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Underrated harness racing mare Followthewind repaid her staunch followers with an effortless all-the-way win at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. Followthewind had strung together a bunch of minor placings since winning in Hobart in early July but with the aid of the pole position (barrier one) the five-year-old mare was able to find the lead and driver Ricky Duggan had no trouble in dictating the speed of the race. After being left alone in front Followthewind slipped clear at the top of the home straight and went on to score by almost six metres from Campaign Drive with Im Justforyou over four metres astern. It was a bold display of front-running with the daughter of Mister Big (USA) scampering over the 1680 metres in 2m.05.2s for a sub two-minute mile rate of 1.59.9. Followthewind is owned and raced by Barry Cooper and Jamie Cockshutt who have enjoyed a lot of success since they teamed up about five years ago. Followthewind has won eight of her 21 starts as well as nine minor placings for almost $50,000 in stakes. There was a lot to like about Followthewind's latest win but the run of Buriton Bailey also caught the eye, coming from well back to finish fifth and only 11 metres from the winner. Look for Buriton Bailey in the coming weeks and especially if the 10-year-old draws the front line. Peter Staples

AN ideal front-row draw could be the key to Paint The Wind making it back-to-back harness racing  wins at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. Paint The Wind has been a model of consistency this time in with the Rohan Hadley-trained gelding having been placed four times before his last-start victory in a C1-C2 event over 2200 metres. The lightly raced four-year-old has won four and been placed five times from only 17 outings and while there appears to be plenty of natural speed in the race and all of it on the front line he should be able to land in a top spot soon after the start. These Days (5) and Ebonyallstarzzz (6) have speed to burn, especially Ebonyallstarzzz, so if her driver Mark Yole decides to push for the lead and These Days goes forward it could leave Paint The Wind to get a perfect sit in the one-out line. Our Percius (1) was placed two starts back and wasn't far away last time so from gate one he also could get a charmed run but he will need to show some early speed to retain a spot behind the leader, otherwise he will be buried back in the field. The most logical trifecta is to take 3,5,6 for first and second and include Our Percius (1) for third. Peter Staples

It was in Launceston in February 2011 that battling horse trainer Mick Burles and a gelding called The Cleaner began their racetrack journey that was to make its mark on the landscape of the Australian turf. The Cleaner, bought two years earlier at a yearling sale for just $10,000 by three of Burles’ golfing mates when the trainer didn’t have the money himself, finished 13th in a field of 14 maidens. The first-up flop went on to win 19 of his 54 races for Burles and earn more than $1.3 million in prize money. Much loved as battlers in a world of bluebloods, Mick and The Cleaner would garner a cult-like following, with fanfare at a frenzy in 2014 when the horse Mick called Bill became the first Tasmanian-trained runner in the Cox Plate. By the time their partnership ended just over a year (and another run in the Cox Plate) later, the two underdogs were national identities, with some likening the partnership to that of Tommy Woodcock and the legend Phar Lap. In December 2015, Mick’s world was torn apart when the same friends who stepped in to buy the horse when Burles didn’t have “10 grand”, sacked him and removed The Cleaner from the stables he had called home for close to seven years. In Mick and The Cleaner, the remarkable rise of the two unlikely heroes, and all the facts of how and why this pair were split, is exclusively revealed. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Peter Staples has worked in the print and electronic media for over 30 years. He has been the racing journalist with the Tasmanian racing industry’s governing body for the past 12 years, and prior to that he was a journalist with The Mercury — firstly as a general sports reporter before acquiring the position of chief racing writer, a position he held for a decade prior to branching out on his own in 2001. Peter is a multiple award-winning racing writer who also has been a judge on the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame panel for over a decade. He holds a similar position with the Tasmanian Racing Hall of Fame judging panel. He continues to contribute to radio programs nationwide and he is the host of all Tasmanian racing products produced for Sky Channel, in particular Sky Thoroughbred Central. A link hre to the publisher

