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The late Billy Grima was a well-known harness racing identity who sadly passed away in 2016, but his name and legacy are continuing on in the sport he loved. On Friday night, a 10-race program at Tamworth includes the Billy Grima Memorial.  Billy’s sons, Michael and Paul, have Quincy Storm engaged in the Memorial race. Eldest son Michael is listed as the trainer while Paul will take the reins. Michael will have three runners at the meeting, with Blissful Quincy and Freddies Delight also set to run. “We have the whole stable competing at the meeting,” he said. “Dad was always involved in harness racing. It wasn’t his livelihood – it was his hobby.” Billy and his pacer Tangaratta Thor were certainly a combination that was known in the early days of harness racing, having success both in the North West and at Harold Park. Last year was the inaugural running of the Billy Grima Memorial, with the Andy Ison-trained Franco Seville taking the feature.  But this year is the first time that the Grima name will appear in the race. “It was through Dad’s involvement that got us all involved in the sport,” said Michael. He was referring to himself and his three siblings. The two boys handle the horses. Their sister Joyce is a director of the Tamworth Harness Racing Club while another sister, Jenny, also has a strong involvement in the sport. “Jenny is still keen – she is always following us,” Michael said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without the involvement of the family.  “Our niece Rachel comes out and works with the horses every day.” Billy’s grandson Nicholas calls trials at Tamworth while Billy’s wide Carmen will also be trackside on Friday night.   “There are many chances in the race – it is a very good field. Actually, it’s a big meeting,” Michael said. “The mare [Quincy Storm] is very honest and has got good gate speed but she will have to make her own luck from the five barrier.” Quincy Storm comes into the race off a last-start win at Narrabri, where she had a short half head win over Mini Masterpeice from the David Munsie stables.  “It would be nice to win the race as Paul is doing the driving but we are not expecting it,” Michael said. “You get a kick out of someone else winning it as well.” Paul Grima was happy with the efforts of Quincy Storm in the Narrabri win. “She is a real good race horse,” he said. “She hasn’t got much guts but she does everything right and she has got good manners.” By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Many people in the last 150 years have selflessly given their time and talent to ensure the Royal Bathurst Show prospered as a showcase of agricultural excellence and an exceptional community event, and none more so than Ron Wood. As well as running the family farm, Ron Wood spent much of his life serving the Bathurst community in a variety of roles. He officiated as a first grade umpire in Bathurst, was secretary of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club and served on the Bathurst Showground Trust.  But one of his most challenging, longest and rewarding roles was his almost three decades as secretary of the now-named Royal Bathurst Show, from 1969 to 1997. Dedicated to the show movement, this was a position close to his heart. The Bathurst Living Legend was a man of vision who was “instrumental in developing the showground into the top-class facility it is today”, former show society president Brian Welch once said. The only trouble was the sheep would get up into the grandstand and leave their ‘little pebbles’. But they got the job done. Ron Wood, former secretary, Royal Bathurst Show Renown for running a tight ship, Mr Wood remembers some of the challenges and chuckles from yesteryear. “When I first started as secretary there were mainly farmers and graziers on show council,” Mr Wood said. “And it was easy to get someone to bring in a mob of sheep to chew the grass down because it grew very prolifically. That’s in the days when it used to rain,” he quipped. “The only trouble was the sheep would get up into the grandstand and leave their ‘little pebbles’. But they got the job done.”  One of hurdles Mr Wood needed to overcome was the financial state of affairs. “When I began they were $7000 in the red,” Mr Wood said. “But we soon got that fixed. There was no system whereby the user paid and that had to change to ensure the longevity of the show.” He also oversaw a modernisation of administration, embarked on an urgent restoration of the showground buildings, initiated the development a modern stable set-up, built a base of volunteers, and helped generate regular income.  “In the early days all the paperwork was done by hand, including the prize cards. It was very labour intensive,” Mr Wood said. “There was no such thing as a computer program designed to run a show. So a local bloke named Warren would meet with me every weekend to develop a program.” The software was a great time saver, enabling stewards’ books, entry and prize cards to be computerised, while increasing the accuracy of information captured. The Royal Bathurst Show has come a long way, Mr Wood said, since show membership earnt you “one entry ticket and two ladies passes”. And he hopes the spirit of community and camaraderie continues for another 150 years. Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

