Day At The Track
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Talented harness racing three-year-old pacer Hillview Jake tuned up for the Tasmanian Derby with an effortless win in the Neil Pitt Stakes in Launceston on Sunday night. With Ricky Duggan aboard, the Paul Hill-trained gelding cruised to the lead after travelling less than a lap and proceeded to give his rivals a pacing lesson as he powered his way to a 7-1/2 metre victory over The Badlands with Campaign Drive three metres away third. The win came on the back of a luckless second in Hobart a week earlier in which he almost fell at the start. A horse on the front line (The Badlands) galloped as the starter released the field and Hillview Jake (Cardmaster Hanover-Evening Muck Up) ran into the back of him and almost came down. But he recovered and hit the front turning for home only to be run down by Grinable over the final 100 metres. Hill was thrilled with Hillview Jake's performance on Sunday night. "I needed to take him to Launceston to make sure he wasn't suffering any mental issues after what happened to him in Hobart but he showed no signs of nervousness at the start so that was good." Hill said. "I told Ricky (Duggan) I didn't mind if he faced the breeze and if the pace was slow then attack for the lead and that's what eventuated. "He's gone 2.01 (mile rate) without Ricky having to pull the (ear) plugs so that's also encouraging given how easily he won the race. "I couldn't be any happier with him going into the Derby and while there are a couple of good local hopes likely to be in it and no doubt a strong interstate contingent, I wouldn't swap my horse for any other," he said. The Tasmanian Derby will be run at the UBET Racing Centre on April 10. Peter Staples

About two years ago talented Tasmanian harness trainer Justin Campbell went in search of a two-year-old to race in partnership with his good friend and loyal stable client Jeff Weedon. The search led them to Geffrey Madden’s property in the north of the state where they settled on a youngster by Cardmaster Hanover from Madden’s handy broodmare Patricia Page. They named him John Snow and following a couple of minor placings he notched his first win as a two-year-old after which he was sent for a spell. But when he resumed he developed niggling back problems and after three preparations of trying to win a three-year-old race the best he could manage was two seconds. But at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night John Snow delivered on the promise he showed early in his career to score an impressive win in a C0 over 2090 metres. It came as a result of a master drive from Campbell. After an attempt to lead from gate two failed Campbell ended up taking a sit behind first-starter Hit The Lights and John Snow travelled sweetly to the home turn. John Snow was travelling like he had plenty to offer so when Campbell cleverly found a way off the fence to put the horse in a position to challenge the gelding unleashed a powerful sprint and went on to score comfortably from Finn Mac Kee and Demonstrative. “That’s the first time this horse has finished off like that since he was a two-year-old,” Campbell said. “We had high hopes for him early on but he developed a few issues in his stifles and suffered from other issues in his back end so we had to be very patient,” Campbell said. “We are slowly getting on top of the problems and this win gives us hope that we are heading in the right direction,” he said. When it came to naming the horse connections submitted Jon Snow after the character from the TV series Game of Thrones but he ended up with the name spelt the same way as a former English Test cricket fast bowler. “We have been told that John Snow the former English fast bowler was quite a fierce competitor so we don’t mind if this horse develops the same trait,” Campbell said. Peter Staples

Inexperience proved to be no disadvantage for well-bred gelding Master Hanover at the harness racing meeting at Devonport on Monday night with the David Hayes-trained pacer proving too strong for his rivals in the Jeremy Rockliff Pace over 1930 metres. Master Hanover (Keith Toulmin) was having only his second start and was coming off a sixth on debut behind Ryley Major in Launceston. Toulmin allowed Master Hanover to settle worse than midfield off a solid speed set by Somedan while the well-backed Metro Mouse landed in the one-out-one-back spot. When Toulmin called on Master Hanover for the supreme effort in the back straight the gelding unleashed a powerful sprint. The Cardmaster Hanover gelding went on to score by a half-metre from Metro Mouse with Karalta Deluxe that was awkwardly placed three-back the fence for most of the race, an eye-catching third a half-metre astern. The winner was bred by the Hayes family from their well-performed broodmare Mersey Torado that raced 11 times for four wins over four preparations before being retired due to injury. This is Mersey Torado's second foal to race and she also has a weanling colt by Four Starzzz Shark. Peter Staples  

