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Westbury harness racing trainer Leigh Dornauf could not have asked for a better Tasmanian debut from recent stable addition Levi Jimmy. The former NSW three-year-old was an impressive all-the-way winner at Mowbray on Friday night, scoring by 34 metres and rating 2:00.5. He ran his last half in a smart 57.4 seconds. Dornauf bought the gelding off the Internet for $10,000. “I watched his races and his form was good,” the trainer said. “His previous trainer had entered him for the Western Derby at Dubbo where he was due to race against horses that had won $100,000. “I thought that was a good sign – it showed she had a fair opinion of him. “She agreed to scratch him after I bought him. “I thought getting him down here as a 3CO horse there would be wins in him.” Levi Jimmy’s win completed an early double for driver Gareth Rattray who also scored on $21 outsider Martys For Real for leading trainer Ben Yole. Yole’s second winner of the night, Modern Chic, was more popular with punters, backed into $2.70 favourite. Riverside trainer Chester Bullock continued his good recent form when Cardinal Spec led all the way to provide favourite-backers with another winner. Greg Mansfield Reprinted with permission of The Examiner  

Former Tasmanian Derby winner Mister Lennox broke the harness racing track record in Launceston on Sunday night when he flashed home to win the $10,000 Golden Mile over 1680 metres. The Juanita McKenzie-trained gelding emerged from the pack to chase down tear away leader I Am Camelot to score by two metres clocking a mile rate of 1.54.5 that set a new benchmark for open class pacers. It eclipsed the previous best of 1.55 set by Queens Advocate, also trained by McKenzie, in February last year. It made it back-to-back Golden Miles for the five-year-old gelding that was dispatched to top NSW trainer Paul Fitzpatrick after winning last year's Golden Mile however he was unplaced from five starts. McKenzie said Mister Lenox could soon head to Melbourne with the hope of winning an M0 event at Melton. It was one of five winners in succession for Hillier who captured races 5-9 for what was a personal best haul. Hillier has driven four winners on a program a few times, according to the popular reinsman, but this is his first quintet of winners. His winners were Mister Lennox, Chirac, Rocknroll Turbo, Chenin Valley and Lord Jones. Two of the wins were aboard horses he trains, Rocknroll Turbo and Chenin Valley, while the others were for individual trainers. To highlight his popularity, Hillier had a drive in every race on the 10-event card. Peter Staples

The depth of talent in Tasmania's harness racing three-year-old ranks was on show in Launceston on Sunday night in preludes of the state's sires' stakes races. In the Globe Derby prelude for colts and geldings three stars in their own right flashed across the line with narrow margins separating the trio. Rocknroll Turbo emerged the victor by a few centimeters from Usain Jolt with race leader Harjeet a similar margin away third. Rocknroll Turbo ($2.30 favourite), trained at Beauty Point by Rohan Hillier who also drove the colt, said very little separates the first three across the line. "I was very happy with how my horse performed tonight but the first three across the line will improve from that run and probably the barrier draw and luck in running will play a big role in the outcome of the final," Hillier said. Harjeet ($3) led from gate four while Hillier snagged his charge back at the start to settle one-out-one-back with the well-backed Usain Jolt ($3.80) also eased out of the early speed battle from barrier six to settle last. When Harjeet's driver Barrie Rattray tried to slow the pace slightly entering the back straight the last time Duggan eased Usain Jolt out three-wide to make his move but it also allowed Rocknroll Turbo to find his back for a cart home. When the pressure was applied in the home straight it became a survival of the fittest with Rocknroll Turbo getting up in the last bound. The Bandbox prelude for fillies resulted in another close finish between Playing Arkabella (Rohan Hillier) and the favourite El Jays Mystery (Ricky Duggan). Hillier tried to pinch a winning break when he sent Playing Arkabella around the field to assume control leaving the back straight the last time but under strong driving from Duggan the favourite gained the upper hand right on the line. El Jays Mystery, prepared at Karoola by Dick Eaves, was heavily backed to start the $2.10 favourite while Playing Arkabella had her share of supporters firming from $5 to start $4.40. Duggan was content with his filly's effort but he was concerned about her breaking gait soon after the start. "I'm going to suggest a slight gear change to Dick (Eaves) that might stop this filly from breaking at the start," Duggan said. Peter Staples

