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Improving harness racing pacer Im Full Tilt made a one act affair of the Hardings Hotmix Pace in Devonport on the North-West Coast last night to make it three wins in succession. The Paul Ashwood-trained gelding had been threatening to find is best form and ever since he broke through for an overdue win in Launceston late last month he has continued to improve. Driver Gareth Rattray had to use the five-year-old up early to make the most of the pole position but once in front he set a solid tempo and when the reins were released leaving the back stretch the last time the gelded son of Gotta Go Cullen left his rivals in his wake. Im Full Tilt ($1.60 fav) hit the line three metres clear of The Black Centurian ($11.80) that stormed home from near last to grab second with Little Jethro ($8.40) 13 metres astern. It was the second leg of a winning double for Ashwood who also prepared Weona Masterpiece to win the John McKenna Race Night Vet Pace over 2297m courtesy of a brilliant drive from Rohan Hillier. Weona Masterpiece ($2.80 fav) settled just worse than midfield but when Mark Yole sent Jimbaran to the front and set up a huge margin Hillier sensed the danger of being left to far back in the field so he sent Weona Masterpiece scorching around the field to slot in behind the leader. It proved to be the winning move as Weona Masterpiece (Tiz A Masterpiece-Dominion Lady) ranged alongside the leader tuning for home and went on to defeat Outlaw ($4.50) by 4-1/2 metres with Jimbaran ($5.50) a metre away third. Peter Staples

Talented pacer Resurgent Spirit added the Brighton Cup (2579m) to his long list of harness racing feature race wins with a game effort at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night. Resurgent Spirit, fresh from his Ascot Gold Cup win a week earlier, faced the breeze for the last 1000 metres but defied the tough task to emerge triumphant over the fast-finishing Remember Joe with race leader Macho Comacho hanging on or third ahead of the favourite Mister Lennox. The Roger Whitmore-trained five-year-old gelding by American Ideal has won six and notched five minor placings from 14 outings this season for about $45,000 with his overall statistics of 24 wins and 10 minor placings from 43 starts for over $175,000 in stakes more impressive. Connections are contemplating an interstate trip for the gelding as the number of suitable races in Tasmania at this time of the year are dwindling. The gelding set a modern day record of the most number of consecutive wins from debut by a juvenile when he accrued 13 wins in succession as a two and early three-year-old of which nine were at two and included the Sweepstakes and Dandy Patch heats and finals. He won at his first four three-year-old starts but fell short in the Tasmanian Derby in which he finished a game third behind New Zealand-bred gelding Outrageous El from the Victorian stable of Adam Kelly. Resurgent Spirit ventured interstate to Victoria for the Breeders Crown 3YO series but he didn't handle the boat trip and finished down the track in a semi-final and then was last of nine in the Consolation final. Whitmore nursed his stable star back to health and given the way he has won three of his last four starts the gelding could make an impact if connections do decide to give him another chance on the mainland. Peter Staples

Talented harness racing free-for-all pacer Resurgent Spirit would only need to mirror his effort to win the Ascot Gold Cup in Hobart last week to repeat the dose at UBET Park on Sunday night. The Roger Whitmore-trained gelding led and gave his rivals a pacing lesson to score convincingly from Macho Comacho and this year's Easter Cup winner Riverboat Jasper and on Sunday night he meets a similar field in the Brighton Cup. However instead of drawing the pole position as was the case in the Ascot Gold Cup he has to contend with the outside gate seven. The in-form Mister Lennox has drawn gate three and he has enough early speed to find the front so it that eventuates Resurgent Spirit's driver James Austin would most likely wait the opportunity to circumnavigate the field and work to the breeze. Macho Comacho also has speed but from gate four he would most likely go back if Mister Lennox came out humming from the gate. There is no doubt Resurgent Spirit is the best stayer in the race so if it boiled down to a dogfight over the 2579-metre journey Whitmore's gelding would win nine out of 10 battles. Peter Staples

