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Belfast, IE - It was a day to remember for harness racing driver Greg Dean at Racetime Raceway on Saturday when the Dunmurray man partnered 4 horses to victory for the first time in a driving career spanning almost five decades and what a day to do it on, his father Patsy’s Memorial Cup day meeting.   Generously sponsored by the Dean family with added prizemoney for all races, the event consisted of 3 heats with the first two home in each qualifying for a grand final. Those that did not qualify had a second bite of the cherry by entering a consolation pace with a square trot completing the programme of six races.   In the first heat, Dean steered Fairdays Dixie to a comprehensive three length victory over the skewbald Big Pete who denied race favourite Rio Bravo by a half length for the runner-up spot in 2:04.9. A gamble was landed in the penultimate heat when Ryan Hanson drove Mystical Carbs to a tactical victory over Waverly Jane and Lucky Cam in 2:02.2 with the margins four lengths and another length. The remaining heat provided the second leg of the eventual four-time for Greg Dean when Monugs Boy came from the third line to defeat Ladyford Jim by three lengths in 2:01.9 with North Art a further ½ length in arrears back in third.   Before the grand final a consolation pace sponsored by track bookmaker Charlie Finnegan was held for those who did not qualify for the feature and six went to post in this with Rio Bravo and Frisco Hold Up the joint 6/4 favourites. It looked as if punters had got it right as Peter Lyttle led them into the home straight with a commanding lead but Eamonn Griffin aboard rank outsider Hilltop North Art had other ideas and he came with a blistering late challenge to nail the luckless Rio Bravo in the shadows of the post. The time was a respectable 2:04.5 given the winners 25 yard starting deficit with Derrybeg which was trailing 35 yards also flying at the finish to snatch third. The distances were 1 length and a half length.   In the final of the Patsy Dean Memorial itself controversy reigned as favourite Monugs Boy and Mystical Carbs had a coming together with a circuit to run and although Monugs Boy emerged the best out of the altercation and went on to score impressively by eight lengths in 2:00.7, a seasons record.    A stewards enquiry was immediately called. After much deliberations by the panel of stewards on duty it was adjudged that although driver of Monugs Boy had caused interference on the top bend, this interference was not serious enough as to affect the end result as the margin of victory was so substantial. The result was therefore allowed to stand but Dean had a heavy fine imposed as to his driving of the race and a warning as to future driving etiquette regarding clearance whilst overtaking.   Monugs Boy was presented with the Patsy Dean Memorial Cup for 2020 to the delight of the Dean family who were present. The runner up spot went to Waverly Jane who fended off a rallying Mystical Carbs.   The afternoons square trot named after that mercurial grey mare RB Greystar was robbed of some its lustre when likely favourite Socrates Du Noyer was an absentee due to the recent increased Covid-19 regulations in Southern Ireland. Owner of Scorates Finbarr Brickley normally travels up from Cork, a 510 mile round trip every fortnight to compete but with that county now in lockdown Brickley was forced to withdraw on the morning of raceday.   That effectively left the trot a match race between Terry Hendersons Evan Jive (OTD) and Thomas Bennetts Bocage De Fornet which was partnered by man of the moment Greg Dean. Once the contest got underway a break in stride by Evan Jive on the first circuit handed the initiative to his sole rival and Bocage De Fornet was never headed thereafter eventually scoring by a distance in 3:18.3 for the one and a half mile trip.   This win made it a four-timer on the day for driver Dean and the Dunmurray man was visibly emotional after racing having absorbed the enormity of this achievement on what his fathers memorial race day.   Guest of honour on the day Brenda Hudson presented the rosettes and trophies to all winners and it was great to see living legend Brenda back on the track after a serious bout of illness which had affected her ability to participate or spectate at any harness racing meeting for the past 2 years. Looking a picture of health Brenda was surrounded by well-wishers all afternoon its hoped that she will become a regular again at Racetime in 2021.   All in all it was a fantastic days harness racing in golden autumnal sunshine and NISA have announced their next race meeting will be held at Racetime on Saturday October 24th where the feature will be the Anto Russell Memorial heats and final, a painted mile for skewbald pacers and a free-for-all.   Entries are now being taken for this meeting by NISA reps.   by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink    

