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Tasmanian champion four-year-old Ignatius suffered from another horror draw in Saturday night's Group 1 $200,000 Chariots Of Fire. Trainer-driver James Rattray had no other option than to press forward in the early stages from a wide draw, but was trapped three-wide through the first turn in a scintillating first quarter of 26 seconds and drew up into the death seat through the second split of 27.9-seconds. The enormous effort started to take its toll in the home stretch as the Emma Stewart trained Poster Boy, with Chris Alford in the sulky, swamped the early speed setters to claim the Chariots Of Fire and record a mile-rate of 1:49.1. Ignatius battled on courageously in the straight to finish ninth, 15.3-metres from the winner.   Shane Yates

Todd and James Rattray have enjoyed a glorious run with their star pacer Ignatius, tonight at Menangle they plan another step in the successful journey with a tilt at victory in the Group 1 Chariots Of Fire. Ignatius earned his place in the $200,000 4YO feature with a sensational win in last week’s Group 2 Paleface Adios Stakes. “He couldn’t be better than he is right now, Todd has prepared him perfectly for this campaign, he has eased him through a slight setback in January and got him right for the trip,” said James. “His run last week to win the Paleface Adios Stakes was certainly one of his best ever performances and has him primed for an all-out assault on the Group 1 tonight against the best in the land.” Ignatius drew wide in the Paleface Adios and did some early work out three-wide through the first turn before James found the death-seat outside the favourite Chase Auckland. “Chase Auckland and Ignatius have drawn almost identical gates to last week, Chase Auckland is in one again we are again out wide in eight but Ignatius returned his career best mile-rate of 1:50.2 to beat him last time and he has felt even better at home during the week,” said James. “Chase Auckland, Poster Boy, Picard and Ashley Locaz are all topliners but they will know Ignatius is there when the pressure is on turning for home over 1609-metres, the winner receives an invitation to the Miracle Mile so there’s a lot on the line.” Todd made the trip to Sydney during the week and was there to keep a close eye on Ignatius as he was taken into the Retention Barn at Menangle Park on Thursday. “He’s looking and feeling great, he put up a great performance last week and that will have just topped him off perfectly for the Chariots,” said Todd. “Ignatius couldn’t be in better hands than James, we have a great relationship, racing to us has always been a family affair, we all share the ups and downs together and that’s the way it should be, let’s hope we all have something to celebrate tonight.”   Shane Yates

Northdown trainer Geoff Smith is riding the crest of a winning wave with another winning double in Launceston on Sunday night, and loving it. Geoff has enjoyed his best start to a calendar year for a decade with five winners coming in five weeks which has seen him catapult into eighth spot on the trainer’s premiership table. Aitutaki (pictured), driven by John Walters, came from a mile back on the home turn to win the Dakin Refrigeration Stakes over 1680 metres while Vapour Glenn burst through late to take out the Carlton Draught Pace. “They are flying for me at the moment, both horses scored impressive wins at Scottsdale in January and then they both ran fourth at their next start and have bounced back strongly tonight” said Geoff. “We had a sulky change out on the track with Aitutaki but fortunately that didn’t interfere with his performance, John (Walters) has worked him out, he needs to be held up until the 300-metre mark and then let him loose.” Aitutaki, formerly in the care of owner Adrian Duggan, has had six runs for Geoff for six cheques. “When we got him he was out of the draw, we changed some gear and re-shod him and worked him out of a paddock, and not that hard he seems to be thriving at the moment with two wins, two placings and two fourths,” said the Northdown trainer. “Vapour Glenn really surprised me tonight, Rohan (Hadley) found a gap late in the straight and he surged through to hit the line strongly.” Geoff admitted winners have been a little light on in recent years but is hoping things are heading in the right direction. “We’ve had Midair Meltdown win at Devonport recently and we’ve got a few good types coming through including a full-sister to my old stager Dodgermemate, she’s a two-year-old and moves well so I have hopes set high with her, but for now we are enjoying our start to the year,” said Geoff. Gareth Rattray steered home a winning double on the eight-event card with the Dick Eaves prepared El Jays Mystery running down the popular pick Inner Light in the shadows of the post to win by a head and completed a race-to-race double with Brooke Hammond’s Moonlite Bay notching up its second win from just three career starts taking out the Harry Holgate Memorial Final. Rowley won the opener for Sally Stingel and Paul Ashwood, The Aussie powered away with the Discretionary for Devonport Cup winning duo Juanita McKenzie and Rod Ashwood while Riley Coyote scored its first win for over two years for Steve Lukac and Rohan Hillier and Ben Yole and Natalee Emery combined with Jeans Mattjesty to win the Claimer. Shane Yates

