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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

Harness racing trainer Zane Medhurst has been waiting a while for his nine-year-old Luke Peter to win another race and it finally happened at his 100th start in Hobart yesterday. Luke Peter cruised to a comfortable victory in the Des and Kay Logan Memorial Pace over 2090 metres, which is the consolation of the Eric Reece Memorial. The Luke Peter hit the line five metres clear of Luke Thomas, with the favourite Olivers Mare a metre away third. “He’s been a good old horse for us and it was so good to see him win a half decent race,” Medhurst said. “He didn’t have any luck in a heat of the Eric Reece, but dropping back to be against horses that didn’t make that Final he was always going to be a chance. “It was a great drive by Nathan (Ford) who was positive on him early, and when he turned for home with such a big lead, I knew he would win.” Luke Peter suffered a tendon injury about two years ago, but Medhurst was able to nurse the son of Pacific Rocket back to health. “We took our time bringing him back to racing after he did a tendon and he’s shown no sign of any problem with the leg since he’s been back, but we do manage him well,” Medhurst said. Medhurst’s son David was killed in a car accident last year, so very win is dedicated to him. “I can’t help but wonder if Dave was looking down over us today and helped out a bit,” Medhurst said. Luke Peter had not won a race since Australia Day. “It’s been almost a year since this horse has won but he's been able to pick up a lot of placings to help pay his way,” Medhurst said. Luke Peter has started 100 times for nine wins and 20 placings for $45,000 in stakes. PETER STAPLES

Top Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang has always had success when driving in Tasmania and he showed why he is considered one of harness racing’s best with a superb display behind Rusty Red Comet in Hobart today. The Eric Jacobson-trained gelding was backed in to start the $2.10 favourite and it was Lang’s patience that ensured the four-year-old emerged triumphant. Vander Jenkins ($10 into $8) showed good early speed to find the front, while Smokin Mustard $14) faced the breeze and the well-tried Frankie Falzoni ($9) trailed the leader from the pole. Lang settled Rusty Red Comet in the rear half of the field in the one-out line and he waited until entering the back straight the last time to make his move three and four-wide. The well-backed second favourite Major Callum was sent around the field to face the breeze with over a lap remaining and he looked the winner turning for home. But when Lang called on Rusty Red Comet to deliver the goods, the son of Riverboat King found that bit extra Lang is often able to extricate from his charges to emerge triumphant. Rusty Red Comet hit the line three metres clear of Major Callum, with Frankie Falzoni a metre away third. PETER STAPLES

POPULAR Tasmanian harness racing trainer Shelley Barnes knows what it's like to be down and out. After surviving a horror fall in Launceston in 1998, in which she suffered multiple broken bones when catapulted from her sulky in a five-horse fall, she was again faced with the possibility of spending the rest of her life unable to walk as a result of another track accident. While the latest ensured she would never drive in races again, the talented horsewoman, who has been Tasmania's leading female trainer and or driver multiple times over the past 20 years, was back in the winners' circle last night. Barnes is training 12 horses from her Sassafras property on the North-West Coast of Tasmania and she prepared My Koda Kasper to win the Hygain Track Torque Pace in Hobart. The grey gelding powered home with his regular driver Natalee Emery in the sulky to score a narrow, but convincing, win over Blackjackhanover, with Tizyalater a distant third. Barnes purchased My Koda Kasper about two years ago via the internet. “I was looking for a horse to buy and race for myself and I found this one that was unraced and well-bred and he didn’t cost a lot of money,” Barnes said. “He won for me on debut and that paid for him plus a fair bit extra in my hand. “While he never won another race until this latest start, he has been placed and ran a lot of fourths, so he has managed to pay his way.” The son of Jet Laag and Princess Mac has had 27 starts for two wins and seven placings for about $17,000 in stakes and Barnes is confident he has more wins left in him. My Koda Kasper is likely to line up in Launceston on Sunday night. PETER STAPLES

