Day At The Track
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Bridport harness racing trainer Grant Hodges is eyeing off a trip to Melbourne with his in-form gelding Wingatui Dew following the five-year-old gelding's fifth win in succession since arriving in Tasmania three months ago. Wingatui Dew led throughout at his first four attempts for Hodges but at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night the gelding had to do it tough by facing the breeze but it proved a mere blimp on the radar for the son of Grinfromeartoear. Smart mare Licinia showed her customary early speed to lead from gate three and while driver Erin Hollaway aboard Wingatui Dew issued a short-lived challenge she ended up being content to allow her charge to face the breeze. The pair matched motors to the well in to the home straight the last time but when Hollaway called on her charge for the supreme effort he was up to the task and forged clear to defeat Licinia by almost four metres with Onemorelaugh a further 2.4 metres astern. "The owners paid good money for this horse as a tried horse in New Zealand but when he couldn't cut it at the main meetings so he ended up at the mid-weeks," Hodges said. "They were also having difficulty keeping the weight on him so since he's been with me I've kept him fresh and tried to space his runs," he said. Wingatui Dew has won his way through the grades in Tasmania and is now a C4 horse. "The general idea is to get him to the best level we can here in Tassie and then slip across the water to Melbourne and try and win an M0,"Hodges said. Peter Staples      

Last season talented harness racing trainer Kate McLeod was confident her then nine-year-old Georgefromguam would knock up winning races but after four minor placings she was forced to send him to the paddock. But in Hobart last Sunday night Georgefromguam delivered the gods with an impressive al-the-way win at what was his first start for eight months. With Erin Hollaway in the sulky, Georgefromguam showed enough gate speed to cross and lead from barrier five and the driver proceeded to get away with a modest mid-quarter that enhanced the gelding's chances of securing the elusive win. Our Percius worked home well to finish second after trailing the leader throughout while Lu Way Lord made up good ground to finish third. "The hose has been dog since I've had him but he broke down three times with tendon issues before he arrived at my stables," McLeod said. "He went into this race a bit underdone because I have to be careful not to let him overdo it on the training track because of his issues but he found enough tonight to get a much deserved win," she said. Georgefromguam, previously trained in NSW by Larry Eastman, had not won since successful at Charlton in Victoria in May 2012. "I am confident this horse has plenty of improvement in him and it wouldn't surprise me if he rattled off a couple of wins in quick succession," McLeod said. Peter Staples

Star harness racing mare El Jay's Magic looks set for another big season following her impressive first-up win in the $10,000 Ella Coulson Cannonball Charge (1609m) at Ubet Park, Hobart. El Jay's Magic was resuming from a four-month spell but made light of the task as she faced the breeze outside of the leader Run Ripalong and when driver Erin Hollaway called on the mare to extend turning for home she sped clear and went on to win decisively. El Jays Magic was last season's best performed mare and her trainer Grant Hodges said she was destined for a big 2015-16 season if she did well during her break. It was clear after she demolished her opposition tonight that she had done well during her spell and she looks set to be aimed at the George Johnson and possibly another interstate trip to tackle some feature mares' races. She clocked a mile rate of 1.57.01 and did it comfortably in defeating All I Cab Be that tried hard in the home straight with Star Chamber coming from last to grab third just in advance of Jukebox Music. Peter Staples

When Wingatui Dew notched a win at his first start in Tasmania for Bridport-based harness racing trainer Grant Hodges the gelding's driver Erin Hollaway suggested he would need to mend his race manners to progress through the classes. It would seem the training program is working because Wingatui Dew that pulled ferociously in the lead at his Tasmanian debut a month ago showed far better race manners to keep his unbeaten record in Tasmania intact. Wingatui Dew settled in the breeze outside of Just Like Elle and travelled well to the home turn. When Hollaway called on the five-year-old gelding for the big effort at the top of the straight he bounded clear and had no trouble fending off a serious challenge from Im Full Tilt that had enjoyed a cushy run on the back of the eventual winner. Wingatui Dew ($1.30 fav) scored by almost three metres from Im Full Tilt with Future Promises about 13 metres away third, coming from last on the home turn. It was the second leg of a winning double for Hollaway who also scored aboard lightly raced five-year-old Animi Sub Ignis from the John Castles stable that delivered a powerful finishing burst to score impressively in the McKillop Insurance Brokers Pace over 2200 metres. The odds-on favourite Metro Mouse ($1.80) led from the pole position while Hollaway allowed Animi Sub Ignis ($19.30) to settle at the rear of the field from his wide second-row draw (9). Metro Mouse dictated in front but Hollaway's charge was bolting down the back and still under a hold near the home turn where when the leader's driver Gareth Rattray started to feel for the persuader. When Hollaway had Animi Sub Ignis balanced in the home straight the gelding powered home to defeat the favourite comfortably with Berri Damour edging John Snow out of the minor prize. Peter Staples