A split second decision to change driving tactics aboard promising three-year-old harness racing pacer Kwiatkowski paid big dividends at UBET Park Hobart Tasmania on Sunday night. Trainer-driver Christian Salter had notified stewards that he planned to ease Kwiatkowski ($8.30) back at the start from his outside front gate (7) in a 3C1-C0 event over 2090 metres. But when the horses he expected to begin quickly from inside front-row barriers showed no urgency he urged his charge forward and the gelding easily found the front. Once in the lead Salter allowed the gelded son of Tell All to bole along without any pressure being applied and that enabled him to sneak a couple of easy quarters which proved to be a telling factor over the concluding stages of the race. Kwiatkowski went on to score by almost seven metres from Ductape ($3.30) with Streetside Classic just over a metre away third and well clear of the favourite and stablemate of the winner Iden Amrak ($2.80). "I planned to go back from the wide draw but after we'd gone about 50 metres the two on the inside that I expected to vie for the lead were showing no real speed so I decided to have a crack myself and we crossed without spending too much energy," Salter said. "He is very well bred being out of a sister (Cheatin Heart) to a really good producing mare of Mum and Dad's in Alsorosie. "That was only his third win but I have said all along that he is going to be even better at four and five because he can stay and that's going to be a big asset further down the track." Peter Staples

Veteran harness racing trainer Paul Hill has long been regarded as a dab hand with young horses so it came as no surprise that his two-year-old Playing Arkabella powered her way to an impressive win in the Elderslie Horse Care 2YO Sweepstakes final for fillies over 1609m at UBET Park Hobart yesterday. Playing Arkabella was forced to face the breeze outside of the leader Harshali for the entire race but she made light of the task to go on and score by 1-1/4 metres from Harshali with Volkova Leis over eight metres away third. Hill trained last year's fillies'' sweepstakes winner Chica Bella and he also prepared Almost Famous to win the race in 2001. The winner was well driven by Ricky Duggan who was content to allow the filly to race in the "death" but without putting too much pressure on the daughter of Shadow Play. "This filly has done everything I've asked of her since she came into work and today was her best effort because it was tough out there in those windy conditions but she showed her courage," Hill said. "She is going to be a better three-yea-old so everything she's done so far and is likely to do for the rest of her two-year-old season is a bonus." Playing Arkabella was bred by Kareena Blackwell who also owns the filly in partnership with Brad Jones and Ben Rossendell. "I am absolutely rapt because as a breeder you always hope you can get one that can win a feature race so this is the best feeling ever," Blackwell said. "I work at Roberts (rural trader) so I asked a couple of my work mates Brad Jones and Ben Rossendell to be part of a syndicate to race this filly so they'll both be thrilled." Peter Staples

Well bred two-year-old pacer Williamtell delivered a workmanlike harness racing performance to win the Elderslie Horse Care colts and geldings division of the 2YO Sweepstakes at UBET Park Hobart today. Williamtell had to pull out all stops to stave off a determined Usain Jolt to defeat that gelding by a neck with outsider Really Frank a distant third. The Paul Ashwood-trained Tell All gelding was taken straight to the front from gate two by Gareth Rattray and when he kicked clear turning for home he looked set to win easily. But the lightly raced Tony Petersen-trained Usain Jolt (James Austin) unleashed a powerful sprint over the final 100 metres to almost nab the leader on the line. Ashwood said Williamtell had been set for the race and he wasn't fussed by the narrow winning margin. "It was tough going out there today. He led and did all the tough work in front while the other horse (Usain Jolt) has come off his back and had cover for almost all of the race," Ashwood said. The conditions were made tough by the near gale-force winds that swept across the track during the race. "I couldn't have asked any more of this horse and he will now head to the Dandy Patch (2YO Sires Stakes series) and then have a spell," Ashwood said. Williamtell will now head to the Dandy Patch (sires stakes) series after which Ashwood said the gelding would be spelled. Peter Staples  

When well-bred two-year-old pacer Williamtell won the Golden Slipper in Launceston in late March it came as a surprise to most harness racing punters who invested heavily on his stablemate Offthetopofmyhead that was sent out the $1.15 favourite. But at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday Williamtell is likely to start favourite to win the colts and geldings division of the $20,000 Elderslie Horse Care 2YO Sweepstakes over 1609 metres. Williamtell won the Golden Slipper convincingly at only his second race start and he has since gone on to finish third to Swap Me at his first start on the Hobart track in a Sweepstakes Prelude before winning an open two-year-old event in Launceston last Sunday night. The Paul Ashwood-trained Tell All gelding has drawn barrier two and will be driven by Gareth Rattray who has been in the sulky for all four of the gelding's starts. "I am pleased with my horse's draw and while he hasn't had to be used up early at his four starts so far he has good natural gate speed and I would expect that to be called on for this race," Ashwood said. "I don't know that he can lead but he is the sort of horse that could face the breeze if he had to and still win. "He needed the run in Launceston last Sunday night to top him off for this race." The Rohan Hillier-trained Solid as a Rock has been placed second at all of his four starts but he still looms as Williamtell's main danger on the strength of his gallant second to Swap Me in the Sweepstakes Prelude in Hobart two weeks ago. Solid as a Rock has drawn gate five on the front row while Swap Me has drawn the outside of the back row (10) from where he will need to be driven for luck by Hall of Fame reinsman Ricky Duggan. The Tony Petersen-trained Usain Jolt has drawn the coveted pole position and should he show enough early speed to take advantage of the draw he could surprise at odds. The fillies division of the Sweepstakes boasts only five starters but all are capable of winning. All are winners with the exception of the Shelley Barnes-trained Volkova Leis that has had two starts for a debut third and a last-start fourth behind Resurgent Dream in the Sweepstakes Prelude two weeks ago. Playing Arkabella from the Paul Hill stable was second in the Sweepstakes Prelude (1609m), beaten almost five metres, while Harshali was third but about 12 metres astern and two metres ahead of Volkova Leis. Resurgent Dream, a full sister to former star juvenile Resurgent Spirit (American Ideal-Resurgent Star), is trained by Marc Butler but is owned by her breeder Roger Whitmore who still trains Resurgent Spirit that goes around in the Ascot Gold Cup on Sunday's 10-even program. Peter Staples

