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There was no bluff about evergreen veteran pacer Poker Storm when he played a winning hand to get the cash at a recent Launceston harness racing meeting. The 12-year-old paid three figure odds across most betting outlets with a stake-high $220 for a single win unit on the NSW TAB. But the victory didn't come as a surprise to his trainer Adrian Duggan, or the passionate owners. "I don't bet, but his owners always have a couple of dollars on him, so that's great for them," Duggan said. While the NSW TAB was the standout, those players who put their chips on the pacer to trump his rivals, collected $187 (SuperTAB), $106 (UniTAB), and $100 in his home state. "It's definitely not every day that you have that happen - but he also didn't deserve to be those odds, either. He's been racing really well," he said. Poker Storm hadn't won since March - but has been enjoying Tasmania's Discretionary Standing Start racing and had weighed in at all but one of his previous five starts, hence the quiet confidence in the Duggan camp. Annette and Chris Rockliff, Jacob Duggan and Nathan Rockliff were all smiles after their old warrior scored a memorable long-shot win  "He's an out-of-the-draw horse in the stands, but if he's off the second row he usually goes away all right," Duggan said. Poker Storm (Trump Casino-Cameo Mist (Lucky Cam) and Duggan have been a racing combination for almost as long as is possible in harness racing. The ownership group is based at Devonport, on the north coast, but, after he was broken in, they elected to send their two-year-old to the southern area of the Apple Isle, to Duggan at Brighton. And while others have come and gone, Poker Storm has been there ever since - for 10 years, nearly 200 starts, 23 wins and $170,000 in stakes. Duggan admits unashamedly, Poker Storm's the favorite. "He's just a lovely horse to have around. Hardly a lame day in his life and he's just one of those horses - he's not very big, but he's a warrior," he said. "He's very straightforward, very athletic and he just loves what he does. He's like most horses I suppose - if you keep him happy, he is very easy to get on with." Poker Storm crosses the line to win at start number 199 Duggan trains a team of 11 or 12 with the help of his stepfather Phillip Young, his wife Amanda and their 14-year-old son Jacob, who's just recently become licenced. "Poker Storm's been around nearly as long as Jacob has!" Duggan laughed. "He doesn't actually remember a time when we didn't have the horse - and he's doing quite a lot of the work with him now, too, so the win was a big thrill for Jacob as well. "Nathan (Rockliff) and Peter (Webb) are just the sort of owners you love to have. They are very loyal to me and have three horses here at the moment. "They love the sport and old Poker Storm has done a great job for them, but the minute I think it's time to pull the pin they'll be okay with that. "At the moment though, we're just enjoying racing him and while they keep programming the discretionary races and he gets handicapped fairly, we'll keep him going round," he said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

North West Coast owners Nathan Rockliff and Peter Webb celebrated one of their biggest wins in harness racing on Sunday night in Hobart when Poker Storm claimed the New Norfolk Pacing Cup in slashing style. The Trump Casino-Cameo Mist ten-year-old also provided his career-long trainer-driver Adrian Duggan a home town cup success. “It was a thrill to win the New Norfolk Cup. I’m from the Valley so it was very satisfying and to win for Peter and Nathan was even better; they are great owners and have been since they first asked me to take him as a two-year-old after he had been broken in by Brett Jaffray,” Duggan said. Poker Storm came off the 20-metre mark in the cup and settled well back in the field before Adrian made his move approaching the bell, latching onto the back of Sheer Strength and grabbing a cart into the race. As the field turned for home Duggan pulled Poker Storm to the centre of the track and scorched home over the gallant favourite Full Speed Ahead to win by a half-head. “He’s won 19 races, run 38 placings and picked up $135,000 in prize money so he’s been a great money spinner for connections and the stable.” “Storm is just a little below the top bracket, but he gives 110 per cent every time he steps out on the track; he’s won an Ulverstone Cup and ran third in the Devonport Cup,” Adrian remembered. “There’s no doubt one of his biggest runs was his fourth in the Maxfield Drilling Raider Stakes when Quastor Centurion and Beautide fought out a memorable finish. I couldn’t get a run in the straight and we only finished 4.5 metres from the two stars.” By Shane Yates Reprinted with permission of The Advocate

