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New Norfolk harness racing trainer Roger Whitmore has his eyes on the $30,000 Raider Stakes with his talented four-year-old Resurgent Spirit following the gelding's impressive win at Tattersall's Park Hobart last Sunday night. Resurgent Spirit resumed from a lengthy spell with a game win on his home track on Australia Day and followed up with a second at Devonport in a race that was expected to be a stroll in the park for the former Tasmanian two-year-old of the year. The loss encouraged speculation that all might not be as it should be with the gelding but this latest effort dispelled any suggestion that the gelding had lost his sparkle. With his regular driver James Austin aboard, Resurgent Spirit showed his customary early speed to easily hold the front from barrier two. He was taken on about 600m from home and at one stage it looked as if he might again succumb to the pressure. But when Austin asked him to find, the gelded son of American Ideal forged clear and went on to defeat Black Centurian by 2.3 metres with Punt Road Disco a similar margin away third in the C5-C6 event over 2090 metres. Austin was delighted with the win. "That was an awesome win because he felt good throughout the race and he never got onto his knee once in the run," Austin said. "He pretty much toyed with them tonight," he said. The Raider Stakes will be run at Devonport on April 26 with heats to be held at the same track on April 13. Peter Staples

Consistent pacer Me Mate Les has been promising to win a feature race for some time and on Sunday night he finally delivered the goods when he powered home to take out the Light Harness Tasmania Cup over 2579 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart. Me Mate Les went into the race on the back of a handy fourth in a heat a week earlier. With ace Victorian reinsman John Caldow aboard, the gelded son of Real Desire trailed the leaders to the home turn before easing out three-wide to challenge and he finished too powerfully for his rivals. Me Mate Les went on to score by four metres from Supersub that faced the breeze for the final two laps, with Might Jasper coming from well back to grab third 3-1/2 metres away. The six-year-old has only been with trainer Andrew Rawlings a short while but he has managed to get the best out of the gelding while in his care. It was a masterful drive from Caldow who was aware that Me Mate Les would not appreciate being in front if eye-balled by another horse so when Rohan Hadley sent Pushkin around the field Caldow was quick to hand up the lead. Nathan Ford aboard Supersub was not content with the speed in the race so he too went forward from beyond midfield to face the breeze. Supersub forged to the lead turning for home the last time but he had no answer to Me Mate Les's finishing burst. Peter Staples

Star Chamber made it a clean sweep of Tasmania’s feature Cups run so far this season when he gave his rivals a pacing lesson in the Devonport Cup last night. With his trainer Nathan Ford in the sulky, Star Chamber began well off his 30-metre back mark to settle last, but when Ford angled him there-wide with a lap-and-a-half to travel, he flushed out Truly Blissful to gain a trail. Taken four-deep heading down the back stretch, the son of Our Sir Vancelot quickly hauled in the leaders. Star Chamber proceeded to demolish the opposition in the short run home to score by 10 metres from The Majority, with Whodeani a game third four metres away. “I really thought he would struggle a bit off that back mark of 30 metres on this tight circuit, but he came through again,” Ford said. “He showed what a freak of a horse he really is.” Star Chamber notched his first major win when he outclassed a top field in the $40,000 Tasmania Cup lasy December and he followed up with a brilliant win in the Hobart Pacing Cup. Ford took him to Victoria to tackle the Shepparton Cup, but nothing panned out as planned in that race, so he was taken straight back to Tasmania to prepare for this latest assignment. Ford is likely aim him Star Chamber at next month’s Easter Cup in Launceston, and if victorious, it would give the gelding victory in all four major Cups in the state. But he already has proven to be Tasmania’s best pacer and an Easter Cup win would top off what has been an outstanding season for the six-year-old. PETER STAPLES

