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By Frank Marrion courtesy of the Harness Xpress    Many would have noticed Ken Barron literally hobbling around in recent months. This is the legacy of a smash at the Ashburton workouts back in 2002 which led to a hip replacement a few years later. Then last year Barron was trampled by a young horse and “the bone broke away from the rod inside the leg”. “I can still drive the horses okay and I was driving at the races until recently - it’s just the walking around that’s a problem, and that’s a pretty big one,” said Barron. Barron had horses engaged at Addington and Motukarara last weekend and wasn’t present at either meeting due to “feeling pretty sore”. It was thus a rather timely boost when Majestic Hurricane regained winning form at Addington, ending a drought which stretches back to winning twice in a week at Addington early last year. But a bigger boost came recently when Barron learned he was finally getting the operation he needs, which happened in Christchurch on Wednesday. “You just have to wait in a queue with no date or end in sight and hope there’s a cancellation or something.” Barron will be out of action for 6-8 weeks while he recuperates, but he’s obviously really looking forward to being able to freely move around without the pain. Majestic Hurricane hasn’t been completely out of form in the past year, managing the odd placing, such as a distant but credible third at the Jewels behind Sundees Son and Winterfell and ahead of Majestic Man. But a combination of issues has kept him from being seen in his best light for quite a while. “His biggest problem is of course getting fired up and over racing. “You can manage that with gear, but he doesn’t like that (the gear) and doesn’t run at all. “Then when you have a tactical race where they go slow and sprint for home, he’ll get to pulling. “He’s also had quarter cracks and the virus – there’s just been a whole heap of things one after the other.” Being on the unruly mark for mobiles hasn’t helped either, and when the right race has come along, racing luck has gone against Majestic Hurricane. All of which had contributed to the immensely talented and speedy Majestic Son gelding going winless for 18 races over 13 months. Things finally fell into place last week though. Majestic Hurricane has always been able to begin very quickly from stands and while the start was rather messy for the unruly horses and he was out of position, he was in front after 200m. Blair Orange then handed up to Doff Your Cap and with Robbie Close intent on maintaining a strong pace and making things as hard as possible on the backmarkers, and Heavyweight Hero in particular, Majestic Hurricane actually settled nicely in the trail for a change. Favoured Heavyweight Hero had been patiently handled by Bob Butt three back in the running line, and when he made his run on the home turn and chimed in at the furlong, he appeared to have them covered. He had the lead at the 100m but then the effort began to take its toll – he recorded 3.16 from 30m in the 2600m stand – and Majestic Hurricane was the stronger horse over the closing stages off the perfect trip from Orange.  In such a strongly run race, there was also much to like about the lightly-raced four-year-olds The Player and Doff Your Cap finishing close up, particularly the former in his first race since October. Majestic Hurricane was usually racing against the best of his age group at two and three, when he went winless in 15 races almost entirely from mobiles. He earned less than $20,000 in those two seasons despite being good enough to finish fourth in the NZ Trotting Derby from the unruly, when Luby Lou trotted 3.14 in what was her last race. He was also twice second to Winterfell that season. Majestic Hurricane has won five races since and four of them have been stands where he has beaten Kings Landing, Lotamuscle, Didjabringthebeersand now Heavyweight Hero. And he has twice recorded back to back wins, all of which augurs rather well as Majestic Hurricane heads into this week’s 4&5YO Trotting Championship. by Frank Marrion Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Last start Group One winner Wainui Creek will take her next step towards another elite-level target when she lines-up in the Jacobsen Headstones Mobile Pace (2200m) at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The four-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight was victorious in the Gr.1 NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes (2600m) at Addington last month and trainer Barry Purdon has been pleased with her work since then. “It was a great win last start by Wainui Creek,” he said. “She got a great run, tried hard, and managed to get there. “She has just had the one trial since she came back. I think she probably should have gone a bit better (third), but her work was good on Wednesday morning, so that’s all you can go on.” All going well after Friday night, Wainui Creek will likely be set for a couple of Group One targets on her home track before the the Jewels in May. “Hopefully we will head towards the Taylor Mile (Gr.1, 1609m) and just make a decision after that whether the Messenger (Gr.1, 2700m) is on