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Maitland father-and-son harness racing team Guy and Mitch Chapple believe Roclea Star is the best pacer in his NSW Breeders Challenge heat at Newcastle on Saturday night. Roclea Star will start from the widest barrier in nine in the two-year-old colts and geldings heat. Two 2YO fillies heats of the group 1 series will also be held. My Ultimate Bondi, for visiting trainer-driver Jarrod Alchin, was the favourite for the male heat after winning easily on debut at Newcastle on May 11 and drawing gate one. Roclea Star has the edge in experience after seven races for one win and a last-start second in the Gold Crown Yearling Sale Graduate Final at Bathurst in April 17. Guy Chapple, who will drive Roclea Star for his son, Mitch, was confident of a top-two finish and a place in semi-finals at Menangle. "He's the one to beat but I think mine is a better horse," Guy said of My Ultimate Bondi. "Mine's raced the best at Bathurst and had to sit outside the leader, and he might have to do the same this week. "But he certainly hasn't gone backwards. He's definitely improved since the freshen-up." Roclea Star has had no recent luck in barrier draws but Chapple was hoping for a better start from out wide. "It probably suits him out there because he's got a ton of gate speed and from the inside you can't muster that quickly," he said. "We'll go forward and we'll press to try and get the lead." In the second fillies heat, Chapple will fill in for the injured Andrew Bourke in driving long-shot Illgiveuadaisyaday for Chris Bourke. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Louth Park harness racing reinsman Brad Elder is looking forward to driving Shezlikeroyalty in the group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge series after her impressive first win at Newcastle on Saturday night. Shezlikeroyalty ($11) cruised to an 11-metre win over stablemate Juslikeroyalty for trainer Darren Elder in the two-year-old pace to close the program. The front-running win in 1:59:1 came after thirds at Maitland and Newcastle for the filly in her first two starts.  "I reckon it's going to be a pretty good horse," Brad said on Sunday. "The way she keeps improving, she should be on the big stage. "She'll have to have a go at the Breeders Challenge, she's going good enough. She went like a rocket last night and got home in 28.2, which is pretty good for a two-year-old. "I never pulled the plugs or touched her with the whip. She did that all herself." The victory was part of a double for Brad, who was rewarded for an early move on Its Allabout Alice ($11) in a two-metre win in 1:55:3 for Maitland trainer Peter Neilson. Elder sat the four-year-old mare behind the leader before stealing a break approaching the home turn. "She's pretty cool to drive and she went pretty good last night," he said. "We got a nice run and we were able to pop off in time and slip away before they could run me down. "She's been racing really good lately. Last week she sat parked, which is not her go, and she still ran second."  "Last night was a pretty good trip and I thought I pretty much had it won with 800 to go and no one outside me." Days End added to a good night for the Elders when he stormed home to win at $41 for trainer Melanie Elder. Michael Formosa, who trained the opening race winner, Rolling With Stell, steered the seven-year-old to victory. Jack Callaghan drove Rolling With Stell and For The Bettor to wins. Mark Callaghan had a training double with For The Bettor and Guptas Cullen. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Teenage Morisset harness racing driver Jack Callaghan scored a winning double at Newcastle on a good night for his father's stable on Saturday. Trainer Mark Callaghan won with Vega Star at Menangle and Kotiro at Newcastle, where his son, Jack, oversaw their team. Jack gave the Geoff Dorn-trained favourite Mista Taptoe Lombo a comfortable run in the one-one before the nine-year-old gelding proved too good in the straight to win by 4.6 metres in race five. Callaghan had more work to do on Kotiro ($5.50) in the next, sitting behind leader Breakntherules before getting out late to just beat him on the line. At Menangle, Vega Star resumed from a six-month break with victory on a good night for the Hunter brigade. Todd McCarthy took Vega Star to the front from gate six and he was never headed to win by a half-neck in a career-best time of 1:52:8. Lovin Miss Daisy was a 1.8m second for Callaghan and McCarthy in the next, where Major Occasion clocked 1:51:6. Also on the program, Kitchener trainer Michael Osborn and Maitland reinsman Dan Morgan combined to win with Exterminate, which ran a personal-best winning time of 1:53:7. Keinbah trainer Roy Roots jnr finished the meeting with a victory as accomplished trotter Glenferrie Typhoon had his first win for the stable. The nine-year-old, a winner of $527,999 in stakes, was having his first run back after finishing a distant last on debut for Roots jnr in December, after which he was stood down by stewards pending an electrocardiograph.  By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald

