Day At The Track
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How quickly do you reckon you could gear up a harness racing horse? Racegoers at the recent cup meeting at the historic Carrick Harness Racing Club in Tasmania know.  And if you thought breaking the two-minute barrier would be pushing it, you’d be wrong! Carrick Harness Racing Club in Tasmania is one of the oldest in Australia— but the club is out in front of the pack when it comes to innovative ideas to please its loyal racing crowd. The Lead ‘Em Footwear Harness Up competition was a highlight at the Carrick Cup meeting recently – and the enthusiastic president Leigh Dornauf says that’s just one of the fresh ideas the club is using to build on its success. “We only have three twilight meetings a year, so we try our hardest to put a lot into it,” Dornauf said. “We’ve tried a lot of things over the years. Two years ago, we had a polocrosse competition and then another time there was show jumping, and I would say they’ve all been successful one way or another because we keep attracting big crowds to our meetings,” he said. The feature event on the card was the $12,000 Page Transport Carrick Cup. Victory went to bay gelding James Dean (Santanna Blue Chip-Alegria (Caprock), trained by Ben Yole and driven by Troy McDonald. Each winning trainer received a $500 feed voucher while, at the club’s previous fixture, Kate McLeod was the lucky recipient of a new Missile race cart, worth $6000, on offer for trainers who had prepared less than 10 winners last season. The Cup meeting also featured the Tasmanian Harness Yearling Sale, between the last two races, with 12 youngsters going under the auctioneer’s hammer. Dornauf said the club was most pleased with the prices. “There were some lovely types, and the average price was $20,000, which we were very happy with,” he said. The harness up competition was a returning feature and again a crowdpleaser at Carrick. The winner needs to not only gear up the horse correctly but do it in the quickest time. “We started it last year and it created so much interest we decided to go with it again, and this year we had four contestants harnessing up their horses out on the track,” Dornauf said. No prizes for guessing which stable the winner came from, though. Reinsman Tim Yole showed that being number one reinsman for the massive Team Yole operation (known to take as many as 60 horses to race meetings in Tassie) also requires solid “strapper” skills! He took out the $400 first prize – and completed the job in just under two minutes. Winners Lily Blundstone and Tim Yole (Stacey Lear Photography) “Tim was going to win it last year, but after getting all the gear on the horse, he went to sit back in the sulky and the cart went straight up in the air,” Dornauf laughed. “He’d missed clipping it onto the saddle properly and was disqualified, so I guess he was pretty determined this time!” Tim Yole, assisted by Lily Blundstone, getting the sulky clipped on right this time! (Stacey Lear Photography) Dornauf, who has been club president for the past six years, comes from a strong harness racing family. “I’ve been involved most of my life. I reckon I would be up to about 40 years regarding the training and driving part, and I’ve got five brothers who are all tied up with the sport as well,” he said. “But we’ve got a hard-working bunch of people at our club, who just love harness racing.  We do everything from organising the activities, to running the bar and a shop and we’re pretty proud of the fact that we own our club property.  There wouldn’t be too many other clubs in the same boat I reckon. We’re on 40 acres and people can train on the track. It’s a great set-up.” Dornauf said the twilight meetings have a great atmosphere and the club would continue to innovate. “We’ve got a few other novelty ideas in the back of our minds for the future and we won’t ever stop coming up with the entertainment. The spectators just love it and keep coming and it makes a day at the races fun for everyone.”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

