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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

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

When well-bred harness racing two-year-old pacer Williamtell powered home to win the $10,000 Golden Slipper in class record time in Launceston last Sunday night you could have heard a pin drop in the viewing area in the main grandstand. The winner's stablemate Offthetopofmyhead was sent around a $1.15 favourite while Williamtell had little support drifting from $8 to start at $12 with the bulk of the support for the gelded son of Tell All likely to have come from those who liked the sound of his name. After all, Williamtell was second to Offthetopofmyhead at his only other start and he was beaten almost 10 metres in a race in which the winner set a new class record mile rate of 1.58.3. But most likely what brought about the demise of the favourite was the incredibly hot tempo he endured for the first 600 metres of the race and was then not eased to a more reasonable tempo by his driver and trainer Paul Ashwood once he had acquired the lead with over 1000 metres remaining. Ashwood was called to the stewards' room to explain his driving tactics and the following is an extract from the official stewards' report. "When queried he told stewards that the colt had hung out rounding the first turn and then travelled well within itself to race up outside Solid As A Rock with 1100 metres to go and when that geldings driver Rohan Hillier then restrained he was able to take the lead. "He added that when in front he did not commence to ask the colt for an effort until after the 400 metres and that the colt had then shifted out whilst tiring close to the finish. "Whilst Stewards had concerns over Ashwood's drive, in particular his not taking the opportunity to ease the pace after taking the lead after a fast first half, they did not believe his drive was blameworthy to the extent that a charge could be sustained against him." Gareth Rattray, the driver of Williamtell, said: "That (the way the race was run) was probably the only way this horse could have won." In winning, Williamtell clocked a mile rate of 1.56.85 which was over a second off the previous best (1.58.3) that was set by Offthetopofmyhead a week earlier and the new time was only 1.85 seconds of the track record set by Queens Advocate (1.55) last month. Peter Staples

Talented harness racing three-year-old pacer Hillview Jake tuned up for the Tasmanian Derby with an effortless win in the Neil Pitt Stakes in Launceston on Sunday night. With Ricky Duggan aboard, the Paul Hill-trained gelding cruised to the lead after travelling less than a lap and proceeded to give his rivals a pacing lesson as he powered his way to a 7-1/2 metre victory over The Badlands with Campaign Drive three metres away third. The win came on the back of a luckless second in Hobart a week earlier in which he almost fell at the start. A horse on the front line (The Badlands) galloped as the starter released the field and Hillview Jake (Cardmaster Hanover-Evening Muck Up) ran into the back of him and almost came down. But he recovered and hit the front turning for home only to be run down by Grinable over the final 100 metres. Hill was thrilled with Hillview Jake's performance on Sunday night. "I needed to take him to Launceston to make sure he wasn't suffering any mental issues after what happened to him in Hobart but he showed no signs of nervousness at the start so that was good." Hill said. "I told Ricky (Duggan) I didn't mind if he faced the breeze and if the pace was slow then attack for the lead and that's what eventuated. "He's gone 2.01 (mile rate) without Ricky having to pull the (ear) plugs so that's also encouraging given how easily he won the race. "I couldn't be any happier with him going into the Derby and while there are a couple of good local hopes likely to be in it and no doubt a strong interstate contingent, I wouldn't swap my horse for any other," he said. The Tasmanian Derby will be run at the UBET Racing Centre on April 10. Peter Staples