the cards,” Purdon said. “We are ticking over for the Jewels really.” Wainui Creek will be joined in her Friday assignment by stablemate On The Cards who also takes some great form into the race, with two Group placings in his last two starts. “On The Cards also worked well on Wednesday morning and I think they both come in pretty well off in that race,” Purdon said. “On The Cards has done well. He always gives his best, he is one of those horses. He should go well on Friday.” Purdon will also line-up Sunny Glenis and Jemma on Friday night, but he is particularly excited about Sky Delight, the half-sister to multiple Group One winner Sky Major, in the Magness Benrow Sires’ Stakes 2YOF (H1) Mobile Pace (1700m). The two-year-old filly has finished runner-up in both of her starts to date, including the Gr.2 Delightful Lady Classic (1700m) at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago. “Sky Delight is a really nice filly and she is going to be competitive in the big races,” Purdon said. “She has worked well and we gave her a bit of a run on Saturday morning and she was really good. I am really looking forward to her lining up, she has got a nice draw (1). “She will probably head to the Sires’ Stakes and then the Sales Series for the fillies and then onto the Jewels. She will have plenty coming up, that’s for sure.”  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The latest Standardbred auction is online now with 23 Lots entered including yearlings, two-year-olds, racehorses and empty and in-foal broodmares.  Bidding is set to close, starting with Lot 1, from 7pm on Wednesday 30 March. Bidding tips Make sure you're registered and your account is set up properly well before the auction is set to close.  Each auction will auto-extend by adding extra time on if a bid is placed in the final 30 seconds. This will happen indefinitely until no further bids are placed and will also add more time onto each of the subsequent Lots.  Use auto-bids to take the stress out of the final countdown and use the refresh button to make sure your page is keeping up with the live auction. If you have any questions about the bidding process please call 09 296 4436 VIEW FULL CATALOGUE Featured Lots Lot 3 THE BIG DANCE A Rocknroll Dance filly from a two win Art Major mare who is a half-sister to recent Western Australian Pacing Cup (Gr.1) winner Mighty Conqueror. Offrered for sale as she did not make reserve at the yearling sale but this has now been adjusted and is circa the service fee.  Sire: A Rocknroll Dance Dam: Danse Macabre Seller: Maverick Location: Christchurch VIEW ONLINE Lot 5 DENIM  A well-bred two-year-old filly by Art Major from the family of Gr.1 New Zealand Cup winner Cruz Bromac. She has been broken in and had one prep and is reported to have worked down to 2.09 for a mile.  Sire: Art Major Dam: Cullens Counsel Seller: Maverick Location: Christchurch VIEW ONLINE Lot 7 FUTURA EASTON  A winner of three from 2000m to 2600m and over $23,000, Futura Easton is by Vantage Master and from the Holmes Hanover mare Joyful Holmes. Well graded, his connections feel a change of scenery would do him good. Well priced for a quick sale. Sire: Vintage Master Dam: Joyful Holmes Seller: Lucus135 Location: Canterbury VIEW ONLINE Lot 20 SLINKY BROMAC A three-in-one package featuring the two-win mare Slinky Bromac with a Rock N Roll Heaven filly at foot and back in foal to the sire. A black print winner herself, Slinky Bromac has produced the black print winner Sketching. Sire: Live Or Die Dam: Shy Melvin Seller: apples Location: Milton VIEW ONLINE Lot 22 TIFFANY BROMAC  A three-in-one package featuring a daughter of the outstanding black print mare Tandias Courage. She has a muscular Captaintreacherous filly at foot and is in foal Always B Mikki.  Sire: Rocknroll Hanover Dam: Tandias Courage Seller: apples Location: Milton VIEW ONLINE      

New Zealand racing’s television landscape has changed just as dramatically as the rest of the industry.  TAB bosses have made immediate changes to how racing will be covered with no presenters on track at any meetings in the weeks, and possibly, months ahead.  The move is for health reasons of the presenters, camera crew and the people they come in contact with and to reduce the chance of coronavirus spreading. TAB employees will still broadcast the racing action from the tracks using their usual OB vans but the comments and previews of the races will be done by presenters based in studios around the country.  The commentaries will still be live from the track.  That will mean no live pre or post-race interviews and reactions from the track will be possible until coronavirus protocols are changed.  The TAB has also cancelled with immediate effect its magazine, review and preview shows The First Call, Dogzone, The Box Seat and Weigh In to cut costs.  But the turnover-driving Punters Lounge will still screen on Saturday morning with shorter versions of that show possible on domestic race days to try and stimulate turnover.   By Michael Guerin

