TALENTED Tasmanian harness racing trainer Heath Szczypka pretty much heaved a sigh of relief when his eight-year-old gelding Rorybeebellows scored a game win in division one of the Iris Computing pace over 2090 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart tonight. With premier reinsman Gareth Rattray aboard, Rorybeebellows settled near the rear of the field from his inside second-row draw and had to be content to remain there until well into the back straight the last time. Blitzemgamble (Justin Campbell) led from gate two while the odds-on favourite Supa Sunshine ($1.90) was eased to take the trail from the pole position by driver Mark Yole. The driver of Billy Khan, James Austin, was caught three-wide at the back so instead of easing out he pushed forward to set his charge a task facing the breeze. Billy Khan edged clear of the leader 500 metres out but when they straightened for the run home Blitzemgamble (Partywiththebigdogs-Tuatahi Classic) regained the lead but he was unable to hold out Rorybeebellows. Listen to what trainer Heath Szczypka had to say about the win of Rorybeebellows. By Peter Staples
TOP class Tasmanian reinsman Rohan Hillier has been enjoying life in the fast lane of late with his association with the Dick Eaves-trained star filly Barynya that won her way onto the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series in Victoria last Friday night. Back home in Launceston two nights later he was back in the winner's circle, this time aboard his own three-year-old Chopstix Boris that caused a major upset to win the $30,000 Globe Derby Stakes. It was a hot field and one that would not be out of place in any feature three-year-old race around the country. Resurgent Spirit was sent out favourite ($3.80) but there was plenty of smart money for Estevao ($4), Rusty Red Comet ($4.60) and the in-form Vande Velde ($5.10) with Chopstix Boris getting into $11.80 after touching $16 midway through betting. Estevao (Gareth Rattray) was able to hold the lead but when Resurgent Spirit was unable to find a spot with cover from his outside front-row draw driver James Austin had no option but to go forward and park outside of the leader. Chopstix Boris settled near last in the one-out line with Vande Velde at the rear on his back. Estevao looked set to steal the race when Rattray urged him to extend turning for home but his lesser fancied stablemate Ektoras that had trailed the leader throughout, came off the fence to challenge and looked set to win. But that's when the tailenders started to swoop and so fast did Chopstix Boris finish he swamped the leaders close to home to score by almost a metre from Ektoras with Estevao a half-head away third. It was a masterful drive and a brilliant performance by the gelded son of Jeremes Jet from Flo Jo Fernandez that won the 2001 bandbox Stakes for 3YO fillies. Chopstix Boris is owned and raced by Hillier in partnership with his wife Katrina and two of the driver's mates Danny Bennett and Andrew Baxter. He was originally trained by Hillier who opted to send the gelding to Paul Ashwood to train. "He was working well for Rohan but not producing his best on race day and Rohan thought a change of environment would suit him so he sent him to me," Ashwood said. "Tonight he showed what he could do, although I wasn't that confident with the slow early pace," he said. Resurgent Spirit ($3.80) battled away in the home straight to finish sixth for what was his first time out of a place in 17 starts. By Peter Staples
YOUNG Tasmanian harness racing reinsman Duncan Dornauf celebrated his biggest win in the sulky when he partnered talented three-year-old filly Miley Rose to victory in the $30,000 Bullock Consulting Bandbox Stakes over 2200 metres at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. Miley Rose ($5.80) proved too strong for odds-on favourite Faithful Gabby ($1.50) in a close finish and it gave prominent owner-breeder Doug McKillop another feature race win. Miley Rose was quick to leave the mobile and had no trouble leading but Dornauf was content to let Faithful Gabby (Gareth Rattray) roll to the front 1400m from home to give his charge a cushy run on the favourite's back. Faithful Gabby, that had won four of her previous five starts going into the bandbox final, travelled comfortably to the home turn but Dornauf always had his filly breathing down Rattray's neck. When Rattray released the deafeners at the top of the home straight his filly shot clear but Dornauf was able to get the most from Miley Rose and she gradually erased the margin and went on to grab victory in the last few strides. Itswhatilikeaboutu (Christian Salter) came from last to run third but 20 metres from the first two placegetters with the judge unable to separate Tania Maree and Jane Grant for fourth. By Peter Staples
