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Bathurst Paceway will play host to one of the new $100,000 Regional Championships Finals to replace the inaugural Million Dollar Pace, which Harness Racing NSW had to cancel due to the coronavirus. Racing has still been able to go ahead despite the virus but due to the recent regionalisation changes which came into affect on April 1 there is no way for trainers outside of the metropolitan zone to attend a meeting at Menangle, where the million dollar event would have been held. As a compromise HRNSW created four separate Regional Championships to be held on the major track in each region - Bathurst (Western), Wagga (Riverina), Newcastle (Hunter) and Menangle (Metro). It adds a Group 1 event to the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's calendar for the first time outside of the Gold Crown Carnival. The Lagoon trainer Steve Turnbull was on board with the changes. "It's a good solution. It's hard times we're going through. It was something to look forward to but that's just the way things are at the moment," he said. "Even the gallopers are cutting their prizemoney down a lot. It's a shame but at least this series still gives people a hope of earning some money. "We have a few horses we were looking at for the race but we'll still be giving it go and see what happens. "It is a shame to lose the atmosphere you get at the track but we're pressing along and we're lucky that we're able to keep racing while this is all going on." HRNSW chief executive John Dumesny said it was about giving trainers the chance to place their horses in a series, after having set them specifically for the now abandoned Million Dollar Pace. "Whilst we have lost other races from the calendar because of the required regionalisation within NSW and the closing of State borders which limited opportunities for all horses these Regional Championships will deliver to our participants - owners, trainers and drivers," he said. "The Championships dates have been held to the schedule previously set for the Million Dollar Pace so the training of horses specifically set for that race Series is not affected." The original entry conditions for the event remain in place. The series is still restricted to four-year-olds and above who must be both Australian-bred pacers and have had five starts in their region since February. Each of the four regions will host two rounds of heats with a maximum of five heats per round. Prizemoney for the heats will be $9500. Each Region will also run a $14,500 consolation event alongside of the Group 1 Finals on the same night. Metropolitan heats will commence at Menangle on May 5; Western Districts heats at Bathurst commence on May 6; Riverina heats commence May 8 and the Hunter heats commence at Newcastle on May 9. Bathurst will be the first track to host its final and consolation races, which are both set to take place on Wednesday, May 20. Reprinted with permission of the Oberon Review

The Woodlands Stud flagship Bettor’s Delight was clearly the top harness racing sire on average price at this year’s round of Australian Pacing Gold yearling sales. Of the 35 head offered by the great Cam’s Card Shark horse, 31 were sold for an average of $60,484. He had four of the seven yearlings to fetch $100,000 or more including the three highest priced colts and the leading filly at the Sydney auction. Art Major, who sired the highest priced yearling in Melbourne at $160,000, Courage Under Fire and Captaintreacherous were the only other sires with stock to reach six figures. The deceased Courage Under Fire’s had four progeny sell for an average of $53,125 to finish second on the list. Next was Captaintreacherous, who had 30 of his second crop sell for an average price of $51,200, followed by his own sire Somebeachsomewhere (21 sold - $41,976 average), Mach Three (2 - $35,000), Sweet Lou (18 - $33,778) and Art Major (38 - $33,237). Always B Miki was the leading first crop sire with 30 head sold for an average of $28,189, followed by Betting Line (34 – $24,632) and Racing Hill (7 - $8,429). Muscle Hill topped the trotting sire’s section with two lots averaging $52,500. Other trotting stallions with multiple sales included Andover Hall (2 - $42,500), Father Patrick (4 - $36,875), Love You (2 - $33,250), Creatine (2 - $25,000) and Majestic Son (8 - $20,938).   PACING SIRES Sire                                          No. Sold                      $Average Bettor’s Delight                       31                                60,484 Courage Under Fire*              4                                  53,125 Captaintreacherous                30                                51,200 Somebeachsomewhere*        21                                41,976 Mach Three*                          2                                  35,000 Sweet Lou                             18                                33,778 Art Major                                38                                33,237 Alta Christiano*                      8                                  29,875 Always B Miki                         30                                28,189 American Ideal                       29                                28,121 Tintin In America                    6                                  24,833 Betting Line                             34                                24,632 Rock N Roll Heaven                13                                21,077 Roll With Joe                           7                                  19,357 Fly Like An Eagle                     9                                  18,111 Shadow Play                           7                                  18,000 Rocknroll Hanover*                1                                  18,000 Badlands Hanover                 5                                  17,600 Sportswriter                            14                                17,357 Betterthancheddar                 6                                  17,083 Hurrikane Kingcole*               