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New Norfolk harness racing trainer Roger Whitmore has his eyes on the $30,000 Raider Stakes with his talented four-year-old Resurgent Spirit following the gelding's impressive win at Tattersall's Park Hobart last Sunday night. Resurgent Spirit resumed from a lengthy spell with a game win on his home track on Australia Day and followed up with a second at Devonport in a race that was expected to be a stroll in the park for the former Tasmanian two-year-old of the year. The loss encouraged speculation that all might not be as it should be with the gelding but this latest effort dispelled any suggestion that the gelding had lost his sparkle. With his regular driver James Austin aboard, Resurgent Spirit showed his customary early speed to easily hold the front from barrier two. He was taken on about 600m from home and at one stage it looked as if he might again succumb to the pressure. But when Austin asked him to find, the gelded son of American Ideal forged clear and went on to defeat Black Centurian by 2.3 metres with Punt Road Disco a similar margin away third in the C5-C6 event over 2090 metres. Austin was delighted with the win. "That was an awesome win because he felt good throughout the race and he never got onto his knee once in the run," Austin said. "He pretty much toyed with them tonight," he said. The Raider Stakes will be run at Devonport on April 26 with heats to be held at the same track on April 13. Peter Staples

Victorian harness racing trainer Maree Caldow will aim Macfire towards the Victoria Oaks following the filly’s impressive win at Tattersall’s Park Hobart last Sunday night. Macfire was taken to the Apple Isle for the Tasmania Oaks the previous week, but after finishing third to the Dean Braun-trained Sudden Change, connections opted to keep her in the state to try and win her second three-year-old race before home. Macfire (Mach Three-Sparks Under Fire) worked to the early lead from a wide front row draw, and when driver John Caldow slipped her more rein at the top of the home straight, she drew clear to score by 13 metres from Iden Makin Time. The daughter of Mach Three rated 2:01.5 for the 2090 metres, covering the last half in 58.6 seconds. Caldow said the filly, owned by stalwart stable client Tony Conte, had always shown above average ability and would continue to contest the better three-year-old races. PETER STAPLES

When promising harness racing youngster Mojo Major scored an effortless win in a maiden at Tattersall’s Park Hobart last Sunday night his owners started to get excited about his prospects in this weekend’s Tasmania Derby. The gelding showed blistering early speed to lead comfortably from barrier six, and after Rod Ashwood slipped him more rein turning for home, Mojo Major scored by 22-and-a-half metres from Dancing Da Vinci, with My Mate Nick five metres away third. Mojo Major rated 2:01.5 for the 2090 metres, covering his last half in 58.8 seconds. Mojo Major has been in Ashwood’s care for about four weeks, with the local horseman taking over the training from top Victorian mentor Dean Braun. The son of Art Major is owned by Ashwood’s wife Paige in partnership with Terry Snowden and Amanda Grieve, who opted to keep the three-year-old in Victoria for the early part of his career. He won at his first start in Tasmania on March 9, but he was even more impressive at his latest outing. PETER STAPLES

WELL bred pacer Franco Sheffield broke through for an overdue but deserving win when he led throughout to take out a C2-C3 event over 2090 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Monday night. Franco Sheffield won five of eight outings last season but this time in he has taken a while to find the winner's circle with this his first win from six tries. He went into the race on the back of consecutive seconds in Hobart last month and it was the most recent second that gave trainer Juanita McKenzie confident going into Monday night's race. "I thought his previous run was really good, coming from well back and being taken very wide turning for home yet he kept giving in the run home," McKenzie said. "Going into that race I thought his efforts were a shade disappointing compared to what he did last season but sometimes when four-year-olds come back to racing they need a bit of extra time before they hit their straps," she said. Franco Sheffield (Live or Die-Showy Franco) had eight starts last season for five wins and two minor placings. McKenzie expects the gelding to continue to perform well in whatever he tackles in the coming weeks. "We will keep doping what we are doing with him and see how he performs and if he measures up well we will look at a couple of feature races otherwise we'll just keep plodding along in these C4-C5 races," she said. Franco Sheffield was purchased as an early a two-year-old in New Zealand by his owners Jamie Cockshutt and Barry Cooper who have about 10 horses in work with various trainers. McKenzie said Franco Sheffield is likely to have his next start in Hobart in a fortnight. Peter Staples  

