Day At The Track
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South Australian superstar harness racing reinswoman Danielle Hill made a one-act affair of the Australian Female Drivers Championship on Sunday night in Launceston. Hill took the inaugural Series by storm winning five of the nine heats, showing the brilliance and expertise that has taken her to the top of her chosen sport. Danielle took a stranglehold on the Series early in the night with the Paul Ashwood-trained Krafty Boy ($3.40) leading all the way for victory over the popular pick Similan Beach in the opening race. In Heat two, Hill had last-start winner Im Compliant ($3.90) parked midfield on the inside in the final circuit but found the gap to angle away from the pegs at the 400-metre mark and rattle down the outside to claim Buster William, driven by Kristy Grant, to score by a neck for trainer Rohan Hillier. Christopher Howlett’s Rockin An Runnin ($6.50)was the next to salute for Danielle in Heat four after enjoying the run of the race one-out and one-back, she then proceeded to follow up with a go-to-whoa victory in the sixth Heat on No Apachemee ($8.50). The clash of the night was expected to be the battle of young gladiators Semowillrev($1.60) and Izah ($2.40) as they continued their build-up for the Group 3 Tasmanian Derby on April 8 and the two star three-year-olds kept their end of the deal. Izaha showed pace from the mobile to lead at the first turn for Lisa Ryan while Hill allowed Semowillrev (pictured) to settle back in ninth position before setting the Craig Hayes prepared favourite alight turning into the back straight. Semowillrev cruised up to sit outside Izaha at the 1400 before surging to the front at the bell and lifting the tempo of the race heading to the back stretch. Danielle hit the ‘go’ button on the Semowillrev racing to the 400-metre pole and the Sportswriter-Sur La Plage gelding fired away to notch up his seventh win from eight career starts, running a final quarter of 27.7 seconds. Australian Female Drivers Championship Points Table  130 – Danielle Hill (SA)    77 – Dannielle McMullen (QLD)    71 – Kate Gath (VIC)    66 – Kerryn Manning (VIC)    66 – Amanda Turnbull (NSW)    66 – Ellen Rixon (NSW)    65 – Narissa McMullen (QLD)    64 – Jocelyn Young (WA)    55 – Natalee Emery (TAS)    54 – Kristy Grant (TAS)    49 – Lisa Ryan (SA)    38 – Deni Roberts (WA) Danielle’s standing in Australian sport continues to grow, already a a recipient of the Tanya Denver Award as South Australia’s top female sportsperson. It hasn’t always been plain sailing for the diminutive Hill, if anyone knows the ups and downs of sport it’s Danielle. In 2009, on the Gold Coast, Hill clinched the Australasian Young Drivers Championship. A year later she was fighting for her life after the horse she was driving at Globe Derby was involved in an horrific fall. Danielle suffered bleeding on the brain and lost her right eye when surgeons were unable to repair the damage to the optic nerve to the brain. Her fight for life and her triumphant return to the track is the stuff of legends, there could be no more fitting winner of the inaugural Australian Female Drivers Championship than the highly gifted and courageous South Australian reinswoman Danielle Hill. by Shane Yates

The quality of drivers competing in this Sunday’s inaugural Australian Female Drivers Championship in Launceston would be a good fit for any world-class harness racing event. Having the talents of Kerryn Manning, Kate Gath and Amanda Turnbull at the same meeting should be enough to draw a big crowd but when added is a sprinkling of rising stars, the stage is set for a hot competition. The star of the show is Victorian Kerryn Manning who up until last week had driven over 3700 winners and placed over 4300 times for prizemoney of in excess of almost $26 million. No other female driver has accrued more Group 1 victories, which is why she is regarded as one of the best in the business. Manning is a superstar of harness racing and her presence in any line-up usually encourages strong betting turnover and coupled with her congenial personality makes her one of the most valuable commodities in the game. Kate Gath, also from Victoria, has driven over 1200 winners and is close to topping $10 million in stake earnings so she too will have her share of followers on Sunday night. New South Wales is well represented with Amanda Turnbull one of the most successful female drivers in the country having amassed 1600 wins and 2000 placings for over $10 million in stakes. Then there is teenager Ellen Rixon who is just starting her journey but has already notched 100 winners from only 900 drives and it won’t be long before she cracks the $1 million stake barrier. Rixon represented NSW in the Australian Drivers Championship against the male drivers in Tasmania last year and she more than held her own. South Australia’s Danielle Hill is another gun driver who has represented her state at national team events mixing it with the male drivers and more than holding her own and her record of over 1300 winners for over $4 million in stakes speaks for itself. South Australia also will be represented by Lisa Ryan who has driven almost 140 winners and placed over 400 times from only 1500 drives. Western Australia will be represented by Jocelyn Young and Deni Roberts and while they are less experienced than most of the aforementioned, they are talented drivers in their own right. Tasmania will be represented by Natalee Emery and Kristy Grant and both are talented drivers. Emery has amassed 358 wins for stakes of over $2.2 million of which much was accrued in Victoria where she drove under her maiden name of Westendorf. Grant is an up and coming talent who is the granddaughter of astute horseman Dick Eaves. Grant has notched almost 30 winners from limited opportunities but her acumen in the sulky has gone to a new level in recent times. The winner of the AFDC will be determined on a point score basis and held over four races. In a 12-horse field the winner will earn 19 points with 14 for second, 11 for third and nine for fourth reducing by one through to last place which earns one point. Peter Staples

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