Tasmanian harness racing enthusiasts were treated to a number of spectacular displays of horsemanship on Sunday night at the Tasmanian Pacing Club meeting at Luxbet Park in Hobart.  Hall Of Fame reinsman Ricky Duggan showed his vast experience to pilot the Changeover -Glenferrie Miss four-year-old, odds-on favourite, Swap Me home in the first race on the card for the fourth win of its career.  Ricky’s expertise was again on show in race two as he guided the Adrian Duggan-trained eight-year-old gelding Grinable (pictured) to a runaway 11.8-metre victory, returning a mile-rate of 1:59:6, for its second win in the space of four runs.  Reigning 6ty° Youngbloods Challenge champion Jack Laugher completed a successful hit and run mission from Victoria with the Rohan Hillier-trained All My Savings and following up with the Ben Yole prepared Ultimate Courage.  All My Savings broke a frustrating run of three consecutive seconds to come from outside the second line over the sprint trip of 1609-metres for punters, as the $2.60 favourite, to score by 1.8-metres.  The form from race three stood up in the fourth as Ultimate Courage backed up from its victory last week over All My Savings to again land the money for trainer Ben Yole.  The Courage Under Fire-Quiet Talker six year-old-gelding has now won three of his last six starts.  Ben Yole completed his double with Stylish Trend scoring its first win of the season with Robert Walters in the cart.  The Bettors Delight-Trenzetter five-year-old gelding scored in the closest finish of the night over Pushkin by a half-head at odds of $6.50.  Justin Campbell and Todd Rattray were honoured to have joined forces to win the Vale Charlie Howlett Pace with Boltnmach.  The victory brought up a winning hat-trick for the Mach Three-Fake Madam nine-year-old gelding after two wins in August to finish the 2016-17 season.  It just wouldn’t be a Tasmanian pacing meeting if Im Barney Rubble didn’t salute the judge.  The 10-year-old Life Sign – Pebbles gelding, trained and driven by Rohan Hillier, scored his fifth win in a row and his sixth from his last seven outings. Tasracing

Hit The Lights had 28 starts before he emerged triumphant but as often is the case with horses that take forever to win a race just two starts later the Mark Geeves-trained gelding was back in the harness racing winner's circle. The gelded son of Shadow Play registered his second win in a C1 over 2090 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart last Sunday night. With Adrian Duggan in the cart, Hit The Lights settled near the rear of the field but when the pace slackened the driver made the race-winning move to allow his charge to roll around the field and face the breeze from where he could help dictate the pace of the race. Hit The Lights stormed to the lead in the home straight and went on to score comfortably from Last Guy Standing and Pop The Cork. Hit The Lights is owned by Geeves and his long-time friend and fellow hobby trainer Eric Blomquist. Geeves purchased the gelded son of Shadow Play from Queensland about 16 months ago and when he arrived at his stables he immediately showed promise but a back ailment prevented him from realising his potential. "Because he showed so much when he first arrived (in Tasmania) we pushed on to try and win a three-year-old event but I discovered the back problem so I tipped him out and gave him a decent spell," Geeves said. Now that Hit The Lights has found form Geeves expects the gelding to remain competitive as he makes his way through the lower classes. Peter Staples  

Hits the Lights finally delivered on the potential he showed when he first arrived in Tasmania by powering his way to an impressive harness racing win in the Green Electrical Pace over 2090 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart last night. The Mark Geeves-trained four-year-old faced the breeze for over a lap but proved too strong for his rivals at the business end of the race to score by 5-1/2 metres from Peteri Mic with Really Frank a half-neck away third. Geeves purchased the gelded son of Shadow Play from Queensland about 16 months ago and when he arrived at his stables he immediately showed promise but a back ailment prevented him from realising his potential. "Because he showed so much when he first arrived (in Tasmania) we pushed on to try and win a three-year-old event but I discovered the back problem so I tipped him out and gave him a decent spell," Geeves said. "He's come back in good order and his runs leading up to this race were good but we had to drive him differently tonight to make sure it wasn't going to be a sit and sprint. "I'm not sure how many more wins he's got in him but we've got one at least." Geeves, who considers himself a boutique trainer these days with only one or two horses in work at any one time. Hit The Lights ($7.50) was well driven by Adrian Duggan who settled the gelding three-back in the one-out line but when the pace slackened 1200m from home he sent the gelding around the field to face the breeze. He forged to the lead leaving the back straight the last time and went on to score comfortably. "We wanted to make sure he was up on the speed so that we could play to his strength," Duggan said. "He's done a good job tonight and on that run he'll definitely win again." Peter Staples  