WELL bred pacer Franco Sheffield broke through for an overdue but deserving win when he led throughout to take out a C2-C3 event over 2090 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Monday night. Franco Sheffield won five of eight outings last season but this time in he has taken a while to find the winner's circle with this his first win from six tries. He went into the race on the back of consecutive seconds in Hobart last month and it was the most recent second that gave trainer Juanita McKenzie confident going into Monday night's race. "I thought his previous run was really good, coming from well back and being taken very wide turning for home yet he kept giving in the run home," McKenzie said. "Going into that race I thought his efforts were a shade disappointing compared to what he did last season but sometimes when four-year-olds come back to racing they need a bit of extra time before they hit their straps," she said. Franco Sheffield (Live or Die-Showy Franco) had eight starts last season for five wins and two minor placings. McKenzie expects the gelding to continue to perform well in whatever he tackles in the coming weeks. "We will keep doping what we are doing with him and see how he performs and if he measures up well we will look at a couple of feature races otherwise we'll just keep plodding along in these C4-C5 races," she said. Franco Sheffield was purchased as an early a two-year-old in New Zealand by his owners Jamie Cockshutt and Barry Cooper who have about 10 horses in work with various trainers. McKenzie said Franco Sheffield is likely to have his next start in Hobart in a fortnight. Peter Staples  

While training doubles are a common occurrence at Tasmanian harness racing meetings, Ron Mansfield achieved a unique one at the recent Burnie program. The special aspect of the 59-year-old Devonport trainer’s double is the winners, Esquivo and Boutique Art, are the only horses in his stable. Both were bred by the Rattray Family Trust and, after not reaching the Rattray standards, were leased to Mansfield. Esquivo was unplaced at six two-year-old starts before Mansfield took over the training, and almost a year and 17 starts later, the son of Ponder broke through for his first win. Boutique Art raced from the Rattray stable until her five-year-old season, winning two races from 26 starts. After a year off, the daughter of Art Major found herself in Mansfield’s care, where her next 20 starts produced four seconds, three thirds and eight fourths before a well-deserved win at Burnie. Mansfield’s only prior winner was Love This Life at Burnie in March 2013. Todd Rattray drove Esquivo and Boutique Art and completed a treble with Goggo Gee Gee in the Greg Rawlings Bulldozing Sweepstakes. The daughter of Bettors Delight is trained by Barrie Rattray and owned by Adam Rattray and, like all of Todd’ winners, had the advantage of leading on the tight Wivenhoe Showgrounds circuit. PETER STAPLES

Almost two years ago harness racing owner Malcolm Campbell and his son Justin's life partner Maree Fasoli attended the 2013 Tasmanian Standardbred yearling sale in Launceston with the hope of buying a pacer that would race at two. They ended up buying a filly for a modest $2000 and had no idea whether it would develop into the horse of their dreams. On the way home they stopped at Campbell Town because they were really thirsty and it was then that they agreed to name the filly Really Thirsty. With no transport arranged for the yearling to be taken fmro the sale yard they accepted an offer from Gareth Rattray to deliver the filly to the Hobart harness meeting the following night and it was there that Justin Campbell, the filly's designated trainer, caught first sight of her. He admits to not being pleased with what he saw and the first year of training resulted in multiple disappointments for both trainer and owners. But the perseverance factor kicked in and in Hobart last night Really Thirsty delivered a stellar performance to win a heat of the Allen Williams Memorial series at only her third start. She did enough at her first two starts for minor placings to suggest she had a future and punters were keen to back her into near favoritism ($4) on the strength of those two previous efforts. Campbell had Really Thirsty well placed in the one-out line but when he sent her three-wide to attack for the lead and found the front turning for home she tried to pull up. But under strong driving the now four-year-old mare regained the lead and powered clear of her rivals over the concluding stages to win comfortably from Kirbyelle and Acey Boy. "To say Really Thirsty is a work in progress would be an understatement," Campbell said. "If you rated a horse's ability based solely on endeavor on the training track she would never have made it to the racetrack." "I think she has just been a slow learner but on tonight's effort she has now shown some ability where it counts." "I'm not saying she will win a lot of races but she definitely has shown vast improvement since she started racing so we are optimistic about her immediate future," he said. Peter Staples

Underrated pacer Ciskei powered his way to an impressive win in the Carrick Cup on Saturday to make it back-to-back wins in the feature race for harness racing premier trainer Barrie Rattray. With trainer's son Todd in the sulky, the Bettors Delight gelding began brilliantly from the standing start to settle outside of the leader and when Gareth Rattray sent his charge Driller Mac around the field to attack for the lead about 1600m out, Todd Rattray urged Ciskei forward tom assume control in front and the pair matched motors to the home turn. Ciskei kicked clear and had enough in reserve to stave off a powerful finish from Whisper Jet (Zeke Slater) to defeat that horse by a nose with the well backed Vande Velde (Christian Salter) a head away third. It was a popular win as Ciskei was well backed to win the New Norfolk Cup on Australia Day but he broke gait at a crucial stage of the race that may have cost him victory. "He's racing very well and should have won the New Norfolk Cup," Rattray said. "He was jogging going down the back straight when I think he got onto his bumpers and broke." "But the Carrick Cup was always his main aim so it's mission accomplished," he said. It was the trainer second success in as many years having won the 2014 edition with Devendra that went on to win the Devonport Cup. Devendra eventually made his way to the James Rattray stable in NSW where he performed brilliantly winning multiple races at Menangle and while Barrie is hopeful that might happen with Ciskei, he isn't counting on it. Peter Staples