It was a North Eastern Pacing Cup with a difference being held at Carrick Park on Friday, but just like last year, it was harness racing driver Mark Yole putting his name on the honour roll once again when Tisu Spirit led all the way to score in the 2650-metre standing start event. “I’m absolutely stoked,” said Yole after his third driving win in the race, and his first as a trainer. After stepping away cleanly, Yole had to fight standing start specialist Goggo Gee Gee for the lead in the run into the first turn. Once finding the lead Yole set a handy tempo on Tisu Spirit and the American Ideal gelding dug deep when challenged hard by the $2.80 favourite Kardesler and Be Major Threat over the concluding stages. “We had to do a little bit of work to find the front running into the first corner, but once we got there, I wanted to keep him rolling a little bit as he tends to wait for them late, but he seemed to do it alright and kept fighting late when the others got to him,” explained Yole about the one-metre win. The mile rate was recorded in 2m 3.1s, which was only 0.6s outside of the track record. It was the sixth outing for the pacer in Yole’s care since being purchased by clients of the Yole stable. “I chased him a couple of times, it was before I purchased Salvator Mundi that I had a few owners that put a syndicate together, but he wasn’t for sale,” explained Yole. “We ended up buying Salvator Mundi and the same group of owners were keen for a country cup horse, so I put in another offer which was accepted,” added the winning trainer-driver. There are plenty of options for Yole with the gelded son of American Ideal going forward. “I will see how he pulls up as it was a tough run tonight, so I will wait and see if we go to the Devonport Pacing Cup next week or wait and go to the Burnie Cup at the end of the week,” said the Carrick based trainer. Tisu Spirit’s win was the last leg of a driving double for Yole who scored on the Geoff Smith trained Devil Of Tyne earlier in the night. For complete results of the nights racing click here. Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

Leading driver Ricky Duggan proved once again why he is in the Tasmanian harness racing Hall of Fame when he took out Sunday’s Maxfield Drilling Meander Valley Cup at Carrick Park, aboard the Juanita McKenzie-trained Kardesler. The $3.30 favourite began well off his 10-metre handicap to find the lead soon after the start, and from there the six-year-old American Ideal entire was never in doubt going on to score by 7.5 metres over Believe In Forever and Feel The Burn. The mile rate was recorded in 2m 03.5s, which is just one second outside the track record. “He pinged away pretty good, and I didn’t think Feel the Burn would want to get into a hustle and bustle with us so once I pushed on to the front, he was able to jog around them,” said reinsman Ricky Duggan after the win. Kardesler has now won 11 of his 42 starts this season, with the pacer arriving in the Juanita McKenzie stable in June. “Juanita (McKenzie) has done a good job with him, and the horse has done a great job to back up week in week out at his last few starts, where he has always been around the placings earning a cheque,” explained Duggan. Connections will now press on to many country cup races going forward, and they have many options in January, with the Devonport Pacing Cup the top of the winning trainers list. The Juanita McKenzie – Ricky Duggan combination kicked off the day on a winning note with Helikaon who sled all the way in the Shane McHenry Memorial. Helikaon, a two-year-old gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven used the pole draw to full advantage to lead all the way and score by nine-metres at odds of $1.30. They also tasted success in the Pfeiffer Cranes Pace when Sharmey came from back in the field to score a very easy win, which was the pacers fourth victory in a row. The Rock N Roll Gelding was sent out as the $1.40 favourite despite his outside of the front-row draw. McKenzie indicated both horses would be aimed at the Tasmanian Derby in March, with Sharmey likely to have a preparation in Victoria before that. Trainer-driver Todd Rattray went home with a double after Lalasa, a two-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight scored on debut, while stable mate Kadar took out the Cressy Transport Tasmanian Country Championship after he enjoyed a lovely three-wide cart into the race. The 1670-metre track record was broken in race two when Pink Ponder scored in a mile rate of 1m 57.8s, taking half a second off the previous record held by Peaceful Thomas. Rohan Hillier joined Conor Crook at the top of the state’s drivers title when he took out the Bramich Bulldozing Trainers Incentive Pace on the Kate MacLeod trained Machbev.   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