The Cootamundra Harness Racing Club has folded bringing an end to the sport in Cootamundra.  It will mean the two races scheduled for 2018 will not be run. President Keith Boxsell said around $74,000 in prize money was awarded in 2017, which was the result of support from businesses and volunteers keeping the club going. “It is disappointing to see the club not have a future,” Mr Boxsell said. “The demise of smaller harness racing clubs over the past decade continues in NSW and the long term future for other clubs seems uncertain.” Last year the club received an award from Harness Racing NSW for its efforts preparing and running the 2017 Cootamundra Cup. Mr Boxsell thanked businesses for the on-going support and patronage over the years and committee members Tony Ward and Steve Hunt for their tireless work in recent years. The club’s committee made the hard decision to close as more stringent conditions by HRNSW were placed on the club to hold its two races this year. A lack of emergency funds to repair Cootamundra’s trotting track following flooding caused by the January storms was a key part of the decision. The club’s long history dates back to when the first trotting clubs were established in regional NSW before it when into recess for a number of years. Tony Ward and the late John Ward led a group of volunteers to re-establish the sport in Cootamundra in 1980s. A new 800 metre track was built at the Cootamundra Showground with the help of local businesses, industry and donations. After the club was reformed, Cootamundra hosted five to six meetings a year attracting trainers from across south west and central west NSW and the ACT. The club was due to host two race meetings this year, however they have been transferred to Junee’s Harness Racing Club. By Declan Rurenga Reprinted with permission of the Cootamundra Herald

Having spent two weeks in New Zealand and Australia visiting various harness racing tracks, meeting top industry executives, owners, trainers, and fans, I thought I would try to paint a portrait of what I've seen and heard. There is no doubt that the standardbred industry in both New Zealand and Australia is suffering from many of the same dangers, problems, and downward trends that are besetting the North American industry. Foaling numbers are down (250 fewer mares bred this year in nz than last year), sale prices are down, Breeders are contemplating big cutbacks, the buying bench is shrinking and aged, horse shortages are beginning to effect race cards, purses are flat, expenses are increasing, industry visibility is diminishing, on track attendance is abysmal, and the show we are putting on is generally lethargic and boring! Some of the Downunder tracks seem to be on solid footing. Alexandra Park, in Auckland, projects doubling current minimum purses to levels approaching NZ$40.000 per average race within two years. This is to be accomplished via cash streaming in from apartment, hotel, and non racing revenues that are part of their vision for a new age, upscale living/entertainment complex built around racing, but offering much more than racing. The track's central city location has been used to create a racing centered complex that could be a blueprint for future projects everywhere, although conceptual transferability is somewhat limited to centrally located properties. Instead of offloading highly valuable property, Alexander Park's club directors had the vision and ability to use the location to create add on, added value assets which infuse cash to the racing product and broaden the entertainment offered indirectly thru the racing. It will work, and Alexandra Park has a bright short term future. It will, however, have to avoid the danger confronted by any non producing asset - the danger of extinction caused by a recognition that, perhaps, the core asset (racing) is so underproducing that the other assets may no longer need and want it. Let's hope the directors find a way to prevent that eventuality! Tabcorp Menangle, Sydney's major track, is located in a growing hub and has plans for a similar complex. Fueled by their sale of Harold Park for huge money, it would appear that their future should be a bright one. I was at a lovely track last night, Penrith, outside of Sydney. It's a charming, half mile track, somewhat reminiscent of Saratoga Raceway, with unusually large on track attendance and on track energy in this day of concrete racing. Their directors are active, on site, welcoming, and enthusiastic about their product and venue. It's a wonderful place to enjoy for the one night a week that it races. Also in a city hub, one has to hope that the huge land value won't lead to sale and relocation that would almost certainly diminish the experience! Alexandra Park appears to make more money from a dollar spent on food and beverages than they get from a dollar wagered. This has led them to focus on offering a great on track experience, and in attracting a crowd that is there to enjoy themselves, NOT to gamble! The gamblers are primarily off track, this is an interesting model that may have relevance everywhere. Perhaps the industry can bring back attendance by offering a fun, family experience, by creating on site, separate options attractive to young people, to the older crowd, to well dressed and casual customers to whom the racing is incidental and a draw because of its uniqueness. Meanwhile, the industry can optimize off track gambling and distribution, its video presentation of its product, and create non intrusive, invisible on site ways to wager that won't lessen on track attractiveness for non gamblers. I understand that NZ is renegotiating it's video