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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

THE optimistic people of this world have a way of putting a positive spin on even the most negatives situation and for harness racing breeders Lyndon and Gail Menegon that certainly was the case with a filly they took to the yearling sale four years ago. The Menegons offered a striking filly by J R Mint at the 2011 sale but she never drew a bid, much to the surprise of the filly's breeders. They took the filly home and decided to send her to a trainer for assessment. "We took her home from the sale thinking there must bee something wrong with her even though I was very confident there wasn't," Lyndon Menegon said. "A bit later on I asked trainer Grant Hodges to take her home and try her - and we haven't looked back since." In Launceston on Sunday night that now five-year-old mare El Jays Magic scored an emphatic win in the prestigious $10,000 Shirley Martin Mother of Pearl over 2200 metres. It was El Jay Magic's ninth win from 23 starts which is outstanding considering she never started racing until her late three-year-old season. She has also notched 10 minor placings, finishing out of the money only four times which includes one instance where she failed to finish. This latest win signaled her arrival as a serious contender for the state's best mares' race, the George Johnson, to be run in Hobart later this month. Hodges believes the mare's best is yet to come. "She is a strong and versatile mare that does extremely well for her size," Hodges said. "She is good when she leads but she also is a very capable sit and sprint horse." "When she's in front at home nothing else in the stable can get around her," he said. Peter Staples

When a harness racing trainer takes a horse to the races thinking it probably can’t win, and then when the same thought is reaffirmed during the race, it usually means the horse will be unplaced. But a horse named My Mate Tyson defied the rule to emerge triumphant in Launceston last Sunday night. Carrick trainer-driver Ross Freemen didn’t think My Mate Tyson was a winning chance in the Economy Warehouse Stakes over 2200 metres, primarily because of his back row draw and his recent efforts had been slightly below par. But the gelding surprised Freemen when he emerged from the pack in the home straight and powered home to score a last-stride win over Baldock, with Orial three metres away third. “I didn’t give him much of a chance before the race, and, from where he was turning for home, I thought he had no hope,” Freeman said. “He was making up good ground and with the leaders paddling a bit, but he rattled home the last 50 metres to get up.” My Mate Tyson was bred and is owned by Freeman in partnership with his wife Cheryl, with the son of Town Champion breaking his maiden status as his sixth start. PETER STAPLES

Burnie harness racing trainer Robert Gillies will target his home town cup with Willbe Doc following the gelding’s impressive win in Launceston last night. Returning from a short spell in the Mustad Australia Stakes over 1680 metres, and while almost friendless in the betting at $16, Willbe Doc powered home to defeat the leader Original Art and Notimetothink. Willbe Doc was well driven by Troy Hillier who sat back and waited until the right time to release the reins, with the gelding responded magnificently. Breaking an 11-month drought from the winners’ circle, the six-year-old rated 1:58.9, which pleased his trainer. “He’s gone really well tonight and that’s the first time he’s broken two minutes,” said Gillies, who part-owns the son of Peace Of Art. “He’s always been a consistent horse – not quite top class, but a good money-spinner. “He is a class four horse now and that qualifies him to run in the Burnie Cup which is a race I’ve always wanted to win.” Willbe Doc has recorded eight wins and 23 placings from his 49 starts, which is testament to his consistency. PETER STAPLES

PROMINENT Tasmanian harness trainer-driver Christian Salter will aim underrated pacer Aninchofhislife towards the Hobart Pacing Cup following the gelding’s impressive win in Launceston last night. Aninchofhislife still needs to improve his class rating to qualify for the Cup, but Salter is supremely confident the son of Red River Hanover is capable of reaching the goal. “This horse has been very consistent and has been a good money-spinner, so he deserves his chance at a feature race,” Salter said. “He still needs to win another race to qualify for the Hobart Cup, but I have no doubts he can win again and it will be sooner than later. “He’s been a consistent horse, but he also been a bit unlucky at times.” Aninchofhislife was urged to make the most of his pole draw and it was the Salter’s intent to go all out for the lead. “I’ve been handing up on him, but I thought if I led in this race he might get an easy time in front,” Salter explained. “There was no standout in the field – they were just an even lot. “He got an easy quarter, but when he needed to be strong he delivered and in the end it was quite a convincing win.” Aninchofhislife’s half-brother, Drifting West, ran second in the 2013 Hobart Cup. “Drifting West got better with age and it’s been much the same with this horse,” Salter said. By Red River Hanover from Ark Drifter, Aninchofhislife is owned by the trainer’s partner Sally McCoull. The six-year-old’s success was part of a double for Salter, who also scored with Miss Lively in the Roberts Equine Services Pace over 1680 metres. PETER STAPLES