When Victorian reject Bisping arrived at Rohan Hillier's Beauty Point harness racing stables in the north of the state last year the expectations weren't great, after all the horse had been tried by his former owners who tired of his antics in races. But since arriving in Tasmania the gelding has been consistent and in Launceston last Sunday night he delivered a career best effort to win the Harry Holgate Memorial final over 2200 metres. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding did it tough facing the breeze but in the end he made light of the task and forged clear over the concluding stages to win comfortably from Olivers Mate and Sir Dasher Dee with race leader One Mans Pass hanging on for fourth. In Victoria, while in the care of top trainer Emma Stewart, Bisping had been breaking gait in his races and it looked as if he might be dispatched to a life of roaming the paddocks but in stepped prominent Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang. Bisping's part-owner Brett Collins said the back story to how they came by Bisping was interesting, to say the least. "Gavin (Lang) called Rohan about a year ago to suggest we try the horse because he had been driving him and said he wasn't hopeless." "We'd been looking to buy a horse from New Zealand but when he failed a vet test the sale fell through so we were looking for a replacement. Collins and Hiller took Lang's advice and the gelding has proven to be a very good money spinner. Bisping, who is also part-owned by the trainer's wife Katrina Hillier, has had 14 starts in Tasmania for four wins and eight minor placings and has finished no further back that fifth for stake earnings of about $28,000. "Rohan (Hillier) changed the length of his hopples when he first started racing here (Tasmania) and the horse hasn't looked back since," Collins said. Peter Staples

Talented harness racing pacer Mister Lennox delivered one of his best performances to take out the $10,000 Golden Mile over 1680 metres at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. Despite being left parked to face the breeze for most of the race the Juanita McKenzie-trained Changeover gelding proved too strong for his rivals, powering clear in the home straight to hit the line two metres clear of Melolyn that came from well back with race leader Crusader Acey a close-up third. Driver Ricky Duggan was pleased with the effort and he was particularly impressed with the time recorded by the gelding given the heavy condition of the track. Mister Lennox clocked a mile rate of 1.56.53 over the 1680-metre trip which was close to the record of 1.55 set by his stablemate Queens Advocate in the Launceston Mile earlier this year. "To run that time in those conditions was exceptional, given the wet track," Duggan said. "He was always travelling well outside of the leader but I had to wait as long as I could before asking him for an effort because he hangs a bit and has trouble getting around the bottom turn. "I didn't want to go for him until we straightened. I was fairly confident he would run the leader down but I didn't know what was coming from behind." He said. Mister Lennox started at $3.10 but was second favourite behind Wingatui Dew ($2.70) that was expected to lead from the pole position but he couldn't match the speed shown by Crusader Acey that had no trouble crossing to the fence from a wide gate (6). Wingatui Dew trailed the leader but he had trouble gaining a clear run in the home straight. Peter Staples