By Frank Marrion courtesy of the HarnessXpress     A little over three years ago, Dunedin’s Garry Clarke lost his brother Rick to cancer and he decided it was time to make the most of what time he had left. Clarke had just the one horse in American Spirit and after he’d won his fourth race at Forbury Park, trainer Darren Simpson recalls Clarke saying “you’d better get ready to go to the yearling sales”. Little did Simpson know that Clarke would buy eight yearlings for $132,000, and six yearlings for $108,000the next year, and that he would now have 35 horses. Simpson is now effectively Clarke’s private trainer and his last eight wins stretching back to July last year have been with horses owned by Clarke. Simpson concedes he’s not sure he’d still be in the game if it wasn’t for Clarke – his entire racing teamof about a dozen horses at present are owned by him. At best Simpson might still be struggling along winning a few races a season, as he had been doing since starting out in 2002. Instead Simpson was seen winning his first race at Addington last Friday night with a two-year-old trotter in Have No Fear, a $32,000 purchase at the Premier last year. Simpson and Clarke were also represented in the race by the Muscle Mass filly Abundance, who came in a credible fifth after losing ground at the start when going a bit rough. They were two of three sales purchases last year and Clarke bought two more this year. Clarke and Simpson drove to Addington that afternoon and headed back that night, with Makara, Parama and Rockin Road engaged at Wyndham the next day. Havehorsewilltravel, Mach Sheer, Nikasa and Pete’s Dash have been other winners for Clarke and Simpson this season. Havehorsewilltravel has been placed with Brent Mangos and has won three times for him this season, twice at Alexandra Park. Simpson developed Pres The Belle and won seven races with her before she was handed over to the Dunns – she was basically too good for racing down south and travel was in the offing. Have No Fear has some work to do to prove better than her, but he clearly has a very good future. “He’s the most natural trotter I’ve had and has been from day one - he can’t be faulted really,” said Simpson. “He’s well gaited and has good manners – very level headed. “This is only the third time they’ve both been off the place and Abundance is improving with each run. “Robert Anderson broke them in and they’re a credit to him. “Garry had said last year he really wanted to buy a Father Patrick and Have No Fear was the last one. We just liked the look of Abundance.” Abundance and Have No Fear trialed together at Wyndham back in early January and then had a few weeks off. They reappeared for a three-horse trial at Oamaru a couple of weeks ago, where Simpson drove Have No Fear and didn’t push him in running Phil Williamson’s Love You-Sun Mist gelding Leaf Stride to half a head. Last Friday night, Have No Fear led them around for Blair Orange and was comfortably holding Franco Jorik by three-quarters of a length, with the rest five lengths away and headed by the early mistake maker Alluring Tyron. “We’ll get home now and map out a schedule, but I guess the Trotting Stakes (on April 11) might be next.” The Sales race and Sires Stakes are on May 8 and 15. Have No Fear is the latest winner from NZ Trotting Oaks winner Without Fear, a Sundon sister to Fear Factor, the dam of Prince Fearless and Stress Factor. Most of Clarke’s initial purchases at the sales were pacers, but “we’re about half-and-half now”. Simpson started out working for Murray Edmonds some 20 years ago and “learned a lot about trotters back then”. “We had good juveniles like Flip Flop and Sun Del so I was quite comfortable when Garry said he was going to buy more trotters.” Clarke began his working life as an apprentice boilermaker and had farms over the years before becoming a property developer, which he is pretty much retired from, aged 72. “I’ve always like the horses and when we lost Rick, I realized life was too short to not be living it to the full. “I like to be around the horses and I’ve got 70 acres at Hampden where they’re spelled with lots of room to move.” Clarke helps out Simpson around the stables at Forbury Park and he’s also gravitated to breeding. One of Clarke’s purchases at the sales in 2017 was Parama, a Bettor’s Delight colt from Nicky’s Ideal who cost $15,000. He’d won four of 11 races before Wyndham, where he raced in the Cup. Clarke also bought his sister Nikasa for $10,000 in 2018 and she won twice before a sale to Perth for about 10 times as much. Clarke has since bought the Western Ideal mare Nicky’s Ideal and bred colts by Art Major and A Rocknroll Dance and a filly by Sweet Lou. Clearly the game could do with a lot more Garry Clarke’s. - by Frank Marrion Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Coronavirus is threatening to bring down the TAB, which has asked for a cash injection from the Government so it can keep operating. Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) chief operating officer Stephen Henry gave a dire forecast for the racing industry's betting arm in an address to staff at TAB headquarters in Lower Hutt on Thursday. Henry revealed the cancellation of sporting events would cost the TAB $14 million and that, along with a $3.8 million error over bonus bets would result in both the half year and full year projections taking a big hit. "It's serious enough that we have briefed Government today on what it means for us and how they can help and that includes injecting cash into the business so we can continue to operate. "So far the Government has been "responsive but not definitive". Henry told stunned workers that everything was being done to minimise its operating costs including: * Using fewer cameras at race meetings, doing away with Trackside presenters on course, sending fewer production staff and not operating betting totes. * Cutting a wide range of expenses like travel and overtime - "we should have cut the sausage rolls today." Already the harness racing show, the Box Seat, featuring Greg O'Connor and Michael Guerin, has been canned. Read the full story here at Stuff

