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Beautide remains the pride of Tasmanian harness racing following his brilliant win in yesterday's Group One $750,000 Inter Dominion over 3009 metres at Menangle. Beautide toyed with his rivals in Australasia's premier event for the second successive year to become part of an elite group which have won the race in consecutive years. It was only his third start this time in, and given he has had such a short preparation leading up to the series, trainer James Rattray expects the gelding to continue racing in the short term. Winning two Inter Dominions elevates Beautide to legend status and arguably the best Tasmanian-owned and bred pacer to have contested the time-honoured Championship. What he has achieved in the space of a year sets him apart from any other Tasmanian-bred standardbred. Yesterday's effortless win also delivered a message that the seven-year-old still has plenty to offer at Grand Circuit level. Beautide will be given the chance to become the fourth triple Inter Dominion winner in Perth later this year. PETER STAPLES

Consistent harness racing mare Ebabe delivered another courageous performance to score an impressive win at Tattersall’s Park Hobart last night. The Zeke Slater-trained pacer faced the breeze for most of the 2090-metre trip from her outside front row draw, and when driver Adrian Collins sent her to the front along the back straight, she powered home to score comfortably. Slater said Ebabe had been a good money spinner for owners Merv and Marjory Butterworth who have been big supporters of his stable. “Ebabe has been very consistent, and while she races in these lower grades, she will be very competitive as she showed tonight,” Slater said. “She has won four, but placed nine times from almost 30 starts, so she has paid her way. “I’m not sure how much further she will go here in Tassie, but while she’s in this sort of form she will be very competitive.” Collins said he was confident a log way out that the mare would win. The daughter of Union Guy ratdd 2:04.2, with the final 800 metres covered in 59.6 seconds. PETER STAPLES

Last season’s star Tasmanian harness racing filly Barynya proved why she probably should be contesting next month’s Ladyship Mile by registering a record breaking win in the Charlton Cup last Sunday. With experienced local driver John Caldow in the sulky, Barynya demolished a strong field in a sizzling rate of 1.56.5, which carved 3.3 seconds off the previous 2570-metre mark. The Dick Eaves-trained four-year-old cruised to the front early and was never seriously threatened on her way to a two-and-a-half metre win from another Tasmanian-bred star Villagem, with multiple Charlton Cup winner Uncle Wingnut two-and-a-half metres away third. Barynya was brilliant last season with the Tasmania and Victoria Oaks included in her 10 wins from 15 starts. She also clinched four placings, ending her three-year-old season with a game second in the Breeders’ Crown Final behind Just Cala. Eaves entered Barynya first-up in the Group Three Harness Breeders Ladyship Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton, which was one of the preferred qualifying races for the Ladyship Mile - considered the most prestigious mares’ race in Australia. Unfortunately driver Rohan Hillier was a victim of circumstances in that event and the daughter of Blissfull Hall finished towards the tail of the field. Unfazed by the first real blemish on her race record, connections nominated Barynya for another Ladyship Mile qualifying race at Menangle last weekend, but owner Lloyd Whish-Wilson explained how that turned sour. “We entered her for the qualifying event at Menangle last Saturday, believing that with her high points tally for her outstanding form in last year’s major three-year-old events, and allowance for the interference in the Ladyship Cup at Melton, she would automatically get a start,” Whish-Wilson said. “However HRNSW officials balloted her out, in their words because she did not have form against older horses. “When I contacted them  I was told they did not work on the points for performance formula that Victoria and Tasmania use, and did not consider her faster times and higher prize-money won as sufficient justification to place her in the front of older mares.” The Ladyship Mile field has been finalised and will be run at Menangle on March 1. Barynya was named Australian Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year last season, and while she did miss a place in that Ladyship Mile qualifying event, there is no doubt she would have started one of the favourites had she been given ample opportunity to find a way into the race. The winners of each of the selected qualifying events are guaranteed a start in the Ladyship Mile. However, the conditions of the race then dictate that the balance of the field is selected from mares that competed in qualifying races held in New South Wales, one of which Barynya was denied a start. If Barynya’s lack of form against older horses was the reason for her being balloted from the qualifying race at Menangle then she certainly proved that to be misjudged by thrashing her older rivals in the Charlton Cup. PETER STAPLES