Longford thoroughbred trainer Mick Burles was in the limelight during the spring carnival with his star galloper The Cleaner and he was back in the spotlight with another code at the Carrick Pacing Club's harness racing cup meeting on Saturday in Tasmania. Burles agreed to participate in a celebrity pony race and sporting The Cleaner's colours the wily horseman emerged triumphant aboard a little grey pony Burles nicknamed the Grey Flash. Burles emerged triumphant in a field of 10 that included apprentices Hayley McCarthy, Georgie Catania and Kyle Maskiell along with leading trainer Scott Brunton who almost got tipped out of the cart soon after the start. "The pony they gave me to drive ran last in the two children's races they put on before the celebrity race but maybe he was just getting warmed up for me," Burles said. "It was a great bit of fun and club is to be congratulated for putting something like this on for the crowd." "The crowd was huge and probably at least as big as the mob that went to the Longford Cup on New Year's Day," he said. Another novelty event was the ridden event with leading Tasmanian apprentice Ismail Toker emerging triumphant in a field of five. Peter Staples    

Stowport harness racing trainer Andrew Rawlings celebrated his biggest win this season when Musselroe Bay stormed home to capture the Norske Skog New Norfolk Cup over 2950 metres at Kensington Park yesterday. With premier reinsman Gareth Rattray in the cart, the son of Metropolitan settled worse than midfield despite stepping cleanly from his front two, while a hot pace was set by Put Mback, while The Dip faced the breeze ahead of Whisper Jet, which began brilliantly from his 20-metre handicap. It was Rattray’s second New Norfolk Cup win in succession having been successful with Put Mback the previous year. Put Mback started at $31, while Musselroe Bay was more fancied starting at $9. When the tempo quickened at the bell, the back markers struggled to get into the race down the back straight the last time, and turning for home it looked likely the leaders would fight out the finish. But Musselroe Bay emerged from the pack to set sail after the leaders, and once balance at the top of the straight, he powered home to overhaul the leaders close to home to score narrowly from Whisper Jet, Damitsam and The Dip. A big crowd ventured to New Norfolk for the club’s only meeting for the season that boasted seven races, with the Cup and the Ted Plunkett Memorial the features on the card. The Ted Plunkett was won by the David Pennicott-trained Strange Conduct which also was driven by Rattray. Strange Conduct powered home to score by 10 metres from Grinable, with Helen Wheels, which started off a 10-metre handicap, three-and-a-half metres away third. PETER STAPLES

Maybe Rama continued to show why he could have been one of the best harness racing pacers to come out of Tasmania with another impressive performance at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart last Sunday night. Had it not been for tendon injuries the gelded son of Panorama may have even achieved great things like those achieved by Beautide in the past two years. While the now 10-year-old still has to be well managed to ensure he stays sound the gelding loves his racing and this most recent effort is testament to his ability. Maybe Rama led a handy field in the Lachlan Hotel Pace for C4-C6 performers over 2090 metres and he gave nothing else a chance as he powered home to score by over two metres from Ciskei with Vande Velde third but almost six metres astern. The gelding’s trainer-driver Sam Rawnsley was ecstatic after the race, declaring Maybe Rama a “Marvel”. Maybe Rama clocked a mile rate of 1.58 and ran home his last half (800m) in 58.1 which would have made him very competitive in free-for-all company. Listen to what Sam Rawnsley had to say about Maybe Rama after his most recent win. Peter Staples