There could be nothing worse than having your vision impaired when driving a pacer at a harness racing meeting which is what Tasmanian drivers had to deal with at the meeting in Devonport on Tasmania's North-West Coast on Sunday night. Constant rain throughout the day had turned the Devonport Showground circuit into a bog by race five on the 11-event card and all drivers were hoping to find the front. However the rain eased and while the track was extremely rain-affected, stewards deemed it safe for racing. Needless to say many of the winners led throughout on what was one of the wettest days in the region this year. Mark Yole steered Jane Grant to an all-the-way win in the $10,000 Sheffield Cup after which he declared it would be almost impossible for anything to win coming from behind. "They won't be making any ground here tonight,' Yole said after winning the Sheffield Cup. Even though Jane Grant led throughout, Yole still had to lift his mud-splattered visor during the race to see where he was going. As Yole where's spectacles when he drives he had the other problem of having his glasses speckled with grit from the track that further impaired his vision. However, it made no difference to the outcome as Jane Grant set a solid clip in front and was never seriously challenged on her way to a comfortable win over Red Sun Bliss and Lord Jones. Peter Staples

Former harness racing champion Tasmanian pacer Halyer passed away of old age last month but his memory will live on through his owners' decision to provide a recognition award each year at the annual meeting at St Marys. Ana and Eric Hayes owned Halyer for the last 14 of his retirement years and before he died the family provided finding for a trophy to be presented to a novice driver at the St Marys annual meeting and this was the fifth time the award has been presented. Halyer was owned and raced by the father and son combination of Don and Dean Cooper who had the pleasure of watching their star win his way into the hearts of harness racing fans around Australia and in particular Tasmania. On Easter Saturday Dean Cooper, who is the chairman of the board of Tasracing, the state's governing body of all racing, travelled to St Marys to present the 2017 award to novice driver Brady Woods Tasracing. "It is an honour to receive the Halyer Award because from what I've been told he was a fantastic horse." "This is the third time I've been given this award and it is great that the connections of the great horse wanted to establish the award in is honour," Woods said. "Halyer was a great horse to my father and I and we thank the Hayes family for initiating this award," Cooper said. Halyer was a great racehorse who greeted the starter 70 times for 32 wins and 22 minor placings for over $340,000 in stakes. He broke two minutes every season he raced, notching a 1.59.7 rate as a two-year-old and at three he clocked 1.58.3 in an open class race over 1609 metres Launceston in February 1990. Peter Staples

Pachacuti  confirmed his status as Tasmania's best harness racing pacer when he came of the back mark of 40 metres to win the $40,000 Ranvet Easter Cup over 2569 metres in Launceston on Sunday night. Despite starting off a back mark of 40 metres the gelded son of Bettor's Delight defied a tough run facing the breeze for the last 1500 metres to win and broke the track record for a standing start along the way. The Todd Rattray-trained gelding was forced to work hard early to tack onto the field but when his trainer-driver called on the gelding to improve he raced around the field to face the breeze outside of the leader Black Centurian. When Rattray called on his charge for supreme effort in the home straight he powered home to defeat outsiders Isaac ($51) and Remember Joe ($101). Pachacuti ($5.70) won seven races in succession before finishing fifth in his Easter Cup heat off 40 metres but armed with that run under his belt he delivered what Rattray described as a career-best effort. "This is the race I've always wanted to win and to do it with such a great horse is special," Rattray said. "I knew he was going really well and this week his trackwork was outstanding and he's taken that into the race tonight. "I'll wait a few days to see how he pulls up but I am confident I can take this horse away and win interstate." Pachacuti has won 32 of his 69 starts with 19 minor placings for over $300,000 in stakes. Isaac had a hard luck story as he was held up at a crucial stage over the final 300 metres and when he saw daylight half-way up the home straight he flashed home to be beaten two metres. Remember Joe ran the race of his life to grab third ahead of the race leader Black Centurian. Peter Staples

Pachacuti extended his winning steak with an effortless harness racing victory in the $10,000 Governor's Cup over 2090 metres in Hobart on Sunday night.. Pachacuti ($1.30 favourite) was unable to hold the lead from gate two and was crossed by Modern Ruler and heading down the back stretch the last time it looked for a moment that the favourite might not get out of the pocket. But the seven-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding's trainer-driver Todd Rattray somehow eased off the fence from behind the leader at the point of the home turn and once in the three-wide line the gelding powered home to score by over 10 metres from Hugo Play with Sapphire Swayze a closing third. Pachacuti is being aimed at the $40,000 Easter Cup on April 16 and his next outing will most likely be in an Easter Cup heat in Launceston on Friday week, March 31. Rattray was hauled into the stewards' room after the race and subsequently suspended for four race dates on a dangerous driving charge and it could mean missing out on driving Pachacuti in an Easter Cup heat. "I will be appealing the suspension and that's all I want to say about it," Rattray said. It was Pachacuti's sixth win in succession this year and given the way he toyed with his rivals at this latest outing he should be a major contender when he arrives at his grand final in the Easter Cup. "I am very happy with how he's going but I'm sure there is a fair bit of improvement in him between now and the Easter Cup. "He had a short let-up after his previous run so I reckon he definitely was in need of this run." Peter Staples