Victorian harness racing pacer Mighty Flying Mac tuned up for this Sunday's $40,000 Easter Cup with an effortless all-the-way win in the Degree C Quality over 1930 metres at the Devonport Showground in Tasmania on Sunday night. The Brent Lilley-trained gelding started from the pole position and once he was able to hold the lead to the first turn the end result was never in doubt. It was an effortless win and one that his driver Adrian Duggan expected. "On his recent form and the class of horses he had been racing against he was always going to be hard to beat once he led around Devonport," Duggan said. Duggan is caretaker trainer of the Mighty Flying Mac while he is campaigning in Tasmania and he will no doubt be sorry to see the Mach Three gelding leave his Brighton stables. "It's good to have a horse of his caliber in the stable. He's not a hard horse to train and if he takes his present form into Sunday's race he'll be very competitive. "He had a good blow after his run in the Easter Cup heat last Friday week, and he wouldn't have blown a candle out after his Devonport win so he should be spot on for Sunday's Easter Cup Final." Duggan drove the Mighty Flying Mac in his two Tasmanian starts but he won't be able to take the sit in the Easter Cup because he has his own horse Poker Storm engaged. "I've got to driver Poker Storm so it will either be my brother Ricky Duggan who'll take the drive or if his son Josh (Duggan) isn't required for drives in Victoria that night he'll most likely make the trip to drive the horse." Peter Staples  

Marvilloso promised a lot as a young horse but couldn't quite make the grade but perseverance has paid dividends for his harness racing trainer and part-owner Adrian Duggan. The five-year-old powered home after enjoying a gun run to score comfortably from Marnu The Beast and Gaggle Coordinator in the CUB Pace over 2090 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart on Sunday night. He had a bunch of minor placings in his first preparation for Duggan before being sent to Victoria where he was bred with the hope of picking up some of the big prizemoney up for grabs through the Vicbred bonus scheme. "We bought this horse for $7000 and even though he hadn't won as a two or three-year-old we thought he might as well have a crack in Victoria so we sent the horse to Scott Dyer but we had no luck from three tries and brought him back home," Duggan said. Marvilloso developed a few issues that needed to be addressed but it was only when Duggan decided it was time to geld the horse that the improvement started. "We kept him an entire because he is such a lovely natured horse but in the end his manhood was presenting a few issues with his gait so we gelded him and it's made a big difference. "This is his first preparation as a gelding and he's been very competitive and this win will help his confidence." The Village Jasper gelding has started 27 times for this win and eight minor placings and while a lot of horses with such modest form might have been dispatched to a life at pony clubs or farm horse he has remained with Duggan for one prime season. "My wife Amanda absolutely loves the horse so we kept him going and that's why it's so great that he's finally won a race and I'm sure there are more wins left in him." Peter Staples

Consistent harness racing pacer Grinable opened his winning account for the season with a last-stride win in the Ella Coulson Pace for C3-C4 pacers over 2090 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart last night. The Adrian Duggan trained and driven seven-year-old settled sixth and three-back the fence and that's where he remained until the field turned for home the last time. But when Duggan shouldered his way clear close to home the gelded son of Grinfromeartoear laid his ears back and charged home to grab Sir Dasher Dee right on the line with Zumba Bromac a close-up third. It was Grinable's fifth start this preparation but he had been unlucky at two previous outings, in particular a fourth behind Blackjackhanover in a C4-C5 in Hobart immediately prior to last night's assignment. "I've been very happy with the horse's progress this time in although we had a bit of a hiccup three starts back but I've sorted a little issue out and he's right back on track," Duggan said. "He is not an overly big horse but he's quite solid and he tries hard so we'll just plod along with him and aim him at a couple of the country cups. "The Carrick Cup would be a suitable race for him so that will be one of his targets in the New Year." Grinable was sent to Duggan as a two-year-old by his original owner Neale Donnelley and the gelding performed well but he lost his way so the owner opted to get out of the hor6se so Duggan put together a small syndicate that still races the gelding. Grinable has won nine and snared 18 minor placings from 59 starts for almost $64,000 so he has been a decent money spinner. Peter Staples

The reintroduction of pony trot races this season has been a revelation with the series hailed a huge success by all involved in the harness racing industry. The final two races of the series were held at UBET Park Hobart on Friday night with the two heats to determine the winner. Heading into the final round of heats Ryan Backhouse led on 13 points and one ahead of Matilda Rawlings with Jacob Duggan and Oliver Coulson tied for third one point further adrift on 11 points. Jacob and his aged pony Rassy Big Girl won both heats to clinch the title of Pony Trot Champion driver for 2015-16. He is the son of talented trainer-driver Adrian Duggan and his wife Amanda. Jacob, 10, said he has had his pony since he was two and that he thinks she is the best pony ever. As far as following in his father's footsteps, well that is probably a foregone conclusion. "I want to be a driver when I get older and I hope to win a premiership by the time I'm 21," he said. While Duggan claimed the trophy all the drivers who competed in the series were winners because they were given the opportunity to not only compete but learn how to present horses properly for racing and care for them post race. The drivers who contested the series were Jacob Duggan, Oliver Coulson and his sister Ella Coulson, Matilda Rawlings, Billy Butler, Ryan Backhouse, Mitchell Ford and Brodie Davis. Peter Staples

