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Game of Thrones fans eagerly awaiting season eight can get an early taste of the Seven Kingdoms at Towac Park on Sunday afternoon. The Orange Harness Racing Club is hosting its first meeting of 2018 on turf, with the heats for the 2018 Carnival of Cups beginning at 1.27pm with the Visit Orange City Pace. It’s an eight race program that promises plenty. Aside from the obvious difference of racing on turf and in a clockwise direction, rather than the traditional anti-clockwise fashion most harness racing tracks in NSW are run, some of the industry’s elite drivers like Amanda Turnbull, Bernie Hewitt, Nathan Hurst and Mat Rue are on deck for Sunday’s heats. Given there’s just two harness racing meets in Orange a year – the second in 2018 is on February 4 – that’s not a bad level of pacing. But a lot of attention – well, all of the attention of those wondering what the Night King and his zombie dragon’s next move is, if Aegon Targaryen will claim the Iron Throne, or whether Tormund is even still alive, take a breath - will be on race seven, the Orange Vet Hospital Heat 2. Peak Hill veteran trainer-driver John Beeby will guide a five-year-old called Tyrion around the 1609 metre class one pace. By Beeby’s own admission, Tyrion, named after hugely popular GoT charactor Tyrion Lannister, and the rest of his chances headed to Towac Park on Sunday are in terrible form. But if Game of Thrones has taught the greater public anything, it’s you can never discount a Lannister. That, and they always pay their debts. “Apparently the name’s out of that show, Game of Thrones … I didn’t name him, he was called Tyrion before I bought him,” Beeby said from his Peak Hill base next to the town’s trotting track. “A lot of my horses are completely out form. But we’re on turf, and that’s different, and running right-to-left in some cases is easier. Most pacers can handle that. “All I can do is go out there and wish for the best.” Harness racing action will start at 1/27pm on Sunday. The final race starts at 5.34pm at Towac Park.  Nick McGrath Reprinted with permission of The Central Western Daily

Maitland trainer Mitch Chapple is about to tackle his first Tamworth Harness Racing Club January carnival and is in the thick of it straight up. On Wednesday night, Chapple has Burning Ambition engaged in the $10,000 Pub Group Gold Nugget where the winner takes home a gold nugget as the trophy. At the tender age of 20, Chapple only gained his trainer’s licence back in early December and has trained three winners since then – two with Burning Ambition and one with Derringer. “It is the biggest race that I have nominated in but I’m looking at it as just another race at this stage,” Chapple said. “It would be a quick trip back home if we won it though.” Burning Ambition has seen the Tamworth Paceway on numerous occasions and that adds another shade of confidence for the stables. “She [Burning Ambition] is in the right class and is going pretty well so thought we would have a crack at it,” said Chapple of the Gold Nugget. “She has had a second and a couple of wins at Tamworth – she likes Tamworth.” Chapple has engaged fellow Maitland harness identity Brad Elder to take the drive. “Brad is taking the drive – he is driving good at the moment and drove a Group 3 winner last week so he is in fine form,” he said. “He loves Tamworth at the moment – I don’t think there is a meeting lately he hasn’t driven a winner at.” The Pub Group Gold Nugget had 31 nominations for the prestigious race with HRNSW handicappers selecting 10 runners. “It is a fairly competitive race but we have raced against them before so she will be right into it,” Chapple said. Burning Ambition has drawn barrier four. “Hopefully we can slide across from that draw and look for a forward position,” Chapple said. The Chapple name has featured before on the Gold Nugget Honour Board with Chapple’s father Guy having success over the years. “Dad has won a Gold Nugget with Remember Rusty [in 2007] as well as a Tamworth Cup and a Golden Guitar Final,” Chapple said. “We will contest the nugget and hopefully the Garrard’s Tamworth City Cup the following week with Burning Ambition. “I am aiming Derringer and The Puritan for the Golden Guitar heats on the Sunday.” In the Gold Nugget, Chapple said anyone could win the race but named Shadow Runner and Captain Rockey as the main dangers.  Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Queensland trainer and reinsman Jamie Donovan has been attending the Tamworth Harness Racing Club January race carnival for 14 years. This year he is on a mission – a winning mission - in the hope of returning home with a feature race trophy. “It would be nice to take home a trophy. I have only missed three years since 2004 so it would be good to get a feature.” Donovan, who is based at Taigum, has been settled in Tamworth for the past three weeks, letting his horses become accustomed to the racing here as well as the climate. “I am staying out with Michael and Paul Grima at their property. It’s great. They can’t do enough for you. They are a great family,” he said. Donovan enjoyed success with Bella Rippin last Sunday night at Tamworth when the five-year-old mare took the Bearing Accessories Tamworth Pace by 1.6 metres over race favourite Jax Tellar (Courtney Sutherland). Readily (Stacey Weidemann) was another two metres away in third. “We will aim her for the Nugget next Wednesday night [in Tamworth],” said Donovan. “And if she comes through that, we will then aim her for the Cup race.” The Garrard’s Tamworth City Cup will be raced on Thursday, January 25 with $12,000 prizemoney on offer. “They are both good races within themselves,” said Donovan. “That was her [Bella Rippin] first win at Tamworth. She did it pretty easy.”  Bella Rippin had the run of the race on the back of the race leader, Irish Town Babe (Julie Weidemann). “It was just a case of getting out but she came home easy – she had her ears pricked and off the bit going to the line,” said Donovan. Prior to the 2016 carnival, Bella Ripp won three races on the trot at Albion Park. The mare now has the benefit of Sunday’s win behind her before contesting the $10,000 Pub Group Gold Nugget, which has a gold nugget trophy, on Wednesday night. “She came down here two years ago to contest the Starmaker and then had a shot at the Golden Guitar last year and had no luck,” said Donovan. “But she did run a good second in another race on finals night.”  Stablemate Seven Rippin Aces – who collected the cash for Donovan at the December 27 Tamworth meeting – will contest the heats of the TAB Starmaker Three Year Old on Sunday, January 21, after finishing fourth to All About Alice (Brad Elder) last Sunday at Tamworth. “He got a win first up here at Tamworth,” said Donovan.  “He is going as good as gold. I was happy with his run and how he pulled up [on Sunday]. He copped interference and then locked wheels with another runner in the race. “He came through that alright so we will look at the Starmaker for him now. It’s not bad money for a three-year-old race and it’s a good stepping stone for the horse if he wins. I made the final one year with another horse.” The $15,000 TAB Starmaker Final will be conducted on January 25. Fields for Wednesday night will be released at 4.30pm on Friday.  Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

For the fifth time in her career, The Lagoon’s Amanda Turnbull has notched up five winning drives in a meeting when dominating the Parkes Harness Racing Club’s Wednesday night program. Though she did not win the feature Elvis Championship Final as she had done 12 months earlier – the honours this year going to Monique Parsons (Its A Shakedown, $19.60) – the evening still belonged to Turnbull. She took out the first four races of the meeting, steering members of her own team Moon Ovr Manhattan ($1.40 favourite), What A Curtainraiser ($1.60 favourite) and Crafty Cullen ($1.20 favourite) to victory as well as Conviction ($1.20 favourite), who is trained by her father Steve Turnbull. Amanda Turnbull then made it five wins in a single meeting at Parkes for the third time in her career when guiding the Darryl Fliedner, Cowra trained Molly Dolly Diva ($13.70) to an upset victory. “It’s a pretty good feeling to do that,” Turnbull said. “I knew I was in for a pretty good night because I had a couple of good ones in with a couple of good draws, but I never thought I’d get that many. “It was good to get on a bit of a roll too.” While Turnbull, who sits on top of the Harness Racing NSW drivers’ premiership, was unable to nominate one run as more impressive that the others on Wednesday, she is excited to see what is to come from Conviction. His win came in a Club Menangle Country Series Heat (1,660 metres), which qualifies him for the final at Menangle. “The ones I trained I was really pleased to win with, it rewards that hard work you put in, Conviction was a good one too, he’s a good horse, it’s good to see him back and doing well,” she said. “He was a bit wayward, he didn’t love it, but he ran a good time and got up. “He’ll race in the final at Menangle and if he goes good in that, we’ll probably look at some of the four-year-old feature races with him.” A four-year-old by For A Reason out of Safely Grattan, Conviction was second up at Parkes on Wednesday after saluting at Bathurst’s Carnival of Cups meeting on December 26 in a 1:53.3 mile rate. As Turnbull indicated, Conviction did not do it all easy on the smaller Parkes track after going from barrier two. Still, he showed good gate speed before settling one out and one back. Turnbull began her move after a 28.3 seconds third sectional, moving up to eye-ball stablemate Belligerence ($13.20) through the bend. Conviction took the lead down the straight and while Belligerence kicked again, the favourite held on to win by a head in a 1:56.8 mile rate. Hez All Courage ($8.40) placed third. As for Turnbull’s own team, she has not targeted any specific races. She just hopes to build on the 58 winners she had for the season as of the end of the Parkes meeting. “It’s going pretty good so far this season,” Turnbull said.  “Mrs Browns Boy is nearly back ready to race. I’m not really targeting anything, I’ll just see who it goes.” Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Goulburn Harness Racing Club hosts the 2018 Tom & Angela Hewitt Memorial race day next Sunday afternoon.  Honouring two great stalwarts of the harness racing industry, the afternoon of racing also doubles as an important fundraiser for the Crookwell Community Trust. First held in 2010, the $12,740 Hewitt Memorial has been won by a host of classy performers, and in more recent years that list has the included Just Cala, the 3YO Breeders Crown champion filly who won the Hewitt Memorial in 2015.   Trained and driven by Dennis Picker, the grandson of Tom and Angela Hewitt steered the 4YO Art Major mare to an easy win over a good quality field.  Just Cala raced on for another 7 starts recording a couple of wins in Melton Victoria before retiring to the breeding barn.  The Group 1 winning mare is now the dam of a yearling filly by super sire Bettors Delight. In 2016 the Hewitt Memorial winner was the aptly named Spare Me Days, owned, trained and driven by Brad Hewitt, another of Tom and Angela’s grandsons.  Named after one of Tom’s favourite expressions, Spare Me Days established a race record of 1:57.2 for the 2240 metre distance.  A star in young Brad’s stable, the now 7YO horse has developed into a quality fast class performer with race track earnings fast approaching $350,000. Last season’s winner Sams The Master trekked across the divide from Bathurst providing Nathan Turnbull and his owner, the present HRNSW Board Chairperson Rod Smith with their first Hewitt Memorial winner.  The now 5YO Tell All gelding went on to contest the Group 1 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle before venturing south where this season he has raced successfully in Victoria and looks certain to increase his lifetime earnings well past the $150,000 achieved to date. Supporting the Hewitt Memorial will be the $12,740 Walla Walla Stakes for the C4 and better grade pacers.  With the immortal pacer buried adjacent to the Goulburn Paceway’s home straight, the Walla Walla Stakes is being held for the fourth year and provides trainers with the ideal lead up race to the Group 3 $31,800 Goulburn Soldiers Club Frank & Edna Day Goulburn Cup to be run during Goulburn’s Carnival of Cups race day on the 28th January. Sunday’s meeting is the first of four being conducted by the Canberra and Goulburn harness racing clubs as part of their combined summer carnival of racing.  With over $300,000 in prize money on offer, the two Southern Tablelands clubs are trying to give back to the participants that so often support them. “It’s a carnival we’re hoping we can grow over the next few years; there’s great prize money to be won, and between the two clubs we are covering all grades of horses” Goulburn Club President Dennis Day said. Following Sunday’s Hewitt Memorial meeting, the racing action moves to Canberra on Monday, January 22 for the $15,300 Canberra Derby and $15,300 Canberra Oaks.  Next will be Goulburn’s Carnival of Cups race day on Sunday, January 28.   This meeting will feature the Group 3 Goulburn Cup, the meeting also includes the $19,080 Goulburn Rose pace, with all other races valued at $10,000. The summer carnival wraps up on Sunday, February 4, when the Canberra club hosts its main meeting of the year featuring the $25,500 Canberra Cup for C3/6 horses.  Support races include the $10,200 Len Cornock Memorial for the 2-year-old pacers, and the $10,200 Ackie Hawke Memorial.  WINNING: Spare Me Days winning the Hewitt Memorial in 2016 in race record time. Photo: Greig Lord   In keeping with the Crookwell theme, Sunday’s race meeting provides an opportunity for the Crookwell Community Trust charity to raise funds for their very worthy causes.  The Trust distributes aid to people of the Upper Lachlan Shire who have experienced extreme difficulties due to personal trauma and or natural disaster.  The shire includes Gunning, Crookwell, Taralga, Binda, Bigga & Tuena, and each year tens of thousands of dollars are provided to those who have suffered. With free entry into Sunday’s meeting, Community Trust Members will conduct a major raffle with multiple prizes including weekend accommodation on the South Coast, Gates to the course will be open from about noon and the club encourages all to come out for a great afternoon of competitive and interesting racing, and to experience the wonderful facilities of the Grace Millson Function Centre.  