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Talented young Tasmanian harness racing trainer Chris Aylett believes New South Wales reject War Dan Star has a future in Tasmania following the two-year-old's impressive win at his second start in the state in Devonport on Friday night. War Dan Star came from the Amanda Turnbull stable where he had four unplaced starts which led to him being sacked. But his owners, Victorian Danny Zavitsanos and Tasmanian Warren Viney, decided to send the horse to Tasmania. "Dad (Phillip) trained a few for Warren (Viney) when he first started out in harness racing and he always said he wanted to get me a good horse," Chris Aylett said. "This bloke is a good honest little horse and I think he'll be better next year." War Dan Star was backing up after a nose second in Launceston five days earlier when one of the owners backed him at 40-1. "He looked like winning that race (when he hit the front in the straight) but the leader kicked back," Aylett said. "We'll go back to Launceston next week for a heat of the Breeders Crown, because he's paid up for that series (In Victoria), then we'll see where we go from there. "He could go on to the Golden Slipper if he's happy but it would be a big effort for a two-year-old to race that many weeks in a row." Driver Rohan Hadley had War Dan Star travelling comfortably in the one-out-one-back position before he sent the gelding three-wide to make his challenge about 800m from home. War Dan Star ($9.12) then sustained a long run to score a comfortable five-metre win over Ideal Karalta and Maybe Jack. Peter Staples

Brady Woods emerged as the winner of the BOTRA Claiming Novice Drivers Series when he partnered his charges to fourth place in the final two heats of the six-race harness racing series in Launceston on Sunday night. Woods entered the final round of heats on 45 points and leading by one from Taylor Ford but after she finished third in the fifth heat she held a one-point advantage going into the final heat in which she was aboard the favourite Diddley Bow. But Diddley Bow made a mistake early in the race and couldn't recover to finish well back while Woods guided rank outsider last Guy Standing ($101) but he managed to snag fourth place and earn enough points to be declared the winner. The 21-year-old from the Fingal Valley in central Tasmania, who drove two winners from the first four heats, was thrilled with the result and said harness racing was an integral part of his life. His father Scott Woods and the young driver's grandfather Robert Woods are both quality horsemen who have been his guiding lights so it was a natural progression for Brady to follow in their footsteps. Ford also drove two winners from the first four heats of which two each were held at Devonport and Hobart. Talented teenage driver Jack Laugher won the final two heats as a result of top drives aboard Karalta Kruise for Kent Rattray and the Todd Rattray-trained God Sake. Laugher finished third behind Woods and Ford. Peter Staples

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Harness racing trainer Ben Yole is just one win away from notching 100 winners for the season following his four-win haul over the weekend. Yole prepared one winner in Devonport last Friday night courtesy of Making My Mark scoring another impressive victory at only his second start in the state. In Hobart Yole prepared Flash Anatomy to dead-heat for first with his younger brother Mark's horse Black Ops in a C1 over 2090 metres but his next two successes on the nine-race program were clear cut. Ebonyallstarzzz made an overdue return to the winner's circle with a narrow win over Christian Jazz in a C2-C3 and Yole capped the weekend when his four-year-old Regal Major scored an effortless win in a C1 event over 2090 metres. Yole won his first trainer's premiership last season with 108 winners but given his strike rate he is likely to surpass that this season. Todd Rattray is a clear second on the trainer's premiership table with 55 winners that is already his best ever haul with Shelley Barnes and Deborah Williams sharing third spot with 20 wins apiece making it an interesting encounter for the leading female trainer title. Natalee Emery has the leading female driver title wrapped up with 23 wins to be 13 clear of Samantha Freeman. Peter Staples

The battle for this season's state driver's premiership is hotting up with only three wins separating brothers Gareth and Todd Rattray with 10 harness racing meetings remaining. Gareth is chasing his 11th title while Todd is trying to win his first. Heading into last Friday night's meeting in Devonport Gareth held a five-win advantage over his younger brother but Todd's four-win haul doubled Gareth's take to reduce the margin to only three. Todd partnered the Ben Yole-trained Making My Mark to a comfortable win in Devonport on Friday night but it was in Hobart that he excelled. In Hobart he snared a driving treble but he trained four winners on the nine-race card while Gareth partnered Flash Anatomy to a dead-heat for first and he ended the night with a win aboard Regal Major. In Hobart Todd scored aboard his promising two-year-old filly Inwil in a 2C0 over 1609 metres in which she started the $2.60 favourite. Wins aboard Taurisi in a C4-C5 and Roger Ramjet in a C6-C10 over 2019m came courtesy of top drives and his training quartet was delivered by Brady Woods who partnered Rattray's four-year-old Gods Sake to victory in a heat of the BOTRA Claiming Novice Driver's series. "I suppose the driver's premiership looks interesting but to be honest I don't take too much notice," Todd Rattray said. "Of course it would be nice to win the premiership because Gareth's won a heap but at the end of the day I'm more interested in how my horses perform each race than anything else." "I was very pleased with Taurisi's win because it was probably the best he's gone because he's had to face the breeze but he slipped away from them on the corner and went on to win well. "Roger Ramjet also won well but he's been a bit on and off this time in and I'd like to see him put two good runs together." Gareth has notched 75 wins to lead Todd (72) with Rohan Hillier next best with 62 and seven clear of Ricky Duggan. Peter Staples

