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With 28 harness racing meetings remaining trainer Ben Yole only needs to retain his present strike rate to prepare 100 or more winners for the 2015-16 season. Yole has a stranglehold on the trainer's title having prepared 66 winners and in Launceston on Friday and Hobart on Sunday he has a number of genuine winning chances that could see him with 70 or more wins as at the end of April. He has notched an average of 8.25 wins per month since the season started in September last year so at the same rate he would reach the century. Yole also has prepared 66 seconds and as many third placegetters along with 75 fourths for total stake earnings of $376,462 which is well over double the next best ($168,534) delivered by Todd Rattray who has produced 23 winners and 52 minor placegetters. Yole made a decision last year to secure horses on a regular basis from interstate and turn them over quickly and so far the exercise has delivered the desired result. He will take a team of 13 to Hobart on Sunday night of which five are engaged in the penultimate race on the seven-event card and four in the last. Happy Schnapps is one of his three starters in race four, a C3-C4 over 2090 metres, and provided driver Adrian Collins can secure a one-out spot early with cover the gelding could make a welcome return to the winner's circle. In Launceston on Friday night Yole will take 18 to the meeting at the UBET Racing Centre and again he has multiple runners in many of the 10 races. Check out Jamie Cockshutt's tips at Punter's Corner. Peter Staples

Tasmanian Hall of Fame harness racing driver Ricky Duggan will be back in the cart in Hobart on Sunday night after spending three weeks on the sidelines as a result of a nasty race fall. Duggan was rendered unconscious when the sulky wheel of a horse he was driving in a race in Hobart clipped a fallen horse that sent him crashing to the track. He was rushed to hospital where scans revealed no bone damage but he suffered serious bruising and some ligament damage to his heel and foot as well as bruising to his upper body. Duggan, 46, was off work for two weeks but returned to his role as groundsman with the Derwent Valley Council on Tuesday. "I don't remember too much about the fall other than being hurled through the air and landing on one foot and then thumping head first into the track," Duggan said. "I've had worse injuries from falls but none that have been this painful. "I pretty much couldn't move for a few days and the pain was excruciating. "I've still got a bit of a limp but I'm getting better by the day," he said. Duggan resumes driving in Hobart on Sunday night where he has six drives on the seven-race program. He has driven 50 winners so far this season and trails Mark Yole by only five so he remains a chance to win another driver's premiership. "I think Mark (Yole) has the premiership in the bag because I don't go to Devonport meetings as a rule so realistically he will have a better chance of winning the title and that would be great for him," Duggan said. One of Duggan's drives on Sunday is the Tony Petersen-trained Dapper Dana that hasn't started for two years but the gelding is reported to be working well and is expected to show up from his front-row draw. Peter Staples

Former New South Wales three-year-old pacer Code Black tuned up for the Tasmanian Derby with an impressive harness racing victory in a CO Pace over 2200m in Launceston last Sunday night. The colt had previously been trained in Sydney by Luke McCarthy after beginning his career in Victoria but is owners Danny Zavitsanos, of Geelong, and Warren Viney, of Spreyton, opted to send him to leading Tasmanian trainer Ben Yole for a tilt at the Tasmanian Derby ``Luke (McCarthy) told me that he was a pretty good horse but a rung below the superstars,'' Yole said. ``Hopefully we can keep him down here for a while because our prizemoney is better than a lot of the restricted-class races up there.'' Although Code Black didn't win by a great margin from El Major and Fleshing, driver Mark Yole said it was good enough. "The colt only does what he has to," Mark Yole said. ``If you look at his record, none of his wins have been by huge margins.' While the Yole team was happy with Code Black's effort so was El Major's trainer Paul Ashwood who says his horse also is in top shape for the Tasmanian Derby to be run at UBET Park Hobart next Sunday night. "I thought my horse's run from a second-row draw was good and that will have topped him off nicely for the Derby," he said.   Peter Staples

