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Pastor Stephen Hambo feature wins Hervey

January 12, 2012
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NBC’s Hambletonian feature, titled “Pastor Stephen: Racing for Africa,” was selected the winner of the 28th edition of the John Hervey Award for excellence in harness racing broadcasting, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced today. The feature was produced by David Cook. 
 
Honorable mention was awarded to “Training for Tomorrow,” which appeared on the Time Warner Cable, as part of “Inside Harness Racing.” It was produced by Justin Horowitz. The contest was sponsored by harness racing executive Jeff Gural.
 
“Pastor Stephen: Racing for Africa” told the story of the Hambletonian hopeful Pastor Stephen and the man for which the horse was named, the Rev. Stephen Heinzel-Nelson. The Rev. Heinzel-Nelson and his wife, Liz, started Villages in Partnership, an organization to assist the people of Malawi.
 
The story aired during NBC’s Hambletonian broadcast on Aug. 6, 2011.
 
“Focusing on the life of two-time Hambletonian-winning trainer Jimmy Takter, this segment gave insight into not only the challenge of training Standardbreds at the highest level but also the family-oriented aspect of harness racing and enabled the viewer to see the way a racing family interacts with its local and area community,” judge Kurt Becker said.
 
“The added dimension of the human Pastor Stephen and his involvement with Villages In Partnership, and the horse’s connections’ pledge to donate a percentage of the equine Pastor Stephen’s winnings to helping better the lives of African villagers, also demonstrated the global impact of racing and the inspiration which a Hambletonian entrant brought to a community located a continent away.
 
“The combination of video segments from both the U.S. and Africa further enriched the production, while the sound bites incorporated from various interviews were poignant and well-chosen.”
 
The piece “Training for Tomorrow” told the story of high school students competing in a scholarship race at Tioga Downs. It aired June 15, 2011.
 
“With a clear theme, excellent narration, and a concise presentation, ‘Training for Tomorrow’ examined the annual Tioga Downs scholarship race and revealed how the New York-based track is taking steps to expand harness racing’s fan base among the younger set,” Becker said. “Focusing on Union-Endicott High School student Rebecca Conrad, the segment explored how trainers open their doors to help give pupils a three-week crash course on harness racing, with the race itself offering a total of $7,500 in scholarship money to the participating students.
 
“The presentation utilized the simplicity of the backstretch to illustrate the racetrack as a classroom, and it demonstrated the power in making harness racing more accessible to youth. The enthusiasm of the participating trainers, as shown through an interview with Jamie Paquet, also captures the untiring devotion of those who work in the sport, and it channels the message of harness racing as a true labor of love.
 
“It is difficult to imagine professional sports being made so immediately relevant and accessible to teenagers, but ‘Training for Tomorrow’ is a virtual instructional video on how it can be done.”
 
Judge Kurt Becker is the Keeneland track announcer and an Eclipse Award-winning broadcaster.
 
Cook will be honored at USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards dinner, to be held Feb. 12, at the DoubleTree Hilton at SeaWorld of Orlando. For tickets to attend the banquet contact Steve Wolf at stevejw@bellsouth.net; to take out a congratulatory ad in the Dinner Journal, contact Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com. Discounted room rates, available until Jan. 16, at the DoubleTree can be made by calling (800) 327-0363. (HRC)
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