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IF harness racing trainer Nathan Ford needed any convincing that his 10-year-old Jukebox Music was up to tackling feature races during the Christmas-New Year period he received the confirmation at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night where the gelding equalled a long-standing track record on his way to an impressive win in the My Sir Duke Pace over 2090 metres. Jukebox Music clocked a mile rate of 2.00.1 which matched the time set by Trouble No More in February 2007. Jukebox Music started off a back mark of 30 metres in the discretionary handicap but stepped cleanly to settle on the back of the main body of the field after traveling 200 metres. When Ford was about to send Jukebox Music into the three-wide train the run closed and he was forced to go back to the inside to find a clear run home. It was a move that proved to be the difference between winning and losing. When Ford called on Jukebox Music for a dash at the leaders in the home straight the gelded son of Christian Cullen powered home to score by almost a metre from Remember Joe that looked the winner when he kicked clear at the top of the home straight. Race leader Ciskei battled on for third ahead of race favourite resurgent Spirit that also came from well back in the field. Ford has singled out the Hobart Pacing Cup as Jukebox Music's main mission. "I have thought all along that the Hobart Pacing Cup would be the ideal race for this horse because it is a standing start series and the final is over 3000 metres and he will really appreciate that trip," Ford said. "I've tried him a few times in mobiles and he just doesn't perform like he does in stand-start races so that's what we'll concentrate on in the immediate future," he said. Peter Staples

Talented pacing mare Licinia has made quite an impact since arriving in Tasmania five months ago and her trainer Nathan Ford is hoping she can continue to improve with a view to tackling the state's most prestigious harness racing mare's race - the George Johnson. Licinia has been to the races seven times for five wins and two minor placings with her latest victory little more than a stroll in the park for the four-year-old. Licinia stepped straight to the front from the pole position and when Ford gave her more rein leaving the back straight the last time she forged clear and went on to score by almost nine metres from Xbolt with Bertils Delight two metres away third. Punters didn't miss her as she was backed in to start the $1.20 favourite and she won accordingly. "I liked this mare when she first arrived and she has continued to impress me the way she has gone about her racing," Ford said. "I would like to think she can improve enough for me to consider aiming her at the George Johnson (mares' classic) but in the meantime we'll just keep plodding along." "The Mother of Pearl is a nice mares' race in Launceston in a couple of weeks so that's where she'll go from here but that's as far as I want to plan for the time being," he said. Peter Staples

ONE of Tasmania's leading harness racing trainer-drivers Nathan Ford was last week disqualified for four years on two charges of allegedly providing urine samples which DNA analysis has allegedly proved not to be his. Ford provided the two urine samples at a Tasmanian Pacing Club meeting in Hobart on May 24. Ford was charged and found guilty under AHRR 243 which stages that a person employed, engaged or participating in the harness racing industry shall not behave in a way that is prejudicial or detrimental to the industry. During the inquiry evidence was taken from representatives of Racing Analytical Services Ltd, the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and the defendant. Ford was assisted in the inquiry by barrister Carolyn Graves and Dr Michael Robertson. Tasmanian Harness Racing chairman of stewards Adrian Crowther, who chaired yesterday's inquiry, confirmed Ford had been charged with substituting someone else's urine sample for his own on two occasions after he had been instructed by stewards to provide a urine sample as a part of routine swab sampling of drivers at that meeting. In determining penalty stewards took into consideration Ford's not guilty plea and his personal circumstances. Crowther said the extremity of the penalty also was as a result of the serious nature of the offences which pose a threat to the integrity and the public confidence in harness race and that Ford's actions undermine the importance of drug testing as a means of ensuring the safety and welfare of participants. Ford was disqualified for 18 months on the first offence and 2-1/2 years on the second offence. Ford has successfully lodged an appeal against both the charge and penalty and has been given a stay of proceedings. Peter Staples

The Office of Racing Integrity stewards have concluded an inquiry which began on 26 August 2015 into the results of analysis on human urine samples provided by harness racing driver Nathan Ford at the Tasmanian Pacing Club meeting on 24 May 2015. During the inquiry evidence was taken from representatives of Racing Analytical Services Ltd, the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and Nathan Ford.  Mr Ford was assisted in the inquiry by Barrister Carolyn Graves and Dr Michael Robertson. Mr Ford was found guilty on two (2) charges under AHRR 243, which states: “A person employed, engaged or participating in the harness racing industry shall not behave in a way which is prejudicial or detrimental to the industry.” In determining penalty, stewards took into consideration: Mr Ford’s not guilty plea; his personal circumstances; the serious nature of the offences, which pose a threat to the integrity and public confidence in harness racing; and that Mr Ford’s actions undermine the importance of drug testing as a means of ensuring the safety and welfare of participants. Stewards issued Mr Ford with the following penalties: On the first charge Mr Ford was disqualified for a period of 18 months, which was discounted by two months to allow for the time he had been stood down from driving pending the inquiry. On the second charge Mr Ford was disqualified for a period of two and a half years. The disqualifications are to be served cumulatively and will expire at midnight on 8 August 2019. Adrian Crowther Chairman of Stewards - Harness