Mojo Major proved there are many wins in the tank for the well-bred four-year-old entire when he delivered a brilliant harness racing performance to win the $10,000 Kevin Gillies Memorial over 2698 metres in Launceston last Sunday night. With his trainer Rodney Ashwood in the sulky, Mojo Major circumnavigated the field midrace to assume control and once in front he set a solid tempo and packed to many guns for his rivals over the concluding stages. Karalta Dazzler stepped brilliantly from the stand to lead but when driver John Walters handed up it paved the way for Ashwood's horse to win, although the eventual winner was motoring when he cruised alongside the leader 1200m from home. Mojo Major hit the line 1.8 metres clear of Karalta Dazzler with Our Archangel almost nine metres astern. It was Mojo Major's first start since August last year when he finished out of a place (sixth, beaten 14.4 metres behind Menin Gate) in the Breeders Crown final for 3YO colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Melton. The four-year-old son of Art Major began his career in Victoria where he won three races at two and was fourth in the 2YO Breeders Crow final behind Follow The Stars. He ventured to Tasmania last season for the Tasmanian Derby and after winning two lead-up races in Hobart he had to settle for second in the Derby to Mister Lennox. The now four-year-old followed his Derby second with a win in Launceston, scoring by almost 30 metres and clocked a mile rate of 2.01 over 2200m after dashing home his last half (800m) in 57.7 without being fully extended. Mojo Major has had 24 starts for nine wins and six minor placings for just over $70,000 in stakes. Peter Staples

Last season's Tasmanian Derby winner Mister Lennox defied a run of outs for long odds-on favourites in Launceston last night to easily win the 6ty Pace over 2200 metres for C5 to C7 pacers. Two odds-on favourites were rolled earlier in the night leaving punters hesitant to invest on another short one at the end of the 10-race harness racing program. But with Ricky Duggan in the cart the four-year-old was backed to start the $1.50 favourite after easing from his opening quote of $1.20. Mister Lennox, prepared by Juanita McKenzie, began well from the pole position and after being taken on by Never Sighted early in the race Duggan was able to sneak a modest third quarter to ensure his charge had plenty in reserve at the business end of the race. When they came at Mister Lennox nearing the home turn Duggan released the brakes and the gelded son of Changeover sped clear and went on to score comfortably from Rajah Wealth with Never Sighted hanging on for third. Mister Lennox has won 11 of his 22 starts with three minor placings for $80,000 in stakes. Peter Staples

Six weeks ago Scottsdale harness racing trainer Kent Rattray didn't have a horse in his stable capable of being competitive in an Easter Cup but as chance would have it fellow trainer Wayne Campbell called him with an offer to lease Riverboat Jasper. Inside an hour of that phone call Rattray was on Campbell's doorstep and after a gentleman's handshake to close the deal the six-year-old gelding was loaded onto Rattray's float. At the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston last night Riverboat Jasper gave Rattray his first taste of success in an Easter Cup when he powered home to win the $40,000 Group 2 event over 2698 metres from Resurgent Spirit and Queens Advocate. Amid emotional post-race celebrations Rattray explained what the win meant to him. "I made a decision two years ago to do this full-time but it's been very lean and to win this race that is like winning an Inter Dominion to me," Rattray said. "The horse's owner Wayne Campbell called me just over six weeks ago and asked me if I wanted to lease the horse and I was around his place within an hour to pick him up. "People just don't know what this win means to me." It also was a first for driver John Walters who shed a tear or two when asked what winning the race meant to him. "My Dad (Harry) won this race in 1976 with Andy Cast so for me to win an Easter Cup as well means a hell of a lot," Walters said. "It's a race all of us drivers want to win because there's so much history associated with it." Walters had Riverboat Jasper (Riverboat King-Cranleigh) settled better than midfield but on the rails from his front-row draw while The Majority (Gareth Rattray led with the well-backed favourite Jaruzelski Leis ($3.20) on his outside facing the breeze. Jaruzelski Leis forged to the lead turning for home and by that time Walters had Riverboat Jasper off the fence and three-wide challenging. Resurgent Spirit ($3.60) forged to the front turning for home but Riverboat Jasper powered home to defeat Resurgent Spirit with Queens Advocate ($7.50) flashing home late to grab third. Peter Staples

