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Latest News On Franco Harrison....

Launched in May 2012, the In It For Fun Syndicate introduced a totally unique way to own and race a harness horse here in New Zealand.
 
It was the ‘brainchild’ of Noel Kennard, goHarness Syndication’s Founder and Manager, and the In It For Fun Syndicate revolutionised horse ownership in this country by enabling people to get involved for a fraction of the normal cost.
 
The horse that was purchased and raced by the Syndicate was Franco Harrison. He’d had three starts and finished second in all of them when first bought by goHarness, but unfortunately as his career unfolded he developed foot soreness issues and continued to suffer from them, extinguishing the chances of ever reaching his potential.
 
Still, he managed to capture three raceday victories during the 32 months that the In It For Fun Syndicate owned him for – much to the delight of his hundreds of adoring Syndicate Members, who all just loved ‘Harry’ regardless.
 
Franco Harrison received nothing but the best of care and attention along the way too, because after starting off in Cran Dalgety’s stable he was moved out to the beach environment and joined the barn of Greg and Nina Hope; plus the horse even went on a sojourn to the North Island at one stage, undergoing tests at Massey University in an attempt to get to the bottom of his foot problems.
 
The latter expense was never budgeted for under the Syndicate’s initial format, but Noel didn’t hesitate paying for it himself because he just wanted his customers to get their money’s worth.
 
Furthermore, the In It For Fun Syndicate was supposed to operate for two years but Noel let it run for another eight months longer – once again at his own cost, this being his way of ‘making up’ for the time lost by ‘Harry’ when he was on the sidelines and only able to start 25 times during that 32-month period.
 
Humbled by the gratitude he receives for such acts of loyalty and generosity, Noel and his company goHarness Syndication grow in stature and reputation with every season that passes.
 
He and his right-hand-man Johnny Robinson have launched other syndicates in the first one’s footsteps… Trotting For Fun, which owns the very talented trio of square-gaiters named Saratoga, Eilish Aimee and Harriet Of Mot, and Double The Fun, whose Members cheer on two equally-promising pacers called Astro Boy and Western Art.
 
More syndicate opportunities will continue to roll off the goHarness production line too, because we’re adamant that due to the ever-increasing costs associated with racing a horse, large ownership groups are the way to go; they’ll always have a future in harness racing.
 
The curtain may well have come down on the In It For Fun Syndicate, but it was and always will be the launch-pad of goHarness Syndication – where people have found a fun and affordable way to enjoy the thrills of racehorse ownership.
 
As for Franco Harrison, he was sold by Public Auction at Addington Raceway at the end of January 2015 and carried on racing for his new owner, Mike Maynard.



(February 2)
 
Well, Franco Harrison is now someone else's 'pride and joy' after he was sold by Public Auction at Addington Raceway on Friday night.
 
It was a bit of an emotional time for Noel, Wendy and myself - because Harry was the horse that started it all for goHarness back in 2012, so it was quite a solemn moment to see him go and hence bring the curtain down on our first syndicate.
 
Still, he's gone to a good home and as far as we're aware he'll be remaining in Canterbury, so we'll get to follow his career with interest when we see him around.
 
Franco Harrison was knocked down to a nice guy by the name of Mike Maynard for $1500. I believe this is considerably cheaper than what he expected to fork out to take Harry home, and it was definitely well below the mark in my estimations of our horse's sale price - but he had to be sold, and we have to take what we got so it is what it is.
 
Mike belongs to the amateur driver ranks, and helps out at the stable of Brad Mowbray while pottering around with the odd horse or two of his own, so Harry is going to be well cared for.
 
We'll now begin the process of paying out every 'In It For Fun' Syndicate Member their monetary entitlement. This will be a combination of Franco Harrison's net stake-earnings and the proceeds from his sale last Friday night, and won't be a heck of a lot each when it has to be divided amongst 500 shares.
 
As soon as we calculate what each Member's portion will be we'll let you know, and then we'll need to ask for patience from you all as we start distributing cheques via the mail.
 
This requires 100% accuracy of course, and therefor it could take a few weeks before every Member has received their entitlement.


(January 29)
 
Arrangements for Franco Harrison's auction in the birdcage at Addington tomorrow have fallen into place nicely, and he'll go under the hammer between races two and three (approximately 6:15pm-6:20pm).
 
Special thanks has to go out to Matt Markham from HRNZ; Richard Bromley from Addington Raceway; Stephen Boyd; Paul Court and Emma Anderson, and of course PGG Wrightson's Bruce Barlass and Peter Lagan who'll be running his auction on the night.
 
Everyone listed above has contributed a great deal of their time towards either spreading the word, getting Harry there on the night, making him look 'spick n span' in readiness for being led around the birdcage, or the auction itself.
 
And thanks to those of you who've done your bit to let people know about Harry's pending sale too, this is also appreciated.
 
There's been a little bit of interest from prospective buyers, but Franco Harrison has to sell without a reserve on the night so you really can't predict what price he'll reach until the hammer comes down and Pete Lagan says "sold!".
 
Noel and Wendy are heading away tomorrow morning to attend a concert in Auckland, so 'Yours Truly' will be on deck at Addington and I look forward to seeing those of you who are there as well.
 
Yes it's going to be a poignant moment for a lot of us, because the auction will mark the end of Harry's career for the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate and bring it to a close - but I'm sure that he'll go to a good home and be just as well looked-after, wherever he ends up.


(January 13)
 
Happy New Year to you all, we hope you had a nice Christmas.
 
Sorry that it's taken a while to get back to you about what's happening with Franco Harrison, but you can probably appreciate that collating answers from hundreds of syndicate members is an involved and time-consuming process - especially at such a time of year.
 
Thanks to those of you who emailed, phoned and even wrote back to us with your decision about whether you'd prefer to carry on with another syndicate or not, and we also appreciate the compliments and kind words that a lot of you have given us at the same time.
 
In all fairness, the way he performed at Motukarara on December 29 helped make up a lot of people's minds. Franco Harrison is not the right horse for a syndicate to carry on with, and neither Noel or I (or his trainers Greg and Nina Hope for that matter) believe he's a viable proposition looking forward.
 
So it's been decided to put him up for Public Auction, as per the official Syndicate Rules which were originally lodged with HRNZ.
 
On one hand it's a shame to see the curtain come down on Franco Harrison's career for the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate, but with what it would cost to race him for another year it just doesn't make sense if Harry was only going to be able to run in the money 'every now and then' - that's not much fun for anyone.
 
We are now in the process of organising the auction, which uniquely is going to be held in between races at Addington on the night of their Premier Meeting on Friday fortnight (January 30).
 
This should give us the best chance of having the most potential buyers/bidders at Harry's auction as possible, because in attendance on the night will not only be all those trainers and drivers and stable representatives - but all the other horse owners and a decent crowd of public as well.
 
We're working in closely with Addington Raceway, HRNZ and PGG Wrightson to finalise all the details, but what we need syndicate members to do now is start spreading the word... the more people who know that Harry is going to be auctioned, the more chance we have of reaching those who might be interested.
 
More bidders increases the potential to get a higher price for our horse, and that equals a bigger payout to everyone once the net proceeds from his sale are added to his net stakes and divvied up.
 
Please bear in mind we're not going to get anywhere near the $60,000 which we paid for Franco Harrison originally; realistically, we'd be lucky if we received a tenth of that - but such is the nature of this industry, horses are only worth what their next owner is prepared to pay for them.
 
There will be costs involved for the venue and auctioneer, and we'll even do a little bit of advertising as well, but we'll be endeavouring to keep outgoings as low as possible so that the net return from his sale is as high as we can get it. We won't be having a reserve as far as his price is concerned though, so whatever he sells for is what we'll have to swallow.
 