There's an old saying in the harness racing industry and that is to always try and keep yourself in the best company and your horses in the worst. While that might sound derogatory towards other horses, the adage rings true so often and it is relevant for handy mare Days Like This that lines up in a C1-C2 mares race over 1609 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart on Sunday night. The Brian Stanley-trained five-year-old comes off a win in a similar class race in Launceston last Sunday night over 1680 metres in which she defeated the well-regarded Stingofascorpion by three metres and clocked a mile rate of two minutes. She drew the font line in that race (5) and delivered a bold front-running performance to run her rivals ragged. On Sunday night she has again drawn the front row (gate 2) from which she should have enough gate speed to find the front and if that eventuates she should be too strong for her rivals. Olwen Jaccka (6) is in top form having won two and been placed twice from her past five starts, so she looms as the main danger while Glamour Art (5) and Vander Jenkins (4) loom as the best of the rest in the small field of six. This will be start 40 for Days Like This that has won four and been placed eight times for career stake earnings of just over $31,000 and she has a best mile rate of 1.59.7 that she achieved in winning a two-year-old event at only her fourth race start. Peter Staples

When promising three-year-old pacer Master Leon scored a last-stride win at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night it gave his harness racing trainer-driver Brian Rose his first winner in almost 12 years. Master Leon produced a powerful finish from well back in the field to swamp the leaders and score an impressive win in a race for non-winners over 2200 metres. It ended a long drought for Rose who had to dig deep into the memory bank to remember the last time he wandered into the winner's enclosure which was in 2004 when Max Design saluted in a C2-C3 in Launceston with Rose in the sulky. "It's been a long time between wins but I'm only a hobby trainer-driver and as long as I've got one that is competitive I'm happy," Rose said. "I think Master Leon has a bit of ability so I'm hoping it won't be another 12 years before my next win." Rose, 62 has been a hobby trainer for over 30 years and he has only ever had one horse in work at any one time. But when he first started out in the harness racing industry in Tasmania he tasted success at the beginning of his journey by training Nickorado to win the 1986 Tasmanian Derby. "Nickorado virtually got me going in the industry and he was a real good horse. I drove him to win a heat of the Derby but I handed the reins to Tony Petersen for the big race and we got the money." "I got started in this game when by Dad (the late Max Rose) bought two mares in foal and Nickorado was one of the foals and I've been involved in one way or another ever since." Rose suffered a heart attack when he was only 42 and that set him back a peg or two but he was back at work with Forestry Tasmania six months later and not long after he was back in the sulky. "The heart attack was a bit of a setback but I soldiered on until I had to take a redundancy (from Forestry Tasmania) about five years ago so now I just potter around with my one horse and that's enough to keep me interested." Rose purchased Master Leon from well-known Tasmanian standardbred breeder Geoff Madden. "I bought a mare (Rich Beginnings) in foal from Geoff (Madden) as part of a package deal and this colt is the result. He is her fifth foal to race but only two have won. Rose no longer lives on a large property but instead resides at Branxholm on a medium size building block that can accommodate, at best, a couple of stables so he has to take his horses elsewhere to train. "When we were on the (parents') farm there were plenty of paddocks and about three different types of training tracks but these days I have to take the horse to Scottsdale for fast work or to a mate's property nearby." "I stay involved in harness racing because I love it. With costs what they are these days I could only ever afford to have one in work at any time but this win will keep us going for a while." Rose says Master Leon will most likely have his next start in Launceston on Sunday week. Peter Staples

Hobby harness racing trainer Ben Richardson had plenty of reasons to smile after the only horse he has in work, Wasonie Snake, delivered the goods in a C1 event over 1680 metres at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. In fact he had 31 reasons because Richardson was able to secure $31 at fixed odds to win the race. Wasonie Snake was given a gun run by ace reinsman Ricky Duggan who landed the gelding in the one-out-one-back spot before letting him strode to the lead leaving the back straight then packed to many guns for his rivals to score by four metres from the $2.30 favourite Bona Fide Hustler. "The horse has been a good money-spinner for me. He's only had 13 starts since I've had him for two wins and he's always thereabouts," Richardson said. "I've got his three-year-old brother but he's hasn't started yet." Richardson acquired Wasonie Snake from his previous trainer Ben Yole who won a race with him over two years ago and again he was at a big price ($25). He won his first race for Richardson in August last year at odds of around $16 and with sound form going into this latest assignment he was backed in from $31 to start at $10. "I must admit I was surprised at his price but glad to take it." Richardson, 38, is based at Campania in the south of the state and he is intent on remaining a hobby trainer. Peter Staples