Tasmania’s champion pacer Ignatius took another giant step in his quest for Chariots Of Fire glory by winning Saturday night’s Group 2 Paleface Adios Stakes at Menangle. Ignatius scored one of the most sensational victories of his illustrious career to assure himself a berth in the $200,000 four-year-old Group 1 Classic. Despite again having no luck with the barrier draw, starting from barrier nine in a field of 10, James Rattray went forward in the early stages and found cover out three-wide on the track before running to the death at the thousand-metre mark. With quarters of 28 seconds and 29 seconds behind them, Ignatius applied the blow torch to the race favourite Chase Auckland ($1.75) as they thundered through the third quarter in 26.7 seconds. Turning for home James called upon his champion for the supreme effort and just as he has done throughout his career Ignatius responded. The Lyrae Rattray-owned four-year-old (pictured) showed all of his courage and superstar qualities to take the lead and stave off the challenges down the never-ending Menangle home straight to win by a half-neck in his career-best time of 1:50.2 seconds. “He went great, his two runs back this campaign have been enormous, he seems to have pulled up well from last night and is keen to get out into the paddock this morning,” said James. “He went to the post strongly and felt comfortable when holding off the challenges over the last 400-metres, I couldn’t hope for him to be in better shape, the Chariots Of Fire has always been his target and he will be right in the finish, we are due for a good draw so fingers crossed for that to be this week.” The amazing victory was the 17th of a 21 start career for the Roll With Joe-Ashkalini gelding. Shane Yates

Tasmanian champion Harjeet stamped his authority over the state’s top pacers in the $25,000 Triple M Hobart Pacing Cup on Sunday. The five-year-old Rocknroll Hanover-Our Zellweger gelding, trained and driven by Todd Rattray, showed his class over the staying trip of 2579-metres to win by 5.2-metres over a gallant Isaac. “We got a nice run through from outside the second line and settled just worse than midfield and when the pace slackened I thought it was time to wander up toward the lead and test the waters a little,” said Todd. “Harjeet (pictured) travelled up to the leaders smoothly so we just rolled past and he travelled sweetly from there, when we lifted the tempo inside the last half it was really only Isaac that could go with him.”. Isaac, the Juanita McKenzie-trained Devonport Cup winner, switched to the Roberts Sprint lane at the top of the home straight and closed within two metres but the champ had other ideas. “To his credit Isaac got a little close for comfort at one stage,we thought Harjeet would run on a little better than he did but he had switched off and was drifting up the track, the motor kicked in again when he knew he was being challenged and he got the job done (5.2-metres) so hopefully he’ll be better next start.” Harjeet is now an M3 so if heading the way of the Tasmania Cup and Easter Cup he will be looking at a 30-metre handicap or there may be a trip to the mainland on the cards. “I will have to talk to the owners, we would like to take him over at some stage, we’d have to make sure he’s right in himself but it might be time now,” said Todd. “He gets away well from the stand now and puts himself in it but obviously you still have to make up that ground too, Scooterwillrev is still an MO and he’s a pretty good horse and there are few others around.” Todd capped of a successful day with Joogle breaking her maiden status in the $10,000  TTC Members Pace. Bianca Heenan kept her sensational season rolling by training a winning double with Trumps Golden Boy taking out the Aldebaran Park Hobart Trotting Cup and Alta Surreal, with Hannah Van dongen in the cart, capturing its fourth win of the season. Hannah went on to extend her lead in the Leading Female Drivers award steering the Mark Reggett prepared Dasher Houli to back-to-back victories by taking out the Tab Park Elwick Pace. The heavily backed Beam Me Up Chopper ($3.50) put up a herculean performance to win in the Crown Lager Pace for Kate MacLeod after being never closer than three off the peg line while Ektoras overcame an outside draw to salute at odds of $31.00 in the Olympus Feeds P ace. Four-year-old mare Ideal Bliss, guided by Rohan Hillier, returned victorious from an eight-month spell for Paul Hill while Tilly Max made a successful debut for trainer-driver Paul Ashwood in the two-year-old. Shane Yates for tasracing.com.au