contract with Sky, hoping to enhance its' ability to customize video programming, which would be wonderful! Betting options Downunder are different from North American counterparts, and each should learn from the other. Of course, control of racetracks, the racing signal, and wagering follow completely different models in the two hemispheres... Downunder, the handicapping schemes are flawed and attempts are underway to improve their efficacy, but authorities need to better understand the handicapping systems in place around the world. They need to be able to create more even fields and to get away from point based systems that allow too much discretion, favoritism, and try to achieve indirectly what can best be done directly. Both Downunder and in North America, the industry needs to address decreasing foal numbers and breeder's losses by assisting faster recoupment of money spent on yearlings and, Downunder, on classification, handicapping, and purse changes designed to provide better racing/purse options for top calibre and older racehorses. The reasons to export need to be overcome so that horses remain in the system! In both hemispheres, following the thoroughbred formula of top heavy purses for young non winners of 1,2, and 3 races might be a really great idea. It should help yearling buyers, thereby helping Breeders... In both hemispheres there is a perception expressed by so many that the individuals empowered to lead harness racing's way forward are incapable of getting the job done, that those on top just don't listen to the people who really know the everyday problems - and often the solutions - the average "joe" who lives the racing experience in some way every day. The better, the gambler, the customer, the groom and driver and trainer, the racetrack employee, the guy on the track or USTA phone....these are the people from whom the answers, at least indirectly, will come. We had all better listen to them! I'll be here for another ten days in Melbourne, Sydney, and Auckland....watching and listening! I'll let you know what I see and hear! Cheers! As they say here : "good day on ya"! Gordon Banks

There was every indication when Gotta Rush stepped onto the Narrabri Paceway on Easter Monday that the harness racing filly was the pacer to keep an eye on. Having a buck and a play in the preliminary, the three-year-old Mr Feelgood-Doranelly filly was feeling “fresh” and from the number one barrier went straight to the lead. I was expecting something to come at me in the race and I wasn’t sure how she would handle it as she has never been in front before. Sarah Rushbrook “She was really feeling good today and it was just such a relief,” Tamworth trainer Sarah Rushbrook said after an all the way win in the CGJ Glass & Aluminium – Bell & Johnson Solicitor Pace. Owner, tick. Breeder, tick. Trainer, tick. Driver, tick. Rushbrook held every title with Gotta Rush.  “It is the first horse that I have bred and I have taken my time with her,” Rushbrook said of the filly. “She just felt like she did that pretty easily to be honest.” Rushbrook gave Gotta Rush her first race start at Narrabri back on March 19 when she contested a heat of the John Dean Memorial. On that occasion, Gotta Rush had no luck in running but that wasn’t the case as she won at her second race start. “I am both glad and relieved,” Rushbrook added after taking out the 2160-metre event. “I was expecting something to come at me in the race and I wasn’t sure how she would handle it as she has never been in front before.” Rushbrook didn’t have to worry as Gotta Rush had a 6.1-metre win over Monterei Bay (Michael Grima) with Cobla Madonna (Julie Weidemann) another 4.7 metres away in third. “All I wanted today was for her to get around safe – the win was a super bonus,” Rushbrook said. Racing in an open bridle has been a case a reverse psychology on the filly by Rushbrook. “She actually races better in an open bridle and I know it sounds silly but she shies at everything and people normally block horses up but she is worse then. I have opened her up and she is a lot better,” she said. “I brought the mother – Doranelly – off Sally Torrens and raced her and got a few wins with her.  “Sally actually broke this filly in for me so there is still a little bit of history there.” Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Former Group 2-winning pacer Im Blue Double Dee has decided being a champion in harness racing isn’t enough. The stallion is now winning prizes as a show horse. Im Blue Double Dee enjoyed a wonderful career on the track for The Lagoon’s Amanda Turnbull – winning over $250,000 in prizemoney – but now in the care of Judy Frisby he’s making big strides in a new career. The grey stallion picked up three major prizes during a successful outing at the recent NSW Standardbred Pleasure and Performance Horse Association (SPPHA) State Championships. Im Blue Double Dee won the Grand Champion prizes in the Best Presented and Led Standardbred categories as well as the Fashions on the Field award. “Amanda rang me and asked if I knew anyone who would like to have him to use as a show horse or pleasure horse so he’d have another home. I was talking to my son Anthony and he was the one who talked me into taking him,” she said. “I told Amanda then that I’d take him and I’d leave him as a stallion. As soon as got back from holidays I picked him up and started to work on him.” Frisby was thrilled to see countless hours of work with the former pacer reap rewards. “We’re all very proud of him,” she said. “I’ve done a lot with him to make him look good but he’s just got a great overall presence about him that everyone likes. He’s got something special, whatever that is. “The winners of the geldings, stallions and mares prizes come together and then they decide the grand champion from that – which he won.”  