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Astute Tasmanian harness racing trainer-driver Ramon Pullen left Tasmania bound for Queensland in search of the warmer weather about 14 years ago but a combination of homesickness and an ailing Queensland harness industry drew him back to his place of birth. He returned with a handful of horses and it was only a matter of time before the winners started to flow. In Hobart last Friday night his talented five-year-old Castor Troy ($9.80) made it successive wins when he powered home from well back to win a C1 over 2090 metres. The gelding settled near the rear of the field but when the second-favourite Flying Wingard ($2.60) eased out three-wide to make his move castor Troy's driver Rodney Ashwood latched onto that horse's back for a ride home. Flying Wingard hit the front half-way up the home straight but when Ashwood got busy on Castor Troy the gelded son of Aces N Sevens slipped into overdrive and powered home to score easily. Castor Troy hit the line 3.2 metres clear of Flying Wingard with Artarama over nine metres away third. Peter Staples

One of last season's better Tasmanian three-year-olds El Jays Mystery resumed from a spell with a game win at the harness racing Carrick Park Paceway near Launceston today. Despite galloping soon after the start the now four-year-old mare recovered to tack onto the bulk of the field while Lead Singer took control with Shadow Control making for a solid tempo pressuring outside of the leader. Driver Ricky Duggan allowed El Jays Mystery ($2.70) to make her run 700 metres from home as she strolled around the field three and four-wide to finally claim the le5ad in the home straight. But the Live Or Die mare had to pull out all stops to hold on and defeat the fast-finishing Heavennroll ($101) with the well-backed fixed odds favourite Lead Singer ($2.40) hanging on for third. "The mare did a good job to win given she got out of her gear soon after the start but she managed to regroup and I thought she hit the line well," Duggan said. "She's obviously done a bit of work but there's no doubt she will gain a lot of benefit from this run." El Jays Mystery is trained at Karoola by Dick Eaves and she is owned and raced by him along with his wife Margaret, thoroughbred trainers John Blacker and Leon Laskey and their respective partners Penny Cawthen and Sharee Marshall, Gail and Lyndon Menegon, Michelle and Jeffrey Arnott, Barbara an Richard Imlach, Ross Goodsell, Terry Sinclair and Gail Wilkins. Peter Staples

The harness racing connections of talented three-year-old filly Vouvray Beach will aim her at a few of the feature races this season following her impressive first-up win in a combined 3C0-C1 and C0 Pace over 2090 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart last night. Vouvray Beach ($1.80) worked home three-wide without cover for the last lap but she just took it in her stride to score by over a metre from race leader Ideal Karalta ($8.60) with Our Triple Asset ($16) over three metres away third. "That was the filly's first outing since May so she will take a lot of benefit from the run going forward," said part-owner Jamie Cockshutt. "The plan is to try and run her through the classes this time in but if she pulls up well from this then she is more than likely going to a fillies and mares' race over 1680m in Launceston next Sunday." It was a heady ride from Ricky Duggan who allowed her to settle midfield in the one-out line before improving to the one-out-one-back spot. With a risk of being pocketed he made his more at the bell to lead the three-wide train and when he moved alongside the leader in the home straight he eventually wore that horse down to score comfortably. Vouvray Beach is owned by Cockshutt in partnership with Barry Cooper and they left the meeting with a double courtesy of their talented four-year-old Jaks Teller keeping his unbeaten record this season intact in a C4-C5 event over 2090 metres. Jaks Teller settled midfield in the one-out line but when his driver Ricky Duggan became unhappy with the tempo he unleashed the four-year-old and he quickly whipped around the field to take control. Once in front he travelled well and when Duggan gave him more rein at the top if the home straight he powered clear and went on to win by almost 320 metres. "I reckon we'll tip Jaks Teller out for a spell now and bring him back to prepare for the Easter Cup," Cockshutt said. Peter Staples

