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TOP Tasmanian harness racing trainer Barrie Rattray had hopes for Blue Pointer last season and while he performed well he didn't quite live up to expectations. But at the TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night Blue Pointer finally delivered on the promise he showed early on by winning the $20,000 City of Launceston Cup over 2698 metres and in track record time. Blue Pointer recorded a mile rate of 1m.59.07 that smashed the previous best set by star New Zealand three-year-old Elect To Live that clocked a rate of 1m.59.7 seconds in the 2002 Australian Derby. Rattray said he was not surprised by the son of Four Starzzz Shark's win, despite starting at double figure odds, but the time was quite unexpected. "I was concerned that he might not have enough high speed but I knew that he'd stay the distance," Rattray said. "He's a horse that promised a lot as a three-year-old but didn't really deliver." "Now he's finally going like he should," the trainer said. Blue Pointer paid $12.50 but won like an odds-on chance. It was a perfect drive from the trainer's son Todd Rattray. "Todd made all the right moves at the right times - it was a great drive,' Rattray said. Todd had Blue Pointer settled three-back the fence but midrace he eased into the one-out line and made his move three-wide heading down the back straight and cruised to her front 400 metres from home. The five-year-old then staved off all challenges and went on to score by 3.9 metres from Outback Mach (Gavin Lang) with Riverboat Jasper three metres away third. The trainer is undecided as to whether he will back Blue Pointer up in next Sunday's $40,000 Tasmania Cup in Hobart. "I'm not sure about taking him to the Tasmania Cup - the horse has already come a long way in a short space of time (this preparation)," he said. Blue Pointer began his racing career as a three-year-old and won five times with three in successive wins coming at the end of the 2012-13 season. He won his next two starts as a four-year-old before being sent for a four-month spell. But after three starts he was dispatched to the spelling paddock in February and didn't return to the racetrack until October. This time in he has won five from seven and recorded sub two-minute mile rates four times with his best a 1.58.3 in winning a C5-C7 pace in Hobart over 2090 metres on November 09. Peter Staples

CARDINAL ART is no stranger to winning races but when he scored an impressive all-the-way victory at Carrick on the Northern region of Tasmania on Friday it may have marked the beginning of a best ever campaign. With Todd Rattray in the cart, the Chester Bullock-trained six-year-old showed plenty of early speed to rush across the field to lead. Once in front Rattray rated the gelded son of Modern Art superbly and when the more fancied runners made their charges in the home straight Cardinal Art was up to the task and went on to win convincingly from Baragoola and Santanna Night. It was a great result for Bullock who was keen to put Rattray aboard given his regard for the talented reinsman who spent a couple of years working for Bullock at his training and breeding complex at Riverside in the North of the state. "When this horse drew barrier one I was very keen to put Todd on because in my opinion there is no better front-running driver in the state," Bullock said. While the trainer was all smiles after the race he also was quick to remind Rattray of a comment he made about the horse five weeks earlier. "Five weeks ago Todd was at my place and he saw Cardinal Art and asked me when she was due"(thinking that he was a pregnant mare)." "That's how fat he was at the tome but I changed his work around since then and it had the desired effect," Bullock said. It was the Carrick club's first of three meetings for the season but heavy rain during the day ended up cutting the meeting short. While the racetrack was still safe after a couple of deluges it was water running off a side road leading to the track that led to the last three races being abandoned. Dirty water running off the nearby road flowed onto the track and because it was orange in colour horses were jumping it during their preliminaries prior to race seven. The meeting was delayed by stewards as attempts were made to rectify the problem but eventually chief steward Adrian Crowther had to abandon the rest of the program. Peter Staples  

TALENTED Tasmanian harness racing trainer Shelley Barnes celebrated a first at the meeting at Carrick in the North of the state on Friday. Barnes has trained hundreds of winners and driven probably twice as many but when Angel or Demon (Safari-Ima Merry Jasper) led throughout to win the Island Block & Paving pace on debut it gave Barnes her first winner that she bred herself. The four-year-old mare showed great gate speed to easily find the front and when driver Gareth Rattray called on her to extend in the home straight she powered clear and went on to score comfortably from Helenshall and Really Thirsty that flashed home from well back. "She's always shown a bit but has had problems and I was starting to worry that I'd never get her to the races," Barnes said. "They've only been minor injuries but they have meant that she has been in and out of work many times," she said. Barnes was confident the mare could win following an impressive trial win a week earlier and punters also were keen to get on, backing her in to start the $2.20 favourite. While Angel or Demon was impressive the minor placegetters also showed ability and it might not be long before Helenshall and Really Thirsty find their way into the winner's circle. 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