2                                  16,000 Rich And Spoilt*                      1                                  16,000 Western Terror                       5                                  15,600 Sunshine Beach                     15                                15,233 Warrawee Needy                    7                                  14,000 Four Starzzz Shark                 9                                  13,556 He’s Watching                         8                                  13,125 A Rocknroll Dance                  29                                12,586 Heston Blue Chip                    2                                  12,500 Changeover                             1                                  12,500 Caribbean Blaster                   1                                  11,000 Follow The Stars                    12                                10,958 Well Said                                 15                                10,800 Pet Rock                                  9                                  10,389 Guaranteed                             1                                  10,000 Racing Hill                               7                                  8,429 Grinfromeartoear*                   1                                  7,000 Renaissance Man                   1                                  7,000 Mr Feelgood                           1                                  6,000 Auckland Reactor                    5                                  5,400 Falcon Seelster*                      1                                  5,000   TROTTING SIRES Sire                                          No. Sold                      $Average Muscle Hill                              2                                  52,500 Trixton                                     1                                  51,000 Orlando Vici                            1                                  50,000 Andover Hall                           2                                  42,500 Father Patrick                         4                                  36,875 Love You                                  2                                  33,250 Creatine                                  2                                  25,000 Royalty For Life                       1                                  25,000 Majestic Son                           8                                  20,938 Cardigan Boko                        2                                  17,000             Muscle Mass                           1                                  14,000 Quaker Jet                               2                                  11,500 Lawman                                  1                                  11,000 Bacardi Lindy                          3                                  10,167 Aldebaran Eagle                     1                                  10,000 Kvintet Avenger                      1                                  10,000 Dreamcatcher                         3                                  9,667 Used To Me                             8                                  6,625 Sebastian K                              2                                  6,000 Skyvalley                                 2                                  6,000 Peak                                        1                                  4,000    *Deceased By Peter Wharton

One of the biggest gambling companies in Australia – Tabcorp – has decided to take measures to offset the negative impact that the shutdown of brick-and-mortar licensed betting shops and TAB agencies and the cancellation and postponement of major sports events are having on its performance. Even though some new sports betting options, such as the Belarusian Premier League, have emerged in the light of coronavirus crisis, they have not been able to compensate for the revenue that would have been generated by the company as a result of its customers’ betting on some of the most popular sports competitions in Australia and across the world. Because of that, Tabcorp has decided to temporarily furlough over 700 workers to June 30th, 2020, who are employed in its services that are no longer operational due to the closures related to the coronavirus outbreak. A further 160 technology contractors, who represent a 40% reduction, have also been dismissed. Fees that are owed in April 2020 by venues operating under TAB, Keno, Sky Racing and MAX contracts have been suspended and are set to be reviewed on a monthly basis in the light of the Covid-19 situation. The gambling group has projected that its business-as-usual expenditure for the ongoing first half would suffer about a 25% decline at approximately AU$120 million. The banking facilities of Tabcorp has been expanded through an additional short term facility worth AU$226 million that is payable in the middle of the following year. Tabcorp Aimed at Remaining Proactive to Deal with Difficulties Related to Covid-19 Crisis Apart from the above-mentioned measures to fight the negative effects on the company’s performance due to the coronavirus shutdown, David Attenborough, who is the company’s chief executive officer and managing director, has also taken a 20% fixed remuneration pay reduction until the end of the current financial year. Mr Attenborough has explained that the time has been challenging to businesses, partners, individuals and the community as a whole. He further noted that the company has been working proactively and collaborated with all its stakeholders so that they could deal with the difficulties during the Covid-19 shutdown and emerge from the crisis as strong as possible. Apart from all that, the company has slashed its chairman and non-executive director fees by 10%. The measure was taken only several months after another 10% reduction of the above-mentioned fees were made in September 2019. Despite its retail gambling services have been affected by the cancellation and postponement of sports events across the world, Tabcorp has highlighted the fact that its Lotteries and Keno, and Betting and Media digital channels continue to operate as they used to. In addition, its lotteries retail network of convenience stores, newsagents and other brick-and-mortar outlets has also remained operational so far. For the time being, greyhound, thoroughbred and harness races on the territory of Australia, excluding Tasmania, are still being conducted in line with the state government’s policies regarding public health restrictions. By Olivia Cole Reprinted with permission of Casino Guardian

Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond are due for a big night out at Gloucester Park tomorrow night, according to the members of the WA Trotting Media Guild. Among some of the Guild’s best bets are The Bird Dance, Mighty Santana and Tarooma Bromac - all from the strong camp of the Bonds. The West Australian’s Ernie Manning and Radio Great Southern’s form expert Warren Wishart believe The Bird Dance will bounce back from a last-start defeat as an odds-on favourite. “The Bird Dance, a victim of unusual circumstances last start, looks set to bounce back into the winners’ list after drawing gate one,” Manning said. “He won at nine consecutive appearances before being pressured in the lead a fortnight ago by American Brave, who over-raced and took charge of his reinsman. The Bird Dance was eased, but then had to face the breeze and his eighth can be overlooked.” Wishart agrees. “Expect The Bird Dance to hit back hard here after a forgive run last start,” Wishart said. ”Has the pegs draw to lead all the way. I do like the best horse drawing one - they invariably win.“ Guild president Wayne Currall thinks another Bond-trained horse in Mighty Santana, another runner who had his colours lowered as a short-priced elect, can make amends in race four. “Mighty Santana was a good thing beaten last start,” Currall said. “He was full of running and only got a crack at them late after being held in a pocket. This race maps well for him and looks to be a drop in class. He looks primed to get the chocolates.” Longshot king Pat Harding is another tipster who has opted for a horse from the Bond stable as his star bet. “Could be an excellent night for the Bond camp this Thursday night,” Harding said. “My best bet comes up in race seven with the Bond-trained Taroona Bromac. Coming off 20 metres, he should be ideally placed to pounce on the leaders and give the Bonds a treble.“ Veteran trotting journalist Ken Casellas is keen on Miracle Moose in race three. “Supercharged finishing bursts from Miracle Moose in the past couple of weeks have stamped the four-year-old as a pacer well worth following, and he’s my best bet on Thursday night to overcome the awkward draw at barrier seven,” Casellas said. “He surged home from 10th at the bell to finish second to Soho Thunderstruck last Friday night and came from 12th at the bell to win from Bettor Be Oscar the previous week. He started from the No. 7 barrier on both occasions.” TABradio form analyst Hayden King likes Machnificent in the last race on the 10-event card. “ Machnificent showed incredible speed at the beginning and end of a recent trial,” King said. “He will lead and should race away late.” But The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft has made Lavra Joe his best bet for the night in the same race. “Lavra Joe seems to be the two-year-old measuring stick at the moment, toughing out victories from the breeze at his last two outings,” Havercroft said. ”The small field suits again and the son of Roll With Joe appears to be improving with every run.” TABradio racecaller Matt Young believes punters can add to their bank by supporting Soho  Thunderstruck in the opening event. “Soho Thunderstruck was dominant last start,” Young said. “I think he’ll let the dust settle and work to the breeze and control the race to victory again.” VALUE BETS ERNIE: Absolution has not won in his past 25 starts and was out of the placings at his last 11 appearances. But he drew barrier one on Thursday night and can be prominent. A winner of 10 races, he locked wheels when finishing only 11th last week. WARREN: Star Fromthepalace drops back to fillies grade having competed against the boys in last weeks WA Derby. Was placed in the Western Gateway Pace the start prior and the indicative odds of $16 represents fantastic Easter treats. WAYNE: Dominate The Dojo flies the gate and I can see him crossing to an early lead in the first. Chris Lewis will then take a sit behind Valbonne. He doesn’t win that often, but he looks a good place bet and one for the exotics. PAT: My vale bet comes up in the second with No. 5 Naval Aviator. This horse has shown little or no form in recent races but he’s better than that and I think Aldo Cortopassi can record a good win at a good price. KEN: For value, I suggest Braeview Bondi , the lone back-row runner in the sixth event on the program. The five-year-old continues to race in fine style for trainer Michael Brennan and reinsman Michael Grantham. HAYDEN: Cavalry Call is drawn softly and he could run into a place like he did last Friday. RYAN: As Happy As Larry is one of many value-priced runners in the Easter Cup. The spread of talented horses off handicap marks gives the backmarkers every chance of getting into the race. MATT: Son Of A Tiger is not racing too bad, back to a standing start and distance will suit. Expecting a bold performance. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good punting from home.   Wayne Currall

As region-based racing reached Terang for the first time last night it also presented a chance to reminisce on one of the greats, with reinsman Bruce Clarke joining Talking Trots on Track to pay tribute to the great Gammalite. Joining hosts Blake Redden and Michael Howard in the segment Lunch with a Legend, Clarke glowingly remembered the first standardbred to win $1 million in Australia. "He took me and my family to many parts of Australasia, and it was just great to go along for the ride with him," he said. "He was a dour horse, he had an iron constitution and he was capable of performing at his best when he left home. You could time him up to a gum tree and he would still eat and still race at his best." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN:   HRV Trots Media

