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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

A new chapter of one of the great Tasmanian harness racing stories was written in Launceston last night when Cranbre kept his unbeaten record intact at his third start. Cranbre didn’t start racing until four weeks ago in Launceston where he debuted in a three-year-old and upwards non-winners’ event over 2200 metres, in which he led throughout to score a convincing victory. A spate of injuries and other factors prevented the gelding from getting to the races, but in the care of underrated Scottsdale-based trainer Julie Johnson the son of Life Sign has gone ahead in leaps and bounds. At his second race start Cranbre came from beyond midfield to get up in the last few strides but during his latest win he had to do all the hard work early to get the desired result. Cranbre faced the breeze but made light of the task to score from Karalta Dazzler and Good Beginnings in a C2-C3 event over 2200 metres. Todd Rattray took the sit and it was the middle leg of a winning treble for last season’s premier novice reinsman. Rattray also scored with Kyleasha and Rykov Leis, which are both trainer by his father Barrie for whom he is number one stable driver. Rattray has been involved with Cranbre’s racing career since Johnson took him to Carrick for his first trial. “Cranbre arrived at my stables at the end of April and I started working him on May 1,” Johnson said. “He was progressing well, so I decided to take him to the Carrick trial. “I rang five drivers before he went for that first trial, but none of them were going to be available, so I still took him with the hope of getting someone on the day to guide him around. “As it turned out Todd didn’t have a drive so I asked him and after the horse won his trial Todd said he would drive him in a race. “He wasn’t available at the horse’s next start, but we managed to get Todd’s cousin Wade Rattray to drive him and he did a good job because he won again. “But I think this latest win was the horse’s best.” Cranbre is owned by the Johnson and her husband Daryl in partnership with the trainer’s best friend Jan Bolton. “My husband does a lot with the horse. He massages his back and legs every day, so I’m sure that is a factor in the horse staying sound,” the trainer said. It appears Cranbre just loves racing and Johnson says she has only ever had one other horse with Cranbre’s conviction. “I had a horse called Ray Duane that couldn’t get enough of racing. He had a great will to win and Cranbre is the same,” Johnson said.  Johnson is likely to send Cranbre around next in a C2-C3 over 2200m in Launceston in a fortnight. PETER STAPLES

PROMISING four-year-old pacer Major Callum will be aimed at some of the country cups around Christmas-New Year following his impressive win at his first attempt at a standing start in Launceston last night. Major Callum only qualified to run in stands last week, but he stepped cleanly from his front row draw and after trailing the leader and favourite Heza Prospect to the final turn, he powered home to score impressively from Heza Prospect and Mighty Jasper. The gelding’s trainer Juanita McKenzie has always believed Major Callum had untapped ability, but it has been his racing manners that so prevented him from realising his full potential. “He's a frustrating horse because he has ability but won't go to the line,” McKenzie said. “But now that he's shown he can handle standing starts, we’ll have a look at the country cups with him.” Driver Ricky Duggan has partnered Major Callum at all of his starts this season and believes he needs to change his ways. “The horse simply pulls up when he gets to the front,” Duggan said. “Some horses tend to do it more than others, but he does it more than any other horse I’ve driven. “He just puts the brakes on when left alone. You can flick him up but it makes no difference.” Connections are keen to pursue a path to the country cups now that he has won from a stand. “He baulked a bit when the tapes hit the ground next to him but then he stepped ok,” Duggan said. McKenzie said being competitive from standing starts is going to open up more options for Major Callum. PETER STAPLES

WESTBURY harness racing trainer Dick Foley wasn’t surprised with Oscar Blakendon’s win despite the gelding starting as one of the rank outsiders in Launceston last night. Foley was confident enough to have “something each-way” on the five-year-old despite Oscar Blakendon’s modest form during his past four starts. The son of Jr Mint won in Hobart last August, but his form since has been modest, to say the least. But Foley had faith in Oscar Blakendon and parted with some of his hard-earned at the lucrative price of $41 at fixed odds. With Gareth Rattray in the sulky, Oscar Blakendon produced a powerful finish, coming from back in the field to score from Cooked Books and Original Art. A solid pace was set by Bucksaroo, which led into the home straight before being swamped 200 metres out. “I don’t think he was entitled to be such a long price,” Foley said. “I had something on him each-way, but I must admit the barrier draw (12) worried me. “He’s a horse that always seems to find trouble in his races and he keeps drawing bad barriers. “I thought if things went his way he could be in the finish and that’s why I put Gareth on him.” Oscar Blakendon has won twice from 22 starts, with two placings to his credit for just under $13,000 in prize money. PETER STAPLES

Cranbre might have started his harness racing career late in life, but the Julie Johnson-trained pacer has a top chance of extending his unbeaten record to three when he steps out at Launceston tonight. Cranbre had been prepared by two other trainers and suffered injuries which prevented him from racing as a youngster, but since landing in Johnson’s care the gelding has thrived and produced the goods on the track. His debut win in Launceston earlier this month was full of merit when leading throughout to win comfortably, while his second outing produced an even more impressive victory, coming from midfield in the one-out line to get up in the last few strides against decent opposition at the same venue two weeks later. This time around the son of Life Sign has drawn favourably in gate four, with his main danger Karalta Dazzler directly on his outside. Karalta Dazzler has good early speed and is likely to cross to the front, meaning Cranbre’s driver, Todd Rattray, will have to make a decision whether to go forward and face the breeze or slide back through the field in search a handy position in the running line. If there is to be a surprise result it could come from Jodila, which has drawn the outside of the second row. Jodila returned from a two-month break with an eye-catching fifth behind Play Apple Tree in Hobart last Sunday night when only beaten just over five metres. PETER STAPLES

TALENTED harness racing trainer Melissa Maine and her partner, reinsman Gareth Rattray, celebrated a double in Hobart last Sunday night. The duo’s moment came courtesy of impressive wins by Faithful Jet and a first-starter for the stable Notimetothink. The lightly-raced gelding arrived at Maine’s Latrobe stables about five weeks ago having had 19 starts for a win and two placings. But the change of environment and a different training regime appears to have worked wonders for the son of Metropolitan. Rattray urged Notimetothink forward at the start and he had no trouble finding the lead in a C1 Pace over 2090 metres. When Rattray called on Notimetothink to extend in the back straight the last time he forged clear and went on to defeat Angkristy by over 12 metres, with Sir Yoie a close-up third. “The owners that I train for had this horse and he wasn’t getting very good draws or having much luck in his races, so they decided to give him a go with us and we’ve been able to win first-up,” Maine said. “I picked this race out for him knowing that he didn’t have many points and then a good draw (gate three) also helped. “I think he can improve on this run, but how far he can go I’m not quite sure. “We'll play around with him for a bit longer and see what happens.” Faithful Jet produced a strong effort after he was forced to face the breeze outside of the heavily backed favourite Im Dens Boy. Im Dens Boy looked to be travelling well at the bell, but when Rattray applied the pressure nearing the home turn it was obvious those who took the short price about the favourite were about to turn their betting tickets into confetti. “This horse went really well tonight and I'm sure he has turned the corner,” Rattray said. “They thought the leader was a pretty good chance, but my horse sat outside of him and proved to be too good on the night. “We have had a few little problems with him and he’s taken a while to come to hand. “We were hoping he would mature as he got older and that seems to be the case, so he might realise his potential.” Maine and Rattray have spent the last year establishing a training complex at Latrobe that boasts an 800-metre training track and refurbished stabling facilities. PETER STAPLES

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