New Zealand bred three-year-old filly Shartin powered her way to an emphatic harness racing win in the Cripps Waratah Tasmanian Oaks over 2579 metres in Hobart last night. The Victorian filly settled last from her wide front-row draw but inside a lap her driver Chris Alford sent the daughter of Tintin In America around the field to find the lead. From there on it was a procession with the filly forging clear turning for home and she went on to score by almost 12 metres from El Jays Mystery that faced the breeze throughout with Playing Arkabella a half-head away third. It was Alford's third drive aboard the filly and he said she was always travelling like the winner. "I was mindful that this filly can do a few things wrong if she has to race wide so I dropped her out to last and then whipped around them early on and she was able to find the front without having to spend too much gas," Alford said. "Dean Braun paid about $50,000 for this filly in New Zealand but I'm sure she will pay her way. "She is still learning what it's all about but tonight she did everything right and she had the race won a long way from home. Shartin is owned by a syndicate that includes Tasmanian Dean Richards who is overseas on business. Alford said Shartin was likely to head to the heats of the Victorian Oaks next month. Shartin has won three of her five starts with this latest her most impressive and the $15,000 prizemoney took her career earnings to just beyond $25,000. It was Alford's fourth Tasmanian oaks having been successful on Concorde Lombo in 1997, Itz Nosurprisesthere (2013) and last year aboard Dancingwithsierra. Peter Staples

Tasmania lost one of its harness racing icons last week when champion pacer Halyer passed away peacefully of old age at Scamander on the North-East Coast. The former champion had been living the life of Riley on the property of Ana and Eric Hayes where he was treated like a member of the family for the past 12 years. Halyer became an integral part of the Hayes family that comprises Ana and Eric Hayes their son Saxon and daughter Lily-Mae. "Losing Halyer was like losing a family member because he meant so much to all of us," Ana Hayes said. At his previous two homes Halyer was used as a pony club hack and from all reports he thoroughly enjoyed being ridden but Ana's attempts to reignite that passion failed. "I took riding lessons using "Hals" as my mount but it wasn't really working and when he bucked me off a few times I decided to give riding a miss and just keep him as a pet. "We decided to call him Big Dog because he was fed twice a day and was treated just the same as any family pet. Halyer also became a good companion for Lily-Mae who was quite attached to the horse. She would often wander down to the back of the paddock and talk to Halyer and over time he became very affectionate towards her. When Halyer laid down to take his last few breaths Lily-Mae was with him and fell asleep by his side. "We are a very close-knit family and our animals are very much a part of the unit so to lose such a dominant force in our lives is heartbreaking," In his racing days Halyer was owned by Don Cooper and his son Dean and Halyer died on Don's 90th birthday last Sunday week. Don had not seen Halyer for about 14 years when he made a visit to the Hayes' property about six years ago and what transpired when he and the horse were reacquainted was quite moving. Almost from the moment Halyer caught sight of Don the gelding became more animated and when Don put his arm around the horse's neck the obvious affection they had for each other shone through. "This horse took us on a fantastic journey and for obvious reasons Bobby (Halyer) always will be very special to me and my family," Don Cooper said. Halyer was a great racehorse who greeted the starter 70 times for 32 wins and 22 minor placings for over $340,000 in stakes. He broke two minutes every season he raced, notching a 1.59.7 rate as a two-year-old and at three he clocked 1.58.3 in an open class race over 1609 metres Launceston in February 1990. Two months later he was mixing it with the best three-year-olds in the land winning a heat of the NSW Derby prior to finishing second in the Derby final, a race that even today Don Cooper finds had to believe he lost. "One thing you learn when you are involved in racing is that you have to take the bad with the good and the NSW Derby was one of those not so good experiences," Cooper said. Halyer finished second to Imprimartar, but only because Halyer struck interference, broke and galloped 100m from home and what led to him breaking resulted in the horse's trainer-driver Neville Webberley being suspended. But the horse made amends at his next start when, with John "Bulldog" Nicholson in the gig, he gave his rivals a pacing lesson in the Group 1 Australian Derby. "The Australian Derby win was enormous and definitely made up for the NSW Derby loss," Cooper said. After six months in the paddock Halyer returned to the racetrack and following his first win as a four-year-old Webberley predicted his stable star had the ability to reach great heights. His effort to finish second to Thorate in the 1990 Tasmanian Pacing Championship remains one of the most courageous efforts seen on a Tasmanian track. The then four-year-old was galloped on in the run and despite blood gushing from a gash in his hoof he finished at the rate of knots to edge Generator out of second spot and beat home some of the best horses of that era including Allan Grant that was driven and trained by the late Vin Knight. The hoof injury ensured Halyer would spend the next nine months in the paddock but he returned with a vengeance. He won the Easter Cup in 1992 which boasted a star-studded line-up including Inter-Dominion performers Franco Tiger and The Tower Of Strength who filled the minor placings. Despite having a few niggling injuries, Halyer was prepared for the 1994 Inter Dominion series in Sydney and he again made his mark at the highest level. He won his first heat of the series and placed third in two others to progress to the final in which he finished a luckless fourth to Weona Warrior. But days after the final he was stricken with a stomach illness that almost took his life. "We thought we lost him a couple of times but he was a real fighter and he lived to fight another day," Don Cooper said. Halyer returned to Tasmania when fully recovered and other than a four-start campaign in Victoria he spent the balance of his racing days in his home state. Webberley regards Halyer as the best he trained and after consultation with the horse's owners they agreed to retire the horse from racing after he won a free-for-all in Hobart in September 1995. Ana Hayes said Halyer is buried on the family property where he lay in a specially marked grave. "We buried Hals in a spot that gets the morning and afternoon sun and that's the way he would have liked it," Ana said. Peter Staples