QUALITY Tasmanian pacing mare Tessanzo made a huge impression at her interstate debut at Tabcorp Park Melton last Friday night. Tessanzo lined up in a $16,000 heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Championship over 2240 metres and while she was without her regular driver Gareth Rattray the Melissa Maine-trained five-year-old toyed with her rivals scoring by over six metres and clocked a slick mile rate of 1.56.9, running home her last half mile (800m) in 56.6 sec. With the exception of a sixth at her start prior to leaving the state, Tessanzo went into the Melton race with good form comprising two wins and three seconds at her five previous outings. Rattray was meant to drive the mare but when his flight out of Launceston was delayed slightly and he encountered a traffic jam on the way to the track he had to be replaced in the sulky by Chris Alford. Rattray arrived at the track just in time to see the start of the race but the end result helped ease the pain of missing the drive. Tessanzo joined Maine's stable in November last year and has since won three and been placed six times from 13 starts. Tessanzo won the first race ever held on the synthetic surface at Spreyton Park in Devonport in July 2012 and soon after her then trainer Rod Burgess declared she had the ability to go right through t open class. Tessanzo will line up in the $30,000 final at Melton on Friday night and Rattray is expected to be reunited with the mare. By Peter Staples
LIGHTLY raced pacing filly Fawzia delivered the goods in the fillies' division final of the Big Park Sweepstakes in Hobart on Sunday night. With Todd Rattray in the cart the filly trailed the leader for most of the 1609-metre journey before easing out in the home straight to stake her claim. The leader and race favourite Jokers Wild Card looked to be travelling well nearing the home turn but when her driver Gareth Rattray released the deafeners and went for home it opened the door for Fawzia to issue her challenge. Fawzia moved alongside Jokers Wild Card and eventually gained the upper hand with the judges winning margin 1-1/4 metres on the line. Jokers Wild Card battled gamely while Grace Campbell (Adrian Duggan) worked home nicely for third but over five metres astern. Fawzia (x Sportswriter) is trained by Barrie Rattray who also bred the filly from his former handy race mare Public Persecution that probably never realised her full potential because of her attitude to racing. Rattray said Fawzia also has attitude but thankfully not as many unsuitable traits as her mother. Listen to the audio above to what driver Todd Rattray had to say about Fawzia's win. Peter Staples
UNBEATEN Tasmanian two-year-old pacer Jerrys Jet stamped himself as a genuine star when he stormed home to win the $17,000 Big Park Stud Sweepstakes final for colts and geldings at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Sunday night. It was one of the best performances seen on the Hobart circuit and clearly the best of his age group. Jerrys Jet was worse than midfield in the three-wide train in the back straight the last time and he was still near last and five-wide turning for home. The leader Mister Lennox (Gareth Rattray) kicked clear at the top of the straight and looked to have a winning break but Boasson Hagen and Jerrys Jet knuckled down to their task at the business end of the race. Boasson Hagen (Christian Salter) began his move three-wide at the bell and he was responsible for keeping Jerrys Jet in a pocket when the favourite was trying to get into the three-wide line. Boasson Hagen (Art Major-Allsorosie) was first to issue a serious challenge to the leader in the straight and he looked set to win close to home until Jerrys Jet arrived on the scene to snatch victory in the very last stride. Jerrys Jet (Jeremes Jet-Laagirl) is trained by Paul Hill and owned by his breeders Charlie and Connie Beadman. The win kept Jerrys Jet's unbeaten record from four starts intact and both trainer and owners were ecstatic after the race. The gelding scored by a short half-head with Boasson Hagen and New Zealand-bred Mister Lennox (Changeover-Tuapeka Osprey) dead-heating for second but a protest lodged by Salter claiming interference in the home straight was upheld giving Boasson Hagen outright second place. Jerrys Jet will have a couple of days off and is likely to resume racing in a heat of the Dandy Patch sires stakes series in Hobart next month with the final on July 6. Listen to what trainer Paul Hill and owner-breeder Charlie Beadman had to say about Jerrys Jet's Sweepstakes win. By Peter Staples
CALL THE MARSHALL gave an indication that he will be competitive in next Sunday's $40,000 Easter Cup final with an impressive all-the-way win in his heat over 2698 metres at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston tonight (Sunday). With leading reinsman Gareth Rattray in the sulky, Call The Marshall ($2.90) stepped brilliantly from gate four to find the lead and he was never headed on his way to a comfortable win over the heavily backed Dapper Dana ($2.05 fav) with Falco Peregrinus ($8.50) doing his best work over the concluding stages for a close-up third. Call The Marshall was coming off a win over last year's Easter Cup winner Biggernbettermax in a discretionary handicap in Launceston but this latest victory was even more impressive. The other heat was taken out by the Dick Eaves-trained mare Arts Bliss that also led all the way but at the sweet odds of $13. Arts Bliss has been a consistent mare in lower grades but eaves has said all along that he was keen to get her to the Easter Cup because she is tough and that she was just starting to deliver in her races. The mare by Blissfull Hall from Arts Darling (x Perfect Art) won the Scottsdale Cup in January and followed up with a game win in a discretionary handicap in Launceston about four weeks later. She went into this race on the back of a game second in the Sylvan Lass over 2090 metres in Hobart behind Dapper Dana. Arts Bliss held on to defeat dead-heaters Our Chain of Command and back marker (off 40m) Motu Crusader. But the biggest run in the race was that of fourth-placed Saab Quality that missed the start at least 60 metres. The Daryl Bates-trained gelding made up the lost ground and crept along the rails once he tacked on and when driver John Walters called on him for an effort in the home straight he flashed home along the rails to finish fourth. The $40,000 Examiner Easter Cup will be run over 2698 metres in Launceston next Sunday night (Easter Sunday). By Peter Staples