Leading harness racing trainer Amanda Grieve is hoping for a pair of early Christmas presents at Hobart on Sunday. Grieve has made the trip across Bass Strait for two of the Apple Isle’s premier events – Tasmania Cup and The George Johnson. Talented pacer Im Corzin Terror will contest the Cup, with handy mare Tandias Bromac in the latter feature. “It would be nice if Christmas could come early,” Grieve said. “They are suitable targets and both runners will prove hard to beat. “With a bit of luck we Santa will smile upon us a few days in advance.” Despite his second row draw, Im Corzin Terror is the one to beat in the former Grand Circuit race. Fresh from his success in last weekend’s dismal Ballarat Cup, the son of Western Terror will thrive on the drop in class according to Grieve. “It is down on class on what he has been racing against,” Grieve said. “He’s good enough to overcome the draw and I expect him to be hard to beat. “He also likes the longer trip, so the 2579 metres will really suit him. “He’s come through Ballarat just fine as you would expect on the run he had.” Tandias Bromac will also begin from the second row, with Grieve stating the five-year-old’s run at Ballarat should be overlooked. On that occasion, the daughter of Art Major was unplaced in open company. “She just never got into it at Ballarat, so you may as well forget she went around,” Grieve said. “Before that she did well in Sydney despite the fact she didn’t travel as well as I would have liked. “She has settled in better in Tasmania and will be ready for this. “It’s also a drop in class for her and she will be right in the finish.” While a busy schedule has been mapped out for Im Corzin Terror, Tandias Bromac will enjoy a Christmas holiday. “Im Corzin Terror will race pretty much every week in January,” Grieve said. “He has his Bendigo Cup defence, the Shepparton, Victoria and Hunter Cups. “If we bypass any, it will be Shepparton. “At this stage, I will give Tandias Bromac a wee break and get her ready for the Ladyship Mile in Sydney in March on Inter Dominion day.” PAUL COURTS

Ballarat Cup winner Im Corzin Terror will head to Tasmania to contest Sunday’s $40,000 Tasmania Harness Racing Cup. Trainer Amanda Grieve said the seven-year-old’s Bray Raceway victory last Saturday night was “a surprise”, but added the geldings had been “going well”. “He had no luck at Cranbourne when he was making ground along inside,” Grieve said. “He was up to his right trip and he went really well on Saturday night.” With the Group One decimated by scratchings, Im Corzin Terror – driven by Chris Alford –worked to the lead early in the four-horse field. Given an easy time during the middle stages, the son of Western Terror sprinted home in a breathtaking 53.9 seconds, rating 1:59.7 for the 2710-metre trip. "It was a great drive," Greive declared. “We’ll go Tasmania at the weekend. Then he’ll defend his Bendigo Cup title before the Shepparton and Victoria Cups.” Thanks to his latest triumph, Im Corzin Terror is exempt from ballot in the Victoria Cup, which carries Grand Circuit status. “It just helps us plan his campaign out a bit and not worry about getting a start in the race,” Grieve said. HRV Media

TOP Tasmanian harness racing trainer Barrie Rattray had hopes for Blue Pointer last season and while he performed well he didn't quite live up to expectations. But at the TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night Blue Pointer finally delivered on the promise he showed early on by winning the $20,000 City of Launceston Cup over 2698 metres and in track record time. Blue Pointer recorded a mile rate of 1m.59.07 that smashed the previous best set by star New Zealand three-year-old Elect To Live that clocked a rate of 1m.59.7 seconds in the 2002 Australian Derby. Rattray said he was not surprised by the son of Four Starzzz Shark's win, despite starting at double figure odds, but the time was quite unexpected. "I was concerned that he might not have enough high speed but I knew that he'd stay the distance," Rattray said. "He's a horse that promised a lot as a three-year-old but didn't really deliver." "Now he's finally going like he should," the trainer said. Blue Pointer paid $12.50 but won like an odds-on chance. It was a perfect drive from the trainer's son Todd Rattray. "Todd made all the right moves at the right times - it was a great drive,' Rattray said. Todd had Blue Pointer settled three-back the fence but midrace he eased into the one-out line and made his move three-wide heading down the back straight and cruised to her front 400 metres from home. The five-year-old then staved off all challenges and went on to score by 3.9 metres from Outback Mach (Gavin Lang) with Riverboat Jasper three metres away third. The trainer is undecided as to whether he will back Blue Pointer up in next Sunday's $40,000 Tasmania Cup in Hobart. "I'm not sure about taking him to the Tasmania Cup - the horse has already come a long way in a short space of time (this preparation)," he said. Blue Pointer began his racing career as a three-year-old and won five times with three in successive wins coming at the end of the 2012-13 season. He won his next two starts as a four-year-old before being sent for a four-month spell. But after three starts he was dispatched to the spelling paddock in February and didn't return to the racetrack until October. This time in he has won five from seven and recorded sub two-minute mile rates four times with his best a 1.58.3 in winning a C5-C7 pace in Hobart over 2090 metres on November 09. Peter Staples