Champion horseman Mark Purdon and a host of other harness racing stars have been sidelined by Covid-19 protocols which will stop them from driving tonight. But none of them are suspected of having the coronavirus or even having been in contact with anybody who has, with Harness Racing New Zealand erring on the side of caution. Purdon, leading drivers John Dunn and Zac Butcher and several other big names in the harness racing industry only returned from Sydney between 10 and 12 days ago after they competed at the Miracle Mile meeting. The Government announced on Wednesday people who had returned from overseas in the last 14 days should self isolate for 14 days from when they returned and while that was not made a strict regulation, HRNZ said it would not put other industry participants are risk. So all harness racing participants, including trainers and even amateur drivers, have been banned from attending any race meetings until they have been back in the country for 14 days without any sign of coronavirus symptons. “I was a bit surprised but we have to do the right thing so I will be not going to the races and staying away from the stables until Monday,” says Purdon. “But I am lucky I have great staff and Natalie (partner) to take care of things.” Purdon rolls out some of the stable’s bigger guns for the Addington premier meeting which will be run in front of industry participants only tonight, with the same happening at Alexandra Park. While the world seems to be going crazy and we all have more important things to think about, racing is one of the few live sports still on and for punters who feel like a distraction the Purdon/Rasmussen team is the obvious one to follow tonight. But that does come with a couple of warnings. Rasmussen does the driving on both this season’s group one winners One Change (R7, No.1) and Winterfell (R4, No.12) and says they are the ones to beat in two of tonight’s best races. “I was thrilled with One Change in the Derby up north and that showed he can be driven tough so I think I have to use the draw tonight,” says Rasmussen. “While there is a bit of speed on the front line I think it is important to stay in front of Copy That so that is what I will be trying to do.” The pair look clearly our top two three-year-olds boys, having had the colours lowered in differing circumstances by filly Amazing Dream in the Derby two weeks ago. One Change was very tough that night and while Copy That got held up he didn’t flash to the line like the horse who has dominated the December three-year-old races. There is very little between the pair but with the ace draw One Change is the bet tonight, with the unbeaten Heroes Square adding a new factor to the field and Bad To The Bone looks a great place option as he could be following the favourite throughout. Winterfell’s opening $1.70 price in the four and five-year-old trot seems fair for an Inter Dominion champion who also beat Oscar Bonavena and co in the National Trot. He faces a 30m handicap but not a big field so the real question with him isn’t whether he should win but whether he will put in genuinely enough to win. Rasmussen thinks the answer is yes. “He has been good at the trials and quite safe, even though he ca be funny left-handed,” she offers. But the word of warning horses from Rasmussen are the stable’s two-year-olds and Another Masterpiece in the Superstars. “In the two-year-old race First Class can win but I don’t think he can lead and win because that would put Krug on his back and he would outsprint him. “But I will be going forward on Delightful Dude so our pair might even end up lead and trail. But Krug might just be a little too forward for ours anyway.” Another Masterpiece goes into the Superstars with recent wins at both Addington and Menangle but Rasmussen is worried by the draw and says she could be three wide for half the race. “He can win but it won’t be easy. I think Triple Eight is just as good a chance as him.”With the latter paying $5.50 on opening he looks one of the better each way bets of the night.   By Michael Guerin