Leading Tasmanian harness racing trainer Ben Yole added another win to his season's tally at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night to take his season tally to 58 for what should be an unbeatable lead in the race for the trainer's premiership. His younger brother Mark Yole also leads the driver's premiership table with 46 wins courtesy of a double on Sunday night that included Jane Grant. Mark also partnered the Steve Lukac-trained Pockets of Courage to victory in the Sires Produce final over 2090 metres. However, Yole is only one win clear of Ricky Duggan who is having another stellar season. Duggan is aligned with good stables as he sets out to snare his fifth driver's premiership. The Yole brothers have dominated the first half of the season and younger brother Tim also has been notching his fair share of winners in the sulky. Jane Grant, owned by the Woods Family from Fingal, delivered a first class effort to win. She settled back in the field from her wide front-row draw (6) but when Yole called on her for the big effort in the back straight the last time she improved three-wide without cover and kept finding under strong driving in the home straight. Jane Grant hit the line a metre clear of Mavis Merle who also came from well back, with race leader Pharoahs Daughter hanging on for third a head away. Given the ease with which Jane Grant picked up the leaders over the concluding stages there should definitely be more wins in store in the coming weeks. Peter Staples

Victorian three-year-old filly Dancingwithsierra signalled she has arrived as a genuine Group 1 harness racing contender when she led throughout to win the $30,000 Group 3 Tasmanian Oaks over 2579 metres at UBET Park Hobart last night. With Chris Alford in the sulky the well-bred filly by Modern Art prepared at Toolern Vale by Gary Hoban gave her rivals a pacing lesson on her way to her first Group win, scoring by 11 metres from Gina Grace with Chica Bella a distant third with the winner clocking a mile rate of 2.01.43 and ran home her last half (800m) in 57.91. "She is not a big filly but she has tremendous speed and she has good stamina so I'm confident she will be very competitive in races like the Victorian Oaks and the Breeders Crown series," said driver Chris Alford. "Speed is definitely her biggest asset and once she landed in front tonight and nothing took us on seriously I knew she would be very hard to beat. Dancingwithsierra ($1.50 fav) led easily while the well-backed Gina Grace ($4.90) worked hard to face the breeze two laps from home with Chica Bella ($4.90) content to take the sit in the one-out-one-back position. When Gina Grace's driver Mark Yole tried to apply pressure heading down the back stretch the leader picked up the pace and when Alford released the brakes at the top of the home straight his filly powered clear and hit the line without being fully extended. The winner was bred by her trainer and is raced by his son Craig Hoban. "We bred this filly from a mare we raced with some success (Sierra Tango) and she has already proven herself at stud with this filly and her next foal that is a half-brother that we are hoping will win some good two-year-old races this season," Craig Hoban said. Peter Staples

Well bred harness racing colt Buster Bruv delivered a superb performance on debut to score a runaway win in the One Spirit-One Club-One Family Cripps waratah Pace over 1609 metres at UBET Park Hobart tonight. The Dylan Ford-trained youngster stepped straight to the front from the pole position and with the trainer's younger sister Taylor Ford in the cart he gave nothing else a chance as he stormed to an effortless win over Sweptunderdacarpet and Playing Arkabella. Buster Bruv had trialled well leading up to his debut and he was well backed firming from $4 to start the $3.20 second favourite behind the Paul Hill-trained Playing Arkabella Buster Bruv is by Santastics Pan from the well-bred mare Little Marina (Live or Die-Homeleigh) who won five and was placed 12 times from 45 starts. Peter Staples

Tasmanian harness racing trainer Marc Butler has his sights set on winning the Allen Williams Memorial final at Devonport this Sunday night after his four-year-old Notonasunday scored an effortless all-the-way win in a heat of the series at UBET Park Hobart last night. Notonasunday showed good gate speed to lead from barrier three and once In front driver Mark Yole rated the gelded son of Aces N Sevens superbly to score by almost five metres from Baldock with Karalta Delux almost two metres away third. "I bought this horse about six months ago as an entire and for not a lot of money but after a couple of starts I realised he was pinching himself so I had him gelded and he has been different horse ever since," Butler said. "If he can draw near the inside of the front row in Sunday's final at Devonport he can win." The Allen Williams memorial series is restricted to maidens and horses that have not won a race that carried more than $3000 in stakes. The remaining heat winners were Barooga Jezza, Coccinella, Gods Sake, Ductape and Pageantry. Barooga Jezza won his heat in Launceston last Sunday night producing a mile rate of 2.02.7 with Maybe Charlie likely to make the final in Launceston next Sunday night as one of the four fastest seconds. Ductape from the Ben Rossendell stable is likely to start favourite in the final on the strength of his impressive heat win in Hobart two weeks ago in which Maravilloso ran second and will more than likely earn a final berth. The Ben Yole-trained Coccinella also produced a good mile rate of 2.02.2 in winning his heat in Hobart with second-placed Guestamate another likely finalist based on times. Gods Sake qualified for the final when he won his heat at Burnie where he clocked a mile rate of 2.05.1 and comfortably defeated Art of my Art. The Grant Hodges-trained Pageantry cruised into the final with a commanding win in his heat in Devonport but clocked a modest mile rate of 2.06.3. The four fastest second placegetters from the six heats also will tackle the final with the field to be released on Wednesday. Peter Staples