HRNSW announces that the 2020 NSW Breeders Challenge Series will retain the established structure however will be transposed to the months of September through to November. The Finals of the Major Series will be conducted on Saturday 24th October at Tabcorp Park Menangle. In arriving at the decision to move the Breeders Challenge Series, taken into consideration was the uncertainty of the length of time the COVID-19 restrictions will be in place. These restrictions have caused regionalisation which does not allow for a Series conducted in the traditional manner. The retention of the structure of the Series which stakeholders have an expectation to compete under was paramount in the decision. The delivery of a decision to stakeholders was also a priority so that owners and trainers can plan a path to the NSW Breeders Challenge taking into account the current environment. “The decision to move the Breeders Challenge Series was taken following lengthy discussions between Board Members and Management so as to provide the opportunity as equally as possible to all eligible two and three year olds.” Chief Executive John Dumesny said. “Regionalisation and not being permitted to cross the State borders certainly didn’t provide that opportunity on the traditional dates.” “These are unprecedented and difficult circumstances that the Industry finds itself in and the transfer of the Breeders Challenge was the only feasible option to adopt at this time.” “As these dates are past the end of the racing season HRNSW will address the ramifications of the ratings system at a national level but a suitable outcome will undoubtedly be achieved in this respect.” “Simply transferring the entire series to 2021 and extending out for another year was an option but on an already congested racing calendar there were identified difficulties.” “The option of a regionalised series was open for consideration but the consensus was clear it would only be addressed if the COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt movement around the State.” The Blue Finals and Regional Series will be held in October/November to fit in and around the Victorian Breeders Crown Series. HRNSW will advise of the new dates and other material considerations for the NSW Breeders Challenge Series and make further announcements in due course. For further information on this matter contact: Alana Toulmin 02 9722 6600

The Pacers Bendigo Syndicate, an initiative of the Bendigo Harness Racing Club, achieved a milestone at last Friday evening’s meeting at Lords Raceway. The ownership group, made up of almost 40 members, achieved their first winning double, and on their home track. Their first winner came in race one, when Rocks Arnt Pets, driven by Bendigo reinsman Anthony Crossland, was too good for his opponents despite sitting outside the leader for the 1650-metre journey. His win was a just reward for the pacer’s consistent form, and now brings his tally to three wins and seven placings. The second winner was Leigha Miller in the sixth event. Driven by ace junior reinsman Jayden Brewin, she was driven quietly early, before unleashing a strong final 600 metres, and won untouched by nine metres. The syndicate was launched at the 2016 Pacing Cup. Its first horse was given a solid preparation by Junortoun trainer Gary Donaldson, but unfortunately was not a racing proposition. The syndicate has been indebted to its trainer, as he has since offered numerous shares in going racehorses. The syndicate achieved its first win in March 2017 with Regal Ambition. A second win was achieved five days later in the Birchip Mallee Bull Cup. Apart from Rocks Arnt Pets and Leigha Miller, other horses trained by Gary Donaldson in which Pacers Bendigo are currently involved include Skyeski (five wins), Liberland, Flaming Fives and an unraced trotter named Angski. Currently, the syndicate has won 12 races, along with 32 placings, ensuring the owners have been a major part of the action on racetracks around Victoria.   HRV Trots Media

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    Despite a lack of recent racing,  Kiwi-bred pacer Forgotten Highway is being talked up as a big contender for the  $40,000 Easter Cup at Gloucester Park in Perth. Formerly trained by Mitchell Kerr in North Canterbury, the son of Bettor’s Delight finished eighth in the 2018  New Zealand Cup and headed to Western Australia in June last year.  Now being trained by Michael Brennan the six-year-old has had two wins, four seconds and one third in seven starts. But “Butch”, as he was known in New Zealand, goes into a Group 2 staying test over 2902 metres having raced only once in the past five months. In November last year he was spelled after recording an elevated heart rate and low red cell count. But his resumption at Pinjarra on Monday was a winning one. In the Easter Cup he will  be handled for the first time by Nathan Turvey, after regular driver Michael Grantham opted for stablemate Miss Sangrial. He will start from barrier three on the front line with experts in Perth saying he ticks a lot of boxes as a winning chance. Before heading to Australia Forgotten Highway won six from 29 in New Zealand, with his final success as a $1.70 favourite at Methven in March.  Among Forgotten Highway’s rivals in the  feature to be run just after midnight on Friday morning will be another former Kiwi Taroona Bromac, who has won 10 from 13, and Always An Honour to be driven by Gary Hall Junior who has won this race five times already.