With 28 harness racing meetings remaining trainer Ben Yole only needs to retain his present strike rate to prepare 100 or more winners for the 2015-16 season. Yole has a stranglehold on the trainer's title having prepared 66 winners and in Launceston on Friday and Hobart on Sunday he has a number of genuine winning chances that could see him with 70 or more wins as at the end of April. He has notched an average of 8.25 wins per month since the season started in September last year so at the same rate he would reach the century. Yole also has prepared 66 seconds and as many third placegetters along with 75 fourths for total stake earnings of $376,462 which is well over double the next best ($168,534) delivered by Todd Rattray who has produced 23 winners and 52 minor placegetters. Yole made a decision last year to secure horses on a regular basis from interstate and turn them over quickly and so far the exercise has delivered the desired result. He will take a team of 13 to Hobart on Sunday night of which five are engaged in the penultimate race on the seven-event card and four in the last. Happy Schnapps is one of his three starters in race four, a C3-C4 over 2090 metres, and provided driver Adrian Collins can secure a one-out spot early with cover the gelding could make a welcome return to the winner's circle. In Launceston on Friday night Yole will take 18 to the meeting at the UBET Racing Centre and again he has multiple runners in many of the 10 races. Check out Jamie Cockshutt's tips at Punter's Corner. Peter Staples

Tasmanian Hall of Fame harness racing driver Ricky Duggan will be back in the cart in Hobart on Sunday night after spending three weeks on the sidelines as a result of a nasty race fall. Duggan was rendered unconscious when the sulky wheel of a horse he was driving in a race in Hobart clipped a fallen horse that sent him crashing to the track. He was rushed to hospital where scans revealed no bone damage but he suffered serious bruising and some ligament damage to his heel and foot as well as bruising to his upper body. Duggan, 46, was off work for two weeks but returned to his role as groundsman with the Derwent Valley Council on Tuesday. "I don't remember too much about the fall other than being hurled through the air and landing on one foot and then thumping head first into the track," Duggan said. "I've had worse injuries from falls but none that have been this painful. "I pretty much couldn't move for a few days and the pain was excruciating. "I've still got a bit of a limp but I'm getting better by the day," he said. Duggan resumes driving in Hobart on Sunday night where he has six drives on the seven-race program. He has driven 50 winners so far this season and trails Mark Yole by only five so he remains a chance to win another driver's premiership. "I think Mark (Yole) has the premiership in the bag because I don't go to Devonport meetings as a rule so realistically he will have a better chance of winning the title and that would be great for him," Duggan said. One of Duggan's drives on Sunday is the Tony Petersen-trained Dapper Dana that hasn't started for two years but the gelding is reported to be working well and is expected to show up from his front-row draw. Peter Staples

The Christian Salter-trained and driven Ark Breeze ($4.60) won the $30,000 Granny Smith final for harness racing four-year-old mares with an outstanding display of front running over the 2665-metre trip at Devonport. Despite having had only one start in eight months leading up to the Granny Smith the mare proved too strong for her rivals scoring by five metres from outsiders Joan Grant and Mi Makarova. Brighton trainer-driver Christian Salter was confident of winning after Ark Breeze drew well, with one reservation. "I was a bit worried that she might be underdone for the race because she'd had eight months off through niggling little injuries and she had only one start going into this race," Salter said. "But when she drew the pole position I thought she'd be hard to beat of she held the lead," Salter said "She's had a bit of soreness which is why she hasn't been racing." Salter said that the daughter of Stonebridge Regal deserved to win a good race after being narrowly beaten by Barooga Minnie in the three-year-old Sires Stake final (Bandbox) last year. "I've had a bit of luck with this family so I was keen to get her and I thank her owner Shane Hawes for sending her down to me,'' the trainer said. "Her half brothers Aninchofhislife, Drifting West and Ark West have all won a lot of races." Peter Staples

Star four-year-old pacer Jerrys Jet delivered another stellar harness racing performance to score a narrow but game win in the $30,000 Raider Stakes final at Devonport on Sunday night. After slotting into the coveted one-out-one-back position after travelling 400 metres, the gelding's trainer-driver Rohan Hillier sent him three-wide to challenge in the back straight and he had the leader and stablemate Four Ex Dan covered turning for home. The leader rallied so Hillier had to get busy on the $1.80 favourite and just when that stoush had ended along came outsider One mans pass to issue a challenge that fell short by a metre. It was the four-year-old Jereme's Jet gelding's 15th win from 19 starts and his owner-breeder Charlie Beadman was pleased with the result. "He's not at his best on this tight Devonport track and it took a very good drive from Rohan (Hillier) to win it, " Beadman said. The race was delayed for about 15 minutes after Four Ex Dan threw himself down on the track near the starting point and his sulky became entangled in the outside fence. The gelding had to return to the stables to undergo a vet's examination before being allowed to start and a replacement sulky was required. Four Ex Dan led, as expected, from the pole position with Blackjackhanover on his outside, Fioki on the leader's back and Jerrys Jet on his outside. Beadman said that Jerrys Jet would press on with his current campaign but he didn't have any specific targets and dispelled rumours that the horse was heading interstate. "I'll have a talk with Rohan but we're not planning to send him to the mainland at this stage,'' Beadman said. Peter Staples

