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The Rattray name is synonymous with Tasmanian harness racing and rarely a meeting passes without a member of the clan training or driving a winner. Most of the domination comes from trainer Barrie and two of his sons Gareth and Todd, but there is little doubt the talent doesn’t stop there. Wade Rattray has been working his way through the driving ranks earning his stripes bit by bit, and last night at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston, he delivered a superb drive to secure victory with his grandparents’ - Wayne and Gaye Rattray - pacer Karalta Dazzler. Wade, who is the son of talented trainer Kent Rattray, had Karalta Dazzler settled the one-one and waited until the right moment to make his move at the 600-metre peg of the Sunrise Bakery Stakes. View Street led into the home straight, but when Rattray released the reins, Karalta Dazzler sprinted past the leader and safely held out a challenge from Helen Wheels to record an impressive win. Karalta Dazzler registered his seventh win from 51 starts, but he also has amassed 13 placings which have helped grow his earnings beyond $50,000. PETER STAPLES

Finding suitable races for talented eight-year-old pacer Saab Quality is no easy task for his trainer Marc Butler but he found an ideal event for the gelding at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston tonight. Saab Quality was backed in to start the $2.60 favourite in the Chartley Estate Claimer over 2200 metres and he never let his supporters down by powering home to score an effortless win. With Mark Yole in the cart, Saab Quality stepped well from the inside if the second row but the driver snagged him back and eventually eased into the one-out line before sending him around the field to face the breeze Livin It Lovin It just over a lap from home. That pair settled down to a two-horse war from the home turn but when Yole called on Saab Quality for the supreme effort he forged clear and went on to score comfortably from the fast-finishing Family Guy with Livin It Lovin It third. "I've been struggling to find suitable races for him and that's why he hasn't raced for about a month," Butler said. "He is racing as well as ever and he is very suited to these claimers but sometimes they (races) don't stand up." "But there is another mobile claimer here in Launceston in a fortnight so that's where he'll race next," Butler said. This was Saab Quality's sixth win for the season but he also has notched four minor placings from 12 starts. Saab Quality is well travelled having spent seven months racing in Victoria during the 2013-14 season that produced five wins and multiple minor placings. He was claimed by Jamie Cockshutt and Barry Cooper in a claimer at Maryborough at the end of that Victorian campaign after which he returned to Tasmania and has been very consistent in Butler's care. Peter Staples

Latrobe harness racing trainer Melissa Maine has enjoyed a lot of success in recent timed and that continued in the opening race at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston tonight. Young Bruiser, a horse that only arrived in Maine's stale three weeks ago, gained a needle-eye opening about 80 metres from home to get up in the past few strides to defeat race leader and favourite Barooga Minnie ($1.70) in a nail-biting finish. The Cardmaster Hanover three-year-old gelding was well away from the inside of the second row and driver Gareth Rattray had the gelding travelling sweetly on the back of the favourite that led from the pole position. It looked for certain that Young Bruiser would fail to get clear in the home straight but when the leader shifted up the track under pressure in the closing stages Rattray sooled his charge through the gap. "I was happy to be where we were behind the favourite and to be honest I would have been happy had he been able to run a place," Rattray said. "He was travelling keenly and he surprised me a bit the way he travelled in the race and when the gap came he really dashed up nice and hit the line strong." "On that run you would have to say he has improvement in him so I think his future looks bright," Rattray said. Young Bruiser was backed late in betting firming from $9 to $6.50 on fixed odds with Tattsbet and he also shortened considerably on the Tote into $7.80 while the favourite tumbled in from $2.10 just prior to race start time into $1.70. The winner ran the 2200 metres in 2.48.7 and recorded a mile rate of 2.03.1. Peter Staples

Prominent harness racing breeders Lyndon and Gail Menegon will be hoping their recent success with a galloper Smoke ' Whisky will carry over to Launceston tonight. Bred by the Menegon, Isundula Artist is chasing his first win for the season. The son of Tiz A Masterpiece will line up in the opening race on the eight-event card in what appears to be a winnable assignment for the Barrie Rattray-trained gelding. Starting from barrier three with Todd Rattray in the sulky, the three-year-old gets his chance to return to the winners' circle. Isundula Artist registered his sole win in Hobart almost a year ago, when he showed good gate speed to lead throughout from the pole. His main dangers are pole marker Barooga Minnie, along with Cemento Rapido from barrier two and Acey Boy from gate nine. PETER STAPLES

