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David Branch knew this week was going to be exciting, just not like this. The young Chief Executive of the Waikato-Bay Of Plenty Harness Club is looking forward to the return of harness racing, make that any form of horse racing, in the north at his Cambridge track on Sunday. But he can’t help but think of what might have been. Because in a cruel irony this was supposed to be the weekend the Cambridge track hosted the Jewels, their biggest moment of every second year and Branch admits it hurts to see the meeting canned, quite rightly, because of Covid-19. “We realise he couldn’t have gone ahead for so many reasons but it is still hard knowing it would have been this weekend,” says Branch. “Especially because there were so many things we were really happy about. We had more hospitality sales than two years ago and we learned so much ourselves back then which would have really helped this year. “The place is looking really good and we were obviously all excited about hosting it. “So that is a bitter pill to swallow but now we are just looking to racing coming back at all this weekend.” A minor meeting on a Sunday afternoon is definitely not the Jewels but Branch realises the significance of bringing the industry back to life in the north. “The most important thing is to get up and going and the numbers were looking good last night (Monday),” said Branch. “We had 45 noms already without all the ones that will come in on Tuesday morning so we are pretty confident we can get eight races, but the more the merrier.” Branch says while many local Waikato trainers had their main training tracks at Cambridge shut down he still expected a good representation on Sunday. “We had good numbers from local trainers and even a few from the Central Districts. “So it is looking really good.” A meeting with HRNZ and other club chief executives on Tuesday will confirm whether Cambridge can have their popular Clubhouse Cafe And Bar open to industry participants on Sunday. “We had the greyhounds here last week and it was able to be opened for them so I hope we can. “With the Government loosening up the numbers a bit by Friday we are even going to ask if there is any way the meeting could be open to owners, with the possibility that number could be below 100 and they could use the Clubhouse and be segregated from the horsepeople. “But that might be more difficult than it sounds so whether it can happen this week or not I don’t know.” The club have taken back the licence to run the Clubhouse establishment and Branch says it has been spruced up for the return to racing. “The whole place has been. We did plenty of work around the track in anticipation of holding the Jewels and at least now the place looks good.” Once through Sunday and their winter programme, Branch says the extra dates Cambridge has picked up for next season should be a blessing for local trainers. “It means most of our trainers here next season won’t need to travel if they don’t want to,” says Branch. “I know plenty will still want to go at Alexandra Park but horses that used to be trained here but raced a lot in the CD will be able to stay here all year around if their trainers want, and that cuts down on costs for the owners.”   Michael Guerin