Talented reinsman Adrian Duggan was born into a harness racing family domiciled in the country township of New Norfolk and as a child he often dreamt of one day driving the winner of a New Norfolk Cup. At Kensington Park Paceway today the 40-year-old achieved his life long dream when he partnered the Maurice Jarman-trained gelding Neonjet to an all-the-way win in the Norske Skog New Norfolk Cup over 2900 metres. Neonjet stepped cleanly from front row of the standing start and once in front Duggan rated the gelding to perfection. While the five-year-old was almost friendless in the betting starting at $31 as one of the rank outsiders in the field of 11 Duggan was confident the gelded son of Jereme's Jet would be competitive if he stepped cleanly from the standing start. "All he had to do was go away well to be a real good each-way chance and that's how it panned out," Duggan said. "He is a tough horse and he's a natural stayer so when we found the front and we got away with a couple of cheap quarters I thought he'd be right in it at the finish," he said. It also was a big win for the North-West Coast based trainer who only has a few horses in work. Peter Staples

Brighton harness racing trainer-driver Adrian Duggan celebrated his first double of the season at UBET Park in Hobart on Sunday night. Duggan's consistent five-year-old Flylika Hawk delivered the goods in the opening race on the eight-event card when he flashed home along the rails to defeat the odds-on favourite Metro Mouse by the narrowest or margins. Then stable battler Tizyalator caused a boilover when he powered home from well back to win a C1 event over 2090 metres. Flylika Hawk ($9) was not expected to trouble the favourite Metro Mouse ($1.60) given he started from the inside of the second row and was destined to end up three or four-back the fence. The when the leader and winner's stablemate Maravilloso kicked clear nearing the home turn Flylika Hawk found space to improve and when the leader shifted up the track in the home straight Duggan drove him through the gap and he edged out the favourite in the last stride. "This horse needs that sort of run in a race to be in the finish but he has been a model of consistency this time in and he deserved to win again," Duggan said. "He is a perfect horse for the Coastal races around Christmas time because he puts himself in the right spot and pings the start from a stand so that's where he will be aimed in December-January," he said. Tizyalator's win was more decisive, although Duggan again had to weave a passage through the field to get the desired result. With his trainer in the sulky, Tizyalator settled just behind the speed from the pole position while the well backed I Am Camelot ($3.20) eventually found the lead. I Am Camelot was collared at the top of the home straight by Frankie Falzoni but neither could resist the powerful finishing burst of Tizyalator that scored at $43. Peter Staples

Well-bred harness racing mare Angela De Marco delivered a clinical display to score an effortless win in a C2-C3 event over 2090 metres at Tattersall's Park Hobart last Monday night. After circumnavigating the field to find the front at the halfway mark, the Tony Petersen-trained pacer left her rivals in her wake along the home straight as she cruised to a seven-metre win from Bone Fide Hustler, with Bertils Delight a head away third. Angela De Marco showed above average ability when she arrived from New Zealand early last year, but after only two outings which netted a placing, she was sent for a spell. The daughter of Washington Vc returned last June and emerged triumphant at her second start and proceeded to win four of her next seven outings. Petersen gave her a spell in September and from six starts this preparation Angela De Marco has won twice, with those victories coming from her past three starts. Angela De Marco is owned by Jamie Cockshutt and Barry Cooper, who have had a lot of success with stock they have purchased in New Zealand. The owners finished the meeting with a double courtesy of another NZ-bred campaigner, Something Eyre, which was impressive over 2090 metres. Also driven by Duggan, Something Eyre showed speed from gate two, but not enough to hold out Notimetothink which crossed from gate three to lead. Duggan angled away from the pegs to face the breeze, but he soon had cover when Kinky Boots was sent to the ‘death seat’. Duggan eased the gelding three-wide to make his charge along the back straight as Kinky Boots worked to the lead. Proving too slick during the latter stages, Something Eyre completed a three-and-a-half metre win from Saloon In Flight, with Rajah Wealth four-and-a-half metres away third. PETER STAPLES