We intend to have him in the stabling area on the night, with a 'For Sale' sign behind him so that everyone who treks past is made aware that he's up for auction during the evening. Who knows, his new owner(s) might even want to take Franco Harrison home straight away.
 
Harry could be an ideal horse for a hobby-trainer to potter round with, or a great option for racing away from the fierce competition in and around Canterbury - or even Australia.
 
We just need to start letting people know now, and that's where everyone can do their bit.
 
Once his sale is finalised and we've tallied up his net stake-earnings, we'll then start the process of paying out members individually via cheque through the post. With so many involved this is going to take time, so please bear with us because I'm sure you'll understand that 100% accuracy is paramount.


(December 19)
 
Unfortunately we're all at a bit of a loss to explain Franco Harrison's poor showing at Motukarara last Sunday.
 
I apologise that we've taken a few days to send out a follow-up email, but I actually wanted to buy a bit of time to see if anything 'untoward' surfaced since Harry's run - i.e. an injury of some sort, which may've helped to explain why he didn't race up to expectations.
 
But there's been no signs of anything sinister in the interim, with Greg reporting that Franco Harrison seems as good as gold and is "a box of birds".
 
Since the 'highs' of Kaikoura we've come hurtling back to earth with a thud, and I put it to our co-trainer to try and explain why Franco Harrison's latest two efforts seem to have been vastly different to his win on November 3.
 
"Yes he's struggling a little, and I just think it highlights the quality of the opposition he's coming up against since he's gotten back into the C2 grade," Greg said.
 
"We've got another horse in the stable that's just like him - Mighty Peruvian. They're the sort of horses that look good in the right fields, and every three or four starts they'll get some money."
 
Like most of us, Noel and I were both bitterly disappointed with Harry's performance on Sunday.
 
We're in the process of getting an opinion from each and every one of you whether you'd like to form another syndicate to carry on racing Franco Harrison for 2015, and our sincere thanks go out to everyone who's replied and let me know their thoughts so far.
 
In all fairness though, if Franco Harrison's latest run was an indication of what we could expect, it doesn't really make a lot of sense to carry on - financially or emotionally.
 
So the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate is definitely going to wind up as scheduled at the end of the year, but now it's unlikely that 'In It For 2015' will follow in its foosteps. In your responses that I've been receiving since his latest outing, a large percentage of you aren't wanting to carry on anyway.
 
Logic dictates that there's not much point collectively spending over $40,000 to race a horse for another 12 months if he's only capable of giving you glimpses of form from time to time.
 
The final decision won't be made until after his next run at Motukarara though, so in the meantime we've got at least one more chance to cheer Harry on.
 
Noel always intended to 'fund' the ongoing costs of the Syndicate until the end of the year, and nothing's changed in that respect. It's just that Greg would prefer to keep Franco Harrison a bit closer to home, so for that reason it's been decided to line him up at Motukarara on December 29 instead of take him to the West Coast.
 
I'll be away, but Noel and Wendy will be there.
 
We'd like to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you, and thank you for your support in the goHarness Syndicates. Please stay safe and enjoy the plethora of quality holiday racing that this time of year boasts.


(December 10)
 
As 2014 marches towards an end, so too does the In It For Fun Syndicate.
 
Over the last few weeks, you’ve all been kept well informed that the curtain had to come down on the inaugural goHarness Syndicate at this time. It was originally scheduled to end months ago, but thanks to the generosity of Noel Kennard it got extended as a way of compensating for Franco Harrison having to spend a lot of time on the sidelines with various injuries here and there.
 
Noel wasn’t required to do this under the rules of syndication of course, he just chose to because he wanted Members to feel like they’d gotten their money’s worth; all training fees and bills during this added-on period were paid for by Noel himself.
 
Harry has been a bit of a ‘problem child’ while he’s battled his issues over the last couple of years, and had he either still been injured or not performing on the racetrack right now it would’ve been easy just to wind the Syndicate up and call it quits.
 
But he’s finally showing us the sort of talent we always thought he possessed, so for that reason it’s been decided to create a new Syndicate to continue racing him for another year if we get enough interest to do so.
 
Called In It For 2015, this new ownership group will only be open to existing In It For Fun Members and any of their friends and family that they wish to invite along – i.e., we’re keeping it ‘in house’ and not offering it publicly.
 
Under such a scenario, rules have to be strictly adhered to so Noel and I are working in very closely with Harness Racing New Zealand’s Mark Bennet who’s been fantastic in overseeing the whole process to ensure it happens smoothly.
 
Under the original Syndicate Rules, Franco Harrison was supposed to be sold publicly via auction which can take weeks to organise. But due to the nature of us now wanting one syndicate to be transformed into another, we’ve been given permission to get around this hurdle and save a lot of time by just getting him valued by two independent registered valuers and then use the average of the two figures as his value.
 
And what this effectively means is that Harry can swap from the ownership of one Syndicate to the other without a sale needing to take place or any money actually needing to change hands, not to mention the fact that we’re also saving on auction fees and agency commissions etc.
 
Franco Harrison’s worth is estimated at between $15,000 and $20,000 in today’s market, but until we can obtain an official figure at the end of this year (i.e. the average of the two registered valuations) we’ll just use the lower figure for the purpose of this exercise.
 
Upon the closing of the In It For Fun Syndicate, every Member is entitled to an equal share of Harry’s sale price (or in this case, his value)… $15,000 divided by 500 shares = $30 per share.
 
Furthermore, every Member is also entitled to an equal share of the net stakemoney he’s earned in his career since we purchased him. HRNZ records (on Infohorse) show Franco Harrison’s overall earnings to be $21,544 – but once you deduct all the trainers’ percentages, drivers’ percentages and drivers’ fees, the actual net stakes that Harry’s earned for us is just over $14,310… divided by 500 shares, this equates to approximately $28.60 per share. [Please note: a more detailed breakdown of Franco Harrison’s stake-earnings and deductions will be displayed in the Members Section of In It For Fun on this website by early next week, after he has raced at Motukarara on Sunday].
 
Therefore, every Member of the In It For Fun Syndicate is entitled to a combined pay-out of $58.60, and this is the sum that you’ll be given if you don’t in fact want to carry on for another year and become a Member of the new In It For 2015 Syndicate.
 
Because not everyone will want to join the new Syndicate, there’s effectively two transactions to take place – the first is closing In It For Fun, and the second is opening In It For 2015.
 
Taking into consideration all expenses over the last 12 months, we have made some calculated estimations about the costs involved in racing Franco Harrison for another year and these are as follows…
 
Purchase price from In It For Fun (or in this case, Harry’s value)......................$15,000
Training Fees (12 months @ $2000 per month)................................................$24,000
Vet Fees......................................................................................................$   2500
Transport.....................................................................................................$   2500
Farrier/dentistry/worming/harness repairs........................................................$   4000
Management Fee..........................................................................................$   5000
Sundry expenses..........................................................................................$   2000
                                                                                                                   $ 55,000
 
In most areas, we have allowed for more funds that what should be needed. For example… hopefully (‘touch wood’) most of Franco Harrison’s leg problems are behind him, so vet bills for the next 12 months should be a lot less if not virtually non-existent; transport costs depend solely on where Harry races, so if he doesn’t travel far and wide then there’ll be a saving here; maybe our horse won’t need as much farrier and dentistry work etc as in the past; and lastly, there’s always a chance that the money put aside for Sundry (‘rainy day’) expenses won’t end up being required either.
 
If there are funds left over at the end of next year, when the In It For 2015 Syndicate winds to a close, these funds will be added to Harry’s net stake-earnings and the combined amount will be re-distributed equally amongst Members.
 