Bridport trainer-driver Rohan Hadley stole the show at Friday night’s Launceston Pacing Club meeting at the TAB Racing Centre. Hadley, one of Tasmania’s premier drivers, saluted the judge on three occasions, twice with well-supported runners from his own stable in Believe In Forever ($2.50 fav) and Secluded Beach ($2.80) and once with the Shelley Barnes prepared Volkova Leis ($21.10). Believe In Forever, a four-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven-Close Embrace gelding, has won five of its seven starts since arriving in the state in May of last year including the last three on the trot. “He got the job done tonight, we got a nice cart into the race out three-wide on the back of Miracle Marcus until the 400-metre mark when we had to go five-wide and he finished off well,” said Rohan. “There is a $12,000 C3-4 at Devonport on Cup night that should suit, so we will see how he pulls up after tonight but that would be the preferred option at this stage.” Secluded Beach (pictured) has also had seven outings in the state, winning four and finishing runner-up three times. “Secluded Beach has put in some smart runs since arriving in Tasmania and run quick times, he’s had a couple of good tussles with Buster William and come out on top and he wore him down again in the straight tonight after a two-horse war all the way,” said Rohan. “There is a C6-9 race in Hobart in two weeks time and I’d like to race him through to Free-For-All company or we might give him one more run and then give him a break with the idea of setting him for a campaign to achieve that task.” Believe In Forever and Secluded Beach are both owned by David Maffey, Peter Hayes and Murray James in Western Australia. Hadley’s third winner for the night came courtesy of the Shelley Barnes-trained Volkova Leis($21.10) in the third heat of the Harry Holgate Memorial, the five-year-old mare was taken forward from ninth at the bell to commence the three-wide train. The favourite Mahksman hit the front on the home bend but Volkova Leis swallowed him up quickly before bravely staving off challenges from Im Full Tilt and Levi Jimmy. “She hasn’t had a lot of luck with the draws over short trips of late and Shelley has her going well now, she can win again on that run,” said the Bridport horseman. Shane Yates

Harjeet showed yet again why he is the top pacer racing in the state with an exciting victory in the Toreace Flying Mile on Sunday night at Tab Park in Hobart. The striking Rocknroll Hanover – Our Zellweger five-year-old gelding (pictured), trained and driven by Todd Rattray, backed up from his slashing Tassie Golden Apple win over Scooterwillrev in Launceston on 14 December with another powerful performance against his arch-rival over 1609-metres. Rohan Hadley took the Craig Hayes prepared Scooterwillrev to the front at the bell after being trapped three-wide through the first 600-metres from the outside front line draw. “I knew Rohan (Hadley) would want to work Scooter to the front, so I sat back midfield until I could see he was going to find the top and then made our move up into the death at the 800-metre pole'” said Todd. “The race was on in earnest from there, they are two top horses and we went down the back in 27.6 seconds, Harjeet was just a little rough through the turn off the back so I just eased on the corner into the straight but once we straightened up I was confident he would finish the better. Harjeet scored by a head in a mile-rate of 1:55.5 and will now head to either the Devonport Cup on 27 January or the Hobart Pacing Cup on 3 February. “We are undecided at the moment, he would be off 20-metres in a stand-start at Devonport while the Hobart Cup is a mobile which suits him best so we are leaning in that direction,” said Todd. Todd also has one eye on his young champion Ignatius as he prepares for another mainland mission. “He arrived in Sydney on Saturday and appears to be over the slight infection that cost him what was to be his only Tasmanian run this campaign, he will have a trial and we will take it from there to have him cherry-ripe for the Chariots Of Fire.” Other feature race winners on the TTC programme on Sunday night were the Peter Dornauf trained Sea Double Ugrant in the New Norfolk Cup, notching up a winning hat-trick, while Ima Ginger Rogers capped off a sensational weekend for trainer Steve Davis winning the Matron Stakes to go with Black Centurian’s North Eastern Pacing Cup victory at Scottsdale on Friday. Trainer-driver Paul Hill lifted his four-year-old Feelin Dusty over the line to score by a head over by stablemate Streitkid in the Ted Plunkett Memorial.   Shane Yates