Cessnock harness racing trainer Clayton Harmey is hoping to grab another front-running win with Always A Secret on Monday at Newcastle after he dominated in a career-best time on Saturday night. Always A Secret led throughout with Leigh Sutton aboard to win by four metres in 1.55.5 in race two at Newcastle and will back up at the track in the fifth on Monday. It was a fourth win in 18 starts for the four-year-old, a brother to the former Harmey-trained Secret Jack which now races in Queensland. "He loves the front but he's half the horse in the field," Harmey said. "Secret Jack was the same. I think he won about 10 races for me and nearly all of them were when he led. "I was pretty proud of Always A Secret, especially on a rain-affected track, it was very good run to clock that time. And he just kept going. He was never on the bridle the whole race." Harmey has a soft spot for Always A Secret, which has beat the odds from an early age to still be competing. "As a foal, one of his back legs was cut up really bad in a paddock accident and the vet said he would never race. He didn't think he would even survive. "But the owners kept going with him. His leg looks terrible but it doesn't worry him. He's amazing, he just keeps pushing on. "If the race tomorrow was harder, I probably wouldn't start him but I don't think it's overly hard." Harmey also has a high opinion of Straddie, which races in the third on Monday. Although drawn wide, Straddie was "a little hope at big odds", the trainer said. Also on Saturday, Sutton drove a winning double when he saluted on Courage Lips for Jinaya Niass. Michael Formosa (Si Si Senor and Eagle Falls) and Rickie Alchin (Regulus and Crunch Time) also drove two winners each. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Brandy Hill harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco hopes reuniting Black Silhouette with Sydney driver Chris Geary at Newcastle International Paceway on Friday will help reinvigorate the four-year-old mare. Black Silhouette has been unable in 2019 to recapture the form that saw her named best filly and three-year-old at the 2017-18 Newcastle Harness Racing Club awards in October.   She has placed three times in 10 races during the last two months, resuming on December 29 from a spell that began in July.  Four of Black Silhouette's eight wins last season came with Geary on board and Dimarco thought this move could provide the spark. "She [Black Silhouette] was a very smart filly but she just hasn't come back as well as a mare," Dimarco said. "Hopefully having Chris [Geary] on board and reuniting them might make a difference."  Black Silhouette, which drew barrier 10 in the first (1609 metres) at Newcastle, combined with Geary to win a Gold Bracelet (2260m) heat in Bathurst last year but finished seventh in the final. Dimarco was successful at the same central NSW carnival in 2015 with two-year-old Shadow Runner claiming the group 1 Gold Crown (1730m). He wants to taste victory out west again next month but with another runner Miss Serendipity. After three trials, the untried two-year-old filly will race the eighth (1609m) at Newcastle with Geary in the gig and Dimarco's eyeing off the $100,000 Gold Tiara at Bathurst.  "Hopefully she [Miss Serendipity] can make a good impression," he said.      Geary has two other drives on Friday's card including Alabama Shakes, one of three for Roy Roots jnr in the fourth (1609m). Roots jnr will then head to Menangle for Miracle Mile night on Saturday with Miss Streisand in the group 1 NSW Oaks (2400m) and The Black Prince in the listed Alabar Stakes (2400m).     Last month's Newcastle Mile qualifier Yayas Hot Spot, trained by former Hunter pair Shane and Lauren Tritton, has drawn barrier four for the $1million Miracle Mile (1609m). By Josh Callinan Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald

It wasn’t with the horse most expected, but Shane and Lauren Tritton broke through for a special Newcastle Mile win in dramatic fashion on Friday night. Yayas Hot Spot, the first emergency when fields were released and an $81 Fixed Odds chance, made the most of an inside run with Lachie Manzelmann in the gig to beat Little Rascal by a nose and pacesetter Picard by a half head in 1:54:7. Odds-on favourite, track record-holder and defending champion Majordan galloped at the start and never recovered in the race which was delayed by almost an hour because of a rain-affected track and nearby lightning. The rest of the meeting was abandoned after the group 1 race. The surprise victory gave the Trittons, who were raised in the Hunter and dominated pacing in the region before moving to Menangle Park three years ago, another group 1 but their first Newcastle Mile title. Yayas Hot Spot earned a start in the $1 million Miracle Mile on March 2 at Menangle with the win. Yayas Hot Spot, on the inside, gets the win Yayas Hot Spot, now eight, had finished third in the group 3 Newcastle Mile in 2018 and was eighth in 2016. Sydney trainer Kevin Pizzuto was expected to win with Majordan or Picard and the Tritton-trained Maximan was next best in betting. But it was the Adam Sofoulis-owned Yayas Hot Spot, which had barrier two and gained a start after Rakarolla was scratched, that flew late from a sit three back on the pegs. It’s most recent start was a ninth in the Inter Dominion consolation.  “It’s definitely a special one, especially for that horse,” Shane Tritton said. “The owners have been big supporters of Newcastle for a long time and this horse has been here two years when no one wanted to come because it was only worth $30,000, and he just deserves it. I’m really proud. “He’s been working super. You can’t go off how old they are and what they’re doing. At the end of the day, he’s feeling good. He’s raced the best horses in the Inter Dominion and he came out of that great. “He’s been to the Miracle Mile before, the Hunter Cup, the Victoria Cup and the Inter Dominion, so you knew he was good enough. Just sometimes people forget. “We got a bit of luck. The track surface might have helped us. It brought a few of them back to us. Instead of going 1:50, they’re going 1:54, and at the end of the day, he’s first past the post and that’s all you can ask.” The group 1 win was a first for Manzelmann. Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission from Newcastle Herald

Newcastle Harness Racing Club chairman Jim Bell remembers it was much-loved former chief executive Ross Gigg's dream to have the track's feature race lifted to group 1 level. And Bell says the club will not forget his legacy now the Newcastle Mile has reached the elite level. Harness Racing NSW announced on Wednesday that the race will become a Miracle Mile qualifier for the first time since 2014 as well as rise from group 3 ($30,000) to group 1 ($100,000) status. The March 2 Miracle Mile at Menangle will increase from $750,000 to $1 million. Gigg, who was NHRC boss for 22 years, died in May 2014. The club renamed its feature race the Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile. A group 2 $75,000 race and Miracle Mile qualifier in Gigg's time at the helm, the event has been a group 3 the past three years.  Jim Bell   Gigg was instrumental in bringing the group 1 1997 Australian Pacing Championships to the Broadmeadow track and was working to lift the Mile to that level.     "It's just marvellous," Bell said of the Mile upgrade. "It was the only time [in 1997] that we had a group 1, and it was Ross's dream. We got the Mile up to $75,000 at one stage but the way things were funded through the industry, it didn't become possible, but it's been a dream." The change means the Gigg name will no longer be part of the race title but Bell said the club will find another event to honour him.     "Ross Gigg won't be forgotten," Bell said. "With the prizemoney comes obligations, but Ross will be remembered and the board will work out an appropriate race and a feature race." The upgrade should bring a top-class field to the Newcastle Mile, especially with its status as the first of four Miracle Mile qualifiers, and Bell was hopeful of a strong turnout trackside. “It's all happening in our 30th year,” he said. “To be part of the Miracle Mile, a million dollar race, it's fantastic.  “Hopefully it's the same as it was before. "People come out to see quality horses so hopefully we get a good crowd." Securing group 1 status and regaining its place in the Miracle Mile series is a coup for the NHRC's headline event and gives it a special place in Hunter racing.  