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Hi there,
Welcome to issue #32 of Insider Access.

We're pleased to show off a new design of Insider Access. We hope you enjoy it and please reply to this email if you have any issues reading it.

On Stallion Sphere this week...
New Sweet Lou review, and Art Major updated

We've made a huge update to our old Art Major review, and have a great review of new Stallion Sweet Lou.

Sweet Lou review

Harness Racing Update ceases publishing

It is with some sadness that we note that Harness Racing Update has ceased to publish as of October 11th 2015.

Set up in 2010 by Bill Finley and Mike Farrell, Harness Racing Update was a welcome addition to the harness racing scene with its independent stance on a lot of issues and its in depth coverage of an industry in a lot of trouble.

They ruffled a few feathers along the way which is never bad but provided somewhere to go for a different perspective on how things were in the industry.

As we here at Harnesslink are well aware, getting the advertising dollar in is not easy in this industry and that has been the major factor in the demise of Harness Racing Update.

However we are also firmly of the view that the structure and format of the Harness Racing Update were probably wrong for the 21st century.

Consumers today want and expect their news and information in an instant.

They won't wait hours let alone days for the latest update on issues they are interested in.

In today's market it is very difficult to retain an advertising base without your customers having an opportunity to promote their products on your site 24/7.

We think the Harness Racing Update product was excellent but delivered via PDF twice a week in today's market was always going to be a big ask.

And then of course as we here at Harnesslink know, there is the huge amount of work required to keep a publication like Harness Racing Update going.

We think Bill's own words sum it up well:

"This was far and away the most taxing job I have ever been involved in. The four days a week I focused on getting the next issue of Harness Racing Update out were physically and mentally brutal. Leaving the Meadowlands at 2 a.m. after a big night of racing, 16-hour days at the sales, flying around the country, night after night putting the last touches on the paper at 3 am, missing my daughter's softball games. The original idea was to assemble a staff that we could oversee and send out on assignments while we worked a normal, sane 40-hour type week. It was not to work so hard that I genuinely became concerned about my health. I was a heart attack waiting to happen."

We wish Bill all the best in what ever he does in the future and wish him well.

NSW cleans up the wild west

One of the major issues that has plagued harness racing worldwide for what seems an eternity is the issue of performance enhancing drugs in the industry.

The bad boys always seem to be one step ahead of the testing labs and the authorities always seem to be playing catch up.

However one place where the authorities seem to be making big inroads is New South Wales in Australia.

Known for decades as the home of the "red hot trots", New South Wales are now recognized internationally for their proactive approach to drug use in harness racing.

They have gone from being a laughing stock in their policing of corrupt practice to a model that other countries now highly envy.

One of the driving forces behind the turnaround has been Reid Sanders who has brought a zeal to the job that is to be admired.

With the help of a very supportive board, Reid in a few short years has cleaned up the wild west that New South Wales harness racing had become.

Reid is not afraid to use all the modern tools available to him and the increased use of spot checks and the retention barn have also played their part.

The battle is far from won but New South Wales Harness Racing have shown in the last few years that you can be effective in creating a level playing field.

Just in case anyone doubts how much things have changed, have a look here to view a current list of the people under suspension in New South Wales and as you can see most have been suspended in the last four years.

What is the real objective behind the "Cluster" proposal

The more feedback we get from the clubs with regard to their meetings with Harness Racing New Zealand, over the new "cluster" proposal for clubs, the more concerned we have become about the process and what it actually means for the clubs.

We have had extensive communication from clubs and individuals involved in the process and the overall feeling from that feedback is not positive.

The wider harness racing community were told at conference time that a lot of clubs were going to fall over in the near future if something wasn't done quickly to improve the bottom line.

Clubs were herded into cluster groupings based upon which part of New Zealand they were in.

Now the Mid - South Canterbury grouping of five clubs doesn't fit into the rational given at conference time for these groupings.

All five clubs are financially very sound with all of them having a bank account balance well into six figures.

When they had their meeting with ​Harness Racing New Zealand, they soon realized that the only way that they could achieve savings of the magnitude being talked about at the meeting was if they all amalgamated and moved to Ashburton Raceway.

Now none of these clubs are in financial distress yet they are being encouraged to amalgamate to a site where four don't want to go and won't go.

So it is time for ​Harness Racing New Zealand to come clean and be honest about what the intent of this "cluster" proposal is.

In our view it is pure and simply ​​centralization and is being promoted by ​Harness Racing New Zealand regardless of the financial health of the clubs involved.​

Centralisation​ is a short term fix in our view.

Harness Racing New Zealand has had these meetings all over the country recently and the message is basically the same.

They won't force clubs to amalgamate but leave them in no doubt that it is in their best interest to do exactly that.

It has been pointed out that there will be no financial ramifications if clubs refuse to amalgamate but plenty of hints that things may change.

One relayed to us was it was suggested by ​​​Harness Racing New Zealand that maybe clubs that don't race on their own venue may have a point or two taken off their commission rate in the future.

So what is ​Harness Racing New Zealand trying to achieve?

Two things in our view.

1) To dramatically reduce the number of racecourses holding TAB meetings throughout New Zealand.

2) To free up the rather large amounts of cash that some clubs hold in their accounts.

There will be savings made if clubs amalgamate and move to one site we but we think that the positive effect will be very short lived and the negative effects ​will be ​long term.

There is an awful lot of money sitting in some of those smaller clubs bank accounts which could give the industry a one off boost if they were pooled together and in our view that is what HRNZ is trying to achieve.

We are convinced that what ​​Harness Racing New Zealand is proposing is very damaging to the fabric of harness racing in New Zealand and if implemented will lead to a dramatic reduction in harness racing outside of the main centres.

Are we to become like the Greyhounds with their seven courses nationwide.?

From the feedback we are receiving there is a lot of opposition to the ​Harness Racing New Zealand proposals and we can only hope that the clubs hang tough in the weeks and months ahead​.

Happy birthday Harnesslink

When I first started Harnesslink in October 2002, there were only four harness racing websites in the world and what would or wouldn't work was a bit of an unknown.

Since then hundreds of harness racing websites have come and gone but by some stroke of good luck Harnesslink is still here and going better by the day.

We pride ourselves on being independent and most times when we get on the soapbox, we receive overwhelming support from the harness racing community.

There has never been a more challenging time for the future of harness racing worldwide as there is at present. We think there are ways forward for this industry, especially in New Zealand and we will continue to promote our ideas on this site.

In the past year Harnesslink have managed to release two new features - this Insider Access email feature, and Stallion Sphere - our repository of Stallion reviews. These are both going strong, and give us a renewed passion for this great industry. We are excited about growing these in the years to come.

We would really appreciate if our readers could help to spread the word about both Insider Access and Stallion Sphere, as word of mouth in this industry means more than anything else. If you know of anybody who would appreciate Insider Access please ask them to sign up at, and spread the word about Stallion Sphere - the URL is simply

Lastly I would just like to say a big thank you to all our supporters and advertisers both past and present, without your help we wouldn't be here and going strong today.


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