Belfast, IE - A fantastic afternoon’s harness racing awaits those who make the journey up to Racetime Raceway this Saturday afternoon when the Patsy Dean Memorial Cup is staged at the Lisburn venue. Patsy was a legendary figure in Northern Irish harness racing down through the years being father to both Greg and Brenda with the horses campaigned by the Dean family through the years including some of the finest to ever grace the tracks of the British Isles – Ragman, Mayfly, Silent Running, Disco Kid, RB Greystar, Rambling Rover, Dorney Reveller, Double M, Spice Girl, Stormy Reveller to name but a few of them. Such is the popularity of this family that fierce competition is expected on Saturday in order to lift the cup which was last won by Walter Stewart and Porterstown Courage.   Getting underway at 3:00 pm a total of 21 pacers are set to go to post over 3 heats and a grand final with a consolation pace also held on the day giving all unplaced horses a second bite at the cherry. In the opening heat, Fairdays Dixie appears to be a standing dish having looking like a winner on his debut a fortnight ago only to tire badly late on. Expected to strip fitter for that run the Jimmy Long bred gelding looks the one to beat in this. Peter Lyttles latest stable star Rio Bravo is improving with every start and could give Fairdays Dixie most to do despite a 10 yard handicap trail. Others to consider are the consistent Back In Time and the skewbald Big Pete whilst Despicable Me needs to put in a clear round to figure. Frisco Hold Up has been knocking on the door in recent weeks at Racetime and this time around that door just might open for owner-trainer-driver Darren Smith giving him a well-deserved winner. Waverly Jane has taken time to adjust to the Northern Irish air since her recent importation from Scotland but shes very capable on her day and could spring a surprise. Lucky Cam is returning from injury picked up a couple of months ago and may just need the run in this whilst it wouldn’t be a major surprise should Mystical Carbs upstage them all. The remaining heat looks a very tricky puzzle to solve on paper as it boasts no less than 4 last time out winners. Newcomer Hilltop North Art was victorious on his last start at Amman Valley in Wales and is expected to run a very big race for new owner Eamonn Griffin. Ladyford Jim won a heat a fortnight ago on the day that Valentine Camden and John Barley dead-heated in the Charlie Finnegan sponsored consolation final and all three will take their chances again here. Don’t rule out the luckless Monugs Boy who has been placed on his last three starts for the days main sponsor Greg Dean. A valid case can be made five runners in what looks like a mouth-watering clash worth the admission fee alone.  In between the heats a square trotters contest will also be held and although quantity of runners is not at the forefront, the quality of runners participating almost certainly is. Evan Jive has tasted victory already this season at Racetime and if he puts in a clear round he will lead them a merry dance from the front. Bocage De Fornet was won twice this campaign but had his colours lowered by Socrates Du Noyer the last time they clashed in a very tactical affair. Finbarr Brickleys striking chestnut takes on Bocage De Fornet on slightly worse terms on Saturday and a close call is expected between these two titans of trotting when they lock horns. Also on the day will be a series of Rising Stars pony trotting races and these continue to prove popular in bringing the crowds to Racetime. At the time of writing this article the track can still welcome the general public to spectate on Saturday but as ever strict Covid-19 protocols are in place and NIS request all participants and spectators to adhere to Northern Irish Health Board guidelines. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink  

