COASTAL harness racing trainer Melissa Maine produced a genuine Tasmanian Oaks prospect in the form of Faithful Gabby that scored a sensational win in the Allen Williams Memorial final over 2297 metres at Devonport last Sunday night. With the trainer’s life partner Gareth Rattray in the sulky, Faithful Gabby powered her way to an astonishing 38-metre win over Rocket Seal with Rockbank Dancer a further 17 metres astern. It was one of the most awesome displays seen on the Devonport track this season. Faithful Gabby had three starts last season for minor placings in each of her outings. She returned to racing last month and after two excellent efforts she broke her maiden status in her Allen Williams Memorial heat in Hobart prior to winning the final. Maine and Rattray were confident the filly would run well but even the trainer admitted the winning margin was unexpected. The filly had a major setback last year when she cut her leg badly but she has been nursed back to health and she is starting to deliver on what she promised when she was broken Listen to what trainer Melissa Maine had to say about Faithful Gabby’s latest win. By Peter Staples
IF Call The Marshall can live up to his trainer’s expectation then the Mick Maxfield-owned gelding could lead all the way to win the $25,000 Devonport Cup on Sunday night. Call The Marshall tuned up for the Devonport Cup with an impressive win in a restricted grade race Launceston last Sunday night with Gareth Rattray aboard. After the race Ashwood declared the gelding had what it takes to win a feature race. “I think he’s up to free-for-all standards,” Ashwood said. “He’s a good beginner from a standing start and, if he jumps to the front (in the Devonport Cup) he will be very hard to get around,” he said. The barrier gods smiled on Call The Marshall as he will start from gate three on the front row so he has a head start on realising his trainer’s expectations. However, he has smart beginners in Run Ripalong (1) and recent Burnie and Carrick Cups winner Devendra (4) on either side that also will be vie for the lead. Maxfield and Ashwood went close to winning the Devonport Cup in 2008 with Special Chance that tried to lead all the way only to be collared close to home by Lombo Limmo and they finished 25 metres clear of the rest of the field. By Peter Staples
A MASTERFUL drive by the state's leading reinsman Gareth Rattray resulted in an impressive win for Saloon In Sight at Tattersall's Park in Hobart tonight. Saloon In Sight drew the pole position and settled behind the leader and favourite Mighty Jasper soon after the start but when the driver of the leader, Nathan Ford, opted to hand up to Bridestar (Paul Hill) Rattray quickly got his charge off the fence and into the one-out-one-back position. It proved to be the winning move because when Rattray eased Saloon In Flight three-wide to challenge in the back straight the last time he was able to put the favourite in a pocket. Rattray waited until the top of the home straight before he made his move. Saloon In Flight dashed clear and had enough in reserve to stave off a late bid from Mighty Jasper to score by a metre with El Jays Messi third. Saloon In Flight is trained by Zane Medhurst and owned by his wife Sally Medhurst. The horse was one of a few promising pacers that were trained by the Medhurst's late son David Medhurst who was tragically killed in a car accident near Hobart last year. Listen to what trainer Zane Medhurst had to say about Saloon In Flight's win.