Talented harness trainer Nathan Ford could have a genuine country cups contender in his midst by the name of Jukebox Music that scored an impressive win in the Launceston Show Cup over 2200 metres in Launceston last Sunday night. With Dylan Ford in the sulky, Jukebox Music stepped well from the standing start and settled in fourth position in the one-out line while the favourite and 30-metre back marker Devendra also stepped well and was tacked onto the main body of the field after travelling 200 metres. Spot Nine led the field but when he slowed the tempo the back markers made their moves with firstly Washies Chance slipping up to face the breeze but Devendra's driver Todd Rattray also wanted the breeze so he sent the favourite scurrying around the field to fill that post. Just when Rattray was about to call on Devendra to extend Ford released the brakes on Jukebox Music and he quickly joined Devendra in the lead. The pair engaged in a two-horse battle with Jukebox Music proving too strong over the concluding stages. Connections of Devendra plan to send the gelding to James Rattray's stable in Sydney soon to prepare for an Inter Dominion campaign but having been beaten at his past two starts in Tasmania they might be having second thoughts about taking on the best in the land in Perth (WA). Peter Staples

Impressive Launceston harness racing winner Our Maddys Star is country cups-bound following her impressive win in a standing start event over 2200 metres at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. Our Maddys Star began safely off a 10-metre handicap and eventually found a spot outside of the leader after travelling half a lap. Despite being forced to face the breeze the Nathan Ford-trained mare proved too strong for her rivals. She hit the line just over a metre clear of Faithful Jet that enjoyed a cushy run in the one-out-one-back position with Karalta Dazzler coming from well back to grab third just ahead of race leader Prettyboytroy who faded sharply over the concluding stages. Driver Dylan Ford was impressed with the mare's effort. "The Grinfromeartoear mare hasn't had much luck since she's been in Tassie," Ford said. "She's still won two races and only missed a cheque once and that was when she fell in Hobart through no fault of her own." "She flies from a standing start and that's why we are keen to get her into come of the country cups around December-January." "This was her best win because she had to do it tough and still found plenty at the end," he said. It was the first leg of a winning double for the trainer and driver with The Big Parade scoring an emphatic all-the-way win in the Sutter Hanover Pace (C1-C2) over 2200m. Peter Staples

Improving three-year-old pacer No Spring Secrets gave his harness racing trainer Steve Lukac sleepless nights as a two-year-old owing to the gelding's race manners and hypertensive mannerisms. But Lukac's patience and astute training methods have ironed out the creases in the horse's make-up and in Hobart last night he delivered arguably his best win. However, with few suitable races left for him in Tasmania this season, Lukac confirmed negotiations were under way to send No Spring Secrets to the James Rattray stable in NSW. "He isn't eligible for the Globe Derby (Tasmania 3YO Sires Stakes) because he is Queensland bred so I have suggested to the owners that the horse be sent to James Rattray because he would be very competitive in that state and James is a very good horseman," Lukac said. On Sunday night No Spring Secrets (Nathan Ford) began well from gate two and while unable to go straight to the front he was content to settle second. But when Ford allowed him more rein he quickly strolled to the front entering the home straight the first time. The Tell All gelding reeled off a modest first half but Ford let him rip in the home straight the last time to record a mile rate of 1.57.91 with a last half (800m) in 57.29 seconds. No Spring Secrets has won half of his 10 career starts and four of his victories have come this season. Ford said No Spring Secrets was improving with each run. "The horse is still learning but he's definitely getting stronger and he improves with every run," Ford said. "He is still a bit of a work in progress but I like the horse and I think he has a really bright future," he said. Peter Staples  

Dysart harness racing trainer Marc Butler has been producing his share of winners lately from just a small team and one of his newcomers delivered an impressive all-the-way win in Devonport last night. Smilin Geoff ($3.30) was having only his second race start but made it all look easy as he flew the gates from the outside barrier (6) to find the lead and when driver Nathan Ford released the reins turning for home the well-bred three-year-old colt bounded clear of his rivals. Smilin Geoff (It Is I-Printers Gold) hit the line 18 metres clear of Baldock ($5.10) that worked home well from beyond midfield with Miss Sharapova ($20) getting up for third over seven metres astern. Smilin Geoff debuted with an encouraging third in Launceston behind Barooga Minnie and Cemento Rapido after enjoying the one-out-one-back spot. This latest effort proved the colt has a future despite his mile rate being a pedestrian 2.06.9. He has been with Butler since he was a yearling and has been given plenty of time to mature. "There's plenty of upside with this horses and I think he has the ability to win more races," Butler said. Peter Staples