Riverside harness racing trainer Chester Bullock doesn't often ignore advice of co-owners of his six-year-old Cardinal Art but he was glad he did in Launceston on Sunday night. Bullock said his partners in the horse weren't keen when he advised them he wanted to apply pull-down blinds to the gear of Cardinal Art but he put them on anyway and they proved the desired result. Cardinal Art settled last in the Longford Equine Clinic Stakes (2200m) before being sent three-wide around the field at the bell. When driver Ricky Duggan edged close to the leader 400 metres from home he released the blinds. The gelded son of Modern Art bounded clear and went on to defeat Butch And Clyde by over seven metres with I've Got Oomph just over a metre astern. "Ricky (Duggan) said the new gear did the trick - when he pulled the blinds down the horse just took off," Bullock said. "It was like he found another gear and why that happens I don't know - maybe it gives them an adrenalin rush," he said. Cardinal Art recorded a mile rate of 2.03.2. Bullock says he always holds off using the pull-down blinds until horses are mature. Cardinal Art has won five times but he also has notched 18 minor placings to easily pay his way. Peter Staples

THE win of debutante two-year-old pacer Ryley Major at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night came as no surprise to his harness racing owner-trainer Rohan Hillier. Ryley Major delivered a very impressive performance at his first race start to score almost three metres from his stablemate Soho Shanghai with Spot Eight 20 metres astern in the $10,000 Tasmanian Yearling Sale Classic. Ryley Major is the first foal of Hiller's former star two and three-year-old filly Shez Ryleymak that went on to win 23 races and almost $300,000 in prize money including a Tasmanian Oaks and a $100,000 Group 1 Vicbred 2YO fillies final Classic. Shez Ryleymak also was named Tasmanian horse of the year at two and three years of age. "This win certainly didn't surprise me because he's so well bred and I would have been disappointed had he turned out to be no good," Hillier said. The gelding by Art Major recorded a mile rate of 1.59.4 and he ran home his last 800 metres in a slick 59.5 seconds which was what the trainer was expecting. Ryley Major is being aimed at the $20,000 2YO Sweepstakes series of which the final will be held in Hobart on May 17 and he will then target the Dandy Patch (stallion stakes) in July. Hillier also has an opinion of the runner-up. Soho Shanghai is also a nice horse but he's more of a stayer and doesn't have the speed of Ryley Major," he said.   Peter Staples  

Well bred two-year-old pacer Hillview Jake gave New Norfolk harness racing trainer Paul Hill successive wins in the Island Block & Paving Golden Slipper (1680m) when he led throughout to take out the prestigious juvenile event at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston tonight. With champion Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang in the Sulky, Hillview Jake ($3.50) showed good early speed to lead from gate three after a stoush with the odds-on favourite Soho Shanghai ($1.50) and they cleared out from the rest nearing the home turn the last time. The son of Cardmaster Hanover was always travelling like the winner and had no trouble holding the favourite at bay all the way up the home straight. The mile rate for the 1680 metres was a  good 2:00.1 Hill won the race last year with Jerrys Jet that he says is the best two-year-old he has ever trained. "Hillview Jake is not as good as Jerrys Jet was at this stage of his racing career but he's the next best I've ever trained," Hill said. "His work through the week was outstanding and I told Gavin (Lang) that if he led tonight they wouldn't beat him and that's how it panned out," he said. Lang was upbeat about the two-year-old's future. "He is quite a big horse that did what he had to do to win tonight," Lang said. "I had to burn him up early to lead but he came back to me quickly and was very strong on the line so I'd say he has a future," he said. Peter Staples    

Well bred harness racing four-year-old pacer Vande Velde tuned up for the $30,000 Raider Stakes with a last-stride win in the North Eastern Pacing Club Cup over 2698 metres at The Tote Racing Centre in Launceston tonight. The four-year-old gelding produced a powerful finishing burst to grab victory in the shadows of the post, scoring by a short half-head from Something Eyre with Resurgent Spirit a game third after facing the breeze for most of the race. Vande Velde had not won since last November when successful in a C4-C5 event in Launceston over 2200m. The gelded son of Four Starzzz Shark-Good Gracious promised a lot as a young horse but fierce racing habits and an unpredictable temperament has prevented the gelding from realising his full potential. But Salter is hoping the four-year-old can deliver in the Raider Stakes later this month and finally live up to the early expectations. "We all thought this horse was going to be special at an early age but he had some bad habits and we had to try and curb his bad manners and thankfully he has finally started to act maturely," Salter said.   "I can do a lot more with him these days and while he hadn't won for a while he has been racing well and this win will have him just where ne needs to be heading into the Raider Stakes," he said.   Heats of the Raider Stakes will be held at Devonport next Monday night with the final on April 26.   Peter Staples    