Talented reinsman Ricky Duggan had only a modest day at the office on his home track at New Norfolk on Sunday emerging with only one winner. But his winner proved yet again what a master he is in the sulky. Duggan partnered Poker Storm, prepared by his brother Adrian, to a brilliant win in the E. C Plunkett Memorial over 2150 metres, a standing start race for C2 or better performers. he stepped well from his standing start but was caught behind the pack when moves were being made in the back straight the last time. Duggan somehow weaved a passage through and on the home turn he aimed his charge to the outside of the field and the six-year0old gelding stormed home to score comfortably from Stormy Tara with Good Beginnings third and just ahead of Prettyboytroy. Poker Storm had run recent placings going onto the race with his previous win back in mid December. The gelding has been a good money spinner for his owners with this latest win his 11th but he also has accumulated 20 minor placings from his 71 career starts for just over $60,000 in stakes. Trainer Adrian Duggan was delighted with the win and said the gelding would most likely back up in Launceston next Sunday night. Gareth Rattray took driving honours at the meeting with a treble while James Austin and Nathan Ford ended the 10-race card with two winners each. By Peter Staples
Westbury harness racing trainer Michael; Laugher celebrated his first Norske Skog New Norfolk Cup victory when his consistent gelding Put Mback scored a last-stride win and then had to survive a protest. Put Mback began brilliantly from the standing start to lead from the pole position but driver Gareth Rattray made the winning move when he handed up to the well-backed favourite Star Chamber 400 metres into the race. When The Majority moved out three-wide to stake his claim a lap from home the tempo lifted and it was evident a long way from home that it would be a thrilling finish. Star Chamber led the field into the home straight the last time but Put Mback and The Majority kept grinding away and when they reached the line only a nose separated Put Mback and The Majority. Duggan fired in a protest against the winner for alleged interference in the home straight but stewards deemed the interference insufficient to warrant reversing the decision. Rattray said the outcome of the protest was not unexpected. "The margin was close at the finish but during the protest it was clear The Majority had every possible chance of running my horse down," Rattray said. Laugher was delighted with the win and was full of praise for his horse's consistency. Listen to what trainer Michael Laugher had to say about Put Mback's New Norfolk Cup win.
Talented teenage reinsman Dylan Ford will represent Tasmania at the Australasian Young Drivers' Championship in New South Wales next month. The announcement was made by Tasracing CEO Dr Eliot Forbes and it was basically a formality given what Ford has achieved in such a short time in the sulky. Ford, 18, was thrilled with his selection. "It is an absolute honour to be chosen as the Tasmanian representative," Ford said. "I have had a lot of support from a lot of owners and trainers but I would especially like to acknowledge the role my family and cousin Nathan (Ford) have played in my success so far in harness racing," he said. Ford also is training half a dozen horses alongside his cousin's stables at Elderslie. Ford was a ready made talent when he first acquired his driver's licence finishing second on the novice driver premiership and ninth overall in his first season and last season he won the novice driver title and finished seventh overall. The Australasian Young Drivers Championship will boast junior reinsmen and women from all over Australia and New Zealand and will run in conjunction with the Inter Dominion series to be held at Menangle. Dr Forbes said Tasracing's harness racing program was very supportive of young drivers and many have demonstrated their ability at the highest level on the national stage. "As a result of this ongoing commitment our Tasmanian talent is nurtured in their early careers and has resulted in four of the last 11 national winners coming from Tasmania," Dr Forbes said. Tasmanians have dominated the AYDC series with previous winners comprising Ricky Duggan (1993), Adrian Duggan (1997), Gareth Rattray (2003 and 2010), James Rattray (2005) and James Austin (2007). By Peter Staples