Teenage Junee harness racing driver Miranda McLaughlin is making every post a winner before next weekend, when she will navigate a new path with the Royal Australian Navy. McLaughlin, 19, who says she has always wanted to do a gap year in the armed forces, will be away for at least 12 months. "I just made up my mind that if I don't do it now, I probably won't ever get around to it," she said. "It was a hard decision because I love the horses-but I get to travel around Australia while I'm looking at all the Naval bases. It's one good way to see the country." McLaughlin was seen at her best at the Wagga Cup meeting on Sunday with a winning double-the third time she's achieved the feat. "They are trained by my boss Trevor White and they looked well placed. We gave both of them good chances," she said. Three-year-old gelding Western Style (Western Terror-Takemybreathaway (Life Sign) scored in the opening event, the Maiden Pace. To watch the video replay of this race click here. Two races later, the White/McLaughlin combination struck with the veteran Norms Courage (Courage Under Fire-Rosie Rose (Peace Of Art) in the ITP Pace. To watch the video replay of this race click here. McLaughlin will be keen for further success when she drives at her final two meetings before taking on a new career. "I've got a book of five drives at Wagga on Tuesday and then I'll be back in action again on Friday. Then that's it for at least 12 months," she said. "I'm pretty sure I'll eventually be coming back home to the horses, but I suppose there's a chance I could thoroughly enjoy life in the Navy. I'll be keeping an eye on all the trots results that's for certain." McLaughlin completed her schooling and graduated Year 12, before taking up a full-time job at the stables of astute horseman Trevor White. "I got to know Trevor when we moved into the same street as him. I had a riding horse and used to go in the barrel races at gymkhanas," she said. "I was probably about 14 or 15 and went up to Trevor's place to see if I could get a part-time job. He put me on, and I mainly used to clean out stables and stuff like that. "Then one day he asked me had I ever thought about driving? So, with his encouragement I took it on and have now been driving for two years. He has been such an outstanding mentor and is definitely a person I look up too. "He's already told me there will be a job waiting if I want to come back." White has been a huge influence on many youngsters, who after their early days working with him, have gone on to bigger things. Talented Sydney brother and sister drivers- Cameron and Ashley Hart were taught the ropes by White, while others include Chris Judd and David White, the latter being based in New Zealand. And the latest addition to the stable is youngster Grace Fahy, who is the new inductee to the role of stablehand. Meanwhile McLaughlin is hoping that 3yo Western Style can make it back to back wins at Wagga tonight. "He's the first pacer that I've raced. I own a share in him, and it would be great if we could get the money again," she said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The Victorian Harness Racing Club (VHRC) are very excited to announce in partnership with Australian Pacing Gold (APG) and Australian Premier Trotting Sale (APTS) a new race series commencing September 2020. This race series will offer up to $900,000 in financial benefits and will be shared between owners and trainers that are members of the VHRC for 2020/21 racing season. This new initiative to be promoted as the ‘VHRC–APG–APTS Super Bonus race series’ will consist of 26 dedicated race meetings with the majority being held across regional Victoria.  Every race on the program will provide bonuses above the advertised prizemoney consisting of $1500 cash payments and $1000 APG-APTS Sales Vouchers to the owners of the winning paid up horse and $500 to the winning trainer provided they are members of the VHRC.  A further added incentive for the winning owners that purchase a yearling at the APG-APTS sales will be that they receive a $500 discount on sustaining payments made in full on the day.  VHRC President Emmy Mazzetti said: “The VHRC has emerged itself not only here in Victoria but throughout Australia as the largest membership organisation representing owners in the harness racing industry. We have been working very closely with HRV CEO Dayle Brown and his executive team in developing a strategic plan to assist owners and participants with their future investments into this wonderful industry."  VHRC General Manager Rob Auber said: “The VHRC are committed to supporting HRV and the Victorian Government in stimulating the Victorian harness racing economy. This joint partnership is to provide confidence and support to our industry participants to continue investing into this great sport. We are very grateful to APG-APTS for supporting this initiative to grow our industry and I’m sure these additional bonuses will be welcomed by all owners and trainers.  "We wish to thank the regional clubs that are supporting this race series and we encourage all trainers and owners to support each club with their horse nominations and attendance at each of these race meetings once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.   "We make a passionate plea to anyone that loves harness racing to become a member of the VHRC ‘The Heart of Harness Racing' for the 2020/21 racing season. The strength of our future success is dependent on your membership support.” APG–APTS Deputy Chairman Peter Watkinson said: “The VHRC has some exciting plans that will make it an irresistible proposition for owners to join. The APG-APTS partnership with the VHRC is a perfect fit, and I’m confident that the partnership will help to continue the strong growth of the VHRC’s membership base, whilst providing APG-APTS with outstanding brand exposure and marketing opportunities." APG -APTS David Boydell General Manager said: “This ground-breaking partnership will provide a strong link between APG-APTS and VHRC’s rapidly expanding membership base. In particular, the 260 vouchers that APG-APTS will offer to the eligible winners of the ‘bonus races’ in 2020/21. This will create an army of potential buyers - each winner with $1000 vouchers and a $500 discount benefit that are exclusively redeemable at the 2021 APG and APTS Yearling Sales.” Further details regarding the VHRC-APG-APTS Super Bonus Series will be outlined in coming months. For any initial enquires please contact the VHRC Membership Manager Kelly Ternouth on 0408 570 197 or email   VHRC/APG

