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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

Talented harness racing three-year-old pacer Hillview Jake tuned up for the Tasmanian Derby with an effortless win in the Neil Pitt Stakes in Launceston on Sunday night. With Ricky Duggan aboard, the Paul Hill-trained gelding cruised to the lead after travelling less than a lap and proceeded to give his rivals a pacing lesson as he powered his way to a 7-1/2 metre victory over The Badlands with Campaign Drive three metres away third. The win came on the back of a luckless second in Hobart a week earlier in which he almost fell at the start. A horse on the front line (The Badlands) galloped as the starter released the field and Hillview Jake (Cardmaster Hanover-Evening Muck Up) ran into the back of him and almost came down. But he recovered and hit the front turning for home only to be run down by Grinable over the final 100 metres. Hill was thrilled with Hillview Jake's performance on Sunday night. "I needed to take him to Launceston to make sure he wasn't suffering any mental issues after what happened to him in Hobart but he showed no signs of nervousness at the start so that was good." Hill said. "I told Ricky (Duggan) I didn't mind if he faced the breeze and if the pace was slow then attack for the lead and that's what eventuated. "He's gone 2.01 (mile rate) without Ricky having to pull the (ear) plugs so that's also encouraging given how easily he won the race. "I couldn't be any happier with him going into the Derby and while there are a couple of good local hopes likely to be in it and no doubt a strong interstate contingent, I wouldn't swap my horse for any other," he said. The Tasmanian Derby will be run at the UBET Racing Centre on April 10. Peter Staples

Mojo Major proved there are many wins in the tank for the well-bred four-year-old entire when he delivered a brilliant harness racing performance to win the $10,000 Kevin Gillies Memorial over 2698 metres in Launceston last Sunday night. With his trainer Rodney Ashwood in the sulky, Mojo Major circumnavigated the field midrace to assume control and once in front he set a solid tempo and packed to many guns for his rivals over the concluding stages. Karalta Dazzler stepped brilliantly from the stand to lead but when driver John Walters handed up it paved the way for Ashwood's horse to win, although the eventual winner was motoring when he cruised alongside the leader 1200m from home. Mojo Major hit the line 1.8 metres clear of Karalta Dazzler with Our Archangel almost nine metres astern. It was Mojo Major's first start since August last year when he finished out of a place (sixth, beaten 14.4 metres behind Menin Gate) in the Breeders Crown final for 3YO colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Melton. The four-year-old son of Art Major began his career in Victoria where he won three races at two and was fourth in the 2YO Breeders Crow final behind Follow The Stars. He ventured to Tasmania last season for the Tasmanian Derby and after winning two lead-up races in Hobart he had to settle for second in the Derby to Mister Lennox. The now four-year-old followed his Derby second with a win in Launceston, scoring by almost 30 metres and clocked a mile rate of 2.01 over 2200m after dashing home his last half (800m) in 57.7 without being fully extended. Mojo Major has had 24 starts for nine wins and six minor placings for just over $70,000 in stakes. Peter Staples

Last season's Tasmanian Derby winner Mister Lennox defied a run of outs for long odds-on favourites in Launceston last night to easily win the 6ty Pace over 2200 metres for C5 to C7 pacers. Two odds-on favourites were rolled earlier in the night leaving punters hesitant to invest on another short one at the end of the 10-race harness racing program. But with Ricky Duggan in the cart the four-year-old was backed to start the $1.50 favourite after easing from his opening quote of $1.20. Mister Lennox, prepared by Juanita McKenzie, began well from the pole position and after being taken on by Never Sighted early in the race Duggan was able to sneak a modest third quarter to ensure his charge had plenty in reserve at the business end of the race. When they came at Mister Lennox nearing the home turn Duggan released the brakes and the gelded son of Changeover sped clear and went on to score comfortably from Rajah Wealth with Never Sighted hanging on for third. Mister Lennox has won 11 of his 22 starts with three minor placings for $80,000 in stakes. Peter Staples

Six weeks ago Scottsdale harness racing trainer Kent Rattray didn't have a horse in his stable capable of being competitive in an Easter Cup but as chance would have it fellow trainer Wayne Campbell called him with an offer to lease Riverboat Jasper. Inside an hour of that phone call Rattray was on Campbell's doorstep and after a gentleman's handshake to close the deal the six-year-old gelding was loaded onto Rattray's float. At the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston last night Riverboat Jasper gave Rattray his first taste of success in an Easter Cup when he powered home to win the $40,000 Group 2 event over 2698 metres from Resurgent Spirit and Queens Advocate. Amid emotional post-race celebrations Rattray explained what the win meant to him. "I made a decision two years ago to do this full-time but it's been very lean and to win this race that is like winning an Inter Dominion to me," Rattray said. "The horse's owner Wayne Campbell called me just over six weeks ago and asked me if I wanted to lease the horse and I was around his place within an hour to pick him up. "People just don't know what this win means to me." It also was a first for driver John Walters who shed a tear or two when asked what winning the race meant to him. "My Dad (Harry) won this race in 1976 with Andy Cast so for me to win an Easter Cup as well means a hell of a lot," Walters said. "It's a race all of us drivers want to win because there's so much history associated with it." Walters had Riverboat Jasper (Riverboat King-Cranleigh) settled better than midfield but on the rails from his front-row draw while The Majority (Gareth Rattray led with the well-backed favourite Jaruzelski Leis ($3.20) on his outside facing the breeze. Jaruzelski Leis forged to the lead turning for home and by that time Walters had Riverboat Jasper off the fence and three-wide challenging. Resurgent Spirit ($3.60) forged to the front turning for home but Riverboat Jasper powered home to defeat Resurgent Spirit with Queens Advocate ($7.50) flashing home late to grab third. Peter Staples

