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Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) is pleased to announce the finalists for each category in the 2019 Victorian Horse of the Year awards. The awards will be presented at the Gordon Rothacker Medal night on Sunday October 27. More details on the Rothacker Medal night will be unveiled early next week.    Victorian Horse of the Year finalists by category 2YO Pacing Fillies Jemstone Maajida Treasure 2YO Pacing Colts/Geldings Be Happy Mach Jilliby Nitro Yejele Hammer 3YO Pacing Fillies Kualoa Tangoingwithsierra Two Times Bettor 3YO Pacing Colts/Geldings Lochinvar Art Max Delight Out To Play 4YO Pacing Mares Goodtime Heaven Pistol Abbey Soho Burning Love 4YO Pacing Entires/Geldings Poster Boy Rackemup Tigerpie Tam Major 5YO+ Pacing Mares Carlas Pixel Makes Every Scents Tell Me Tales 5YO+ Pacing Entires/Geldings Buster Brady San Carlo Wrappers Delight 2YO Trotting Fillies Im Ready Jet Jaxnme Pink Galahs 2YO Trotting Colts/Geldings Andover Sun Is That A Bid Powderkeg 3YO Trotting Fillies Emerald Stride I Am Pegasus Royal Charlotte 3YO Trotting Colts/Geldings Alpha Male Kyvalley Clichy Majestuoso 4YO Trotting Mares Aleppo Jewel Moonlight Dream Moonshine Linda 4YO Trotting Entires/Geldings Chief Runningcloud Kyvalley Finn Majestic Player 5YO+ Trotting Mares Dance Craze Pantzup Red Hot Tooth 5YO+ Trotting Entires/Geldings Big Jack Hammer McLovin Tornado Valley   HRV Trots Media

Trots clubs in the western region of Victoria have come together to trial a new strategy for hosting trial meetings. Whilst the concept of trialling before or during race meetings is not a new concept, the change is somewhat of an innovation to the region and industry. The calendaring of meetings combine both trials before race meetings and the traditional standalone trial meetings, to ensure that there are trials in the region on a weekly basis, regardless of the number of nominations. The five South-Western region clubs are Ararat, Hamilton, Horsham, Stawell and Terang. Trainers note: Nominations will close as per regular trial meetings. Night race meetings – Noon the day of the race meeting* Day race meetings – Noon the day prior the race meeting* *Saturday and Sunday trial meetings will close noon Friday *Public Holiday trial meetings will close noon, the previous business day. (for example, Monday Public Holidays, nominations would close Noon the previous Friday).   Harness Racing Victoria

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) is partnering with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) this September to drive funds and awareness during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. This year 20,000 Australian men will be newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, 3500 will die of the disease, and over 200,000 Australian men are living with it every day. Help us make a difference by heading to PCFA.org.au to download and share the PCFA’s free Awareness Guide. One click is all it takes to learn more about prostate cancer. Two of our star harness racing drivers in Greg Sugars and Darby McGuigan have signed on Prostate Cancer Awareness Month ambassadors. For every win during September scored by Sugars and McGuigan HRV will donate $500 to the PCFA. Sugars and McGuigan can be easily identified in Victorian harness races during September as they are wearing specially designed promotional Prostate Cancer Awareness Month silks. “Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia is excited to be partnering with Harness Racing Victoria throughout September to raise awareness of Prostate Cancer in metro and regional Victoria,” PCFA State Manager John Strachan said. “Prostate cancer is a significant challenge for Victorian men (1 in 4 cancers diagnosed in men will be prostate cancer) and with HRV's significant network and community reach it provides an excellent opportunity to raise vital awareness of the disease. PCFA applauds HRV for this fantastic community awareness initiative.” Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media