May 23, 2020 - Trotting action returned on May 23 (Saturday) at Kincsem Park with a competitive 12 race harness racing program. The featured Lajos Matucza Memorial (600,000Huf purse, 1960 meters distance handicap) went to the 1.1/1 odds favorite Zeal di Girifalco (5m Igor Font-Inviata d’Italia-Varenne) clocked in 1.17.2kr for his pilot amd trainer Veljko Mazsity. This was his 17th career win in 20 starts and his first in 2020 following an eight for 10 slate last year. He overcame a 20-meter handicap as he rallied to victory over another 20 meter handicapped performer, Milady Amok (7f Scarlet Knight) with Csaba Lakatos up. Third to the line was Unika Vik (7f Cantab Hall) for Goran Zolnaji. Zeal di Girifalco Earlier in the program were two events for three-year olds each raced over 1800 meters autostart and each for a 400,000Huf purse. The first went to 3/2 favorite Bolide Lakamy (3m Conway Hall-Nina di Jesolo-Supergill) with trainer Veljko Mazsity at the lines, his first 2020 victory in two outings. Race time was 1.19.9kr with the Berill Lady (3f Maximus Lindy) and Bombay (3m Vanito) next home. The second division saw 5.9/1 Borutica (3f Illetmeny-Night Lady-Tony Oaks) score for Hico and trainer/driver Tibor Hajnal clocked in 1.20.9kr. This was her first career victory and results from a fine pedigree. Bonaparte Boss (3g Napoleon) and Beautiful Yankee BD (3f Yankee Mustang) trailed the winner. The schedule has been released for major races in June and July. June 13 will be the date for the Janos Brody Memorial and Laszlo Ferge Memorial, both usually high class races. Thomas H. Hicks    

As the countdown to racing continues, there are many questions that still exist for horsepeople in Ontario as the harness racing community will have to adjust to a new normal. On tonight's (May 24) episode of COSA TV host Greg Blanchard interviewed horseman and COSA Director Mark Horner, General Manager and Race Secretary Ian Fleming and Jamie Martin, Grand River Raceway’s Director of Operations. Together the trio discussed new racetrack protocols, the importance of increasing racetrack handle and how the industry will have to adapt to a new normal of racing. Questions from viewers were also answered as well as trivia questions for fans and viewers to win a prize courtesy of COSA. First to take the stand was Jamie Martin, who discussed recent expansions at the Elora oval. “Last fall we started a $6 million expansion project of our backstretch, it was supposed to be finished on the 1st of June but construction has been halted due to the shutdowns. Normally we have our facility ready and open for training a month out to our opening race night. We added a 7,000 sq. ft. building in between the paddock and the grandstand, this will hold our offices and our simulcast. We also added a 5,000 sq. ft. addition to the back of the paddock that will include a maintenance shop and an open space for additional ship-in stalls. Because of all this construction is why we are not open and ready for training yet. Our track is in good shape and ready for opening.” Horseman Mark Horner discussed how he has managed his stable throughout the pandemic -- a similar approach that most horsemen have taken. “We did back them off a bit, but schedules remained pretty on track. I didn’t train my three-year-olds as much, I backed them up to about one trip a week and when things looked like we were going to get back up and going around the first of May then we started to up the training. We trained a few in the race bike yesterday and everyone is going good -- next week when we are ready to qualify, we will be ready to go.” A representative for horsemen, Horner also discussed the atmosphere throughout the industry during this unprecedented time and how participants are preparing to handle the new protocols put in place. “I’ve talked to a variety of horsemen that race either on the WEG Circuit or the ‘B’ tracks, for the most part the horsemen understand what COSA has gone through and are appreciative of what Ontario Racing has been able to do to provide relief for the horsemen. It’s very important that horsemen follow social distancing, racing is now going to be an in and out process, there will be no hanging around the paddock area, there will be no Lasix except for at Woodbine Mohawk Park. This will be a work in progress but a major part of getting through this pandemic successfully lies in a collaborative effort of racetracks and horsepeople. We need to show that we can wear masks, those who refuse too, will be removed from the paddock.” Following the same suit of adjusting to a new normal, Ian Fleming touched base on adjusting to a new normal of racing without spectators -- an adjustment that Clinton Raceway, a track with a strong community connection, is prepared to face. “It’s not ideal, we have people here from the community every day watching horses jog and train and to tell them in two weeks that they cannot come here and watch these horses race is very hard. I’ve talked to all of them and they understand why they are not able to come and watch the races but it’s going to be very strange. It’s also tough for the local groups that come to the track to fundraise. No matter where you go, it’s going to be strange. For now, we will just have to see how things play out.” Fleming also discussed that although the race office will be taking entries, trainers are still advised to make use of Standardbred Canada’s self-serve online entries. Fleming also credited the system and noted he believes it will be quite helpful in the future. Jamie Martin informed viewers that Grand River Raceway fans will have access to HD streaming since fans will not be able to watch racing live. High-definition video will be available through Grand River Raceway’s website and HPI TV. Martin also noted that in-house handicapping contests will be moved online and that the racetrack still plans to engage fans with their product as much as possible. Switching roles from a director to an owner/trainer/breeder, Horner provided an update on a few sensational mares that have called his stable home. “Pinky Tuscadero is in foal to All Bets Off, she had a big heart and was a very nice mare to race around the small tracks.” From a similar perspective, Horner also touched on how yearling sales will be impacted by COVID-19 -- more specifically the London Selected Yearling Sale. “We have been working very hard exploring different options as to how to conduct the sale, we have put every possible option on the table from a virtual sale and how it would look and have also looked at what other sales are going to do. Ann Straatman is working very hard on how we can successfully have our sale, but no decisions have been made yet. “I don’t think that after spending $1 million on turning the [Western Fair] Agriplex where the sale is conducted into a hospital, that they will be wanting to take it down anytime soon so I think we will have to take a serious look at taking care of the breeders and consignors and consider a virtual sale.” The very informative episode was produced by CUJO Entertainment and featured a mass amount of valuable information for owners, trainers, drivers and all those involved in the industry. The episode is available for viewing below.  Central Ontario Standardbred Association

