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John “Bulldog” Nicholson has an excellent strike rate when he brings horses to the Apple Isle, and that continued at Ladbrokes Park in Hobart on Saturday night when Micton Mouse scored in the Group 3 Carlton Draught Tasmanian Derby. With John’s son Rhys, in the sulky the gelded son was able to lead easily from his pole draw in the 2579 metre event where they were able to enjoy a soft run during the early stages. The lead time of 77.5s was slower than the Tasmanian Oaks and the Tasmania Cup which was a standing start race before the gelding ran quarters of 32.7s, 30.6s, 29.6s and 29.4s. The mile rate of 2m 4.7s was the equal slowest of the race since it moved to Elwick from the Royal Showgrounds. “I think people did their form and realised he was the early leader and that he loves a bit of distance, he had beat the second favourite twice they have met, so there was no need for us to kill each other,” said Rhys after the win on TasracingTV’s live stream coverage. Micton Mouse scored by 1.1 metres over Dyslexic with Soho Senna 8-metres away third. The race favourite Beat City finished fourth. It was the second win in the race for Rhys and John who teamed up to win the race in 2013 with Ginger Bliss. “This class of horse to who I won it on last time is a big shock, Ginger Bliss was a group raider, we came over with the idea of running top four in the derby but to win it for owners is really good,” said the winning driver. Micton Mouse is a gelded son of local sire Stonebridge Regal and is out of Masie Mouse. The gelding was bred at Westbury by Michael and Toni Laugher. The win of Micton Mouse was part of a rare feat, and it was the first time since 1987 since Tasbred pacers have won the Tasmania Cup, Tasmanian Oaks and Tasmanian Derby in the same year. The last Tasbred pacer to win the Tasmanian Derby was Ryley Major in 2016. Connections indicated after the race that the $50,000 Group 2 Globe Derby in Launceston in June is on the radar for the pacer. Tasmania’s most successful driver of all time Ricky Duggan added the states premier mares race, the Tasmanian Trotting Club George Johnson to his resume when Shesa Tricky Bridge scored a dominant win in the $20,000 event. Trained by Ricky’s brother Adrian, Shesa Tricky Bridge was only having her second start in the state after being claimed from a race at Warragul last month by Tasmanian owner Geoff Bailey. “It was a race we had targeted and gee it’s good when it comes off like that.” Said trainer Adrian Duggan after the win who picked the horse out for one of his loyal clients. “She is a good standing start mare and full credit to Geoffrey (Bailey), the day prior we spent $20,000 at the yearling stales, but he didn’t hesitate and backed my judgement,” explained Adrian. Driver Ricky Duggan made a lightning move down the back straight but was slightly concerned in the early stages of the 2579 metre race. “They was going to walk early, and I was happy when a few took off, but after that, I was pretty confident cause I was just sitting waiting to go,” said the winning driver. Shesa Tricky Bridge, who is by Stonebridge Regal, scored by 13.2 metres over El Jays Mystery and Lockaway Kacie.   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

The Emma Stewart and Chris Alford stage show continued in Hobart on Sunday night with the Victorian duo claiming the $30,000 Sky Racing Tasmanian Derby with their star harness racing three-year-old Maraetai. The Stewart-Alford juggernaut continued its successful raids on the state's major races with Maraetai ($1.05) scoring a sensational victory by 33.9-metres over fellow Victorian pacer Smart Little Shard for John and Rhys Nicholson. Maraetai (pictured), by Somebeachsomewhere-Kiwi Rose, was taken back off the gate by Alford at dispatch and allowed to settle at the tail of the field before making a lightning move at the mile marker to assume control. Alford sat quietly until reaching the 400-metre marker before moving into second gear on the New South Wales Derby Heat winner. Maraetai responded like top class pacers do and exploded away from his rivals on turning for home, careering away still under a good grip to win in contemptuous fashion. Maraetai took its imposing record to six wins from nine career starts and prizemoney in excess of $50,000. The Craig Hayes prepared Semowillrev, driven by Gareth Rattray, was the first Tasmanian trained horse home in third place. Earlier in the night, Origin Cronk ($2.70 fav) made it back to back victories this campaign, scoring in a three-way photo over Artarma and No Apachmee for Phil Mascall and Samantha Gangell. Origin Cronk made a successful return to racing after a two-year injury lay-off to score a top win at Devonport in March and there looks to be many more wins to come on its recent efforts. Enterprising Milly from the Paul Hill yard was backed as if unbeatable on debut in the Blue Bonnet and scored a courageous win after coming from third last at the bell to sit outside the leader at the 600-metre mark. Ricky Duggan gave the Big Jim-Laagirl a breather before asking the two-year-old filly to respond at the top of the home stretch. Punters who had jumped out of trees to back the favourite held their breath as Duggan got serious with Enterprising Milly but there was a no need for concern as she answered the call, scoring by over a metre from the gallant Rod Ashwood trained Still Hungover. Shane Yates  