Former New South Wales three-year-old pacer Code Black tuned up for the Tasmanian Derby with an impressive harness racing victory in a CO Pace over 2200m in Launceston last Sunday night. The colt had previously been trained in Sydney by Luke McCarthy after beginning his career in Victoria but is owners Danny Zavitsanos, of Geelong, and Warren Viney, of Spreyton, opted to send him to leading Tasmanian trainer Ben Yole for a tilt at the Tasmanian Derby ``Luke (McCarthy) told me that he was a pretty good horse but a rung below the superstars,'' Yole said. ``Hopefully we can keep him down here for a while because our prizemoney is better than a lot of the restricted-class races up there.'' Although Code Black didn't win by a great margin from El Major and Fleshing, driver Mark Yole said it was good enough. "The colt only does what he has to," Mark Yole said. ``If you look at his record, none of his wins have been by huge margins.' While the Yole team was happy with Code Black's effort so was El Major's trainer Paul Ashwood who says his horse also is in top shape for the Tasmanian Derby to be run at UBET Park Hobart next Sunday night. "I thought my horse's run from a second-row draw was good and that will have topped him off nicely for the Derby," he said.   Peter Staples

Top Tasmanian harness racing trainer Rohan Hillier was looking forward to taking Denza Doozy to the races for the first time after he started to show some promise at his Beauty Point training complex. That was until he ventured to the trials with the well-bred three-year-old early last week where he galloped and that put some doubt in Hillier's mind as to whether he could win on debut. But the well-bred Parsons Den gelding made no mistakes on debut last Sunday night and delivered a sterling effort to win a 3YO pace over 2200m convincingly and at the lucrative price of $13.50. ``I thought he only had to get around safely to win,'' Hillier said after Denza Doozy ran home strongly to beat Kwiatkowski and Ken Two Stars. ``When I got him from James Rattray (in Sydney) about six weeks ago he told me that the horse went OK but just wasn't quite good enough for up there. ``But he took me by surprise when he galloped in a trial the other day so I would have been happy just to see him get around safely tonight.'' Denza Doozy settle4d one-out-one-back and when Hillier sent him three-wide to make his run he gathered in the leaders and went on to score impressively. The gelding is owned and was bred by Mark Panton who has enjoyed much success over the years and in particular with this horse's half-sister Nola Mayhem that won eight of her 21 starts including a bandbox Stakes at two and a Granny Smith Stakes mares' classic as a four-year-old. Peter Staples

When well-bred harness racing two-year-old pacer Williamtell powered home to win the $10,000 Golden Slipper in class record time in Launceston last Sunday night you could have heard a pin drop in the viewing area in the main grandstand. The winner's stablemate Offthetopofmyhead was sent around a $1.15 favourite while Williamtell had little support drifting from $8 to start at $12 with the bulk of the support for the gelded son of Tell All likely to have come from those who liked the sound of his name. After all, Williamtell was second to Offthetopofmyhead at his only other start and he was beaten almost 10 metres in a race in which the winner set a new class record mile rate of 1.58.3. But most likely what brought about the demise of the favourite was the incredibly hot tempo he endured for the first 600 metres of the race and was then not eased to a more reasonable tempo by his driver and trainer Paul Ashwood once he had acquired the lead with over 1000 metres remaining. Ashwood was called to the stewards' room to explain his driving tactics and the following is an extract from the official stewards' report. "When queried he told stewards that the colt had hung out rounding the first turn and then travelled well within itself to race up outside Solid As A Rock with 1100 metres to go and when that geldings driver Rohan Hillier then restrained he was able to take the lead. "He added that when in front he did not commence to ask the colt for an effort until after the 400 metres and that the colt had then shifted out whilst tiring close to the finish. "Whilst Stewards had concerns over Ashwood's drive, in particular his not taking the opportunity to ease the pace after taking the lead after a fast first half, they did not believe his drive was blameworthy to the extent that a charge could be sustained against him." Gareth Rattray, the driver of Williamtell, said: "That (the way the race was run) was probably the only way this horse could have won." In winning, Williamtell clocked a mile rate of 1.56.85 which was over a second off the previous best (1.58.3) that was set by Offthetopofmyhead a week earlier and the new time was only 1.85 seconds of the track record set by Queens Advocate (1.55) last month. Peter Staples

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