Toronto, ON — Ontario Racing has released the revised schedules for the upcoming harness racing stakes season. The Ontario Sires Stakes will kick off on June 26 with the first leg of the Grassroots Series for 3-year-old pacing fillies at Woodbine Mohawk Park while the Prospect Series will commence with the 3-year-old pacing fillies on June 20 at Hanover Raceway. by Allison Glynn, OSS Program Coordinator

Columbus, OH — Saturday (May 23) Eldorado Scioto Downs held the draw for participants in the Next Generation pace for harness racing 2-year-old Ohio-bred pacers. Nominations to the event, at $10,000 each, were due March 15. There was an over subscription for both the colt and filly divisions. Both have a maximum of nine starters, which resulted in Saturday’s draw. The draw was scheduled to be held on opening weekend, May 9, but with the delay of the start of the racing season, it was held the first Saturday of live racing. The winners of the 2-year-old filly draw are: Dana Parham, William Hartt, Frank Chick, Spring Haven Farm, Matt Rowe, Weaver Bruscemi,, Alagna/Bell/Ruggles and Trish Foulk. The winners of the 2-year-old colt draw are: Daniel Hale, Dana Parham, Weaver Bruscemi, Bluestreak Boys Stable, Matt Rowe,, LeVan Stable, Black Magic Racing and Trish Foulk. The races will be held on Saturday (July 4) with an estimated purse for each division of $150,000. Nominations to the event did not require the nominator to designate a horse in March; the horse is declared at the time of entry. Owners of the slot may trade, sell or give away entries after Saturday until the time of declaration for the event. Any entry that changes hands must be submitted in writing by both parties to Scioto Downs. Trainers, owners and stables are limited to one starter. For more information on the conditions for the Next Generation, visit Scioto Downs hosts regular live harness racing, without spectators, Tuesday through Saturday each week through Sept. 5. First post on Tuesdays is 2 p.m.with a 6:30 p.m. post Wednesday-Saturday. Over Memorial Day weekend the Tuesday (May 26) card is swapped out for Monday (May 25) at 6:30 p.m. from Scioto Downs racing media