We reckon trots fans are a creative bunch, so we’ve got a plan. On Saturday night May 2 next year, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) will stage a new $60,000 race exclusively for horses who have contested the 2019/20 Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship. The Group 2 event will be held at Tabcorp Park Melton over 2760 metres. The winning horse will receive the prizemoney, plus the winning trainer will get a $10,000 cash bonus, and the winning breeder(s) will receive a service to Vincent courtesy of our friends at Alabar and Nevele R Stud. Want more? Well, the winning horse will also receive a golden ticket (automatic entry) into the Grand Circuit, $250,000 Group 1 2020 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup. We’re pumped about this race, but what the heck do we call it? Here’s where you come in! Email your suggested race name to nametherace@hrv.org.au with the subject line #NameTheRace or take to social media (Twitter or Facebook) and use the hashtag #NameTheRace (respond to HRV Trots Media’s call for entries post which we’ll pin to the top of each social media platform). The winning race name will be chosen by HRV and whoever suggested that name first will win… The honour of having named a new annual feature event on the Victorian trots calendar; A sumptuous 10-person dining + drinks package in the Legends Room on the night of May 2; A $1000 TAB betting voucher for the table to use throughout the night; A photograph with the winning horse and driver of the new race; A Mobile Barrier Ride at the start of the night; Luxurious limousine transport from Melbourne CBD for you and your whole crew! The conditions for the new race are that it is restricted to horses who contested a race in the 2019/20 Trots Country Cups Championship, with preference in field selection given to horses in accordance with the following criteria. Most wins in the 2019/20 Trots Country Cups Championship series, then; Earned the most prizemoney in the 2019/20 Trots Country Cups Championship series, then; Earned the most prizemoney in the 2019/20 racing season. The winning entry of the #NameTheRace competition will be notified live on RSN’s Gait Speed program on Monday October 7. Entries must close Friday October 4 at 2pm.   Cody Winnell Trots media

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Chairman Dale Monteith said Danny Frawley brought “life and passion” into every Board meeting. Frawley, who tragically died in a car accident yesterday, was appointed to the HRV Board in early 2016. Speaking on RSN with Michael Felgate this morning, Mr Monteith said Frawley’s passion for harness racing and especially his support “for the grassroots people in the industry” may have at times gone unnoticed by those outside the Boardroom. “I think a lot of people probably took for granted the behind-the-scenes work that Danny did,” he said. “Like the Inter Dominion (in 2018), Danny was out of the blocks like you would not believe (when it was announced Victoria would host the event) in terms of talking to TV, radio and newspapers and garnering their support.” Frawley’s media links were instrumental in securing free-to-air television coverage on Channel 7 for the TAB ID18 grand final night, while Frawley’s friendship with Hamish McLachlan helped open the door for the high-profile presenter to be aligned with the event. Spirited, unorthodox and always effective could describe Frawley’s approach to business. He always got it done and he did it with zest.   One agenda item Frawley would never back away from in the Boardroom was his desire to support grassroots harness folk. “He was passionate about everyone in the industry but he was so passionate about the country people in our sport,” Mr Monteith said. “He always wanted to ensure the grassroots players had a chance. He was passionate about integrity and making sure everyone was on a level playing field. That’s something people didn’t necessarily see as well.” Mr Monteith said Frawley’s business acumen was first-rate but, more importantly, his profound respect for the AFL star stemmed not just from his dedication to harness racing’s cause, rather he admired him as a person. “We are sometimes touched by people in our lives that are special… Danny was one of those people for me,” Mr Monteith said. “Life’s all about people and people you meet along the journey … it’s quite hard to talk at the moment listening to all the tributes this morning.” “Danny was very open in terms of his issues with mental health and there will be people out there who are doing it tough. The message from Danny would be that there are people who can help, Beyond Blue in particular, and I’d implore anyone doing it tough to reach out because in moments like this you can doubt yourself and you shouldn’t. I’d encourage people to seek assistance if they need it.” (If you or someone you know needs help, contact BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. Victorian harness racing industry participants have access to an Industry Assistance Program at thetrots.com.au) Jane Brook, who also serves on the HRV Board, said Frawley’s “enthusiasm for the sport and indeed everything he approached in life was truly infectious”. “It was an absolute privilege to sit on the HRV Board with Danny. Humility coupled with a great sense of humour made Danny a very special person,” she said. “While his passion for the sport and putting smiles on people’s faces was irrepressible, it never took long for conversations to turn to his daughters. He just brimmed with pride whenever he spoke of Danielle, Keeley and Chelsea. “We started as colleagues, but I’m now saying goodbye to a dear friend.” AFL great Tim Watson, a colleague and friend of Frawley, said he understood why the former Saint was so universally admired. “He wore his heart on his sleeve. He was passionate about anything and everything he became involved with. He was just one of those guys who everybody liked,” he said.  A caller to SEN this morning said he’d never met Frawley until he had to attend his house to fit a shower screen. “He’d offered me lunch with the family before I’d even set foot in the door,” the caller said. Frawley’s football CV was first-class: A 240-game St Kilda champion, 177 of those games as captain, club best-and-fairest, 11-time Big V representative, six-time Australian representative, All-Australian player, 113-game senior coach at Richmond, All-Australian selector for eight years, a Saints Hall of Famer and an AFL Life Member. In a statement from HRV, Mr Monteith said the harness racing industry’s thoughts were with Frawley’s family “especially wife Anita and children Chelsea, Keeley and Danielle”. “He will absolutely be missed and we will never forget him,” Mr Monteith said. Frawley turned 56 on Sunday. HRV extends sincere condolences to Frawley’s family and friends.   Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media