Talented Tasmanian harness racing trainer Kate McLeod regards her handy seven-year-old pacer These Days a wonder horse. These Days made it successive wins on the Launceston track when he powered home to win the Dakin Refrigerator Stakes over 2200 metres with Troy Hillier aboard. McLeod said the horse was lucky to be alive let alone scoring back-to-back wins. After the horse scored an impressive win in February he lost all form and the only thing the trainer can put it down to is a mystery illness. "We nearly lost him - he was sore everywhere and got to the point where he could hardly walk," McLeod said. "We didn't have him tested for it but I'm tipping it was Ross River virus." These Days recovered and while it has taken him a while to find his best form the gelding looks set to continue being competitive as he makes his way through the classes. Despite being impressive in winning at is previous outing from a second-row draw, These Days was opened at $7.50 with fixed odds operators which surprised McLeod. "He drew to lead (barrier four) and he's a much better horse in front so I was pleasantly surprised at his price." These Days, owned and raced by Dale and Susan Stacey, has had 29 starts for six wins and 12 minor placings form almost $40,000 in stakes. Peter Staples

Talented young reinsman Wade Rattray has been selected to represent Tasmania at the harness racing Australasian Young Drivers' Championship in Perth (WA) later this year. Rattray, 24, will be representing the state for the first time. "I am thrilled to have been selected to represent my state. It is an absolute honour for any sportsmen," Rattray said. "There is always a lot of luck associated with this series because you need to be lucky with the horses you draw but I'm hoping a bit of luck falls my way." The series will be held during the Inter Dominion series in November-December with the last of 10 heats to be run at Gloucester Park on 9 December. He is the son of prominent harness trainer-driver Kent Rattray but surprisingly Wade was a late starter having not acquired his driver's licence until 2014. Rattray was an automatic selection after being the equal second-best performed young driver during the 2014-15 season behind Dylan Ford who was ineligible because he has already represented the state twice. He is no stranger to success I these type being competitions having been runner-up in the Tasmanian Youngbloods Challenge series last season before taking out the title this season. Peter Staples

The 2015-16 Tasmanian harness racing season will be remembered by trainer Ben Yole as the season that changed his and his family's life. Yole emerged as the state's premier trainer but he did it by preparing 108 winners which was the first time in two decades that a mentor had won the title with 100 winners or more. Only three other trainers, Wayne Rattray, his son Barrie Rattray and Neville Webberley have achieved the feat. Wayne produced 113 winners (1989-90), Webberley holds the record of 118 achieved during the 1990-91 season while Barrie Rattray produced over 100 winners for four seasons in succession from 1993 to 1997. But the most amazing aspect of Yole's win was that he produced his total of wins from considerably less meetings that the other training centurions. Wayne Rattray acquired his 113 winners from 110 meetings, Webberley's were scored from 115 meetings while Barrie Rattray's premiership-winning totals were amassed from between 107 and 112 meetings buts Yole's 108 winners came from only 86 meetings. Yole averaged just over 12 runners at every meeting for an average of 1.25 winners per meeting. "I'll no doubt look back on this achievement in years to come and consider how it has changed our lives but in the short term it has certainly given us more scope with new owners." Yole said. "To be successful in this business depends on having plenty of owners and that is one aspect of our business that has grown enormously as the season has progressed. "It takes a lot of people to produce what we did last season and I am fortunate to have my wife Catherine who is an incredible support to me but she also plays a dominant role in the day-to-day running of the business. My younger brothers Tim and Mark are pivotal to the operation and my Mum and Dad (Louise and Wayne) also are keys to the success of the stable." Yole is already working on improving on last season's effort. The sable will have at least one starter in each of the nine races on the nine-race card at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. Peter Staples

Talented harness racing reinsman Troy Hillier had hoped to secure a cosy run in a race in Launceston last Sunday night that would have given his charge These Days every opportunity to emerge triumphant. These Days drew barrier eight which meant he started from the inside of the second row and even though he knew the horse that drew directly in front of him, Red Sun Bliss, had no genuine early speed he never expected to be shuffled back to near last and four-back the fence after the field had traveled 300 metres. These Days was still last leaving the back straight the last time with race leader Regal Idea travelling comfortably without having exhausted too much energy. But when Vander Jenkins eased out three-wide turning for home Hillier latched onto the back of that horse for a cart home. When Hillier eased These Days four-wide to challenge the six-year-old charged home and hit the line with a half-metre to spare over Vander Jenkins with Regal Idea a distant third. "At one stage I thought I might be in a bit of trouble because there was no way out and I really didn't want to ease right back to last," Hillier said. "But I was able to her hi off the fence turning for home and when he balanced up in the straight he worked home well." These Days is trained by Kate McLeod at Bridport and given how he gelding hit the line there should be more wins in store for the son of Blissfull Hall in the coming weeks. These Days has won five and been laced a dozen times from 28 starts for close to $33,000 in stakes. Peter Staples