Nichols, NY - Live harness racing will come to both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs the beginning of June with qualifiers the first week and live racing the next.   Following the orders of Governor Cuomo, racing will get underway on the first day permitted with qualifying races held and Tioga on Monday, June 1 and again on Wednesday, June 3. At Vernon qualifiers will be on Tuesday, June 2 and Friday, June 5.   Live racing will kick off on Sunday, June 7 at Tioga and follow a Sunday - Monday schedule with a post time of 4:00 PM for all cards throughout the month of June with no live crowd and only remote wagering.   The first stakes to be raced at Tioga will be the NYSS 3YO Colt Pace, Roll With Joe Open Pace and a Graduate Series. All will remain on the originally scheduled date of Sunday, June 14.   Vernon will race on Wednesday, June 10 and Thursday, June 11 at 4:00 PM continuing that schedule and the no live attendance policy for the month as well. New York Sires Stakes will be raced at Vernon and we will post that schedule as soon as it becomes available.   With the large number of horses that we expect to enter qualifiers this week we ask that if your horse is currently qualified to race that you do not enter that horse to qualify.   Entries for the qualifiers will close at 10:00 AM the previous day. The qualifying overnight sheet will instruct horse people where each horse will be stabled/held until they race either in the paddock or designated area for ship ins.   Pertinent information on protocol the state will require to participate at both tracks will be made available on the track websites in the "Horsemen" section. Please read and become familiar with the details and come prepared to follow the conditions as written.   All persons entering the property at both tracks will be required to fill out a questionnaire and submit to a temperature check before entering the stable gate and if deemed a risk will be turned away. Once on the grounds you are required to wear face coverings at all times and gloves when practical, maintain social distancing, keep to a minimum number of people in the paddock and minimal contact with others while on the grounds.   Only those horses ages three and up that are stabled on the grounds (including local farms designated by management) at each track or eligible to the NYSS will be accepted to qualify and race at Tioga and Vernon for the time being. Two-year-olds will be accepted for week two of qualifiers.   Horses shipping in will be required to stable in the designated area and leave the grounds as soon as possible after qualifying or racing.   Please keep the warming up to a minimum and keep a distance from others when on the track both warming up and scoring.   Catch-Drivers will have no contact with the handlers of the horses and will wait in their car in a designated parking area with no contact among themselves.They will pick up their mounts on the way to the track. Trainers that drive their own horses and have been working in the stables may participate in the preparation of the horses.   It is strongly recommended that you sign up for Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon mass text service as a lot of important information will be disseminated via text. To sign up, text the word "MEADOWLANDS" to the number 84700 on your mobile device. You may be required to respond "YES" if you receive a request for response.   We need everyone to adhere to protocol exactly as required by the state. It is imperative that we do everything they ask to the very best of our ability so that we may continue to race. Enduring this temporary inconvenience is what must be done to get back to what we need to do and eventual easing of these restrictions.   For all of the latest news on the resumption of racing, visit the USTA COVID-19 Resource Center.   Nick Salvi        

This is the YouTube URL for the Zoom Roosevelt Raceway May 23rd, Harness Racing Broadcast.   Trot Talk - Remembering Roosevelt Raceway - May 23, 2020   In this nostalgic edition of Trot Talk, Matt and Charlie are joined by Freddie Hudson.   Freddie is a former drive...    