Talented Tasmanian pacer Resurgent Spirit staked his claim as a genuine harness racing Easter Cup contender when he scored an impressive win in a Cup heat over 2698 metres in Launceston last night. Dubbed the pride of the Derwent Valley, the gelding delivered a workmanlike performance to score from outsider Truly Blissfull with Major Callum a closing third and just ahead of Riverboat Jasper. The Roger Whitmore-trained gelding has been competitive in all features in which he has competed this time in and this latest effort will ensure he has support in the Easter Cup in Launceston in a fortnight. Driver James Austin had Resurgent Spirit ($3.60) settled midfield in the one-out line and when he called on the gelding for an effort leaving the back straight he sprinted quickly to have the leader covered and went on to score comfortably. The favourite Five Star Anvil ($3) stepped safely from his 40-metre handicap but it proved too big an impost and he finished fifth. Peter Staples

IT would appear a year of harness racing against top quality opposition has played a hand in Melolyn's impressive win in a heat of the Easter Cup in Launceston last night. Melolyn enjoyed a lot of success as a two and three-year-old in Tasmania but in March last year his owner Mick Maxfield opted to send him to Darren Hancock where he stayed for almost a year. He enjoyed a lot of success in the first two months he was with Hancock but in recent times his form waned so Maxfield decided to have him sent home to tackle the Easter Cup. Melolyn began safely from his sole back mark of 10 metres to settle third behind the leader Macho Comancho that began like a flash to find the front ahead of the favourite Jaruzelski Leis. Jaruzelski Leis' driver Todd Rattray was prepared to allow his charge to face the breeze and waited until the home turn the last time to make his move. But the leader found plenty when placed under pressure and Jaruzelski leis struggled to reduce the margin while driver Paul Ashwood opted to persevere with rails runs. Melolyn (Ponder-Mi Shaette) finished strongly and hit the line a metre clear of Macho Comancho with Jaruzelski Leis a close-up third ahead of Queens Advocate who was slowly away from th4e standing start but ran home well. Jerrys Jet ($3.50) galloped soon and driver Rohan Hillier was unable to get him back into a pace leaving him to tail out last and took no active part in the race. The Easter Cup will be run at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on Easter Sunday, March 27. Peter Staples

Top Tasmanian harness racing trainer-breeder Paul Hill had a lot of success last season with his star two-year-olds Hillview Jake and Chica Bella with the pair named Tasmania's best two-year-olds in their respective gender categories. In Launceston last night they both scored impressive wins to suggest they will be just as dominant at three. Hillview Jake (Ricky Duggan) was having his fifth start for the season and after settling midfield with cover he powered home to score an impressive win in a strong C1 event over 2200 metres to take this season's record to four wins and a second from five outings. "I couldn't be happier with what Hillview Jake has done this time in and while he got pulling a bit last night It's only a minor glitch and something I can get him to overcome with a slight change of gear," Hill said. "Other than that he is coming along fine and we are bang on target to tackle the Tasmania Derby and then onto the Globe Derby before he goes out for a spell. Chica Bella was even more impressive in winning the 3YO Fillies Championship over 2200 metres. The filly drew the outside of the front row (7) and tried to cross early but she was forced four-wide so driver Ricky Duggan had no option but to ease he back to last. He took off three-wide with cover behind the well-backed Itz Gemmas Delight but when that filly found the front 600 metres out Hill's filly pushed on to race at the leader's wheel. But when Duggan called on Chica Bella for the big effort in the home straight she forged to the front and had enough in reserve to stave off a late bid from Riverlegirl with Itz Gemmas Delight a close-up third. "I was absolutely rapt with Chica Bella and I don't think anyone could possibly doubt her ability after that run," Hill said. It was Chica Bella's fourth win in succession this time in and she will now be aimed at the Tasmanian Oaks at the end of March and then go to the Bandbox series before heading to the paddock. Peter Staples