Consistent harness racing mare Ebabe delivered another courageous performance to score an impressive win at Tattersall’s Park Hobart last night. The Zeke Slater-trained pacer faced the breeze for most of the 2090-metre trip from her outside front row draw, and when driver Adrian Collins sent her to the front along the back straight, she powered home to score comfortably. Slater said Ebabe had been a good money spinner for owners Merv and Marjory Butterworth who have been big supporters of his stable. “Ebabe has been very consistent, and while she races in these lower grades, she will be very competitive as she showed tonight,” Slater said. “She has won four, but placed nine times from almost 30 starts, so she has paid her way. “I’m not sure how much further she will go here in Tassie, but while she’s in this sort of form she will be very competitive.” Collins said he was confident a log way out that the mare would win. The daughter of Union Guy ratdd 2:04.2, with the final 800 metres covered in 59.6 seconds. PETER STAPLES

Popular Tasmanian harness racing trainer Marc Butler took a break from the industry a few years ago, but the lure of spending time with horses was too great. Since returning to training he has had only a handful of horses in work but, in his words, enough to keep him busy. In recent times he has been preparing winners on a regular basis, and in Hobart last night, Anothermetro delivered an impressive all-the-way win that suggests he has more to give. The son of Metropolitan is a lightly raced four-year-old formerly in the care of Rodney Ashwood. He joined Butler’s stable six months ago and it appears the change of environment and a different approach to training has worked for this gelding. Ashwood is an excellent trainer but sometimes a horse will respond to different methods and Butler seems to have found the right recipe for success with Anothermetro. With Mark Yole in the cart, Anothermetro showed good early speed to roll to the front from gate three and settled into a good rhythm to lead comfortably to the home turn. The pressure was applied turning for home by Bobby Jo and Iden Mister Ed, which emerged from the pack to challenge. Iden Mister Ed looked set to grab the leader halfway up the home straight, but his run ended 50 metres out, as did Bobby Jo’s, and Anothermetro went on to defeat Bobby Jo by a metre-and-a-half, with Iden Mister Ed a short head away third. Another Metro rated 2.04 for the 2090 metres, covering his last half in 59.9 seconds. PETER STAPLES

Consistent pacer Frankie Falzoni has proven to be a good money spinner for Broadmarsh harness racing trainer Chris Howlett, so it came as no surprise that he outgunned a handy field over 2090 metres in Hobart last night. With the trainer’s youngest son, Mathew, in the sulky, Frankie Falzoni ($3.90) settled in the one-one before being angled three-wide to stake his claim at the 600-mertre mark. After facing the breeze, well-backed Major Callum ($3 favourite) loomed a winning chance when he forged past the leader Really Fay Fay turning for home. Me Mate Les emerged from the pack and looked set to run past the eventual winner, but Howlett’s gelding found when challenged and went on to score by a nose from Me Mate Les ($6.50), with Major Callum a close-up third. Please with Frankie Falzoni’s improvement, Howlett expects the son of Chief Marty to continue to be very competitive in whatever he contests in the coming weeks. Since arriving at Howlett’s stables almost two years ago, Frankie Falzoni has notched four wins and seven placings from 28 starts for just over $28,000. Listen to what trainer Chris Howlett had to say about Frankie Falzoni’s latest win. PETER STAPLES

Punters who backed talented harness racing filly Fuscienne at Tattersall’s Park Hobart today were probably contemplating turning their betting tickets into confetti when the field swung for home. The heavily-backed Charlie James ($4.50 into $2) led comfortably, and when driver Ricky Duggan gave him more rein turning for home, he sped clear and looked to have a winning lead halfway along the home straight. Fuscienne, driven by Todd Rattray, settled last and didn’t improve until well into the back straight.  She was still a long way off the leader 200 metres out, but under strong driving, she slipped into overdrive and got up in the last bound to defeat Charlie James by a half-neck, while Note Worthy Lombo worked home well to grab third, but over 13 metres astern. Fuscienne drifted in the market when the big money arrived for Charlie James with her opening price of $1.60 drifting to start at $2.85 fixed odds and $3.10 on the TOTE. It was her second win from six starts, and while she is unlikely to ever reach the heights of her half-brother Beautide, she could measure up to the feats achieved by some other siblings. Fuscienne is also related to Death And Taxes (15 wins), Acutabovetherest (14 wins), Ashura (seven wins), I Pity The Fool (11 wins) and Ashkalina (14 wins). By Major In Art, Fuscienne’s dam Gorse Bush has produced nine foals and all have won. PETER STAPLES

