive when a Pinjarra winner at his past three starts. He displayed gate speed to lead for Shannon Suvaljko, who is booked to resume driving him, after crossing from barrier four on March 26 and April 2.” Currall agrees with his colleague. “Raffaello is in the best form of his career,” Currall said. “He has drawn the pole, has Shannon Suvaljko in the bike and is putting together a picket fence. Should lead and win.” Havercroft is singing from the same hymn sheet as Manning and Currall. “The versatile Raffaello has been in sparkling form, winning his last three starts, all at Pinjarra,”Havercroft said. “He showed blistering gate speed two starts ago when crossing from barrier four, which suggests he can lead and give them something to chase.” Last season’s leading tipster Stuart Lowe is keen on three-year-old filly Lady De La Renta. “My best bet is Lady De La Renta, who had a torrid run last week in the WA Derby before weakening to run 11th,” Lowe said. “Won brilliantly at two of three previous runs and the pole draw will make her the one to beat.” GPTV’s Ken Casellas has labelled Our Zak Whitby as his best for the night. “Meelon trainer Ed Dewar has Our Zak Whitby in top form and the speedy four-year-old has bright prospects of completing a winning hat-trick by proving too good for his 11 rivals,” Casellas said. “The WA-bred entire was most impressive in scoring convincingly in fast time last Friday night and he is my best bet this week.” Veteran tipster Bill Brindley believes El Jacko can continue on from his strong win last week. “The best bet for me is the classy El Jacko, who should improve even further after an impressive victory last week at his second run back from a spell,” Brindley said. TABradio’s Matt Young likes Ideal Investment in the last race. “Ideal Investment finally finds the right race to lead and has a brilliant front-running driver on in Kyle Harper,” Young said. “I think he’s the best bet of the night.” Longshot maestro Pat Harding believes it’s another tough night coming up at GP this Friday for punters. “My best bet of the night comes up in the fourth with the Gary Hall-trained Liberty Rose,” Harding said. “She was a good winner last week, but I think she can make it four wins in a row with Lady De La Renta the toughest opposition.” Value Bets Ernie: Sarah Goody, who showed class when a WA Oaks runner-up last season, looks well placed by trainer Kevin Keys for her first-up race. She will be chasing her eighth win at headquarters. Wayne: Aussie Jet is working his way back to race fitness after six runs since a spell. He is drawn favourably on the inside of the back line and could surprise at odds. Ryan: Terraforce has placed first-up in the past and is well drawn in a moderate field. Looks an each-way prospect and the stable has been firing. Stuart: My value bet is the talented, but luckless All Jokes Aside, who has not won since New Year’s Eve. Trialled at Pinjarra, since last start, for easy win. Can handle this class and should go close. Ken: For value, I suggest eight-year-old Shirlz Sensation, who resumed after a spell with a solid effort when a close-up seventh behind Campora on Tuesday of last week when he fought on determinedly after racing three wide for much of the way. Bill: My value bet is the consistent Auctioneers Elsu as she is capable of a brilliant finish.  Matt: Ideal Investment is my best bet and best value. He’s a great each-way chance. Pat: I think Soho Changeling can provide punters with some value. She has run some good places but is due for a change of luck and with Shannon Suvaljko aboard has every chance. To view all of the Media Guild Tips for this week click here. Good Punting.  Wayne Currall

Shannon Suvaljko continues to set a cracking pace in the state-wide drivers’ premiership and punters should get a flying start to the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night by supporting Raffaello in the opening event, the $20,000 The Sports Daily On TABradio Pace. Raffaello, a New Zealand-bred seven-year-old trained at Warawarrup by Peter Kimberley, has struck a purple patch and looks a star bet after drawing the coveted No. 1 barrier on the front line in the 2130m event. Three weeks ago Raffaello had a losing sequence of 38 before he chalked up three wins in the space of 15 days. He was driven by Deni Roberts when he gave a splendid performance to win a heat of the Garrard’s Junior Drivers Challenge at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. He was restrained from barrier five and was seventh at the bell before sustaining a powerful late burst to get up and beat Our Jaccka Mara and Attack On Command. This victory played a pivotal part in Roberts winning the series. Suvaljko drove Raffaello to