Star Tasmanian three-year-old pacer Scooterwillrev kept his unbeaten record in Tasmania intact when he led throughout to win the harness racing $30,000 Cascade Draught Tasmanian Derby over 2579 metres at Luxbet Park Hobart yesterday. Scooterwillrev ($2.20 into $1.95 favourite) went onto the race with 11 wins on home soil with his only two defeats coming in feature races in Victoria last season. It was his seventh outing this time in and the Craig Hayes-trained gelding saved his best for the feature event. Ace Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang took the drive and he made the winning move early in the race when he whipped around the field three-wide to momentarily sit outside of the leader before forging to the front. Once in the lead the gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere settled well for Lang while the other well-backed commodity Usain Jolt ($4) was left to face the breeze but he was never travelling comfortably. When Lang called on Scooterwillrev for the big effort in the home straight the gelding powered clear and went on to score by 11 metres from the Todd Rattray-trained Harjeet with Victorian Laredo Torpedo ($3.40) a half-head away third. "This is a very sweet win for me and all the owners who have been enjoying a good ride leading up to this race but the way he delivered today I am so proud of him," Hayes said. "I identified this horse as having above average ability early in his career but last season he was still very immature and even now he still has a lot to learn. "We took him to Victoria for the Breeders Crown series and he ran fourth in his semi-final and had no luck in the final but the trip did him the world of good. "He has come a long way this season and if everything pans out well then we might head back to Victoria for the 3YO Vicbred series." Lang was full of praise for the gelding and suggested he would be very competitive if he ventured back to Victoria, "This horse could run around in graded races and keep winning but he is god enough to go back to Victoria and mix it with the better ones in good races because he is an above average horse," Lang said. "He's did it easy today and good horses don't appear to be running good times but that's because the just lengthen stride and this horse is a class act." Peter Staples

Talented three-year-old pacer Usain Jolt tuned up for this Sunday's harness racing Tasmanian Derby with an effortless win in a C2-C3 event over 2200 metres in Launceston on Sunday night. The Tony Petersen-trained gelding settled near the rear of the field in the one-out line before driver Ricky Duggan eased him out three-wide to make his move a lap from home. Usain Jolt crept into the race and when the leader Tiz A Jamane tried to kick clear at the top of the home straight Duggan released the reins and the three-year-old powered clear of the field and went on to score untouched by over 12 metres from Charlie James that tracked the winner all the way during the last lap. Usain Jolt and archrival Scooterwillrev will clash for the first time this season in next Sunday's $30,000 Tasmanian Derby and it would appear any interstate invader will have to be very good to deny either one of the Tasmanians the joy of victory. Usain Jolt has won six of his seven starts this season with an average winning margin of almost 19 metres with his only defeat coming in Launceston when beaten 1.8 metres by Buster William at what was his third start for the season. Scooterwillrev is unbeaten from five starts this season and overall he has an unblemished record from 13 starts in the state with his only defeats coming in Victoria while campaigning in the Breeders Crown 2YO series last year. The Craig Hayes-trained gelding's latest win was in a C2-C4 event in Hobart when driven by Gavin Lang who will make the trip from Melbourne to Hobart on Sunday to be reunited with the son of Somebeachsomewhere. Peter Staples