Belfast, IE - The exquisitely bred Oakwood Maverick landed the harness racing feature for owner-trainer-driver Barry Reavey at Racetime Raceway in Lisburn on Saturday.   A total of eighteen pacers went to post over 3 heats in the John, Maureen & Paddy Bassett Memorial Cup with the first 2 home in each qualifying for a grand final which was kindly sponsored by the Bassett Family from Belfast, long-standing supporters of harness racing in Northern Ireland.   In the opening heat the favourite Rio Bravo obliged for Peter Lyttle in 2:03.5 from Oakwood Maverick and Fairdays Dixie with the margins of victory two lengths and a further length. The penultimate heat went to Jason McCullough aboard Ladyford Jim who had three lengths to spare over Frisco Hold Up in 2:02.9 which just held on by a short head over Valentine Camden.   Derrybeg ran out a popular winner of the remaining heat for Billy Bassett in the fastest time of the season at Racetime 2:01.4 with Monugs Boy and John Barley filling the places with the distances three quarters of a length and another four lengths.   In the grand final Peter Lyttle led them away pursued by Oakwood Maverick and Frisco Hold Up. The odds-on favourite Ladyford Jim entered the fray at the half but his run soon petered out leaving Rio Bravo back out in front and looking good to land the spoils.   Oakwood Maverick challenged again on the final bend and just as it looked as if Rio Bravo was successfully fending off Oakwood Maverick she made an uncharacteristic break in stride and Barry Reavey then had the race at his mercy.   Monugs Boy charged up the home stretch to try and stake his claim but the post came in time for Oakwood Maverick who hit the wire in 2:03.3 The gallant Rio Bravo held on to second spot from Monugs Boy and Derrybeg. The distances were three lengths and a neck.   In the winners enclosure a jubilant Barry Reavey claimed that he just bought the horse a couple of months ago and was still finding his feet with the colt. By Hasty Hall out of Catscam the three year old is certainly a horse going places and is likely to win again before the season comes to a close at the Northern venue. Oakwood Maverick was bred by Oakwood Stud, brothers James and Derek Delaney.   A consolation pace generously sponsored by the track bookmaker was also held during the afternoon for those pacers who did not qualify for the final and six also went to post in this contest. Charlie Pan went to post a short priced favourite having broke at the start in his heat as a result of a harness issue.   This time around Hugh Friels latest acquisition quickly made up his 35 years starting handicap and hit the front just before the half. Controlling the tempo for the majority of the second circuit it looked as if Charlie Pan had the race at his mercy but his early exertions began to take their toll and he started to flag within the shadows of the post.   Mickey Connors aboard Valentine Camden, who had stalked Charlie Pan throughout, then siezed this chance to nail Charlie Pan on the line. What both didn’t realise was that Michael Goggin was building up a head of steam with John Barley and he fairly bolted the last 50 yards to stake his claim.   As they hit the wire in 2:02.8 a subsequent photo finish print dictated that they could not be split and the result was a dead-heat between Valentine Camden and John Barley with Charlie Pan third, another 2 lengths adrift.   Interviewed post-race both Micheal Goggin and Mickey Connors expressed their satisfaction with the judges verdict and both men went back to Donegal and West Cork happy with a red rosette and an equal share of the winners pot.   Another West Cork raider Finbarr Brickley struck in the afternoons square when his Socrates Du Noyer exacted sweet revenge on his arch nemesis Bocage De Fornet. Driven by Finbarrs son Ciaran the striking chestnut gelding sprinted into the lead and was never headed thereafter despite Greg Deans challenging repeatedly with Bocage De Fornet when Ciaran Brickley slackened the pace at various stages throughout the contest. It was a deserved victory for Socrates who has been knocking on the door in recent starts finishing in the runner up spot on the last two occassions and the door finally opened in fine style for the Baltimore outfit.   A selection of pony trotting exhibitions for under 14s drivers were also staged in between races and these popular attractions always add to the colour and atmosphere at Racetime Raceway.   by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Belfast, IE - The Northern Ireland Standardbred Association (NISA), the officially recognised governing body for the sport of harness racing in Northern Ireland hosted their 6th meeting of the 2020 season at Racetime Raceway in Lisburn this Saturday where the feature event on the programme will be the John, Paddy & Maureen Bassett Memorial Cup. Generously sponsored by the Bassett family from Belfast, 3 heats will be held on the afternoon with the first 2 home in each qualifying for a grand final. In the opening heat, all eyes will be on Peter Lyttles Rio Bravo which finished third, then second on its previous two starts at the venue and with more improvement expected the mare should secure the red rosette this time of asking. Oakwood Maverick looks the biggest danger to the selection. Barry