Any doubts as to whether star Tasmanian juvenile pacer Hillview Jake will be named two-year-old of the year were put to bed at the harness racing meeting at UBET Park Hobart last night where the gelding delivered another stellar performance to win the Premier's Breeders Plate over 2090 metres. It was the last 2YO feature of the season and Hillview Jake went into the race with impeccable form having won the Golden Slipper, 2YO Sweepstakes and Dandy Patch finals along with two other juvenile victories but he was surprisingly sent around the second favourite at $2.50. Victorian gelding Soho Chelsea owned that honour as he was backed in to start the $1.70 favourite following his two wins in Victoria that led to an impressive Tasmanian debut in a heat of the Breeders Crown in Launceston last week. Connections of Soho Chelsea opted to stay in the state to tackle the Breeders Plate before heading back to Victoria to tackle a semi-final of the Breeders Crown. But the Paul Hill-trained Hillview Jake defied the betting drift and proved why he will be named Tasmania's best two-year-old this season. Hillview Jake began well as did the Dean Braun-trained Soho Chelsea that made full use of the pole position but when Hill sent Hillview Jake forward Soho Chelsea's driver Rohan Hillier opted to take hold and take a sit behind Hillview Jake. A lap from home Hillier edged Soho Chelsea off the fence to race at the leader's wheel and as they headed down the back stretch the last time Soho Chelsea issued a serious challenge but it was to no avail. When Hill called on Hillview Jake to extend the gelded son of Cardmaster Hanover sprinted clear and he went on to easily defeat $50 outsider Ductape with Streetside Classic a closing third ahead of Iden Amrak that was denied a clear run over the last 400 metres. Ductape, prepared by Ben Rossendell, settled last and also suffered some interference so his effort was full of merit to finish second. Soho Chelsea knocked up in the home straight to finish fifth. Peter Staples

The Tasmanian based harness racing sire Cardmaster Hanover has had a long hard grind to try to get established in Australia but judging by the results from Hobart yesterday, he is finally rewarding his loyal supporters. Imported from North America in 2005, Cardmaster Hanover stood initially in New South Wales but to say he was poorly patronized would be the understatement of the year. Up until the time he was on sold to Geoff Madden in 2010, Cardmaster Hanover  had produced four crops whose numbers together came to just thirty three live foals. Of those thirty three foals, only nine have faced the starter and four have won but included in those winners was the very smart Dealer 1:53.3 ($105,230) So on his arrival in Tasmania, the fortunes of Cardmaster Hanover were probably at an all time low. His first crop in Tasmania were born in 2011 which are three year olds in the current season and they number thirty seven in total of which fourteen have started and seven have been race winners to date. Not a blazing start but a big improvement on the small numbers he had produced in New South Wales. The second crop by Cardmaster Hanover in Tasmania numbers forty two in total and it is this crop which has made breeders sit up and have another look at the son of Cam's Card Shark. Cardmaster Hanover has produced two high class juveniles this season in Hillview Jake and Chica Bella and they were both at the top of their game last night at Hobart. Chica Bella was too smart even from a bad draw in the $30,000 Evicus Final for fillies while Hillview Jake brushed home in a smart 56.9 to capture the $30,000 Dandy Patch Final for colts and geldings. Chica Bella 1:58.7 ($51,442) is five from nine this season while Hillview Jake 1:57.8 ($49,806) is five from seven in his debut season. Throw in Origin Cronk 2:00.9 ($16,606) and a few other promising types knocking on the door and Cardmaster Hanover has had a season to remember. It will be very interesting to see how breeders react to the performance of his two year olds this season when the next breeding season rolls around. Harnesslink Media

Tasmanian harness racing trainer Paul Hill celebrated his greatest night in racing when his two star juveniles Chica Bella and Hillview Jake won their respective sires stakes finals at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night. Chica Bella showed her class by crossing from near the outside of the front line and reeled off a slick first quarter while After Lunch faced the breeze in the Evicus Stakes final for fillies over 1609 metres. The pair matched motors to the home turn but that's when driver Ricky Duggan called on Chica Bella for the supreme effort and she responded magnificently. Chica Bella (Cardmaster Hanover-Time Moves On) forged clear and had plenty in hand to defeat outsider Tambros Milly ($101) with After Lunch fading to finish third just ahead of Itz Gemmas delight. She was heavily backed to start the $1.80 favourite ahead of After Lunch that drifted from odds-on to start the second elect at $2.20. The winner clocked a mile rate of 1.58.7 with her first half (800m) run in 58.67. Duggan described the filly as a "dream to drive". "Paul has done a magnificent job with this filly and she has improved just about every time she's been to the races," Duggan said. "She can be a little but cantankerous and try and kick me out of the cart in the score-up but once she's mobile she is a dream to drive." "She's got speed and stamina so if she can improve further next season they are going to have plenty of fun with this filly as a three-year-old," he said. For Hill it was sheer delight and declared it mission accomplished for the well-bred filly that is owned by his wife Julie, his brother Robert and his son Scott who travelled from Western Australia to watch the race. "This filly is tough and while she has a bit of an attitude she is all class and I can hardly wait to see what she does next season as a three-year-old," Hill said. Hillview Jake led throughout from the pole position to win the Dandy Patch final with ace Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang aboard. Hillview Jake went into the final on the back of a second to Origin Cronk in the Dandy Patch Prelude 13 days earlier but the final was another story. Lang had Hillview Jake travelling in his comfort zone and when he let him rip turning for home he sped clear and had plenty in reserve on the line and well clear of Origin Cronk and Riley Major. Hillview Jake clocked a mile rate of two minutes but ran home his last half (800m) in a slick 56.9 seconds. Peter Staples