A new chapter of one of the great Tasmanian harness racing stories was written in Launceston last night when Cranbre kept his unbeaten record intact at his third start. Cranbre didn’t start racing until four weeks ago in Launceston where he debuted in a three-year-old and upwards non-winners’ event over 2200 metres, in which he led throughout to score a convincing victory. A spate of injuries and other factors prevented the gelding from getting to the races, but in the care of underrated Scottsdale-based trainer Julie Johnson the son of Life Sign has gone ahead in leaps and bounds. At his second race start Cranbre came from beyond midfield to get up in the last few strides but during his latest win he had to do all the hard work early to get the desired result. Cranbre faced the breeze but made light of the task to score from Karalta Dazzler and Good Beginnings in a C2-C3 event over 2200 metres. Todd Rattray took the sit and it was the middle leg of a winning treble for last season’s premier novice reinsman. Rattray also scored with Kyleasha and Rykov Leis, which are both trainer by his father Barrie for whom he is number one stable driver. Rattray has been involved with Cranbre’s racing career since Johnson took him to Carrick for his first trial. “Cranbre arrived at my stables at the end of April and I started working him on May 1,” Johnson said. “He was progressing well, so I decided to take him to the Carrick trial. “I rang five drivers before he went for that first trial, but none of them were going to be available, so I still took him with the hope of getting someone on the day to guide him around. “As it turned out Todd didn’t have a drive so I asked him and after the horse won his trial Todd said he would drive him in a race. “He wasn’t available at the horse’s next start, but we managed to get Todd’s cousin Wade Rattray to drive him and he did a good job because he won again. “But I think this latest win was the horse’s best.” Cranbre is owned by the Johnson and her husband Daryl in partnership with the trainer’s best friend Jan Bolton. “My husband does a lot with the horse. He massages his back and legs every day, so I’m sure that is a factor in the horse staying sound,” the trainer said. It appears Cranbre just loves racing and Johnson says she has only ever had one other horse with Cranbre’s conviction. “I had a horse called Ray Duane that couldn’t get enough of racing. He had a great will to win and Cranbre is the same,” Johnson said.  Johnson is likely to send Cranbre around next in a C2-C3 over 2200m in Launceston in a fortnight. PETER STAPLES

PROMISING four-year-old pacer Major Callum will be aimed at some of the country cups around Christmas-New Year following his impressive win at his first attempt at a standing start in Launceston last night. Major Callum only qualified to run in stands last week, but he stepped cleanly from his front row draw and after trailing the leader and favourite Heza Prospect to the final turn, he powered home to score impressively from Heza Prospect and Mighty Jasper. The gelding’s trainer Juanita McKenzie has always believed Major Callum had untapped ability, but it has been his racing manners that so prevented him from realising his full potential. “He's a frustrating horse because he has ability but won't go to the line,” McKenzie said. “But now that he's shown he can handle standing starts, we’ll have a look at the country cups with him.” Driver Ricky Duggan has partnered Major Callum at all of his starts this season and believes he needs to change his ways. “The horse simply pulls up when he gets to the front,” Duggan said. “Some horses tend to do it more than others, but he does it more than any other horse I’ve driven. “He just puts the brakes on when left alone. You can flick him up but it makes no difference.” Connections are keen to pursue a path to the country cups now that he has won from a stand. “He baulked a bit when the tapes hit the ground next to him but then he stepped ok,” Duggan said. McKenzie said being competitive from standing starts is going to open up more options for Major Callum. PETER STAPLES