Talented three-year-old pacer Semowillrev produced another brilliant performance in Launceston on Sunday night to easily keep his unbeaten harness racing record intact. It was the Craig Hayes-trained gelding's fourth win from as many starts and arguably his best. Krafty Boy set up a big lead early while Hayes had to extricate his charge from the pack in order to avoid interference soon after the start. But when clear and in the three-wide line Semowillrev scorched around the field and rushed past the leader as if he was treading water. Once in front the Sportswriter gelding was allowed to bowl along at his own leisure and when Hayes released the reins at the top of the straight he powered clear and went on to defeat Krafty Boy by almost 11 metres with Volkova Leis 14 metres away third. Semowillrev clocked a mile rate for the 1680-metre trip of 1.57 which was a personal best and the winning margin was just a shade below his average of 10.25 metres. "I'm very happy with how the horse has come back as a three-year-old," Hayes said. "I'll give him one more run then tip him out for a two or three-week let-up. "He has shown me enough to suggest he will be up to tackling the feature three-year-old races here in Tasmania this season." Peter Staples

Hobby harness racing owner Richard Hall celebrated his first winner with when his recent purchase Im Barney Rubble produced a powerful finish for a last-stride win in the Doug Martin Danbury Park Cup over 2698 metres at Launceston last night. Im Barney Rubble, trained and driven by Rohan Hadley, settled near last while The Majority set a solid pace in front with the well-tried Dapper Dana locked away on the rails and shuffled back to last turning for home. Dapper Dana galloped fiercely soon after the start and lost at least 60 metres but tacked onto the pack soon after. When Black Centurian gave up the one-out-one-back spot to make his move 500 metres from home, he found the lead in the home straight, shot clear and looked the likely winner. But Im Barney Rubble unleashed a powerful finishing burst and hit the line hard to score by a nose over Black Centurian with Dapper Dana a close-up third. While it was a great win by the Life Sign gelding the effort of Dapper Dana was enormous and he was clearly the run of the race outside of the winner. Hall purchased Im Barney Rubble through the claiming races process. "I was going to buy him one night when the asking price as only $6500 but I didn't fully understand how the claiming system worked," Hall said. "His price later went up to $10,000 but I still thought he was worth it." Peter Staples

Stalwart New Zealand-bred pacer Destreos notched his first win since arriving in Tasmania three months ago with a sensational harness racing victory in the Cannonball Charge over 1609 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart on Sunday night. The Ken Rattray-trained gelding was having his fifth start in the state since arriving from Queensland in early September. Destreos earned a reputation as a war horse in Queensland where he notched most of his 97 wins and despite having his 439th start he showed the athleticism of a much younger horse to register his first Tasmanian win. Driver Gareth Rattray settled Destreos near last from his outside second-row draw (13) but when the race favourite Devendra, that is Inter Dominion-bound, set off three-wide to make his charge 800 metres out, Rattray latched his charge on his back for a cart home. Devendra hit the front in the home straight but when Rattray called on Destreos to challenge he moved alongside the favourite and powered to the line to score convincingly. "That was how he has to be driven to win here in Tassie because he's always going to draw that bad the way the races are framed," Rattray said. "He's getting closer to 100 wins and hopefully he can to that before the end of the year." Rattray snared a double courtesy of his handy pacer Tuxedo Max scoring another impressive all-the-way win. "I thought Tuxedo Max was next to a good thing from the pole in his race and he never let me down." Destreos and Tuxedo Max will have their next starts in Hobart on Friday week. Peter Staples

A group of Tasmania's harness racing driver-trainers have banded together to raise money for the awareness of men's health as well as research into prostate cancer. Rohan Hillier and his brother Troy along with Barrie, Gareth and Todd Rattray, Ricky Duggan, Adrian Collins, Christian Salter and Rodney Ashwood have offered to grow moustaches or beards as part of the Movember campaign. Movember is a national campaign aimed at raising funds for men's health and growing a Mo or a beard from being clean-shaven at the start of the month and come the end of November participants can either shave off the growth or leave it. The project has proven to be a great way to raise funds through individual sponsorship and it gives much-needed funding to promote awareness of men's health and in particular prostate cancer. "It's a great way to raise not only awareness of prostate cancer but we are able to contribute towards racing money to make people aware of men's health. It's a very worthwhile cause," Hillier said. BOTRA, Tasmania's breeders, owners, trainers, and reinspersons association has offered to donate $20 to the cause for each win produced by the participating drivers and Tasracing, the state's governing body will match it. "We hope to drive 40 winners between us and if we do that's $1600 we will donate to the cause plus whatever personal sponsorships we can arrange," Hillier said. Ricky Duggan snared a double on Sunday while Gareth Rattray guided Destreos to a stirring victory in the feature race the Cannonball Charge. Peter Staples