‚Äč Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Much-travelled freelance driver Adam Richardson is setting up a harness racing training establishment in the heart of the Riverina region in southern NSW. Richardson and his partner Alanah Pitt recently made the move from Brisbane to call Leeton home and are excited to be working towards building up a nice team of horses. "We've moved onto a 180-acre property which back in the day was used as a harness racing training complex. So, with a bit of hard work and a tidy up, it'll soon be ship-shape," Richardson said. "I grew up in Wagga, while Alanah is a Leeton girl, so obviously one of the main reasons for the shift was to get back closer to family," he said. Richardson admits he was perhaps a late bloomer in getting interested in the sport. "I was right into cricket. That was all I would think about when I was a youngster. I was probably at least 16 or 17 years old when my uncle Darren Richardson talked me into helping him with the horses," he said. "And since then that's all it's ever been-I have never got back to playing cricket!". Richardson said he got a big break when leading Brisbane horseman Darrell Graham took him under his wing and gave him a job. "Darrell got me going in harness racing. He was fantastic and I'll always be grateful for his advice and what he taught me," he said. "I then spent time with Tony Peacock when he was based at Kilmore. Tony was flying at the time. He was right up there on the metropolitan leading trainers' board and ended up finishing second." Richardson had another stint at the Graham stable, before again being lured south by Peacock, who had transferred his stable operations to Moama, on the NSW side of the Murray River from Echuca. "I was shifting about, but I was forever learning about the industry," he said. Richardson again got the travel bug and once again packed his bags for the Sunshine State, giving away the training side and concentrating on establishing himself as a freelance driver. 2017-18 was Richardson's breakout season, landing 76 winners and 136 placings for stakes of $360,000. "That was by far my best-ever season in the cart-I'd always been around the 20 to 30 winners mark before that," he said. The following year saw Richardson crank it up even further, cracking the ton for the first time and ending up with 116 wins and 193 placings for over $660,000. "I was lucky to get involved with some good stables, such as Charlie Cini and his wife Cristina Monte, and also Ian Gurney. As well there was great support from a whole bunch of little trainers," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed my last three years in Queensland. I did miss it earlier this week when it turned quite cool in Leeton and the day took ages to warm up. "I admit I was jokingly questioning myself about the decision to move. But honestly, we are looking forward to it. We have nine in work and everything will turn out okay." Richardson hasn't wasted anytime in getting amongst the winners after the recent move. He landed three in three days at meetings held at Wagga, including a double for trainer Kim Hillier with King Fisher (Mr Feelgood-Shelly Lobell (Jeremy Lobell) and Miss Rixon (Modern Art-Sabina (Torado Hanover). Adam Richardson and King Fisher – the first leg of a winning double at Wagga last Friday "It's a one-and-a-half hour trip down to Wagga from home, but the track is awesome. Hopefully I can keep having some success," he said. While Richardson has the form on the board, it won't be long before Pitt makes a name for herself. The former Leeton High School student grew up around horses and came through the pony trots circuit. She has shown plenty of poise and skill since landing her first winner, Lancelot Hall, at Wagga in May, 2018.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr is looking forward to giving New Zealand import Balcatherine her chance to lead in a strong fillies and mares race at Gloucester Park this Thursday night. The lightly raced American Ideal mare has drawn barrier one for the Retravision Pace (2130m) with Stuart McDonald set to drive. Balcatherine hasn’t been seen at the track since winning a WA Oaks Prelude on April 26 last autumn at just her third start in the state. In her WA career so far she has had to contend with barriers eight, nine and 10. Hall Snr picked had Balcatherine join the stable early last year off the back of two wins in New Zealand, before she failed to win at her first two starts for her new stable. The WA Oaks Prelude win was enough to see her secure a start in last year’s three-year-old fillies feature but she suffered a quarter crack in the week leading up to the event. The Hall of Fame trainer said he was eager to see how the four-year-old goes leading against some of the state’s toughest mares. “She’s been working well,” Hall Snr said. “She’s a quite hand and she works like a good mare. “She’s a good filly but she just hasn’t drawn well and we don’t know how she goes leading. “We will try to lead this week because if you hand over the lead you hand over the race.” McDonald is the beneficiary of Gary Hall Jnr’s decision to drive Justin Prentice’s talented mare Dracarys, who looks a live chance despite drawing barrier eight. Mares Classic winner Gotta Go Gabbana, who has been impressive in her first two runs back from a short break, has drawn barrier nine. Pick My Pocket, a last start winner of the Empress Stakes, will have her work cut out to win from barrier seven. Exciting mare Typhoon Tiff makes her eagerly anticipated return from barrier four. In the Free-For-All event of the evening, Shockwave will get another stern examination on his progress when he lines up from barrier seven of seven in the Simmonds Steel Pace (1730m). Golden State gets a big opportunity to lead from barrier one, while co-trainers Greg and Skye Bond will start Ocean Ridge, Galactic Star and Our Jimmy Johnstone from barriers two, three and four. Meanwhile, Hall Snr said he’s hoping to have Chicago Bull back at the races next Friday night.   Tim Walker

Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) advised last week it will be reducing prizemoney and associated bonuses by 20% effective from Monday 6 April. The first harness meetings to be impacted with the stakes reductions is Gloucester Park and Bunbury on Thursday 9 April.   The revised stakes for Provincial, Country and Community race meetings will be as follows: Original Stakes Revised Stakes Revised Stakes Breakdown 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6-10th 4,500  3,600 1,985.55  542.50  263.50  192.20  116.50  100.00 7,000  5,600  3,266.55  892.50  433.50  316.20  191.25  100.00  7,500 6,000  3,522.75  962.50  467.50  341.00  206.25  100.00     The revised stakes for Metro Midweek meetings will be: Original Stakes Revised Stakes Revised Stakes Breakdown 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6-12th 7,500 6,000  3,522.75  962.50  467.50  341.00  206.25  100.00 9,000 7,200 4,291.35 1,172.50 569.50 415.40 251.25 100.00 10,500 8,400 5,059.95 1,382.50 671.50 489.80 296.25 100.00     The following stakes tiering will apply for metropolitan racing: Original Stakes Revised Stakes Revised Stakes Breakdown 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6-12th 18,000 14,400 8,704.80 2,410.56 1,205.28 668.16 403.20 144.00 20,000 16,000 9,672.00 2,678.40 1,339.20 742.40 448.00 160.00 22,000 17,600 10,639.20 2,946.24 1,473.12 816.64 492.80 176.00 25,000 20,000 12,090.00 3,348.00 1,674.00 928.00 560.00 200.00 30,000 24,000 14,508.00 4,017.60 2,008.80 1,113.60 672.00 240.00 50,000 40,000 25,600.00 6,400.00 2,800.00 1,600.00 800.00 400.00 100,000 80,000 51,200.00 12,800.00 5,600.00 3,200.00 1,600.00 800.00 150,000 120,000 76,800.00 19,200.00 8,400.00 4,800.00 2,400.00 1,200.00   The 20% reduction in stake money will not apply to the upcoming futurity feature races.   Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) 

Serpentine trainer Matt Scott holds a strong hand in the Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Thursday night with four runners in the field of 12. Remarkably, Scott’s four runners, eight-year-olds Brookies Jet and Charlie El, nine-year-old Qtown Rip Roaring and six-year-old Neighlor, have had a combined total of 588 starts, and, between them, the 12 runners have contested 1648 races which means that they have covered approximately 3705 kilometres which is more than a trip by plane between Perth and Sydney. Brookies Jet (barrier two) and Qtown Rip Roaring (barrier three) are likely to dominate betting on the race after last-start second placings and their favourable draws. Shannon Suvaljko had the choice of drives between Brookies Jet, Qtown Rip Roaring and Neighlor. And, somewhat surprisingly, he opted to handle Qtown Rip Roaring, whose most recent win in a 129-start career was 15 months ago. Suvaljko obviously was impressed by Qtown Rip Roaring’s effort in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when the gelding sat behind the pacemaker Quick Stride before finishing with a powerful burst out six wide to be second, a half-head behind Machlani. Suvaljko also must have been pleased with Brookies Jet’s fighting effort in finishing a half-head second to the fast-finishing Crocodile Kid over 2130m last Friday night when the oldtimer started from the outside of the back line and worked hard in the breeze for much of the way before clawing his way to the front 10 metres from the finishing post. Brookies Jet, who finished strongly when second to My Carbon Copy a week earlier, will be driven this week by the in-form Mitch Miller and looks set to fight out the finish. Charlie El will start from barrier six with Kyle Harper in the sulky. He has been unplaced at his past 20 starts and will be at long odds. Neighlor, who has a winning percentage of 22 (the best of the 12 runners), will start from the outside of the back line at his first appearance for six and a half months. Suvaljkjo has turned his back on him after having driven him at each of his past 16 starts and at 51 of his 62 WA starts for 14 wins and nine placings. Replacing Suvaljko in the sulky will be his daughter Emily. Punters, looking for value, should lean towards Neighlor, who certainly has an edge in class on his 11 rivals. Michael Grantham has given punters a good lead by deciding to drive Valbonne in preference to stablemate Countess Grace and Machlani in the opening event, the 2536m TABtouch Pace. Valbonne, trained by Mike Reed and a winner at nine of his 41 starts, is favourably drawn at barrier No. 3 and should prove hard to beat after his sound third behind My Carbon Copy in the $30,000 final of the Clarke Pace last Friday week. Countess Grace will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green and has each-way prospects from the No. 2 barrier on the back line. The Michael Brennan-trained Machlani, a narrow winner over Qtown Rip Roaring at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week, will be handled by Aiden de Campo from barrier four on the front line. The most competitive event on the program promises to be race five, the Retravision Pace for fillies and mares over 2130m, in which star three-year-olds of last season in Balcatherine and Typhoon Tiff will resume after lengthy spells. They will clash with several talented and in-form mares, including Gotta Go Gabbana, Dracarys, Pick My Pocket, Millwood Molly and Parisian Partygirl. The outside barrier in the field of seven will test star performer Shockwave when he meets in-form pacers Galactic Star, Ocean Ridge, Im Soxy, Im Full of Excuses and Our Jimmy Johnstone, as well as speedy frontrunner Golden State, who has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier in the 1730m Simmonds Steel Free-For-All.   Ken Casellas