When talented pacer Wingatui Dew first arrived at the harness racing stables of Grant Hodges at Bridport on the North-East Coast of Tasmania the expectations weren't high, in fact the owners were just hoping a change of environment would ignite the potential the horse showed at an early age. At the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston last night Wingatui Dew notched his eighth win for Hodges to keep intact his unbeaten record in Tasmania. It is an outstanding feat for any horse to win three races in succession but to be unbeaten after eight outings is exceptional. "It's funny how some horses take to a change of environment and it's pretty clear that Wingatui Dew is one of those horses," Hodges said. "He has just thrived since he came to Tassie. "From the first time we trialled him I thought he might win a few but every time we've raised the bar he's stepped up and delivered. "He has always drawn well and in all of his eight wins he has either led or raced in the death. "Nothing has fully tested this horse yet so we don't know whether we've found the bottom of him," he said. Hodges has ruled out a start in the Easter Cup at the end of March so he is pawing over the racing calendar looking for a suitable M0 race in Melbourne. "In the next few weeks there is pretty much nothing for him here in Tasmania so we will more than likely target at M0 at Melton and take it from there," Hodges said. Wingatui Dew is owned by one of Hodges' good friends Steve Carter in partnership with John Starr from NSW. The gelding has won $36,000 in prizemoney in Tasmania to take his career earnings to almost $50,000 but Hodges is confident the gelded son of Grinfromeartoear is capable of winning at least that much again. Peter Staples

It seems success with two-year-old pacers comes naturally for prominent harness racing owner-breeders Charlie and Connie Beadman. In Launceston last Friday night the Beadmans' juvenile Rocknroll Turbo made his debut in the Keith Stanley Debutante Stakes and the son of Rock N Roll Heaven never let them down. With Rohan Hillier in the cart, Rocknroll Turbo travelled sweetly in the one-out-one-back position and when asked for the big effort in the home straight he ran down the leader and hit the line with over a metre to spare from No Fear No Failure with Swap Me a close-up third. It was a professional performance from the Paul Hill-trained colt that is from the Beadmans' good producing broodmare Laagirl. The Beadmans enjoyed success with Jerrys Jet that was Tasmania's top two-year-old and last season he was a close-up second to Mister Lennox in the voting for the three-year-old of the year award. Rocknroll Turbo covered the 1680-metre trip in 2m.006.9 for a mile rate of 2.01.6 running home his last 800m in 58.7s.   Peter Staples  

In-form harness racing trainer Ben Yole is having a stellar season and the juggernaut continued at UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night where his consistent gelding Happy Schnapps scored a game win in the Northern Tasmania Light Harness Association Cup. The Nathan Ford-trained and driven Jaccka Tom looked set for victory when he dashed clear on the home turn but he was unable to withstand the determination of Happy Schnapps (Mark Yole) that finished too strongly to score by a metre. The pair settled down to a do-or-die duel in the home straight and they finished a long way ahead of the rest of the field. Driver Mark Yole said going into the race he didn't think his horse could beat the favourite Ancient Moonlight that had been way too good for his horse in their heat. But when Ancient Moonlight galloped away from his 10-metre handicap it changed the complexion of the race. ''I still thought I was in a world of trouble in running, because my horse couldn't muster early speed and we ended up in a very awkward spot in fifth place on the pegs,'' Yole said. ''Luckily I was able to track Jaccka Tom into the race when he got a run and my horse then outstayed him,'' he said. Ben Yole is leading in the race for the Tasmanian trainer's premiership with 21 winners to be two clear of Nathan Ford with Todd Rattray two further back on 11 but with the success of Ben his younger brother Mark is leading the driver's premiership table with 19 wins to be two clear of Eric Hollaway. Gareth Rattray who has won the past 10 driver premierships has had a slow start to the season and he is third with 11 wins. Peter Staples

Last season's best pacer to race in Tasmania Star Chamber signaled he is on track to make it back-to-back harness racing Tasmania Cups when he stormed home to win the $20,000 City of Launceston Cup at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. The Nathan Ford-trained and driven seven-year-old came from near last turning for home to get up in the last few strides to defeat Victorian-trained favourite Lets Elope with outsider Call The Marshall a fast-finishing third a metre away. It was a clear message that the gelding was back to near his best and would go into this Sunday's $40,000 Tasmania Cup at UBET Park Hobart at his peak. ''He's not 100 per cent tonight because he's had a light week,'' Ford said. ''I gave him a couple of days at the beach and didn't hopple him on Thursday because I didn't want him fully wound up." ''This race will really top him off and he'll be a lot sharper next week,'' he said. Ford tracked interstate invader Lets Elope all the way and proved too strong for that gelding that is prepared in Victoria by Bret Lilley and was driven by Tasmanian-born Josh Duggan who has been domiciled in Victoria for the past four years. The Tasmania Cup was one of many feature races won by Star Chamber last season which made him clearly the best-performed horse on Tasmanian tracks.   Peter Staples  