The long-awaited clash between Tasmania's most promising three-year-old harness racing pacers Scooterwillrev and Usain Jolt might not eventuate until they meet in the Tasmanian Derby in April. Both three-year-olds scored impressive wins in Launceston on Sunday night with Usain Jolt scoring by 30 metres despite having faced the breeze for the last lap in a C1 against older horses over 2200 metres. But not to be upstaged Scooterwillrev went around in a three-year-old and older event over 2200 metres to score by six metres in a small field of six but he clocked a mile rate of 2.02.5 and ran home his last half (800m) in 58.9 after galloping at the start which had him settled 20 metres off the second-last horse. However Usain Jolt recorded a mile rate of 1.59.5, running home his last half in 57.5 and his driver Ricky Duggan said the Tony Petersen-trained Village Jolt gelding could have gone quicker and won by further had he so desired. "This horse has gone to another level this time in and this win was terrific," Duggan said. "I'm mindful that he didn't defeat any top class horses but you can only beat what you're up against and he did it with ease. "Last time in he used to do a few things wrong and he was rough in his gait and he was still like it at his first start this season but Tony (Petersen) has changed a couple of things and he's been much better his past two starts. Usain Jolt won last season's $30,000 Dandy Patch Stakes and his main mission this season is the three-year-old version of that sires stakes event, the $30,000 Globe Derby, to be run in Launceston in May and Scooterwillrev (Somebeachsomewhere)  is ineligible because he is not Tasmanian bred. But given the gelding's recent efforts that produced winning margins of 33.7 metres and 30.4 metres there is no question the Tasmanian Derby is within his grasp. "I haven't let this horse rip yet so who knows what times he's capable of running. "He's done it tough the past two starts facing the breeze but I am pretty sure he could be even better sat up in a race." Scooterwillrev is unbeaten in Tasmania with only two unplaced starts in Victoria during the Breeders Crown series the only blemishes on his impeccable record from 11 lifetime starts. Duggan is keen to stick with Usain Jolt and says the gelded son of Village Jolt has a very bright future. "The improvement Usain Jolt is has shown this season suggests he will give Scooterwillrev a run for his money in the Derby provided his manners remain at least the same as his past two runs." Scooterwillrev and Usain Jolt are likely to have at least one more start each before progressing to the Derby with Scooterwillrev to back up in a race in Devonport on Sunday night. Peter Staples

After taking his time as a two-year-old to discover what harness racing was all about the now three-year-old Ryley Major has emerged as a star in his own right. At UBET Park Hobart last Sunday night Ryley Major  gave his rivals a pacing lesson to score an impressive all-the-way win in the Tasmanian Derby over 2579 metres. The Rohan Hillier-trained gelding made it look easy as he mustered speed to retain the front from the pole position. Despite being pressured over the final lap the gelded son of Art Major forged clear over the concluding stages to score by over four metres from El Major with Code Black, that faced the breeze throughout, a head away third. It was Ryley Major's firth win in succession this season and his sixth in a row if you carry over his win at his last start as a two-year-old in July last year. While it was far from a career best effort it was clearly the gelding's biggest pay day with the winner's prize of $17,286 taking his career tally to almost $54,000. "That might not be his best win but it is definitely the most prestigious," Hillier said. The weather conditions made it tough for racing on Sunday with gale-force winds gusting up to 80 kph causing concern for many runners, especially down the back straight. "The race was run in blustery conditions and he had to lead the charge into strong wind but he handled it well." "The horse has come a long way this time in and I am confident he can continue to improve," he said. Ryley Major was bred by Hillier who owned and raced the dam Shez Ryleymak who won 23 and placed 16 times from her 50 starts for over $270,000 in prizemoney. Shez Ryleymak also was named Tasmanian Horse of the Year in her two and three-year-old seasons. Ryley Major is likely to have his next start in the Tasmanian Yearling Sale Classic for 3YO colts and geldings in Launceston on Sunday night. While Riley Major was impressive there was at least one hard-luck story from the race with talented gelding Hillview Jake unable to obtain a clear run at any stage after being hemmed in behind the leader for the duration. Driver Ricky Duggan tried desperately to find a way off the fence but every time he shifted out to make a move the gap closed but he plugged away to finish fourth, beaten five metres. 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

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

Astute Tasmanian harness racing trainer Michael Laugher is hoping his three-year-old colt Metro Mouse can live up to expectations and progress to races such as the Tasmanian Derby. Laugher made the prediction after the colt's impressive win in a 3C0-C0 event over 2090 metres at UBET Park Hobart last night. Metro Mouse ($2.10 fav) had no trouble in finding the lead from gate four and although headed momentarily turning for home the colt fought back and hit the line a comfortable winner over outsider I Am Camelot ($41) with Kon Tiki ($6.60) a close-up third. Metro Mouse notched two wins in succession in 2YO races in Launceston at the end of last season and he returned to that venue two weeks ago for his first start as a three-year-old only to be over-run in the closing stages by the highly promising Animi Sub Ignis. "This horse is potentially the best I've trained and while he hasn't put it all together on the racetrack yet I am hoping he gets there this season," Laugher said. "He is a very paid back customer when he comes to the races and that's a good thing but he is yet to unleash and given us what we know he is capable of giving." "We are hoping he can measure up to races such as the Tasmanian Derby but we'll have a better idea of where he sits after a few more runs," he said. Driver Gareth Rattray said Metro Mouse was always travelling like the winner. "We were headed probably by a half-length turning for home but my horse was still traveling easily and he just fought back and went on to win with a bit in reserve," Rattray said. Peter Staples

