Hi there,

Welcome to issue #28 of Insider Access.

Released every two weeks, Insider Access showcases insider rumors and commentary in the worldwide harness racing industry.

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Shadow Play and Sportwriter Updated

In Stallion Sphere's newest revision we once again update two of the reviews we have previously done on newer sires in the market.

The two stallions featured this week are Shadow Play and Sportswriter.

Both Sportswriter and Shadow Play have had major developments in their siring careers in the last twelve months and we are once again taken aback a touch by the amount of change in the statistics of both stallions.

Enjoy the updates.

Click here to view Stallion Sphere

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics

One of the first things that a commercial harness racing breeder will look at when assessing a stallion is the fertility percentage the sire has achieved in his previous years at stud.

One thing that will put breeders off very quickly is a figure that is significantly below the industry norm.

But it becomes a very difficult decision to assess a stallion when the official figures you are looking at bear little relation to the reality on the ground and that is the situation Australian breeders face.

Australia and New Zealand are treated as one market by most studs these days but each country treat breeding statistics very differently.

In New Zealand every mare who is bred to a stallion with either fresh or frozen semen has that service recorded against her name, as does the stallion.

There are no grey areas and the numbers recorded against stallions for the number of mares served are very accurate.

The same applies for the number of live foals that is produced from those services so when you view the New Zealand fertility percentages they are correct and factual.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the Australians statistics which are massaged in our opinion to produce results which are not credible.

We have spoken to Australian stud masters who have told us the figures in Australia need to be taken with a grain of salt, especially with regards to frozen semen.

When you start looking at differences for the same stallion between Australia and New Zealand with regards to fertility rates associated with frozen semen, there would seem to be a fair bit of gaming of the system going on.

Somebeachsomewhere is one that stands out in the statistics like a sore thumb.

The frozen semen fertility percentage for Somebeachsomewhere in Australia is just over 63% for the four crops he has produced via frozen semen.

The frozen semen percentage for Somebeachsomewhere in New Zealand for those same four crops is just over 38% which is just 60% of the percentage achieved by Somebeachsomewhere in Australia.

A huge difference in the fertility rate between the two countries is hard to explain away.

Breeders in Australia need more reliable and factual data to base their breeding decisions on than what they are currently being provided with.

"Tip of the Hat" to 3R’s $200,000 Prix D’Ete

This Sunday, August 23, there is a harness racing track in Trois-Rivieres, population around 45,000, a quaint little town in the province of Quebec, Canada. It’s the Hippodrome 3R (Three Rivers) and on Sunday they will be the talk of the town in harness racing as they host the second annual revival of the prestigious Prix D’Ete.

The $200,000 purse makes the Prix D’Ete the richest Standardbred race in the world on Sunday. Last year more than 10% of the Trois-Rivieres population came out on a rain-threating afternoon to watch the superb pacing classic that is restricted to just four-year-olds.

What’s more of interest is how this little track is owned and operated by the horsemen as a non-profit organization, and despite struggling to make ends meet, a shoe-string staff of dedicated employees, the track continues to thrive and the efforts they put forth for their big race day on Sunday have to be seen to be believed.

Great racing, fun entertainment, promotions, superb food and casino action will all be enjoyed by thousands of local Trois-Rivieres residents, who will cheer home the winner’s. It’s the place to be this weekend. A “Tip of the Hat” to the Hippodrome 3R and its staff from Harnesslink.

NZ not all Doom and Gloom

One of the problems you face when reporting on the harness racing industry in New Zealand is projecting a positive profile on an industry which you know has major challenges facing it.

Because it is so easy to identify so many major problems within the industry, the good things that are happening tend to get overlooked and ignored.

Several initiatives taken in the last few years by the team at Addington Raceway have been hugely successful and show that with a bit of foresight and courage, progress can be made.

The Met Multiplier is a great incentive to race your horse at Addington.

Win one race in any 12 month period along with starting at Addington 15 times in that 12 month period and you receive a $7500 bonus.

It has become extremely popular and a major reason while the field sizes at Addington are holding up so well with the horse population declining as it is.

Another big success at Addington has been the Alabar Super Series concept.

They have been a great innovation with the $23,500 finals a great stake for lower graded horses.

Yet again you have to race your horse at Addington to be eligible but as the stake deserves the finals are always very strong and great betting races.

It is not all positive at Addington as leading trainer Mark Jones pointed out recently with the week to week stake money levels needing a urgent lift.

With more of their commercial developments coming to fruition, hopefully the team at Addington will be able to address the stake levels issue in the not to distant future.

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