Tasracing and harness racing clubs around the state have thrown their support behind another battle to raise funds, this time for ovarian cancer research. The pink cricket test in Sydney every year is testament to what a high-profile sportsperson can contribute, especially when they are dedicated to the cause through personal tragedy. The McGrath Foundation and the Australian community has raised millions of dollars to employ Breast Care Nurses right across the country in the fight against cancer. Jane McGrath lost her battle with breast cancer in 2008, but not before establishing the McGrath Foundation with husband of nine years, champion Australian fast bowler Glenn.  Tasracing and harness racing clubs around the state have thrown their support behind another battle to raise funds, this time for ovarian cancer research. Duncan McPherson is the driving force behind the harness racing fundraising efforts around the country, drawing attention to the cause through Team Teal. Duncan's wife Lyn passed away from the illness in 2010, and he is passionately committed to doing whatever he can to highlight the needs of women who are suffering from the disease and their families, through his passion for harness racing. All female drivers have been wearing teal pants in races throughout the promotion with $200 donated to the Ovarian Cancer Research Centre every time one of the girls salutes the judge during the six-week campaign. The milestone of 200 winners nationally was achieved on March 1 and the girls are keen to bring up 300 victories by the last meeting on March 12. Nat Emery has led the way on the local scene with four winners with support from Hannah van Dongen, who drove her first career winner for the cause, Taylor Ford,  Samantha Freeman, Lee Simmonds, Sara Wilkins  and Makenna Hillier. "It's a nice feeling for the girls and I to think we are helping out in a small way and contributing to such a wonderful project. I believe the program will grow in coming years and we are all excited to be involved," Nat said. I had the pleasure of meeting Duncan at the Devonport Harness Racing Club meeting on Sunday night and it was clear he is a man on a mission. "If we can assist in fundraising for research to find an early detection device it would be a fantastic result in improving the survival rate,” a determined Duncan said. “Ovarian cancer is a silent killer, which is why I'm so heavily involved, especially with the fundraising.  "Tasracing, the clubs and our talented young reins-women around the state have been very supportive and we greatly appreciate everyone's efforts." Don't wait till it happens to you or someone you love, go without that cappuccino or latte today and, in my case, that sausage roll, okay two sausage rolls, and make a difference to someone's life. By Shane Yates Reprinted with permission of The Advocate