THE optimistic people of this world have a way of putting a positive spin on even the most negatives situation and for harness racing breeders Lyndon and Gail Menegon that certainly was the case with a filly they took to the yearling sale four years ago. The Menegons offered a striking filly by J R Mint at the 2011 sale but she never drew a bid, much to the surprise of the filly's breeders. They took the filly home and decided to send her to a trainer for assessment. "We took her home from the sale thinking there must bee something wrong with her even though I was very confident there wasn't," Lyndon Menegon said. "A bit later on I asked trainer Grant Hodges to take her home and try her - and we haven't looked back since." In Launceston on Sunday night that now five-year-old mare El Jays Magic scored an emphatic win in the prestigious $10,000 Shirley Martin Mother of Pearl over 2200 metres. It was El Jay Magic's ninth win from 23 starts which is outstanding considering she never started racing until her late three-year-old season. She has also notched 10 minor placings, finishing out of the money only four times which includes one instance where she failed to finish. This latest win signaled her arrival as a serious contender for the state's best mares' race, the George Johnson, to be run in Hobart later this month. Hodges believes the mare's best is yet to come. "She is a strong and versatile mare that does extremely well for her size," Hodges said. "She is good when she leads but she also is a very capable sit and sprint horse." "When she's in front at home nothing else in the stable can get around her," he said. Peter Staples

POPULAR Tasmanian harness racing trainer Shelley Barnes knows what it's like to be down and out. After surviving a horror fall in Launceston in 1998, in which she suffered multiple broken bones when catapulted from her sulky in a five-horse fall, she was again faced with the possibility of spending the rest of her life unable to walk as a result of another track accident. While the latest ensured she would never drive in races again, the talented horsewoman, who has been Tasmania's leading female trainer and or driver multiple times over the past 20 years, was back in the winners' circle last night. Barnes is training 12 horses from her Sassafras property on the North-West Coast of Tasmania and she prepared My Koda Kasper to win the Hygain Track Torque Pace in Hobart. The grey gelding powered home with his regular driver Natalee Emery in the sulky to score a narrow, but convincing, win over Blackjackhanover, with Tizyalater a distant third. Barnes purchased My Koda Kasper about two years ago via the internet. “I was looking for a horse to buy and race for myself and I found this one that was unraced and well-bred and he didn’t cost a lot of money,” Barnes said. “He won for me on debut and that paid for him plus a fair bit extra in my hand. “While he never won another race until this latest start, he has been placed and ran a lot of fourths, so he has managed to pay his way.” The son of Jet Laag and Princess Mac has had 27 starts for two wins and seven placings for about $17,000 in stakes and Barnes is confident he has more wins left in him. My Koda Kasper is likely to line up in Launceston on Sunday night. PETER STAPLES

The Justin Campbell stable has been spending plenty of time in the harness racing winners’ circle of late, but his latest victory was arguably more special than most. Really Fayfay produced a courageous effort to lead throughout the Hygain Release for fillies and mares over 1609 metres at Hobart last night. The five-year-old was given no peace for the first 400 metres when attacked for the lead by Sweet Pea Jasper, which was eventually eased to take a sit. The win was made special because it was a family affair, with the daughter of Jr Mint bred by Campbell’s parents Anne and Malcom Campbell and owned by them in partnership with the trainer. It was the Really Fayfay’s first start for almost three months and Campbell was worried she might “knock up” owing to her being taken on early in the race, but she refused to wilt over the concluding stages. Really Feyfey held a clear margin over Fuscienne on the line with Really Fiesty running on well for third ahead of the well backed Days Like This that faced the breeze for the last lap. Listen to what trainer Justin Campbell had to say about Really Feyfey’s first-up win. PETER STAPLES