The partnership of trainer Ray Williams and driver Aldo Cortopassi’s strong month continued at Pinjarra this afternoon, notching up another winner with exciting pacer Magnificent Storm. In conditions that matched his name, Magnificent Storm turned in another dominant display in the Contact @ 3YO Pace at the Paceway. Magnificent Storm, who won on Australian debut last Tuesday night at Gloucester Park, showed there was plenty to like long term with a 9.2m win in the gloomy conditions. The American Ideal gelding worked to the front from barrier three and never looked in any danger of being beaten. Magnificent Storm rated 1.59.6 for the mile and ran home in a slick 57.7, given the rain-soaked track. Since the start of the month, Williams and Cortopassi have teamed up for six winners and two placings from 12 starters. They very nearly scored a seventh win for the month in the Allwood Stud – Breeding Your Future Champions Pace (2185m) with Shadow Roll, who went down a neck to Kilowatt Kid in a gripping battle down the home straight. Kilowatt Kid had to sit in the breeze for much of the last mile but was strong enough at the finish to score his third win in four starts in Australia. It was the third leg of a winning treble on the day for Greg and Skye Bond and Ryan Warwick, who also teamed up to score with Parmesan in the Rock N Roll World – Pedigree of the Future Pace (1684m). The Betterthancheddar gelding has now scored eight wins from 12 starts in his short career to date. Rebel With A Grin’s win in the Allwood Stud Stallions Pace (2631m) was the first winner on the day for Warwick and the Bond stable. Chris Voak also enjoyed a winning treble on the day, steering Chumani, Star Of Willoughby and Classic Choice to victory in the first half of the day. Meanwhile, three-time WA Pacing Cup winning driver Clint Hall has been disqualified for eight years after stewards found him guilty on three separate charges. Click here for more details. Tim Walker

Poster Boy's win to cap Tabcorp Park racing on Saturday night was fitting, with his reinsman Greg Sugars and trainer Emma Stewart combining for the victory and also finishing top of the pops in region-based racing. The curtain last night drew on stage one of region-based racing at Terang's Sunday meeting, with borders opening today as three regions replace the initial six. Sugars amassed 35 wins from 116 starts and Stewart 43 wins from 102 starts since the instalment of region-based racing on April 2, when it was introduced to limit movement and constrict the potential spread of COVID-19. While the Inner West region produced the top two performers, the East (Chris Alford), North-East (Josh Aiken) and Central (Alex Ashwood) also produced drivers in the statewide top five. Additionally, the East produced two of the top five trainers (Brent Lilley and David Miles), while Central's Glenn Douglas (21 wins from 109 starts) was second overall. And the West's Jilliby Sylvester was the first horse to amass four wins under region-based racing, a feat that would ultimately be shared with three others (Gobsmacked, Central; Santa Casa Beach, North East; Bernie Winkle, North West). CLICK HERE FOR THE INTERACTIVE REGION-BASED RACING FINAL RESULTS: Hear are the ladder leaders: Top 5 drivers: Greg Sugars (35 wins from 116 starts) 1st, Chris Alford (30 from 99) 2nd, Kate Gath (25 from 69) 3rd, Josh Aiken (23 from 79), Alex Ashwood (21 from 80) Top 5 trainers: Emma Stewart (43 from 102), Glenn Douglas (21 from 109), Brent Lilley (19 from 94), Andy Gath (19 from 73), David Miles (19 from 57). Region leaders: East: driver - Chris Alford; trainer - Brent Lilley. Inner West: driver - Greg Sugars; trainer - Emma Stewart. North East: driver - Josh Aiken; trainer - David Aiken. Central: driver - Alex Ashwood; trainer - Glenn Douglas. West: driver - Kerryn Manning; trainer - Marg Lee. North West: driver - Dwayne Locke; trainer - Boris Devcic.  Most winning horses: 4 wins - Gobsmacked (Central), Santa Casa Beach (North East), Jilliby Sylvester (West), Bernie Winkle (North West).   Harness Racing Victoria