St Marys Cup winner Black Centurian celebrated a long-overdue and richly deserved victory in the $12,000 Bridport Hotel North Eastern Pacing Cup on Friday evening at Scottsdale. The Steve Davis prepared Jr Mint-Mon Poppy Mary nine-year-old gelding has had a luckless run in the Cup over the years finishing runner-up on three times, beaten by a narrow margin on each occasion. “Black Centurian (pictured) loves the Scottsdale track and performs well here, he’s just always found one better on the night every year and gone down by a nose or a half-head each time,” said Steve shaking his head. “He has come to Scottsdale this year in top form coming off victory in the St Marys Cup, it’s great that he has finally cracked the big one here, it was a super run and an outstanding drive by Gareth (Rattray) to come from last at the 400-metre mark and win like he did.” Racing was tight and compact and certainly no place for the faint of heart as the Cup field of ten thundered into the straight to receive the bell, it appeared likely something had to give and it was last year’s Cup winner Full Speed Ahead that almost sold out, going down on his nose at the tail of the field after clipping a wheel. The Wayne Campbell prepared race favourite Buster William hit the front at the 250-metre mark but Black Centurian was winding up out four wide on the track. The pair drew level before the turn and the Cup developed into a battle royal down the home stretch. “Buster William is a smart horse but I was confident as they turned for home Black Centurian had his measure,” said Steve “He’s tough, strong and courageous and you always knows he’s going to be giving 100 per cent right down to the wire, we will press on now to Devonport on 27 January in a bid for his third Cup win in a month.   Shane Yates

The Country Cup’s Carnival rolls on today at Scottsdale with the running of the Bridport Hotel North Eastern Pacing Cup over 2692 metres. Reigning champion Full Speed Ahead (pictured), trained by Todd Rattray, will defend his title against last season’s Steve Davis prepared runner-up and this year’s St Marys Cup winner Black Centurian. “Black Centurian could almost drive himself to Scottsdale, he’s been there so many times and run off some stiff handicaps and been beaten narrow margins to some smart horses,” said Steve. “The track is only small but he just loves it, he can’t go a yard at Burnie but grows a leg when he spots the Scottsdale sign post.” The Ben Yole-prepared Perfect Mach is in search of its second Cup success in the space of a week after streaking away with the 7BU Burnie Cup for Hannah van Dongen last Friday to record its first Tasmanian victory. “We bought him as a Country Cups circuit horse but he hadn’t shown us a lot until last week, but on the strength of that run he has to be a chance today,” said Ben. The 2016 North Eastern Cup winner Major Callum is back for another tilt at the feature, the eight-year-old Art Major gelding was in the care of Juanita McKenzie when defeating Black Centurian by a head but is now trained by Brooke Hammond and will gain the services of Rod Ashwood for today’s assignment. The Todd Rattray-trained Meander Valley Cup winner Goggo Gee Gee has drawn the pole while Buster William, for Wayne Campbell, will be out to keep its North Eastern Cup Day record intact having won in 2017 as a three-year-old and again last year by 17 metres. Today’s Bridport Hotel North Eastern Cup programme, will be streamed live from Scottsdale at tasracing.com.au with a preview of the meeting with host Duncan Dornauf before the first, set down for decision at 16.37.   Shane Yates  