As a three-year-old Johnnyace was competitive against the likes of harness racing star Beautide, but like others, his form waned and he never reached the heights his owners might have expected. But Johnnyace has continued to be a good money spinner for his owners, and in particular, his trainer Andrew Rawlings. The now seven-year-old still has what it takes to win features and he showed that at Spreyton on the synthetic surface by storming home to win the Sheffield Cup. It was his 12th win and it also gave Rawlings and driver James Austin a double for the meeting. While Rawlings was quietly confident the son of Aces N Sevens would perform well, punters were not of the same opinion, sending him around a $37 despised outsider. Rawlings said injuries and illnesses had prevented Johnnyace from realising his full potential. “After his three-year-old season he went through a fence at home and almost cut off his leg,” Rawlings said. “Since then he’s never quite shown what he did as a three-year-old when he ran seconds and thirds behind Beautide, but he’s still been a nice horse.” Rawlings also had his recent New Norfolk Cup winner Musselroe Bay engaged in the Sheffield Cup and he was one of the top fancies for the race. “Musselroe Bay just couldn’t get a clear run at them in the straight and went to the line hard held,” Rawlings said. The $3.30 favourite Whisper Jet lost her chance when she was slow to begin from a 20-metre handicap, but she ran on well to finish fourth. PETER STAPLES

Popular Tasmanian harness racing trainer Marc Butler took a break from the industry a few years ago, but the lure of spending time with horses was too great. Since returning to training he has had only a handful of horses in work but, in his words, enough to keep him busy. In recent times he has been preparing winners on a regular basis, and in Hobart last night, Anothermetro delivered an impressive all-the-way win that suggests he has more to give. The son of Metropolitan is a lightly raced four-year-old formerly in the care of Rodney Ashwood. He joined Butler’s stable six months ago and it appears the change of environment and a different approach to training has worked for this gelding. Ashwood is an excellent trainer but sometimes a horse will respond to different methods and Butler seems to have found the right recipe for success with Anothermetro. With Mark Yole in the cart, Anothermetro showed good early speed to roll to the front from gate three and settled into a good rhythm to lead comfortably to the home turn. The pressure was applied turning for home by Bobby Jo and Iden Mister Ed, which emerged from the pack to challenge. Iden Mister Ed looked set to grab the leader halfway up the home straight, but his run ended 50 metres out, as did Bobby Jo’s, and Anothermetro went on to defeat Bobby Jo by a metre-and-a-half, with Iden Mister Ed a short head away third. Another Metro rated 2.04 for the 2090 metres, covering his last half in 59.9 seconds. PETER STAPLES

Tasmanian harness racing trainer Rodney Ashwood has taken his time with well-bred gelding Charlie James and it would appear the patience has paid dividends. Charlie James led throughout to score an emphatic win in the Office National Pace at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart last night. It was more like a stroll in the park for the son of Grinfromeartoear and driver Rohan Hillier had no need to use the ‘persuader’ at any stage. Charlie James is owned by Jamie Cockshutt and Barry Cooper, who have enjoyed much success in recent years. They purchased Charlie James from former Tasmanian Darren Jacobson, who was having the hose broken in by Ashwood who mentioned to Cockshutt the then a yearling was for sale. “We paid $8000 for him because he was by a good sire from a mare that was well performed winning about 16 races, but he was such a nice type that we decided to take the punt,” Cockshutt said. “He looked like being real good as an early two-year-old, especially after he won his first race, but then he started to grow and he had to be tipped out. “He had a couple of little issues that had to be ironed out and we eventually got him back to the race. “We were very pleased with this win, and even though it was only a small field of five, he did everything we hoped he would.” “There’s no doubt he has a long way to go before he will be competitive against the real good ones, but we are hoping he has what it takes.” Cockshutt and Cooper have 18 horses on the books, four of which are yearlings domiciled in New Zealand. “Barry and I have invested a fair bit over the years but we’ve had a lot of success, especially with the ones we have bought in New Zealand,” Cockshutt said. Charlie James is named after Cooper’s grandson Charlie James Cooper. “Barry always wanted to name a horse after his grandson and he was waiting for one that he believed would win races and this bloke has so far lived up to expectations,” Cockshutt said. PETER STAPLES