Enjoy quality food and a wide range of cold alcoholic and soft drinks whilst watching all the racing action in air conditioned comfort. Goulburn harness racing is brought to fans by the kind support of Tabcorp, Goulburn Soldiers Club, Goulburn Mulwaree Council, Divalls Earthmoving & Bulk Haulage, Goulburn Mazda, ARW Multigroup, Hollingworth Crane Hire, RSM Accountants, and a host of smaller businesses including Top Water Carters Crookwell, First National Real Estate Goulburn, Goulburn Livestock Transport, Goulburn Landmark, J A Communications, Crust Pizza, Glen Mia ACT Saddlery and Ranvet. Friday’s Goulburn Post will contain all races, form analysis and tips. For all the latest Goulburn harness racing news visit the club’s website at www.goulburnpaceway.com.au and don’t forget to like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/goulburnpaceway/  By Mark Groatto Reprinted with permission of The Goulburn Post  

Harness racing trainer Lola Weidemann won’t be short on company on the early Sunday morning drive from Queensland’s Darling Downs to Tamworth. The Clifton trainer will have at least 16 runners engaged in Sunday’s Tamworth Harness Club twilight meeting. Not that those type of numbers are anything new for Weidemann. The last meeting they (Weidemen and sister Julie) had around 15. It will be a bit of a juggling act with Weidemann having at least one runner in all nine races. In five she has two, and in one – Race 7 – three, potentially four with Irishtown Babe an emergency. Niece Stacey also has a couple of runners of her own, and will around those help out Lola with the driving duties. One of their best chances could be in the opening race of the program. “Condafew has been going well,” Lola said. “He’s won one there (December 22) and ran second the other day.” “He probably looks like he’s a chance in his race.” Drawing the back line though he will need luck. “But if he gets luck he’ll be there abouts,” she said. The others “should go alright” but are “no stars”. ”They’re just average horses,” she said. “They’ve got to have a lot of luck.” “We haven’t at present got a superstar.” Most of them raced at the last meeting. “We’ve got one or two new ones amongst them. They’re all finding their straps,” she said. Racing gets underway at 6.07pm. Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Harness racing driver Amy Rees may not have driven a lot of winners since making the move from Queensland to Bathurst 12 months ago, but she started 2018 on a good note. Rees took out the first race of the new year staged by the Bathurst Harness Racing Club on Wednesday, guiding Grand Zara to victory in a three-year-old (1,730 metres) pace. In the gig for Bathurst trainer John O’Shea, Rees had the $16.90 chance one out and one back before storming to the lead down the home straight. The Artistic Fella x Kalypso filly went on to notch up the first win of her seven-start career. “She went really well,” Rees, who is studying journalism at CSU, said. “She has a bit of ability, so we’d hoped she’d show it tonight and she did. She had a good trip and she came home over the top.” Though Rees estimates her tally since driving at Bathurst to be “seven or eight wins”, her drive aboard Grand Zara was faultless. There were nervous moments early for Graham Betts (Dinosaurus Rex) and Bernie Hewitt (Scarlet Babe) after their runners locked wheels in the opening metres. While that pair withdrew, Grand Zara was outside leader Write About Her on the bell and though she was then shuffled back into the one-one, it did not trouble Rees. She found space after turning three wide for home, Grand Zara hitting the front soon after balancing. She won by 3¾m over Doctor Somes ($52.70, Mitch Turnbull) in a 1:59.0 mile rate, with stablemate Zaras Dance ($40.30, O’Shea) third. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate  

Fundraising for the Women's Cancer Foundation began early at Leeton's TAB Carnival of Cups harness racing meeting on Monday. With fundraising for the 'Team Teal' campaign to start Australia-wide on February 1, the crowd at Leeton were certainly feeling festive raising $500 towards ovarian cancer research. This was then matched by the Leeton Harness Racing Club, taking the amount raised to $1000. However, this was equalled by Kriden Park, the sponsor of the Lady Drivers Invitational at the meeting, and then matched again by Harness Racing New South Wales, thus raising $4000 in total for the WCF. This is a great start to the Team Teal campaign which starts on February 1 to March 11, where female harness drivers across Australia and New Zealand will wear teal coloured driving pants to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. Harness