Stars come out to play in Launceston

12:54 PM 10 Apr 2014 NZST
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Motu Crusader winning the Tasmania Cup in January.jpg
Motu Crusader winning the Tasmania Cup in January
THE harness race meeting at the TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night boasts heats of the Easter Cup and the Raider Stakes for four-year-olds.

The two Easter Cup heats (races 4 & 5) have produced fields of eight and seven respectively with last year's winner Biggernbettermax off the back mark of 20 metres in heat one while dual Tasmania Cup winner Motu Crusader will have to contend with a back mark of 40 metres in heat two with Our Chain Of Command off 30 metres.

Biggernbettermax raced in New South Wales late last year and up to the end of January where he failed to win a race but he was sent back to trainer Barrie Rattray's property in February for another crack at the Easter Cup.

The first heat boasts a handy line-up including the promising Dapper Dana that has drawn the pole position but this is his first test in the silk department.

Zeke Slater's latest stable tenant The Adriatic has drawn gate two and he could be competitive along with the Keith Toulmin-trained Falco Peregrinus that could not have been more impressive in winning the Westbury Cup at Carrick last month.

The second heat should be a battle between the back markers although the Melissa Maine-trained Spot Nine that won the Hobart Pacing Cup in January must be considered an each-way chance despite his poor performances in the Devonport Cup and at his subsequent outing in Launceston.

His latest effort when second to Call The Marshall in a discretionary handicap in Launceston was full of merit.

The David bates-trained Saab Quality hit the line hard in the Governor's Cup in Hobart last Sunday night so if he steps cleanly from his 10-metre handicap he must be considered a winning chance.

Dual Tasmania Cup winner Motu Crusader probably deserves his 40-metre handicap but that mark might be a bit too much in a heat, while Our Chain Of Command has the early speed and then stamina to handle his 30-metre lift.

The Raider Stakes heats (races 8 & 9) each boast six starters but the races are filled with talented four-year-olds.

Heat one should be a match between Pachacuti that returned to wining form in Hobart last Sunday night and Melolyn that has always shown above average ability and will be fitter for two runs back from a spell for a first-up win and a second last time out.

Heat two is a more open affair with Barrie Rattray holding the key with pole marker Rykov leis and Devendra that has drawn gate two and will improve on his eighth in Hobart last Sunday night in which he carried a flat tyre for almost the duration of the race.

By Peter Staples

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