The event was the first time the State Championships had been held at Tamworth. It brought a strong field of over 40 horses to Tamworth Paceway who all delivered a high standard of competition. Frisby said her stallion has made the transition between careers superbly, and she’s looking forward to more events in the future. There’s now the opportunity to win on a Bathurst track again, just like his racing days. “I’m working with him all the time because he’s been racing for 10 years, so it can be hard to change his mindset,” she said. “You can take one step forward then suddenly go 10 steps back … [but] now he’s now at the top of his game. “We’ve got the Bathurst Show coming up. That’s a big one because it’s their 150th show so it would be great for us to get through that. “He’s in a point score with the SPPHA, which is interstate, and he’s got one more competition at Hawkesbury the weekend after Bathurst.”  By Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Harness racing Junior drivers from around Australasia will be out to claim mini trotting glory this weekend at the Tamworth Paceway. Amongst those drivers will be the Coney clan – Jemma, Jye, Morgan and Nash – who will all compete at NSW Mini Trotting Championships over the Easter weekend. The weekend will include a couple milestones with this year’s championships – the 34th edition – being Nash’s first and Jemma’s last. Jemma – who recently moved to Tamworth from Nowra along with her family – has achieved plenty in her mini trotting career. She’s won the Pony Miracle Mile, the Champion of Champions race at the championships and has even represented NSW in New Zealand. Jemma’s now ready to take the step up to driving with the adults. “I’ve just started driving the bigger ones [horses] and hopefully I can get my trial licence soon and start driving them,” Jemma said. Jemma can also see herself training horses – just like her dad Greg – one day. “Yeah, I think it’s good to learn different things. It’s good to be behind the scenes,” she said. Horse registrations total 175 for the championships this weekend with junior drivers (aged 5-17) coming from Victoria, Queensland and New Zealand along with the 10 affiliated clubs within NSW. More than 100 races will be conducted at the Tamworth Paceway commencing on Saturday, March 31 at 8am.  Races run every eight minutes with 60 races on day one and 47 races on day two – Sunday, April 1. Section finals commence at 4.15pm on Saturday and will be the three final races of the day. They are the Maureen Mordue Memorial Midgets Final, the Harness Racing NSW Shetlands Final and the Garrards Horse & Hound Ponies Final. Sunday opens with the most prestigious race of the championships at 8am with the Rebecca Rutland Memorial Champion of Champions event. This race features the three Saturday winning finalists – Midget, Shetland and Pony – racing against each other based on their Saturday handicap rating. The Sunday finals start at 3.30pm with the Hazells Farm & Fertilizer Midgets, the Cabot Horse Transport/Short & Sharp Welding Shetlands and the Norman Valdez IT Websites Ponies followed by the Geoff & Denise Short Retiring Driver’s Race. This race concludes the championships and is for junior drivers who have reached the age of 17 years and therefore leave the ranks of mini trotting. Many go on to gain their licence to race in HRNSW senior events. The NSWMTA acknowledged promotions and facilities manager of Tamworth Paceway Joanne Shepherd, the Tamworth Harness Racing Club and the multitude of local supporters who have made this event possible. All visitors are very welcome to come to the paceway and view the outstanding skills of the junior drivers in race conditions. Entry is free over the duration of the two days. Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Moonbi trainer Dean Chapple will look to take Beautiful Stranger to the Narrabri Easter Monday harness racing meeting after the filly broke through for an impressive win at Armidale last Friday. At the three-year old’s eighth race start, Beautiful Stranger made a three-wide run around the final turn to go on and conquer the field down the home straight for a 2.8m win over Million Dollar Mac (Michael Grima). Cronin (Mitch Faulkner) was a metre away third. “It has been a big week for her,” Chapple said. “She went really good at Maitland on Monday and she backed up again at Armidale.” Beautiful Stranger came into the 1980m event at Armidale after finishing second to Que Sera from the Clayton Harmey stables at the Maitland meeting. While Cronin led the field at Armidale, Chapple was biding his time towards the rear of the field. “We drove her with a cold sit and the way the race panned out I was pretty confident a long way out,” he said.  “It is a bit hard to make ground on this track but to her credit she made up the ground and got to the line well.” Beautiful Stranger has only had four race starts for the Chapple stables and is raced by Sam Judge. “She has come to me to win a race or two,” Chapple said. “She has only missed one cheque and I really like the filly.” “We will wait to see what the future brings - she has only had a handful of starts and races very well. The connections in Sydney are happy to be patient with her.” Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