Harness racing has lost one of its most energetic and passionate leaders, with the death of Danny Frawley in a single car crash at Bungaree, near Ballarat, on Monday. Frawley was among a new seven-person board appointed to Harness Racing Victoria in 2016 and, as well as his administrative role, he was an avid owner who promoted the sport at every opportunity. The former AFL great - ex St Kilda champion player and Richmond coach - died at the scene when his car hit a tree at Millbrook, 20 kilometres east of Ballarat, about 1.30 pm. He was the only occupant of the vehicle. Frawley had a long history in harness racing, growing up in the industry at Bungaree. His late father Brian was a breeder, owner and trainer, who raced champion pacer Vanderport. Brian Frawley, who died three years ago, was a life member of the Ballarat and District Trotting Club, where he had served as president. Danny Frawley was passionately committed to the future of harness racing, and, as with everything he took on, he worked tirelessly and invested of himself. He formed a high-profile ownership group of media and sports luminaries which purchased top performers including a share late last year in superstar pacer Shadow Sax, with the goal of promoting the Victoria Cup. The Stable of Stars group was managed by Frawley and included AFL Women's champion and rising star boxer Tayla Harris, Essendon key defender Michael Hurley, Channel 7's Hamish McLachlan, SEN radio's Garry Lyon and Tim Watson, former champion trainer Peter Tonkin and Sky Racing's Brittany Graham, as well as Garry's father Peter Lyon, who has strong family links to harness racing. Shadow Sax went amiss in the Victoria Cup, but went on to take out the Sokyola Sprint and the Poplar Alm Free For All in November. Harnesslink sends its condolences to the Frawley family. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) and the wider Victorian harness racing community are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Board Member Danny Frawley. Mr Frawley was appointed to the HRV Board in March of 2016. HRV Chairman Dale Monteith said: “Our thoughts in this very difficult time are with Danny’s family, especially his wife Anita and their children Chelsea, Keeley and Danielle. Danny was a committed member of the HRV Board and a friend. He will be missed.”   Harness Racing Victoria