Veteran Tasmanian harness racing trainer Paul Hill celebrated one of his best nights at the races when his talented two-year-olds Hillview Jake and Chica Bella won their respective 2YO Sweepstakes finals over 1609 metres at UBET Park Hobart last night. Hillview Jake also set a new state mile rate record when he stopped the clock at 1.57.83 which carved six-tenths of a second off the previous best set by Make A Memory in April 2008. And to make it a perfect night Hill's smart filly Chica Bella demolished her opposition to win the Sweepstakes fillies division. "This is a night I'll remember for a long time," Hill said. While Chica Bella was impressive the night belonged to Hillview Jake that settled fourth off a hot pace set by Riley Major and Pockets of Courage with that pair relentless in their pursuit of the lead, clocking a sizzling 26.4 for the first quarter (400m). When the pace slackened at the half-way mark Hillview Jake's driver Gavin Lang seized the opportunity and urged Hillview Jake ($2.70) forward to face the breeze outside of the leader Riley Major ($2.40). Origin Cronk ($14) was poised behind the leader and when Hillview Jake lobbed outside the leader it gave Pockets of Courage ($6.50) much needed cover in the one-out line. Riley Major and Hillview Jake slipped clear nearing the home turn the last time while Duggan eased Origin Cronk off the fence and appeared to have plenty to offer. But when Lang asked Hillview Jake for the supreme effort the gelded son of Cardmaster Hanover dug deep and forged clear and go on and score comfortably from Origin Cronk with Riley Major tiring to finish third ahead of outsider Rockin An Runnin. "This win means a hell of a lot to me for so many reasons," Hill said. "He is such a lovely horse to work with and whatever I ask of him he delivers. He's just a treat to train," he said. Lang said Hillview Jake was the "real deal". "This horse is quite advanced for a two-year-old and he showed me a lot more about himself tonight. He is quite a talent," he said. Chica Bella raced outside of the leader Shadow Blue that set a modest tempo and they cleared out nearing the home turn. But when her driver Ricky Duggan asked for the big effort she responded brilliantly and burst clear to go on and win by seven metres from Shadow Blue with Angelina Rainbow third ahead of Twentythreered. Chica Bella is unbeaten from four starts this preparation and is likely to dominate the remaining fillies features. "The Cardmaster Hanover filly is very smart and while not in the same league as Hillview Jake she is all class," Hill said. Peter Staples

Harness racing trainer Paul Hill is on the verge of making a clean sweep of the feature two-year-old races in Hobart on Sunday week. Hill will be represented by Hillview Jake in the colts’ and geldings’ division of the $20,000 Sweepstakes series, with the freshman likely to start favourite if he draws the front line. Hill will also have two genuine winning chances in the fillies’ Final in Chica Bella and Scorchin Safari. Chica Bella scored an effortless heat win last Sunday night, with Scorchin Safari finishing third behind her stablemate. “I am excited about both the Finals because Hillview Jake is going extra well and Chica Bella was also impressive in winning her past two starts,” Hill said. “Scorchin Safari is a big girl, and will obviously be better as a three-year-old, but depending on where she draws she is capable of winning the Final. “Chica Bela has improved at every start, and if she draws favourably then she is my best winning chance, but it will be an open race.” Chica Bella has started five times for three wins and two placings, while Scorchin Safari has four placings from her four starts. During her recent victory Chica Bella raced outside of leader Shesastandout, while Scorchin Safari settled three-back along the pegs. Responding to Ricky Duggan’s hard driving, Chica Bella completed a strong two-and-a-half metre win from Shadow Blue, with Scorchin Safari three metres away third. With the final 800 metres run in 61.5 seconds, the daughter of Cardmaster Hanover covered the mile in a modest 2:02.6. PETER STAPLES