victory at Pinjarra on the two previous Mondays. The gelding led from barrier four and fought on grimly to defeat The Freedom Fighter by a head and a week later Raffaello again set the pace from the No. 4 barrier and won by a half-head from Pick My Pocket. He should again be capable of setting the pace, despite the presence of 13-year-old Shardons Rocket in barrier two. Shardons Rocket, owned and trained by Tony Svilicich, is in the twilight of his 358-start career and boasts a losing sequence of 33, with only one placing in that sequence (a second 19 starts ago). He still has good gate speed, but Suvaljko should be able to hold him at bay in the early stages. Another veteran performer, nine-year-old El Machine, has excellent place prospects. He has won once from his past 64 starts but should enjoy a trouble-free run at the rear after starting from the outside of the back line before unwinding a spirited late charge. Kimberley also prepares experienced performer Terraforce, who is capable of a bold first-up showing in the final event, the Christmas In July at the Beau Rivage Pace over 1730m. Terraforce, to be handled by Jocelyn Young, is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier on the front line. The WA-bred gelding is a winner at ten of his 92 starts. His latest success was when he made most of the running and defeated Red Hot Roxy over 2100m at Bunbury on December 2 last year. For the record, Suvaljko leads the premiership table with 115 wins from Chris Lewis (102), Gary Hall Jnr (101) and Chris Voak (95). Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis is a keen judge of form and he has sent harness racing punters an important message by choosing to drive Sheer Rocknroll in preference to stablemate Johnny Fox in the $22,000 Steelo’s Bistro Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Ross Olivieri trained Sheer Rocknroll and Johnny Fox are the highest-assessed pacers in the 2536m event and have the ability to overcome the outside barriers on the front line, with Sheer Rocknroll starting from barrier eight and Johnny Fox from barrier nine. Lewis has been in the sulky behind Johnny Fox at each of his past five starts, which include two powerful fast-finishing wins over 2130m but he has opted for Sheer Rocknroll, a mare he has handled at three of her past six starts. Sheer Rocknroll is an M5-classified performer, but she has a losing sequence of 19, with her most recent victory being her win in the Race For Roses 11 months ago. Sheer Rocknroll has been placed at three of her five starts since resuming after a spell with an encouraging first-up second to Dana Duke in late February. She also impressed two starts ago with her strong-finishing third to Major Reality and Better B Chevron in the Golden Girls Classic over 1684m at Pinjarra. Chris Voak has been engaged to drive Johnny Fox, who was far from disgraced when fifth behind Importer Exporter in the 2902m Easter Cup. The nine-year-old raced without cover for a while before taking the lead 550m from home and wilting late to finish just over two lengths behind the winner. Astute punters are likely to rally to support the Skye Bond-trained Risk, who has been unplaced at his past five starts and has a losing sequence of ten. However, Risk looms as a major player after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line, an advantage made possible with the New Zealand-bred six-year-old moving from an M3 classification to an M2 mark under the drop-down regulations. Ryan Warwick is expected to make every post a winner by setting a brisk pace with Risk, whose most recent success was when Warwick guided him to an all-the-way win over Twoandahalf Tigers at Gloucester Park in November 2016. In an open affair on Friday night the lightly-raced, but richly talented Zennart also has strong claims. He is sure to appreciate a significant drop in class after finishing sixth behind Bettors Fire last Friday night after racing wide and then enjoying the one-out, one-back trail. His previous eight starts in his current preparation produced five wins, two seconds and a third placing. Michael Grantham will be unable to drive evergreen performer Bronze Seeker after fracturing a hand in a work accident with the family-owned horse transport business on Tuesday. He will be replaced in the sulky by Gary Hall Jnr, who should have the Peter Anderson-trained nine-year-old in a handy position throughout after starting from the inside of the back line. Stablemate Mighty Flying Thomas, a winner of one race from his past 37 starts, but racing with admirable zest, will start alongside Bronze Seeker on the back line. He will be driven by Aiden de Campo. Ken Casellas

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