Day At The Track
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Talented Tasmanian harness racing trainer Kate McLeod regards her handy seven-year-old pacer These Days a wonder horse. These Days made it successive wins on the Launceston track when he powered home to win the Dakin Refrigerator Stakes over 2200 metres with Troy Hillier aboard. McLeod said the horse was lucky to be alive let alone scoring back-to-back wins. After the horse scored an impressive win in February he lost all form and the only thing the trainer can put it down to is a mystery illness. "We nearly lost him - he was sore everywhere and got to the point where he could hardly walk," McLeod said. "We didn't have him tested for it but I'm tipping it was Ross River virus." These Days recovered and while it has taken him a while to find his best form the gelding looks set to continue being competitive as he makes his way through the classes. Despite being impressive in winning at is previous outing from a second-row draw, These Days was opened at $7.50 with fixed odds operators which surprised McLeod. "He drew to lead (barrier four) and he's a much better horse in front so I was pleasantly surprised at his price." These Days, owned and raced by Dale and Susan Stacey, has had 29 starts for six wins and 12 minor placings form almost $40,000 in stakes. Peter Staples

Talented harness racing reinsman Troy Hillier had hoped to secure a cosy run in a race in Launceston last Sunday night that would have given his charge These Days every opportunity to emerge triumphant. These Days drew barrier eight which meant he started from the inside of the second row and even though he knew the horse that drew directly in front of him, Red Sun Bliss, had no genuine early speed he never expected to be shuffled back to near last and four-back the fence after the field had traveled 300 metres. These Days was still last leaving the back straight the last time with race leader Regal Idea travelling comfortably without having exhausted too much energy. But when Vander Jenkins eased out three-wide turning for home Hillier latched onto the back of that horse for a cart home. When Hillier eased These Days four-wide to challenge the six-year-old charged home and hit the line with a half-metre to spare over Vander Jenkins with Regal Idea a distant third. "At one stage I thought I might be in a bit of trouble because there was no way out and I really didn't want to ease right back to last," Hillier said. "But I was able to her hi off the fence turning for home and when he balanced up in the straight he worked home well." These Days is trained by Kate McLeod at Bridport and given how he gelding hit the line there should be more wins in store for the son of Blissfull Hall in the coming weeks. These Days has won five and been laced a dozen times from 28 starts for close to $33,000 in stakes. Peter Staples

Last season talented harness racing trainer Kate McLeod was confident her then nine-year-old Georgefromguam would knock up winning races but after four minor placings she was forced to send him to the paddock. But in Hobart last Sunday night Georgefromguam delivered the gods with an impressive al-the-way win at what was his first start for eight months. With Erin Hollaway in the sulky, Georgefromguam showed enough gate speed to cross and lead from barrier five and the driver proceeded to get away with a modest mid-quarter that enhanced the gelding's chances of securing the elusive win. Our Percius worked home well to finish second after trailing the leader throughout while Lu Way Lord made up good ground to finish third. "The hose has been dog since I've had him but he broke down three times with tendon issues before he arrived at my stables," McLeod said. "He went into this race a bit underdone because I have to be careful not to let him overdo it on the training track because of his issues but he found enough tonight to get a much deserved win," she said. Georgefromguam, previously trained in NSW by Larry Eastman, had not won since successful at Charlton in Victoria in May 2012. "I am confident this horse has plenty of improvement in him and it wouldn't surprise me if he rattled off a couple of wins in quick succession," McLeod said. Peter Staples

FORMER Victorian pacer Thai Champ could have a bright future in Tasmania according to his new trainer Kate McLeod who guided the four-year-old to an all-the-way win at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston tonight (Sunday). Thai Champ (Blissfull Hall-Thai Rose) began brilliantly from gate two and McLeod had no trouble in securing the lead while the Justin Campbell-trained Blitzemgamble crossed from gate six to face the breeze. When McLeod gave her charge more rein turning for home the gelding slipped clear and went on to defeat Blitzemgamble by 3.4 metres with Oliver's Mate only a head astern after working three-wide a lap from home. It was Thai Champ's third start and had given an indication that a win was not far away after finishing third on debut in Launceston before finishing second to Who Is Hardeen last Monday night in Devonport. McLeod said Thai Champ settled in well when he arrived at her Bridport stables about four months ago. "He did a good job at his first two starts so he deserved to get a win," McLeod said. "I think he is a progressive type and I'd say he has a bright future here in Tasmania." "The horse was bred by Frank Pullicino and he was sent to me because his wife Gaita is restricted to the number of horses she can train," the trainer-driver said. Thai Champ was unraced when he arrived at McLeod's stables. By Peter Staples

