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TALENTED harness racing trainer Melissa Maine was contemplating sending her well-performed mare Faithful Gabby to the breeding barn this season but after she delivered a stellar performance to win a race at Luxbet Park Hobart last Sunday night those plans have been put on the back burner. Faithful Gabby raced outside of the leader and race favourite The Bettormack ($1.80 fav) for 600 metres before rolling to the front and when her driver Gareth Rattray called on the mare to extend turning for home she sped clear and went on to defeat The Bettormack by 6-1/2 metres. Faithful Gabby ($4.80 into $3.10) recorded a mile rate of 1.57.3 which is the fastest she has registered in Tasmania, although the mare finished a half-neck second to Shes Just A Delight at Melton last year in which the winner clocked a rate of 1.54. Last Sunday night's win has most likely delayed the mare's career as a broodmare. "I had started to look for stallions for this mare and we had almost settled on one but after her effort on Sunday night we've decided to keep her racing," Maine said. "It was a good win but it wasn't a surprise because she has been going really well. "I'll give her a short spell and then aim her at a couple of nice mares' races over the Christmas-New Year period here in Tassie. Faithful Gabby (American Ideal-Faithful Sally) has won 12 of her 35 starts with 11 minor placings helping to nudge her carer stake earnings beyond $100,000. "I was keen for her to earn over $100,000 in prizemoney and that was another incentive to keep her racing because it will enhance her stud value."   Peter Staples

Well-bred harness racing filly Nances Delight kept her unbeaten record intact when she led throughout to win a 2C0 event over 1680 metres at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston last night. With ace reinsman Gareth Rattray in the sulky the two-year-old showed brilliant gate speed to lead from gate three and once settled she set a solid tempo. Somethinsweetboutme ($23) settled on the leader's back while the well-backed El Jays Mystery ($2.50) strolled along in third spot but at the half-way mark Rattray slowed the tempo so the driver of El jays Mystery, John Walters, eased off the fence to allow his filly to face the breeze to ensure the leader didn't loaf for the last 800 metres. But the move was all in vain with Nances Delight ($2.10 favourite) strolling to an effortless win over El Jays Mystery with outsider Eternal Shadow a close-up third. The Melissa Mayne-trained filly clocked a mile rate of 2.02.3 and she covered her last 800 metres in 58.9 seconds. "We've been pleased with this filly from day one and she has already developed some nice habits. She has good gate speed and she can quicken well in a race," Rattray said. "She gives me the impression she will be a better three-year-old so hopefully she can go on with it next preparation." Peter Staples

Harness racing owner Mick Maxfield has owned some handy two-year-olds over the years but the latest youngster to sport his colours could be his best. With Gareth Rattray in the sulky, Offthetopofmyhead scored an emphatic win in a 2C0-2C1 event over 1680 metres in Launceston on Sunday defeating recent Dandy patch Stakes winner Usain Jolt by a comfortable margin. But the most impressive part of the win was that he broke the state two-year-old mile rate record. The Paul Ashwood-trained colt rated 1:56.67 for to eclipse the previous best of 1:56.9 recorded by Williamtell earlier in the year. "He's the best horse I've trained for a while but the penny hasn't dropped yet," Ashwood said. "He still does a few things wrong like running up the track a bit but he is at least starting to think about what's going on." Offthetopofmyhead had an interstate trip to Melbourne in April but he failed to flatter. "He wasn't really ready for the trip or the opposition but I have no doubt he will get another chance. "The son of Western Ideal will run in a $10,000 race in Hobart next Sunday then in a heat of the Breeders Crown before going back to Victoria for the Breeders semi-finals." Stablemate Lynniemach, who ran third in Sunday's race, will follow a similar path. Ashwood also won with smart three-year-old El Major who isn't paid up for the coming feature races. Peter Staples