Harness racing heads to Carrick Park on Sunday afternoon for the first of three meetings over the summer months at the popular country venue with nine races on the card and there is plenty to look forward to. Race four is the first of two heats of the Bramich Bulldozing Trainers Incentive, where Bridport based trainers Kate MacLeod and Rohan Hadley play a firm hand. Bandbox heat winner Machbev (Pictured) represents MacLeod in the race for horses with less than $25,000 in prizemoney earnings that are trained by trainers who have won 10 or fewer races this season. The daughter of Mach Three has won two of her starts and should appreciate a drop back in class after running sixth in the Group 2 Bandbox Final at her last outing. Hadley trains and drives Auntie Connie who has drawn barrier three and is another dropping back from the Bandbox series where she was only 15.3 metres behind Blame It On Me in the $50,000 final, this is her third start for her current preparation. Conor Crook will take the reins on the other Hadley trained runner in the race, Heza Sport, who still hasn’t got out from last start where he sat three back the pegs. In Heat Two, the Leigh Rand – Ben Parker combination will be chasing another win when they team up with four-year-old mare Aussie Rock. The pacer is second-up today after a strong second placing in Burnie last time out when coming from back in the field in a race that was suited to those up on the speed. Two starts ago the mare showed good speed to lead from the pole and no doubt Parker will try and position the mare in a forward position. Other highlights on the Carrick Park card included the Rohan Hillier trained two-year-old debutant Tommy Hillfigure in race three. The A Rocknroll Dance gelding is a half-brother to Ryley Major and has won three of his four trials to date, with two of those victories coming on the Carrick Park track. The quaddie starts in race five, a rating 60 to 70 event where Racketeers Boy will be chasing his third win in the state since arriving from New Zealand. Trained and driven by Troy Hillier, the Rocknroll Hanover gelding is on a path to next month’s Golden Apple. His dangers today include recent Hobart trial winner Watchmylips who has built up an impressive record of four wins and three placings from seven starts, while Somedan must be respected from the front row draw. The meeting commences at 15:55, and the first three races will be shown on Sky Racing 2 with the last six on Sky Racing 1. Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

Champion reinsman Ricky Duggan was at his brilliant best at Carrick on Sunday steering home four winners on the seven-event twilight card. The first of Ricky’s quartet was enough to floor punters in the opener, charging home out in the centre of the track on the Adrian Duggan trained five-year-old mare Forever Ours ($17.90). “She’s a good little sit-sprinter, they went hard down the back which took care of most of them and she has a zippy 300 metre dash up her sleeve so when we were close enough on the home turn I was thinking we were going to be in the finish.” The Hall Of Fame reinsman provided punters with the smelling salts to lift them off the canvas in race two when he piloted the Rodney Ashwood prepared Sutter Hanover – Crystal Still three-year-old filly Still Hungover ($1.50) to the post five-metres clear of second favourite Our Wonder Woman. “Rod (Ashwood) had her primed for a first up tilt, he’s worked hard on her giving her four trials in the lead-up to Carrick so he deserved to reap the rewards” said Ricky. “It’s the first time I’ve driven her and she gave me a good feel, that’s her second win now from five starts and I’d say there are more wins ahead for connections.” Duggan made it three-straight to start the day with Ima Ginger Rogers ($4.80) saluting in race three over 2150-metres. “Ima Ginger Rogers did a great job to come off the 20 metre handicap and win like she did, it was a drop in class for her but she had to pull out something special to win,” said Ricky. “They dropped us off coming off the back but she rallied to the cause when she needed to and she hit the line strongly, it was her first win for season but I’d say she will pinch another one or two on that run.” Trainer Rod Ashwood completed a winning double in the last on the card with the consistent Miss Superbia ($10.20) leading all the way for victory. “She’s not a star but she is consistent, she hasn’t missed a place in eight starts this season and now she has put two together on the trot,” said Duggan. “We got away with an easy first three quarters of a lap and she had enough in hand to hold off the in-form Twenty Two Karat which finished powerfully.”   Shane Yates