IT came as no surprise to harness racing trainer Steve Davis when his well-bred five-year-old mare Ima Ginger Rogers delivered a career best performance to win the $10,000 Leigh Plunkett over 2297 metres in Devonport on Sunday night. Ima Ginger Rogers had good form leading up to the race but the weight of money that arrived for race favourite Little Bit of Big ($2 into $1.60) saw Davis' mare's price drift from $5 to start at $8.60. But when driver Ricky Duggan urged Ima Ginger Rogers forward at the start from gate three and found the lead it was obvious a long way from the finish that the mare was the one to beat. The favourite made a dash from the rear to sit at the leader's wheel but when her driver Rohan Hillier asked for the supreme effort she was unable to go on with it and the leader slipped clear and went on to score by 12 metres from Little Bit of Big with Reckless Abandon five metres away third. Ima Ginger Rogers covered the journey in 2m.55s for a mile rate of 2.02 but she scampered home her last half (800 metres) in a slick 57.9. "I was confident she could win because she had good recent form heading into the race," Davis said. "Her two previous runs were terrific without winning and her trackwork in the week leading up to the race was fantastic so I thought if she could lead then nothing would be able to run her down and I told Ricky (Duggan) that before the race. "When a horse can run home its last 800m in under 58 seconds on the Devonport track, and I knew this mare could do that, then she was always going to be extremely hard to beat," Davis said Davis became aware of the mare after her full sister Shezallapples (Sportswriter-Apple Sorbet) won a Group 1 2YO race at Menangle in NSW in June last year. "I knew this mare was for sale in Tasmania so when I heard that Shezallapples had won the Breeders Challenge I rang Chris Aylett, whose father Phil trained Ima Ginger Rogers as a young horse, and said we'd better buy her as a broodmare prospect. "So I rang Nick Perotti the owner of Ima Ginger Rogers and we ended up buying her in a package of four horses that included another broodmare, a yearling and an unbroken two-year-old. "This mare took a bit to get going after she injured a knee that later became infected and when she was over that she got a bad cold so we had to tip her out and start again. "But this time in she has been good and provided all that bad luck is behind her she might just win her way through the classes." Peter Staples

Tasmanian harness racing fans were treated to a spectacular weekend of racing, with four of the state’s most exciting young pacers saluting the judge.  Scooterwillrev, Usain Jolt, Zhukov Leis and Harjeet head the most talented crop of three-year-olds seen in Tasmania for many years, and all showed their undoubted ability with stylish wins.   Two of the brilliant quartet are from the North-West Coast.  Zhukov Leis, bred by owners Trevor and Marjorie Leis at Smithton, scored impressively on debut in Hobart on Friday night in a heat of the Allen Williams Memorial. Meanwhile Scooterwillrev, unbeaten in nine Tasmanian starts for Stowport trainer Craig Hayes, overcame a mid-race mishap to win convincingly in Launceston on Sunday.  The Tony Peterson-trained Usain Jolt had made it a one-act affair earlier in the night blitzing his opposition with a demoralising turn of foot on the home corner, while the Todd Rattray-prepared Harjeet treated his rival with contempt, notching up an effortless victory.  All four may well be on a collision course in the Tasmanian Derby next month.  Tasracing harness form analyst Jamie Cockshutt is excited about the prospect of the local stars taking on the mainland invasion.  "Scooterwillrev is the top seed. He is unbeaten in the state and his greatest weapons are speed and strength. These attributes added together make him a formidable opponent for his rivals,” Mr Cockshutt said. "Usain Jolt is the clear second contender. He has gone to a new level this season and is still learning what the racing caper is all about.  “The 2579m Derby trip will suit him right down to the ground. In fact, if he keeps improving, the sky could be the limit.” The two new kids on the block are both from the Todd Rattray stable.   "Zhukov Leis, a beautifully-bred half-brother to the injury-prone topliner Jaruzelski Leis, showed he has inherited the family bloodlines with an ultra-impressive win on debut. “Harjeet, a son of Rocknroll Hanover resumed with a dominant win on Sunday night, dashing home in 57 seconds for the last half mile."  Tasmania's champion pacer Beautide won every start of his three-year-old year except the Derby, running a luckless fourth, but that failed to stop him going on to capture dual Inter-dominion championships and a Miracle Mile.  Cockshutt  believes the current crop of three-year-olds is the strongest contingent for many years. "We've had three-year-olds in the past like Halyer and Astral Francais who were up there with the best in the country of their year and there may be another of that quality to come from this group." By Shane Yates Reprinted with permission of The Advocate