By Josh Smith   Local trainers Matthew White and Mike Berger had the perfect night at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday, recording a winning double from just the two starters. To make things even better White reined home Emmber to win the Amber Garden Centre Mobile Pace (2200m), his first victory in the sulky since his horrific crash at the Waikato track in January. “It was my first win back. It was good, it’s been a while,” White said. It has been a steady road to recovery for White who sustained a number of injuries from the incident. “The only footage I saw were the clips that were on the news,” White said. “I can’t remember any of it, which is probably a good thing. “I had a bleed on the brain, a concussion, and I fractured three vertebrae. It’s called the Transverse Process, which is the outside of the vertebrae where it attaches to the muscle. “It’s not too bad as far as breaking backs go.” White said he was overwhelmed by the support he received following the crash. “Everyone was a bit worried and it was quite humbling all the support I got from everyone in the industry, friends, and family.” White acknowledged he was relatively lucky to recover so quickly from his injuries and said he isn’t suffering from any after-effects. “I just had six weeks of rest after the crash,” he said. “I was really lucky, I didn’t have any physio or anything like that. I didn’t have any headaches or after-effects from the concussion. “I had a little bit of forgetfulness earlier on, but apart from that everything was okay, it could have been a lot worse.” White was delighted to get the win with Emmber, the daughter of multiple Group One winner Lauraella, but believes she still needs time to mature. “It was a good run, she had a nice trip,” he said. “On paper she has raced better fields than that, so we were quite confident. The way she let down and hit the line was the most pleasing thing. “We will just take it race-by-race with her. She might have a couple of more starts and then have a bit of a let-up. “She is a nice, honest filly. With a spell, next prep she will hopefully get a little bit stronger and a bit more mature. “She needs to grow up a little bit more and fill out a bit, she has got quite a big frame on her.” In the following race, stable junior driver Luke Whittaker recorded a stable double when steering home Mach Little Soaky to victory in the Mitre 10 Mega Cambridge Handicap Pace (2700m). “Luke drove him well,” White said. “Mach Little Soaky had been racing well without a lot of luck. “He is a bit of a one trick pony where he has to be ridden with a sit. It all worked out pretty well for him on Thursday and he got the job done.” While pleased with the winning double on Thursday night, White said it was a little bit eerie racing in front of an empty grandstand.  The racing industry has implemented measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant that owners and the public are unable to attend race meetings. “When I came back into the winner’s circle with Emmber it was a bit weird not having anyone there,” White said. “After the horse has won you can’t share it with them.” White said the impact the pandemic could have on the industry is worrying, but there could be a silver-lining if racing is allowed to continue operating behind closed doors. “Owners may be affected, which would have a knock-on effect for us. If they can’t invest anymore then it is going to be hard. Getting new people into horses may be difficult for a while as well. “But as long as we can keep racing, that is the biggest thing. If we can’t race we are in a bit of trouble. “We do need the turnover, that is going to be the biggest indicator. It’s hard to say how that is going to go. “If there are going to be more people sitting at home betting, without other sport being on, that would be good.”  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Josh Smith There were few smiles bigger than Kevin Hall’s at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday night. The amateur driver was beaming after reining home J Bee to win the Black Dog Furniture Mobile Pace (2200m), his first victory in more than three decades. “It was a great thrill, you certainly remember them when they are 33 years apart,” Hall said. They say you never forget your first driving win and Hall said he could remember his as though it was yesterday. “I drove my first winner when I was a junior driver. I was working for Frank Cooney at the time, but I drove Ulster Lass for his brother Dennis, who was an owner-trainer. “It was at Rotorua where we used to have a New Year’s Eve day meeting on the grass, I remember it well.” Hall had 12 previous starts as an amateur and he was delighted to get the win for good friend and trainer David Butcher, who he helps out in the mornings. “It’s a great feeling whenever you drive a winner, I have been trying for a while,” Hall said. “I have had my amateur license for a couple of years now. I have just been battling away. “I knew the horse had been working well, he got a good trip, and at the top of the straight he was travelling pretty well.” Hall has been an avid follower of racing since he was a child, but admitted his first love was the thoroughbreds and he had a great desire to become a jockey. “I had been following my father to the TAB since I was 10-years-old and going to the races whenever I could and I just fell in love with racing,” Hall said. “I always wanted to be a jockey. I helped in the galloping stables when I was still at school, but once I realised I was going to get too big my parents contacted John Butcher. “I started to help him out in the