On the other hand, if any of Franco Harrison’s expenses in 2015 end up going past what was budgeted for, then the Syndicate Manager (Noel) will be solely responsible for paying the extra costs during the year as required – but then he will be reimbursed the same amount from Harry’s net stake-earnings once the Syndicate is closed.
 
In the unlikely event that Franco Harrison’s expenses exceed what was budgeted for, and he doesn’t earn enough net stakemoney to cover the shortfall, then the Syndicate Manager (Noel) will pay the extra costs but won’t be able to be reimbursed.
 
It is the full intention of goHarness to continue racing Franco Harrison into 2016 and beyond, should he be without soundness issues and still performing on the racetrack when he’s assessed at the end of 2015. If he is still a viable racing proposition at that time, then an In It For 2016 Syndicate will be set up (under exactly the same format as this one); and so on and so forth.
 
However, the prospect of closing one Syndicate and forming another to race Harry will rest entirely on a year-by-year assessment and strict consultation between the Syndicate Manager, the horse’s trainer, and HRNZ.
 
For example, if by the end of 2015 Franco Harrison is either having more soundness problems or not performing on the racetrack, then the In It For… Syndicate concept will cease to continue and the horse will be sold outright. Under this scenario, all net proceeds from the sale plus all net stake-earnings and all leftover funds from the original allocation will be combined and re-distributed to Members upon the closing of the In It For 2015 Syndicate.
 
So, what now becomes paramount is that we need a decision from each and every existing In It For Fun Member about whether they want to join In It For 2015 or not.
 
There is absolutely no obligation to re-join the new Syndicate, and it goes without saying that there’ll be no ill-feeling whatsoever if you’d prefer to receive your $58.60 pay-out and call it quits.
 
For those of you who do want to stay on the ‘Harry ride’ for another 12 months – that’s great, and thanks! We now have to rustle up as many people as possible, as quickly as possible – because the more that are involved, the less it’s going to cost each person.
 
Earlier in this correspondence, we conservatively estimated the cost of racing Franco Harrison for 2015 to be $55,000. Here’s how much that would amount to for each Member, if we got the following numbers…
 

  • 100 people = $550 each
  • 200 people = $275 each
  • 250 people = $220 each
  • 300 people = $183 each
  • 350 people = $157 each
  • 400 people = $138 each
 
As the above figures show, it’s obviously not going to be very affordable for everyone if less than 200 people re-join the new Syndicate (and therefore it’s less likely to happen). So that’s why we urgently need an answer from you all (and any family and friends you can ‘rustle up’ as well) – so that we can let everyone know if there’s been enough interest to form a new Syndicate.
 
Bear in mind that existing Members of In It For Fun also have that $58.60 pay-out up their sleeve – so once they join, this will automatically be deducted from the amount to pay and all they need to do is fix up the difference. For example…
 
  • 100 people = $550 each (or $491.40 if already an In It For Fun Member)
  • 200 people = $275 each (or $216.40 if already an In It For Fun Member)
  • 250 people = $220 each (or $161.40 if already an In It For Fun Member)
  • 300 people = $183 each (or $124.40 if already an In It For Fun Member)
  • 350 people = $157 each (or $98.40 if already an In It For Fun Member)
  • 400 people = $138 each (or $79.40 if already an In It For Fun Member)
 
Note: friends and family of In It For Fun Members still have to pay the non-discounted amount to become ‘new’ Members and join In It For 2015.
 
Right now, the only thing that’s certain is that In It For Fun is going to cease operating at the end of this year (December 31, 2014) regardless. Whether or not we’re able to get In It For 2015 up and running to follow in its footsteps is going to depend entirely on all of you.
 
We appreciate that with Christmas fast approaching you’ve all got enough on your plates without throwing an important decision into the mix as well, but unfortunately we can’t do anything about the timing.
 
Please let us know your intentions (via email) sometime over the next three weeks (i.e. before December 31), plus confirmation of how many of your friends and family members want to come onboard as well.
 
Then early in the New Year, we’ll let everybody know whether In It For 2015 is likely to proceed and if so, at what cost to everyone. Your joining fee would be required by the end of January 2015.
 
The pay-out to In It For Fun Members who aren’t getting involved in the new Syndicate will be made sometime towards the end of January as well.
 
Please be aware that the figures shown above for Franco Harrison’s value and net stake-earnings are just approximations at this stage, but they are a pretty good indication and we don’t expect the final figures to be vastly different once calculated. The exact amounts in each respect can only be finalised once he’s finished racing at the end of the year, because this is when the valuations will take place and his total stake-earnings will be known.


(December 3)

Franco Harrison tried gamely to run in the money at Orari last Saturday.
 
When he surged to the front halfway down the straight I thought we were going to get home, but in the end the class of his opposition was too tough and he was run down short of the line to finish sixth.
 
In perspective this was still a great effort, because he beat home some horses that are valued at much higher than Harry - and some that will probably end up winning more races than him by the time they've finished their careers too.
 
Our co-trainer Greg Hope agrees, pointing out that for a C2 race on the grass at a country meeting on a Saturday, the quality of horses that Franco Harrison was up against was first class.
 
"The horse that won it... well, if he's not the best 3-year-old in the country, he's the second best," Greg said.
 
So now the focus switches to Oamaru this Saturday for another grass track fixture, where Harry is in one of the Invited Drivers' races.
 
This means that if he happens to win it'll be penalty-free and he'll remain a C2 pacer, although his chances are a little more tougher now that he's drawn marble 15 - the outside of the second row in a mobile.
 
"Yeah it's a shame he's drawn what he did, because if he'd landed an inside marble on the front line I'd have been pretty confident," Greg said.
 
"It's a huge drop in class from the sort of horses he faced last Saturday, so it'll all depend on what happens during the running now.
 
"He's well, happy, and has definitely taken no harm from last weekend's run."
 
Noel and Wendy will be on-course at Oamaru this Saturday, and look forward to seeing you there.


(November 27)

Franco Harrison faces his toughest test to date when he lines up in the last event on the programme at Orari this Saturday.
 
The way he performed at Kaikoura he's arguably in the best form of his life, but he's going to need to be to fend off the challenges of some pretty handy horses at the weekend. Quite literally, there's form 'for Africa' amongst the opposition.
 
That aside, our trainer Greg Hope isn't exactly going to start waving the white flag; we wouldn't even bother putting him on the float and heading south if that was the case.
 
"I'm really happy with him," Greg enthused earlier this afternoon.
 
"Yes it's a tough field, but Harry's fighting fit and I'm expecting a good run from him.
 
"He's freshened up really well since Kaikoura, and seems nice and sound. Plus he's trained on too... he's definitely no worse than he was that day, if anything he's probably a wee bit better."
 
Ricky May has trekked across the Tasman to partner Terror To Love in the Miracle Mile, so his spot in Franco Harrison's sulky will be filled by Matty Williamson.
 
Greg says his stable reinsman Stevie Golding would've taken the drive himself had they not had another representative in the event - Destined For Glory.
 
"It can be a bit dodgy from a stand, but Stevie got it away okay at the trials the other day so the owners were dead-keen for him to stay on it for that reason.
 
"Harry's pretty bomp-proof in that respect anyway, and you're certainly not losing anything by having Matty on. There's only him and one other horse off the front, so Matty should be able to get him away safely and then pick who they take a trail behind.
 
"Orari is a track with a lot of bends in it, so there doesn't tend to be a lot of lead changes; once a horse makes its way to the front, it normally stays there.
 
"So hopefully Harry might settle in the trail or three-deep at worst, and he'd be a chance from there."
 