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has worked closely with Racing Information Services Enterprise (RISE) and miStable to change the game for Victorian trainers and owners. Through HRV’s arrangement with miStable, trainers are invited to sign up for a 60-day free trial of the program used throughout the thoroughbred industry to keep owners up to date with their horses – simplifying and streamlining the communication process for trainers. miStable allows trainers to send text, photo, video and audio reports in just seconds and provides updates to all your owners in four simple steps. Following the 60-day free trial, trainers can continue to use this program from as little as $29 a month. A logo can also be built for trainers who take up this offer and assistance will be provided in setting up your account. RISE has worked closely with HRV to ensure all the required data is flowing through miStable, allowing owners to receive alerts when their horse is entered, so users never miss a hoof beat. For further information contact HRV’s Nikkita Ross at nross@hrv.org.au or phone 8378 0279, or miStable direct via ali@mistable.com   Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

By tomorrow evening nine Victorian horses will no longer carry the ‘maiden’ tag. It’s the annual Humbletonian Day at Maryborough, a meeting for Vicbred-only horses who have never won a race. These are horses that have been paid up for the popular Vicbred program, meaning their connections have invested in the local industry. For their commitment, every horse that breaks its duck tomorrow will receive a plethora of bonuses on top of the $7000-per-race prizemoney for the nine-event card. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has announced it will deliver a $1000 breeding certificate to the winning owners of each race. The $9000 extra commitment to the breeding industry comes after HRV delivered $133,500 worth of breeding stimulus to connections during May and June via mares’ races and the recent Vicbred Super Series. “The breeding certificates have been extremely popular with recipients and the feedback we’ve received is that they’ll make a genuine difference with how those connections approach next breeding season,” HRV General Manager Racing Steve Bell said. Explicit Castle (trainer Andy Gath and driver Kate Gath)         -Stuart McCormick photo Given all runners are Vicbred eligible at ‘Humbletonian’ Day, every winner will also snare a Vicbred First Win Bonus with $63,000 available. All two-, three- and four-year-old winners will get a $7000 cash bonus, while five-year-old and older horses receive $3500. The event’s long-term naming rights partner, Harness Breeders Victoria (HBV), will donate a $250 cash bonus to the breeder for each of the nine winners on the day. The Maryborough Harness Racing Club will offer a cash bonus of $250 to the winning breeder of the six pacing races if those people are on-course to claim their loot, while the Victorian Square Trotters Association is offering the same bonus for the three trotting events. The host club will also donate a Claire Weston Photography framed memento for every winner. HRV Trots Media will have Paul Campbell on-course for Trots Vision viewers, interviewing winning connections post-race at thetrots.com.au. Race 1 is scheduled for 12.47pm, with the last set down for 5.30pm.   Cody Winnell HRV Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) wishes to advise that David Martin has given notice of resignation from his role as Chief Executive Officer. Mr Martin joined HRV in January 2017 and immediately commenced implementing a strategy that increased race numbers and total prizemoney, improved wagering revenues and returned the industry to profit for 2017-18 and 2018-19. Mr Martin’s tenure also involved securing and hosting the 2018 Inter Dominion for trotters and pacers in Victoria for the first time in 10 years, introduction of minimum bet limits, creation of Trots Vision, expanded integrity and animal welfare measures, and establishment of the Industry Assistance Program for participants and club officials. Chairman Dale Monteith thanked Mr Martin for his contribution to HRV and the industry. “David has worked closely with the HRV Board and the Executive Management Team to implement significant changes since he commenced in early 2017. He joined at a time when HRV was unprofitable and HRV’s major source of revenue from wagering was declining. David and the team have worked tirelessly to improve the future for HRV, our employees and thousands of industry participants. The Board sincerely thanks David for his efforts and achievements,” Mr Monteith said. Mr Martin thanked the Board for its support during a challenging time for HRV and harness racing in Victoria more generally. “I want to thank the Board for its ongoing support. I also want to acknowledge everyone within HRV and the industry who supported some difficult but necessary changes. I wish you all the very best for the future. I would also like to extend a special thanks to my family for their understanding given the demands associated with this role,” Mr Martin said. After a period of handover from Mr Martin, the current General Manager Finance, Luke Spano, will assume responsibility as Acting CEO. The HRV Board will meet on September 4 to discuss transition arrangements and the process for appointing a permanent replacement. Subsequently the HRV Board will also provide a broader industry update and be available for comment.   Harness Racing Victoria