Brighton harness racing trainer Zane Medhurst has only a small team in work, but he has been peppering the winners’ circle at recent meetings, including Territorial’s win at Devonport last night. Beginning quickly to lead from barrier two, Territorial led throughout to score by two metres from Next Sound, with Touchwood Topsta a close-up third after trailing the leader. Territorial was driven by in-form novice reinsman Tim Yole, who picked up the drive courtesy of Tayla Ford suffering an injury as a result of parting company with her charge and favourite Johnnyart in the opening race on the card. Flash Desire, which was following Johnnyart, also tipped his driver Adrian Collins out of the sulky. Ford and Collins were taken to the Mersey General Hospital, with Ford suffering a suspected broken arm, while Collins was being checked due to back and hip soreness. As for the remainder of the program, Nathan Ford took the driving honours with four winners. He partnered Le Wi Bulent to victory in the C2 or better stand start event and then guided Smilin Geoff, with the youngster scoring at his second start. Ford then drove Pacific Soul and Master Paige to victory. The latter is trained by Geoff Madden who missed the drive after falling down stairs near the drivers’ room early in the night. PETER STAPLES

While the national harness racing spotlight remains focused on Tasmania's dual Inter Dominion winner Beautide another Tasmanian-owned and trained pacer named Star Chamber has been creating records and notching outstanding wins on the local front. Star Chamber has captured all three major cups run so far this season in Tasmania and should he emerge triumphant at his next assignment in the $40,000 Easter Cup he will create a modern day record that might never be repeated. The Nathan Ford - trained gelding won the $40,000 Tasmania Cup in December and followed up with an impressive win in the $20,000 Hobart pacing Cup and on Sunday night he snared the $25,000 Devonport pacing Cup over 3020 metres on the tight Devonport Showground circuit. Star Chamber had to start off a 30-metre handicap to win the Devonport Cup but he did it with authority to prove why he is rated the best pacer in Tasmania. On Sunday night Ford allowed the Our Sir Vancelot six-year-old to settle at the rear of the field before easing him out three-wide to get into the race about 1400 metres from home and he did so on the back of Truly Blissful. But when Ford realised that horse was going nowhere just under a lap from home he eased out four-wide to make his charge down the back stretch the last time. Star Chamber collared the leaders turning for home and went on to win easily. "This horse is a freak. To do what he has done this season is truly amazing," Ford said. "I know he is not in the same class as Beautide but Star Chamber must now be ranked at least the best horse racing in Tasmania," he said. Star Chamber was purchased by Ford about 16 months ago for $4000 from Neil Day in New South Wales and the horse came to Tasmania having won only one race and was rated a C1 class horse. On Sunday night Star Chamber notched his 12th career win and his 11th for Ford to take his career stake earnings to $110,000 with a class rating of C12-M3. "The horse has done an incredible job to win what he has in such a short space of time," Ford said. "We'll go to the Easter Cup and hopefully this time the horse will be handicapped according to his class rating so we should again be off 30 metres," he said. Star Chamber is owned by the trainer in partnership with his life partner Bianca Heenan and two of Ford's friends Jake Gillie and Josh Nelson. "It's great when you can race a horse with friends and get one that does unbelievable things and that's what we've got with Star Chamber." "He's only six and has no injury issues so realistically he should be able to keep doing this for another year or more," he said. Star Chamber's greatest assets are his ability to settle in his races and he possesses a scintillating turn of foot, something he has utilised to win all three of his major cups. Peter Staples  

Star Chamber made it a clean sweep of Tasmania’s feature Cups run so far this season when he gave his rivals a pacing lesson in the Devonport Cup last night. With his trainer Nathan Ford in the sulky, Star Chamber began well off his 30-metre back mark to settle last, but when Ford angled him there-wide with a lap-and-a-half to travel, he flushed out Truly Blissful to gain a trail. Taken four-deep heading down the back stretch, the son of Our Sir Vancelot quickly hauled in the leaders. Star Chamber proceeded to demolish the opposition in the short run home to score by 10 metres from The Majority, with Whodeani a game third four metres away. “I really thought he would struggle a bit off that back mark of 30 metres on this tight circuit, but he came through again,” Ford said. “He showed what a freak of a horse he really is.” Star Chamber notched his first major win when he outclassed a top field in the $40,000 Tasmania Cup lasy December and he followed up with a brilliant win in the Hobart Pacing Cup. Ford took him to Victoria to tackle the Shepparton Cup, but nothing panned out as planned in that race, so he was taken straight back to Tasmania to prepare for this latest assignment. Ford is likely aim him Star Chamber at next month’s Easter Cup in Launceston, and if victorious, it would give the gelding victory in all four major Cups in the state. But he already has proven to be Tasmania’s best pacer and an Easter Cup win would top off what has been an outstanding season for the six-year-old. PETER STAPLES

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

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