Safely through Saturday, Franco Harrison will have the choice of either a penalty-free C2 2000m mobile on the grass at Oamaru next Saturday (Dec 6) or - if he happened to win this week - a C2-C3 2400m stand at Methven the following day.
 
Then it's off to Motukarara on December 14 for the Akaroa Trotting Club's meeting, which goHarness is turning into a big occasion for the Members of all its Syndicates (similar to past shin-digs at Motukarara and Addington - more details tomorrow).
 
Harry will then head to the West Coast for a start or two, hopefully ending 2014 on a high note. So there's plenty instore for our brave wee man, who (touch wood) seems to have beaten his soreness issues and is happier than ever before.
 
Noel and Wendy won't be in attendance this Saturday but I will, so I'll look forward to seeing those of you who make the trip as well.


(November 4)
 
What a superb performance by Franco Harrison to win at Kaikoura yesterday.
 
Harry showed gatespeed to lead, settled beautifully when in front, then sprinted when Ricky May asked him to and sailed away from his opposition to win by an effortless five and a half lengths.
 
The 1:58.1 mile rate he recorded is the fastest he's gone in his career to date, and he did it under his own steam.
 
I thought this when our boy came up a millimetre short at his previous start, and yesterday only confirmed it - Harry is racing in the best form of his life!
 
Of course, when it comes to horses you can very easily come crashing back to down to earth with a reality check the next time they step out, but for all we've been through with Franco Harrison it was just so enjoyable to see him run like we all know he can.
 
When he's right, he's actually quite a talented animal.
 
It was great to share yesterday's victory with those on-course who filtered into the birdcage following Harry's race, and for everyone else who couldn't make it to Kaikoura I'm sure that you were all cheering with delight as well.
 
On behalf of the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate I just want to join with everyone and congratulate Greg, Nina, their son Ben, Stevie Golding and the rest of the team at the Hope stables for everything they've done to get Harry to perform like he has. It's certainly been a great thrill.
 
From here the plan is to line Franco Harrison up at Orari on November 29, then Motukarara on December 14, and possibly finish the year with a trip to the Coast for some appearances at Westport (Dec 26th) and Reefton (Dec 30th).
 
Two things to keep in mind... Sunday December 14 at Motukarara is the Akaroa Trotting Club's Annual Meeting, and goHarness is heavily involved with the Club in sponsoring this day (which is also a 'Christmas at the Races' day) - so we're going to make a big occasion of it, complete with a 'blue bling' theme and hopefully two or three Syndicate horses lining up as well.
 
Best you mark this date on your calendar now, and start thinking about what you might wear. We'll give you more details soon.
 
Secondly... the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate is due to wind up at the end of the year, but Noel and I are working with HRNZ to finalise a 'newer' version of the syndicate to carry on racing Harry for another 12 months.
 
If Franco Harrison had developed more sorness issues or not been performing as well as he has been, then there wouldn't have been the need to consider such a thing. But because he's racing as well as ever, and Greg believes he's worth carrying on with, that's why a new syndicate is being organised.
 
Called the 'In It For 2015' Syndicate, basically it'll be open to all existing Members (plus any of their friends who want to join for a year as well) and operate for the duration of 2015. This time next year it'll be reviewed again, and if Franco Harrison is still sound and performing at that stage then a 2016 version will go on the drawing board.
 
Current 'In It For Fun' Members aren't obligated to carry on by any means; they're more than welcome to cease their involvement when the existing Syndicate comes to a close at the end of this year, and receive a small payout (of their portion of Harry's stakes etc). Unfortunately it won't be anything like the initial $360 joining fee, but it'll be something nonetheless.
 
For those who do want to stay on for the ride, all you'll need to do is 'top up' your portion of the payout (to cover the costs of another 12 months of training/vet fees etc) and away we go again!
 
Understandably there's a fair bit to sort through, but towards the end of November we'll be emailing you with all the details and your options.
 
In the meantime, go and have another look at the replay of Harry's Kaikoura win and bask in the glory of what horse racing is all about.

 
(November 2)

Franco Harrison is ready to put in another good performance at Kaikoura tomorrow.
 
It's a shame that we have to wait until the very last race on Kaikoura Cup Day to cheer on our boy, but judging by Greg's thoughts heading into Harry's event he's expecting him to go well.
 
There were two races on the programme that Franco Harrison could've started in, and Greg says they opted for race 10 instead of race 2 due to the presence of two runners from 'the Blue Army' - the stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.
 
On exposed form, our co-trainer believes, the final event on the programme looks "a more winnable race".
 
"The only thing that worries me is him getting too keyed up behind the mobile," Greg said.
 
"But he's been working really well since his last run, and I hear that the track surface was conditioned about a month ago so it should have a decent amount of top (cushion) on it.
 
"The way he's been racing lately, you'd have to think he'll be in the finish of it for sure."
 
The other 'read between the lines' factor we have in our favour tomorrow is who's chosen to drive Harry... the Hopes have three in the race, and Ricky May always gets first choice, so the fact that he wants to sit behind Franco Harrison as opposed to Mighty Peruvian or Reklaw Supreme speaks volumes for his chances in my opinion.
 
Especially since Ricky's been driving Mighty Peruvian for months, and both the Hopes' other two representatives are C3 horses compared to Harry who's just a C1.
 
I'll be at Kaikoura tomorrow, and look forward to seeing any other Syndicate Members who intend to make the trip as well.


(October 23)

What another super run by Franco Harrison to power home and be beaten a lip at Methven on Sunday.
 
Like most in the Syndicate, not to mention our trainers Greg and Nina, I knew it was close but I was sure that we'd won - I was quite baffled (and even a little disappointed) when the decision went the way of Superintendent.
 
Anyway, you can't take anything away from Harry because his effort was sublime to come from miles off them and go so close - and it proves that he's pretty much racing in the best form of his life!
 
Greg agrees, saying that even he and Nina are noticing a different horse around the stables lately.
 
"He's a lot happier," Greg said, knowing that most of that can be put down to the fact that he's racing without pain.
 
"He seems to be getting better, and I reckon he can keep getting better still as well."
 
So now we strike a bit of a dilemma, because the next grass track meetings aren't until November 23 (Motukarara) and 29 (Orari). Greg is mindful that Harry "isn't a Cup Week horse" so he's leaning towards an appearance at Kaikoura on Monday-week instead, albeit cautiously.
 
"I'll just see how he trains on between now and acceptance time," he said.
 
"Some horses struggle to get around Kaikoura, but he's a good wee pacer so I'm sure he'd handle it.
 
"The track there can be as hard as concrete sometimes too though, so I might just make some enquiries about whether they've conditioned it before I make my final decision."
 
Looking into December, and the fixtures at Methven (7th), Motukarara (14th) and Motukarara (29th) are all possibilities - but Greg is also keen on including Franco Harrison in their team which is going to the Coast, thinking that Westport (26th) and Reefton (30th) would suit him down to the ground.
 
So, lots of opportunities ahead. As soon as we know how it's all going to unfold, you'll know too.
 

(October 15)

By now, most of you will know that Franco Harrison has drawn a decent marble for his race at Methven this Sunday.
 
Harry is lining up in the third event on the programme, timed to start at 1:10pm, and he'll wear saddlecloth three.
 
Apart from a couple of his opposition who have visibly good form, it's not an overly strong field; the general consensus is that he's better on the grass surface due to it offering more cushion under his hooves, so going by what he's shown lately we're all hopeful of another bold run.
 
It is horse racing though, where there are no certainties, so not for a minute am I suggesting you mortgage the farm and plonk it on him. It's just nice to know that Franco Harrison is happy within himself and has once again got a good chance of finishing in the money.
 