Sidmouth harness racing trainer Ben Yole claimed half of the card at Burnie on Sunday including the $12,000 7BU Burnie Cup with Perfect Mach. The Mach Three-Pixel Perfect eight-year-old (pictured) scored his first win for the stable since arriving in the state in November. “That was his thirteenth start for us since we claimed him in Victoria, he ran a top second behind Riverboat Jasper in the NWTLHA Cup at his first run in Tasmania, we bought him with the Country Cup circuit in mind so it was great to see him find his best form at Burnie, he will now head to Scottsdale on Friday for the North-Eastern Cup,” said Ben. “The driving appointment was like a merry-go-round, Sam (Gangell) had driven Perfect Mach at his last four outings, she gave the drive up to Troy (McDonald), then Troy went and landed a double on Friday night in Launceston and lost his claim so we had to grab Hannah at the last minute, but it all worked out well as she drove him a treat.” Ben, in quest of his fourth straight trainer’s premiership, is enjoying another runaway lead in the 2018/19 season but was quick to share the success of the stable with the team. “Tim (Yole) is a vital cog in the wheel, he does a fantastic job as stable foreman and runs a well-oiled machine, Samantha (Gangell) and Troy (McDonald) are vital in their roles, we have a lot of horses so we are lucky that the team is all in there working for each other, any success we have we can put down to a team effort,” said an appreciative trainer. Mark Yole had another successful day chipping in with three winning drives to increase his lead in the Driver’s Premiership. “Mark has been in great form in the sulky, his drive on Northview Dave to come from outside the 10-metre line to lead after 250-metres was sensational,” said Ben. “That was on the back of winning efforts with Heidi Go Seek and the Karalta Dazzler in the opening two races.” 07 January 2019 | Shane Yates  

Star Tasmanian pacer Ignatius is an early scratching from Friday night's Launceston Pacing Club meeting. Trainer Todd Rattray made the decision tonight after he examined the results of blood tests showing the young champion had not fully recovered from a slight infection. "He's not far off being ready to start him but we wouldn't knowingly start any horse that wasn't 100% right so there will be no risks taken," said a disappointed trainer. "We were looking forward to seeing him race here in Tasmania in preparation for another mainland campaign but time is against now for that to happen." Ignatius (pictured), the reigning Tasmanian Horse of the Year and New South Wales Three-Year-Old of the Year, is being set for next month's $200,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle Park in Sydney. "Tonight's issue is a set back for sure, not a major one but a set back all the same, when you are coming up against the best horses in Australia everything needs to be going well, not mishaps here and there along the way," said Todd. "We are planning on a direct trip to Sydney with him and that just doesn't happen by clicking your fingers, we were hoping to give him one run here at home but that may be tricky now, he'll have to have a run prior to the heats of the Chariots so we will just have to play it by ear and see how it pans out."   Shane Yates

Black Centurian grabbed its second St Marys Cup in the space of four years for Spreyton trainer Steve Davis. The nine-year-old tuned back the clock to 2015, teaming up again with champion reinsman  Garerth Rattray to record a sensational victory over Dasher Houli for Spreyton trainer Steve Davis. “He’s been a great old warrior for us he deserved to win another feature Cup, he’s gone so close so many times,” said Steve. “Black Centurian’s victory in 2015 was exciting but to see him come out and repeat the dose four years later off 20-metres was a great thrill.” Black Centurian showed his usual speed off the mark to settle three back the pegs for champion reinsman Gareth Rattray sitting on the back of Dasher Houli which was camped behind early leader Alta Surreal who led from outside the front line. “As they turned for home Dasher Houli hit the front but Black Centurian was the widest runner and coming hard,” said Steve. “The pair came away from the rest of the field to fight out the finish with Gareth lifting him over the line in the last few strides to win.” The nine-year-old Jr Mint – Mon Poppy Mary gelding will now follow the same path as recent years on the Country Cup circuit. “We will head to Scottsdale again next week, he loves the track and been runner-up in the North Eastern Cup for the last three years,” said the dual code trainer. “Gareth will be sticking with him at Scottsdale and then he will contest the Devonport Cup, he ran fourth last year to Riverboat Jasper and in 2017 he finished second to Pachacuti so we know he’s up to it.” The win sparked a successful back half of the six race card for Gareth Rattray piloting home the last three winners Mavis Merle ($1.80), Black Centurian ($7.70) and Give Me The Night ($2.30).   Shane Yates  