school holidays and then I went to work for him once I left school. “I stayed in the game for seven or eight years, but I got to the stage where I thought I either had to go training or do something else, so I decided to do something else.” Hall spent two decades away from the sport, but reignited his passion for harness racing when he started to help out his former mentor’s son, David Butcher. “I went dairy farming for 20 years and when I came back to Cambridge I started helping David again and it has gone from there. “I just started a new job with New Zealand Grazing Company and I help David out most mornings before work. “He encouraged me to get my amateur license and he has been very supportive and given me drives whenever he could. “When you have got someone like him giving you instructions it is always helpful.” Hall is enjoying his time back in the sulky and is just hoping it is not another 30 years until he gets to salute the judge.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Harness Racing New Zealand’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak is being mirrored across the Tasman and, in fact, around the world. The rules come into force with immediate effect and, according to HRNZ chief executive Peter Jensen, “will remain in force until 13 April 2020. The Order and Direction is binding on all clubs, licence holders, owners and other persons to whom the Rules apply.” The first race meetings to be affected by the decisions are Cambridge (tonight), followed by tomorrow’s meetings at Addington and Alexandra Park, Saturday at Wairio and the Waimate club’s meeting on Sunday. HRNZ knows the rules won’t be universally accepted but say they have no choice. The rules are as follows : There will be no general admission to race meetings, trials, or workouts. The only people that can attend race meetings, trials and workouts are Licensed drivers engaged to compete at the meeting Licensed trainers with horses entered at the meeting Licensed stablehands employed by trainers with horses entered at the meeting, if that employee’s presence at the course  is essential and  has been notified to the club ahead of the meeting Club and racing officials essential for the meeting to proceed Members of the Judicial Committee appointed by the Judicial Control Authority Broadcasting and other essential staff employed by the Racing Industry Transition Agency or accredited media as approved by HRNZ in writing. In Australia, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV), and Harness Racing NSW are among the bodies that have also decided that only “those essential to the running of racing being granted access to racecourses at all times”. It follows the Federal Government's advice that all non-essential, organised gatherings of more than 500 people be cancelled to manage the spread of COVID-19. That includes Saturday’s Golden Slipper at Rosehill. Normally the crowd would be in excess of 20,000.  Further afield, all horse racing in Great Britain has been suspended until the end of April. The Grand National, due to take place at Aintree, on 4 April, is now off. Nick Rust, the chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said "this is a national emergency the like of which most of us have never seen before. "We're a sport that is proud of its connection to rural communities and to the local businesses that support our industry. But our first duty is to the health of the public, our customers and to racing industry participants and staff so we have decided to suspend racing following the government's latest advice." Racing in Ireland continues, behind closed doors, with the Irish Grand National meeting planned for April 13. Both gallops and harness racing in France has been suspended until at least then, meaning several important stakes races will be abandoned. Germany announced a similar shutdown soon after the French decision, following the lead set by Belgium and Italy. In the USA, the Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled from 2 May to 5 September. It will be the first time for 75 years, since the Second World War, that the event has not been staged on the first Saturday in May. The other races in the so-called 'Triple Crown', the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes are also set to be postponed.   HRNZ

Harness racing trainer Nigel McGrath is under investigation again from the RIU. After acting on a report provided by Racing Investigators who completed a stable inspection at the McGrath training premises last week, both horses he had entered at the Addington races last Friday night were scratched from their events by the stewards. The horses were Cloud Nine and Steel The Show. After speaking to contacts close to the McGrath stable on the matter Harnesslink has obtained information that Racing Investigators were hiding out at the stables and have caught McGrath in the act of administering a substance to a horse. McGrath was recently suspended from driving racing for six months and ordered to pay costs of $11,500 after he pleaded guilty to a charge of improper driving on his horse Star Commander in a race at Addington in March 2018. Neither McGrath or the RIU were available for comment on the matter.    