Reaveys colt won on his debut then finished third last time but made a break at the half losing valuable momentum. With a clear round he will give Rio Bravo something to think about. Of the remainder Big Pete qualified quite nicely recently and could be anything as could Fairdays Dixie who also makes his seasonal reappearance. The penultimate heat is likely to have head bookmaker Charlie Finnegan scratching his head when pricing them up for opening show. The ultra-consistent Rhyds Premier won last time out whilst Valentine Camden and Ladyford Jim have both tasted victory in heats and finals in recent weeks at Racetime. Frisco Hold Up has been knocking on the door and although Waverly Jane acted up at the start on her debut she boasts strong form having won regularly across in Scotland in 2019. A horse that might out-run its likely odds and could spring a surprise is Springhill Bilzer. Owned by the Galway family and trained by the late Jacky’s son Garth this gelding impressed when last seen and should strip fitter for that experience. The last heat is worth the admission fee alone where a solid case can be made for all 5 runners. Derrybeg is a renowned front runner and will try to make all. Monugs Boy could be considered an unlucky loser in the last meetings final and will be out to atone. Boomtown qualified impressively in 2:03 on the bridle and looked to be a top horse in the making. Charlie Pan is another newcomer to Racetime but has ran with great credit at York and Amman Valley for Welsh trainer Lee Morris. Long overdue a visit to the winners enclosure is Michael Goggin’s John Barley and he will never get a better opportunity than this to rectify matters having been dropped a grade in the handicap. Finbarr Brickley can make it a double for the West Cork raiders in the afternoons square trot with his Socrates Du Noyer. Likely to be partnered by son Ciaran, this striking chestnut has shown improvement with each run at the venue and with his arch nemesis Bocage De Fornet penalised yet another 10 yards in the handicap this could be the day that Socrates finally overhauls Bocage. Terry Henderson’s Evan Jive isn’t out of the equation either with a clear round of trotting. Before the final a consolation pace will be staged for all non-placed horses on the day giving those who felt unlucky first time around another bite at the cherry. This will be kindly sponsored by leading bookmaker Charlie Finnegan. A series of pony races will also be held in between races for budding reinsman under 14 years old and these are very popular amongst our young drivers of the future. As always at Racetime Raceway ALL prizemoney is paid in cash on the day. Spectators are welcome but advised to strictly adhere to Covid-19 protocols. Post time 3:00 pm. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Belfast, IE - There were wild celebrations in the winners enclosure at Racetime Raceway in Lisburn on Saturday when the McCullough family’s latest acquisition, Ladyford Jim, driven by Jason McCullough, won both his heat and then the grand final of the Alex Patterson Memorial Cup. Six went to post in the first heat where Rhyds Premier won cosily from Rio Bravo and Oakwood Maverick in 2:05.8 with the distances three quarters of a length and a further four lengths. “Its been a long time between drinks” was the quote from driver Barry Dean who partnered the 11 year old gelding which was having his first visit to the winners enclosure since 2014 for local owner John Murdy.  The penultinate heat went to Ladyford Jim who overhauled longtime leader Springhill Bilzer in the dying strides to triumph in 2:05.3 from another newcomer Micks Magic Trick with the distances four lengths and a half-length. Springhill Bilzer was driven on this occasion by Garth Galway son of the late Jackie Galway and it who was making his debut in the sulky aboard the gelding. The remaining heat had eight runners and was won by Monugs Boy in 2 mins 2.2 secs with Ceiron JD and Derrybeg filling the frame with the distances one length and the same. Driven by Greg Dean, this meant that both father and son had now won heats and would go head-to-head in the grand final. Rio Bravo, who finished second in its heat was declared a non runner so the final only had 5 going to post. At the off Rhyds Premier was first to show but was quickly tackled and past by Springhill Bilzer who sprinted on into a six length lead pursued by Ladyford Jim and Ceiron JD. At the three quarter pole Springhill Bilzer sent out distress signals as the blistering pace began to take its toll and sensing this Jason McCullough put Ladyford Jim into overdrive and gunned him down rounding the final bend. In the home straight Monugs Boy came with a storming