Colebrook harness racing trainer Paul Medhurst described Bona Fide Hustler as a “bargain Buy” after he notched his fifth win for connections in Hobart tonight. Bona Fide Hustler was purchased by Medhurst for $14,000 from Victorian interests about two years ago, and since arriving in Tasmania, the son of Red River Hanover has amassed about $35,000 in stakes. The six-year-old’s racing pattern these days is to drop back early and come with a barnstorming finish and that’s exactly what played out during his latest victory. With talented novice driver Samantha Freeman in the cart, Bona Fide Hustler was eased away from barrier seven as Freeman settled him in the running line towards the rear of the field. Frankie Falzoni forged his way to the lead, with the favourite Rusty Red Comet facing the breeze and travelling comfortably at the bell. With Freeman making her move at the 600-metre mark, Bona Fide Hustler quickly ranged up to the front runner. Finishing strongly along the home straight, the gelding rattled home to defeat Rusty Red Comet, with Frankie Falzoni hanging on for third. Bona Fide Hustler paid $16.90 on the Tote, but he was backed in to start at $13 with Tattsbet fixed odds. Listen to what trainer Paul Medhurst and driver Samantha Freeman had to say about Bona Fide Hustler’s latest win. PETER STAPLES

Harness Racing Australia made presentations to the connections of Tasmania’s star pacers Beautide and Barynya in Launceston last Friday night. The Group One winners were recipients of awards for their efforts on the racetrack last season. Beautide was named Australian Horse of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Aged Stallion/Gelding of the Year for his outstanding feats, which include wins in the Group One Miracle Mile, Inter Dominion and Len Smith Mile. Exciting youngster Barynya won the Tasmania and Victoria Oaks, with those wins catalyst for her crown of Australian Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year. The Lloyd and Judy Whish-Wilson-owned Barynya was a deserving winner of the national title and she also was named Tasmanian Three-Year-Old of the Year. Beautide also was named Tasmanian Horse of the Year as well as New South Wales Horse of the Year. Beautide will line up as favourite as he chases consecutive Miracle Miles at Menangle on Saturday night, while Barynya is yet to resume racing. PETER STAPLES

When a harness racing trainer takes a horse to the races thinking it probably can’t win, and then when the same thought is reaffirmed during the race, it usually means the horse will be unplaced. But a horse named My Mate Tyson defied the rule to emerge triumphant in Launceston last Sunday night. Carrick trainer-driver Ross Freemen didn’t think My Mate Tyson was a winning chance in the Economy Warehouse Stakes over 2200 metres, primarily because of his back row draw and his recent efforts had been slightly below par. But the gelding surprised Freemen when he emerged from the pack in the home straight and powered home to score a last-stride win over Baldock, with Orial three metres away third. “I didn’t give him much of a chance before the race, and, from where he was turning for home, I thought he had no hope,” Freeman said. “He was making up good ground and with the leaders paddling a bit, but he rattled home the last 50 metres to get up.” My Mate Tyson was bred and is owned by Freeman in partnership with his wife Cheryl, with the son of Town Champion breaking his maiden status as his sixth start. PETER STAPLES

Burnie harness racing trainer Robert Gillies will target his home town cup with Willbe Doc following the gelding’s impressive win in Launceston last night. Returning from a short spell in the Mustad Australia Stakes over 1680 metres, and while almost friendless in the betting at $16, Willbe Doc powered home to defeat the leader Original Art and Notimetothink. Willbe Doc was well driven by Troy Hillier who sat back and waited until the right time to release the reins, with the gelding responded magnificently. Breaking an 11-month drought from the winners’ circle, the six-year-old rated 1:58.9, which pleased his trainer. “He’s gone really well tonight and that’s the first time he’s broken two minutes,” said Gillies, who part-owns the son of Peace Of Art. “He’s always been a consistent horse – not quite top class, but a good money-spinner. “He is a class four horse now and that qualifies him to run in the Burnie Cup which is a race I’ve always wanted to win.” Willbe Doc has recorded eight wins and 23 placings from his 49 starts, which is testament to his consistency. PETER STAPLES

PROMINENT Tasmanian harness trainer-driver Christian Salter will aim underrated pacer Aninchofhislife towards the Hobart Pacing Cup following the gelding’s impressive win in Launceston last night. Aninchofhislife still needs to improve his class rating to qualify for the Cup, but Salter is supremely confident the son of Red River Hanover is capable of reaching the goal. “This horse has been very consistent and has been a good money-spinner, so he deserves his chance at a feature race,” Salter said. “He still needs to win another race to qualify for the Hobart Cup, but I have no doubts he can win again and it will be sooner than later. “He’s been a consistent horse, but he also been a bit unlucky at times.” Aninchofhislife was urged to make the most of his pole draw and it was the Salter’s intent to go all out for the lead. “I’ve been handing up on him, but I thought if I led in this race he might get an easy time in front,” Salter explained. “There was no standout in the field – they were just an even lot. “He got an easy quarter, but when he needed to be strong he delivered and in the end it was quite a convincing win.” Aninchofhislife’s half-brother, Drifting West, ran second in the 2013 Hobart Cup. “Drifting West got better with age and it’s been much the same with this horse,” Salter said. By Red River Hanover from Ark Drifter, Aninchofhislife is owned by the trainer’s partner Sally McCoull. The six-year-old’s success was part of a double for Salter, who also scored with Miss Lively in the Roberts Equine Services Pace over 1680 metres. 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