The twilight harness racing meeting scheduled for Hobart next Sunday has been switched to an afternoon timeslot, and as such, the program will receive full coverage on Sky1. In a welcome boost for participants, stakes have also received a boost over the next five months. From this weekend, the minimum stakes for Sunday twilight races will rise from $7000 to $7500, except claiming races, which will rise from $5000 to $6500. Sires’ Stake heats will increase to $10,000 and 17 feature races which were advertised at $8000 will increase to $10,000. The increases will be funded by money saved from abandoned and deleted races over the past seven months. PETER STAPLES

In his heyday Chris Howlett was a fierce harness racing competitor and winning multiple races on cards at the old Royal Showground circuit came with monotonous regularity. But when his children became old enough to drive Howlett took a ‘back seat’ and set about training a few to get the children involved. In Hobart last Sunday night the veteran was back in the winners’ circle, much to the delight of his sons, Justin, Braden and Matthew,  who are talented reinsmen in their own right. Howlett guided outsider Frankie Falzoni to victory in a C1 event over 2090 metres to break an eight-year drought…with his previous win coming behind The Knucklebuster in Hobart in 2007. Howlett hadn’t driven in a race since Hobart in July 2013. “I don’t do much driving these days. I leave it up to the boys,” Howlett said. “It’s nice to drive a winner just to prove I can still do it.” Mathew, who drove Tinkers Taxi to finish third, was thrilled for his father. Mathew has emerged as one of the state’s most promising young reinsmen and his older brother Braden also is a natural. Eldest son Justin was the first to take to the sulky and he has matured into a very competent reinsman. From all reports Chris and Donna Howlett’s daughter Eliza, 15, also is anxious to secure a driver’s licence. Eliza is a regular at the pony races and will be at New Norfolk on Australia Day competing with her pony Bush Tucker Man. PETER STAPLES

Premier Tasmanian reinsman Ricky Duggan has a lot of time for lightly raced harness racing performer Mister Lennox, which delivered another knockout blow to his rivals in a C0 event over 2090 at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart last night From barrier six Mister Lennox ($1.45 favourite) landed in the one-out-one-back position on the back of Me Mate Les while the second favourite Stonor Rainbow made play in front. The leader set a solid clip, and when he kicked clear turning for home, it looked for a fleeting moment he might have the edge on the favourite, but when Duggan called on Mister Lennox for the big effort 200 metres out, he charged to the leader and went on to score comfortably from Stonor Rainbow, with Butch and Clyde a distant third. It was Mister Lennox’s fifth win from 11 starts and he looks set to expand on that record as the season progresses. The three-year-old is trained by Juanita McKenzie and owned by Barry Cooper and his family including children Chris, Shane and Maree. PETER STAPLES

Tasmanian pacer Star Chamber booked a ticket to Victoria to play with the harness racing’s big boys when he outgunned a class field in the $20,000 Smithawards Hobart Pacing Cup final over 3060 metres at Tattersall’s Park last night. The Nathan Ford-trained and owned gelding came from near last along the back straight to score by almost seven metres from outsider Benediction, with Sky Tower third after facing the breeze. Star Chamber emerged as a Group One contender when he won the $40,000 Tasmania Cup two starts ago, and with a Hobart Pacing Cup heat and Final now added to his impressive list of triumphs, he is likely to be given the chance to test his skill against some of the best in Australia within a week. Ford said Saturday night’s Shepparton Cup could be the gelding’s next mission, and if he does follow that path to the Hunter Cup, he will clash with an all-star line-up. Star Chamber arrived in Ford’s stables at Brighton just over a year ago with only two wins against modest company to his credit, but during the past six months the gelding has thrived and has developed into Tasmania’s best open class pacer. PETER STAPLES

