Hi there,

Welcome to issue #30 of Insider Access.

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

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Christian Cullen & Well Said Updated

In Stallion Sphere's newest revision we once again have two outstanding updates to previously reviewed stallions.

The two stallions featured this week are Christian Cullen and Well Said.

Click here to view the Stallion updates on Stallion Sphere

Wiggle It Jigglieit to make “Jug” a horse race

Owner George Teague says he is putting up the $45,000 supplemental fee to enter Wiggle It Jiggleit in this year’s Little Brown Jug.

Now if the rest of the top three-year-olds in the national that are eligible for the race show up, harness racing will have a horse race come Thursday, September 24 in Delaware, Ohio.

The sport would then have the drama, the excitement, the rivalries, the suspense, all the ingredients necessary to help put harness racing on the map in the sporting news alongside football and baseball.

And the purse for the Jug is not too shabby at all, rising this year due to slot machine revenues in Ohio, to a record $700,000.

With the #1 rated Standardbred racehorse in North America in Wiggle It Jiggle coming to the Little Brown Jug, and hopefully a slew of his rivals that may be expected to enter, it all adds up to what should be "THE" best harness racing event of 2015.

And these top three-year-olds will truly be put to the test, as the Little Brown Jug will be their biggest challenge of the year, having to race twice, maybe even three times, around the Delaware County Fairgrounds lightning fast half mile oval.

Rivalries are what really makes a horse race, so provided the competition shows up for the Jug, the race could be super great. But if they don’t show, the race could be somewhat humdrum.

In The Arsenal, one of the few to have beaten Wiggle It Jiggleit this year, is not committed to the Jug yet says trainer Kelvin Harrison.

Artspeak, last year’s Two-Year-Old Pacer of the Year, is eligible for the Jug and last week he scorched Mohawk Raceway in the Simcoe Stake with a record 1:48.2 triumph. He could make amends for the stable not racing Captaintreacherous in the Jug two years ago, but the flashy colt has never made a start on a half mile track in his career so far.

Other top colts eligible include Dude’s The Man, Lost For Words, Reverend Hanover, Rockin In Heaven, My Hero Ron, Revenge Shark and Split The House. That’s the current top ten list for the Jug.

Perhaps it is a smart move by George Teague to announce two weeks ahead of time that his Wiggle It Jiggleit is coming to the Jug and thus chase away those “fence sitters” from thinking about entering.

All told, the race has shaped up to be a classic and in the infamous words of LBJ Hall of Fame announcer Roger Huston… "BE THERE!"

Australian import fees - a follow up

In the last edition of "Insider Access" we had a wee dig at Harness Racing Australia and its CEO Andrew Kelly over his comments at the conference of the New Zealand Harness Racing Clubs in Christchurch in early August.

It was in relation to the issue of the huge rise in fees for horses entering Australia from New Zealand and how it had destroyed the lower end of the market between the two countries.

We had numerous replies over the matter and the following excerpt is one we thought we would share with you as it describes the fee issue from a Australian buyer prospective.


I was forwarded your email from a friend I used to co-own standardbreds here with in Sydney, and read with interest about the comments of Andrew Kelly.

I was a very active purchaser of standardbreds back in 2010-2012. All at the bottom end of the ladder. I was so upset and angered by the imposition of the fee that I swore I would never buy a Kiwi horse again whilst it is in existence. To this day, I have stuck steadfast.

The fee is a barrier to ownership at the end of the market that least needs it. The bottom end. I wrote several papers on it explaining my own experience and the damage done not only to our love of the sport - and I am talking about the majority of the syndicate I set up (which had 19 official remembers - but when you add friends, relatives, partners - tabled up above 50).

I raced in NSW and would often challenge the powers that be that this fee is crazy, and that we are a perfect example of what the sport needed. The fee destroyed that (it wasn't the only thing, you can add integrity issues and general piss poor management of the sport on top of that, but the import fee was the major issue).

You have sold a lot of high priced horses to the likes of Pizzuto etc. The $2500 to them is nothing on a 100k horse, yet as you know, on a 10k horse, it is the difference between buying it and not buying it. So many people in administration have no understanding of what happens at the bottom end. They are archaic, outdated and think harness racing is in the 1970's. Such management of the sport has seen it languish pathetically, and this languishing has been augmented by the full effects being felt by this stupid fee, that has killed a very important end of the market.

CEO Andrew Kelly has been in the job the best part of a decade. In this time he has presided over the biggest decline in the sports history. That sais a lot.

It might interest you to look back on this furious debate on your forum kicked off on July 26th 2011.


I was a very active contributor to that debate, taking on one of the panellists who tried to fight their corner. Amazing to see how things transpire 4 years later.

Sadly the cottage industry that Australian industry has now become is only heading one way.....and if the reduction in foal numbers / mares serviced / T/D participation is to continue, it is going to be a slow slide into oblivion at about 5% a year. As NSW has shown, doesn't matter how much money you throw at it, if there are inherent problems under the skin, very little can be done to reverse the trend, and certainly recklessly attacking a very important part of the sport like the Import Fee has, only hastens the demise.

Plan to centralise NZ clubs is misguided

At the annual conference this year, a proposal was made to change the way clubs in the same geographical area interact with each other with the aim of finding savings and of helping some clubs who are not travelling that well.

Sounds really nice until you start to have the meetings around these groupings and find to your dismay that what is proposed will only work if the clubs involved centralize.

The Mid - South Canterbury grouping of Timaru, Ashburton, Methven, Horarata and Geraldine met with Harness Racing New Zealand at the Ashburton Racecourse recently and to their dismay they found that the old hoary chestnut of centralization was the key if the plan was to succeed.

Harness Racing New Zealand never came out openly and said they wanted all the clubs to centralize but it is the only logical conclusion to draw if you want to make the substantial savings talked about.

The five clubs involved in this grouping are all in a sound financial condition with sizable bank balances in the black yet are being pushed to change to a model that may not work.

Take the Methven club for instance.

Here is a club that owns the course on which it races and pays some of the highest stakes on offer in the South Island to lower graded horses.

It is a hugely popular club and has no financial issues yet the powers that be want them to consider amalgamation and centralization with other clubs in their grouping.

The proposal doesn't make sense on any level.

The move is not because of financial pressure or because the club is not well run or supported but due to an attempt by Harness Racing New Zealand to achieve the rationalisation of tracks they have been promoting for the last twenty years.

If there is an upside for the Methven club I can't see it.

There is no doubt that a lot of clubs in New Zealand are under immense pressure on a lot of fronts but Methven is not one of them.

It is a poster child for how a well run and supported club should operate and to attempt to get them to move to support a unproven industry reform plan from Harness Racing New Zealand seems misguided at best.

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