Cranbre might have started his harness racing career late in life, but the Julie Johnson-trained pacer has a top chance of extending his unbeaten record to three when he steps out at Launceston tonight. Cranbre had been prepared by two other trainers and suffered injuries which prevented him from racing as a youngster, but since landing in Johnson’s care the gelding has thrived and produced the goods on the track. His debut win in Launceston earlier this month was full of merit when leading throughout to win comfortably, while his second outing produced an even more impressive victory, coming from midfield in the one-out line to get up in the last few strides against decent opposition at the same venue two weeks later. This time around the son of Life Sign has drawn favourably in gate four, with his main danger Karalta Dazzler directly on his outside. Karalta Dazzler has good early speed and is likely to cross to the front, meaning Cranbre’s driver, Todd Rattray, will have to make a decision whether to go forward and face the breeze or slide back through the field in search a handy position in the running line. If there is to be a surprise result it could come from Jodila, which has drawn the outside of the second row. Jodila returned from a two-month break with an eye-catching fifth behind Play Apple Tree in Hobart last Sunday night when only beaten just over five metres. PETER STAPLES

Talented harness racing trainer Brooke Hammond had almost conceded that her mare Sum One might never break her maiden status but the six-year-old finally delivered the goods in Launceston last night. Sum One made the most of her pole position to lead and once in front her driver Troy Hillier ensured a solid tempo but at the same time sneaking a modest second quarter. Sum One scored comfortably from Busted that faced the breeze for the last 1200m with Supa Sunshine third. Hammond has had Sum One in her care for about two years and her only racing was at her previous outing in Launceston when third to Play Apple Tree and Robyn Scherbotsky in a C0-C1 over 2200 metres. “Her last start was good and had either Play Apple Tree or Robyn Scherbotsky been in this race tonight they would have been $1.10 chances,” Hammond said. “I’d almost given up on this mare but she finally did the job.” The mare had six starts last season for no result so this was most likely going to be her last preparation. Sum One is well bred, being by Blissfull Hal from Dreams of Eedee by The Unicorn that was well performed on the racetrack. The Unicorn won a Mildura Pacing Cup with the late Vin Knight aboard and he ran fourth in the 1992 Australian Pacing Championship behind three star performers in Franco Tiger, Westburn Grant and Halyer. At stud The Unicorn produced 543 live foals for 171 winners of 272 that started in a race. Their combined stake earnings is just over $6.5million with the average earned by each starter $24,005. PETER STAPLES

Although second past the post, Spot Nine was declared the winner of the Show Cup at Launceston last Sunday night. Star Chamber, which was driven along the inside turning for home, scored by three-and-a-half metres from Spot Nine and Falco Peregrinus. But a stewards' inquiry revealed Nathan Ford had gone inside the pegs with Star Chamber and was subsequently disqualified for gaining an unfair advantage. The placings were amended with Spot Nine declared the winner from Falco Peregrinus and Tessanzo. It was a disaster race for punters with the favourite Riverboat Jasper ($2.90) tailed out to last after making a mess of the standing start, while the well-backed Divas Delight ($3.90) was unable to make any impression from his 10-metre handicap. Spot Nine is trained at Seven Mile Beach by Zeke Slater and driven by Christian Salter, who was also successful with Aninchofhislife, which he also trains. PETER STAPLES