Newcastle and Scone thoroughbred race clubs hold group 3 events as their pinnacles each year, while The Gardens greyhound track at Birmingham Gardens has the group 2 Black Top as its highest-rated feature. The other qualifying races for the Miracle Mile are the Chariots of Fire for four-year-olds on February 16 and two sprints on February 23, all held at Menangle. The winners gain an automatic place in the $1 million finale. Some of the greats of pacing, including Westburn Grant (1990 and '91), Sabilize (1994, '95, '96), Our Sir Vancelot (1998) and Courage Under Fire (2000, '01), have won the Newcastle Mile. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Newcastle Harness Racing Club (NHRC) will host the only Group 1 event across any racing code in the Hunter region under a revamped Miracle Mile series featuring a $1 million final at Menangle Park. The Newcastle Mile will rise from a $30,000 group 3 race held in May to a $100,000 Miracle Mile qualifier to be run on Friday, February 8. The Group 1 in Newcastle will be the first of four qualifiers, and the only one held outside of Menangle, for the March 2 Miracle Mile, which jumps from $750,000 to $1 million in prizemoney, making it the richest harness racing event in the southern hemisphere. Harness Racing NSW is set to announce the changes on Thursday. Held as the group 3 Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile in 2016, '17 and '18, the race was formerly a group 2 $75,000 event held as a qualifier for the Miracle Mile. It is believed the elevated race will no longer carry the Ross Gigg name but the club is expected to rename another event to honour the popular former NHRC boss, who died in 2014. Securing Group 1 status and regaining its place in the Miracle Mile series is a coup for the NHRC's headline event and gives it a special place in Hunter racing.  Newcastle and Scone thoroughbred race clubs hold group 3 events as their pinnacles each year, while The Gardens greyhound track at Birmingham Gardens has the group 2 Black Top as its highest-rated feature. Newcastle Paceway has held a group 1 race just once before, in 1997, when Darren Hancock's Sovereign Hill won the Australian Pacing Championship.  With the lift in status, the Newcastle Mile is expected to again attract many of the best pacers in Australasia to the Broadmeadow circuit.  Free-legged Queensland star Avonnova won in 2014 when the Newcastle Mile, then a Group 2, was last held as a Miracle Mile qualifier. Beautide did the Newcastle-Miracle Mile double in 2013. Both champions broke track records in their Newcastle victories. It's hoped having top-line pacers on show again in Newcastle will bring a healthy crowd and boost the club, which has hit hard times financially over the past decade but is celebrating 30 years of racing at the Broadmeadow track in 2019.     The other qualifying races for the Miracle Mile are the Chariots of Fire for four-year-olds on February 16 and two sprints on February 23, all held at Menangle. The winners gain an automatic place in the $1 million finale. Some of the greats of pacing, including Westburn Grant (1990 and '91), Sabilize (1994, '95, '96), Our Sir Vancelot (1998) and Courage Under Fire (2000, '01), have won the Newcastle Mile. By Craig Kerry   Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Rookie Medowie harness racing driver Emma Nichols has “found her calling” after breaking through for her first winner on Saturday night at Newcastle Paceway. Nichols, 32, drove the Peter Payne-trained Pumpniron to a 7.5-metre victory in the C3 race over 1609m after coming five wide with a storming finish from back in the field. It was the five-year-old gelding’s first win since last October and came as Payne was in hospital with back trouble. “It was really nice to win for him while he’s in hospital. It will hopefully pick him up a bit,” Nichols said. It was Nichols’ first race drive on Pumpniron. She works for Medowie trainer Darren Reay and has been driving in races since last December. “I’ve been close a couple of times so it was exciting,” she said. “I just get a drive here and there, mainly for Darren, but I’d driven Pumpa in trials. I’d done a bit of trackwork with him and helped Peter Payne out.  “I just got myself into a good spot and the horse did it easy.” Nichols had been a stablehand in the thoroughbred industry and came into harness racing at Reay’s stables about three years ago. “I came here to start feeding up and I just kept stepping up into it,” she said.  “I started having a go at driving, just for a bit of fun, then trackwork and it progressed from there. I came into it a bit late but I’ve found my calling and I love it.” Leigh Sutton drove a winning treble with Chevrons Reward and Platinum Revolution for Shane and Lauren Tritton, and Advanced Warfare for Stephen Kilroy. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Harness Racing NSW chief executive John Dumesny hopes an operational review of the Newcastle club will help it turn around eight consecutive years of financial losses. Dumesny confirmed HRNSW was conducting a review of Newcastle Harness Racing Club, which had a record loss of about $240,000 for the 2016-17 financial year. That followed annual deficits of $116,910, $171,000, $207,000, $103,000, $122,000, $120,000 and $97,000. The review comes as the club prepares to lose CEO Tony Drew. The 64-year-old confirmed to the Herald almost three weeks ago that he was retiring. The former Wyong Race Club boss is set to leave later this financial year after four years at the helm following the death of long-time chief Ross Gigg. Dumesny told the Herald the independent review at Newcastle was not unusual and was done “to see how clubs are doing and to improve the clubs”. “Each of the past few years we’ve assisted clubs with reducing the costs of conducting meetings,” Dumesny said. “It’s a balancing act between providing a level of prizemoney for participants, but at the same time you also need to provide for the clubs. “Newcastle is one of our ‘A’ clubs, so we’re just looking at it. It’s opportune, but it’s got nothing to do with the resignation of Tony.” He said the harness racing clubs’ committee has “each year put forward ideas on how we can help clubs and that’s what we are doing”.  Newcastle had blamed deficits on the loss of regular TAB Saturday meetings almost a decade ago. However, an increase in Saturday dates in recent years has failed to improve its bottom line. “We just want to look at their model there and how it works and if we can help them further,” Dumesny said. “They’ve made a loss of varying amounts for the past few years now and we’ve worked with the club, changing race dates. “We gave them all those Saturdays, and those Saturdays come at a cost to the industry, but we want to see what it is that continues not to assist them with making a profit.” He said the annual losses were a concern but he was hopeful of a turnaround. “In the next allocation of race dates we looked at the balance and there were indications that a combination of Fridays and Saturdays would work better,” he said. He said wagering revenue was the industry’s lifeblood “but we are also driven to have on-track attendances”. Asked if the review could lead to a change in administrative structure at NHRC, Dumesny said that was a decision for Newcastle’s board. He added that the review will be complete before Drew leaves, “so the club will be privy to what it uncovers and they will be able to address that in their future thinking”. The review comes as Hunter participants await further news on the NSW government’s plans for the Broadmeadow sporting and recreational precinct, which takes in Newcastle Paceway. Harness racing has not been included in plans despite NHRC holding a lease on its facility until 2027, with an option for another 20-year deal. The Herald understands HRNSW and state government authorities have been looking for a site in Maitland and Cessnock to build a new Hunter headquarters taking in a training centre and racetrack similar to Bathurst. “The success at Bathurst is known, we can measure it,” Dumesny said. “We are building Wagga and it’s different to Bathurst, but Newcastle is our second-biggest club on race meetings and the Hunter Valley is a very strong harness racing precinct. So whatever occurs there, HRNSW will certainly be looking after the stakeholders throughout NSW and the future of harness racing in the Hunter.” “There’s a licence agreement there for decades, so there’s no uncertainty for the participants. There is a venue there they can race on once or twice a week. They’ve got a home and they are safe.”  