Improving harness racing pacer Im Full Tilt made a one act affair of the Hardings Hotmix Pace in Devonport on the North-West Coast last night to make it three wins in succession. The Paul Ashwood-trained gelding had been threatening to find is best form and ever since he broke through for an overdue win in Launceston late last month he has continued to improve. Driver Gareth Rattray had to use the five-year-old up early to make the most of the pole position but once in front he set a solid tempo and when the reins were released leaving the back stretch the last time the gelded son of Gotta Go Cullen left his rivals in his wake. Im Full Tilt ($1.60 fav) hit the line three metres clear of The Black Centurian ($11.80) that stormed home from near last to grab second with Little Jethro ($8.40) 13 metres astern. It was the second leg of a winning double for Ashwood who also prepared Weona Masterpiece to win the John McKenna Race Night Vet Pace over 2297m courtesy of a brilliant drive from Rohan Hillier. Weona Masterpiece ($2.80 fav) settled just worse than midfield but when Mark Yole sent Jimbaran to the front and set up a huge margin Hillier sensed the danger of being left to far back in the field so he sent Weona Masterpiece scorching around the field to slot in behind the leader. It proved to be the winning move as Weona Masterpiece (Tiz A Masterpiece-Dominion Lady) ranged alongside the leader tuning for home and went on to defeat Outlaw ($4.50) by 4-1/2 metres with Jimbaran ($5.50) a metre away third. Peter Staples

Well bred two-year-old pacer Williamtell delivered a workmanlike harness racing performance to win the Elderslie Horse Care colts and geldings division of the 2YO Sweepstakes at UBET Park Hobart today. Williamtell had to pull out all stops to stave off a determined Usain Jolt to defeat that gelding by a neck with outsider Really Frank a distant third. The Paul Ashwood-trained Tell All gelding was taken straight to the front from gate two by Gareth Rattray and when he kicked clear turning for home he looked set to win easily. But the lightly raced Tony Petersen-trained Usain Jolt (James Austin) unleashed a powerful sprint over the final 100 metres to almost nab the leader on the line. Ashwood said Williamtell had been set for the race and he wasn't fussed by the narrow winning margin. "It was tough going out there today. He led and did all the tough work in front while the other horse (Usain Jolt) has come off his back and had cover for almost all of the race," Ashwood said. The conditions were made tough by the near gale-force winds that swept across the track during the race. "I couldn't have asked any more of this horse and he will now head to the Dandy Patch (2YO Sires Stakes series) and then have a spell," Ashwood said. Williamtell will now head to the Dandy Patch (sires stakes) series after which Ashwood said the gelding would be spelled. Peter Staples  

When well-bred two-year-old pacer Williamtell won the Golden Slipper in Launceston in late March it came as a surprise to most harness racing punters who invested heavily on his stablemate Offthetopofmyhead that was sent out the $1.15 favourite. But at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday Williamtell is likely to start favourite to win the colts and geldings division of the $20,000 Elderslie Horse Care 2YO Sweepstakes over 1609 metres. Williamtell won the Golden Slipper convincingly at only his second race start and he has since gone on to finish third to Swap Me at his first start on the Hobart track in a Sweepstakes Prelude before winning an open two-year-old event in Launceston last Sunday night. The Paul Ashwood-trained Tell All gelding has drawn barrier two and will be driven by Gareth Rattray who has been in the sulky for all four of the gelding's starts. "I am pleased with my horse's draw and while he hasn't had to be used up early at his four starts so far he has good natural gate speed and I would expect that to be called on for this race," Ashwood said. "I don't know that he can lead but he is the sort of horse that could face the breeze if he had to and still win. "He needed the run in Launceston last Sunday night to top him off for this race." The Rohan Hillier-trained Solid as a Rock has been placed second at all of his four starts but he still looms as Williamtell's main danger on the strength of his gallant second to Swap Me in the Sweepstakes Prelude in Hobart two weeks ago. Solid as a Rock has drawn gate five on the front row while Swap Me has drawn the outside of the back row (10) from where he will need to be driven for luck by Hall of Fame reinsman Ricky Duggan. The Tony Petersen-trained Usain Jolt has drawn the coveted pole position and should he show enough early speed to take advantage of the draw he could surprise at odds. The fillies division of the Sweepstakes boasts only five starters but all are capable of winning. All are winners with the exception of the Shelley Barnes-trained Volkova Leis that has had two starts for a debut third and a last-start fourth behind Resurgent Dream in the Sweepstakes Prelude two weeks ago. Playing Arkabella from the Paul Hill stable was second in the Sweepstakes Prelude (1609m), beaten almost five metres, while Harshali was third but about 12 metres astern and two metres ahead of Volkova Leis. Resurgent Dream, a full sister to former star juvenile Resurgent Spirit (American Ideal-Resurgent Star), is trained by Marc Butler but is owned by her breeder Roger Whitmore who still trains Resurgent Spirit that goes around in the Ascot Gold Cup on Sunday's 10-even program. Peter Staples

