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
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
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
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
Handy harness racing performer Star Chamber has been aimed at several features following his win at Hobart last night. Impressed with the gelding’s effort, trainer Nathan Ford will target events such as the Cannonball Charge and Tasmanian Cup. “We’ll raise the bar and aim him at the Cannonball Charge, which will give us a good idea of where he fits into the bigger picture,” Ford said. Driven by Ford, Star Chamber began brilliantly from the tapes to lead easily, with the remainder of the 2579-metre trip a formality. Providing his rivals with a pacing lesson, the son of triple Inter Dominion winner Our Sir Vancelot scored by five-and-a-half metres from Ardlussa Express, with Udoit four metres away third. “This win was terrific and it was the way he went about his job that really impressed me,” Ford declared. “He stepped well, as he always does, from a stand and it was just like a stroll around the training track.” Rating 2:04.1, the six-year-old stretched his record to eight wins and 13 placings from 38 starts with his 58.2-second last half. Ford credits Star Chamber’s form to his recent trip across Bass Strait to Tabcorp Park Melton, which netted two placings from two M0 appearances. Star Chamber won his return start to the Apple Isle, but was disqualified by stewards who deemed he had raced inside the marker pegs in the home straight and as such gained an unfair advantage “He did a good job in those two races at Melton and I have no doubt the interstate trip helped to toughen him up,” Ford said. “When we bought this horse he was a C1, and he’s now a C7, and I am positive there is plenty of improvement in him.” PETER STAPLES
TASMANIA'S multiple premiership-winning reinsman Barrie Rattray doesn't spend a lot of time driving in races these days but he proved he has lost none of his prowess in Hobart last Monday night. Rattray partnered his three-year-old Ercole to victory in the degree C Pace over 2090 metres for what was the gelding's second career win but it made it two in succession for the gelded son of Grinfromeartoear. Ercole settled at the rear of the field off a steady tempo but Rattray always had him travelling in his comfort zone. When Rattray made his move heading into the back straight the last time he latched his charge onto the back of Ems Choice for a trail and then eased Ercole four-wide to stake his claim. Rocket Seal (Nathan Ford) led and looked to travelling comfortably nearing the home turn but he was swamped in the home straight. Ebabe collared the leader 200m out then she was quickly collared by Ems Choice but that four-year-old was unable to repel the powerful finish of Ercole that went on to win by over three metres. The winner clocked a mile rate of 2m.01.7 with an overall time of 2:38.13. It made it back-to-back wins for Ercole and while he has been one of the lesser lights from the Rattray stable this season he has paid his way and is likely to continue to do so as he progresses through his grades. By Peter Staples
A MASTERFUL drive by the state's leading reinsman Gareth Rattray resulted in an impressive win for Saloon In Sight at Tattersall's Park in Hobart tonight. Saloon In Sight drew the pole position and settled behind the leader and favourite Mighty Jasper soon after the start but when the driver of the leader, Nathan Ford, opted to hand up to Bridestar (Paul Hill) Rattray quickly got his charge off the fence and into the one-out-one-back position. It proved to be the winning move because when Rattray eased Saloon In Flight three-wide to challenge in the back straight the last time he was able to put the favourite in a pocket. Rattray waited until the top of the home straight before he made his move. Saloon In Flight dashed clear and had enough in reserve to stave off a late bid from Mighty Jasper to score by a metre with El Jays Messi third. Saloon In Flight is trained by Zane Medhurst and owned by his wife Sally Medhurst. The horse was one of a few promising pacers that were trained by the Medhurst's late son David Medhurst who was tragically killed in a car accident near Hobart last year. Listen to what trainer Zane Medhurst had to say about Saloon In Flight's win.