On a night that was more suitable to flying kites, and sailing boats, the Young Harness Racing Club conducted another top night of racing on Wednesday.  There was a competitive nine race program, close finishes and fast times the order of the night. Race one Racing opened with the first of many favourites claiming the prize in a keenly contested race. Bathurst driver Amanda Turnbull started off well securing a forward position early with the well supported Zaras Choice ($1.80) and proving too strong for Resounding and the locally trained Replaced Eye.  The mile rating of 1:58.2 set the scene for further fast times and her winning eight metre winning margin was her eighth from twenty five starts. Race two Amanda Turnbull then produced another winner in race two when Pump The Brakes ($1.40) kept favourite backers happy with another all the way win over Our Wall Street Wolf and Hidden Courage.  Once again a mile rating of 1:58.7 coupled with a winning margin of three-and-a-half metres was an impressive start to a night of top class racing.  Race three Evergreen ten-year-old veteran Beetson again proved he has a lot to offer with a tough effort to sit outside the leader and rack up win number 37 in a career spanning over eight years of competitive racing that has collected over $380,000.00 for his owners.  Tulhurst Ace nearly spoiled the party finishing second going down by one-and-three-quarter metres with second favourite Crackerjack Jo finishing third. The winners mile rate being 1:57.6 for the 1720 metre journey.  Race four Local trainer Glenn Wilmot returned to racing after a short spell and was straight into the money with Mustang Jet in race four.  Allowed to lead and dictate his own terms the ($2.00) favourite defeated Kiss Cam and Illawong Sauve by one-and-a-half meters in a time of 2:06.7 and a mile rating of 1:58.5.  Race five Another favourite hopped out of the burrow in race five when the Bigga trained Rave On Rabbits ($1.50) led and won over The Miami Heat and The escape Plan.  The win was another for the popular trainer who heads to the sunshine state each winter for a couple of months, certainly a wise move on his part. Race six Bathurst driver Stephanie Burley showed she had the driving ability to overcome some mid-race traffic problems to secure a close win in race six with the back marker Our Emancipation ($6.40) who defeated the more fancied Star Play ($2.80) and Red Ruffy. The margins of one metre by a head was an indication of the closeness of the finish and a creditable mile rating of 1:57.1 was also a good result for the five-year-old Real Desire mare.  Race seven Christmas came early for some when Dennis Picker provided the winner of race seven. Blues Terror came from fifth at the bell to grab a nose victory over Threes A Charm and early leader Tubee Tee in a head bopping finish.  Favourite Sir Cracker ($1.50) finished fourth but the celebrations would continue for some time with the winner paying $50.30 on the NSW TAB and $8.00 the place.  Race eight Making sure he would be the leading driver on the night, Dennis Picker drove a copy book race behind Modern Attitude in race eight defeating Just A Cool Jo and the Canberra trained Billy Bolt in impressive style.  Paying $1.60 on the tote, the winner recorded a comfortable 2:02.4 with some in reserve and he, like the other Picker runners will certainly enjoy the trip north in the near future.  Race nine Probably the most rewarding win of the night was in the final race when long time Temora trainer Ray Walker landed the money in race nine for the two-year-olds.  First starter Jessszz Reflection payed the handsome dividend of $18.70 in defeating Zaras Choice and outsider What A Team in an untidy race following two scratchings and a couple of gallopers. Full marks must go to the winner for a gallant effort.  Next race day in Young Young will race next on Friday May 4 which will include a heat of the Dubbo Golden Gig in the program.   RESULTS Race 1 GORDON, GARLING, MOFFIT PACE – 1720m: 1 ZARAS CHOICETrainer: Steve Turnbull Driver: Amanda Turnbull Odds: $1.50 fav – BAY MARE 4 by TINTIN IN AMERICA NZ out of SUPREME CHOICE (ASTREOS CA) – Owner(s): Kriden Investments Pty Ltd Breeder(s): Alabar Bloodstock. 2 RESOUNDING NZ Trainer: Shane Hillier Driver: Mitchell Reese Odds: $4.50  Race 2 YOUNG TYREPOWER PACE – 1720m: 1 PUMP THE BRAKES Trainer: Amanda Turnbull Driver: Amanda Turnbull Odds: $1.40 fav – BAY HORSE 4 by DAWN OFA NEW DAY USA out of PHANTOM DANCER (TRUMP CASINO USA) – Owner(s): J A (Jenny) Turnbull Breeder(s): Brooklyn Lodge Aberdeen Pty Ltd 2 OUR WALL STREET WOLF NZ Trainer: Chris Frisby Driver: Anthony Frisby Odds: $7.20  Race 3 YOUNG WORKWEAR PACE – 1720m: 1 BEETSON Trainer: Peter Trevor-Jones Driver: John O'Shea Odds: $3.20 fav – BAY/BROWN GELDING 10 by ART MAJOR USA out of ERIN JEAN (CLASSIC GARRY) – Owner(s): P D Trevor-Jones, R P Wenning, D K Wenning Breeder(s): P D Trevor-Jones, R P Wenning, M Sieper, D K Wenning 2 TULHURST ACE Trainer: Nathan Hurst Driver: Nathan Hurst Odds: $5.60  Race 4 YOUNG MITSUBISHI PACE – 1720m: 1 MUSTANG JET Trainer: Glenn Wilmot Driver: Glenn Wilmot Odds: $2.80 fav – BAY MARE 6 by JEREMES JET USA out of CORTNEY LOUISE (ORANGE SOVEREIGN USA) – Owner(s): G R Wilmot, B W Wilmot Breeder(s): G R (Glenn) Wilmot 2 KISS CAMTrainer: Dennis Picker Driver: Dennis Picker Odds: $5.70  Race 5 YOUNG LOCKSMITH PACE – 1720m: 1 RAVE ON RABBITS Trainer: Dennis Picker