Former Sydneysider Roger Ramjet continued on his winning way in Launceston last night with an impressive all-the-way victory in a C6-C10 harness racing pace over 2200 metres. Roger Ramjet is prepared by Todd Rattray for whom the gelding has had four starts since arriving in the state from New South Wales where he was prepared by Rattray's older brother James Rattray. It was the gelding's second win from five starts in Tasmania and he could shape as an Easter Cup candidate. Todd Rattray is hoping the gelding stays in Tasmania at least until Easter. "I would like to keep this horse here for as long as possible and I really think he could be an Easter Cup contender," Rattray said. Roger Ramjet arrived at James Rattray's stables midway through 2014 and he won his first three starts in NSW before heading to Victoria where he had four starts for a win at Melton and two minor placings at Ballarat. He won three more at Menangle before heading to Queensland where he had two starts for a win and a second after which he was spelled for five months. James Rattray sent the gelding to his family's Tasmanian stable that is operated these days by Todd Rattray and at the gelding's second start in the state he was a luckless seventh in the Devonport Cup. The $40,000 Easter Cup will be run in Launceston on April 16. Peter Staples

I Am Camelot delivered a career-best effort to score an impressive harness racing win in a C4-C5 event over 2200 metres at the Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston last night. The Deborah Williams-trained gelding earned a reputation as a horse that only does his best when he leads but last night the six-year-old was able to settle back in the field from his outside second-row draw and rattle home to score an emphatic win. It was the gelding's fifth win from 10 starts this season and Gareth Rattray's fourth aboard the son of Safari from five drives. "The horse was travelling great on the back of the favourite No Spring Secrets and I was happy for that horse to take us into the race but he wasn't going well enough so we had to go six-wide on the home turn," Rattray said. "He's a horse that gets revved up and hard to handle but he settled tonight and he really finished the race off well." I Am Camelot is only lightly raced as he's only had 22 starts for five wins and as many minor placings for closing in on $30,000 in prizemoney.  

Zhukov Leis is the latest in a string of harness racing pacers bred by Trevor and Marjorie Leis to make an impact on the racetrack. The Todd Rattray-trained and driven gelding made an impressive debut at Luxbet Park Hobart last night leading all the way to score impressively after being heavily backed in to start the $2. Zhukov Leis is by Somebeachsomewhere from the Leis' top-producing broodmare Kazakova Leis that also produced the half-brother Jaruzelski Leis (by Bettors Delight) that has so far won 20 with a best mile rate of 1.53.7. The three-year-old gelding stepped well from a wide gate (6) and after a stoush with Memory of Love, Rattray's gelding eventually found the lead and he settled well under a strong hold. Zhukov Leis was given no peace for the last 1200 metres with the second favourite Falcon Harry sitting at his wheel and waiting to pounce heading down the back stretch. But when Rattray called on Zhukov Leis for an effort he dug deep and shrugged off the challenge and forged clear to defeat Falcon Harry by about four metres with Striker Jim over 20 metres astern. "We have always believed this horse could run a bit and he showed us that at two but he developed a bad cough and we had to pull up and tip him out," Rattray said. "I've taken my time with this horse and I think the patience we've shown will pay off. "He takes a bit of work because he's a good doer and he got away from me a bit this time in which is why he will derive a lot of benefit from this run. "I have no doubt he has a bright future and he could have a good race in him this season." Peter Staples

It won't be long before Hannah Van dongen has to make a decision between becoming an apprentice jockey or grinding out a career in the harness racing industry. Van dongen has been riding trackwork in her home town of Longford for various trainers for a year but when her father Craig Van dongen decided to reacquaint himself with harness racing as a trainer his daughter was keen to help out. At Carrick last Saturday the father and daughter teamed up to produce their first win with Regal Idea and to make it a real family affair the horse is owned by Hannah's mother Carol Williscroft. Hannah Van dongen had Regal Idea settled in the one-out line and travelling sweetly to the bell and when she eased out three-wide to get a cart home the gelding was always likely to win. Van dongen had to get busy on her charge over the final 200 metres but he knuckled down to his task and grabbed race leader Thirlstane King close to home to score a narrow but impressive win. "It was great to get my first winner on a horse trained by Dad and owned by Mum," Hannah Van dongen said. Having spent many years honing her riding craft at pony club and equestrian events she decided to try her hand at trackwork riding and she took to it like a duck to water. She rides work for Longf0rd-based trainer Ken Hanson and she is used by other local trainers when available. "I have always enjoyed equestrian horses as a kid and a few years ago, Dad decided to get back involved in the industry. From there the opportunity arose to work for Barrie and Todd Rattray where I gained a lot of harness racing experience." She is kept very busy these days with trackwork at Longford starting at 5.30am and once her duties there are finished she heads out to harness trainer Chester Bullock's training complex at Riverside for the rest of the day. Peter Staples

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