CARDINAL ART is no stranger to winning races but when he scored an impressive all-the-way victory at Carrick on the Northern region of Tasmania on Friday it may have marked the beginning of a best ever campaign. With Todd Rattray in the cart, the Chester Bullock-trained six-year-old showed plenty of early speed to rush across the field to lead. Once in front Rattray rated the gelded son of Modern Art superbly and when the more fancied runners made their charges in the home straight Cardinal Art was up to the task and went on to win convincingly from Baragoola and Santanna Night. It was a great result for Bullock who was keen to put Rattray aboard given his regard for the talented reinsman who spent a couple of years working for Bullock at his training and breeding complex at Riverside in the North of the state. "When this horse drew barrier one I was very keen to put Todd on because in my opinion there is no better front-running driver in the state," Bullock said. While the trainer was all smiles after the race he also was quick to remind Rattray of a comment he made about the horse five weeks earlier. "Five weeks ago Todd was at my place and he saw Cardinal Art and asked me when she was due"(thinking that he was a pregnant mare)." "That's how fat he was at the tome but I changed his work around since then and it had the desired effect," Bullock said. It was the Carrick club's first of three meetings for the season but heavy rain during the day ended up cutting the meeting short. While the racetrack was still safe after a couple of deluges it was water running off a side road leading to the track that led to the last three races being abandoned. Dirty water running off the nearby road flowed onto the track and because it was orange in colour horses were jumping it during their preliminaries prior to race seven. The meeting was delayed by stewards as attempts were made to rectify the problem but eventually chief steward Adrian Crowther had to abandon the rest of the program. Peter Staples  

TALENTED Tasmanian harness racing trainer Shelley Barnes celebrated a first at the meeting at Carrick in the North of the state on Friday. Barnes has trained hundreds of winners and driven probably twice as many but when Angel or Demon (Safari-Ima Merry Jasper) led throughout to win the Island Block & Paving pace on debut it gave Barnes her first winner that she bred herself. The four-year-old mare showed great gate speed to easily find the front and when driver Gareth Rattray called on her to extend in the home straight she powered clear and went on to score comfortably from Helenshall and Really Thirsty that flashed home from well back. "She's always shown a bit but has had problems and I was starting to worry that I'd never get her to the races," Barnes said. "They've only been minor injuries but they have meant that she has been in and out of work many times," she said. Barnes was confident the mare could win following an impressive trial win a week earlier and punters also were keen to get on, backing her in to start the $2.20 favourite. While Angel or Demon was impressive the minor placegetters also showed ability and it might not be long before Helenshall and Really Thirsty find their way into the winner's circle. Peter Staples

THE harness racing connections of talented pacer Star Chamber had a change of luck in Launceston last Sunday night when the gelding scored an emphatic win in the Doug Martin Danbury Park Cup. It was arguably Star Chamber's best win since arriving in Tasmania just over a year ago and it made up in some way for the horse's disqualification from winning a race at the same venue in October. Star Chamber was first past the post in the Show Cup but was disqualified when stewards deemed the horse had gone inside the marker pegs during the race that also constituted a four-meeting suspension for the horse's trainer-driver Nathan Ford who appealed the severity but lost the appeal. But on Sunday night the state's top reinsman Gareth Rattray was given the re sponsibility in the sulky and he never let connections down. Rattray had Star Chamber was able to enjoy a charmed run in the one-out-one-back position and when Rattray eased his charge three-wide to make his move turning for homer the gelding let down brilliantly to go on and defeat race leader Truly Blissfull with Shanghai Knight running on well to grab third and only a head astern. "Nathan has done a wonderful job with this horse to get him as far as he has," said part-owner Bianca Heenan. Star Chamber had won two races when he arrived in Tasmania but this latest victory was his ninth and Ford has high hopes he can pick up at least one of the country Cup s around Christmas-New Year. Peter Staples

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