PROMINENT Tasmanian harness racing owners Jamie Cockshutt and Barry Cooper have never been shy about spending a decent amount on horseflesh from New Zealand and it looks as if another of their purchases will at least pay his way. Something Eyre (Ohoka Arizona-Glentara) faced the breeze for most of the race in Hobart last Sunday night but made light of the task to go on and score a comfortable win in a 3C0-3C1 over 2090 metres. Lade Elaine made full use of the pole position to lead and with Gareth Rattray aboard she set a solid tempo in front while Ricky Duggan allowed Something Eyre to sit three-wide early as he gradually made his way to the spot outside of the leader. Duggan didn't allow his charge to eyeball the leader until he wanted to apply the pressure about 500 metres from home. By doing this he ensured the favourite Soho Wonder, that trailed the leader, was kept in a zip-fastener pocket until well into the home straight. It proved to be the winning move. Something Eyre forged clear 200 metres out and he had a big enough break to stave off Soho Wonder that flashed home late to go down by only a half-neck with the leader Lady Elaine clinging to third spot three metres away. It was Something Eyre's second win from only four starts in Tasmania but it was clearly his best effort. Duggan was impressed with the performance and believes the gelded son of Ohoka Arizona has a bright future. Listen to what driver Ricky Duggan had to say about Something Eyre's latest performance. By Peter Staples
The first Australian crop of Cam’s Card Shark harness racing stallion Million Dollar Cam have been making quite a big impression in Australia of late and that was highlighted by the two Bathurst Gold Tiara heat winners that the former Little Brown Jug winner sired yesterday. The first of those two winners was the Gareth Rattray trained Karalta Impulse, who made it two wins from four starts when leading all of the way to win the second heat of the series, while Amaretto (Ashlee Siejka) remained unbeaten when winning the sixth heat in emphatic style. Interestingly, both of Million Dollar Cam’s Tiara Gold heat winners are out of mares from the Direct Scooter line. The other Bathurst Tiara Gold heat winners were: Makes Every Scents (Four Starzzz Shark), Looks Look Heaven (Lombo Mandingo), Sally Fletcher (American Ideal), and Bamako Mali (Art Major). Million Dollar Cam, who took a record of 1:50.2 at 3 years and won almost $970,000 in stakes, has a foal crop of only 60 and already 14 have started and three have won and a further six have been placed. With 14 starters from 60 foals, Million Dollar Cam is off to a sensational start, being the leading NSW first-season percentage sire in that category, while he ranks second on a winners-to-foals percentage basis, according to the Harness Racing Australia computer on March 17. In North America, Million Dollar Cam’s stock has earned more than $20-million to date and he has sired seven in the 1:50 list. Million Dollar Cam stands at Yirribee Stud in Wagga. By Mitchell Robertson Makes Every Scents Karalta Impulse Looks Like Heaven Sally Fletcher Bamako Mali Armaretto
Champion Australian reinsman Gavin Lang captured his fourth Noel Smith Memorial Invitation Drivers Championship, in a tight three race series at the Horsham Racing Centre on Monday afternoon. Lang was making his 20th appearance in the prestigious contest and posted early points on the tally board, when he piloted the 5yo mare, Mintropolitan to an all-the-way victory in the opening heat, for SA trainer Jake Webster. Tasmanian driver Gareth Rattray put himself into the contest, courtesy of a tough staying effort by David Van Ryn’s smart 3YO gelding Time Capsule in the 2nd heat. Lang maintained his position at the top of the table, with a close up third on Ideal Majority for Bannockburn trainer Geoff Webster. Youthful SA horseman Ryan Hryhorec captured the final round with the Kerryn Manning trained pacer Itz Dreamin Jonesy. Lang came in midfield with Big Gorilla but maintained a slight margin to take out the 24th Horsham title. At the other end of the points table, a countback saw former Horsham Club President Garry Chequer present the dreaded Wooden Spoon to Queensland reinsman Grant Dixon, with Daryl Douglas breathing a sigh of relief. Lang, aged 53, is almost in the veteran category, but the winner of 5000+ races is still driving in red-hot form. His Horsham Invitation crown comes right on the back of two recent Group 1 victories at Menangle and 4 wins from 5 drives at Devonport for trainer Adam Kelly, just the night before heading to Horsham. Monday must have been a long day for the Harness Hall Of Famer. After catching a 6am flight out of Devonport to Tullamarine, it was an hour’s drive home to Bacchus Marsh and nearly 3 hours more, along the Western Highway to Horsham. Four drives later and with a new Challenger sulky on board, it was off again in the truck heading for home. Finally around 10.00pm, it was time to put the feet up before enjoying a well deserved, good night’s sleep. Gavin Lang. Mr. 5000. Harness Racing Legend. Congratulations. By Anthony Logan
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