Rohan Hillier pulled off a successful hit and run mission at Carrick Park on Sunday steering home three winners including two of his stable runners. Beachboy Butch (pictured) started Rohan’s winning run with a spectacular victory in the Rebecca White MP Pace. The Somebeachsomewhere-Lifeline four-year-old gelding had galloped in the score up at it’s two Tasmanian start so Rohan decided to take no chances. “I elected to keep him back 15 metres at the start and it worked out well he tends to as he fires-up in the field, he was a distinct last for the first half of the race but once we made our move at the bell I was feeling confident he had them covered,” said Rohan. “He sprinted up well under a good hold out four and five wide and went to the front on straightening, he dashed clear at the top of the stretch, I may have got to the front a little early because he switched right off but he was very impressive.” The Marc Butler prepared Adele Said provided Rohan with the middle pin of his driving treble with a sensational run from well back in the field. “Adele Said scored a dynamic victory, Marc (Butler) has her going really well that’s her third win for the season and she was unlucky not to win last time at Carrick when second to Alta Surreal,” said the Beauty Point reinsman. “They went hard down the back and that improved her chances and when I pulled her out wide on the track she hit top gear and it was all over.” Rohan’s second win as a trainer came with Im Compliant overcoming early troubles to swap them late for a spectacular victory. “Im Compliant had all sorts of issues early avoiding a few problems and I ended up the only place I didn’t want to be three back on the pegs,” said Rohan shaking his head. “When we finally got out at the 350-metre mark I thought we were racing for second place but he let down magnificently and sprinted home over the top of them like a very good horse, he may be a better sprinter than I originally thought.” War Dan Star got punters off on the right leg in the opener with Gareth Rattray piloting the Chris Aylett trained four-year-old Western Terror – Molly’s Lucky Star gelding to his first win of the season. The $1.50 favourite led all the way over the 2150-metre journey, skipping clear on the home turn to win by an ever-increasing margin of fourteen metres. Todd Rattray guided his Bettors Delight – Ashkalini six-year-old gelding to an exciting victory in the Maxfield Drilling Meander Valley Cup. Goggo Gee Gee had been given the run of the race before fighting off Iam Aw Sam and Ima Ginger Rogers to win by three metres, returning a mile rate for the 2650 metre staying trip of 2:04:3. Ricky Duggan surged Mi Ju Dan ($11.10) to the post to nail Pockets Of Courage in the very last stride to win by a short half head for Westbury trainer Rod Plunkett while Gareth Rattray completed a winning double when he lifted the Michael Smith trained All Style Sammy($13.30) over the line to defeat the favourite Illegal Immigrant ($1.20) by a head. Punters put their faith in the Rohan Hadley trained and driven Believe In Forever and they were rewarded with victory first-up from a six-month spell but just as they were thinking how easy this punting game is along came the Geoff Madden trained and driven Master Paige delivered a knock-out in the last at odds off $91.80, scoring by a lip over fellow outsiders Our Boy Johnny ($44) and Only A Myth ($35).   Shane Yates

Leading Female trainer Bianca Heenan and premier reinsman Ricky Duggan celebrated the new era of the Tasmanian Trotting Club in Hobart on Friday with winning trebles. Bianca’s successes commenced with the in-form Twenty Two Karat saluting after being backed into $2.90 favouritism in the Tasmanian Equine Veterinary Pace. Hannah van Dongen drove the Always A Virgin – Goldleaf four-year-old mare confidently finding the breeze early before scooting to the front and dashing clear at the 400-metre mark to notch up her fifth win of the season. Star Chamber ($2.40) showed he’s ready for the state’s feature races over the Christmas – New Year break with a powerful performance off the back mark in the Col Saunders Memorial Brighton Cup. “Star Chamber stepped away quickly from the 30-metre handicap and settled just worse than midfield, Rod (Ashwood) took The Aussie to the early lead and I had the co-backmarker Isaac on our back,” said Mark. “Approaching the bell I knew Ricky (Duggan) was getting itchy fingers with Isaac and looking to flush me out to give him cover but I was happy to make our move because I was confident he was travelling strongly.” Star Chamber, having its run back in the state from a mainland campaign, took over from The Aussie at the turn off the back but the ten-year-old Our Sir Vancelot – Courtney Breeze gelding still had Isaac stalking him. “The pressure was on and I was a sitting duck really, but that’s when his quality, courage and will to win to kicked in” said the premiership leading reinsman. “We turned for home a sulky’s length in clear and held Isacc all the way down the stretch.” Christian Salter handed Bianca her third winner for the night when Trumps Golden Boy ($5.00) trotted to back-to-back victories in the Alderbaran Park Trotters Mile. Ricky Duggan’s Christmas came early piloting home Streitkid ($2.70 fav) for Paul Hill, the Christian Salter prepared Madaboutthechase ($7.00) and the Rod Ashwood trained Still Hungover ($1.80 fav). Shane Yates