The connections of star four-year-old Tasmanian pacer Jaks Teller will resist the temptation to rush the harness racing Washington VC entire into top company by instead allowing him to gradually make his way through the grades. Jaks Teller took his career win tally to seven from only eight starts when he led almost throughout to score comfortably in a C3-C4 event over 2090 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart last night. With Ricky Duggan in the sulky, the four-year-0oold settled midfield from his front-row draw but as soon as Our Classic Mach settled in the lead Duggan sent his charge around the field to take charge. From there on it was little more than a procession as Jaks Teller gave his rivals the slip turning for home and he went on to defeat Our Classic Mach by 7.2 metres with Kvitova Leis almost two metres away third. "We have the Easter Cup in mind for this horse but he is going to have to improve his overall racing manners to get to that goal," said part-owner-0breeder Jamie Cockshutt." He still does a lot wrong so there is no use rushing him into races against the best with him still learning his craft. "There's no need to rush him and if we take our time and let him mature gradually he'll have a much better chance of getting to top company." Jaks Teller again ran about in the home straight but his lead was so great the end result was never in doubt. Cockshutt said Jaks Teller would tackle a C4 in a week or so and when and if he reaches C7-8 class he will be given a spell and then return for a crack at the 2018 Easter Cup in Launceston at the end of March. Peter Staples

The Paul Williams-trained Metro Digby was sent out a $13 outsider in the opening race on the harness racing program at Luxbet Park Hobart last night, but from barrier three he was able to easily find the lead from where his trainer-driver was able to dictate terms and cruise to an effortless win in a C1-C2 over 2090 metres. Metro Digby scored by six metres from the favourite Zhukov Leis ($2.70) with Courageous Katee ($3.30) a half-neck away third and just in advance of the well-backed Rollon Jack ($3.60). The winner's stablemate Eternal Shadow settled third on the rails and ran on fairly in the home straight to finish fifth. Metro Digby (Metropolitan-Jolopez) went into the race with excellent form, having been placed at two of his three previous outings that followed an impressive win in similar company in Launceston. "The horse is always very hard to beat when he leads and he did it with ease tonight," Williams said. It was Metro Digby's eighth career win from 56 starts but he also has notched 17 minor placings for career prizemoney of almost $60,000. Peter Staples

When Tasmanian-born harness racing trainer Ken Rattray headed to Queensland about 20 years ago he didn't think he'd ever be back living in his home state. But unhappy with how the racing industry is shaping in the sunshine state he and his life partner Sally Stingel, who also is a Tasmanian, leased a property at Flowery Gully in the state's north and they are well on the way to establishing a handy training complex. While in Queensland they trained and raced Destreos that became an icon courtesy of his dexterity and love of racing so much so that in Hobart tonight the gelded son of Canadian sire Astreos will be having 439th start. During a racing career that spans almost 12 years, Destreos has amassed 96 wins and 133 minor placings for career stake earnings of almost $800,000. There isn't a horse anywhere else in Australia that can match those statistics. On Sunday night Destreos, owned by Stingel and trained by Rattray, will start from the outside of the second row in the Cannonball Charge, the feature race on the eight-event program in Hobart. Since arriving in the state in August Destreos has had four starts, all in Launceston, for a first-up second but he finished out of a place at his three subsequent starts. Rattray also will hitch up Im Born to Rule in the same race and he comes off a last-start win at bolter's odds in a heat of the Australian Drivers Championship in Hobart two weeks ago. Rattray will partner the gelding that has notched 350 starts for 38 wins and 83 minor placings for over $205,000 in stakes. While Destreos and Im Born To Rule will be competitive they will both need to be at the top of their game with Devendra in the race. Devendra heads to the Inter Dominion series in Western Australia on Monday and his trainer Todd Rattray is hoping he can emulate this feats at the Inter series two years ago in which he won two heats to make it through to the final. Ken Rattray also will be hoping his handy six-year-old Tuxedo Max can make it three wins from his past four starts when he steps out in a C5-C7 over 1609 metres (race 3), in which he has drawn the pole position. The gelding should only need to step well from the mobile to lead and if that eventuates he should be very hard to run down. Peter Staples