MIGHTY JASPER has been a model of consistency of late so it came as no surprise that the Nathan Ford-trained three-year-old had no trouble winning his C0 last weekend. Ford could probably have placed the gelding to win a C0 that carried prizemoney of $7000 but instead he opted to support the Carrick Pacing Club and enter his three-year-old there in a $4200 race as a show of support for the country club. He was aiming at a hat-trick of wins and he did it in style. Mighty Jasper was lucky to avoid a scrimmage soon after the start but ended up in the one-out-two back position and travelled kindly for the first lap. A lap from home Ford eased his charge three-wide to attack for the lead after facing the breeze to the home turn he called on his gelded son of Village jasper to extend and he quickly put 10 metres on his rivals. Despite tiring over the concluding stages Mighty Jasper held on to defeat the fast-finishing Cardinal Art with race leader Buck Major hanging on for third. Ford was pleased with the win and predicted more wins this season. Listen to what trainer-driver Nathan Ford had to say about Might Jasper’s latest win. Peter Staples
Talented reinsman Ricky Duggan had only a modest day at the office on his home track at New Norfolk on Sunday emerging with only one winner. But his winner proved yet again what a master he is in the sulky. Duggan partnered Poker Storm, prepared by his brother Adrian, to a brilliant win in the E. C Plunkett Memorial over 2150 metres, a standing start race for C2 or better performers. he stepped well from his standing start but was caught behind the pack when moves were being made in the back straight the last time. Duggan somehow weaved a passage through and on the home turn he aimed his charge to the outside of the field and the six-year0old gelding stormed home to score comfortably from Stormy Tara with Good Beginnings third and just ahead of Prettyboytroy. Poker Storm had run recent placings going onto the race with his previous win back in mid December. The gelding has been a good money spinner for his owners with this latest win his 11th but he also has accumulated 20 minor placings from his 71 career starts for just over $60,000 in stakes. Trainer Adrian Duggan was delighted with the win and said the gelding would most likely back up in Launceston next Sunday night. Gareth Rattray took driving honours at the meeting with a treble while James Austin and Nathan Ford ended the 10-race card with two winners each. By Peter Staples
TALENTED harness racing trainer Melissa Maine combined with her partner Gareth Rattray to win the Smithawards Hobart Pacing Cup final over 3060 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart with outsider Spot Nine on Sunday night. Spot Nine started at the lucrative price of $30 while punters pinned their faith in Ransom Olds that looked to have the race in his keeping a lap from home. Rattray had Spot Nine settled just beyond midfield early and he waited until the bell lap before making his move. Laterron made a lightning move during the first lap to take the lead from My Micky Blue Eyes (Ricky Duggan) while the $2.50 favourites Ransom Olds was set alight soon after by his driver Nathan Ford to go up and park facing the breeze. Rattray called on Spot Nine for the supreme effort in the back straight the last time and it was evident 400 metres from home that he had the leaders covered. Laterron forged clear of Ransom Olds that appeared to be floundering turning for home but they were both sitting ducks for the swoopers. Spot Nine stormed home to defeat Watchmefella (Rohan Hillier) with ransom Olds clinging to third ahead of Laterron. Spot Nine broke the track record mile rate clocking 2m.03.46 sec bettering the previous best set by Benediction (2.04.2) in this race last year. Maine has been training in her own right for about two years but this is not her biggest win as she won last season's $30,000 Granny Smith mares feature with Tisu Holly. Listen to what trainer Melissa Maine had to say about Spot Nine's Hobart Pacing Cup win. Peter Staples
In-Form harness reinsman Nathan Ford notched four winners on the eight-event card in Hobart tonight but he saved his best from the feature race the heat of the Hobart Pacing Cup over 2579 metres aboard Ransom Olds. Ford's other winners were Itswhatilikeaboutu for Christian Salter along with Mighty Jasper and Star Chamber that he trains. But his best winning drive was aboard Ransom Olds that started favourite in a heat of the Hobart Pacing Cup. Ransom Olds began well from his 10-metre handicap but not as well as interstate invader Amadmancomesundone that found the front easily. But Ford wasn't content with the tempo so he sent the Tony Petersen-trained gelding to the front two laps from home. A lap from home novice driver Dylan Ford eased Laterron off the fence to work to the "death" and that mare forged clear turning for home and looked set for victory when she booted 10 metres clear. But like a brave prize fighter Ransom Olds got up off the mat and came again to score in the last few strides. The $20,000 Hobart Pacing Cup will be run at Tattersall's Park in a fortnight. Peter Staples
BRIGHTON harness racing trainer Christian Salter revealed big plans for his lightly raced three-year-old filly Itswhatilikeaboutu after she scored an emphatic win in division one of the Tattsbet Stakes over 2090 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart last night. With in-form reinsman Nathan Ford in the sulky, Itswhatilikeaboutu faced the breeze outside of the leader for the last lap but made light of the task to go on and score comfortably from Boltnmach and Cooked Books with race leader Stoner Rainbow weakening to finish fourth. Salter has always believed his filly was the real deal but immaturity and a few niggling problems that needed to be sorted out prevented her from winning more races as a two-year-old. She won one of the last two-year-old fillies races on last season's calendar at what was her sixth start but she was placed at all of her previous outings. Listen to what trainer Christian Salter had to say about Itswhatilikeaboutu's win. Peter Staples