LIGHTLY raced pacing filly Fawzia delivered the goods in the fillies' division final of the Big Park Sweepstakes in Hobart on Sunday night. With Todd Rattray in the cart the filly trailed the leader for most of the 1609-metre journey before easing out in the home straight to stake her claim. The leader and race favourite Jokers Wild Card looked to be travelling well nearing the home turn but when her driver Gareth Rattray released the deafeners and went for home it opened the door for Fawzia to issue her challenge. Fawzia moved alongside Jokers Wild Card and eventually gained the upper hand with the judges winning margin 1-1/4 metres on the line. Jokers Wild Card battled gamely while Grace Campbell (Adrian Duggan) worked home nicely for third but over five metres astern. Fawzia (x Sportswriter) is trained by Barrie Rattray who also bred the filly from his former handy race mare Public Persecution that probably never realised her full potential because of her attitude to racing. Rattray said Fawzia also has attitude but thankfully not as many unsuitable traits as her mother. Listen to the audio above to what driver Todd Rattray had to say about Fawzia's win. Peter Staples

THE confidence of talented young novice reinswoman Taylor Ford has grown enormously since she guided Devendra to victory in Hobart last Sunday week to register her first winning race drive. Ford, 16, is following in the footsteps of her older brother Dylan who is the leading novice driver this season and in only his second year as a licensed reinsman he represented Tasmania at the Australasian Young Drivers series in Sydney earlier this year. In Launceston tomorrow night (Friday May 23) Taylor will be trying to expand her winning tally. She will partner the Adrian Duggan-trained Topwestern in the first race on the eight-event card but from the outside gate (13) on the second row she would need luck to place. But in the second race, a C1 over 2200 metres, she is aboard last-start winner Cooked Books that is trained by her brother Dylan. Cooked Books led all the way to win in Hobart last Sunday week and while he defeated a very ordinary bunch he did it in style. If Taylor can find the front she would be hard to run down. Her only other drive is aboard the Zane Medhurst-trained Boozy Rouge in race seven, the C0-C1 over 1680m. Boozy Rouge has only modest form of late and he has drawn awkwardly one-off the onside of the second row but if he found anywhere near his best he would win without surprising. By Peter Staples

Talented reinsman Ricky Duggan had only a modest day at the office on his home track at New Norfolk on Sunday emerging with only one winner. But his winner proved yet again what a master he is in the sulky. Duggan partnered Poker Storm, prepared by his brother Adrian, to a brilliant win in the E. C Plunkett Memorial over 2150 metres, a standing start race for C2 or better performers. he stepped well from his standing start but was caught behind the pack when moves were being made in the back straight the last time. Duggan somehow weaved a passage through and on the home turn he aimed his charge to the outside of the field and the six-year0old gelding stormed home to score comfortably from Stormy Tara with Good Beginnings third and just ahead of Prettyboytroy. Poker Storm had run recent placings going onto the race with his previous win back in mid December. The gelding has been a good money spinner for his owners with this latest win his 11th but he also has accumulated 20 minor placings from his 71 career starts for just over $60,000 in stakes. Trainer Adrian Duggan was delighted with the win and said the gelding would most likely back up in Launceston next Sunday night. Gareth Rattray took driving honours at the meeting with a treble while James Austin and Nathan Ford ended the 10-race card with two winners each. By Peter Staples      

Talented teenage reinsman Dylan Ford will represent Tasmania at the Australasian Young Drivers' Championship in New South Wales next month. The announcement was made by Tasracing CEO Dr Eliot Forbes and it was basically a formality given what Ford has achieved in such a short time in the sulky. Ford, 18, was thrilled with his selection. "It is an absolute honour to be chosen as the Tasmanian representative," Ford said. "I have had a lot of support from a lot of owners and trainers but I would especially like to acknowledge the role my family and cousin Nathan (Ford) have played in my success so far in harness racing," he said. Ford also is training half a dozen horses alongside his cousin's stables at Elderslie. Ford was a ready made talent when he first acquired his driver's licence finishing second on the novice driver premiership and ninth overall in his first season and last season he won the novice driver title and finished seventh overall. The Australasian Young Drivers Championship will boast junior reinsmen and women from all over Australia and New Zealand and will run in conjunction with the Inter Dominion series to be held at Menangle. Dr Forbes said Tasracing's harness racing program was very supportive of young drivers and many have demonstrated their ability at the highest level on the national stage. "As a result of this ongoing commitment our Tasmanian talent is nurtured in their early careers and has resulted in four of the last 11 national winners coming from Tasmania," Dr Forbes said. Tasmanians have dominated the AYDC series with previous winners comprising Ricky Duggan (1993), Adrian Duggan (1997), Gareth Rattray (2003 and 2010), James Rattray (2005) and James Austin (2007). By Peter Staples

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