Driver: Dennis Picker Odds: $1.50 fav – BAY GELDING 4 by RIGHTEOUS HANOVER USA out of RAVE ON GIRL (EXOTIC EARL USA) – Owner(s): D W (David) Bourke Breeder(s): D W (David) Bourke 2 THE MIAMI HEAT NZ Trainer: Scott Wade Driver: Mitchell Reese Odds: $14.60  Race 6 J and C POWDERLY ELECTRICAL and RENEWABLE ENERGY SERVICES PACE – 1720m: 1 OUR EMANCIPATION NZ Trainer: Stephanie Burley Driver: Stephanie Burley Odds: $6.40 – BAY MARE 5 by REAL DESIRE USA out of MISS CARLYLE (NZ) (CHRISTIAN CULLEN NZ) – Owner(s): H M C (Heather) Burley Breeder(s): M S Burley, H M C Burley 2 STAR PLAY Trainer: Veronica Fisher Driver: Justin Reynolds Odds: $2.80 fav Race 7 T & D PRODUCE 3YO PACE – 2100m: 1 BLUES TERRORTrainer: Dennis Picker Driver: Dennis Picker Odds: $50.30 – BROWN COLT 3 by WESTERN TERROR USA out of GREEK BONUS (GOLDEN GREEK USA) – Owner(s): J K (Jenna) Picker Breeder(s): Pini Pty Ltd t/as Medowie Lodge 2 THREES A CHARM Trainer: Bernie Hewitt Driver: Bernie Hewitt Odds: $9.30 Race 8 TAB/NEWSEXPRESS YOUNG MAIDEN PACE – 2100m: 1 MODERN ATTITUDE Trainer: Dennis Picker Driver: Dennis Picker Odds: $1.60 fav – BROWN GELDING 4 by MODERN ART USA out of AVONALI (TOLIVER HANOVER USA) – Owner(s): G R (Glenn) Jurd Breeder(s): Brooklyn Lodge Aberdeen Pty Ltd 2 JUST A KOOL JOE Trainer: Geoff Lawson Driver: Jason Turnbull Odds: $24.50  Race 9 CHRISTY PARK 2YO PACE – 1720m: 1 JESSZZ REFLECTION Trainer: Raymond Walker Driver: Raymond Walker Odds: $18.70 – BROWN/BLACK FILLY 2 by ROCK N ROLL HEAVEN USA out of JUST GLENBURN (VILLAGE JASPER USA) – Owner(s): R A Walker, J T Walker, R J New Breeder(s): R A Walker, A M Smith 2 ZARAS HEAVEN Trainer: Gemma Rue Driver: Mat Rue Odds: $8.60   Reprinted with permission of The Young Witness

WITH more than 50 years involvement in the harness racing industry it is fair to say that Geoff Simpson is experienced, yet even a trainer-driver who has been around as long as he has could not have imagined what it was like to win the Gold Crown final. Simpson was there when the Bathurst Harness Racing Club first staged the Gold Crown Carnival – he even drove in the Gold Crown final for two-year-old colts and geldings. Last year, 31 years after that inaugural final, Simpson took out the feature Group 1 feature with a colt called Castalong Shadow. He had not really rated his Shadow Play x Leslie Jay hopeful a chance of winning, but an even bigger shock than the upset victory for Simpson was the response he got. “When we went across the line it didn’t really sink in, but then we got further down the track and Mat Rue congratulated me and shook my hand, then when we pulled up another driver congratulated me, I thought, ‘Geeze we’ve won this thing’,” Simpson said. “Then to come back and get that reception. I’ve watched some really good races and the reception the winners got – I think my reception outdone all of them. It took me a little by surprise the reception, not being a high profile driver, but it was really appreciated. Geoff Simpson “To win the race and have the response we got from people in the industry, it was fantastic. People I hadn’t heard from in years and years but that I’ve know for ages, they were ringing up and I got letters and cards from people. “I got a letter from Colin Watts, he’s a very respected man in the industry, congratulating me and Tony Turnbull came around and congratulated me after the race. I’m very appreciative, getting that acknowledgement of my little horse. “It took me a little by surprise the reception, not being a high profile driver, but it was really appreciated.” Castalong Shadow went on to finish his two-year-old season with a record of four wins and three seconds from nine starts, a Group 3 Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial victory following the Gold Crown triumph. It saw more accolades come for the humble Lithgow trainer-driver. “He won the two-year-old colt and gelding of the year and he won the overall two-year-old of the year too,” he said. This year Simpson and Castalong Shadow will return to the carnival, this time to contest the Gold Chalice series for three-year-old colts and geldings. It features a $55,000 Group 2 final. Simpson knows his colt will face stiff competition in Monday’s heats, but no matter what happens, he will always carry with him the memories of the night he won the Gold Crown. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Traditionally, the Bathurst Harness Racing Club has offered some fantastic major prizes as part of the Gold Crown Carnival, and this year is no exception. Lucky punters will have a chance to relax and enjoy five nights accommodation at The Club Villas, Seminyak in Bali. To enter, racegoers must purchase a racebook during the carnival, complete the enclosed entry form and put it in the barrel near the presentation area at the track.  To win, the ticket holder must be at the track on Gold Crown Carnival finals night, Saturday, March 31, when the major prize is drawn.  To enjoy the accomodation at this four-star resort in the one-bedroom, private pool villa the lucky racegoers must book their trip with Panorama Cruise and Travel and head to Bali between June 1 and November 1, 2018. (The cost of airfares is at the winner’s expense.)   So, head to the Gold Crown Carnival to enjoy all the harness racing action and cross your fingers for Bali! By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate  