Gareth Rattray's chances of winning an 11th successive Tasmanian driver's premiership are remote given he is 25 off the leader Mark Yole (57) with two thirds of the harness racing season done and dusted. But it won't stop the talented reinsman from delivering star efforts as was the case last weekend. Rattray, who spent two months sidelined with a hand injury, produced four sensational drives for as many wins of which three were in Launceston last Friday night and one on the seven-event card in Hobart last Sunday. Rattray's winners in Launceston were Im Full Tilt in a C2-C3 over 2200 metres for Devonport trainer Paul Ashwood; Parwill in a heat of the Harry Holgate Memorial series and he produced a masterly performance to guide Spot Eight to victory in a low grade race over 1680 metres. In Hobart he partnered the Christian Salter-trained Iden Amrak to victory in a 3YO and older event over 1609 metres after the gelding was backed in to start the $1.70 favourite. Yole notched one win at each meeting to maintain his edge over Ricky Duggan who resumed driving in Hobart last Sunday after spending three weeks on the sidelines as a result of a nasty fall in Hobart on April 10. Duggan saluted at his first drive back by guiding $8.70 chance Swap Me to a convincing win in a 2YO S0weepstakes Prelude over 1609 metres, defeating Solid As A Rock and Williamtell with first starter Usain Jolt a close-up fourth. Yole is the favourite to win the driver's title given he is the number one stable driver for his brother Ben Yole who is sure to take out the trainer's premiership as he sits on 67 wins to be 44 clear of his nearest rival Todd Rattray. Peter Staples

Tasmania's reigning premier reinsman Gareth Rattray returned to the harness racing sulky last weekend after a lengthy absence. Rattray suffered damage to a finger on his left hand in a freak accident when he was leaving the Carrick races in late January. Rattray drove in Devonport last Sunday night and at the Hobart meeting last night and while he ended the two-meetings without a win it is only a matter of time before he is back in the winner's circle. His best result was a second aboard Bones Jones in the last race on the card at Devonport on Sunday night and he snared a third placing with Last Guy Standing in Hobart and both of his placegetters were prepared by his life partner Melissa Maine. Rattray has won the last 10 driver premierships but if he is to make it 11 straight then he will need to produce a miraculous turnaround as he has 14 wins to his credit so far this season while Mark Yole has made the most of his absence rocketing to the lead with 41 wins. Yole is three clear of Ricky Duggan with Tod Rattray next best with 24. Yole's other advantage is that his brother Ben is the state's leading trainer by a long way with 53 winners to be 31 wins clear of disqualified trainer Nathan Ford with Todd Rattray next on 17. Most of Yole's wins have come from his brother's stable. Peter Staples

Astute harness racing trainer Paul Ashwood has always had a good opinion of Im Full Tilt so when he won in Hobart last month he predicted the gelding might go on and win a few in succession. At UBET Park last night Im Full Tilt also made it two wins in succession when he powered his way to an impressive win in the Cheatin Heart Pace over 2090 metres. With reigning premier driver Gareth Rattray aboard Im Full Tilt settled midfield in the one-out line with cover before Rattray eased him three-wide to make his run entering t7he back straight the last time. When Rattray called on the gelded son of Gotta Go Cullen for the big effort he quickly collared the leaders and went on to score by over eight metres from Scruffy Jake with Union Force almost a metre away third. Im Full Tilt has won six and been placed 23 times from 46 starts, is prepared by Paul Ashwood at Wesley Vale for prominent owner Mick Maxfield. Peter Staples

THE Launceston Pacing Club will play host to this year's Australian Driving Championships next month and Tasmania's dynamic harness racing duo of Gareth Rattray and Ricky Dugan are champing at the bit to take up the challenge against Australia's best. All states have selected their representatives and the personnel reads like a who's who in harness racing. Gavin Lang and Greg Sugars are names synonymous with harness racing in Victoria so their presence is sure to help lift the profile of the event while Queensland's Grant Dixon and Shane Graham also are regarded as stars in their state and on the national stage. Gary Hall and Chris Lewis are household names in Western Australia where rarely a meeting passes without either one producing multiple winning drives. Ryan Hryhorec and Danielle Hill will represent South Australia while Robert Morris and Lauren Panella have the honour of representing New South Wales. The event will be held at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on November 15 and only the ADC reinsmen and women will be driving at the meeting. It is hoped the meeting will boast a nine-race card with the winner of the championship to be determined on a point-score basis. Peter Staples