When well-bred harness racing pacer Jaruzelski Leis was diagnosed with chips in a sesamoid bone over two years ago there was only a fifty per cent chance he would ever race again. But time has a way of healing all wounds and from what the gelding has shown at his only two starts since resuming from the injury-enforced lay-off he could still realise his full potential. Jaruzelski Leis resumed after two years and four months away from racing with an incredible win in Hobart in which he was forced to race three-wide for almost the first lap and after facing the breeze for the last lap he had the audacity to forge past the leader close to home. Last Sunday night in Hobart he repeated the dose but this time driver Todd Rattray was able to finds the lead from an inside barrier in the Toreace Flying Mile and from there on in the gelded son of Bettor's Delight toyed with his rivals to win easily. He hit the line 6-1/2 metres clear of The Majority and Resurgent Spirit, clocking a mile rate of 1.57.8 and he ran home his last 800 metres in a slick 56.7 without having to move out of third gear. "He is a very exciting horse but he still has to be well managed," Todd Rattray said. "There's no doubt he has enormous ability and he could still realise his full potential." There are no specific plans for Jaruzelski Leis but Rattray hinted that the Easter Cup at the end of March could be an option. Peter Staples

The reintroduction of pony trot races this season has been a revelation with the series hailed a huge success by all involved in the harness racing industry. The final two races of the series were held at UBET Park Hobart on Friday night with the two heats to determine the winner. Heading into the final round of heats Ryan Backhouse led on 13 points and one ahead of Matilda Rawlings with Jacob Duggan and Oliver Coulson tied for third one point further adrift on 11 points. Jacob and his aged pony Rassy Big Girl won both heats to clinch the title of Pony Trot Champion driver for 2015-16. He is the son of talented trainer-driver Adrian Duggan and his wife Amanda. Jacob, 10, said he has had his pony since he was two and that he thinks she is the best pony ever. As far as following in his father's footsteps, well that is probably a foregone conclusion. "I want to be a driver when I get older and I hope to win a premiership by the time I'm 21," he said. While Duggan claimed the trophy all the drivers who competed in the series were winners because they were given the opportunity to not only compete but learn how to present horses properly for racing and care for them post race. The drivers who contested the series were Jacob Duggan, Oliver Coulson and his sister Ella Coulson, Matilda Rawlings, Billy Butler, Ryan Backhouse, Mitchell Ford and Brodie Davis. Peter Staples

Hobby harness racing trainer Ben Rossendell has a big opinion of his three-year-old Ductape so it came as no surprise that the gelding emerged triumphant at his first start for the season at UBET Park Hobart last night. With talented novice reinsman Matthew Howlett in the sulky, Ductape delivered a brilliant performance to score by almost seven metres from Maravilloso with about the same margin to Penny Will Play in a heat of the Allen Williams Memorial over 2090 metres. Ductape showed great promise last season in good quality two-year-old events without winning from eight starts. "Ductape did a great job last season and was probably unlucky not to win a couple of times," Rossendell said. "I have a good opinion of him and I expect him to come into his own this season." Ductape (Sutter Hanover-Elsunola Babe) settled last from his wide front row draw (6) and Howlett waited until the bell lap before making his move. The three-year-old gelding worked gradually around the field and joined the leader War Chest nearing the home turn before forging clear in the home straight. Ductape covered the 2090 metres in 2m.39.31s for a mile rate of 2.02.67 and covered his last 800 metres in 59.03. Rossendell made it a double when his former Victorian gelding Warrior Mac won a C1 over 2090 metres. Warrior Mac had not started since July last year and had not been to the trials but with the run of the race in the one-out-one-back position he packed too many guns for his rivals to score by almost a metre from race leader Threestones with Robert Moreau over four metres astern. "I bought this horse in Melbourne last year but he had a bit of a rough trip over in the float so after a couple of runs I had to tip him out and start again," Rossendell said. "It took a while to get him going but we finally got there. "He isn't blessed with a lot of talent but if I keep him in this sort of company he's capable of winning a couple more," he said. Peter Staples