At the end of June dual Halwes Medalist Gareth Rattray held a slender three point lead over Ricky Duggan in the race for the 2014 Halwes Medal. At the end of June, Rattray had 58 votes from Duggan on 55 with Todd Rattray in third place on 45. The top ten also includes Barrie Rattray (34), Nathan Ford (32), Rohan Hillier (27), Juanita McKenzie (23), Dylan Ford (21), Craig Hayes (21) and Zeke Slater (21). As Gareth Rattray has been sidelined for the past six weeks owing to a necessity to have major surgery, the voting for the Halwes Medal promises to be very interesting up to the final meeting of the season last Sunday night. The Halwes Medal is sponsored by BOTRA Tasmania and Jamie Cockshutt. The award recognises excellence in horsemanship and operates under the following format: A panel of nine members is rostered to vote throughout the harness season (September 2013 to August 2014). Panel members are Jamie Cockshutt, Peter Cooley, Greg Mansfield, Kevin Neilson, Matt Robertson, David Sales, Damien Seaton, Peter Staples and Shane Yates. A panel member votes on each meeting and has 10 votes to allocate. The 10 votes can be allocated at the panel member's discretion with a maximum of five votes for any trainer or driver. Only Tasmanian registered licensed persons are eligible to receive votes.   Halwes Medal votes for the last 13 meetings (July and August) will be announced at the Tasracing Harness Awards Dinner at Country Club Tasmania, Launceston on Saturday 13 September.   The BOTRA Young Achiever Award is run in conjunction with the Halwes Medal and is restricted to licensed persons aged 24 or under as at 1 September 2013. Dylan Ford leads with 21 votes followed by Nick Brockman (19), Duncan Dornauf (11), Lyarna Graham (11), Matthew Howlett (9), Tim Yole (6) and Brady Woods (5).   Halwes Medal votes to 1 July 2014 are: 58 Gareth Rattray 55 Ricky Duggan 45 Todd Rattray 34 Barrie Rattray 32 Nathan Ford 27 Rohan Hillier 23 Juanita McKenzie 21 Dylan Ford 21 Craig Hayes 21 Zeke Slater 19 Nick Brockman 16 Adrian Duggan, Dick Eaves, Grant Hodges 15 Troy Hillier 13 Steve Davis, Andrew Rawlings 11 Duncan Dornauf, Lyarna Graham 10 Paul Ashwood, John Walters, 9 Matthew Howlett 8 Kate Macleod 7 Justin Campbell, Erin Hollaway, Heath Szczypka, 6 Adrian Collins, Rohan Hadley, Brooke Hammond, Tim Maine, Zane Medhurst, Tim Yole 5 Chris Howlett, David Mace, Kent Rattray, Christian Salter, Andrew Thornton, Brady Woods, Ben Yole, Mark Yole 4 Rod Ashwood, Kevin Denny, Matthew Dwyer, Natalee Emery, Sam Freeman, Brian Mackrill, Paul Medhurst, Ben Rossendell, Wayne Watson, Roger Whitmore, Paul Williams 3 Shelley Barnes, Eric Blomquist, Mark Butler, Taylor Ford, Paul Hill, Braden Howlett, James Johnson, Geoff Smith, Keith Toulmin, Campbell Watt, Scott Woods 2 James Austin, Daryl Bates, Roger Brown, Rod Burgess, John Castles, Mike Castles, Michael Dornauf, Kevin Gillies, Kristy Grant, Eric Jacobson, Steve Lukac, Melissa Maine, Brent Parish, Greg Scott, Damien Spring, Chris Viney, Bradley Walters, Allister Woods, Clinton Woods, Robert Woods 1 Jim Allen, Andrew Arnott, Chris Aylett, Phillip Aylett, Barry Close, Bill Dornauf, Leigh Dornauf, David Dwyer, Robert Gillie, Max Hadley, Cleone Hill, Justin Howlett, Max Jacobson, Brett Jaffray, Geoff Madden, Clayton Miller, Ben Parker, Nick Perotti, Phil Rawnsley, Brian Stanley, Ian Swain, Lindsay Tatnell. Peter Staples

Changeover 1:53.4 ($2,404,473), New Zealand's richest ever harness racing stallion and the winner of 19 Group and Listed races, has left some smart two-year-olds from his first crop in both NZ and Australia. In his first season he produced 151 foals in New Zealand and he has been represented by 43 qualifiers and 28 starters from that crop, 13 of which won including Controversial (1:57.1), the winner of three races including a Queensland Breeders Crown heat, fellow Breeders Crown finalist Beaudiene Bill, Prince Of Pops 1:59.8 (3 wins), Change The Rulz, an Addington winner in 1:58.9; promising Victorian winner Big Spending Telf; and Cambio, who won the  Listed Yearling Sales Series NHT Final at its only start at Auckland. Another of Changeover's first NZ crop in Nuala, who is a filly from the Live Or Die mare Forever Blue, established an all aged track record at Oamaru, rating 1:58.8 for 2000 metres. At her first start on Australian soil Nuala blitzed her rivals at Pinjarra (WA), running her last 800 in 56.4 seconds. The Paul Kerr trained Oneover competed with real distinction in several of NZ's feature juvenile events and was placed third behind Alta Orlando in the Group 2 NZ Welcome Stakes. He looks like he will develop into a very nice three-year-old. Changeover was clearly NZ's leading first-season sire based on individual winners and stakemoney and he was the third leading overall sire of two-year-old winners. In Australia, Changeover produced 29 foals from his first crop racing as two-year-olds and he has achieved an excellent 44 percent winners-to-starters percentage ratio. With a 13.8 percent winners-to-foals strike rate, Changeover is second only to Sportswriter (19.4%) on the first-season percentage sires' list. Of nine foals to have raced, four have won and another two have been placed including the Vicbred Super Series and Home Grown Classic heat winner Licinia; the Albion Park winner Chang; Grace Campbell, a Launceston winner and runner-up in the Group 3 Evicus; and Glenferrie Boss, a 1:59.1 Victorian winner. Changeover, a son of champion sire In The Pocket and the Vance Hanover mare Chaangerr and from the maternal family of Chokin, Fly Like An Eagle and co, is lining up for his fifth season at Nevele R Stud, Christchurch. Courtesy Of Nevele R Stud