Just a reminder too... if you're planning to go to Methven and have been considering the Club's Cup Day Marquee ($60 per person), please get in touch with Alanna Henson by close of play today.
 
Her contact details are (03) 302-9049, mobile 021 302-403 or email: alanna@thebrownpub.co.nz


(October 13)

Franco Harrison is making his next appearance at Methven this Sunday, as scheduled.
 
Co-trainer Nina Hope says Harry has continued to please them in his work since his last outing at Addington, so he's nominated for the racemeeting but the fields aren't finalised until Wednesday.
 
It's a big one for the Club, being Methven Cup Day, and to mark the occasion they're putting up a brand new Cup Day Marquee in a prime location right next to the track and it has tabled seating available for purchase.
 
The cost is $60 per person, or tables of 10 for $600, and for the outlay you receive... a delicious buffet meal, two drink vouchers at the marquee's bar, private betting facilities, and loads of entertainment such as live music, a punters' club, and giveaways - not to mention your admission to the course and a free racebook for you to pick all your winners from.
 
Noel and Wendy will be in this designated area on the day, so if you're also intending to make the trip to Methven on Sunday and also want to purchase tickets to the marquee then please contact Alanna Henson on (03) 302-9049, mobile 021 302-403 or email: alanna@thebrownpub.co.nz
 
You don't have to be in the marquee of course, because Noel and Wendy will also try to mingle with Syndicate Members who are situated in other areas on-course during the day.
 
But if you do book with Alanna, don't forget to mention that you're part of the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate and she'll be sure to put as many of us at the same tables (of 10) as possible.
 

(October 6)

What a neat effort by Franco Harrison to pick up another cheque and pay a divvy on Friday night at Addington.
 
Yes he had a better run than most by trailing all the way, but no-one ended up getting past the horse that led (Mr Franklin) and Harry did beat home some of his more-favoured rivals in the event.
 
Plus it's good to see him doing everything right - stepping away safely and not over-racing etc, especially when he's probably not as suited to the all-weather surface as others.
 
They went 3.18.2 for the 2600m stand, the final sectionals in 57.1 and 28.3, and in all fairness they don't go much quicker in that grade so it was a top performance all-round.
 
If you check out the replay, Franco Harrison actually keeps trucking right to the line too so if the race had been 50 metres longer it might've been a different story.
 
Both co-trainer Greg and driver Stevie were as rapt as us with the horse's effort, with Stevie saying that he really knuckled down and tried hard at the business end which is all you can ask of a horse.
 
There's a certain amount of irony in the fact that Franco Harrison is racing so well, now that the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate has less than three months to run.
 
Still, at least we've all got something to enjoy and Harry will line up as many times as his legs allow him to between now and Christmas. As mentioned earlier, the next of those appearances will be at Methven on Sunday week (October 19).

 
(September 30)

It'll be a case of the 'country boy coming to town' for Franco Harrison later this week.
 
He's been nominated for a junior drivers' race at Addington on Friday night. And although this goes against the plan of keeping him to grass tracks, co-trainer Greg Hope says it's "worth giving him a go" on the all-weather surface at least once.
 
"There isn't another grass track meeting again until the 19th of October at Methven," Greg said, adding that he doesn't believe Harry will suffer any ill-effects from his 'oncer' on the harder surface.
 
"He's come back in great fettle this time in."
 
Greg was as enthusiastic as I've heard him speak about Franco Harrison after his barnstorming late finish to grab fifth at Motukarara two days ago.
 
Our driver Stevie Golding had to wait for the right moment to start Harry's run after they settled back in the field, but when he hopped into the three-wide line the horse in front of him went nowhere so they were stuck.
 
"And I didn't exactly want to send Harry on a mission four-wide at that point of the race either," Stevie quite-rightfully commented afterwards.
 
Once into the home straight, Franco Harrison spent most of his time heading right and looking for a clear run while the leaders got away, so his effort to finish so close on a 58.5 half was enormous.
 
"He's gone super," Greg exclaimed.
 
"He's come from a long way back and made up a lot of ground, he was fair flying at the finish - and that was one of the best C1 fields you'll see on the grass.
 
"That other horse of ours (Joe The Hunter) which won the race is no mug either; we've only had him a couple of weeks but he's going to win more races.
 
"Plus it was a leader-dominated track on Sunday... most of the winners were in the first few turning for home."
 
Greg is also pleased with how Harry has been since his run, and when I spoke to him last night he said our pacer "seems really good and has eaten up everything in the interim".
 
"We're very happy with the way he's finding the line. He's also beginning well and hasn't over-raced in his last couple of starts either.
 
"And he should only continue to improve from here, too. Stevie's really confident of a big run if he draws well on Friday."

 
(September 26)

Just a quick update to let you know that Franco Harrison is well heading into Sunday's event at Motukarara.
 
Co-trainer Greg Hope says our boy has had a reasonably quiet week to keep him fresh, because "it's obvious from his run last Sunday that he was pretty forward for it".
 
Harry has dropped back to the C1 class now, as mentioned, and the 2170m standing start race that Greg nominated him for ended up getting split into two separate events due to the sheer weight of numbers.
 
So Franco Harrison will go around in race 7 on the programme at 3:35pm, but it's a bit of shame that (because of a technicality on the club's behalf) he didn't get to line up in race 5 instead - the opposition are far weaker in that event.
 
As it's turned out, not only is he up against a pretty talented lot of one-win horses, he's also going to have to take on his new stablemate Joe The Hunter. Take it from me, Greg was not happy with how the club decided to split the two fields up.
 
That aside, at least we'll get a decent divvy if Harry manages to lob into a place; on last week's effort, his first since December let's remember, he's definitely capable as long as he doesn't run into traffic problems or over-race.
 
Noel and Wendy won't be in attendance on Sunday, and I'll be there working as a matter of fact - tending to clients of my other employer Nevele R Stud are hosting in a hospitality tent that afternoon.
 
But I'll still be able to take time out from those duties to be with you all as we cheer Harry on, so I look forward to seeing you there.

 
(September 22)

There were a lot of reasons to be excited about Franco Harrison's resumption at Methven yesterday.
 
He might not have run in the money, but gee he really steamed home along the inside late in the piece and took lengths off those who had a headstart on him turning for home.
 
Prior to that, Harry had begun like a rocket to take an early lead and then trail his stablemate (and eventual winner, Mighty Peruvian). Unfortunately that horse 'went bush' on the turn the first time, which eventuated in Franco Harrison getting shuffled further and further back along the pegs as various other rivals had a turn in the lead.
 
This saw our boy in a hopeless spot six-back turning for home, but by crikey he went good after that.
 
Stevie Golding, who partnered Franco Harrison for us, was beaming when he returned to the stabling area because he said that at no stage did Harry show any tendency to pull or over-race.
 
"He was actually a bit unlucky not to run in the money," Stevie said.
 
"Had he ended up staying in the trail or even three-back, I reckon he would've. No, he went great!"
 
We always thought that yesterday's resumption was going to be a tough ask against the C2-C4 pacers, most of whom have won more races than Harry and were more 'race-hardened' than him, so his performance was full of merit on so many levels.
 
And the added bonus is that, when he races again next Sunday at Motukarara (September 28), Franco Harrison is allowed to line up in a C1 race due to the 'Drop Back' clause in the Handicapping Conditions.
 
Just to explain, when a horse remains winless for 10 starts in the same grade, it can step back one rung down the ladder into a lower class; yesterday's outing was the 10th that Harry has had since he won in December 2012.
 
Effectively, this means that the C1 opposition he'll be lining up against next Sunday are three grades lower than most of those he fronted up to yesterday. Combined with the fact that he would've improved further by having a run 'under his belt', this hopefully points to Harry going pretty well at Motukarara.