Premier reinsman Gareth Rattray has been making it a habit lately of saluting aboard outsiders and he was at is again at UBET Park Hobart last Sunday night when he guided Melpark Maestro to a last-stride harness racing victory in the Noel Salter Claimer over 2090 metres. The well backed Givitaname ($3.90) began well from the standing start to lead but Rattray quickly had Melpark Maestro in the one-out-one-back position where he travelled sweetly for most of the race. When Rattray eased his charge three-wide to 500m out the leader lifted the tempo and Givitaname shot clear turning for home. But under strong driving from Rattray, Melpark Maestro eventually ground the leader down and gained the desired result in the last stride. It was the Heath Szczypka-trained gelding's first win of the season but according to his trainer the signal that he was closing in on another was delivered at his previous start when sixth in Launceston but beaten less than five metres. Peter Staples

Star Tasmanian reinsman Gareth Rattray wrapped up another great season by winning the Tasmanian harness racing driver's premiership but this latest crown was special. Despite missing the first two months of the season through illness Rattray powered his way to the lead mid-season and a treble at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night gave him 100 wins for the season. His treble came courtesy of Fioki winning a C2-C3 over 2090 metres; rank outsider Cardinal Eddy scoring in a nail-biting finish in a 3C1-C0 and he finished with a heady drive to win aboard the Matthew Dwyer-trained Original Art in a C4-C5 . It was the third time he has reached the magical century of winners and this latest title is his 10th in succession. To say Rattray has dominated this past decade would be an understatement with his feats so far ranking him amongst the greatest drivers of all time. The first time he topped the century was in the 2007-08 season when he drove 113 winners but two seasons later he bettered that by snaring 115. His father Barrie also achieved the feat three times driving a state record 118 winners during the 1989-90 season; 100 in 1995-96 and 109 the following season. The father and son are the only two to reach the 100 milestone in Tasmania's driving ranks. This season Gareth passed another milestone of reaching the 1000 winners mark and he now sits fifth on the all-time list with 1040 winners but he still has a way to go to catch his father who has amassed 1566 winners and is still driving competitively. Ricky Duggan had another good season in the caret to end with 68 winners to take his career tally to 1370 to take over second place on the al-time list from Neville Webberley (1369). All-time driver's record: Barrie Rattray          1566 Ricky Duggan          1370 Neville Webberley   1369 Darrell Alexander    1315 Gareth Rattray          1040 Scott Ford                    891 Jack Stamford             848 Rohan Hadley            794 Don Peck                     661 Mark Stanley               638 Terry Knowles             572 Tony Petersen            569 Len Moriarty                556 Terry Peck                   556 Ken Austin                   551 Webb Jones                544 Hec Baker                    516 Meanwhile Beauty Point horseman Rohan Hillier captured his first trainer's premiership ending the season with 43 winners from only 100 starters which must rank as one of the best strike rates of all time. Hillier finished ahead of Barrie Rattray (41) and Juanita McKenzie (37) who won her fourth female trainer's title ahead of Melissa Maine (33). McKenzie and Maine proved beyond doubt that they can hold their own amongst the male trainers. Dylan Ford was the leading junior driver finishing with 34 wins for what was his third consecutive title while his younger sister Tayla Ford and Wade Rattray dead-heated for second with 16 wins apiece. However Ford was a clear winner in the female driver award winning from Natalee Emery (12) and Erin Hollaway (11). Peter Staples

Well-bred two-year-old pacer Kvitova Leis will head to the spelling paddock this week with her confidence high following an impressive win in a 2C0-2C1 over 1609 metres last nigh at the harness racing meeting at Ubet Park, Hobart. The Barrie Rattray-trained filly was sent around the field from last to find the front a lap from home and went on to score by almost seven metres from first-starter Reason To Grin with the well-backed Shadow Blue two metres away third. "This filly has done a good job winning two of only four starts but we'll turn her out for a break and hopefully she will come back and be very competitive in some of the feature three-year-old races," Rattray said. Kvitova Leis (Bettors Delight-Levina Leis) won in Hobart two starts back after her debut second at the same venue to suggest she might have a future. The Trevor and Marjorie Leis-owned and bred filly has improved at each outing. Rattray ended the meeting with a double courtesy of Devendra scoring another impressive win. Devendra won in Hobart two starts back but this latest victory proved he is back to his best. Rattray said a virus that swept through his stable had led to a lean time for a few months. "The virus cost the stable and to be honest we've had a horrid season compared to what we normally experience," he said. "But the horses are starting to come good and that has been evident with us producing a few winners of late," he said. Rattray was delighted with the run of his former Devonport Cup winner Devendra that scored impressively win in the The Warp Drive FFA over 2090 metres. Devendra began brilliantly from the outside barrier (7) to cross and lead and once in front driver Gareth Rattray rated the five-year-old well. The leader was pressured by All I Can Be for the last lap but when Rattray gave his charge more rein turning for home the gelding sped clear and had almost 12 metres to spare over Motu Crusader with Jukebox Magic flashing home from well back to grab third 3-1/2 metres away. Devendra produced a mile rate of 1.58.3 on a heavy track and ran home his last 800m in 57.4. Peter Staples