Victorian harness racing raider Rule Like A King made a one-act affair of the $40,000 Group Three Lees Orchards Easter Cup in Launceston last night. Rule Like A King was having only his second start since a 16-month injury enforced lay-off, but delivered one of the most emphatic wins in the modern day history of the feature. With ace Tasmanian reinsman Rohan Hillier in the sulky, the son of Mach Three stepped brilliantly to lead from the front line, lead and after setting consistent sectionals, he burst clear to score by almost 22 metres from local outsider The Majority ($34). Fellow interstate invader Outrageous El ($4.50) was two metres away third. Rule Like A King was listed as being trained by Hillier, but he took no credit for the gelding’s Cup preparation, preferring to relay that honour to his Victorian trainer, Dean Braun. “The horse came to me a couple of days before his Easter Cup heat last week, so I really can't take credit for training the horse,” Hillier said. “But I will celebrate it as my first winning drive in an Easter Cup. “It’s an honour to be given the responsibility of caring for a horse for such a prestigious race and we delivered the desired result. “I’ll be taking the Cup on a pub crawl tomorrow and probably end up drinking bubbly from it at the Devonport gallops tomorrow.” Rule Like A King was diagnosed with a bone chip in a coffin bone after finishing unplaced at Melton in September 2013. Braun gave the gelding plenty of time to recover and is confident he can win more feature races. “I thought the horse did a good job in his Easter Cup heat and tonight I think he showed that he is an above average horse,” Braun said. “We targeted the Easter Cup as a first-up assignment for him and he hasn't let us down.” Rule Like A King rated 2.01.3 for the 2698-metre trip, with the last half covered in 59 seconds. Braun is undecided about whether to return Rule Like A King to Victoria or leave him Tassie for some free-for-all racing to get him even more conditioned before an assault on a couple of feature races in his home state. PETER STAPLES

There is nothing better for a trainer or driver in harness racing to have a well laid out plan realised, especially if it is a feature race. That's how it panned out for trainer Paul Hill and driver Ricky Duggan who teamed up to win the $10,000 Launceston Pacing Club's Belmont event with smart two-year-old filly Chica Bella. "On paper we thought she could lead from the pole, get away with some soft sectionals midrace and then sprint home," Duggan said. "That's exactly how it panned out and the filly did exactly what we thought she was capable of doing," he said. In a small field of six Chica Bella had no trouble in retaining the lead from the inside spot after a short stoush with Twentythreered that ended up facing the breeze with the well-backed first starter Guesstamate trailing the leader with Scorchin Safari in the one-out-one-back position. When Twentythreered dropped off turning for home Duggan called on Chica Bella to sprint and she delivered the goods to score by 1.3 metres from Guesstamate that ran home along the rails with Scorchin Safari over three metres away third. Chica Bella is owned by the trainer's wife Julie Hill who bred the filly and races her with her brother-in-law Robert Hill and step-son Scott Hill. The trainer says the daughter of Cardmaster Hanover showed ability from day one. "She has been a nice, easy going filly from the outset and has never missed a beat since she's been in work," Hill said. "Other than stepping out of her gear for a few strides when off the second line on debut she has been faultless." "We targeted the Launceston Belmont and now that she has learned how to win she will be competitive when we step her out in a heat of the Sweepstakes in Hobart next month," Hill said. Peter Staples