late challenge but Ladyford Jim had enough in the tank to repel Greg Dean’s charge to land the spoils in 2.01.8 a seasons record for the track. Cieron JD finshed an honourable third with the margins one length and another two lengths. Ladyford Jim by Kikcolt out of Three Men Dreamin is a recent import from the UK where he was plying his trade for Durhams Alf Swinbank who incidentally also campaigned the third placed horse Ceiron JD and in the winners enclosure the victorious driver Jason McCullough couldn’t thank Alf enough for his advice on how to bring the best out of Ladyform Jim who looks destined for the free for all ranks based on this stellar performance. A consolation race for all unplaced runners was contested on the day giving those who felt unlucky another bite at the cherry. In this Back In Time led them a merry dance until tackled and passed by favourite Valentine Camden going down the back straight for the final time. All the while driver Hugh Friel was gradually reducing his 40 yard starting deficit aboard Vyrnwy Saddlepan and when asked for his challenge at the ¾ pole the response was instant. Quickly forging five lengths clear the 12 year old veteran stayed on gamely in the home stretch to win convincingly in 2:05.9 from Valentine Camden and the rallying Back In Time. A square trot was also held during the afternoon and this was won by Thomas Bennett’s Bocage De Fornet in a track record of 2:32.6 for 1 ¼ miles. A winner on its debut a fortnight ago the nine year old French bred was giving all three rivals a handicap start this time around and driver Greg Dean was therefore forced to change tactics. Content to track the pace-setting Socrates Du Noyer for most of the journey Bocage De Fornet was produced late to nail the longtime leader in the shadows of the post with Avetot finishing a distance behind the main protagonists and Evan Jive bringing up the rear. It’s a testament to the hard work of promoters that Racetime had more pacer entries than any other track operating in Ireland over this particular weekend and NISA have confirmed that racing will continue to be staged at the venue right through to the end of October with a whole host of major sponsored races being lined up for trainers to enter up for. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Belfast, IE - Harness racing resumes at Racetime Raceway in Lisburn this Saturday where the Alex Patterson Senior Memorial Cup provides the main highlight of the afternoon. Featuring two heats of six and one heat of eight runners the winners and runners-up will go forward to a grand final with added money generously sponsored by the Patterson family.   In the opening heat Peter Lyttles Rio Bravo is favoured to come on from her first start where she finished an unlucky third. Out of Klondyke Girl the mare is selected to hold off Kiki Express and last time out winner Oakwood Maverick.   The penultimate heat sees 4 of the six runners making their Racetime debuts. Little is know about Micks Magic Trick whilst Waverley Jane, Ladyford Jim and Springhill Bilzer have been doing their racing across the water at York and Corbie Wood respectively. These are joined by the consistent Tom Wood and veteran Pandercrombie but they will have it all to do to beat Ladyford Jim who looks like the most likely winner on paper.   The remaining heat with eight going to post looks equally as competitive with renowned front runner Valentine Camden likely to lead them a merry dance from the outset. Ceiron DJ On Top Blackshark and Derrybeg will be all out to upset Valentine Camden whilst John Barley and Frisco Hold Up will be doing their best work at the end. Monugs Boy is another not out of the equation however the fastest horse in the line-up Vyrnwy Saddlepan is chosen to sprint past them all in the home straight to land the spoils.   A square trot will also be held on the day and with only 4 facing the starter it’s a case of quality not quantity in this contest. Evan Jive and Avetot have both won at Racetime earlier on this season whilst Bocage De Fornet was victorious last time out for Thomas Bennett,  defeating Finbarr Brickley’s Socrates Du Noyer in an epic battle. The handicapper has subsequently had his say and Bocage De Fornet now gives Socrates Du Noyer a start and this may be the determining factor when they settle down to fight it out. On that basis Socrates is the most likely winner.   Before the Alex Patterson Senior Memorial Final all unplaced runners get a second bite at the cherry, in a consolation pace where it will be free entry for all participants.   With a total 6 races being staged on the afternoon, including pacers trotters and some “rising stars” childrens pony racing Racetime Raceway really is the place to be this Saturday, and with the requisite Covid-19 protocols in place all patrons are welcome to come to the venue and enjoy a family day out.   The action starts at 3 pm on Saturday and as stated earlier all patrons are welcome to come and support the sport   by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink  