Former New South Wales pacer Wingatui Dew delivered a knockout blow to harness racing punters in Launceston on Sunday night when he outgunned a long odds-on favourite that most punters deemed a certainty in the Stonebridge Regal Pace (C0) over 2200m which was the first leg of the quadrella. The Barrie Rattray-trained Bettormack started the $1.10 favourite while Wingatui Dew was a big drifter $8 to start $13.90. But Wingatui Dew flew the gate to lead easily and while Todd Rattray aboard The Bettormack had a look for the lead he quickly realised it was a futile exercise and eased his charge out of the contest. The Bettormack faced the breeze for most of the race with the driver content to sit over a sulky length from the leader so as not to overtax his horse. When Rattray asked The Bettormack for the big effort in back straight the last time he was unable to make any impression on the leader. Wingatui Dew cruised to an effortless emphatic win over the favourite with Berri Damour a distant third ahead of Bad Boy Hughes. It was Wingatui Dew's first start in Tasmania and the Grant Hodges-trained four-year-old had only fair form at Menangle prior to arriving in Tasmania. While his win was impressive, driver Erin Hollaway said the gelding must mend his ways if he is to go the next step in Tasmania. "He didn't settle at all tonight so we are going to have to fix that or it will bring him undone sooner than later," Hollaway said. "He is a nice horse and we knew from watching replays from his runs at Menangle that he had good gate speed and he definitely showed that tonight," she said. Peter Staples  

Veteran Tasmanian harness racing trainer Ian Abraham celebrated his biggest win when his talented three-year-old filly Barooga Minnie scored an emphatic all-the-way win in the $30,000 bandbox final over 2200m at UBET Racing centre in Launceston on Sunday night. Barooga Minnie ($1.70) was sent around the short-price favourite and when she had no trouble leading from her front row barrier the end result was never in doubt. Abraham and his wife Vicky have been breeding standardbreds for a long time and most of their breed have carried the Barooga tag. They had minor success in a few Breeders Stakes series with Barooga Geoffrey and Barooga Jet both placed in Raider Stakes (4YO) finals while Barooga Bullet was second in a Globe Derby (3YO) final. "We've had some good ones placed in sires stakes races but this is our first winner," Abraham aid. "In fact this is our biggest win of any kind by far," he said. With Erin Hollaway in the cart, Barooga Minnie (Mister Big-Barooga Nellie) led comfortably and set a solid tempo before scooting clear of her rivals turning for home. Despite appearing to feel the pinch over the closing stages she held on to defeat the fast-finishing Ark Breeze by a head with Sheas Delight a neck away third. The narrow margin was most likely due to the filly's trait of waiting for her opposition before extending herself. "If she can't see the other horses she wants to stop and look around," Abraham said. "She's better when she can be driven with a sit and that's the way we'll look to drive her in the future," he said. Barooga Minnie will be sent to the spelling paddock this week for a two-month break.     Peter Staples    

Talented teenage reinsman Dylan Ford held on to win his first Novice Driver’s premiership despite failing to drive a winner at the last meeting of the season in Launceston last Sunday night. Dylan took a three-win lead over archrival and reigning novice driver title holder Todd Rattray into last Sunday night’s meeting. Rattray drove two winners (Blue Pointer and Hesione) to edge closer but Ford’s lead proved too great a margin to overcome. Both of Todd’s winners were trained by his father Barrie Rattray who secured the trainer’s title with 73 Tasmanian winners but he also won seven races interstate. Ford drove 32 winners for the season and that included a four-win haul in Hobart last Sunday week (August 18). The 17-year-old from Hobart has gone from strength to strength this year with various trainers keen to secure his services late in the season despite him having out-driven his claim. Ford, who turns 18 next month, has only been driving for just under two years and earlier this year became the fastest to outdrive his claim. The battle for the leading female driver award also went down to the wire with Kate McLeod emerging triumphant over Erin Hollaway who both drove a winner at last Sunday night’s meeting. McLeod took the title with 14 winners, two clear of Hollaway. Peter Staples

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