Talented youngster Mister Lennox capped a great week for prominent harness racing owner Barry Cooper when he stormed home to win the Tasmania Derby at Tattersall’s Park Hobart tonight. Cooper, who owns many pacers, also dabbles in thoroughbreds and last Wednesday two of his gallopers, Meconsul and Tycoon Navigator, won impressively for trainer Gary White in Launceston. But Mister Lennox’s brilliant Derby victory surpassed all the excitement as he provided Cooper with his biggest win. “This is the biggest win I’ve had in harness racing and he is a horse that I race with my children Shane, Stuart, Maree and Christopher and that’s what makes it so brilliant,” Cooper said. “I set out to pick what I hoped would be my best horse to race with the children and it looks like I succeeded.” Mister Lennox was bred in New Zealand and purchased by Cooper as a going two-year-old. The son of Changeover is trained by Juanita McKenzie, who has always believed the colt was capable of winning a feature race. Although successful at Hobart last week, McKenzie wasn’t completely satisfied with Mister Lennox’s performance, so she increase his training rate during the week and it worked wonders. With the $1.70 favourite Major Mojo leading from the pole, Gareth Rattray was content to trail the front runner as the small field of six raced in ‘Indian file’. Rohan Hillier, driving Four Ex Dan, was the first to leave the pegs with 700 metres to travel, which saw Rattray come out in front of the son of Four Starzzz Shark. Forging his way to the front at the top of the home straight, Mister Lennox completed a five-metre win from Major Mojo, with Four Ex Dan 12 metres away third. PETER STAPLES

The interstate stranglehold on the Tasmania Derby will be broken by default at Hobart on Sunday. Such has been the dominance of raiders, no local has won the classic this century! Former handy youngster Joesashyguy was the last Tasmanian to secure the Derby when driven to glory by Barrie Rattray in 1999. As for this year’s edition, only a small field of six has been assembled, with no ‘mainland’ interest in the Blue Riband. Fresh from his effortless victory at the same venue last weekend, Mister Lennox shapes as the one to beat after drawing well in barrier two. Racing in sensational form for prominent trainer Juanita McKenzie, Mister Lennox has won six of his last seven starts and was an unlucky second in the other! As such, the son of Changeover has been installed a $2.80 favourite, with Mojo Major considered his main danger after drawing perfectly in the pole. Winner of his last two starts, including the demolition of a maiden field last weekend, Mojo Major has been posted at $3.20 for trainer Rod Ashwood. Four Ex Dan, also a last-start winner, is the only other runner under double figures at $8. PAUL COURTS

Talented harness racing youngster Mister Lennox will take winning form into Sunday’s Tasmania Derby courtesy of an effortless victory in a C2-C4 event over 2090 metres at Tattersall’s Park Hobart last weekend. Mister Lenox completed a hat-trick when he cruised to a five-and-a-half metre win from the much improved Springfield Tattoo, with Boltnmach three metres away. Top reinsman Gareth Rattray gave the Juanita McKenzie-trained colt a ‘gun run’ in the one-one before easing him three-wide 400 metres out, where he quickly put the end result beyond doubt. Mister Lenox rated 2.00.4, with a last half run in 58.6 seconds without being fully extended. The son of Changeover has won five of his six starts this season, and while this latest win looked effortless, McKenzie was not overly impressed. “I would have liked to see him win more emphatically, but that might be just me being a very hard task master,’ McKenzie said. “I’ve got a week to work on him, but he is in good form, and you can only beat what you are up against, which he’s been doing regularly this season. “I gave him a bit of a break after his win in January and he did all he had to do to win first-up before this latest effort.” Mister Lennox is owned and raced by Barry Cooper and his family. PETER STAPLES