TALENTED harness racing trainer Melissa Maine combined with her partner Gareth Rattray to win the Smithawards Hobart Pacing Cup final over 3060 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart with outsider Spot Nine on Sunday night. Spot Nine started at the lucrative price of $30 while punters pinned their faith in Ransom Olds that looked to have the race in his keeping a lap from home. Rattray had Spot Nine settled just beyond midfield early and he waited until the bell lap before making his move. Laterron made a lightning move during the first lap to take the lead from My Micky Blue Eyes (Ricky Duggan) while the $2.50 favourites Ransom Olds was set alight soon after by his driver Nathan Ford to go up and park facing the breeze. Rattray called on Spot Nine for the supreme effort in the back straight the last time and it was evident 400 metres from home that he had the leaders covered. Laterron forged clear of Ransom Olds that appeared to be floundering turning for home but they were both sitting ducks for the swoopers. Spot Nine stormed home to defeat Watchmefella (Rohan Hillier) with ransom Olds clinging to third ahead of Laterron. Spot Nine broke the track record mile rate clocking 2m.03.46 sec bettering the previous best set by Benediction (2.04.2) in this race last year. Maine has been training in her own right for about two years but this is not her biggest win as she won last season's $30,000 Granny Smith mares feature with Tisu Holly. Listen to what trainer Melissa Maine had to say about Spot Nine's Hobart Pacing Cup win. Peter Staples
Recent Tasmania Cup winner Motu Crusader kept his winning streak intact when he powered his way to an effortless win in the Lees Orchard Free-For-All at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. With Gareth Rattray in the sulky, Motu Crusader began well from his near outside front-row draw (7) and when the field settled he was set alight and had the lead in no time. When Rattray gave him more rein turning for home the seven-year-old gelding forged clear and went on to score by nine metres from interstate invader Amadmancomesundone with Maybe Doc just over 10 metres astern. It was an awesome win and one that trainer Zeke Slater expected. Motu Crusader is owned and raced by Merv and Meg Butterworth who have been sending horses to Slater for a few years and with much success with other horses such as Greysteel and star mare Queen of Fire. Slater has emerged as a quality trainer-horseman and with an owner such as Butterworth behind him he should be able to look forward to a bright future. Moto Crusader is likely to stay in Tasmania and be aimed at the Easter Cup By Peter Staples
Talented harness racing trainer Ben Rossendell almost heaved a sigh of relief when his six-year-old Smokin Mustard made a welcome return to the winner's circle at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Sunday night. Smokin Mustard had been struggling to recapture the form that took him to victory at New Norfolk almost two years ago. "He hasn't won since March 2011 so to finally get another win from his is satisfying," Rossendell said. Smokin Mustard suffered a leg injury that kept him sidelined for over two years. At his first couple of runs this time in the gelding had been asked to run the gate but he had been capitulating at the business end of his races so a decision was made, in consultation with driver Gareth Rattray, to try and get him to drop out at the start and be saved for one sharp sprint. The ploy worked because that's exactly how Rattray drove the gelding at this latest outing. Belliciouslips was sent out a long odds-on favourite and when she found the front and got away with a cheap quarter few expected anything to come from behind and cause an upset. But when the favourite started to feel the pinch 100 metres out Rattray had Smokin Mustard in top gear and motoring home. Smokin Mustard hit the line with a metre to spare over Hotlikeasunrise with Belliciouslips hanging on for third a neck astern. The gelding is owned and raced by the trainer and his father Stephen Rossendell. Listen to what trainer Ben Rossendell had to say about Smokin Mustard's latest win. Peter Staples
TASMANIAN trainer Zeke Slater celebrated back-to-back wins in the prestigious $40,000 Tasmania Cup when his gallant seven-year-old pacer Moto Crusader stormed home to beat the favourite in a photo-finish at Tattersall's Park today. Dapper Dana showed great acceleration to lead from the pole position but a lap further out and the favourite Im Corzin Terror assumed that mantle and looked to be in control when the field wheeled for home the last time. But that's when ace driver Gareth Rattray called on Moto Crusader to unleash and the gelding quickly put himself in contention and powered home to grab victory in the last few strides. Moto Crusader scored by a head from the Dean Braun-trained Im Corzin Terror (Chris Alford) with Our Chain of Command motoring home to finish third but 7-1/2 metres from the runner-up. Moto Crusader has been back in the care of Slater for a while but the gelding's run in the City of Launceston Cup last week was too bad to be true. He finished fourth in a field of seven and beaten over 15 metres when sent out a long odds-on favourite. But Slater said he was confident before this latest assignment that the horse had improved enough to be at his best for today's race, although punters did not share his views as the horse was sent around a $22 outsider. Listen to what trainer Zeke Slater had to say about Moto Crusader's latest Tasmania Cup win. Peter Staples