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) will unveil a new-look feature race calendar in early June but today revealed the 2020 Vicbred Super Series will be run in December, culminating in finals night on New Year’s Eve at Tabcorp Park Melton. HRV General Manager Stephen Bell said the Breeders Crown series would go ahead as planned in November before the Summer Vicbred Super Series. “We want to provide as much certainty to our participants as we can, so while we’re yet to finalise dates for the Vicbred Super Series I can confirm it will be held in December with the finals on New Year’s Eve at Melton,” Bell said. “The Breeders Crown will be run in November, and in early June we’ll release a new-look Victorian feature race calendar for when we come out of region-based racing on July 1. “The message to trainers is it’s time to start bringing your metropolitan class horses back into work because we want to hit the ground running in July.” In reaffirming July 1 as the target date for metropolitan and feature racing to return – providing the Government COVID-19 restrictions have not been escalated before that – Bell implored the industry to download the COVIDSafe App. “It’s important for all harness racing people to download that app because if there is an outbreak, we need to be able to trace it,” Bell said. “We all need to play our role and continue to observe the strict safety measures which will remain in place at harness tracks.” Attendance at Victorian tracks will continue to be restricted to only licenced people with a horse engaged at a race meeting, essential racing club and HRV staff, and all attendees must sign a declaration form upon arrival, undergo temperature checks and respect physical distancing at all times. Today HRV begins its three-region racing structure – consisting of East (Bendigo, Shepparton, Cranbourne, Kilmore), West (Stawell, Terang, Ballarat, Melton) and North-West (Mildura) – merging zones from the previous six-region structure put in place in early April. “The six-region model served us well during an uncertain time, allowing us to continue racing and our participants to keep earning income,” Bell said. “We have run significantly more race meetings than previously planned during this past two months and in coming weeks we envisage the horse population will grow as trainers bring back horses for the July resumption of metropolitan racing.” HRV has released programs for June 1-7, with June 8-14 available later this week. Race programs for the remainder of June will be released early next month.   Harness Racing Victoria

A harness racing double-header has been confirmed for Addington Raceway this week. Initially the sport was to make its long-awaited post COVID-19 return at Addington on Friday but the sheer volumes of horses in and around Canterbury has prompted the rare move to now have meetings on both Thursday and Friday. “Certainly it’s not something I can ever recall happening before,” says Addington Raceway’s Racing Manager Brian Rabbitt, and he’s been involved with the raceway for nearly four decades. A total of 296 horses were nominated. Thursday’s meeting will be the lower-key of the two and will start around lunchtime, with Friday’s racing set for a 5pm start. “The exact specifics of how the two racedays will look will be decided tomorrow,” says Harness Racing New Zealand handicapper Andrew Morris. Many of the country’s top stables have nominated big numbers including Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon (15 horses) and John and Robert Dunn (12). The fields will be completed first for the Friday meeting, followed by the Thursday one, with withdrawals for both meetings to close at 10 am tomorrow (Tuesday) For more information, contact Brian Rabbitt 0274 077 234

Rocky Creed’s victory in the TAB Riverina Championship Final was another all in the family affair replicating the team effort in the Western Region Final. The McPherson family who have wide ranging vocations of logging truck driver, nurse and Bunnings worker combined to cause an upset and deliver a dream come true with Rocky Creed at Wagga on Friday. Rocky Creed even starting in the $100,000 TAB Riverina Regional Final on Friday afternoon was the career highlight for trainer Chris McPherson and his brothers and fellow owners Shane and Scott McPherson. The fact he shocked harness racing punters by winning it is still sinking in for Chris McPherson. “We can’t believe it,” said Albury-based McPherson. “I had never even had a group one starter before let alone a winner. “With us drawing the second line and Whereyabinboppin (the $1.10 favourite) drawing the front we considered we were running for second or third.” But as racing can so often deliver the favourite was caught parked outside the leader and the 1:54.4 mile rate for the 2270m didn’t assist thus leaving it to Rocky Creed to deliver the knockout punch in the hands of driver Thomas Gilligan. Gilligan is also McPherson’s farrier and that connection sums up the Rocky Creed story. “We all chip in to help out here,” said trainer McPherson “I work him a lot of the time but I drive a logging truck for a job so my brother Scott helps out but he also has a full time job as a nurse. “And our nephew James, who works at Bunnings, also pitches in with the eight horses we have here and he usually drives Rocky at the races. “But he wasn’t licenced to drive in a group one race so Tom, our farrier, got the job of driving him.” The Riverina final was the second of the four $100,000 regional finals run across NSW and McPherson was inspired by fellow part-timer Malcolm Hutchings training Terryrama to win the Bathurst final on Wednesday night. “I was reading about Malcolm and their win on Wednesday at Bathurst and I thought, good on them, small time blokes getting a group one. “I even allowed myself to think, jeez, it would be great to be part of something like that. But I didn’t think it would actually happen. Now that it has wow what a feeling.” “So we got home after the races and stayed out at the stables celebrating till 2am, sitting around the fire laughing. I still can’t believe it happened. “But it is great these races were put on in the regions for people like us to at least have a chance and I must thank the TAB and Harness Racing New South Wales for continuing with the Championships.”   Harness Racing New South Wales