 
(September 18)

As good as it is to have him back, Franco Harrison faces a pretty stiff task when he resumes at Methven this Sunday.
 
He's lining up in a C2-C4 event, meaning he's taking on much higher-assessed horses - most of which have had a few runs under their belts lately too, so they're fitter than Harry.
 
But in saying that, co-trainer Greg Hope isn't conceding defeat just yet and remains optimistic.
 
"He seems good and his work's been nice," Greg said.
 
"Ricky (May) drove him at the trials the other day when he ran second, and he was really pleased with Harry and said he tried hard.
 
"Put it this way, Reklaw Supreme (a stablemate and the winner of five races) couldn't come off his back and beat him that day."
 
Greg and his wife Nina are lining up three in Franco Harrison's event on Sunday, so it's been a bit of an effort to organise drivers for all of them; Ricky's going to partner Mighty Peruvian, and our boy will be steered by stable employee Stevie Golding - who's actually this season's Leading Junior Driver thus far, and a good fella too.
 
"Obviously we'll be wanting an economical trip first-up and not knocking him around," Greg continued.
 
"Yes it's going to be a bit tough for him, that field, but if he fronted up and didn't pull he's good enough to get some money.
 
"It's just that while he's fresh and a bit above himself, he can over-race sometimes."
 
Greg says Harry's done a lot of groundwork, so he should be able to handle two or three starts over the next month to six weeks. The Banks Peninsula meeting at Motukarara the following Sunday (September 28) has already been pencilled in.
 
For those who are able to make it to Methven this Sunday, I look forward to seeing you there. We haven't got a specific area organised to congregate from, so we'll just have to 'wing it' and be 'Joe Public' but it'll be fun nonetheless.
 
Noel's a doubtful attendee, as he's still taking it easy after his recent health scare.


(September 6)

Franco Harrison is having a run at the Methven Trials today, in Heat 16 at 2:00pm which is the last scheduled Heat of the day and a C2-C3 over 2400m from a stand.
 
This will actually be Harry's second appearance since his spell, as he ran at the Methven Workouts last Sunday and finished third.
 
Our humble apologies that we haven't sent out an email about this before now - you can just put it down to circumstances and a bit of a miscommunication issue.
 
Franco Harrison performed well in the outing last weekend though, leading up and only getting run down late for third by Goshawk and Johnny Eyre; a mate of mine was the commentator on the day (Matt Markham), and he reported that Harry looked big and strong but his condition (fitness) just gave out over the last 50 or so metres when he was passed by the other two.
 
So at this stage he's looking 'on track' for a resumption at the same racecourse on Sunday, September 21. I'm heading down south on a week-long business trip today, and Noel's enjoying a bit of 'R & R' himself after taking ill earlier in the week, but as soon as we can get out another update about Franco Harrison and how he performs today, we'll be in touch.
 

(August 18)

Time for another update on Harry.
 
Noel caught up with Greg Hope yesterday out at Rangiora, and the news is good.
 
Greg reports that Franco Harrison is training "real nice" and is virtually "ready to go".
 
There's still the slight matter of his ongoing unsoundness issues too though, so it's been decided that we'll stick to grass tracks for his races and workouts (where possible) from now and until the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate winds up at end of this year.
 
Franco Harrison is therefor being aimed at the Methven meeting on Sunday, September 21. And there's also likely to be one or two Workout Days held on grass surfaces between now and then as well, so he'll also take in one (or both) of those.


(July 21)

I grabbed a few minutes of Greg Hope's time on Friday night at the races, and he reports that everything is well with Franco Harrison as he builds towards another campaign.
 
Originally we thought that he might be at the trials by now (mid-July), but Greg is aiming for August instead - if for no other reason than not rushing him back.
 
Like we mentioned in our last email about Harry a month ago, Greg still believes there's still a win or two to be had out of our horse.
 
"He seems happy and is doing well," Greg said.


(June 20)

As anticipated, it looks like we're going to have three syndicate horses racing on the same day for the first time next week.
 
Saratoga, Western Art and Astro Boy are all being aimed at the Rangiora Meeting on Sunday, June 29 - and at this stage the news from their respective trainers is that they're all ticking over nicely in readiness for their next assignments.
 
Unfortunately we won't be able to make a 'big deal' of the occasion like we'd intended to though, because some of the public facilities and amenities at Rangiora Racecourse are still in the process of being repaired after suffering earthquake damage.
 
So this leaves us without a specific room or area to congregate from on the day.
 
That aside, we still hope that Members from all three syndicates will turn out in force - we're just going to have to put up with being spread out all over the place... some in the bar, some in the stand, some here, some there; that sort of thing.
 
Frankly, 'unorganised chaos' is not the way that Noel and I like to operate (lol) - but I'm sure you'll all understand that we won't have much choice this time.
 
The Rangiora Club is a little bit more lenient (compared to Addington) when it comes to people milling around the stabling area to see their horses, but we'd like to suggest that you go in twos and threes - rather than tens and twenties, because other horses and their connections are obviously in the stalls on either side so it's easy to get in the way if we're a large group of people.
 
Watch this space though, because we're going to ask the Club if we can house all three syndicate horses in a particular set of stalls that'd be easily accessible for lots of visitors - and out of the way of everyone else (just like we did at Motukarara).

 
(June 19)

You may have noticed the presence of a camera during our goHarness Blue Party at Addington last Friday night.
 
Behind it was HRNZ's Stacey Markham and her partner Trent Yesberg, and from the footage they took they've put together a neat little two-minute snippet all about us.
 
You can find it by going to the homepage of HNRZ (www.hrnz.co.nz) and viewing it there, otherwise just copy the link below into your address bar...
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wAIEemkm4o&feature=youtu.be
 
I trust you'll all agree that it's a beauty, and our sincere thanks go out to Stacey and Trent.
 

(June 16)

For those of you who weren't able to make it to our 'shin-dig' at Addington on Friday night, here's an update on Franco Harrison.
 
Co-trainer Greg Hope very kindly gave us a few minutes of his time on the night, and he reports that Harry is progressing well in his work so far.
 
The plan was to give him a campaign of swimming, but in hindsight that's become less of a viable option during the cooler months - and Greg believes the work that they can give our pacer along Woodend Beach is just as effective as a form of low-impact fitness building.
 
Franco Harrison has been in work a month now, and Greg is of the opinion he'll be ready to trial by mid-July and off to the races soon after that.
 
"His attitude's good and he's definitley got the ability to win a couple more races," Greg said.


(June 10)

We've changed our minds, and decided to have a party at Addington on Friday night after all.
 
Astro Boy and Western Art are going to be lining up for the 'Double The Fun' Syndicate, and Saratoga was supposed to be flying the flag for the 'Trotting For Fun' Syndicate too - but unfortunately his race was scrapped right at the last minute this morning, when nominations fell away to an insufficient number.
 
As disappointing as that is, we can't do much about circumstances beyond our control.
 
But hey, we're still left with two goHarness horses which will be strutting their stuff at the one location on the same night - so we're going to use that as an excuse for a party and have one!
 
Therefore, our gathering this Friday night is now going to be dubbed The goHarness Blue Party and promises to be a whole heap of fun.
 
And, as we said last week - everyone's invited, regardless of which syndicate you belong to... 'Double The Fun' Members can cheer on their boys in races 1 and 4; 'Trotting For Fun' Members can drown their sorrows about missing out on a start; and 'In It For Fun' Members can join in too - we might even be able to arrange a special interview (behind the microphone) with Harry's co-trainer Greg Hope, just to give you all an update on his good progress.
 