Bradley Walters has always been regarded as a quality horseman but regular success has avoided him in recent times owing to modest numbers in his care. Despite having spent little time in the winner’s circle in recent months Walters was confident his luck would change and so it did in Launceston last Friday night. His promising three-year-old colt Le Premiere powered his way to an impressive win in the Spraygo Stakes to give Walters an emotional and overdue win. “This horse was the last winner driven by David Medhurst before he was tragically killed in a car accident, so it means a lot to us,” Walters said. That victory came in a two-year-old race in Hobart in April. “We haven’t had much luck with the horse since then,” Walters said. “He broke a hopple two starts back and he was poorly driven last start so I had to sack the driver – myself.” “But we’ve always known he has ability. He’s been immature and has had a few setbacks but he’s got a good turn of foot and that will help him win more races,” he said. Le Premiere was well driven by reigning premier driver Gareth Rattray who settled the colt midfield in the one-out line before sending him around the fields to challenge leaving the back straight the last time. He rattled home his last half (800m) in 58.2 seconds to hit the line well clear of Bumble Don and Legenda. He had performed well in a trial leading up to the race and punters put their faith in that effort by sending him around a $4.60 chance. It was the first leg of a winning double for Rattray who also scored aboard Brian Buster Brown in the Bullock Consulting Claimer. By Peter Staples
YOUNG novice reinsman Nicholas Brockman guided Terror Jones to an impressive win in Hobart on Sunday night carrying out his driving instructions to the letter. Terror Jones drew near the outside of the front row so he was instructed by trainer Eric Jacobson to let the mare trail out to last and then be left for one last sprint at them in the home straight. And that’s exactly how Brockman drove the mare. An honest pace was set by the favourite City babe with the state’s reigning premier driver Gareth Rattray aboard with Avens left to face the breeze and the well supported Helen Wheels tucked away on the leader’s back. Brockman had Terror Jones travelling smoothly at the rear and in the back straight the last time he eased his charge out three-wide to improve and the mare gradually worked her way into contention. Avens forged to the lead in the home straight with Helen Wheels off the fence and in hot pursuit but when Brockman called on his mare for the supreme effort she rattled home and went on to score by over three metres from Avens with Helen Wheels a half-metre astern. It was an overdue win for Terror Jones (Western Terrior-Bertie Jones) and one that made up for a string of minor placings at recent outings. Peter Staples
Talented four-year-old pacer Melolyn will be forced to take a short break owing to a problem with his teeth. Melolyn notched another impressive win last Sunday in Launceston, outgunning a quality line-up in the Launceston Veterinary Clinic Pace over 2200 metres. “He has got a bone growing near one of his front molars that causes him to be a bit touchy so we’ll give him a little break while we get that taken out,” Ashwood said. Melolyn (Ponder-My Shaette) has won seven from 14 starts and this latest victory was one of his best. With Gareth Rattray aboard, Melolyn led all the way and what impressed was the way he fended off a serious challenge from eventual runner-up Dapper Dana that had big raps on him when he first arrived in Tasmania from New Zealand late last season. Ashwood is unsure whether to keep the gelding racing in Tasmania and target the Raider Stakes at Devonport next year or test the water interstate with a stint of racing in Melbourne. “I’d like to take him somewhere to teach him to be a horse,” Ashwood said. “Whether that means taking him to Melbourne or staying here in Tasmania I’m not quite sure.” “He is still only four and lightly raced so I don’t really want to throw him in at the deep end,” he said. By Peter Staples