Talented harness racing pacer El Jay's Mystery ended her two-year-old season on a high with an impressive win in the Carlton Draught 2YO over 1680 metres at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston last night. El Jay's Mystery was eased out of the early speed battle from her outside front-row draw to settle near last and she was then was asked by driver Ricky Duggan to make a sweeping run from the 600-metre peg. She delivered the desired result in style to score fill of running to defeat Master Leon and Eternal; Speed with race leader Dromana Beach fading to finish fifth. It made it two wins in succession for the daughter of Live or Die prompting her trainer Dick Eaves to suggest she has the potential to be a star three-year-old. "I have no doubt this filly will derive a lot of benefit from what she's done this season and if I'm right she could be a top three-year-old next season," eaves said. "She's had a few issues that we've had to iron out but her past two starts have been really good, especially this one because she had to come from last and go through another bit of a learning curve in the race. "She's still coming to terms with settling in her races and tonight she resented being eased out of the contest early but she did settle and when Ricky (Duggan) asked for the big effort in the straight she didn't let him down." El Jay's Mystery is expected to spend a couple of months in the paddock spelling on some spring grass. Peter Staples

Harness racing trainer Ben Yole has emerged as favourite to win this season's Halwes Medal. As at the end of June when voting moved into silent mode Yole was leading with 69 votes to be 14 clear of his younger brother Mark Yole who leads in the race for the driver's premiership. Trainer-driver Rohan Hillier was perched in third spot with 48 votes and only three clear of driver Ricky Duggan who was only three votes astern. However Duggan has dominated a few meetings since the voting was made silent and in particular last Sunday night in Hobart where he drove five winners and two minor placegetters from nine drives. Ben Yole has trained 107 winners to be 60 wins clear of his nearest rival Tod Rattray, so he will win the trainer's premiership while Mark Yole has driven 84 winners to lead Ricky Duggan by 10 with only one meeting of the season remaining. The Halwes Medal is determined on a point-score basis with a panel of judges asked to vote at a specific number of meetings throughout the season with six votes in each category (driver/trainer) up for grabs at each meeting. An interesting tussle exits in the Young Achiever Award as Dylan Ford and Matthew Howlett were tied on eight votes each when the voting switched to silent mode after the June 26 meeting. The winners will be announced at the annual Tasmanian Harness Racing Awards and Hall of Fame induction night in Launceston on September 24. Peter Staples

Tasmanian two-year-old pacer Scooterwillrev qualified for a berth in next Sunday's $280,000 Group 1 Breeders Crown final when he finished a game fifth in his harness racing semi-final at Bendigo on Saturday night. Scooterwillrev, prepared at Stowport by Craig Hayes, went into the semi-final undefeated from six starts in his home state but he had to contend with an outside back-row draw at his first start interstate. The gelding was driven by Greg Sugars and finished 10.8 metres from the winner Our Little General ($4.30) from the Emma Stewart stable with kiwi colt Pacing Major second as the $1.70 favourite. Scooterwillrev has drawn the inside of the second row in the final at Melton next Sunday and if the pole marker Scotlynn Beach doesn't gain a start as the emergency then the Tasmanian will follow out the likely favourite Tingara Beach (2). Miss Graceland was bred in Tasmania by Rick and Naomi Hinds and she secured her place in the 2TO Fillies final with a game second in her semi-final. Miss Graceland, trained by Emma Stewart and to be driven by Gavin Lang, has drawn gate four on the front line in the final. Three-year-old filly Nikkibadwagon that is owned by Tasmanians Robert Groenewegen, Bryan Dunn and Nic Bauld, clinched her berth in the 3YO Fillies final with a gallant second in her semi-final. Peter Staples