Old Beach harness racing trainer Paul Hill expects his talented two-year-old filly Chica Bella to make an impact in whatever she tackles for the remainder of the season following her impressive win the Light Harness Tasmania Pace (2C0-2C1) over 1609m at Tattersall's Park in Hobart last Monday night. Chica Bella (Cardmaster Hanover-Time Moves On) won at her first start this time in at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston late last month but this latest outing was even more impressive. With Ricky Duggan in the sulky, Chica Bella worked across from her wide front row draw (6) and eventually rolled to the front a lap from home ahead of her stablemate Scorchin Safari (Paul Hill) and she went on to score by almost 11 metres from her stablemate with Kwiatkowski a metre away third. "I have a good opinion of Chica Bella that I think has a very bright future," Hill said. "I had her in the early two-year-old races and she was placed twice but since her little spell she has come back a better racehorse and she is only going to get better." "She will tackle the fillies heat of the Sweepstakes in Hobart on Sunday but she has drawn poorly on the outside of the front line (7) buy Ricky (Duggan) will hopefully be able to muster up some magic and get her into a good spot early," he said. Hill also has Scorchin Safari engaged in the same race and she too has drawn awkwardly on the inside of the second row (8). However Hill's luck with the draws turned around in the first of the Sweepstakes heats for colts and geldings with his recent Golden Slipper winner Hillview Jake to start from the pole position (1). "Hillview Jake has done really well since his Golden Slipper win and drawing the pole gives him every chance to win again," he said. Peter Staples

Latrobe harness racing trainer Melissa Maine has enjoyed a lot of success in recent timed and that continued in the opening race at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston tonight. Young Bruiser, a horse that only arrived in Maine's stale three weeks ago, gained a needle-eye opening about 80 metres from home to get up in the past few strides to defeat race leader and favourite Barooga Minnie ($1.70) in a nail-biting finish. The Cardmaster Hanover three-year-old gelding was well away from the inside of the second row and driver Gareth Rattray had the gelding travelling sweetly on the back of the favourite that led from the pole position. It looked for certain that Young Bruiser would fail to get clear in the home straight but when the leader shifted up the track under pressure in the closing stages Rattray sooled his charge through the gap. "I was happy to be where we were behind the favourite and to be honest I would have been happy had he been able to run a place," Rattray said. "He was travelling keenly and he surprised me a bit the way he travelled in the race and when the gap came he really dashed up nice and hit the line strong." "On that run you would have to say he has improvement in him so I think his future looks bright," Rattray said. Young Bruiser was backed late in betting firming from $9 to $6.50 on fixed odds with Tattsbet and he also shortened considerably on the Tote into $7.80 while the favourite tumbled in from $2.10 just prior to race start time into $1.70. The winner ran the 2200 metres in 2.48.7 and recorded a mile rate of 2.03.1. Peter Staples

Well bred two-year-old pacer Hillview Jake gave New Norfolk harness racing trainer Paul Hill successive wins in the Island Block & Paving Golden Slipper (1680m) when he led throughout to take out the prestigious juvenile event at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston tonight. With champion Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang in the Sulky, Hillview Jake ($3.50) showed good early speed to lead from gate three after a stoush with the odds-on favourite Soho Shanghai ($1.50) and they cleared out from the rest nearing the home turn the last time. The son of Cardmaster Hanover was always travelling like the winner and had no trouble holding the favourite at bay all the way up the home straight. The mile rate for the 1680 metres was a  good 2:00.1 Hill won the race last year with Jerrys Jet that he says is the best two-year-old he has ever trained. "Hillview Jake is not as good as Jerrys Jet was at this stage of his racing career but he's the next best I've ever trained," Hill said. "His work through the week was outstanding and I told Gavin (Lang) that if he led tonight they wouldn't beat him and that's how it panned out," he said. Lang was upbeat about the two-year-old's future. "He is quite a big horse that did what he had to do to win tonight," Lang said. "I had to burn him up early to lead but he came back to me quickly and was very strong on the line so I'd say he has a future," he said. Peter Staples    

There is nothing better for a trainer or driver in harness racing to have a well laid out plan realised, especially if it is a feature race. That's how it panned out for trainer Paul Hill and driver Ricky Duggan who teamed up to win the $10,000 Launceston Pacing Club's Belmont event with smart two-year-old filly Chica Bella. "On paper we thought she could lead from the pole, get away with some soft sectionals midrace and then sprint home," Duggan said. "That's exactly how it panned out and the filly did exactly what we thought she was capable of doing," he said. In a small field of six Chica Bella had no trouble in retaining the lead from the inside spot after a short stoush with Twentythreered that ended up facing the breeze with the well-backed first starter Guesstamate trailing the leader with Scorchin Safari in the one-out-one-back position. When Twentythreered dropped off turning for home Duggan called on Chica Bella to sprint and she delivered the goods to score by 1.3 metres from Guesstamate that ran home along the rails with Scorchin Safari over three metres away third. Chica Bella is owned by the trainer's wife Julie Hill who bred the filly and races her with her brother-in-law Robert Hill and step-son Scott Hill. The trainer says the daughter of Cardmaster Hanover showed ability from day one. "She has been a nice, easy going filly from the outset and has never missed a beat since she's been in work," Hill said. "Other than stepping out of her gear for a few strides when off the second line on debut she has been faultless." "We targeted the Launceston Belmont and now that she has learned how to win she will be competitive when we step her out in a heat of the Sweepstakes in Hobart next month," Hill said. Peter Staples

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