The Mark Purdon - Natalie Rasmussen stable has labelled their open day for their owners a "big success". Over the weekend around 60 owners turned up to watch their horses in action at the All Stars stables in Rolleston. The owners were brought in in relays to comply with Covid-19 social distancing protocols.  The initiative was all about getting owners to see their horses in action after being barred from doing so during the Alert 4 lockdown. Here's a video of the open day which ran from 8am to midday on Saturday.

The relentless front-running display from Arden Voyager highlighted a stunning Saturday for reinswoman Kate Gath, who snared six winners across the double-header of meetings at Victorian harness racing headquarters. Prepared by Gath's trainer-husband Andy at their Long Forest base, the former New Zealand pacer produced a brilliant all-the-way victory in the TAB Long May We Play Pace (2240m, NR 79-89). He ran quarters of 29, 28.9, 28.1 and 28.8 seconds and recorded a of 1:55:2 mile rate on a wet Tabcorp Park Melton track. It was a breathtaking performance from the four-year-old, who has now won three of his past four starts at the circuit. Gath could hardly believe her horse was able to fight off all challengers after working so hard during the early stages of the race. "I haven't had one pull that hard for a while and I just thought in the run that he is pulling himself into the ground," she told Trots Vision. "I was really concerned, but I didn't know he could do that. "It was a really good field and he just shouldn't have been able to hold on against those sort of horses." Watch the race here. Gath said the stable had really liked the son of Somebeachsomewhere when he was purchased as a three-year-old from overseas, but he had gone "off the boil" for a period of time until recapturing his best over the past couple of months. "Obviously now his last three or four runs he's finally showing us what we knew was always there," she said. Arden Voyager's success was one of four for Gath on the Melton night program and followed a double from the morning meeting. Gath's heroics in the sulky came soon after a four-peat at Ballarat last Tuesday night and included the successful return of Group 1-winning trotter McLovin - who took out the Alderbaran Park Trot (2240m, NR 70-120) - and was another of Andy Gath's four winners for the day. An effortless triumph from Emma Stewart's star pacer Poster Boy was among the highlights on Saturday, as was the big victory by promising Jess Tubbs-trained trotter Overandout. Driver Greg Sugars was almost sent crashing through the outside fence when the four-year-old squargaiter veered abruptly over the concluding stages of the Beraldo Coffee Trot (1720m, 4YO and older) but still managed to prevail by close to 30m. Sugars said he thought the horse had taken exception to something flashing on the semaphore board located on the inside of the track near the winning post. "He is a keen watcher of Trots Vision when he is at home not racing and I think he just wanted to head over to here to where we are now to talk to you Rob," Sugars joked with host Rob Auber during a post-race interview. First-Starter Form Your guide to today’s trots debutants Bendigo tonight Race 1: CPO Cafe Carisbrook 3YO Pace N8 Thump (3YO Village Jolt gelding out of Umi; trainer Paul Watson, driver Jordan Leedham): First foal out of five-time winning It Is I mare. Race 4: Schweppes Trot N5 Flick It (4YO Fling It mare out of Sli Trix, trainer Bill White, driver Ian White) Six-time winning Sundon mare's Great Great Granddam is Maori Miss, a dominant line in Victorian trotting.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

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