The Justin Campbell stable has been spending plenty of time in the harness racing winners’ circle of late, but his latest victory was arguably more special than most. Really Fayfay produced a courageous effort to lead throughout the Hygain Release for fillies and mares over 1609 metres at Hobart last night. The five-year-old was given no peace for the first 400 metres when attacked for the lead by Sweet Pea Jasper, which was eventually eased to take a sit. The win was made special because it was a family affair, with the daughter of Jr Mint bred by Campbell’s parents Anne and Malcom Campbell and owned by them in partnership with the trainer. It was the Really Fayfay’s first start for almost three months and Campbell was worried she might “knock up” owing to her being taken on early in the race, but she refused to wilt over the concluding stages. Really Feyfey held a clear margin over Fuscienne on the line with Really Fiesty running on well for third ahead of the well backed Days Like This that faced the breeze for the last lap. Listen to what trainer Justin Campbell had to say about Really Feyfey’s first-up win. PETER STAPLES

Colebrook harness racing trainer Paul Medhurst described Bona Fide Hustler as a “bargain Buy” after he notched his fifth win for connections in Hobart tonight. Bona Fide Hustler was purchased by Medhurst for $14,000 from Victorian interests about two years ago, and since arriving in Tasmania, the son of Red River Hanover has amassed about $35,000 in stakes. The six-year-old’s racing pattern these days is to drop back early and come with a barnstorming finish and that’s exactly what played out during his latest victory. With talented novice driver Samantha Freeman in the cart, Bona Fide Hustler was eased away from barrier seven as Freeman settled him in the running line towards the rear of the field. Frankie Falzoni forged his way to the lead, with the favourite Rusty Red Comet facing the breeze and travelling comfortably at the bell. With Freeman making her move at the 600-metre mark, Bona Fide Hustler quickly ranged up to the front runner. Finishing strongly along the home straight, the gelding rattled home to defeat Rusty Red Comet, with Frankie Falzoni hanging on for third. Bona Fide Hustler paid $16.90 on the Tote, but he was backed in to start at $13 with Tattsbet fixed odds. Listen to what trainer Paul Medhurst and driver Samantha Freeman had to say about Bona Fide Hustler’s latest win. PETER STAPLES

Harness racing trainer-driver Nathan Ford says Original Art has the potential to win more races following his last-stride victory in Hobart last Sunday night. Original Art arrived in Ford’s Brighton stable about four weeks ago with modest form to his credit. The son of Art Mark took a step towards changing that with his latest performance. With Faithful Jet leading from the pole and the favourite Rusty Red Comet working in the breeze, Original Art enjoyed the run of the race behind the pacemaker. When the favourite shifted up the track on the home turn, Ford quickly eased Original Art off the pegs before the gelding powered through the gap and set sail after the front runner. Original Art hit the line with a neck to spare over Faithful Jet, with Vander Jenkins the same margin away third. The winner rated 2.02.8 for the 2090 metres, with the last half in 58.9 seconds. “I am very happy with this horse tonight because he really wanted to find the line,” Ford said. “The owners came to me early last month and asked if I would take him on and I think he has the potential to win a few. “I changed a bit of gear with him and we took him to Launceston last week, but it looked as if he didn’t really try a lot. So I changed some more gear and tonight I thought he travelled a lot better and finished the race off well.” PETER STAPLES

A decision by harness racing trainer Melissa Maine to book claiming driver Matthew Howlett to partner her five-year-old Notimetothink in Hobart last night paid big dividends. Howlett urged Notimetothink from the gates to eventually find the lead from barrier two and then the talented young reinsman rated the son of Metropolitan superbly to score by nine metres from Deejay Bromac, with Bone Fide Hustler a neck away third. It made it back-to-back wins for Notimetothink which delivered a similar performance at his previous start and it was a race-to-race double for Howlett, who also guided Frankie Falzoni to victory in the opening race on the seven-event card. Punters were relentless in their pursuit to back Notimetothink, forcing his price in from $2.50 to start $1.80 favourite. Notimetothink arrived in Maine’s stables at Latrobe about seven weeks ago and this was only his second start for the talented mentor, whose partner is star reinsman Gareth Rattray. Putting Howlett on with a novice driver claim enabled the gelding to line up in another C1 and another good draw also played into their hands. The old trainer’s adage of keeping themselves in the best company and their horse in the worst was definitely played out with Notimetothink at his past two starts. The trick for Maine will be to find a C2 that doesn’t boast too many entries that have above average ability. Notimetothink had won once and been placed from 19 starts before joining Maine’s stable, so he is obviously settled in his new environment. Maine and Rattray have been developing their property at Latrobe, about 10 minutes East of Devonport and once finished it should be one of the best in the region. PETER STAPLES

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