Consistent pacer Frankie Falzoni has proven to be a good money spinner for Broadmarsh harness racing trainer Chris Howlett, so it came as no surprise that he outgunned a handy field over 2090 metres in Hobart last night. With the trainer’s youngest son, Mathew, in the sulky, Frankie Falzoni ($3.90) settled in the one-one before being angled three-wide to stake his claim at the 600-mertre mark. After facing the breeze, well-backed Major Callum ($3 favourite) loomed a winning chance when he forged past the leader Really Fay Fay turning for home. Me Mate Les emerged from the pack and looked set to run past the eventual winner, but Howlett’s gelding found when challenged and went on to score by a nose from Me Mate Les ($6.50), with Major Callum a close-up third. Please with Frankie Falzoni’s improvement, Howlett expects the son of Chief Marty to continue to be very competitive in whatever he contests in the coming weeks. Since arriving at Howlett’s stables almost two years ago, Frankie Falzoni has notched four wins and seven placings from 28 starts for just over $28,000. Listen to what trainer Chris Howlett had to say about Frankie Falzoni’s latest win. PETER STAPLES

While training doubles are a common occurrence at Tasmanian harness racing meetings, Ron Mansfield achieved a unique one at the recent Burnie program. The special aspect of the 59-year-old Devonport trainer’s double is the winners, Esquivo and Boutique Art, are the only horses in his stable. Both were bred by the Rattray Family Trust and, after not reaching the Rattray standards, were leased to Mansfield. Esquivo was unplaced at six two-year-old starts before Mansfield took over the training, and almost a year and 17 starts later, the son of Ponder broke through for his first win. Boutique Art raced from the Rattray stable until her five-year-old season, winning two races from 26 starts. After a year off, the daughter of Art Major found herself in Mansfield’s care, where her next 20 starts produced four seconds, three thirds and eight fourths before a well-deserved win at Burnie. Mansfield’s only prior winner was Love This Life at Burnie in March 2013. Todd Rattray drove Esquivo and Boutique Art and completed a treble with Goggo Gee Gee in the Greg Rawlings Bulldozing Sweepstakes. The daughter of Bettors Delight is trained by Barrie Rattray and owned by Adam Rattray and, like all of Todd’ winners, had the advantage of leading on the tight Wivenhoe Showgrounds circuit. PETER STAPLES

James Rattray, trainer of star Tasmanian-owned and bred pacer Beautide, yesterday confirmed the gelding has been passed fit to proceed with his campaign to defend the harness racing  Inter Dominion title he won at Menangle last year. Beautide was unplaced in last Saturday night's Victoria Cup at Melton after which stewards stood the pacer down while stating he was making a roaring noise which suggested he may have a respiratory problem. Beautide underwent a veterinarians examination yesterday and he was given a clean bill of health. "I thought the horse ran a great race, and to be honest, I was a little bemused as to why it was suggested he may have a respiratory problem, but I accepted what the stewards said and we had a vet go right over him today," Rattray said. "The vet couldn't find anything wrong with him and gave him the all clear so we are able to proceed with plans to run in a heat of the Inter Dominion at Menangle on Saturday week." Beautide had not started since finishing second to Christen Me in the Miracle Mile at Menangle last November. Rattray stated he is far from disappointed with Beautide's effort in the Victoria Cup. "He hadn't raced for over two months and he worked three-wide with no cover for some fair part of the race and he was coming again over the concluding stages," Rattray said. "He is a much better horse on the Menangle track, which is bigger and has a different surface to Melton, so back there I expect him to be spot on for his Inter heat." Peter Staples