Talented pacer Rockin An Runnin might have missed an entire season through injury but the harness racing gelding could yet make up for lost time given the way he powered his way to victory in the $10,000 Meander Valley Cup at Carrick Paceway on New Year's Eve. The Chris Howlett-trained five-year-old gelding was forced to face the breeze for most of the race outside of the hot favourite Hafter but he made light of the task to go on and score convincingly from Cemento Rapido that trained the leader throughout with Hafter a close-up third. It was Rockin An Runnin's fifth career win and his second from three outings this season and Howlett is very upbeat about how far Rockin An Runnin can go. "He looked like being a very good two-year-old but he strained a tendon and then he missed his entire three-year-old season and last season we were heading him to the Raider Stakes when he suffered another leg injury. "But he's fully recovered and he is a very nice horse with a bright future." Rockin An Runnin is from well-bred stock and what makes his success even more enjoyable is that he was bred by his owners. "We bred this horse from a very good mare (Run Matilda Run) but unfortunately that's the only time we were able to get her in foal," Howlett said. Run Matilda Run (x Fake Left) won six and placed nine times from 45 starts before heading to the breeding barn. She slipped her first foal to Our Sir Vancelot in 2007 but two years later she delivered a filly by Courage Under Fire named Matilda Rocks but she was unsuccessful from only six starts. The broodmare then produced Rockin An Runnin in 2011 but her foal to We Will See in 2013 died and she showed no return from her mating with Shadow Play the following season. Rockin An Runnin is owned and raced by the trainer and his wife Donna and her parents Paul ands Elizabeth Geard who are the state's most prominent thoroughbred owners and breeders. The gelding won three last season and given the way he has improved with each start the gelded son of Major in Art will be a force with which to be reckoned in some of the country cups. Rockin An Runnin has been driven by talented reinsman Mathew Howlett in all of his 21 starts and last time out was an absolute gem of a drive. He summed up the situation perfectly when Hafter's driver Todd Rattray slowed the tempo. Howlett sent Rockin An Runnin charging around the field to face the breeze from where he was able to dictate the tempo and when he called on his charge for the big effort the gelding forged clear to deliver arguably a career-best win. Matthew has recently returned from Queensland where he represented Tasmania in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship in which he produced some brilliant drives. He finished eighth of 10 on 51 points which is not a true reflection of how well he drove during the 10-heat series. Like all of these events the winner is determined on a points-score basis with drivers allocated horses based on random draws and luck in this area plays a dominant role in the overall outcome. Peter Staples

Tasmania's reigning Junior Driver Of The Year Jack Laugher showed his class at Carrick on Sunday to round out 2017 with a harness racing winning treble. Jack's winners on the bumper ten-event card were The Majority, Gotta Go Henry and Stylish Trend, with all three leading all the way. The Majority, trained by Matthew Dwyer, was the first of Jack's winning drives for the day holding off the fast-finishing Bayridge Bill to  (pictured) claim the Destreos Pace, the pair a dozen metres clear of  The Dip which finished third. The victory brought up the fifteenth career win for the Art Major - Oh Please eight-year-old gelding, scoring by a half neck and returning a mile-rate of 2:03.3. Jack was back in the winner's circle with the Troy Hillier-trained Gotta Go Henry in the Bracknell Hotel Pace. The seven-year-old Gotta Go Cullect - Jill Forsa gelding was making its Tasmanian debut and took its career winning tally to thirteen with a courageous win after being backed from $2.70 into $2.50 on the Tasracing Official Prices. "It was a strong effort by Gotta Go Henry, I think Troy is going to have some with him in the coming months, he started to bludge on me in the stretch but when he heard them coming he sparked up again and went to the line well," said the talented eighteen-year-old reinsman. Laugher completed his successful day at the office with the  Ben Yole pacer Stylish Trend capturing its third win of the season, despite drifting in the market from $1.80 out to $2.60, with a runaway 15-metre victory in the Vandenberg Transport Stakes. Laugher packs his bags for the experience of a lifetime this week as he ventures to Victoria to work in the stables of Gr1 winning trainer Andy Gath. Gath, based at Long Forest near Melton, sits entrenched among the top echelon of trainers in the country, claiming the honour of  Australian Trainer Of The Year, Victorian Trainer Of The Year and Victorian Metropolitan Trainer Of The Year – in three consecutive years from 2001-2003. "It's a wonderful opportunity to gain experience in one of the leading stables in Australia, and to see first hand Andy's horsemanship is something that I'm looking forward to immensely," said an excited Laugher. "I'm prepared to do the hard yards around the stables and pick up as much knowledge as I can, if I pick up the odd drive that will be a bonus." Watch Rockin An Runnin finish strongly for Chris and Matthew Howlett to take the Maxfield Drilling Meander Valley Cup. Shane Yates