Harness racing Tasmanian reinsman Ricky Duggan enjoyed one of is best nights at the office in two years when he ended the 10-race harness racing program in Hobart on Sunday night with five winners. It is the second time Duggan has bagged five winners with the only other time coming at a similar Hobart meeting in August 2014. The most surprising aspect of his quintet of wins was that they were all at decent each-way odds. Master Doc won the opening event starting at $12 and he guided Something Eyre home in the following race at $6 and at the expense of the $1.20 favourite The Bettormack. Midway through the program he partnered the Juanita McKenzie-trained mare Zumba Bromac to a stirring win at $9 and Olwen Jaccka saluted in the following event at $13. His longest-priced winner was Cheshire Cat in the ninth event that went around at $14 after opening at $21. Had anybody had a $1 all-up bet on Duggan's five winners they would have collected $117,936. "It was just one of those nights where everything just panned out perfectly for all of my winners in the run," Duggan said. "At the start of the meeting I thought I had two genuine winning chances and a couple of decent each-way hopes." Duggan had nine drives at the meeting and produced five winners and two minor placegetters but his minor placegetters were $2 favourite Merlene Oh that finished third in her race (8) while Angela De Marco ($2.60 equal favourite in the last race on the card. "It could have been my best night ever had the two favourites won," Duggan said. Peter Staples

After producing four consecutive minor placings, smart harness racing  two-year-old filly El Jays Mystery finally delivered the goods by winning her first race in Launceston last Sunday. The Dick Eaves-trained youngster was well driver by Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang who allowed the filly to settle at the rear of the field and when he called on her for the big effort late she sprinted powerfully to the line to record a convincing win in the Cliff Robins Memorial over 1680 metres. El Jays Mystery hit the line almost three metres clear of race leader Joes Little Girl with Schouten Island that had faced the breeze throughout, just over a metre astern. It was an impressive win and one that impressed two of her owners in particular in thoroughbred trainers John Blacker and Leon Laskey. It is Blacker and Laskey's first venture into owning a standardbred and they were convinced to take shares by the filly's breeders Lyndon and Gail Menegon who also have shares in a couple of thoroughbreds trained by Blacker. El Jays Mystery (Live or Die-Lombo Anastasia) was bred by the Menegons at their Big Park Stud at Piper's River in the North of the state. The filly is a half-sister to former Tasmanian Oaks winner Barynya (X Blissfull Hall) that is now racing successfully in Queensland. Peter Staples

Ben Yole has had an amazing season and all the hard work that he and his team have put in makes him a worthy recipient of Tasmania’s premier harness racing trainer for season 2015-16. But what makes it such a standout season for the former Victorian who relocated to Tasmania 11 years ago, is the statistics that surround his feat of preparing over 100 winners. While Yole has trained 105 winners, with two meetings remaining he could struggle to eclipse the record of 118 set by Neville Webberley in the 1990-91 season. But one record that he will set and that might only ever be broken by himself is the number of starters he has produced this season. Yole has so far taken 1006 horses to the races and compared to the only other three trainers to snare 100 plus winners he is in a league if his own. Barrie Rattray has trained 100 or more winners four times and the most horses he has taken to the races was in the 1993-94 season when he started 495 to win the title with 101 winners. Webberley started 515 of his team in the 1990-91 season when he captured the record of 118 winners. Yole has accepted with 20 of his team for this Sunday night’s meeting in Hobart to take his season tally of starters to 1026 and no doubt at the final meeting of the season in Launceston on  Sunday week he will have at least a dozen go around which will give him more than double the number of starters Webberley had in his busiest season. To keep Yole’s training effort in perspective, he has bagged his winners from considerably less meetings than Webberley was afforded in 1990-91. Webberley prepared 118 winners from 115 meetings for a strike rate of 1.03 while Yole will have amassed his total from only 86 meetings for a strike rate of 1.21. The comparisons are: Winners Season Trainer Winners Meetings Strike Rate 1989/90 Wayne Rattray 113 110 1.03 1990/91 Neville Webberley 118 115 1.03 1993/94 Barrie Rattray 101 112 0.90 1994/95 Barrie Rattray 101 112 0.90 1995/96 Barrie Rattray 107 103 1.04 1996/97 Barrie Rattray 111 107 1.04 2015/16 Ben Yole 105 86 1.21   Starters Season Trainer Starters 1990/91 Neville Webberley 515 1991/92 Wayne Rattray 498 1993/94 Barrie Rattray 495 2009/10 Phillip Ford 515 2015/16 Ben Yole 1026* *Includes Ben Yole acceptors (20) at Hobart on 21 August 2016 Peter Staples

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