Almost two years ago harness racing owner Malcolm Campbell and his son Justin's life partner Maree Fasoli attended the 2013 Tasmanian Standardbred yearling sale in Launceston with the hope of buying a pacer that would race at two. They ended up buying a filly for a modest $2000 and had no idea whether it would develop into the horse of their dreams. On the way home they stopped at Campbell Town because they were really thirsty and it was then that they agreed to name the filly Really Thirsty. With no transport arranged for the yearling to be taken fmro the sale yard they accepted an offer from Gareth Rattray to deliver the filly to the Hobart harness meeting the following night and it was there that Justin Campbell, the filly's designated trainer, caught first sight of her. He admits to not being pleased with what he saw and the first year of training resulted in multiple disappointments for both trainer and owners. But the perseverance factor kicked in and in Hobart last night Really Thirsty delivered a stellar performance to win a heat of the Allen Williams Memorial series at only her third start. She did enough at her first two starts for minor placings to suggest she had a future and punters were keen to back her into near favoritism ($4) on the strength of those two previous efforts. Campbell had Really Thirsty well placed in the one-out line but when he sent her three-wide to attack for the lead and found the front turning for home she tried to pull up. But under strong driving the now four-year-old mare regained the lead and powered clear of her rivals over the concluding stages to win comfortably from Kirbyelle and Acey Boy. "To say Really Thirsty is a work in progress would be an understatement," Campbell said. "If you rated a horse's ability based solely on endeavor on the training track she would never have made it to the racetrack." "I think she has just been a slow learner but on tonight's effort she has now shown some ability where it counts." "I'm not saying she will win a lot of races but she definitely has shown vast improvement since she started racing so we are optimistic about her immediate future," he said. Peter Staples

Longford thoroughbred trainer Mick Burles was in the limelight during the spring carnival with his star galloper The Cleaner and he was back in the spotlight with another code at the Carrick Pacing Club's harness racing cup meeting on Saturday in Tasmania. Burles agreed to participate in a celebrity pony race and sporting The Cleaner's colours the wily horseman emerged triumphant aboard a little grey pony Burles nicknamed the Grey Flash. Burles emerged triumphant in a field of 10 that included apprentices Hayley McCarthy, Georgie Catania and Kyle Maskiell along with leading trainer Scott Brunton who almost got tipped out of the cart soon after the start. "The pony they gave me to drive ran last in the two children's races they put on before the celebrity race but maybe he was just getting warmed up for me," Burles said. "It was a great bit of fun and club is to be congratulated for putting something like this on for the crowd." "The crowd was huge and probably at least as big as the mob that went to the Longford Cup on New Year's Day," he said. Another novelty event was the ridden event with leading Tasmanian apprentice Ismail Toker emerging triumphant in a field of five. Peter Staples    

Punters who backed talented harness racing filly Fuscienne at Tattersall’s Park Hobart today were probably contemplating turning their betting tickets into confetti when the field swung for home. The heavily-backed Charlie James ($4.50 into $2) led comfortably, and when driver Ricky Duggan gave him more rein turning for home, he sped clear and looked to have a winning lead halfway along the home straight. Fuscienne, driven by Todd Rattray, settled last and didn’t improve until well into the back straight.  She was still a long way off the leader 200 metres out, but under strong driving, she slipped into overdrive and got up in the last bound to defeat Charlie James by a half-neck, while Note Worthy Lombo worked home well to grab third, but over 13 metres astern. Fuscienne drifted in the market when the big money arrived for Charlie James with her opening price of $1.60 drifting to start at $2.85 fixed odds and $3.10 on the TOTE. It was her second win from six starts, and while she is unlikely to ever reach the heights of her half-brother Beautide, she could measure up to the feats achieved by some other siblings. Fuscienne is also related to Death And Taxes (15 wins), Acutabovetherest (14 wins), Ashura (seven wins), I Pity The Fool (11 wins) and Ashkalina (14 wins). By Major In Art, Fuscienne’s dam Gorse Bush has produced nine foals and all have won. PETER STAPLES