It won't be long before Hannah Van dongen has to make a decision between becoming an apprentice jockey or grinding out a career in the harness racing industry. Van dongen has been riding trackwork in her home town of Longford for various trainers for a year but when her father Craig Van dongen decided to reacquaint himself with harness racing as a trainer his daughter was keen to help out. At Carrick last Saturday the father and daughter teamed up to produce their first win with Regal Idea and to make it a real family affair the horse is owned by Hannah's mother Carol Williscroft. Hannah Van dongen had Regal Idea settled in the one-out line and travelling sweetly to the bell and when she eased out three-wide to get a cart home the gelding was always likely to win. Van dongen had to get busy on her charge over the final 200 metres but he knuckled down to his task and grabbed race leader Thirlstane King close to home to score a narrow but impressive win. "It was great to get my first winner on a horse trained by Dad and owned by Mum," Hannah Van dongen said. Having spent many years honing her riding craft at pony club and equestrian events she decided to try her hand at trackwork riding and she took to it like a duck to water. She rides work for Longf0rd-based trainer Ken Hanson and she is used by other local trainers when available. "I have always enjoyed equestrian horses as a kid and a few years ago, Dad decided to get back involved in the industry. From there the opportunity arose to work for Barrie and Todd Rattray where I gained a lot of harness racing experience." She is kept very busy these days with trackwork at Longford starting at 5.30am and once her duties there are finished she heads out to harness trainer Chester Bullock's training complex at Riverside for the rest of the day. Peter Staples

Former Victorian harness racing mare Laforce has proven to be a good money spinner for her new owners since arriving in Tasmania in August last year. Laforce had won twice from 17 start in her home state when she arrived at Paul Ashwood's Brighton stables but it didn't take her long to recoup her purchase price of $5500. The mare won at her second start for her new owners who include the trainer and his wife Paige Ashwood and their son Alex who was the one who suggested they buy the mare. Laforce won again in early December but those early wins in her adopted state were nothing compared to what she did to her rivals at Carrick where she powered home to score by 24 metres from Rockbank Dancer in a strong C1-C2 event over 2150 metres. The mare made it back-to-back wins in a C2-C3 race over 2090 metres in Hobart last Friday night where she defeated the long odds-on favourite Tales of the City ($1.30) coming from well back on the home turn. "This mare has done a great job since she's came to Tassie and it's probably time to let her go," Ashwood said. "The plan all along was to win a couple and move her on so she is on the market at $9000 and that's a very good price given she can probably win another couple here in Tassie and then go to Melbourne and win an M0," he said. Laforce is entered for the $10,000 Matron Stakes for mares in Hobart on Sunday night over 2090 metres and while it is a steep rise in class it is only a small field of six with the in-form Angel or Demon the likely favourite given her recent wins in the Coastal Pacing Thousand at Devonport and in a C3-C4 in Launceston last Sunday week. Peter Staples

The Carrick Pacing Club struck gold when it invited Melbourne Cup-winning strapper Stevie Layne to be a special guest at its harness racing Cup Day meeting last Saturday. Payne, who has Down syndrome, won the hearts and admiration of the nation after the horse he 'looks after', Prince Of Penzance, won the 2015 Melbourne Cup. Payne arrived at Carrick with his Melbourne Cup strappers trophy that he was pleased to show off to all who were keen to take a peek and have a photograph taken with him and his trophy. Payne was accompanied by thoroughbred trainer Jarrod McLean who operates Stealth Lodge Racing and is the foreman for Darren Weir at his Warrnambool training complex where Prince Of Penzance is prepared. The Carrick club organised a celebrity pony trot race and Longford thoroughbred trainer Mick Burles was be back to defend his 2015 title but the star was once again Stevie Payne who shared a tandem sulky with experienced thoroughbred trainer Nigel Schuuring and they won the second round of the pony trot races.   Peter Staples

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