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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

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

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