Stowport harness racing trainer Andrew Rawlings celebrated his biggest win this season when Musselroe Bay stormed home to capture the Norske Skog New Norfolk Cup over 2950 metres at Kensington Park yesterday. With premier reinsman Gareth Rattray in the cart, the son of Metropolitan settled worse than midfield despite stepping cleanly from his front two, while a hot pace was set by Put Mback, while The Dip faced the breeze ahead of Whisper Jet, which began brilliantly from his 20-metre handicap. It was Rattray’s second New Norfolk Cup win in succession having been successful with Put Mback the previous year. Put Mback started at $31, while Musselroe Bay was more fancied starting at $9. When the tempo quickened at the bell, the back markers struggled to get into the race down the back straight the last time, and turning for home it looked likely the leaders would fight out the finish. But Musselroe Bay emerged from the pack to set sail after the leaders, and once balance at the top of the straight, he powered home to overhaul the leaders close to home to score narrowly from Whisper Jet, Damitsam and The Dip. A big crowd ventured to New Norfolk for the club’s only meeting for the season that boasted seven races, with the Cup and the Ted Plunkett Memorial the features on the card. The Ted Plunkett was won by the David Pennicott-trained Strange Conduct which also was driven by Rattray. Strange Conduct powered home to score by 10 metres from Grinable, with Helen Wheels, which started off a 10-metre handicap, three-and-a-half metres away third. PETER STAPLES

The twilight harness racing meeting scheduled for Hobart next Sunday has been switched to an afternoon timeslot, and as such, the program will receive full coverage on Sky1. In a welcome boost for participants, stakes have also received a boost over the next five months. From this weekend, the minimum stakes for Sunday twilight races will rise from $7000 to $7500, except claiming races, which will rise from $5000 to $6500. Sires’ Stake heats will increase to $10,000 and 17 feature races which were advertised at $8000 will increase to $10,000. The increases will be funded by money saved from abandoned and deleted races over the past seven months. PETER STAPLES

Talented harness racing participant Dylan Ford will represent Tasmania in the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship in New Zealand. The 19-year-old will compete in the series for the second time against drivers from all Australian states and both New Zealand islands. Ford was the automatic Tasmanian selection after being the best performed young driver during the 2013/14 season. First licensed as a 16-year-old in September 2011, Ford finished second in the 2011/12 Tasmanian junior driver award and ninth in the state’s leading driver premiership. He won the junior title in 2012/13 and 2013/14, and after four months of the 2014/15 season, Ford leads the junior table and is sixth on the overall state premiership. Last year Ford finished second in the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship in New South Wales after winning three of the 10 heats, including the $50,000 heat at Menangle. Tasracing chief executive Eliot Forbes said Tasracing was committed to supporting young drivers. “Tasracing schedules a junior drivers’ race every month and two championship series annually,” Forbes said. “As a result of this programming, our Tasmanian talent is nurtured early in their career resulting in a high level of success for Tasmanian young drivers when competing interstate. “Dylan Ford experienced that in this series last year.” Ford was thrilled to be selected to travel to New Zealand. “This is a real honour to be representing my state in such a prestigious event,” Ford said. “Over the past 12 months I have taken out a trainer’s license and have received tremendous support from my owners while other trainers have continued to put me behind their horses. “In particular, I would like to thank trainer Heath Szczypka and my family for their assistance.” The Australasian Young Drivers Championship starts at Cambridge on May 7 in the North Island of New Zealand followed by Auckland the next day. The action shifts to the South Island at Christchurch two days later and concludes the next day at Timaru. PETER STAPLES

In his heyday Chris Howlett was a fierce harness racing competitor and winning multiple races on cards at the old Royal Showground circuit came with monotonous regularity. But when his children became old enough to drive Howlett took a ‘back seat’ and set about training a few to get the children involved. In Hobart last Sunday night the veteran was back in the winners’ circle, much to the delight of his sons, Justin, Braden and Matthew,  who are talented reinsmen in their own right. Howlett guided outsider Frankie Falzoni to victory in a C1 event over 2090 metres to break an eight-year drought…with his previous win coming behind The Knucklebuster in Hobart in 2007. Howlett hadn’t driven in a race since Hobart in July 2013. “I don’t do much driving these days. I leave it up to the boys,” Howlett said. “It’s nice to drive a winner just to prove I can still do it.” Mathew, who drove Tinkers Taxi to finish third, was thrilled for his father. Mathew has emerged as one of the state’s most promising young reinsmen and his older brother Braden also is a natural. Eldest son Justin was the first to take to the sulky and he has matured into a very competent reinsman. From all reports Chris and Donna Howlett’s daughter Eliza, 15, also is anxious to secure a driver’s licence. Eliza is a regular at the pony races and will be at New Norfolk on Australia Day competing with her pony Bush Tucker Man. PETER STAPLES

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