TASMANIAN harness racing horses have been making quite an impact interstate of late with Beautide leading the way with a strong push to gain a berth in the Group 1 Miracle Mile later this month. But another to make his mark in Melbourne is Hugo Play, formerly prepared by talented trainer Kate McLeod. Hugo Play has performed well at his first four starts in Victoria. He was placed second in an M0 at his first start at Tabcorp Park Melton in the care of McLeod before winning an M0 at his subsequent start. But the five-year-old gelding was transferred to the Lance Justice stable and at his second start for that trainer last Friday night he scored an impressive win after facing the breeze for most of the race. Hugo Play forged clear turning for home and held out all challengers over the concluding stages. The Bill and Tamra Fawdry-owned gelding clocked a personal best mile rate over the 2240-metre trip of 1.56.5. Another former Tasmanian Bettor Draw was a luckless fifth in the Nick Robin Classic (FFA) over 1609 metres at Menangle on Saturday night. Bettor Draw was sold to Queensland interests earlier this year and won three of his first seven starts for the new owners. He travelled to Menangle last Saturday night for the Robin Classic and while he would not have beaten the winner For A Reason, that clocked a mile rate of 1.49.4, he probably would have run second had a gap not closed on driver James Rattray about 100 metres from the finish line. Beautide and Bettor Draw will line up in the Newcastle Mile at Newcastle on Saturday night with Beautide drawing gate seven and Bettor Draw nine. If either emerges triumphant a berth in the Miracle Mile is guaranteed. By Peter Staples  

IT didn’t take long for talented Tasmanian harness racing trainer-driver Kate McLeod and her business partner Daniel Hill to get a return on their most recent investment. Rampling, a former Victorian pacer, was having his third start for McLeod when he delivered the goods in the Boags Premium Stakes over 2200 metres at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. McLeod and Hill purchased Rampling for only $1500 but they took a big punt as the gelding’s form was not encouraging, to say the least. “He’d only had three starts and hadn’t done much at all but he was being prepared by a hobby trainer who said he had just been playing around with him,” McLeod said. “I thought if that’s the case I might be able to improve him.” Rampling never disgraced himself at his Tasmania debut, finishing second to Miley Rose but he finished well back at his only other outing in a race won by Doyouseewhatisee. “He was still underdone last time but tonight he put it all together,” she said. This time McLeod decided to see what the gelding was made of, evidenced by her driving tactics. She sent Rampling out after the leader and favourite Springfield Tattoo 650 metres from home and 200 metres later Rampling was in front and going strong at the top of the home straight.  While he was starting to tire close to home he still held a comfortable margin on the line defeating Divas Delight and Cardinal Eddy with Springfield Tattoo fading to finish fourth.  McLeod found Rampling advertised on the Internet. Peter Staples  

Talented teenage reinsman Dylan Ford held on to win his first Novice Driver’s premiership despite failing to drive a winner at the last meeting of the season in Launceston last Sunday night. Dylan took a three-win lead over archrival and reigning novice driver title holder Todd Rattray into last Sunday night’s meeting. Rattray drove two winners (Blue Pointer and Hesione) to edge closer but Ford’s lead proved too great a margin to overcome. Both of Todd’s winners were trained by his father Barrie Rattray who secured the trainer’s title with 73 Tasmanian winners but he also won seven races interstate. Ford drove 32 winners for the season and that included a four-win haul in Hobart last Sunday week (August 18). The 17-year-old from Hobart has gone from strength to strength this year with various trainers keen to secure his services late in the season despite him having out-driven his claim. Ford, who turns 18 next month, has only been driving for just under two years and earlier this year became the fastest to outdrive his claim. The battle for the leading female driver award also went down to the wire with Kate McLeod emerging triumphant over Erin Hollaway who both drove a winner at last Sunday night’s meeting. McLeod took the title with 14 winners, two clear of Hollaway. Peter Staples

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