Talented harness racing teenager Dylan Ford has made quite an impact since he acquired his driver's licence two years ago and now he is making his mark as a trainer. Ford trained his first winner at Tattersall's Park in Hobart last night where he partnered the aptly named five-year-old Good Beginnings to victory in the Happy New Year Stakes over 2090 metres. Ford, who only secured his trainer's licence last month, already has six horses in work and most have the potential to win multiple races Good Beginnings has been a work in progress but Ford is confident the gelding can continue to be competitive in the coming months. He had Good Beginnings settled off the speed and he had to wait until the right moment to call on his charge for the big effort as he only has a short sprint. But the talented reinsman was able to time the horse's run to perfection, coming off the backs of the leaders in the home straight to storm home and score by five metres from Mighty Boy Coconut that is prepared by his cousin Nathan Ford with Luke Peter over a metres astern. Ford, 18, was last season's leading novice reinsman and he has made a reasonable start to this season with Good Beginnings his seventh winner since September 01. Listen to what Dylan Ford had to say about training his first winner. Peter Staples
Divas Delight secured a berth in the Eric Reece Memorial final by leading all-the-way win in a heat over 2090 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Sunday night. The Barrie Rattray-trained gelding has been a model of consistency without winning this season notching consecutive placings from his four outings this time in. But driver Todd Rattray used the four-year-old gelding's speed from the mobile to cross from gate five and from there on he led his rivals a merry chase. Divas Delight (Bettors Delight-Draw Card) cruised to the line to score by over six metres from Cardinal Dreamer that trained the leader throughout with Saloon In Sight almost three metres away third. "He got to the front tonight and that's made all the difference," said trainer Barrie Rattray. "You can't say he hasn't been consistent this time in but he has always been a very honest little fella," he said. The Eric Reece Memorial wasn't specifically targeted by the trainer. "This race just came along at the right time for him but it is definitely a race that every trainer and owner wants to win because it is named after a politician who was described as a person for the battlers." "It is definitely one race that everyone wants to win," Rattray said. Driver Todd Rattray said his charge was always travelling like a winner. "Once we led it was probably always going to be a matter of how far," the driver said. "He has been racing well and deserved to win," he said. The second heat was won by the Rod Burgess-trained Notimetothink that was resuming from a lengthy spell. The gelding was partnered by Rohan Hillier who allowed him to face the breeze throughout and he defied the tough run top hold on and score by metre from Reallyimaterminata with Podarkes a nose away third. It was a tough effort by the Rod Burgess-trained gelding that was having his first start since April. The third heat was taken out by Mighty Boy Coconut that also resuming from a lengthy spell. It was the Nathan Ford-trained five-year-old's first outing since June but he made the most of the inside draw (1) to lead and when Ford released the brakes at the top of the home straight he sped clear and hit the line about 20 metres clear of Gothic rage that trailed the winner throughout with Angkristy third just in advance of interstate invader me Mate Les that is prepared at Clyde by Jayne Davies. The final heat was won by Mes Elsu (Elsu-One For Me) that also led all the way although the margin was nowhere near as convincing at Mighty Boy Coconut's. Mes Elsu had a battle for the early lead with Little Miss Feral but when that mare broke stride it left Ricky Duggan's charge to stroll to the lead. Mes Elsu set a solid tempo and when challenged strongly in the home straight the Juanita McKenzie-trained six-year-old gelding found enough to hold out Rorybeebellows and Gun Filly. The Eric Reece Memorial final will be held in a fortnight at Tattersall's Park.
THE connections of well bred Tasmanian three-year-old pacer Vande Velde are hoping the gelding can develop into a Tasmanian Derby prospect with the vision exposed after he won the Tattsbet Stakes over 2090 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Sunday night. Vande Velde (Four Starzzz Shark-Good Gracious) showed blistering early speed from the mobile to land in front but he didn't have it all his own way as the heavily backed favourite Giuliani ($1.50) raced at his wheel for the last 1200 metres. But Vande Velde made light of the task and when his driver Nathan Ford called on him to extend he left his rivals in his wake and went on to defeat Giuliani by almost six metres with Springfield Tattoo over a metre away third. The Christian Salter-trained gelding clocked a mile rate of 2.00.64 and ran home his last half mile (800m) in 59.23. It was Vande Velde's seventh race start and only his second this season. "I have had an opinion of this horse from day one but he took time to put it together last season," Salter said. "We tried to run the gate with him last season but he just got all fired up and went a bit silly so we had to go back to square one and try and teach him to be more settled." "It's been a process but tonight we wanted to try and run him out of the gate and he handled it well so he is obviously learning and maturing." "You can't go getting too excited be," he said. Nathan Ford was a replacement driver for Salter who had to forego the drive due to his commitments in the stables hitching horses up in consecutive races. Ford said Vande Velde did a good job and gave him the impression there was plenty of improvement left in him. "This horse will definitely improve on this run because he hit the line with a bit left in the tank and he also ran the gate well," Ford said. Vande Velde is raced by Marlene Salter and Hobart brothers Greg and Scott Plummer. "This is my first winner and it feels great," said Greg Plummer. "I've raced a couple of slow ones and had one die at a young age so it is really great to own one that shows a bit of promise," he said. Vande Velde was bred by Noel and Marlene Salter and they raced the gelding as a two-year-old but because the Plummers had some bad luck with a couple of horses they offered them a half share of Vande Velde. Peter Staples