Talented Tasmanian harness racing owner-trainer Matthew Dwyer has always had an opinion of The Majority and on Sunday night the gelding indicated he could be in for a successful summer with an emphatic win in the $10,000 Doug Martin Danbury Park Cup at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston. Driver Mark Yole was content for his charge to face the breeze for most of the 2698m journey and when he called on the gelding for the supreme effort turning for home he forged clear of the leader Truly Blissful. The Majority ($14.20) quickly established a winning break and had enough in reserve to stave off determined challenges to score by 3.5 metres from the well-backed Outback Mach ($2.40fav) with rank outsider Call The Marshall running on well for third and only a head astern. Dwyer will aim The Majority at the Hobart Pacing Cup and Devonport Cup with both of those events playing to The Majority's strength. "He is a very good stayer so it's a case of the longer the race the better for this horse," Dwyer said. ''The horse is starting to get a bit of his speed back now, but he's always been able to stay, so the 3000 metres of the Devonport Cup will suit him perfectly,'' Dwyer said. "He also likes standing starts because he's a very good beginner,'' he said. The Majority, raced by the trainer and his wife Lauren, has won 11 and been laced as many times from 44 starts for $74,410 in stakes.   Peter Staples

Star Queensland harness racing reinsman Grant Dixon delivered a couple of career best drives to emerge from the harness meeting in Launceston last night as the winner of the Sky Racing Australian Driving Championships. Dixon accrued 71 points from his six drives to take the 2015 Australian Driving Championship title from South Australia’s Danielle Hill with 58 and Robert Morris (NSW) and Queensland’s Shane Graham equal third on 47 points. Dixon was thrilled with the win and said it was a privilege to take out the title. “This is a great series and to win it is a real bonus because it is just an honour to represent your state and be amongst such a great group of drivers,” Dixon said. “When it is a random draw for drives there is an element of luck involved and tonight I had some luck,” he said. Dixon won the first heat when he brought Olivers Mate from near last leaving the back straight the last time to score in a three-way photo finish from the favourite Kyleasha and Grinable, driven by Victorian Gavin Lang. After two heats Dixon led with 28 points from Lewis and Panela on 25 with Gavin Lang within striking distance on 19. Ace NSW reinsman Robert Morris delivered his first winner of the night when he guided the Todd Rattray-trained The Bettormack to an effortless win in the fourth heat. The Bettormack went into the race a winner of three of his first four starts in the state and the four-year-old made light of his task to give Morris maximum points. The series was decided on a point-score basis with 19 points awarded for first; 14 for second; 11 for third; nine for fourth and reducing by one through to last in the 12-horse fields. Dixon clinched the title when he partnered Stingofascorpion into second place behind Fundamentalist in the last heat to finish with 71 points and a clear winner from Hill who had her drive in the final heat deemed a non-starter due to an unfair start leaving her on 58 points with Queensland’s Shane Graham and Robert Morris (NSW) equal third on 47. Final points tally from six heats: 71 – Grant Dixon (Qld). 58 – Danielle Hill (SA). 47 – Shane Graham (Qld) and Robert Morris (NSW). 45 – Lauren Panella (NSW). 43 – Chris Lewis (WA). 38 – Ricky Duggan (Tas). 37 – Gavin Lang (Vic) and Gareth Rattray (Tas). 34 – Greg Sugars (Vic). 33 – Ryan Hryhorec (SA). 30 – Gary Hall Jr (WA).   Peter Staples  

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