On an afternoon which broke records for both attendance and horses racing, Greg Dean notched up a driving double at Racetime Raceway last Saturday aboard his own Monugs Boy and Thomas Bennett’s Bocage De Fornet.   In the highest graded handicap for Class 2/3/4 pacers Monugs Boy led them away and was never headed thereafter. Billy Bassett came with a late surge as did Michael Goggin with John Barley but Greg was able to repel all challengers to win going away in a respectable 2:02.4. Derrybeg held John Barley to claim second and the margins three quarters of a length and three lengths respectively.   Dean followed up later in the day when partnering Thomas Bennett’s latest acquisition Bocage De Fornet to a bloodless victory in the square trot. Finbarr Brickeys Socrates Du Noyer was all the rage in the betting market beforehand and although the favourite performed with great credit he simply could not get past the long time leader Bocage De Fornet who looks a useful recruit to the Racetime ranks. The time was 2:36.8 for the 1 ¼ miles and the distances 2 lengths and 20 lengths.   Frisco Hold Up who finished second on his last appearance at the track for owner-trainer-driver Darren Smith went one place better on Saturday landing the spoils in a respectable 2:05.3. The gallant Tom Wood tried in vain to catch Frisco Hold Up but try as he might Conall McGuigan couldn’t mount a serious challenge to the winner. Pandercrombie took third spot and the distances were eight lengths and a further two lengths.   Barry Reevey is a new driver to Racetime and he made his debut at the venue a winning one aboard his own Oakwood Maverick. Bred by Hasty Hall out of Catscam the three year old put in a very polished performance to triumph in 2:05.5 from the ultra-consistent Rhyds Premier. Rio Bravo ran on well to secure third place and this was an eye-catching run for Peter Lyttles mare who met trouble in running and will be winning soon.   A consolation pace was held for all non-winners on the day and this went to Francis Murphy with Ceiron JD in the fastest mile time of the day 2:02.3. Fold Mischief and On Top Blackshark filled the frame and the distances were three lengths and a further two lengths.   Next meeting at Racetime will be September 12th and entries for this are now being taken.   by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

Harness racing racegoers who make the journey to Racetime Raceway in Lisburn, Belfast are in for a treat this coming Saturday with an additional six new pacers and two new trotters making their debuts at the Northern Irish venue. In the opening event seven pacers go to post with four newcomers line up. Rio Bravo the most interesting of these as she is out of legendary free-for-all performer and Musselburgh Final winner Klondyke Girl. Its been quite a while since owner Peter Lyttle donned his famed blue, white and red colours and he is guaranteed have plenty of well-wishers and supporters on the day. Miss Ayr was another top racemare in the 1990s for the Galway family and Kiki Express will be race fit having performed with credit at Annaghmore in recent weeks. Oakwood Maverick for Barry Reevey and William McClelland's Back In Time are the other 2 debutantes but all four will have their work cut out to defeat Racetime regulars Newmoors Jackie Dan, Rhyds Premier and Fold Mischief. Ladyford Jim has been campaigned regularly at York Raceway in the UK this season demonstrating consistent good form. A shrewd purchase by the McCullough family in recent days sees this five year old by Kikicolt out of Three Men Dreamin make his first racecourse performance and hopes are high he gets his career this side of the Irish sea off to a winner.The veteran Pandercrombie will be all out to take advantage of his pole position on the gate but The Governer is a renowned front runner and will be challenging Pandercrombiefor early supremacy. Frisco Hold Up finished like a train last time out and if the front runners set too fast a pace Darren Smith could mop them all up coming home aboard the 9 year old. Six go to post in the highest graded handicap of the day where Micheal Goggin's John Barley is the most likely winner. Goggin has regularly made the 5 hour journey up to participate at Racetime since the season began and although John Barley has been placed numerous times, he has yet to get his head in front. All this looks