One of Tasmania's most exciting harness racing  pacers Jaks Teller will line up in a race at Luxbet Park Hobart tomorrow night with bookmakers predicting the Juanita McKenzie-trained gelding will make it six wins in succession. Early markets have Jaks Teller at the prohibitive price of $1.30 but to some that represents luxury odds. At the four-year-old's most recent outing in Hobart two weeks ago he recorded a mile rate of 1.58.8 over 2090 metres and ran home his last half (800m) in a slick 56.3 seconds which was one of the fastest times recorded by a class three horse this season. While his trainer is trying to keep a lid on the son of Washinton VC's potential it is clear the New Zealand-bred entire has the potential to quickly win his way to open class. Jaks Teller has drawn gate three in a C3-C4 mobile event over 2090 metres and should he find the lead it is hard to see any of his rivals running him down. Even if the speedy Ebonyallstarzzz beats him to the front, Jaks Telller's driver Ricky Duggan can either race outside of the leader or push on for the lead, which would benefit Ebonyallstarzzz because she would then enjoy the run of the race on the leader's back which would enhance her chances of filling a place. Peter Staples  

The Cannonball Charge is the feature race on the harness racing card (race 4) in Hobart Sunday night with last-start winner Devendra and former Queensland war horse Destreos likely to battle it out for favouritism even though they have drawn the two outside gates on the second line. This will be Devendra's last start in Tasmania before he leaves to Western Australia where he will contest the Inter Dominion series in Perth. The gelding's trainer Todd Rattray says the horse is in top order and earned his trip west after he scored impressively last start. "I'm very happy with how Devendra has trained on since his last win so this run on Sunday night should have him just where I want him leading up to the Inter Dominion series that starts later this month," Rattray said. "The horse leaves next Sunday night on the ship to Melbourne and then he'll be on a plane to Perth the next night." Devendra was very competitive in the Inter Dominion series two years ago when he made the final after winning two of the heats but a bad barrier draw ruined his chances. He missed last year's series through injury but his form this time in suggests he has fully recovered and at his best will be a top chance to make the final. Peter Staples

When lightly raced harness racing three-year-old pacer Streitkid debuted with an all-the-way victory in Hobart two weeks ago his owners Barry Cooper and Jamie Cockshutt were elated. The gelding had to be bottle fed at birth after the mother rejected him and there were other issues so just to see him make it to the races and win first-up was all they could have asked. But last Saturday night at the same venue and in a heat of the Australian Driving Championship, Streitkid did a whole lot more than just mirror his debut performance. He was again able to make full use of the pole position and lead but it was the way he toughed it out when seriously challenged by the highly promising Flying Wingard that had the hairs on the neck of his owners standing to attention. Streitkid enjoyed a comfortable lead but he had Flying Wingard for company over the final 600 metres and when the going got tough 150m from home Streitkid dug deep to stave off the determined challenge. South Australian driver Wayne Hill piloted the gelding to victory and after the race he described the gelded son of American Ideal as "gutsy". "That was one tough effort for horse only having his second start. He was in for the fight and refused to lay down." Streitkid is from the mare Ima Blissfull Hall that was owned and raced by Cooper and Cockshutt. The mare showed a lot as a young horse but injury prevented her from realising her potential. Cockshutt said the Streitkid, prepared by Paul Hill, will be aimed at the 3YO Globe Derby Stakes in May. Peter Staples