STAR three-year-old pacer Pachacuti was last night named Tasmanian Horse of the Year. Pachacuti was deemed Tasmania’s best by a panel of judges and his achievements were applauded by a packed house at the Tasmanian Harness Racing Awards night at Wrest Point Hotel Casino. The three-year-old also was a clear winner of the 3YO colts and geldings category, much to the delight of his owner Lyndon Dakin and trainer Barrie Rattray. Pachacuti capped his season in Tasmania with a brilliant victory in the $30,000 Globe Derby Strakes in Launceston before heading to Victoria where he made it to the 3YO colts and geldings final of the Breeders Crown by winning his heat and then finished a courageous second to star NZ colt Bit of a Legend in the Group 1 final. Pachacuti won the Horse of the Year crown ahead of his stablemate Beautide that was voted Tasmania’s best in the four-year-old and over category. Nola Mayhem was voted Tasmania’s best three-year-old filly with her two feature wins enough to give her the nod over an even bunch of fillies. Unbeaten juvenile Resurgent Spirit that won nine from nine was unrivaled to take out the top 2YO colt or gelding title while smart filly Sweet Pea Jasper was named 2YO filly of the year courtesy of her Sweepstakes triumph. Another of the Rattray stable Benediction was named Tasmania’s best race mare and The Fred and Pauline Barker-bred Amarillen was named Tasmania’s top broodmare just ahead of the Rattray-owned Gorse Bush Star Tasmanian reinsman Gareth Rattray won his eighth consecutive driver’s premiership while his father Barrie celebrated his 15th Tasmanian trainer’s title. The pair also battled it out for the honour of being named the 2013 winner of the Halwes Medal with Gareth emerging triumphant by a narrow margin. Gareth won the inaugural Halwes Medal last year. Talented young reinsman Dylan Ford won the Tasmanian Junior Driver title and he also received the Young Achiever Award as the highest polling junior driver in the Halwes Medal count. To cap the night, North-West Coast harness identity Rod Burgess was announced as the 2013 recipient of the Edgar Tatlow Medal. Burgess has been involved in the industry for over five decades as a trainer-driver, administrator and breeder. He has devoted a lifetime to the industry and the Edgar Tatlow Medal was just reward for his efforts. The participant awards also were presented at the function: The state's leading trainer was Barrie Rattray; Gareth Rattray leading driver; Kate McLeod leading female driver and Juanita McKenzie was the best female trainer in the state for season 2012-13. Dylan Ford won the junior driver title. Peter Staples
IT was a fitting end to the harness racing season for champion reinsman Gareth Rattray who landed a treble in Launceston last Sunday night to easily capture his eighth consecutive driver’s premiership. The three winners, Melolyn, Siduri and Call The Marshall, took his season’s tally to 86 which had him 32 clear of his nearest rival Ricky Duggan. Rattray fell well short of his record of 116 winners but it was a great win given he is no longer the number one driver for his father Barrie who captured his 15th trainer’s premiership. Gareth and his partner Melissa Maine celebrated the birth of their first child this year and that led to Rattray moving away from the family property at Longford, paving the way for his twin brother James to take over as number one stable driver. Last Sunday Rattray’s most satisfying win was aboard Siduri that is trained by his partner Maine. It was an effortless all-the-way win by the promising three-year-old filly that was sensationally backed in from $2.50 to start $1.80 in fixed odds markets. Siduri ( Live Or Die -Mardinova) scored her only other win about a year ago but she has only been with Maine for this latest preparation. Listen to what trainer Melissa Maine had to say about Siduri’s latest win. Peter Staples
PROMINENT harness racing owner-trainer-breeder Mick Maxfield usually ventures interstate to buy yearlings to race but in Launceston last Sunday night it was one of his home-grown pacers that stole the limelight for the stable. Melolyn led most of the way to score an impressive win in the Sara Redman & Associates Stakes (division two) over 2200 metres. The three-year-old gelding had to work hard early to eventually find the front but once there his driver Gareth Rattray rated him well and when he was called on for the big effort in the home straight he forged clear and went on to defeat Delmi by just over 12 metres with Howcomewhynot over eight metres away third. Melolyn is by Ponder USA from Maxfield’s mare My Shaette ( Presidential Ball-Juliet Castle) that he bought at the Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale in 2005. My Shaette was placed at her first two two-year-old starts before winning and she went on to run in the $50,000 Sweepstakes final in which she was driven by to Victorian reinsman-trainer John Justice but the filly finished last of 10. She managed two more minor placings from seven subsequent starts before being retired to stud. Maxfield was pleased with the three-year-old’s latest win which was his fourth career victory. “He is definitely a work in progress,” Maxfield said. “We have had a bit of trouble with his mouth and he can get a bee in his bonnet at times and be a bit of a problem.” “I bought his mother in Melbourne and although she was well bred she could only win one race.” “Her filly foals haven’t been much good and Melolyn is her first colt,” he said. Peter Staples