Former Victorian Ben Yole made a decision to make Tasmania his permanent home about two years ago and it looks like he made the right move. Five months into this season Yole has a commanding lead in the race for the Tasmanian harness racing trainer's premiership. Yole has trained 45 winners to be 23 ahead of his nearest rival Nathan Ford whose season has ended courtesy of disqualification with Todd Rattray the next nearest on 15 wins. But Yole also is amongst the top 20 trainers in Australia which has not happened since the days Tasmanian Hall of Fame trainers Neville Webberley and Barrie Rattray were dominating with either or both preparing over 100 winners in a season in the 80s and 90s. In Hobart tonight Yole has at least one runner in every race and it would be strange if he emerged from the meeting winless. "It's been a great season for sure and to be sitting in the top 20 trainers in Australia is well and truly beyond my wildest dreams," Yole said. "But I made a decision to buy a lot of horses and keep turning them over and it's paid big dividends," he said. Threestones will represent the stable in the first at UBET Park Hobart tonight and Yole expects the gelding to be very competitive. "Threestones has been racing in higher class races and on Friday night he drops to a C1 and he has a claiming novice driver aboard (Adrian Collins) so if he can't do well in this race then he's not worth keeping here and he'll be sent back to Melbourne," Yole said. He hitches up two in race two (C2-C3) in Comeon Howzat (3) and Sutter Man (10) and he rates them both solid each-way chances. Joan Grant and John Preston will represent the stable in race four in which he days they will be competitive but might struggle to match it with the likely favourite Origin Cronk. Yole rates Badtothebone the stable's best each-way chance on the seven-event program but he is one of three Yole will hitch up in the race. Badtothebone has drawn the pole position (1) in race six for C1 class pacers over 2090 metres. "Badtothebone has really good gate speed so he is drawn to lead and it that happens then I expect him to be very hard to beat," Yole said. "Sign Of Oro (6) is a last-start winner but he is a hors that is always going to need luck to fall his way and Altugo Franco (8) is drawn the inside of the second row and would have to improve a lot on what he's been showing of late to figure," he said. While Yole enjoys his place at the top of the Tasmania trainer's table his younger brother Mark is cashing in on the stable's success. Mark leads the driver's premiership table with 34 wins clear of to be four clear of Ricky Duggan with Todd Rattray next best with 20 wins.    

Talented teenage driver Taylor Ford made a wise career move about two months ago when she decided to head north to work for the state's leading harness racing  trainer Ben Yole. Ford has been slowly but surely improving her ability in the cart but since she's been working for Yole she has gone to a new level. In Hobart last night she extended her lead in the novice driver's premiership courtesy of a driving treble. Ford delivered super front-running performances in three consecutive races winning aboard Rajah Wealth, Jean Baptiste and Happy Schnapps and all for her new boss Ben Yole that also increased his lead in the race for the trainer's premiership. Her first winner was Rajah Wealth that was allowed to race outside of the leader for the last lap and a bit and when Ford called on eight-year-old gelding for the supreme effort he drew clear and had enough kin reserve to stave off all comers. It was a stable trifecta with Yole's Philtra Phella and Our Archangel filling the minor placings. Ford then sent Jean Baptiste to the front from the mobile start making full use of that horse's pole position and in the following race she guided Happy Schnapps to an all-the-way win. Peter Staples