Racing NSW will donate $200 to the WCF for every official winner driven by a reinswoman in NSW during the 2018 campaign. Harness Racing NSW will finalise the list of 2018 Ambassadors across the state and seek the support of clubs and participants in this charitable effort. For those wishing to donate to the cause, head to https://teamtealnsw.gofundraise.com.au/ All the ladies that took part in the Kriden Park Lady Drivers Invitation at Leeton on Monday gathered around HRNSW Chairman Rod Smith. From left to right: Amy Day, Madi Young, Martelle Maguire, Ellen Rixon, Jessica Prior, Rod Smith, Brooke McPherson, Laura Crossland who won the race with Lets Katchmeifucan, Fiona Schmetzer, Katie McGill and Lisa Bartley.          Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 33 racing clubs across the State. HRNSW is headed by a Board of Directors and is independent of Government.       For further information please contact:   AMANDA RANDO   MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER       HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES   22 Meredith Street Bankstown NSW 2200   PO Box 1034 Bankstown NSW 1885   T: 02 9722 6600 E: arando@hrnsw.com.au T: @Amanda_Rando   W: www.harnessmediacentre.com.au | T: twitter.com/hrnsw_harness | F: facebook.com/hrnsw          

The career of reigning Newcastle harness racing horse of the year Takara Truffle is on hold after the four-year-old mare broke a bone in her leg. Singleton trainer Aaron Goadsby said Takara Truffle was hurt when she kicked a jogger frame in training. However, she continued to work with no signs of injury until swelling two weeks later prompted Goadsby to send her for scans. The American Ideal mare, a winner of 12 races in 24 starts and $91,000 in stakes, was found to have a full fracture of the splint bone in her off-hind leg. She did not require surgery and Goadsby said the veterinarian was confident of a full recovery “but scans in six weeks will make it a lot clearer”. “She was ready to go and was in the noms this week and now with the broken bone, we’ll X-ray it again in six weeks and see where we’re at from there,” Goadsby said. “It might be another six weeks and X-ray it again and see where we’re at, but basically all the races are off.” Goadsby had planned to bring the two-time group 3 winner back to racing at Maitland on Inter City Pace Final night last Saturday ahead campaigns in Tamworth and Menangle. Takara Truffle won the group 3 Go Girlfriend Series Final and Baby Bling Stakes in July-August at Menangle, prompting thoughts of a shot at the group 1 Ladyship Mile at the same track on February 24. Her last start was the Baby Bling Stakes on August 19 when she ran 1.52.8. Goadsby was hopeful of having her back at the races again but said she would be out for at least six months. “It will take her that to work back up again,” he said. Another exciting Goadsby-trained four-year-old mare, Last Party, is also recovering from injury. A winner of three races in four starts, Last Party suffered a quarter crack in her hoof in September and was sidelined for three months. Goadsby said she would not be ready to race until March when he was also hoping to debut two-year-old Pamplona Princess, which he was bringing over from New Zealand. At Menangle on Tuesday, the Maitland team of Paul and Dan Morgan will race Blackjack Shannon, Dreaming Big and Never Know Ozzie.  Dan Morgan drove a winning double with Captain Rockey and Pay On The Pacer on Saturday night.  By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Brad Hewitt and Our Triple Play have joined the $30,600 Inter City Pace’s illustrious honour-roll with a harness racing victory on the post in a thrilling final at Maitland on Saturday night. Hewitt needed another track record-breaking effort by his four-year-old gelding to beat his uncle Bernie Hewitt and Royal Story on the line. A photo finish was needed to separate the two runners with Mark Jones’ Delightful Memphis third. Both Hewitt’s praised Our Triple Play’s incredible guts and staying power to get the win after being caught one-out for the majority of the race. As predicted the pace was on from the start and the three favourites emerged to take advantage. James Rando’s The Times A Changing and Quick Income finished fourth and fifth respectively. Ellalong trainer Michael Formosa’s Mondooley Heaven was seventh, while Cessnock trainer Clayton Harmey’s two starters Apollo Thirteen and Jimmy The Editor took out eighth and 10 places respectively.  Michael Hartshorn Reprinted with permission of The Maitland Mercury    