With a pacing colt named Machnificent, the expectations of success on the track are sure to be high and he looks set to live up to this hyperbole by making a bold bid for victory in the Happy Easter Pace for two-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. Machnificent, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr for Byford trainer Katja Warwick, will be making his first appearance for six weeks and his prospects improved when he drew the prized No. 1 barrier in a quality field of five in the 1730m event. He showed that he is ready for a powerful first-up performance with a dashing trial over 1750m at Byford on Sunday morning when he began speedily from the outside barrier, burst straight to the front and set the pace before sprinting over the final 400m in 27.6sec. to win, unextended, by ten metres from Robbie Rocket and Star of Willoughby at a 1.58 rate. His clash with the highly promising Lavra Joe is sure to be a highlight on the ten-event program. Lavra Joe, to be driven by Shane Young with Greenbushes owner-trainer Ray Jones, has been most impressive in scoring easy victories in fast time at his past two appearances, both over 1730 at Gloucester Park, rating 1.57.4 and 1.56.1. He will start from barrier three on Friday night. Lavra Joe revealed toughness as well as a sparkling turn of foot in both of those wins in which he worked hard in the breeze before forging away from the opposition in the closing stages. Star of Willoughby, to be driven by Chris Lewis for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, will start from the No. 2 barrier at his first appearance since running on from sixth at the bell to finish third behind Dominus Factum over 1684m at Pinjarra on January 13. He worked hard in the breeze in Sunday’s trial and is sure to have derived considerable benefit from the workout. Robbie Rocket, to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko for trainer Vicki Lea, faces a tough task from the outside barrier in the small field. He enjoyed a perfect trip behind Machnificent in the trial in which he found the pacemaker simply too strong. Lavra Joe was timed in 1.58 when he won a 1609m trial at Bunbury last Saturday night. He dashed over the final quarters in 28sec. and 27.2sec. and won by 2m from Classic Choice.     Ken Casellas

Promising New Zealand-bred stayer Forgotten Highway ticks all the boxes when looking for the winner of the $40,000 Easter Cup, a Group 2 standing-start feature event over the marathon trip of 2902m at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. The lightly-raced six-year-old, who is prepared by Michael Brennan, has raced 21 times in stands for four wins and 13 placings. He has won over 3000m and has been placed over 3000m and 3200m. Forgotten Highway, who will be driven for the first time by Nathan Turvey, is favourably drawn at barrier No. 3 on the front line of four runners. The only query is that the Bettors Delight gelding will be having only his second start after an absence of five months. He resumed in a 2116m stand at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he galloped out for a couple of strides from the 10m mark, losing two to three lengths. He settled in ninth position and was eighth at the bell before he followed a three-wide move from Vivere Damore with 500m to travel. After switching four wide on the home turn Forgotten Highway took a narrow lead 100m from the post and went on to win by a narrow margin from Vivere Damore, rating 1.58.4, with final quarters of 27.7sec. and 29.5sec. Described by Brennan as a big, gross horse whose ideal racing pattern is as a sit-sprinter, Forgotten Highway is a top-class pacer with a sparkling turn of foot. He has appeared only once at Gloucester Park and that was when he started from barrier two in a 2130m mobile event last October when he dashed to an early lead, set the pace, sprinted the final 400m sections in 28.4sec. and 27.9sec. and won easily at a 1.56.2 rate from Art Tudor.   Michael Grantham has driven Forgotten Highway in all of his seven starts in Western Australia for two wins, four seconds and one third. But he has opted to handle classy stablemate Miss Sangrial, the only mare in the Cup, who will start off the 30m mark. Grantham drove Miss Sangrial in last year’s Easter Cup in which she met with interference and did not show up, finishing eighth behind Mighty Conqueror. Miss Sangrial has won three times in stands and is capable if unwinding a powerful finishing burst when held up for a late charge. Brennan is hoping that history repeats itself, with Forgotten Highway starting from the No. 3 barrier on the front line. He prepared four-year-old Anvils Big Punt for his all-the-way victory over Ohoka du Nord and Waikawa Bay when he started from barrier three on the front line in the 2011 Easter Cup. Star Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice drove Anvils Big Punt in the 2011 Easter Cup and he is hoping for another win this year when Gary Hall Jnr drives his nomination Always An Honour off the 30m mark. Always An Honour has scored effortless victories in mobiles over 2536m and 2130m at his past two outings, but is also an outstanding standing-start performer, with his ten appearances in stands producing six wins and one placing. Hall is seeking his sixth driving success in the Easter Cup after wins behind The Falcon Strike (2003), Patches (2006), Uppy Son (2012), Rebel Scooter (2013) and Znana (2016). The backmarker off 50m is As Happy As Larry, who started off 30m (virtually 20m because there were no frontmarkers) in last year’s Easter Cup. As Happy As Larry overcame early interference and ran home powerfully from tenth in the middle stages to finish a nose second behind the $1.95 favourite Mighty Conqueror, who took up the frontrunning after a lap. Mighty Conqueror was trained by Greg and Skye Bond and driven by Ryan Warwick for his win in last year’s Easter Cup, and the Bonds hold a strong hand in this year’s Cup, with Where Ya Bin (Dylan Egerton-Green) starting from the No. 1 barrier on the front line and Taroona Bromac (Warwick) starting from the 20m mark. The Bonds prepared Assassinator (Ryan Bell) for his win in the 2017 Easter Cup. Where Ya Bin is a good frontrunner whose 13 starts in stands in WA have produced three wins and five placings. He and other four-year-olds Taroona Bromac and Always An Honour are the youngest runners in the race. It is interesting to note that Taroona Bromac, who has a winning record of 77 per cent from ten wins from just 13 starts, has not contested a standing-start event. He qualified to race in a stand when he finished third in a six-horse trial in Ashburton, New Zealand, in December 2018.   Ken Casellas