By Josh Smith    Pukekohe trainer James Stormont has developed a good record with Brian and Rosemary Timms’ “Luck” breed and he is hoping it will continue at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday when Kelvinz Luck debuts in the Happy Birthday Brax Handicap Trot (2200m). The three-year-old son of Peak will be looking to add to his dam Howz Lucky’s impressive strike-rate, with Kelvinz Luck becoming her 10th offspring to have made it to the races.  He has a fair way to go to reach the lofty heights of some of his siblings, which include Group One performer Madisonz Luck, Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of her year Di’z Luck, and Rosemaryz Luck, who is the dam of Gr.1 Victoria Trotting Derby (2690m) winner Majestuoso. While Stormont is looking forward to Kelvinz Luck’s first raceday outing he is holding reserved expectations ahead of Thursday’s assignment. “He has got quite a bit to learn, but we have got to start somewhere. We thought Cambridge would be a bit easier than Auckland,” he said. “He finished second in his workout last week. The week before that he ran fourth. As long as he steps away well I will be happy, that is the main learning curve for him. “I haven’t done too much speed work with him. I am trying to educate him before I get the speed work into him.” Stormont is also looking forward to the return of his full-sister Peakz Luck in the coming months. She hasn’t been sighted on raceday since her fourth-placing in the Gr.3 Northern Trotting Oaks (2200m) last year. “She came up really well and ran second to Bolt For Brilliance at the workouts in December,” he said. “But she burst out a bad abscess in her foot, so she had a month off to let that heal and she has just started back jogging now. “We haven’t got anything in-mind with her at this stage as every time we eye something up it turns to custard, so we are just playing it by ear with her.” Stormont has also trained Kelvinz Luck’s half-siblings Primz Luck to four wins from seven starts, and Tuiz Luck to two wins before her sale to America. “It all started off with Primz Luck, I leased him off the Timms’,” he said. “We have had a bit of luck and have taken our time with them. It’s been a bit unlucky with Tuiz Luck, we sold her to America and she ended up having to be put down over there, so we didn’t see the best of her.” Meanwhile, Stormont is also looking forward to lining up three other runners at Cambridge’s meeting. Sunny Pegasus will be vying to make it back-to-back wins in the Dual Code Racing April 9th Handicap Trot (2700m), while Clifton Flutter will contest the Black Dog Furniture Mobile Pace (2200m), and We Have A Mach Two will have her second start in The Clubhouse Sports Bar Mobile Pace (2200m). “I was really happy with We Have A Mach Two’s debut (unplaced over 2200m at Cambridge), she learnt a lot,” Stormont said. “They went 2.43 and she ran home well, so I was more than happy. It will be interesting to see her improvement from that run. “Sunny Pegasus won well last start. Everything fell into place for him, so if we can do that again that would be great. “I cut his work back last time, which seemed to benefit him, so I have done the same this time. “I have also got Clifton Flutter in the amateur race. He has drawn a bit wide (7), but if he can get the right run he can get some money as well.”  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The final meeting of the Methven Trotting Club will take place on Sunday 29 March at the picturesque Mt. Harding course. The feature race will be Woodlands Stud Mt. Hutt Country Cup for the 56 and faster pacers over 3,000 metres. The club has noted the huge numbers at recent grass track meetings and as always will attempt to accommodate as many horses as possible. At this stage the meeting is likely to be a ‘ghost’ meeting with off course betting only although this may be subject to change. The recent Norwood Rural Awards results were pleasantly received in the small Mid Canterbury township with both Sarah O’Reilly (Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson) and Ricky May (Toyota Lifetime Legacy Award) winners both from highly respected third generation Methven harness families. Go you good things! In other news the club has sold 2 hectares of its land to a Methven Hot Pools consortium so in a year or two's time patrons might want to bring their togs and have a relaxing time in the hot pools before or after the races! So if we can’t see you live at the races make sure you tune in on trackside at Methven where the sun always shines.   HRNZ

By Dave Di Somma    The third annual Team Teal campaign has now topped $50,000, more than ten thousand over its target. The final tally will be known in coming days, but it’s expected to be at least a $15,000 hike on what was raised last year. “It exceeded all expectations,”  says Team Teal project leader Courtney Clarke, “The buy-in from all the drivers, the sponsors and the industry as a whole was awesome.” “This is the most successful campaign we have had.” All proceeds go towards funding research  of Ovarian cancer.  It was founded by Duncan McPherson in Victoria in 2014,  and extended to New Zealand for the first time in 2018. Every female driver in New Zealand wore the Teal Pants between February 1  and March 15, with each win receiving $400 in donations, $200 from Harness Racing New Zealand, $100 from Woodlands Stud and $100 from the respective Club. Various clubs also hosted teal themed events  including, Team Teal racedays, ladies only races, fashion in the field, and celebrity dual sulky races to help in the fundraising efforts.. Canterbury-based Samantha Ottley was the most successful Kiwi driver, with 15 wins in the six weeks it ran,  eight fewer than Australia’s best,  Kate Gath. “All round it’s a fantastic result,” says Courtney Clarke, “and  it should only get bigger in the years to come.” For more information contact Courtney at Harness Racing NZ- or 0276364355 Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Off the back of a record-breaking