The win by former Victorian pacer Waiona in a free-for-all in Launceston last Sunday night (October 16) has added more interest in the build up to the mobile start $40,000 Tasmania Cup on 1 January and the standing start $20,000 Hobart Pacing Cup on 8 January.
Both harness races are preceded by a mixture of open class stands and mobiles. The schedule is:
28 November Launceston $10,000 Open Discretionary Handicap
4 December Devonport $10,000 Open Free For All
11 December Launceston $20,000 Open Free For All
18 December Hobart $8,000 C6 & Better Discretionary Handicap Heat
27 December Hobart $8,000 Open Free For All
1 January Hobart $40,000 Tasmania Cup (MS)
1 January Hobart $8,000 C6 & Better Discretionary Handicap Heat
8 January Hobart $20,000 C6 & Better Discretionary Handicap Final
The Tasmania Cup has had its stakes level slashed from $100,000 to $40,000 as part of Tasracing’s stakes realignment strategy.
While there are those who advocate that the prize money cut to the state’s premier event will be to the detriment of the industry while others believe that the move is overdue and will have little impact on the quality of horses that arfe likely to contest the event.
However, with the stake reduction comes the loss of Group 1 status attached to the Tasmania Cup as the requirement to attain Group 1 status is a stake of at least $100,000.
Waiona could be one of the horses capable of earning a berth in the Tasmania Cup, although the Hobart Pacing Cup is more likely to be his goal.
The gelding was purchased out of a Victorian claimer in May this year and had managed two placings in claiming company from five Tasmanian starts.
Despite his success in open company, Hillier has dropped him back to Claiming class at the Launceston meeting this Sunday night. Waiona appears to be better suited there than a free for all on the same program where Tanabi Bromac, Our Sir Jeckyl, Saab Quality and Beef City Beau may dominate the placings.
Hillier is firmly established in the upper echelon of Tasmanian trainers.
Hillier was third on the trainer’s premiership last season behind Grant Hodges (68 wins). Hillier notched 24 wins and 31 places from only 96 starters for a winning strike rate of 25%.
This season Hillier has not missed a place with his eight starters – five wins two seconds and a third.