Craig Demmler is taking a "day by day" approach with his star pacer My Kiwi Mate, who continues the comeback from serious injury this Friday night. The son of Bettors Delight made his long-awaited return from a hairline fracture to a pastern bone with a fast-finishing fourth at Tabcorp Park Melton on August 10. He has pulled up well from his first start in almost a year and is down to run again in the Always B Miki Breeders Crown Graduate Pacers Free For All (Group 2) at the same circuit. "I don't have any big set plans, I'm just happy he is back and going," Demmler said of his long-term goals with the horse. "I've just got to make sure I keep him sound and happy. I'll just pinpoint the races as I go along. "Ideally your good races is where we will be heading, but he'll tell me where we are heading after Friday night." Demmler is determined to make sure the injury, which is believed to have occurred during the Kilmore Cup last September and derailed a campaign that would have included some of the country's biggest feature races, doesn't lead to any further problems. "I'd hate anything to go wrong with him," he said. "I always want to be one step ahead. I've seen horses that have had screws (in a leg) over the years and they have ended up breaking down in their other leg. "One thing I'm always mindful of is that he has gone in one leg so you have always got to keep an eye on his other leg." Demmler isn't bullish about victory this Friday night, but will be pleased if My Kiwi Mate, a winner of the 2017 Bendigo Cup and more than $300,000 in prizemoney, can hit the line hard like in his first-up assignment. "I've got Zac (Butcher) on him and he is drawn a bit wide (barrier six). He is going to have to look for a bit of luck to get in at some stage," he said. "I'll be just rapt if he is running up the back of them at the end. Being so long off, this is his second run back and it's a great field, so hopefully he is just getting home at the end." The Parwan-based Demmler has two other runners engaged on Friday night's program. In-form Somebeachshadow will go in search of four-straight wins when he lines up in the TAB Multiplier Pace, while Smile Lyle looks a longshot chance in the Allied Express Pace later on the card. Butcher is down to drive both My Kiwi Mate and Somebeachshadow, while master reinsman Chris Alford is booked to partner Smile Lyle.   Tim O'Connor HRV Trots Media