online Thoroughbred sale yesterday where the Savabeel mare Hasahalo sold for $670,000, there is just over one day before entries for this month's Standardbred auction are due. With eight monthly auctions having beein conducted for Standardbreds on the platform, the site has been a valuable addition to the trading landscape with horses selling for up to $25,000 to date and entries due online by 7pm tomorrow, Wednesday 18 March. There are two steps for new users to enter horses including registering their user account and then following the simple, self-service process to enter each horse. The catalogue will be launched at 5pm on Thursday 19 March with the auction running through until 7pm Wednesday 25 March and future auction dates available by following the link. A standard entry fee is $125 + GST however you can increase your listing's exposure by choosing a featured listing for $200 + GST. This will ensure your horse's inclusion in an email newsletter to our comprehensive industry database plus sponsored social media posts. Each listing may have up to five photos plus video footage and in a major coup for the Standardbred industry, Arion pedigrees and race results automatically pull through to listings. New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred agent Cam Bray is the main point of contact and can be contacted on +64 21 737 199. resources   How to make the most of your opportunity to sell your horse by taking good photos. Guide to buying bloodstock online. Businesses looking to promote themselves via display advertising on the site may contact Haylie Martin via +64 22 637 8127 for more information. Standardbred  

New Zealand racing is set to continue behind closed doors but with the most extreme measures in its history to combat the spread of coronavirus. And that will include jockeys being forbidden to ride at meetings in the island they don’t live in but with an unheard of 2kgs raising of all weights in all thoroughbred races to enable them to be healthier and less at risk of illness. The heads of all three racing codes — thoroughbred, harness and greyhounds — are are hopeful the expected moves announced today will enable racing to continue so the industry can survive financially and not face stable or business closures which could force participants out of racing permanently. At this stage no race meetings have been cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions and none are planned unless there is an increase in the threat or change in Government regulations. But from Wednesday no members of the public will be allowed to attend race or trials meetings and there will even be severe restrictions on racing industry participants doing so, with only those working at that meeting allowed to attend. That will mean trainers, jockeys or drivers, handlers and stablehands who usually attend meetings will not be able to unless they have specific duties that raceday. That will definitely stay in place until April 13 and probably significantly longer. “We will require trainers to tell us who will be coming to the races with their horses and then nobody else will be allowed,” said Harness Racing New Zealand boss Peter Jensen. There will still be restricted numbers of raceday administration staff but increased security to ensure the new protocols are not breached. Some of the restrictions will be harder to implement at the harness racing code’s two major tracks, Addington in Christchurch and Alexandra Park in Auckland, as both have restaurants on their tracks which cater for non-racing crowds seven days a week. Alexandra Park bosses are still working through the specifics of how that will work with the Grand Park Restaurant, which is among the busiest restaurants in Auckland but could remain open as long as no racing industry participants were allowed in so it was treated as separate from the actual racetrack. Decisions on what measures are put in place for it and other eateries at racetracks around the country during race meetings are expected tomorrow. But the restaurants will be able to operate as normal, like any other eatery, outside when race meetings are being conducted at those tracks. For racing bosses the main focus though is on maintaining horse and dog racing in this country. With all racing in New Zealand telecast live on Trackside and able to be shown online at the TAB website, industry bosses will be hoping punters will still engage with it and bet. There is even potential for increased engagement as many other live sports are cancelled but even if that happens the overall impact on racing’s bottom line is going to be brutal. The three codes, who have at times been at odds in the last year over the industry’s direction and market share distribution, having shown commendable unity with how they have approached the coronavirus restrictions and protecting their participants and racegoers. Thoroughbred racing has implemented two new rules, both of which make sense, but one will be popular with jockeys and the other not so much. Some jockeys are peeved by a new regulation meaning jockeys can not move between the two main island: so only South Island-based jockeys can ride at meetings there and North Island jockey can ride at meetings north of Cook Strait. They can still travel between island for personal reasons but that can not accept rides at meetings held there. But a move to raise all weights in all races by 2kgs from Friday is been roundly applauded. Jockeys maintain their weights at often unhealthy levels so they can be available to ride as many horses as possible, some undergoing dramatic 1-2kgs weight loss in the day before a race meeting, called wasting. That can lead to extreme dehydration and the regular depletion is unhealthy, obviously making jockeys more vulnerable to illness and making any infections, viral or otherwise, more dangerous. So put simply, the raising of the weights scale by 2kgs for every horse in every race will allow jockeys to remain healthier.   Michael Guerin

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