And please bring your friends on Friday night too, because the more the merrier!
 
We'd like those of you who are coming along to really get into the spirit of things by wearing something blue... however small or big, anything from a hat, tie or scarf to your whole outfit - if you've got something blue on, you'll fit right in.
 
In case anyone's wondering, the $2 Shops always have an interesting array of wigs and different nick-nacks to choose from; cheap enough too, so go wild.
 
There'll be prizes for the best 'get-ups', and others who show a bit of initiative might just earn a spot prize as well. We'll also have a couple of quiz question sessions during the evening, when you'll be able to win $5 TAB vouchers if you're quick enough with the right answers.
 
Addington have literally 'come to the party' in the food and drink departments on the night... they've made a special addition to the evening's menu and called it the Astro Burger and Western Fries meal, and to wash it down we've also got a choice of the non-alcoholic Saratoga Soda or even the Harry in the Shower cocktail (for something with a bit more of a kick to it).
 
Both the above beverages will be blue, of course. And don't forget about the Happy Hours - the second of which is exclusively for those of us at the goHarness Blue Party! Please drink responsibly too though.
 
Just a reminder, for $15 you'll get to choose from six different meals on the ala carte menue (the Astro beef burger with cheese & lettuce & tomato & Western fries, battered gurnard fillets with salad & fries, roast quarter chicken & roast/steamed veges, crumbed beef schnitzel with salad & mash & gravy, vegetarian nachos with sour cream & chunky salsa, or a bowl of old-fashioned country style soup & toast) - plus you get a voucher for a standard drink from the bar with any ala carte purchase.
 
We're also hoping that we might be able to get some 'Q&A' time behind the microphone with some of the syndicate trainers and/or drivers during the evening, but that can't be confirmed until virtually on the night.
 
Another idea we're investigating is a group photo of epic proportions with everyone and all the horses at once (out on the track) - but again, a fair bit of organising and 'rubber-stamping' from officials needs to take place for that to happen, not to mention some respite from the Weather Gods.
 
So the latter two things are more of a 'wait and see' scenario at this point - but we'll be trying to make them part of the party.
 
In the meantime, put some thought into what you're going to wear on Friday and then come along for a terrific night out.
 
For those of you who live outside of Canterbury and can't make it this Friday, we hope you get some friends together and gather round the TV for your own sort of party - at least there'll be three races worth watching on the night.
 
And to those who do intend to be there, we've fielded a few enquiries about lanyards but don't worry if you haven't got one or you've lost yours - just come up to Noel or I once you arrive, because we'll have spares to give out.


(June 5)

We can't really call it a party, but everyone is invited.
 
At next Friday night's racemeeting at Addington, there's going to be a special 'get-together' of goHarness Syndicate Members.
 
The occasion centres around the 'Double The Fun' Syndicate horses - Western Art is going to be making his much-awaited debut, and Astro Boy will be racing on the same night as well because we've brought him up from Southland.
 
From a 'Trotting For Fun' Syndicate point of view, there's also the possibility that Saratoga could line up - unfortunately this won't be able to be confirmed until early next week, but we're pretty hopeful (and relatively confident) it'll happen.
 
And for all those who first joined the goHarness family as Members of 'In It For Fun' and Franco Harrison - your horse is back in work but not quite ready to race yet, but we'd like you to consider coming along next Friday night anyway.
 
As I said, regardless of which Syndicate you're a part of - everyone is invited.
 
Noel and I have managed to arrange a few special things with Addington Raceway (who've been very helpful) for the night, and they include...
 
* we've been allocated an area all to ourselves in the Christian Cullen Lounge (first floor of the Main Stand), where we'll be able to congregate. This is where the public go too, but the area designated specifically for us will be to the right as you walk through the doors. The beauty about this location is that it's inside (in case of increment weather); all amenities like the bar, toilets, food and betting windows are footsteps away; and we can simply walk out the other doors (to the track) and choose from ample seating and standing areas to watch our horses' races.
 
* there's a special meal/beverage offer being made available only to Syndicate Members (and their friends/family), whereby for $15 we get to dine Ala Carte and wash it down with a free drink. The meal will be off the Christian Cullen Lounge's $13 Ala Carte Racenight Menu (menu still to be determined) - and for the beverage we can choose between a glass of... house red or white wine, house beer, soft drink or juice.
 
* please remember to take your lanyards - it doesn't matter which Syndicate lanyard you've got, just as long as you've got one. Just show your lanyard at the Christian Cullen Cafe when you order your meal (the Cafe is down our end of the building anyway), and the staff will issue you with a drink voucher to use at the bar.
 
* there will be two 'Happy Hours' on the night. The first of them is between 5.30pm-7.00pm and is for everyone on-course; the second of them is for us only and will be later on in the night, fitting around one of our horse's races (which obviously can't be determined until the fields are finalised next week). Same deal though - you'll just need to show your lanyard at the bar to be offered the special prices during the second Happy Hour.
 
It should be a great night for everyone concerned, so mark down June 13 in your calendar (and leave any 'Friday the 13th' suspicions at home).
 
Please bear in mind that due to strict OSH Regulations at Addington, we can't just all pile down to the stabling area to see our horses - either singularly, or en masse. At other venues the view towards this sort of thing is far more relaxed (and feasible), but OSH have come down hard on Addington Raceway and that's just the rules we have to abide by.
 
We're trying to organise some other sort of 'meet and greet' for the evening, but won't know more until the night. Of course, if we happen to win a race - then woe be tied if they try and stop us filling the birdcage!
 
And lastly... we've been able to make it cheaper for people to enjoy a few drinks on the night, but we still want to encourage responsible behaviour - i.e., if you intend to have a couple, please bring a 'designated sober driver' with you or arrange alternative transport.
 
We'd hate for such an enjoyable occasion to be marred by any unnecessary fines, losses of licences, or even accidents on the way home.


(May 1)

Recently we asked you all to vote on whether you'd like the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate to be extended past its scheduled finishing date of April 30 (yesterday).
 
The requirement for Members to vote became necessary after someone questioned Harness Racing New Zealand about Noel's intention to extend the Syndicate, and HRNZ's advice was for diplomacy to come into effect - the final decision resting with whichever way 'a simple majority' of voters chose. 
 
Yesterday was the cut-off date for votes, so Noel and I would like to thank all the Syndicate Members who took the time to send back their opinion on the matter.
 
A total of 272 votes were received...
 
Yes: 267 (98.2%)
No: 4 (1.5%)
Abstain: 1 (0.3%)
 
Therefor, it's with great delight that we can now 'officially' confirm that Noel's original and very kind offer will proceed as planned... the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate will remain in operation up until the end of this year (December 31, 2014).

And remember, this is entirely at Noel's expense - Syndicate Members are not required (and will not be asked) to pay another cent!
 
Now that all the 'red tape' is out of the way, Franco Harrison is about to start a course of swimming at a location which we'll confirm soon - and then go back into work, with the aim being to have him back at the races sometime in July.

 
(April 17)

Well it might be dark and dreary weather in Christchurch right now, but we've got some news about Franco Harrison that's rather bright.
 
Yesterday, Harry was examined by the Rangiora Vet Clinic's Sam Taylor and given a thorough 'going over', including some x-rays of his troublesome off-side hind hoof - and our horse has now been given the 'all clear' to go back into work.
 
So, the plan is to start building his fitness up in a precautionary way by swimming him for the next six to eight weeks, and then he can return to the stables of Greg and Nina Hope for a month or so before starting at the races again.
 
Just where Franco Harrison will do his swimming work is yet to be confirmed, but as soon as we finalise these details we'll let you all know and even go and take some photos of our boy in action in the pool.
 