By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Harness Racing New South Wales in conjunction with the Newcastle Harness Racing Club wish to advise that the Group 3 Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile is now scheduled for May 26, 2018, as part of the TAB Carnival of Cups. Originally set for this Saturday night, the feature race has been rescheduled following the confirmation of the A-League Grand Final taking place at McDonald Jones Stadium next door to the Newcastle track at the same time. "The Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile is harness racing's flagship event in the Hunter region and we want the race and meeting to gain as much traction locally as possible," HRNSW chief executive John Dumesny stated. "It's only natural that the community of Newcastle will be fixated on the soccer final and therefore we have worked with the Newcastle Harness Racing Club, the sponsor AVE Technologies and participants to move the date of this memorial race to a Saturday void of rugby league at the precinct." The Newcastle Oaks has attracted a strong field and will be the feature race this Saturday night, however, the Newcastle Derby will also be transferred to the May 26 fixture. As a show of faith with stakeholders, prizemoney of $30,000 will be provided for the top level of the metropolitan handicapping race at Tabcorp Park Menangle this Saturday night. There will be nine races at Menangle this Saturday including the $40,000 NSW Trotters Oaks and the $25,000 La Coocaracha for open trotting mares. AMANDA RANDO

Louth Park harness racing driver Brad Elder hopes a winning return from injury at Newcastle Paceway on Saturday night will lead to a better run of luck. In just his second drive back from a two-week break following a race fall at Newcastle, Elder guided Liukin to victory for his sister, Melanie Elder. He went close to a win in the first race on Alta Surreal, for his father Darren, and could have driven the victor, Jumbo Asakei. Elder, 19, is the regular driver of the Greg Brown-trained Jumbo Asakei, which won by a half-neck with Ashley Hart in the gig. “I usually drive him but I was trying to get my clearance on Friday and if I didn’t get it, it would have stuffed around Browny, so I said I’ll just drive my own this week,” Elder said. He needed the clearance because of bruising and muscle damage from the fall, which was the seventh of his short career and third in the past three months. “It’s always been a horse error, so I’ve been unlucky,” he said. He said he was “a bit sore” after Saturday night’s meeting but it was “nothing that will stop me driving”. The win was his 49th of the season as he chases a second consecutive Newcastle drivers’ premiership. His next focus is Saturday night’s group 2 Bulli Cup at Menangle Park with Shannonsablast. Also on Saturday night, Hart, Josh Gallagher and Will Rixon drove winning doubles. The Sam Dimarco-trained Shadow Runner was one of Gallagher’s drives and an impressive winner after being out of position at the start. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Sawyers Gully harness racing hobby trainer Stacie Elliott is excited to think where bargain buy Pete’s Big Jim will take her. For the moment, she will have to settle for Newcastle Paceway on Saturday night. However, Elliott is eyeing the group 1 Victorian Breeders Crown in August with the $11,000 purchase after his impressive second in the group 3 Sapling Stakes at Menangle on February 24. “We went in as a rough chance, I’m only a hobby trainer against all the big guys, and he really went well,” Elliott said. “He tried his heart out. He just keeps stepping up and getting better and better. It’s pretty exciting to think where we could end up with him. His work this week was another half a second on his work leading up to the Sapling.” Pete’s Big Jim won a heat of the Breeders Plate at Leeton on debut and will chase his second victory in five starts in race nine at Newcastle. Pete’s Big Jim was one of four buys by Canberra’s Peter Kohlsdorf from ready to run sales put in Elliott’s care. However, the gelding was not paid up for this month’s Bathurst Gold Crown or the NSW Breeders Challenge. As a fallback, Elliott hoped to race in the Rod Fitzpatrick group 3 race for two-year-olds at Menangle last week but the event received only four nominations. Now Elliott is looking at a run or two locally before a spell and campaign aimed at the Victorian series. Also on Saturday night, a $2500 cheque from Newcastle Harness Racing Club and Newcastle and Maitland Mini Trots will be added to the Team Teal fundraising campaign for the Women’s Cancer Foundation. Drivers across Australia have worn teal coloured pants to raise awareness and each winner they have scored has earned a $200 donation harness racing bodies. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