Tasmania said goodbye to Beautide last month when the dual Inter Dominion winner bowed out through injury but at Menangle yesterday a new harness racing star emerged who could one day emulate the feats of the retired champion. The Todd Rattray-trained Ignatius ($3) powered his way to am emphatic win in the Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge final over 1609 metres defeating a star-studded line-up and he did in record time. Ignatius came off the back of the leaders in the home straight and unleashed a scintillating turn of foot to run down the favourite Sicario to record a winning mile rate of 1.51.3 that set an Australasian record. It was the trainer's first Group 1 win and one that he will never forget. "It hasn't sunk in yet but I'm sure it will in a day or so," Todd Rattray said. "We knew this colt had plenty of ability but you never know for sure until they get amongst the very best and today he showed us that he is special. "He had a good run in the race and James (Rattray) did a great job to put him in the right spot and when he let down in the straight he was explosive. "To win in record time is a bonus and now we have to consider where we go with him. "The Breeders Crown series is a possibility but we'll see how he pulls up from this run and make some decisions in the coming week." Ignatius is owned and raced by the trainer's life partner Lyrae Graham who picked the colt from a group of weanlings that were roaming a paddock at the Rattray family property at Longford. Ignatius had his first start at the end of April for a win in Hobart and he won his next two that included the Sweepstakes final before heading to Sydney for a heat of the Breeders Challenge in which he finished a game third. The colt didn't travel well to Sydney which contributed to his loss in a heat but he recovered quickly and that was reflected in his Breeders Challenge semi-final win. Ignatius' record stands at five wins and a third from six starts for stake earnings of $110,000. Peter Staples

Veteran harness racing trainer Paul Hill reaffirmed his status as the king of the kids when he snared the feature two-year-old double at Luxbet Park Hobart in Tasmania last night. Hill prepared star filly Ideal Bliss to win his third consecutive Group 3 Evicus Stakes final and his handy colt Feelin Dusty led throughout to give Hill his second Dandy Patch from the past three editions. "I've been very fortunate to have had some very talented young horses in my care in recent years and I'm hoping this isn't the end of my good run," Hill said. "Ideal Bliss is a very good filly and I have no doubt she will develop into a very good three-year-old." "I also have a decent opinion of Feelin Dusty and when he drew gate two I rated him a top chance of winning even though the raps were big on Todd Rattray's horse (Izaha). "When Ricky (Duggan) was able to lead and not spend too much early on Feelin Dusty I was confident my horse would be very hard to beat and that's how it panned out." Ideal Bliss, owned and bred by Charlie and Connie Beadman, was sent out the $1.40 favourite despite drawing the inside of the second row. However, her driver Rohan Hillier snagged her out the back at the start to ensure he could find a spot in the one-out line while Inwil ($8) showed good speed to lead. Hillier sent Ideal Bliss  (American Ideal-Blissfull Grace) around the field at the bell and when he moved alongside the leader at the top of the home straight she forged clear but had to pull out all stops to fend off Inwil that made a late charge with Jeanette Barry a close-up third. Feelin Dusty ($2.30fav) showed brilliantly gate speed to easily hold the front in the Dandy Patch while Run Wick ($11) faced the breeze with Izaha ($2.40) on its back enjoying the one-out-one-back position. But a lap out and unhappy with the modest tempo Rattray sent Izaha up to face the breeze and put some pressure on the leader and they singled out to fight out the finish. Feelin Dusty responded when Duggan called on the gelded son Mr Feelgood for the big effort and he went on to score by over 10 metres from Izaha with Pezzamystic over 15 metres away third. Peter Staples

Harness racing three-year-old pacer Johns Legacy delivered his best effort this season to break his maiden status in the Carlton Draught Stakes in Launceston last Sunday night. With talented young driver Jack Laugher in the cart Johns Legacy was able to lead but the driver cleverly opted to take a trail when the race favourite Williamtell ($2.50) scooted around the field to attack for the lead. Williamtell sped clear turning for home but when Laugher eased Johns Legacy ($16) out to challenge the gelding powered home to score by two metres from Chenin Valley that also sprouted wings in the straight with the favourite third. Johns Legacy's trainer Cleone Hill was thrilled with the result and praised the effort of Tasmania's leading junior driver. "That was a top drive from Jack (Laugher)," Hill said. Johns Legacy is a special horse to Hill as he was the last foal bred by her late father John Jetson. "He is a very special horse for us as he was the very first foal born after Dad (John Jetson) passed away. "My son Scott named him Johns Legacy, which was the perfect fit," Hill said. Jetson was a very successful owner-breeder. He owned popular sire JR Mint and he part-owned the highly rated sire Time Stands Still. Hill prepares a small team and operates an agistment farm on her late father's property Jetsonville Park situated on the North-East Coast near Scottsdale. Johns Legacy is expected to have his next start in Launceston on Sunday week. Peter Staples

Top Tasmanian harness racing reinsman Ricky Duggan delivered two of his best drives to secure a personal milestone at Luxbet Park Hobart on Sunday night. Duggan went into the meeting two wins short of 1,500 career wins, rapidly closing the gap on Barrie Rattray who holds the Tasmanian record of 1575. Duggan's wins came aboard Cheshire Cat for trainer Pat Bishop in a C2 standing start event over 2090 metres in which the mare led throughout and his 1500th win came courtesy of typical Ricky Duggan gem of a drive aboard I Am Camelot to win the Pitt & Sherry Pace over 2090m. "It was great to reach 1500 wins at the meeting because sometimes when a personal milestone or a record is imminent it can take a while to get there, but I managed to do it at the first meeting after we became aware of me approaching 1500 winners," Duggan said. "It also was a bit special to get the 1500th win aboard one trained by Deb Williams (I Am Camelot) because she's doing a super job with the team she has in her stable." The top five drivers with more than 1000 winners up to 04 June 2017 are: 1575 - Barrie Rattray. 1500 - Ricky Duggan. 1369 - Neville Webberley. 1315 - Darrell Alexander. 1173 - Gareth Rattray. Peter Staples

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

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