likely to change on Saturday however and he will be a popular and deserved winner amongst racegoers should he claim the red rosette. Of the dangers On Top Blackshark, Derrybeg and Cieron DJ have all shown winning form this season whilst Monugs Boy has been threatening to land the spoils in recent starts so it would be no great surprise should Greg Deans stable star oblige in this. Baltimore's Finbarr Brickley is another that will make the long journey from his West Cork base and his Socrates Du Noyer is likely to start a warm favourite in the afternoon's square trot. The striking chestnut is unlikely to get it all his own way however as Thomas Bennett's recent import Bocage De Fornet will be pushing him all the way. Throw last time out winner Evan Jive and the consistent Avetot into the mix and a thrilling contest looks on the cards. A couple of Rising Stars pony races will also be held on the day aswell as a consolation pace for all non-winners in their respective events. Post time is 3pm on Saturday and whilst Covid-19 protocols will be in place the general public are welcomed and encouraged to come an enjoy a family day out at Racetime Raceway. Tom Bennett

Belfast, IE - Dominic Dwyer’s Valentine Camden broke his harness racing rivals hearts at Racetime Raceway  last Saturday winning both heat and grand final in the afternoons feature.  Three heats were held on the day with the first two home in each qualifying for the final with added prizemoney kindly sponsored Eamonn O’Connor. Six pacers went to post in a fiercely competitive opening heat and Streamside Skryne finally hit the target for driver Mickey Connors beating the pinto Newmoors Jackie Dan and Rhyds Premier by two lengths and five lengths in 2:04.6. Another six pacers went to post in the second heat where the ultra-consistent Derrybeg ran out a game winner for veteran reinsman Billy Bassett. The trip for Micheal Goggin to compete at the venue is 510 miles and although it looked as if a sweet victory was on the cards for the West Cork native his stable star John Barley came up short when it mattered and could only finish second with longtime leader Monugs Boy back in third. The winners time was the fastest so far at Racetime this season 2:01.4 and the distances were two lengths and a length respectively. The first three finishers in the remaining heat were all newcomers to the track - Valentine Camden, Frisco Hold Up and The Governer and they eventually filled the frame in that order. The winner was driven by Mickey Connors who notched up a driving double on the day in a time of 2:01.5 with the other duo partnered by Darren Smith and Keith Carlin. Before the final a European breds square trotting race was held over the extended distance of 1 mile and three furlongs. First season driver Colin Woods went on to land the spoils with his own Evan Jive in 2:41.2 and the French bred had eight lengths to spare over old rival Avetot. The favourite Diva Valentina made a couple of breaks in stride and although settled relatively quickly after each she could only manage third spot, a further three lengths adrift. The grand final looked a mouth-watering contest on paper beforehand and the event itself didn’t disappoint. Driver Mickey Connors had qualified 2 winning horses in the heats and opted to take the reins of Streamside Stream in preference to Valentine Camden, which was then partnered by able substitute Hugh Friel, who hails from Donegal. When the race got underway, the striking pinto pacer Newmoors Jackie Dan led them away but was tackled and passed by Valentine Camden at the ¼ pole. At the half the striking skewbald renewed its challenge but no matter how hard Gerald Maybin tried to get past with Newmoors Jackie Dan Hugh Friel would not surrender his hard-fought advantage. All the while, Derrybeg and John Barley were reducing their starting handicaps of 25 yards and 35 yards and bearing down fast on the leader but despite their best efforts in the home straight the post came in time for Valentine Camden who held on to triumph in 2:02.9. Valentine Camden is an eight year old gelding by Pro Bono Best (USA) out of Lets All Boogie (GB) and was only acquired a week ago by owner Dominic Dwyer from the York Raceway circuit in the UK where he was a regular runner. Racetime Raceway has been a great success since its re-opening and with every passing meeting there are more entries and more trainers/drivers supporting the venue and that can only be a positive for the sport in Northern Ireland which is governed by NISA. The next meeting will be held at on Saturday 29th August and entries are now being taken. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

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