Star Tasmanian harness racing participant Gareth Rattray reached a great milestone in Launceston last night where he notched his 1000th win. Rattray ended the program with a double to expand to take his season total to 59 wins. It was Holme On The Bayou which provided Rattray with the magical milestone. Reaching such a mark at the age of 29 is quite a remarkable feat and it is clear Rattray is already is one of the greatest Tasmanian reinsmen. Last December, Queenslander Peter McMullen became the youngest Australian driver to record 1000 wins when successful behind Ezi Days at Albion Park. McMullen was 23 years, four months, and 18 days old. Popular reinswoman Amanda Turnbull set the previous mark when she partnered Forever Texas to glory at Peak Hill last June. Turnbull was 24 years and 4 months, which bettered Morgan Woodley 24 years and eight months. Others to reach 1000 wins at a young age include Luke McCarthy (25 years, one month and two days), Kerryn Manning (25 years, eight months and seven days), Gary Hall junior (26 years, seven months and 17 days) and Greg Sugars (26 years, eight months and seven days). As for Rattray, he is just the fifth Tasmanian to achieve the feat – the others being is father Barrie Rattray (1567 wins), Neville Webberley (1369), Ricky Duggan (1332) and the late Darrel Alexander (1315). Rattray is on target to win his 10th consecutive drivers’ premiership given he is 25 clear of his nearest rival Ricky Duggan. Rattray, twin to Inter Dominion winning horseman James, began driving in 2001, and after winning his first driver’s premiership in 2005/06, has dominated the state’s driving ranks. If he wins this season’s drivers’ title he will be only three premierships behind the great Jack Stamford. Gareth’s father Barrie won 11, while Neville Webberley and Bert Lewis each won seven. Along the way Rattray has represented Tasmania on numerous occasions, winning the Australasian Young Driver’s Championship twice. He also represented Australia at the World Driving Championships in Europe in 2009. Rattray is no stranger to winning feature races with the following just a few of his major successes:  •Tasmania Cup 2012 (Motu Crusader) and 2013 (Motu Crusader). •Tasmanian Derby 2015 (Mister Lennox). •Hobart Pacing Cup 2005 (The Grouse), 2009 (Yakuza), 2013 (Benediction) and 2014 (Spot Nine). •Evicus Stakes (2YO fillies) 2008 (Karalta Crown) and 2010 (Benediction). •Dandy Patch (2YO colts and geldings) 2008 (Cody Maverick). •Globe Derby (3YO) Stakes 2011 (Beautide). •Raider Stakes (4YO) 2010 (Babyitsu). •Granny Smith (4YO Mares) 2007 (Death and Taxes). •2YO Sweepstakes 2010  (Benediction), 2011 (Cloudy Delight) and 2012 (Pachacuti). PETER STAPLES

Twin brothers Rohan and Troy Hillier have always been competitive, especially when it comes to harness racing. So when Troy took over the training of Robyn Scherbotsky from his brother a short time ago it was going to come as no surprise if Troy fired a barb at Rohan about how he had improved the mare if she won a race. In Launceston last Sunday night Robyn Scherbotsky led throughout for an effortless win in a heat of the Harry Holgate Memorial over 2200 metres. With Troy in the sulky, the four-year-old had no trouble finding the front and was never seriously challenged on her way to a seven-metre victory from Frankie Falzoni and Ive Got Oomph. “She’s definitely improved since I took over the training of this mare,” Troy said with a wry smile. “She did it well and a front row draw would make her hard to beat in the Final.” Robyn Scherbotsky has been officially prepared by Troy for five starts, which have netted two wins, two seconds and a fifth. However, this latest win has caused a bit of friction in the family according to Rohan. “I don’t mind Troy having a bit of fun with his comments, but he’s been down at Bicheno sun bathing this past week, so I need a bit of credit for the mare’s latest win,” Rohan said. Robyn Scherbotsky was bred by the Nevele R Stud in New Zealand being by McArdle from the Holmes Hanover mare Reincarnation. She began her career in May 2013, but didn’t notch her first win until April this year at start number 11. The other Harry Holgate Memorial heat was won by the Barrie Rattray-trained Who Is Hardeen, which also led throughout. Who is Hardeen is a promising type which has seven wins and nine placings from 28 starts. PETER STAPLES

Tasmanian harness racing trainer Steve Lukac admitted to being surprised after Pockets of Courage won the first two-year-old race of the season in Launceston last night. Lukac was not surprised the gelding won, but taken aback at the odds offered about the youngster in the $10,000 Keith Stanley Debutante Stakes over 1680 metres. Pockets of Courage paid $11.80 on the Tote and much the same was offered by the fixed odds corporate bookies. “He finished first and second in the two trials and I was very confident he would run well, so yes, I was surprised he paid so well,” Lukac said. “His biggest asset is that he is a beautifully-gaited horse with good manners. There’s a lot of upside to this horse.” Lukac admitted the win also had a lot to do with a very good drive from Nathan Ford. Pockets of Courage was well away from the mobile, but despite beginning from the pole, he couldn’t match the speed of Goggo Gee Gee, which landed in front, with the favourite Sultan Fella facing the breeze. Ford was content to settle the son of Courage Under Fire and Rangiann behind the leader where he stayed until the home turn. When Ford called on Pockets of Courage for the supreme effort in the home straight the freshman responded magnificently to score by two metres from rank outsider Origin Cronk, with another outsider, Chica Bella, flashing home to be four-and-a-half metres away third. PETER STAPLES