Top Victorian harness racing reinsman Chris Alford made a late charge to take out the 2017 Yabby Dam Racing Australian Drivers Championship at Luxbet Park Hobart last night. The ADC was made up two representatives from each state and boasted the best 12 drivers in Australia with the series contested over eight heats. The championship went down to the wire with Alford leading on 68 points going into the last of eight heats clear of Chris Geary (673) and Greg Sugars (61). But when Alford took the odds-on favourite Semowillrev ($1.30) to the front over a lap from home the championship medallion was his courtesy of three wins from the eight heats that each earned him the maximum 19 points. Alford had only 18 points after two heats but he made a charge when he partnered outsider Im Born To Rule ($59) to victory in a in a C6-C10 Pace over 2090 metres for Ken Rattray. The win took Alford's midway tally to 37 and only 10 points adrift of Geary with Victorian Sugars also making his way up the leader board with 39 points at the half-way mark. Geary set up an early lead in the series with wins in two of the first three heats. Geary, 19, delivered a stellar drive to win the opening heat aboard the Wayne Campbell-trained Buster William by sending the gelding to the front when the pace slackened 800m from home and he held on to win comfortably. But it was his cunning drive aboard outsider Itz Gemmas Delight ($55) that set the scene for the series as he took the mare from eighth turning for home to dash home along the sprint lane to score narrowly from Modern Chic and Call Her Julie. Queensland's Mathew Neilson partnered highly promising four-year-old Jaks Teller to an effortless win in heat two which was for C2-C3 pacers over 2090 metres. Neilson sent Jaks Teller around the field 1400 metres from home to take the lead and from there it was a procession with the gelded son of WashingtonVC forging clear 500 metres out and went on to win by 23 metres from Courageous Katee (Ellen Rixon) with Mersey Delight (Gareth Rattray) third. The win took Neilson's tally after two heats to 28 and one clear of Geary but Geary's third-heat win gave him a handy buffer close to the half-way mark while Neilson's drives struggled in the last half of the series. With two rounds remaining Geary had accrued 59 points to hold a slender lead over Western Australia's Chris Lewis (54) and Alford (53) but when Alford partnered odds-on favourite Goggo Gee Gee to victory in the penultimate heat it took his tally tom 68 and five points clear of Geary with Sugars close-up on 61. Peter Staples

Gorse Bush has long been considered one of Tasmania's best broodmares and that status was confirmed when she was inducted into the Tasmanian Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Gorse Bush was Tasmanian Broodmare of the Year six times with her first being awarded in the 2006/07 season. She is the Dam of 10 foals of which nine are winners with her greatest claim to fame being the dam of Beautide, the dual Inter-Dominion Champion in 2014 and 2015. Gorse Bush won 10 races herself a had earnings of $48,413. She is by Ticket To Heaven from the Holly Sand mare Barrington Lass. Beautide was the winner of 49 races including the 2013 Miracle Mile and is the highest stake money earner in the history of Tasmanian harness racing... winning in excess of $2 million dollars. Gorse Bush's success doesn't end with the dual Australian Horse of the Year, she is also the dam of Death and Taxes, winner of 15 races including the 2006 Bandbox Final and Ashkalini the 2009 Evicus Stakes winner. Ashkalini has gone on to become the dam of three foals, all winners including Ignatius, the Australasian record holder for a 2YO, recording a mile rate of 1:51:3 when he won the Breeders Challenge final at Menangle this year. The mare is owned and was bred by Barrie and Denise Rattray. Gorse Bush will deservedly go down in history as one of the all-time greats of the states breeding industry and richly deserves her place in the Tasmanian Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Peter Staples

Shadow Storm became the first horse to win using a sprint lane that came into effect on the harness racing Hobart track two weeks ago. It was only a matter of time before it happened but it probably would have had a greater affect had the winner been one of the favourites. Hobart was the first track in Australia to introduce a sprint lane in the late 1990s when racing was held on the old Royal Showground track and it almost led to a boycott when most drivers and trainers objected to its introduction. The pressure applied by participants was so great it eventually led to the sprint lane's demise but a few years later almost every major track in Australia was installing a sprint lane or passing lane as they were then known. Shadow Storm was friendless in the betting drifting from $21 to start at $46 and one of the rank outsiders. But given a gun run on the back of the leader Johns Legacy, the gelded son of Mr. Feelgood settled well and when presented with the sprint lane at the top of the straight he stormed home to win convincingly from Johns Legacy and Miss Ruthless. Peter Staples  

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