Lightly raced five-year-old pacer Alpinion notched a game win for his new harness racing trainer Deborah Williams at UBET Park Hobart last night. Alpinion had been placed at his previous start but that was good enough to give his trainer confidence going into this latest assignment. With talented reinswoman Natalee Emery in the sulky, Alpinion was bustled to hold the lead from the pole position but he settled well once he was established as race leader. When Alpinion was called on to deliver at the business end of the race he was strong enough to fend off all challengers and hit the line over three metres clear of Zumba Bromac with John Snow a head away third. "He is a nice horse and I'm sure after a short spell he will win a few more," Williams said. "He has improved with each start for me and while he continues to do that he will win again," she said. The gelding by Safari is owned by John Timbs who has been racing horses with much success for over four decades. Peter Staples

Former star harness racing juvenile Resurgent Spirit returned to his best at UBET Park Hobart last night to win a free-for-all over 2090 metres. Resurgent Spirit dug deep and kept grinding away after facing the breeze for the last 1200 metres and it was a desperate lunge right on the line that secured him the win over Remember Joe. Resurgent Spirit was ninth in the Hobart Pacing Cup as the $2.50 favourite and finished over 25 metres from the winner. But back to the 2090-metr trip and from a good draw the gelded son of American Ideal was able to recapture his best form. The Roger Whitmore-trained gelding gives the impression he is getting better with racing so the Devonport and Easter Cups could both be back on the radar. Resurgent Spirit was an outstanding juvenile winning his first 13 races as a two and early three-year-old and he captured the feature 3YO event of the season in the Globe Derby Stakes. In recent times his form has waned through a niggling injury but Whitmore has been patient and given his stable star plenty of time to overcome the issue. Peter Staples

Harness racing trainer Ben Yole has made a brilliant start to the season and that he keeps building on his successful team suggests he could emerge as Tasmania's premier mentor by season's end. At UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night Yole added another win to his tally when Happy Schnapps led throughout to win the UBET Pace over 2090 meters with talented novice driver Taylor Ford in the sulky. Despite being well placed in the C2-C3 event Happy Schnapps started at the lucrative price of $5.10. Yole said Happy Schnapps had been going well enough to suggest the five-year-old gelding would make his presence felt and in the end the son of Grinfromeartoear made a one-act affair of the race scoring by over four metres from Soo Special with Laforce 1-1/2 metres away third. The win took Yole's season tally to 32 to be 10 clear of his nearest rival Nathan Ford. The trainer's younger brother Mark Yole has capitalised on the stable's success to be the state's leading driver on 26 wins and well clear of Ricky Duggan (15) and the injured Gareth Rattray (14). Peter Staples  

Emotions ran high at UBET Park Hobart last night when Remember Joe powered home to score an impressive harness racing win in the Smithawards Hobart Pacing Cup. Remember Joe, a horse named in honour of the late Joe McKenzie who was one of the best and most colourful harness trainers of the modern era, delivered a career best performance to win a race that trainer Juanita McKenzie has longed to win. "The Hobart Pacing Cup is a race I have wanted to win as a trainer and to win it with a horse named after my Dad is just amazing," McKenzie said. McKenzie had three runners in the race with outsiders Something Eyre and veteran pacer Our Chain of Command sent around at big odds. "To be honest I wasn't confident about winning the race but I thought Remember Joe would be a chance if he could lead and when that didn't happen I thought it was all over." "But Rodney (Ashwood) drove a perfect race and when he got him to the outside in the home straight Joe just powered home." "I was also worried that Joe might not be able to get the trip (3060 metres) but he proved me wrong," she said. Outsider Truly Blissful ($51) began brilliantly to roll to the front but Ashwood was keen to take that spot and sent Remember Joe in pursuit of the lead. But when that failed he opted to take hold and settle behind the leader. The favourite Resurgent Spirit ($2.60) moved up to face the breeze while the rank outsider Dodgermemate ($81) settled in the one-out-one-back position with the well-backed Jukebox Music ($5.50) on his back in the one-out line. Turning for home it looked as if Remember Joe would fail to gain a clear run but Ashwood cleverly eased into the right spot at the right time. Once in the clear Remember Joe powered home to defeat Dodgermemate by 3-1/4 metres with his stablemate Truly Blissful almost three metres away third. McKenzie said there had been a temptation to take remember Joe back to Melbourne for another campaign but connections have agreed to keep the horse racing in Tasmania. "There are a couple of country cups we'll have a look at before we give him a spell," McKenzie said. Peter Staples  

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