As you will all recall, the last time we sent out an email about Harry, we told you that we were going to extend the syndicate beyond its scheduled end date. After all, the end of this month (April 30) is when the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate was originally scheduled to wind down to a close.
 
Nothing's changed in this respect - I'd still prefer the Syndicate to run for a few more months, to try and make up for the time we've spent waiting for Harry to recover from his injuries here and there.
 
Due to HRNZ fielding some enquiries about whether I'm legally allowed to do this though, they've now advised me to put this matter to the vote... as long as a 'simple majority' of you Syndicate Members are happy for 'In It For Fun' to carry on, I can go ahead and push the end date back like I always intended to.
 
The two most important things you need to know is that this extension is ENTIRELY at my expense; Syndicate Members are not required (and will definitely not be asked) to pay a cent extra. Secondly, please don't opt for a "no" vote because you're worried about what it's going to cost me personally for all the extra training bills etc.
 
This is just something that I was always prepared to do, and with your approval it'll go ahead.
 
And here's how I see it unfolding... 6-8 weeks of swimming plus another month of work at the Hopes' means it'll be about the end of July before Franco Harrison is ready to go back to the races; therefor, I think the syndicate should run for another five months after that and close down at the end of the year (December 31, 2014).
 
This should allow us to enjoy a nice last campaign out of Franco Harrison, but just how many starts Harry will end up having during the July-December period will depend entirely on his soundness. Unfortunately if he succumbs to any further injuries, I can't keep extending the Syndicate; December 31 will be the final cut-off date regardless.
 
So, all that I need you Members to do now is click 'reply' to this email and vote:
 
* YES means you'd like the syndicate date to be extended as above, or
* NO - you're happy for 'In It For Fun' to close down on April 30.
 
April 30 is also the last date that I'll be able to accept your votes, so if you'd like to voice your opinion between now and then that'd be much appreciated.
 
I'll let you all know of the outcome shortly afterwards.


(April 1)

Sunday at Motukarara is an occasion I'm never going to forget!
 
Not only was it great to see Members from all three Syndicates there, our wee pacer Astro Boy produced an outstanding performance to come from last and win - quite literally giving us the 'icing on the cake'.
 
I was in the Public Grandstand to watch his race, and the atmosphere was like an electric erruption all around me as Astro Boy sailed on past his opposition... tingles down the spine, hairs on the back of my neck standing up - it was all of that, and more.
 
But the best part was seeing the smiles on everyone's faces as we piled into the birdcage for photos with our heroic pacer; this is the whole reason why Noel started goHarness Syndication in the first place... for the fun and excitement that a day like this can produce!
 
And it just goes to show that when it comes to racehorses, being little isn't necessarily a negative. After all, it's all about the amount of fight in the horse rather than the size of the horse in the fight.
 
As Astro Boy was getting shuffled back I was thinking to myself 'here we go again - more bad luck', and later I asked our stand-in driver Colin De Filippi what his thoughts were as the race unfolded. Surprisingly, he wasn't worried.
 
"There were a lot of moves down the back straight, so the further it went the better I liked it," Colin said of Astro's race.
 
"Even when I finally pulled him out, I still thought we were going to be the hardest to beat.
 
"And yes he did win it pretty easy, he had a bit left at the finish."
 
Colin confirmed that he could hear the crowd (us) burst into life as he made his run, and for a split second he felt like saluting as he crossed the line but refrained because it's not his style. Still, I can assure you he enjoyed being partnered with Astro Boy and if anything he was a touch surprised by his ability considering his stature.
 
"Courage Under Fire wasn't much bigger either though," he said with a smile.
 
"Yeah, he's got a good turn of foot the wee fella. I don't think the next grade or the one after that will hold him."
 
I checked up on Astro Boy yesterday and Colin said he'd come through the run in fine style, no worries at all. He's back on the transporter this morning and heading home, and Hamish intends to give him a few days off before reassessing where to start next.
 
And for good reason too, because a couple of trips to and from Christchurch (plus a couple of races) in the space of just over a fortnight can take its toll on a horse - so the fact that Astro Boy performed so well on Sunday says a lot about him.
 
Noel, Wendy and I would once again like to personally thank everyone who made it out to Motukarara Racecourse on the day. It was great to meet a lot of you face to face, and I'm hope you all enjoyed where we were housed, the giveaways, having the horses there to see and pat, all the extra activities that took place - just everything about the day in general, really.
 
The feedback we've received in the 48 hours since has been amazing, so thanks very much to those who've emailed or phoned because it really does mean a lot to Noel and I and is very much appreciated.
 
We will definitely be doing the same sort of thing again and again, at least once every year and even sooner if possible - and not just confined to Christchurch either.
 
For those of you who may be interested in purchasing some photographs from Sunday, Race Images have given me a couple of discounted options to offer our Members. Just phone me on (03) 347-9699 and I'll email you the details.


(March 27)

Take #2 of our 'Bring A Friend' Raceday is fast approaching, so we hope that those of you intending to come along are all set for what should be a great day in the sun at Motukarara.
 
Yes, I said the 's' word... SUN!
 
Never before have I taken so much interest in weather forecasts, but after the debacle of March 16 when we wore the backlash of Cyclone Lusi it's kind of become a daily ritual for me.
 
And it's even on the improve... two weeks ago the prediction was for rain, last week 'they' were saying overcast and 18 degrees (but no rain), and the latest glance this morning reveals a mixture of sun and clouds over top of a 21 degree day. And the most important part - still a zero percent chance of precipitation.
 
Not that it matters anymore anyway. As mentioned last week, we've managed to snap up some fabulous facilities at Motukarara for the occasion - three adjoining rooms on the first floor of the Public Grandstand which have tabled seating, a lounge area, cash bar, totes and toilets.
 
The area has a couple of exits to the Grandstand, so you can literally walk out the door and see the races from a very advantageous position halfway up the Stand. It really is the perfect location to either mingle or come and go from throughout the day.
 
Everything on Sunday is going ahead pretty much exactly how it was planned to a fortnight ago, apart from two things... the 'Trotting For Fun' Syndicate horse Saratoga won't be in attendance because he's gone north to chase a start in the Harness Jewels, and Sam Ottley unfortunately can't partner the 'Double The Fun' syndicate's Astro Boy because she's committed to another horse in the same race.
 
We've secured the services of Colin De Filippi though, so it's not as if we've lost anything in the steering department. Astro Boy is travelling up to Christchurch again today, and will be well looked after at the De Filippi stable.
 
Furthermore, both Western Art ('Double The Fun') and Harriet Of Mot ('Trotting For Fun') will be parading on Sunday as originally planned, and Franco Harrison ('In It For Fun') is still going to make his cameo appearance and can handle as much attention as he gets.
 
Nothing's changed as far as the on-course entertainment, Kidz Kartz Grass Track Championships and dual-sulky rides are concerned either - not to mention the fabulous prize draws that have to be won as well, plus the 10 x $20 TAB vouchers I'll be giving away to you and your friends throughout the day.
 
I'm also in the process of arranging for Colin, Greg Hope and Craig Edmonds to all come along and have a bit of a chat behind the microphone at different times, so their comments and opinions about our syndicate horses will be well worth listening to I'm sure.
 
And one last thing... I'll be throwing the odd Quiz Question at you as the day progresses, so if you'd like to take home a goHarness cap or cooler bag for nothing then it might pay to 'swat up' on our syndicate horses.

 

Harry's career for goHarness:
Starts: 25
Wins: 3
Placings: 5
Stakes: $18,356
Click here to be linked with Franco Harrison's details on the HRNZ website

 

Harry's last win for goHarness:

Kaikoura 3 November 2014 Race 10

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