When promising harness racing youngster Mojo Major scored an effortless win in a maiden at Tattersall’s Park Hobart last Sunday night his owners started to get excited about his prospects in this weekend’s Tasmania Derby. The gelding showed blistering early speed to lead comfortably from barrier six, and after Rod Ashwood slipped him more rein turning for home, Mojo Major scored by 22-and-a-half metres from Dancing Da Vinci, with My Mate Nick five metres away third. Mojo Major rated 2:01.5 for the 2090 metres, covering his last half in 58.8 seconds. Mojo Major has been in Ashwood’s care for about four weeks, with the local horseman taking over the training from top Victorian mentor Dean Braun. The son of Art Major is owned by Ashwood’s wife Paige in partnership with Terry Snowden and Amanda Grieve, who opted to keep the three-year-old in Victoria for the early part of his career. He won at his first start in Tasmania on March 9, but he was even more impressive at his latest outing. PETER STAPLES

Lightly-raced three-year-old pacer Four Ex Dan will go into next Sunday night's Tasmanian Derby with winning form following his effortless harness racing victory at Tattersall's Park Hobart last night. Four Ex Dan settled worse than midfield in the one-out line from his second row draw before trainer-driver Rohan Hillier sent the gelding around the field to race outside of the leader Tiz A Jamane when his charge began to pull fiercely 1400m from home. Hillier was content to allow the son of Four Starzzz Shark to race outside of the leader until turning for home the last time. As Hillier slipped him more rein, Four Ex Dan darted clear to score comfortably from Cardinal Spec, which ran home from well back, with Charlie James third and just ahead of Tiz A Jamane. Listen to what trainer-driver Rohan Hillier had to say about Four Ex Dan and his Derby prospects. Peter Staples

Connections of promising youngster Sudden Change will make a decision today on whether to extend the filly’s stay in Tasmania. A stylish winner of last night’s Tasmania Oaks in Hobart, the crew are contemplating tackling the ‘boys’ in Sunday’s Derby at the same venue. Trainer Dean Braun explained a start in the Blue Riband will depend on Sudden Change’s recovery. “We targeted the Oaks as soon as we bought her, but now we may stay in Tassie for the Derby,” Braun declared. “It all depends on how she pulls up, but having checked her this morning, she seems as bright as a button. “Nominations don’t close until tomorrow morning, so I will make a decision about dinner time.” Driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang, Sudden Change was given time to settle into her stride from barrier six as local favourite, Fiscienne, led from five. Angled three-wide during the middle stages, the daughter of Changeover dashed to the lead, with the remainder of the classic a formality. Never seriously challenged, Sudden Change completed a two-metre win from Grand Anse, with Macfire 19 metres away third. “She only did what she had to, but that’s also the way Gavin drives them,” Braun said. “He never pushes them around and gets them home the easiest possible way. “I’m very happy with her progress since she got her and think she can compete against the better ones of her age.” Rating 2:03.6 for the 2579-metre journey, Sudden Change extended her record to two wins and a second from five starts since crossing the Tasman. The three-year-old’s win also provided Braun with his second Oaks triumph, having captured the 2013 edition with Itz Nosurprisesthere. PAUL COURTS

RECORD breaking three-year-old Tasmanian pacer Resurgent Spirit had his colours lowered for only the second time when he had to settle for third in a heat of the Globe Derby Stakes over 2200 metres at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston last Friday night. Resurgent Spirit won his first 13 starts to equal Halwes' record of the most number of consecutive wins in Tasmania before suffering his first loss in the Tasmanian Derby in April. Last Friday night the Roger Whitmore-trained gelding was forced to do a lot of work early to retain the lead but as it was his first start for almost two months and coming off a knew injury he was exposed at the business end of the race. Estevao came off a cozy run in the one-out-one-back position to finish powerfully to win by a long neck from Rusty Red Comet that faced the breeze for the duration with Resurgent Spirit weakening into third spot five metres away. Estevao (x Art Major) is a half-brother to this year's Devonport Cup winner Devendra (x Bettors Delight) with the only other of the mare Queen Carey's progeny being Benediction (a full sister to Devendra) that won 19 of her 56 starts including multiple features at two and three. Estevao is owned and raced in partnership by trainer Barrie Rattray and long-time stable client Ian Dunham who also raced last season's Easter Cup-Devonport Cup winner Biggernbettermax. By Peter Staples

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