The HERO Program, in partnership with the Victorian Harness Racing Club, has invested in the future of standardbred life after racing by developing a Youth Rider Cadetship. The cadetship provides an opportunity for the recipient to develop and grow their horse skills under the guidance of the HERO retraining team. The project, led by HERO Contracted Retrainers Cobe Lodge Limited and Moro Equine Services, aims to nurture and support individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to and interest in educating off-the-track standardbreds for recreational and/or competition riding. HERO Manager Tanya McDermott said the Youth Rider Cadetship was an important initiative, made possible through the generous sponsorship support of the VHRC. “We are indebted to the very progressive VHRC Committee who recognised the value of the project and put their hand up to be involved without hesitation," she said. “The concept has been a work in progress for some time and we’re delighted to now have the financial backing to make it a reality.” The inaugural recipient of the HERO Youth Rider Cadetship is Olivia Biggs, a 17-year-old Bendigo horsewoman who attends boarding school at The Hamilton and Alexandra College. Olivia has ridden for the past eight years and has a keen interest in showjumping and one-day eventing. She is undertaking her Certificate II in Equine Studies and previously completed her Certificate I Stablehand Certificate at the Bendigo Harness Racing Training Centre. In addition, Olivia is excelling in pursuits outside of horses, specifically athletics and learning to fly a plane. Her first love, however, is equestrian and she has already proven to be a dedicated advocate and ambassador for the HERO brand. She campaigned two HERO graduate horses at this year’s Rochester Agricultural Show, securing the Standardbred High Point Award and multiple blue ribbons. Olivia has volunteered many hours to assist in the day-to-day care and training of standardbreds at Moro Equine Services, including school holidays for the past 12 months. Her endless commitment and enthusiasm has been noted and commended by both her mentor and members of the wider HERO team. She has also developed a unique bond with HERO horse Courageous Spirit, aka Taj, and the cadetship will allow her to continue educating and training the former pacer on campus while studying. A 12-year-old gelding by Courage Under Fire who won seven of his 56 starts and $32,000 in prizemoney, Courageous Spirit has progressed in leaps and bounds under Olivia’s guidance after initially struggling to adapt to his new life. “Taj commenced his HERO retraining with me and also had a stint at Cobe Lodge,” Elle Moro of Moro Equine Services revealed. “He is a very attractive horse with a quirky personality, which is not entirely suited to the program’s primary clientele, but he has always produced his best work and been happiest when trained and ridden by Olivia. “They have a deep emotional connection, which is incredibly special and something we’ve rarely witnessed. “The HERO team recognized the connection instantly and knew it needed to be explored. We are looking forward to cultivating and further developing it under the auspices of the cadetship.” VHRC President Emmy Mazzetti is enthusiastic about the project and proud to be a founding patron. “VHRC are delighted to partner HERO in this new youth rider initiative and to support standardbred life after racing. We look forward to seeing Olivia and Taj’s progress throughout the year,” he said. The 10-week HRV HERO Youth Rider Cadetship covers the current school term initially and includes both financial and mentoring support.   HRV Trots Media

If the pirate party's latest prodigy gets its hands on Saturday night's treasure it will be a steal says trainer Ray Woods, who's poured cold water on his last-start winner's chances in the Australian Pacing Gold Championship. Argh Me Hearty will start from gate eight in the two-year-old fillies Group 2, drawn to get a soft pegs run behind polemarker Vouchers for Ray and son and co-owner Jason Woods amid a field that includes Vicbred Super Series heat winners Treasure and Amelia Rose. The Roll With Joe filly, who's by Miss Astronomical, making her a half-sister to Tenacious One ($211,843), has already banked her $7000 Vicbred first win courtesy of victory at Kilmore last Friday in her second career start. "I didn't expect her to win last week, I would have been happy if she beat a couple home," Ray Woods told RSN927's One Out One Back. "We just thought we would give her a few runs over the winter and then turn her out and see if she'll bulk up." Argh Me Hearty was snapped up at the 2018 sale for $15,000, a year after the Woods paid $18,000 at the 2017 sale to buy the colt who would become Arggghhh, the first member of the pirate clan who's won $34,830 thus far. While Woods has his eyes on a pot of gold on Saturday night, it's at the lower end of the $50,000 treasure chest.  "No expectations whatsoever," Woods said. "I think they pay two grand down to 10, so we thought, oh well, we'll put her in and give her a run and see if she can improve a little bit on last week, but Emma Stewart I think has got a mortgage on it. "I like to see her a little bit stronger at the finish, I don't think she's strong enough. That's why I'm keeping her in the shorter ones, but you never know."   HRV Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have issued a charge against licensed trainer Ellen Tormey under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1), which reads as follows: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances It is alleged that the horse ‘Fremarksgonzo’ was presented to race at Mildura on 13 April 2019 by Ms Tormey, whilst not free of alkalinising agents, a prohibited substance when evidenced by a total carbon dioxide (TCO2) concentration in excess of 36 millimoles per litre in plasma. The charge against Ms Tormey will be heard by the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on a date to be fixed.   Harness Racing Victoria