Star Chamber only needs to capture the Hobart Pacing Cup in a fortnight to claim the title of Tasmania’s best harness racing performer following his heat win at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart last Sunday night. Star Chamber won the $40,000 Group Three Tasmania Cup in Hobart last month to signal his arrival as a class act, but some doubters questioned standard of his opposition. But on Sunday night the Nathan Ford-trained and driven gelding stepped cleanly from his 20-metre handicap to settle midfield while, Whodeani, having his first start for just over a year, stepped straight to the front as driver Gareth Rattray ensured a solid tempo. Our Chain Of Command circumnavigated the field midrace to face the breeze, while Ford was content to sit and wait until the field entered the back straight the last time to make his move. Our Chain Of Command kicked clear at the top of the home straight, but when Ford called on Star Chamber for the supreme effort the son of Our Sir Vancelot put the result beyond doubt within the blink of an eye. “I couldn’t be happier with the horse and I am looking forward to the Hobart Cup in a fortnight,” Ford said. PETER STAPLES

Last season Tasmanian harness trainer Steve Lukac made a decision to send his promising two-year-old No Spring Secrets for a lengthy spell owing to the youngster’s immaturity. The son of Tell All won on debut, but after three subsequent unplaced runs, he was dispatched to the paddock last May before being brought back into work in October. With three-months work in him No Spring Secrets stepped out at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart last night to give his rivals a pacing lesson in the Crown Inn Pace over 2090 metres. With in-form driver Nathan Ford in the sulky, No Spring Secrets began well from the front row to lead throughout to score 27 metres from Note Worthy Lombo, with Blackjackhanover six metres away third. While the gelding won easily, Lukac was not altogether happy with how his charge delivered the win. PETER STAPLES

A heat of the Smithawards Hobart Pacing Cup is a feature on tonight’s 10-race harness racing card at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart. Tasmania Cup winner Star Chamber is likely to start a warn favourite, although his trainer-driver Nathan Ford must find a way to counteract a 20-metre handicap in the 2579-metre event. Star Chamber toyed with his rivals to win the $40,000 Tasmania Cup after enjoying a gun run behind the leader. Proven performer Our Chain of Command will start off 30 metres, while dual Tasmania Cup winner Motu Crusader is the back marker off 40 metres. Whodeani, which is resuming from an injury enforced lay-off, is the interesting runner. The Paul Ashwood-trained gelding is making his first trip to the races since December 2013. Whodeani strung together seven consecutive wins before being sidelined, and although being thrown into the deep end, connections have ensured he goes into tonight's first-up assignment fit enough to cope with a task ahead. PETER STAPLES

Exciting pacer Star Chamber gave young Tasmanian trainer-driver Nathan Ford his greatest moment in harness racing with an empathic win in the $40,000 Tasmania Cup at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart yesterday. So impressed with the win, Ford suggested he will head to the Group One A G Hunter Cup in Melbourne in February. Star Chamber landed in Ford’s stables about this time last year and he declared six months later the gelding would win feature and Group races while in his care. Today his prediction was realised and stamped the flashy chestnut as one of the brightest prospects in the state. It was an emotional Ford who was brought to tears when asked to describe his biggest win. And when his father Scott Ford, who has won just about every feature race in Tasmania except the Cup, arrived to congratulate his son, he was unable to hold back the tears. Star Chamber began well from the pole, but was crossed by the in-form Blue Pointer, which led with ease from barrier two. The $1.20 favourite Im Corzin Terror was held back at the start to settle near the rear and when Chris Alford made his move just over a lap from home, he was forced to sit three-wide until they were well into the home turn the last time. Blue Pointer had a kick at the top of the straight, with Im Corzin Terror under extreme pressure to overhaul the leader, but when Ford eased Star Chamber off the pegs to challenge, the son of Our Sir Vancelot stormed home to win easily from Im Corzin Terror and Blue Pointer. Star Chamber rated 1:57.8 for the 2579-metre trip, with the last half covered in 58.63 seconds. PETER STAPLES

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