ONE of last season's better performed three-year-old pacers Riverboat Jasper showed he could be back on track when he resumed from a lengthy spell with a solid win in a C5-C8 over 2200 metres in Launceston on Tuesday. Riverboat Jasper was struck with a mystery illness after he returned to Tasmania from an interstate campaign in Victoria earlier this year. The Wayne Campbell-trained four-year-old had not been to the races since late April but delivered a stellar performance to score comfortably from Divas Delight and Melolyn in what was a hot field of C5 or better pacers. "The horse got crook after returning from Victoria so we had to give him a decent break," Campbell said. "We gave him a couple of months off and he has been back in work about 11 weeks." "This was a good first-up effort but I haven' got any fixed plans for him." "I'm a bit like a football coach - I'm taking it one game at a time," he said. Riverboat Jasper was great last season winning eight and placing four times from 13 starts. This latest win was his second this season but he also has notched five minor placings from his nine starts. Peter Staples

TALENTED harness racing trainer-driver Justin Campbell prepared his first treble on the Launceston circuit in 12 years when he dominated at yesterday's rescheduled Launceston Pacing Club meeting. Campbell won aboard John Snow and Damitsam that he also trains and he opened his account for the day aboard the Steve Lucak-trained Stoner Rainbow. It was almost 12 years to the day that Campbell prepared his first treble in Launceston with Really Mal, Itsalongwalkhome and General Kiev. However that trio gave Campbell a record that might never be equaled. The same three horses won at three consecutive meetings in Tasmania in August 2002. "Itsalongwalkhome, Really Mal and General Kiev won at two consecutive meetings at the old Hobart Showground and again at Mowbray so it was a fairly unique effort,' Campbell said. Campbell's treble on Tuesday also had an omen-like tint to it as one of the races he won 12 years ago was the Gareth Rattray Stakes and yesterday Damitsam won the Get Well Gareth Rattray Stakes. "Had we had the information before the meeting started we might have had a little something all-up especially on the Gareth Rattray Stakes won by Damitsam," Campbell said. Campbell said the circumstances surrounding yesterday's meeting - originally scheduled for last Sunday but postponed because of the state of the track caused by heavy rain, meant his horses hadn't been hoppled for eight days. "A lot can be said for not hoppling the horses for eight days because they all ran really well," he said. Campbell was full of praise for his two-year-old John Snow, named after a character from the pay TV show Game of Thrones, but he was particularly impressed with the win of Damitsam. "I just love this horse (Damitsam) because he tries his guts out every time he comes to the races," he said. Peter Staples

Well bred three-year-old pacer Stonor Rainbow delivered a solid performance to score a narrow but decisive win in the Impress Print Pace at the harness racing meeting at the Tote Racing Centre in Launceston today. With Justin Campbell in the cart, Stonor Rainbow showed his customary early speed to easily cross to the front from gate four and proceeded to set a solid tempo with Vincent Can Go on his outside and the well-backed Cardinal Spec settled well back in the field from his wide second-row draw. When the back markers started their moves Campbell lifted the tempo to ensure his followers would have to work to make ground and the tactic worked perfectly. The Steve Lukac-trained gelding powered home and had enough in hand to score narrowly from Cardinal Spec that was the widest runner in the home straight with Vincent Can Go hanging on for third. The winner clocked a mile rate of 2m.02.25 with an overall time of 2m.47.12s. Peter Staples

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