Classy six-year-old Taurisi proved he’s one of the best pacers in the state with his outstanding win in heat one of the Tassie Golden Applie Series  in Launceston on Sunday night. Punters who had backed the Todd Rattray trained and driven pacer into $1.70 had their hearts in their mouths until Todd extricated the Always’s A Virgin – Exclusif gelding away from the peg line at the 800-metre mark. With runs coming on his outside Todd sat quietly and although shuffled back to third last down the back the popular pick was now seeing daylight. Todd eased Taurisi (pictured) to the outside inside the 400-metre pole and he powered home down the stretch out five wide to gain the day in the last few strides over Mister Lennox, Offthetopofmyhead and Another Swinger. “Getting him away from the stand is always tricky, we didn’t lose a lot of ground at the start and we got a soft run which is what he needs in his races and I knew once we got into the clear he could run them down,” said Todd. Taurisi recorded a mile rate of 2.02.7 with the last half of 57.7 sec, but it wasn’t a race that was won on times, it was won by a cool-headed driver and a horse that showed his courage and tenacity to be never beaten. With the first heat run and won attention quickly turned to heat two and the eagerly awaited clash of Scooterwillrev and reigning Easter Cup winner Harjeet. The rock hard race fitness of the Craig Hayes prepared Scooterwillrev, the winner of five of his last six starts, up against Harjeet first up from a six-month spell. “Scooterwillrev was very impressive, finding the lead at the mile and running sensational sectionals coming home the last half in 55.6 seconds, but I was very happy with Harjeet’s effort to sit outside the leader and stick on so gamely in the stretch to finish third running those times,” said Todd. “He appears to have pulled up well, we don’t work him hard at home as he gets his fitness from racing so with the run under his belt he will strip much fitter for Friday night’s Gold Apple Final Todd was also aboard Harjeet’s half-brother Izaha in the second race of the night, the Roll With Joe – Our Zellweger four-year-old made it seven wins from a 12 start career with a herculean effort to defeat Secluded Beach by a head. “He was first up since May, started from outside the front line and to then race in the death and run the time they did of 1:56.1 for the mile was a super performance,” said a delighted trainer-driver. “Given he begins well from the tapes I might run him in the Country Cups but his main mission is the Raider Stakes at Devonport in May.”   Shane Yates

Bianca Heenan, Hannah van Dongen, Ben Yole , Mark Yole and Rod Ashwood all enjoyed successful evenings in Hobart on Friday picking up winning doubles. Bianca Heenan extended her lead in the Female Trainers Premiership with the first two winners on the card both steered home by rising star Hannah van Dongen. “Big Bang Raj ran right up to his last outing to win strongly from a tricky draw outside the front line, he began well but couldn’t get across without using too much petrol so Hannah just allowed him to settle midfield and waited for the early speed to come out of the race before making her move,” said Bianca. “Big Bang Raj got a breather in the middle stages and when the pressure came on at the 400 metre mark he was ready to go and he took over turning for home and burst clear to win easily, I was also happy with the run of stablemate Swap Me which ran on strongly to run the quinella at double figure odds.” Bianca and Hannah team up again in race two with Alta Surreal making it back-to back victories after scoring in style at Carrick on Sunday. “Alta Surreal (pictured) is in a rich vein of form he won powerfully last week and once he found the front I was feeling confident, ” said the Brighton trainer. “He was attacked and headed by Jake’s A Joy at the bell but Hannah didn’t panic, she was rating Alta Surreal well and at the 400 metre pole she lifted the tempo and he strolled away for five  metre win.” Ben and Mark Yole combined with seven-year-old mare I’m Paige coming from the one – one and Diamond Grace overpowering The Lemon Drop Kid after sitting in the breeze while Rod Ashwood was successful with the Juanita McKenzie prepared Isacc toppling stablemate Laredo Torpedo before saluting in the last for Ken Shorter with odds-on favourite Betterthanfetta.   Shane Yates

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