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for Albury Harness Racing Club. The annual New Year’s Eve race meeting is set to be bigger and better than ever, with plenty to keep the entire family entertained. “We’ve got lots of new rides, face painting for the kids, as well as the music,” club president Sue van de Ven said. “There’s also fancy dress fashions on the field for the little kids, so when you consider there’s only 25 minutes between each race, there’s not a lot of time to do all that. “We’re looking to improve the event all the time. “It’s difficult to come up with new ideas and so on, but we have plenty of new, young blood on the committee which is great to see. “We have our Carnival of Cups in February, but I think this is the biggest evening for the community more than anything else.” The first of eight races commences at 7.10pm, with the last to start at 10.52pm. Live music will continue right up until midnight, before a fireworks display to see in the New Year. Beau Greenway Reprinted with permission of The Border Mail    

Seven Rippin Aces continued on from his Albion Park winning form at the Tamworth Harness Racing Club Paceway last Wednesday night. The $1.60 favourite lived up to the tag for Breakfast Creek resident Jamie Donovan who did it all as the owner, trainer and driver of Seven Rippin Aces. With the Tamworth HRC January racing carnival just around the corner, Donovan has arrived in time to settle his team in. “I have brought everything down with me and I am here to stay for five weeks so we will see how we go,” Donovan said. As if the win wasn’t enough, Donovan got a nice little bonus for his efforts on his gelding. “The main reason I came a couple of weeks earlier is he (Seven Rippin Aces) is NSW bred so I was looking for a win to get the breeders bonus. He got that tonight,” Donovan said. Donovan has already set the next benchmark for Seven Rippin Aces. “We will aim for the Starmaker now and there should be improvement off that win tonight,” he said. Seven Rippin Aces is eligible to contest the heats of the Starmaker Series for three-year-old pacers at Tamworth on January 21. From the heats, pacers will move through to the $15,000 final which will be contested on January 25. In the Wednesday night race, Seven Rippin Aces led the field early from the two barrier. However, he had to contend with race pressure from last start winner Condafew (Lola Weidemann) for two laps. “I was confident when we had the lead and he led easy,” Donovan said of Seven Rippin Aces. “He had a good grab on the bit when Lola came up outside me but he (Seven Rippin Aces) kicked in the back straight. “But he does have a tendency to switch off in his races which made it hard down the home straight.” Seven Rippin Aces went on to claim a 3.7-metre win over Condafew in second with Nice One Jon (Dean Chapple) another 2.9 metres away third. Seven Rippin Aces ran a 28.5 sectional in the second quarter of the race. It was a time Donovan was more than happy with. “To run a 28.5 sectional here at Tamworth is pretty fast,” he said. Donovan then had more cause for celebration after the win. “That was my first winning drive since Tamworth in 2014,” Donovan grinned. “Its Wellsaid was my last winner and I have probably only had about 20 drives since then.” As an accountant, Donovan is more compelled to handle the training and place a driver behind his team. “Because I work full time I just train and get others to handle the driving,” he said. The main reason I came a couple of weeks earlier is he (Seven Rippin Aces) is NSW bred so I was looking for a win to get the breeders bonus. He got that tonight Jamie Donovan By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Harness racing driver Tony Missen is back. After enduring some horrific injuries in a race fall in Tamworth 12 months ago, Missen continued on the training side of operations for his stables but the adrenalin rush has drawn him back to the paceway competition side of things. For Me was the pacer Missen made his return with and finished seventh in the Pub Group Gold Nugget January 17 Pace. Merry Jasper came into the opening event at Tamworth as a first emergency and gained a run on race morning with the scratching of Gargzdai Girl from the Richard Williams stables. With Williams having a runner out of the race, Quirindi trainer Brendan Hunt then engaged Williams to take the drive behind Merry Jasper that proved to be the winning combination. “It makes it all worthwhile as my horse was scratched from the race so it was a win-win situation,” Williams said after the race. With Conversion (Stacey Weidemann) leading the field Merry Jasper was tucked in on the leader’s back.  “I was hoping a split would come and when it came it was good,” Williams said. Merry Jasper pounced as Conversion drifted out on the final turn with Merry Jasper taking an inside run. “It was a close finish and he hit the line well but that is his go,” Williams said. “When he can get those sorts of runs, it’s good, as he finishes off strong.” Williams also had another reason for celebration. He announced his engagement to partner and stable forelady Ashlea McKinnon on Christmas Day. Tom Ison was a bit surprised with the win of Starzzzforlouise in the FM88.9 Tamworth Ladyship Pace – even though the six-year-old mare commenced as race favourite. “It was a really good run and she is improving every time,” Ison said of Starzzzforlouise who is trained by his father Andy. After gaining the one by one, Ison pulled Starzzzforlouise three wide as the bell sounded for the final lap. The move saw Ison place a gap on the field in the back straight. “She goes alright. She has a tough sprint on her,” Ison said. “She goes quick but can hold it for a long way and she does it easy.” Starzzzforlouise scored a big eight-metre win over Clancy Pants (Peter Hedges) while Miss Catalina (Stacey Weidemann) was another five metres away in third position. “That’s two wins from from about six starts,” Ison said.  “I thought we would run a hole at best but when she got cover I thought she was a real show.” Stoneridge Royal was another winner at Tamworth who gained entry as a first emergency.  Trained and driven by Dean Chapple, Stoneridge Royal was the first leg of a training double for Chapple with Right On With It also having a win. Right On With It was handled by Lola Weidemann. Harness racing will now head to the Maitland track tomorrow night for the 55th running of the Maitland Inter City Pace. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Shepparton trainer-driver Amanda Turnbull holds the key to one of the feature finals on New Year’s Night at Leeton after opening the harness racing carnival with a winning treble. Leeton’s Christmas carnival kicked off on Tuesday night and for the first time was missing their flagship race, the MIA Breeders Plate. The $40,000 Plate final will be run on January 26, instead of January 1, due to changes to the rules surrounding two-year-old racing. The Turnbull stable dominated the opening night of the Leeton carnival with three wins, two of which came in the heats of the Milbrae Quarries C1-C2 Series. Lisa Bartley steered Benji Mara ($1.30) and Kenrick ($1.20) to dominant victories in the first and third heats. Turnbull’s treble was completed when Aintnobetter ($2.50) scored on debut in the final event on the night. Turnbull, who was competing at Bathurst on the night, was pleased to see Benji Mara and Kenrick win and qualify for the $14,000 finals on January 1. “They done a good job,” Turnbull said. “They both had tricky draws so they went good.” Benji Mara started from the second row but raced away for an eight-metre victory in a blistering mile rate of 1:57.1. Kenrick overcame the outside of the second row and did a power of work to win by two metres in 1:59.1. Turnbull believes Kenrick is the better of her two prospects in the final, pending the barrier draw. “Probably Kenrick. He went for a good spell and has come back pretty well from that,” she said. “The other fella went awesome and in good time.” While Kenrick could have hardly been more impressive in his part two wins, Turnbull stopped short of labelling him bulletproof ahead of the final. “It depends where (Benji Mara) draws,” she said. “If he can beat him to the death, and then Kenrick will have to do it pretty tough.” Coleambally reinsman Blake Jones drove the other two heat winners, Anakena ($2.00) for Ellen Bartley and Eastbro Lucky ($2.60) for Shane Hillier. Three heats of the Golden Apple Super Store C0 Series were also conducted with wins going to Two Real ($16.00), Roll One Over ($17.60) and Untythehood ($1.30). There was a fall in the last but Leeton driver Ben Matthews managed to escape serious injury after Karlos shifted out sharply near the gate and cannoned into the fence. Meantime, Junee Harness Racing Club’s Christmas meeting last Saturday was also a success with a good crowd turning out. Michael and Melissa Hawke took honours with a winning double, courtesy of Never Been Said ($30.50) and Barkway Bill ($3.90). By Matt Malone Reprinted with permission of The Junee Southern Cross

Bobs Farm harness racing trainer Geoff Harding loves coming to Dubbo but needed to secure a couple of winners to make it worth the 400-kilometre trip. He got exactly that on Tuesday night as he grabbed three winners during the Boxing Night meeting at Dubbo Harness Racing Club. Rocknlachlan, Sackheim, and Strathlachlan Andy all saluted while Trijet also came home in third. Harding said they had come expecting some success. “It’s too far to come for just a joy ride,” he said. “I reckon Dubbo’s a great little half-mile track and it’s even better when you win on it.” The night couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Harding.  