Brandy Hill trainer Sam Dimarco’s hopes of getting Shadow Runner back to top-class competition were raised when the 2015 Bathurst Gold Crown champion had his first win in 13 months at Newcastle on Saturday night. With James Harding in the gig, Shadow Runner ($5.80) worked hard early from barrier eight to get the lead with a 27-second first quarter in race four.  The five-year-old gelding then held out fast-finishing 2017 Newcastle horse of the year Rockmemama, the $2 favourite, by a metre to win in 1.56 flat. It was Shadow Runner’s fifth start back from a year out with a leg injury. “I was really happy with the run,” Dimarco said. “He’s improving but he’s not 100 per cent yet. That was his fifth run back and he takes a while to get going. “We may just stay around Newcastle for a couple more runs and then take him to Menangle for the MOs, “Hopefully we can get him back to somewhere near where he was before the injury.” The win came on the same night three-year-old filly Black Silhouette, which is also owned by Dimarco’s daughter and Harness Racing NSW director Marissa Dimarco, qualified for another Evolution series final. She led the heat but was run down late by Gemma Rue’s Callmequeenbee. The pair will meet again in Saturday night’s final at Menangle “I biggest thrill for Marissa was Shadow Runner,” Sam said. “To get him back and win a race, even though it was only by a metre, he’s got it all in front of him if we can keep him sound.” It was also a big night for visiting driver Leigh Sutton, who took Polly Downing’s Elsie Gem, Clayton Harmey’s Yourblueyescrying and Tiarn Sutton’s Team Of Starzzz to victory. Meanwhile, former Keinbah-based team Shane and Lauren Tritton had a winning double at Menangle with two-time Newcastle horse of the year Mach Beauty and Franco Nelson. Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

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

Chief executive Tony Drew says Newcastle Harness Racing Club (NHRC) remains in a holding pattern after recording its biggest loss in eight years of consecutive deficits. NHRC posted a loss of about $240,000 for the 2016-17 financial year, up from $116,910 in 2015-16. They followed losses of about $171,000, $207,000, $103,000, $122,000, $120,000 and $97,000 in the years since the club lost regular Saturday night TAB dates. The club had 41 Saturday night meetings in 2016-17 but still slumped to its worst result. It cut the club’s cash funds to about $500,000. Drew said “the cost structure for Saturday meetings is 25 per cent more than a Friday or a midweek meeting” and the club was hit by losses from upgrading fencing and extending the parade ring, as well as a shortfall in expected industry returns. He said those factors equated to about half of the club’s loss for the year.  “The major thing was that the industry funding sponsorship did not come through as budgeted for, but it’s looking good this year,” Drew said. “It was something we didn’t budget for, but it is what it is. Race-wise we had a fantastic year but we’re in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment to see what’s happening with the Broadmeadow sporting precinct.” The fence upgrade came before the club discovered its home at Newcastle International Paceway was set to become a $20 million centre of excellence for rugby league under a state government plan to transform the Broadmeadow area taking in McDonald Jones Stadium. Harness racing is not part of the plan which was the subject of a community consultation period that ended on November 30.  NHRC, Harness Racing NSW and Venues NSW are working to find a suitable new home for the club, which has a lease on the Broadmeadow site until 2027. Drew said the club recently proved it has an option to lease the land for a further 20 years. “We’ve had very fruitful discussions with the Cessnock council, they were on the front foot and there are plenty of sites in the Cessnock LGA and there’s also sites in the Maitland LGA,” Drew said. “While we are looking into that, Harness Racing NSW have been very supportive and it’s a collaborative investigation between us, HRNSW and Venues NSW, and everyone is working well together. “We’re of the understanding that we will be moving but there’s no timeline on that. We’ve said that we will move as long as they build us a new facility with a training centre attached with no cost to the industry.” Meanwhile, NHRC has gained three extra race dates for the 2018-19 financial year under a draft proposal. Newcastle has 60 meetings, including 27 Saturdays and 20 Friday nights. Drew said that equated to 67 meetings because the club was allowed to run nine races instead of eight at 47 of the programs. Maitland has retained its number of race dates. Also, premiership-winning trainer Clayton Harmey has joined the NHRC board and attended his first meeting on Tuesday night. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald

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