“G’DAY mate, how’s it going?” It is a greeting that Ian Warren has offered countless times over the years as he has welcomed patrons to Bathurst Harness Racing Club meetings. Whether it be on a sweltering summer evening, chilly winter night or when he is forced to don wet weather gear, Warren always has a smile and friendly word to offer patrons as they come through the gate. He will have plenty of greetings to offer over the next week as he mans the gate during the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival, the time he spends helping to raise money for the Lions Club of Bathurst. “I joined Lions in 1995 and I’ve been doing the trots gates virtually ever since,” Warren said. “We do the football gates in Bathurst as well and Central West football gates, but it [Gold Crown finals night] is the busiest time of the year here. “I will do it as long as I can hopefully. One reason I still do it is because I am the only one silly enough, but now I’ve got a few friends to help me, for three or four years I did it by myself. “I like doing it because I’ve seen what the results are, I’ve seen where the money you raise goes.” While Warren does not seek any recognition for what he does, last year the Bathurst Harness Club decided to nominate him for a Harness Racing NSW Club Volunteer Appreciation Award. It is a big thing for Bathurst every year … I always try and watch the Gold Crown, you just watch and hope you back the winner. Ian Warren It was an award he won, but other than admitting the nomination and the trophy were “pretty nice”, Warren tries to downplay his efforts. He is just happy to go about his job and come the Gold Crown Carnival finals night, Warren hopes to take in some of the action and pick a winner as well. It is one time of year when he tries to take in some of the on track action before heading home. “It is a big thing for Bathurst every year … I always try and watch the Gold Crown, you just watch and hope you back the winner,” he laughed. “Nowadays I don’t watch a lot of the races – I’m usually hungry by the time I finish and go home for dinner – but before I got married, I used to live in Orange and we used to come down every Saturday night to the Showground. I quite like harness racing. “I followed Hondo Grattan and Smooth Satin, the good ones. I used to come every night when they were running around.” As for those coming through the gate at the Bathurst Paceway, Warren admits while he knows the faces, he may not always recall the names. “I know a fair few of the characters, they come through the gate and say ‘Hello Ian’ and I’ll say hello back to them, but I don’t know all their names,” he said. But in fairness to the volunteer, most people only know him as Ian or by his nickname ‘Tiny’. They know him as that friendly bloke who has been greeting them at the gate for years. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Dubbo pacer Koloura Flight had no problems handling the warm weather conditions in taking out the Wee Waa Cup on Sunday. The race was the feature event on the program as part of the Narrabri harness racing meeting. Koloura Flight is raced by Bruce McKinnon along with his wife Margaret, with Bruce handling both the training and driving. “It was nice to win this race – we had a bit of bad luck at Inverell last week but we have turned it around today,” Bruce McKinnon said after the win. In the Inverell start Koloura Flight had no luck in the feature Inverell Cup, when after a seven-hour road trip from Dubbo the gelding suffered severe interference on the first turn. Narrabri saw all the stars align for McKinnon with Koloura Flight commencing from the seven barrier before McKinnon lobbed the six-year- old Flightpath-Koloura Jane gelding three back in the outside running line. That proved to be a wise move by the 70-plus year old reinsman with Bathurst pacer Our Chittybangbang (Anthony Frisby) leading the field and Condafew (Lola Weidemann) racing out in the breeze. “I didn’t want to get in behind the leader, just in case something locked me in, and I got stuck in there and that’s why I got in the outside running and it has paid off,” McKinnon said. As the field rounded the final turn into the long Narrabri straight McKinnon sent Koloura Flight three wide around the field. “My horses are use to the long straights at home and they put a bit of effort into it,” he said. Koloura Flight had a 1.9m win over Our Chittybangbang, a last start winner at Parkes, with Condafew half a neck away third. By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

The Hunter Academy of Sport has this week announced a major partnership with one of Newcastle’s largest gymnasiums.  Planet Fitness Australia is working with the 450 Hunter Academy of Sport (HAS) athletes offering free 12-month memberships at their local club, as well as a major discount to their families.  The HAS netball squad took full advantage of this amazing partnership last weekend, taking part in a yoga session led by the Planet Fitness instructors. In other news, The Hunter Academy of Sport 2018 Harness Racing Athlete Education Program has kicked off with an education day held in the HAS gym.  Ten young athletes learned the ins and outs of becoming a professional athlete including nutrition, alcohol and drugs in sport, and social media.  Those attending were even lucky enough to receive specialised media training from NBN television presenter Kate Haberfield.  The education component was provided by the Your Local Club Athlete Education Program. The program gives athletes around the state valuable knowledge to encourage personal development and successful progression in their sport.  The athletes are looking forward to their next session this weekend, where they will be listening to specialised information about animal welfare, sports psychology, tactical driving and pathway progression.  This program has been made possible by a strengthened relationship between Your Local Club, Harness Racing NSW and the Hunter Academy of Sport.   By Max McKinney Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald  