Multiple harness racing premiership winning reinsman Gareth Rattray missed the last two months of the 2013-14 season due to illness, but he has been making up for lost time of late. Rattray registered a treble at Devonport last Thursday night to take his tally to seven wins from three meetings in the space of 10 days. While he was winless in Hobart on Sunday night he managed two minor placings. At Devonport his drive behind Hello Good Shanks for his partner-trainer Melissa Maine was outstanding and testament to why he has won the past eight Tasmanian drivers' premierships. Rattray had Hello Good Shanks settled near the rear of the field from his wide second-row draw and waited for the perfect time to send his charge around the field. Hello Good Shanks rounded up the leaders and burst clear close to home to score impressively from Carly Seelster, while race leader Aventador tired over the concluding stages to finish third. It was a race-to-race double for Rattray who also scored with Jazzy Jane for his uncle Kent Rattray Jazzy Jane showed early brilliance to cross to the front from barrier five, and once in the lead, Rattray dictated the pace to suit and she went on to win convincingly. The trainer was delighted with the win and suggested he might target races at Devonport for the mare in the immediate future. “This mare has been struggling in races in Launceston and Hobart, so we'll probably poke around down here from now on,” Rattray said. “We’ll also look at races on the country circuit over Christmas - New Year.” Jazzy Jane is raced by the trainer’s children Wade (22) and Tori (21). PETER STAPLES

A decision by harness racing trainer Melissa Maine to book claiming driver Matthew Howlett to partner her five-year-old Notimetothink in Hobart last night paid big dividends. Howlett urged Notimetothink from the gates to eventually find the lead from barrier two and then the talented young reinsman rated the son of Metropolitan superbly to score by nine metres from Deejay Bromac, with Bone Fide Hustler a neck away third. It made it back-to-back wins for Notimetothink which delivered a similar performance at his previous start and it was a race-to-race double for Howlett, who also guided Frankie Falzoni to victory in the opening race on the seven-event card. Punters were relentless in their pursuit to back Notimetothink, forcing his price in from $2.50 to start $1.80 favourite. Notimetothink arrived in Maine’s stables at Latrobe about seven weeks ago and this was only his second start for the talented mentor, whose partner is star reinsman Gareth Rattray. Putting Howlett on with a novice driver claim enabled the gelding to line up in another C1 and another good draw also played into their hands. The old trainer’s adage of keeping themselves in the best company and their horse in the worst was definitely played out with Notimetothink at his past two starts. The trick for Maine will be to find a C2 that doesn’t boast too many entries that have above average ability. Notimetothink had won once and been placed from 19 starts before joining Maine’s stable, so he is obviously settled in his new environment. Maine and Rattray have been developing their property at Latrobe, about 10 minutes East of Devonport and once finished it should be one of the best in the region. PETER STAPLES

When talented harness racing trainer Chris Howlett purchased Frankie Falzoni as a yearling he was prepared to bide his time with the colt which was passed in at the 2012 Tasmanian Yearling Sale. Howlett bought the youngster after the sales for $9000, but it took a while to see some return. Frankie Falzoni won a race at Carrick last season with some sizeable bets enabling the owners to recoup a chunk the purchase price. In Hobart last tonight Frankie Falzoni delivered a brilliant first-up effort to score a last-stride win in a C0 over 2090 metres. With the trainer’s son Matthew in the sulky, Frankie Falzoni was urged forward from gate three, but was forced to face the breeze before gaining cover as the favourite Who Is Hardeen was sent to the ‘death seat’. When Frankie Falzoni was eased three-wide to improve he gradually made his way to the leaders, but when Howlett called on him for the supreme effort 200 metres out, the son of Chief Marty dug deep to score by a half-neck from Who Is Hardeen, with Tizyalater flashing home from well back to finish third. Howlett explained Frankie Falzoni had a few issues that needed to be sorted out, and given the way he performed at his first start for five months, the gear changes have been successful. PETER STAPLES

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