In her role as a harness racing driver Amy Rees has found herself having to make plenty of adjustments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but her challenges extend beyond that. As the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's media manager Rees has also had to come up with plans on how to best perform her job given the new restrictions. With spectators banned from attending all harness racing meetings in New South Wales, the demand to let Bathurst club members and supporters know what unfolds on track has increased. For the finals night of the recent Gold Crown Carnival - a meeting which usually attracts a bumper crowd - it meant winning drivers had to stand at one side of the stage, master of ceremonies Chris Gray at the other while Rees produced a live stream video. "It's been that fine line between trying to do everything we can to keep people interested and informed about what is going on without violating any of the regulations that have been put in," Rees explained. "I've had a lot of people say they really enjoyed all the content that was up there and I think people seem to like the videos I put after the Gold Crown even though there was no crowd. "We've had to put in a lot of regulations and change a lot of things up at the club, but we are lucky enough to still be earning money. "We just have to abide by the rules that have been put in if we want to keep racing for as long as possible." The conduct of trials have been altered, meetings are only being held at six venues across the state, drivers must wear just one set of colours at a meeting, and those attending meetings have to sign a disease declaration form. They are just some of the restrictions, but Rees is happy racing is still on at a time when most sporting codes have been forced to shutdown. "I suppose in the back of my mind I've got this feeling of 'They can't shut us down, they can't shut us down', but in reality they can," she said. "Some days it feels like a bit of a ticking time bomb other days you think about just taking it as it comes and hope for the best. "We've just got to take each day as it comes."   By Anya Whitelaw   Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

One of the good guys of harness racing in the strong Bathurst region, Bernie Hewitt, reached a memorable milestone recently at his home track. Hewitt, who is based at nearby Georges Plains, watched talented youngster Iamajoyride (Lincoln Royal NZ-Onajoyride (Grinfromeartoear USA) take out the 2yo Gold Tiara Consolation event. The victory was Hewitt’s 1500th as a trainer, but it probably had added significance with the horse being owned by his wife Cath and driven by their eldest son Jason. “I must be honest and say that I don’t keep records and I really had no idea until I was told that someone had posted it on Facebook,” Hewitt said. “It was a nice surprise. I’ve been at it for a while though, probably over 36 years,” he said. “I grew up with horses and once it’s in your blood, it’s there to stay. But on reflection, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do anyway.” Hewitt grew up with his two brothers Mark (now based at Grenfell) and David (Goulburn) and their sister Jenna (married to Grant Picker, of Bigga). Their parents Tom and Angela owned farmland at Crookwell. “We were brought up with sheep, especially fat lambs, as well as merinos. Dad also had cattle, but got rid of those in the drought of 1972,” Bernie said. “There was also the horses and dad raced a few nice ones, including Nikalong Shadow who won 10 races as a two-year-old and about just as many as a three-year-old. He also stood quite a number at stud.” Nikalong Shadow (Shadow Star-Tondara Queen (Duke Duane USA) continued to show his brilliance as an older horse, winning many feature races in the metropolitan areas as well as on the country cups circuit. He finished with 45 wins and 50 placings for $271,000. Hewitt said in his younger days there was always plenty of farm work to do and he also learnt the art of shearing. “But it was the horses that all of us got interested in. I suppose you could say that we all got the bug,” he said. “All of us, my brothers and Jenna and their families are right into it. My sister and her husband have four boys and they are all involved one way or another.” Hewitt has a 90-acre property which includes a 700m jog track and a 800m fastwork track, as well as stabling and plenty of paddocks. He has been a full-time trainer for the past 20 years. “We are a family affair.  My wife Cath’s always giving us a helping hand, and our boys Jason and Doug, and our daughter Gemma are here every day, too, either with training, fast work or breaking-in youngsters,” he said. “Doug and myself have been doing a lot of the driving, but with Jason back after a stint in Queensland and Gemma doing trials driving and hoping to become licensed, there could be a bit of jostling when it comes time to do the race nominations down the track. “It’s been good to have Jason back, though, because he’s had a win and a second on Iamajoyride and he’s also a farrier so I’m more than happy to share that workload with him!” Hewitt said while there were hardships around racing at the moment, it was at least an opportunity for everyone to earn something. “The authorities are doing a great job in keeping the industry going because a lot of us thought it may have been closed by now,” he said . “All of our racing up here is at Bathurst and with big numbers of horses, there’s some missing out with balloting. We also can’t travel to Menangle with our better horses, but the main thing is that we are still operating.” Hewitt, who enjoys nothing better than a few beers and a catch-up with family and friends (when social distancing rules permit!), is sure to keep the winners rolling in. But as for keeping tabs on records, well that’s a different story!   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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