Armidale will showcase a nine-race harness racing program this Sunday with three features – the $10,000 Armidale Cup, the $10,000 Golden Horse Shoe for three-year-olds and the Bill Barraclough Memorial. The latter will have a Missile Gig as the trophy. Ultimate Art – a 2016 Inter-Dominion contender – is returning to Armidale from the Michael Formosa stables after a winning effort last year, as is Strathlachlan Andy from the Geoff Harding stables. Both have scored the visitors draw in the $10,000 Roberts and Morrow Chartered Accountants Armidale Cup. The Ducats Earthmoving Armidale Golden Horse Shoe Three-Year-old will once again see quality, with Queensland pacer Courageous Leo looking for five wins on the trot, while Hunter Valley pacer Rocknlachlan will look for back-to-back wins. Or we will we see the local pacer Shadow Dealer from the Wayne Gray stables at Moonbi take home the title in the $10,000 race? NATHAN Dawson starred at last week’s Inverell meeting when the Queensland reinsman drove four winners  – giving him a total of seven winning drives for the week. Dawson is about to travel to Armidale to contest the Paceway for the first time when he takes five drives. So can he emulate his Inverell success?  The first race at Armidale on Sunday is 12.55pm.   BATHURST Harness Racing Club are gearing up for their big Gold Crown Carnival. It is nice to see that Peter and Marie Neil have been announced as the Gold Crown Honourees for 2018. You have seen many of their horses racing around the North West, with the name of Shannon appearing in each of their racehorse’s names. THE Teal Appeal wraps up this Sunday, with the Armidale meeting being the last event we will see teal trousers worn by the reinswomen for another year. It has been a great fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, with $30,000 raised in NSW. Every winning reinswomen donated $200 donated from Harness Racing NSW to the cause. There will be plenty of teal at the Armidale meeting, with teal trousers to appear in 24 drives.  At Inverell, Sarah Rushbrook had her second win in teal trousers, while Sydney-based reinswoman Maddi Young gained her first win in teal at Inverell. Up until last Tuesday, there had been 74 wins by the ladies, including 10 on North West tracks – including one at Tamworth where the ladies finished 1,2,3. Harness racing at Narrabri on March 18.  By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

The Bathurst Harness Racing Club has named Marie and Peter Neil as this year’s Gold Crown Carnival honourees. The Neils join a long list of highly respected and influential harness racing figures on the honourees list, and they too have made a substantial impact on the industry. The couple run a successful breeding establishment and have forged a strong training partnership with Bathurst’s Peter Bullock. “Peter and Marie have had a long association with not only the Bathurst Gold Crown but harness racing in general.” Bathurst Harness Racing Club president Wayne Barker said.  “Both, Peter and Marie have successfully operated a breeding establishment at Goulburn, for a number of years with a band of 25 broodmares. “Adding to this, Peter and Marie also run a very successful training operation of 30 horses based near Bathurst, under the watch full eye of long time trainer Peter Bullock. “Peter and Marie would one day love to win a Gold Crown or a Gold Tiara and I am sure that win is not too far away, after being runner up on three previous occasions. “You can only keep breeding quality horses, which Peter and Marie do to give yourself a chance, so you would like to think a Crown or Tiara win is just around the corner.” Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer said selecting Peter and Marie Neil for the honour was a quick and easy decision for the board. “Each year we have a list of the people put forward to consideration and you often see some of the same names coming up each year. Peter and Marie, I believe, were nominated for the first time though,” he said. “On the back of not just their contributions to harness racing here in Bathurst but in the broader community of harness racing they were an easy choice. “You only have to look at the quality of the broodmares they have … and the foals that are reared at Goulburn. They’re broken in by Peter Bullock and it’s an operation that has worked very well for them.” The Neils join the likes of Chris Alford, the McCarthy Family and Kevin Thompson, who were the three most recent honourees on a distinguished list. “It’s a very special list of people who have contributed a lot to harness racing,” Dwyer said. “They have both been continually involved with the industry for such a long time and their breeding operation has helped ensure our quality of racing stays high.  “Their work means we can continue to have strong numbers at race meetings.” Peter and Marie Neil will be welcomed into the list of Gold Crown Honourees at the Honouree Dinner on March 27 at the Bathurst RSL Club. By Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

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