Leading Tasmanian harness racing trainer Ben Yole added another win to his season's tally at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night to take his season tally to 58 for what should be an unbeatable lead in the race for the trainer's premiership. His younger brother Mark Yole also leads the driver's premiership table with 46 wins courtesy of a double on Sunday night that included Jane Grant. Mark also partnered the Steve Lukac-trained Pockets of Courage to victory in the Sires Produce final over 2090 metres. However, Yole is only one win clear of Ricky Duggan who is having another stellar season. Duggan is aligned with good stables as he sets out to snare his fifth driver's premiership. The Yole brothers have dominated the first half of the season and younger brother Tim also has been notching his fair share of winners in the sulky. Jane Grant, owned by the Woods Family from Fingal, delivered a first class effort to win. She settled back in the field from her wide front-row draw (6) but when Yole called on her for the big effort in the back straight the last time she improved three-wide without cover and kept finding under strong driving in the home straight. Jane Grant hit the line a metre clear of Mavis Merle who also came from well back, with race leader Pharoahs Daughter hanging on for third a head away. Given the ease with which Jane Grant picked up the leaders over the concluding stages there should definitely be more wins in store in the coming weeks. Peter Staples

Victorian three-year-old filly Dancingwithsierra signalled she has arrived as a genuine Group 1 harness racing contender when she led throughout to win the $30,000 Group 3 Tasmanian Oaks over 2579 metres at UBET Park Hobart last night. With Chris Alford in the sulky the well-bred filly by Modern Art prepared at Toolern Vale by Gary Hoban gave her rivals a pacing lesson on her way to her first Group win, scoring by 11 metres from Gina Grace with Chica Bella a distant third with the winner clocking a mile rate of 2.01.43 and ran home her last half (800m) in 57.91. "She is not a big filly but she has tremendous speed and she has good stamina so I'm confident she will be very competitive in races like the Victorian Oaks and the Breeders Crown series," said driver Chris Alford. "Speed is definitely her biggest asset and once she landed in front tonight and nothing took us on seriously I knew she would be very hard to beat. Dancingwithsierra ($1.50 fav) led easily while the well-backed Gina Grace ($4.90) worked hard to face the breeze two laps from home with Chica Bella ($4.90) content to take the sit in the one-out-one-back position. When Gina Grace's driver Mark Yole tried to apply pressure heading down the back stretch the leader picked up the pace and when Alford released the brakes at the top of the home straight his filly powered clear and hit the line without being fully extended. The winner was bred by her trainer and is raced by his son Craig Hoban. "We bred this filly from a mare we raced with some success (Sierra Tango) and she has already proven herself at stud with this filly and her next foal that is a half-brother that we are hoping will win some good two-year-old races this season," Craig Hoban said. Peter Staples

Well bred harness racing colt Buster Bruv delivered a superb performance on debut to score a runaway win in the One Spirit-One Club-One Family Cripps waratah Pace over 1609 metres at UBET Park Hobart tonight. The Dylan Ford-trained youngster stepped straight to the front from the pole position and with the trainer's younger sister Taylor Ford in the cart he gave nothing else a chance as he stormed to an effortless win over Sweptunderdacarpet and Playing Arkabella. Buster Bruv had trialled well leading up to his debut and he was well backed firming from $4 to start the $3.20 second favourite behind the Paul Hill-trained Playing Arkabella Buster Bruv is by Santastics Pan from the well-bred mare Little Marina (Live or Die-Homeleigh) who won five and was placed 12 times from 45 starts. Peter Staples

Talented Tasmanian pacer Resurgent Spirit staked his claim as a genuine harness racing Easter Cup contender when he scored an impressive win in a Cup heat over 2698 metres in Launceston last night. Dubbed the pride of the Derwent Valley, the gelding delivered a workmanlike performance to score from outsider Truly Blissfull with Major Callum a closing third and just ahead of Riverboat Jasper. The Roger Whitmore-trained gelding has been competitive in all features in which he has competed this time in and this latest effort will ensure he has support in the Easter Cup in Launceston in a fortnight. Driver James Austin had Resurgent Spirit ($3.60) settled midfield in the one-out line and when he called on the gelding for an effort leaving the back straight he sprinted quickly to have the leader covered and went on to score comfortably. The favourite Five Star Anvil ($3) stepped safely from his 40-metre handicap but it proved too big an impost and he finished fifth. Peter Staples

IT would appear a year of harness racing against top quality opposition has played a hand in Melolyn's impressive win in a heat of the Easter Cup in Launceston last night. Melolyn enjoyed a lot of success as a two and three-year-old in Tasmania but in March last year his owner Mick Maxfield opted to send him to Darren Hancock where he stayed for almost a year. He enjoyed a lot of success in the first two months he was with Hancock but in recent times his form waned so Maxfield decided to have him sent home to tackle the Easter Cup. Melolyn began safely from his sole back mark of 10 metres to settle third behind the leader Macho Comancho that began like a flash to find the front ahead of the favourite Jaruzelski Leis. Jaruzelski Leis' driver Todd Rattray was prepared to allow his charge to face the breeze and waited until the home turn the last time to make his move. But the leader found plenty when placed under pressure and Jaruzelski leis struggled to reduce the margin while driver Paul Ashwood opted to persevere with rails runs. Melolyn (Ponder-Mi Shaette) finished strongly and hit the line a metre clear of Macho Comancho with Jaruzelski Leis a close-up third ahead of Queens Advocate who was slowly away from th4e standing start but ran home well. Jerrys Jet ($3.50) galloped soon and driver Rohan Hillier was unable to get him back into a pace leaving him to tail out last and took no active part in the race. The Easter Cup will be run at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on Easter Sunday, March 27. Peter Staples

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