There's a great rags-to-riches story unfolding out of Strathdale, where a forgotten horse by the name of Oh Oh Noo is surprising many by his racetrack feats after being snapped up at sales for just $325. Ebony Harris bought the son of Badlands Hanover, who had been used as a trail riding horse following a tendon injury that halted his career in 2016, and was quickly convinced to take him back to the track by her partner Scott Rains. The trainer-driver said while Harris was keen to reignite Oh Oh Noo's career, his previous owners weren't so happy with the comeback plans. But after much discussion and a $2000 sweetener, Rains secured the papers needed to get Oh Oh Noo back behind the mobile. "I looked him up and it turns out he was not too badly performed," Rains said. "My Uncle and Aunty (Phillip and Kathryn) wanted to get involved in a horse and they actually paid the $2000 to get that deal over the line." First-up since a third placing at Menangle in November of 2016, Rains won with the horse at Shepparton in April. Following five subsequent runs, the eight-year-old was then able to produce a career best effort when winning again at Bendigo last week. Oh Oh Noo recorded a mile rate of 1:53.5 while taking out the DNR Logistics Pace (1650m), bettering his previous quickest run of 1:54.1 when successful at Menangle in August 2016. "It was nearly three years that he had off, so it was a real big thrill to get him over the line first-up," Rains said. Rains was quick to pay tribute to Harris, who spends hours and hours massaging the horse and attending to any aches and pains. "He's an older horse - he's rising nine - so it's just all the little things, all the little one-percenters she does with him. She does a big job with him," Rains said. Oh Oh Noo, a gelding out of New Zealand mare Sachem Franco, has now won five of 31 career starts. Immediate plans are to race him in the Harness Racing Training Centre Bendigo Concession Drivers Pace (1690m) today at Maryborough, where Tayla French has been booked to take the drive from barrier seven. "He's on the up, which I guess is strange for an eight-year-old," Rains said. "His last start probably (shows) that he's going better and better. He's very lightly raced for his age and at the moment he is 100 per cent sound." Rains has long been involved in harness racing and moved down to Victoria from Queensland in 2013. Since taking out his own licence, the 35-year-old has prepared 71 starters for six wins. Oh Oh Noo has delivered a third of those, with last week's victory at Bendigo netting the biggest prizemoney return of his career. "I think that he can definitely go on with the job now, all things being equal," Rains said.   Tim O'Connor HRV Trots Media

Millionaire pacer Arden Rooney is no stranger to creating history and on Saturday night he achieved another milestone. A winner of 21 races including Group 1s the New Zealand Trotting Cup and A. G. Hunter Cup, the retired racetrack superstar is the first horse to be formally adopted as an ambassador by Horseland’s Bendigo store. Manager Kylie Balazs said Horseland Bendigo had a number of sponsored riders, including Harness Racing Victoria HERO Program Retrainer Jason Dins. However, the business has never previously taken an equine ambassador under its wings. “Having a personal background in harness racing, I was already aware of Arden Rooney and his amazing achievements on the track,” Kylie said. “To then see him move into life after racing, where he has been excelling under the training of Steve Cox, has been incredibly heart-warming. “We are proud to support this special horse in his new career and hope that our sponsorship will further raise the profile of retired standardbreds as recreational and pleasure horses, and encourage more people to learn about the breed over the next 12 months.” Arden Rooney is being trained as a liberty horse and made his first public appearance at Elmore Equestrian Centre at the weekend. The appearance coincided with the Elmore EA Equestrian Club’s three-day Inter Schools Qualifier Competition, which drew young riders from throughout the State. The nine-year-old gelding behaved impeccably and won hearts everywhere, completing a demonstration then posing for photographs with a legion of new pony club fans. “I couldn’t have been more proud of Rooney and how well he handled the occasion,” Steve said. “He was a wonderful ambassador for the HERO Program and standardbreds, and did a terrific job in an unfamiliar environment and in front of a crowd. “His race owner, Merv Butterworth, has long said that Rooney enjoys being the centre of attention and that was certainly obvious on Saturday night.” Tanya McDermott for HRV Trots Media

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