Well-bred harness racing filly Fuscienne has a lot to live up to if she is to follow in the footsteps of some of her better performed relations, but in Launceston last night, she took the first step towards living up to expectations. Fuscienne won at her fourth outing, and while her trainer Barrie Rattray is not expecting her to achieve the feats of her half-brother Beautide, he does hope she can reach the heights of some of her other relations. By Major In Art, 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). Fuscienne’s dam Gorse Bush boasts a perfect record from nine foals. Fuscienne performed well at her first three starts and had improved at each outing, but courtesy of a sensational drive from Todd Rattray, she was never going to be beaten. The three-year-old started at $1.70, which was risky given she was drawn in barrier 10, but after the field had travelled 50 metres the risk factor had been removed. Rattray was able to guide Fuscienne into the coveted one-out, one-back position where he stayed until 400 metres from home when he eased her three-wide and cruised to a four-metre win from Origin Billy, with the leader Lu Way Lord hanging on for third, a long neck away. “This filly is making good progress,” Todd said. “She’s by Major In Art and his progeny seem to get better with age, so we would expect her to improve with racing.” PETER STAPLES

Talented harness racing horseman Craig Hayes regards Mickwillrev one of the best he has in his stable, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, Hayes originally rejected the gelding when offered to him by prominent owner Mick Filleul. It was a great decision for Hayes to change his mind because Mickwillrev notched his 10th win when he powered his way to victory in the Northern Tasmanian Light Harness Association Cup in Launceston last Sunday night. With Hayes in the sulky, Mickwillrev showed brilliant early speed to lead and had no trouble staving off challengers in the home straight to score from Major Callum and Double Dee. Filleul bought the son of Live Or Die in Melbourne as a yearling, but it was always intended for him to race in Tasmania. “I paid $20,000 for him after David Miles picked him out for me at the Melbourne sale,” Filleul said. “When I rang Craig to tell him that the horse was coming he said he didn’t have any room for him as his stable was full. “He agreed to take him for a few days while I found somewhere else to send him. “But the horse had only been there a day when Craig rang to say he would make room for the horse and he even asked to take a share in him because he reckoned he was the best horse I’d bought. “I ended up selling three more shares to friends and ended up with only one share for myself.” Filleul revealed Mickwillrev’s main mission this preparation is his home town Burnie Cup in January. “He needs to win one more race to qualify for a start in the Burnie Cup, but there’s a C4-C5 in a fortnight and if he draws well enough to lead he could be very hard to beat,” Filleul said. PETER STAPLES

THE harness racing connections of talented pacer Star Chamber had a change of luck in Launceston last Sunday night when the gelding scored an emphatic win in the Doug Martin Danbury Park Cup. It was arguably Star Chamber's best win since arriving in Tasmania just over a year ago and it made up in some way for the horse's disqualification from winning a race at the same venue in October. Star Chamber was first past the post in the Show Cup but was disqualified when stewards deemed the horse had gone inside the marker pegs during the race that also constituted a four-meeting suspension for the horse's trainer-driver Nathan Ford who appealed the severity but lost the appeal. But on Sunday night the state's top reinsman Gareth Rattray was given the re sponsibility in the sulky and he never let connections down. Rattray had Star Chamber was able to enjoy a charmed run in the one-out-one-back position and when Rattray eased his charge three-wide to make his move turning for homer the gelding let down brilliantly to go on and defeat race leader Truly Blissfull with Shanghai Knight running on well to grab third and only a head astern. "Nathan has done a wonderful job with this horse to get him as far as he has," said part-owner Bianca Heenan. Star Chamber had won two races when he arrived in Tasmania but this latest victory was his ninth and Ford has high hopes he can pick up at least one of the country Cup s around Christmas-New Year. Peter Staples

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