Ricky Duggan might have to be content with finishing second on this season's driver's premiership but he managed to reduce the margin on Gareth Rattray by two at the harness racing meeting at  UBET Park in Hobart on Sunday night. Duggan drove a treble at the meeting starting with Tales of the City for Tony Petersen that was forced to go back from his wide draw (6) but had enough on his rivals to forge clear over the concluding stages to defeat Fortino with a triple dead-heat for third comprising Glamour Art, Cemento Rapido and Master Paige. Duggan then combined with trainer Juanita McKenzie to win aboard quality mare Queens Advocate and the much improved No Undies Sundie. Queens Advocate has won her past five starts and is unbeaten only once in seven outings since joining McKenzie's stable. The former New Zealand mare has now had 39 starts for nine wins and eight minor placings and if she continues to improve as McKenzie expects then she could shape as a contender for the feature mares' races over the Christmas-New Year period including the George Johnson. She has been well placed by McKenzie who has a good opinion of the four-year-old by McArdle from Genes West(NZ). No Undies Sunday has been quietly going about her business with this latest win her third from 10 starts and she also has notched three minor placings. The treble took Duggan's season tally to 65 but still 25 off Rattray who is attempting to make it to 100 winners. Rattray kept his hopes of notching 100 winning drives alive by winning aboard Our Percius in the Time Stands Still Pace (division 1) over 2090 metres. With four meetings remaining Rattray will need to be at his brilliant best in the cart to achieve the feat. Peter Staples

Star Tasmanian pacer Mister Lennox proved he has lost none of the magic that secured him the Tasmanian Derby earlier this year with an emphatic first-up win in the Ardstraw Pace over 2090 metres at the harness racing meeting at UBET Park Hobart last night. Mister Lennox was having his first start since winning the Derby in March and while he started at the prohibitive odds of $1.30 he endured a tough run to emerge triumphant. With Ricky Duggan aboard, Mister Lennox was taken back to last from his outside front-row draw but when the leader La Ebony Kita (Gareth Rattray) slowed the tempo with a lap to go Duggan sent his charge burning around the field to face the breeze. Duggan was content to allow his charge to race outside of the leader for as long as required but when Belliciouslips (Rodney Ashwood) unleashed a powerful sprint from near last at the 5000-metre peg to join the leaders turning for home. Mister Lennox was in for a battle and Duggan knew it and the pair drew clear of the field to engage in a two-horse war. Mister Lennox was likely to be vulnerable first-up but the Juanita McKenzie-trained three-year-old was up to the challenge and drew clear over the concluding stages to go on and score comfortably from Belliciouslips with outsider Jodila rattling home to grab third. Mister Lennox has won seven of eight starts this season and is the favourite to take out the three-year-old of the year title. Peter Staples

Evergreen harness racing pacer Motu Crusader continued his winning streak by capturing his third win in succession in the $10,000 Plunkett Family Ascot Gold Cup over 2579 metres at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night. Motu Crusader was the sole handicapper off 30 metres but the gallant eight-year-old made light of the task. With Gareth Rattray aboard he stepped brilliantly from the standing start and quickly made up ground to tack onto the main body of the field. When Rattray made his move down the back straight the last time he had the leaders in his sights turning for home and then powered up the home straight to score comfortably from Ardlussa Express and Outback Mach. The Zeke Slater-trained Courage Under Fire gelding won the $10,000 Elite in Hobart three starts back and followed up with an impressive win in the $10,000 Golden Mile in Launceston. "That's three feature race wins in a row for this horse so it proves he is definitely back to his best," Slater said. Motu Crusader will attempt to extend his winning sequence in the Brighton Cup in Hobart next Sunday night. Peter Staples

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