His son Matthew was in the gig for the $3500 Radio 2DU/Zoo FM Pace (1720 metres) for three-year-olds and older, with Rocknlachlan proving far too strong for the rest. The three-year-old gelding started from barrier four as the $2.10 favourite ahead of the Wayne Grey-trained and driven Shadow Dealer at $2.50. Shadow Dealer and Bee Bee Elle ($32.90) took the early lead, while the younger Harding was content to sit behind and take it easy. They covered the first half of the last mile in 60.4 seconds before Barry Lew’s Karloo Jonno ($84) tried to get in on the action. As they greeted the bell he went three-wide but wasn’t able to get around the leaders before the bend. He had to do plenty of work and along the back straight his challenge began to fade. At the same time, Rocknlachlan’s was only just beginning. He moved three wide as they came onot the home straight and raced away to claim a comfortable victory by 4.5 metres in a mile rate of 2:00.2. Shadow Dealer was second ahead of Michael Pay’s I’m Super Sophie ($12). Harding’s second runner Ruffalo ($16) just missed out on a placing. “We thought he could win,” his trainer said afterwards.  “He had a good run. Hopefully he can keep improving. If he improves a bit more he might make a handy horse.” Harding said he was preparing the Rock N Roll Heaven x Strathlachlan Kay progent for the Evolution Race Series at Newcastle. The meeting got better as Sackheim won the Ron Hoy Memorial (1720m) as a $1.80 favourite, ahead of Shazam Shannon ($10.90) and Barkway Arnold ($3.80). Harding’s treble came with Strathlachlan Andy’s victory as $1.30 favourite in the Tab.com.au Pace (1720m), beating Koloura Flight ($50.40) and Smart Major ($28.70) to the post. By Mark Rayner  

The Tamworth harness racing meeting on Wednesday night will have seven last-start winners engaged on a nine-event program. One of those winners is Anna Bay Al, who took out the Christmas Gift Box Pace last week at Tamworth. Trained at Narrabri by Jarred Hetherington, it was also a welcome Christmas gift for owner Ben Spence, who is well known more for his ability to train plenty of winner’s in greyhound racing circles. “He goes all right and was very unlucky not to win the start before,” said Maitland reinsman Brad Elder, of Anna Bay Al, who handled the driving of the Presidential Ball gelding.  Anna Bay Al and Elder after the win. Photo: Peter Mac Photography   The start prior, Anna Bay Al finished second to Coralie Joy in the $8,000 Roadwork Industries Dash For Cash at Tamworth. “We had to stack them as we had the sprint horses on our back,” said Elder, who led the field from the outset, with Coralie Joy (Richard Williams) tucked in on the leaders back. The mare only gained a split in the home straight. After leading all the way from the one barrier, Anna Bay Al went on for a 2.4 metre win over Coralie in the Thankyou To Our 2017 Volunteers Pace. Jarred Hetherington was impressed with the early Christmas present. “Full credit to Brad. He drove him a treat,” said Hetherington in regards to Anna Bay Al. “Ben has made a very astute purchase and done well with the horse. He has got his purchase price back in a couple of starts this season and there is plenty more install.” Jetawayjo is another who will come into Wednesday’s meeting off a last-start win at Tamworth. The horse’s trainer Greg Coney moved to Tamworth from the South Coast to set up a new training establishment. Jetawayjo has a start in the FM88.9 Tamworth Ladyship Pace. “I was terribly worried in the run,” said Elder of last week’s run, after Jetawayjo went to the lead from the one barrier and held the lead with strong pressure from Pirates Pearl for the whole journey. “I just wanted to get her clear in the final turn and she [Pirates Pearl] fought back.” Jetawayjo held on for a half-head win over Pirates Pearl, with Mattgregor Star (Lola Weidemann) 3.8m away in third. On Wednesday night Jetawayjo will be handled by Madi Young. The Weidemann stables will return with 17 runners including Condafew, who was a last-start winner at Tamworth. After going to the lead from barrier four, Condafew had to hold off Sackheim (James Harding), who placed race pressure on. “I wanted to go forward with him but his last three runs have all been good,” said Weidemann. “He picked the bit up and wanted to go for himself.” Condafew held on for a metre win over a fast finishing Reciprocity (Mitch Faulkner), with Sackheim two metres away third. Miss Catalina is also backing up in the second event of the night – the FM88.9 Tamworth Ladyship Pace – after an impressive three-metre win last week, running 1min 59.3sec for 1609m. Lola Weidemann had a training and driving double. Besides the Weidemann girls heading down from Queensland for the meeting, it will also attract Jamie Donovan with another last start winner, Seven Rippin Aces, who won at Albion Park in the Lounges Plus After Christmas Sales Concludes January 7 Pace. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

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