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TASMANIA lost one of its most talented and dedicated harness racing participants last week when Don Peck died aged 72. Peck was the youngest of the 11 children of Rupe and Eileen Peck and it was odds on that harness racing would play a role in his life. That eventuated to the extent that training and driving harness horses became his career choice and remained a passion throughout his life. Peck started working for his father Rupe as soon as he left school on the family property at Bridgenorth where he remained until last year when the property was sold. It was the ideal environment with his father the state’s leading trainer with a stable full of talented horses. Peck recognised the role his family played in his development as he often stated in stories produced by many of the state’s leading scribes. In the early years, Don assisted father and brother Graeme with classy performers such as Sparkling Con (12 successive wins and two seconds in the Tasmanian Pacing Championship), Sparkling Raid, Premier Dillon, Glendawood, Poatina (two Danbury Park Cups and one Metropolitan Cup) and a host of other ‘bread and butter’ pacers. Legendary reinsman Jack Stamford was Rupe Peck’s number one stable driver but when he retired from the sulky Graeme took on the role and then shared it (role) with Don. Don had his first drive at Devonport in 1959 behind Premier Dillon and finished fourth. But he didn’t have to wait long to experience the sweet taste of his first winner when Dillons Flash won at Burnie in early 1960 – the first of approximately 640 winners Don Peck accrued over his 45 years in the sulky. Over the years Don established a great record with fillies and mares and he nominated the Classic Garry mare Lovely Lena as the best horse he trained. Don and his assistant Sharon Slater treated the mare with kid gloves and achieved outstanding results. Lovely Lena, who was diagnosed with heart strain prior to being trained by Don, won 10 races in Tasmania and two more at Moonee Valley after she left the Peck stable. Don also had a soft spot for former topliner Hal Butler. Trained at Ridgley by the astute Jack ‘Stiffy’ Rosier, Hal Butler, at one stage won ten races in one season and Don rated him the best horse he had driven. Hal Butler ran many seconds to the mighty Halwes, who Don rated the best pacer he had seen in action. He also rated Dromicia amongst the best horses he sat behind. Don stated in an article written by this writer that Dromicia was a sensational horse that had terrific high speed and, while I only drove him a few times, he was an exciting horse that went on to win over $200,000 in prizemoney. The 1998/99 season was a standout for the Don Peck stable when he won the Launceston Pacing Club trainers award mainly due to the performances of Maldon Blaze and Cranleigh. Maldon Blaze won 11 races for Don and another eight in NSW with the majority of those eight wins being at Harold Park while Cranleigh won 10 for Don. In 2009 Peck and Barry Freeman purchased the unraced Jay Bardon. Trained by Barry, Jay Bardon won 11 of 23 starts before injury during his four year old season ended his racing career. Jay Bardon and Maldon Blaze were special horses to Don Peck being out of Shansue Mod, an unraced daughter of the top class mare Mod Humor who Don trained after his father Rupe retired. Don ended his driving career in a manner befitting the classy reinsman that he was – his last two drives in August 2004 were both wins behind the Barry Freeman trained Arras. When he retired, Don said (in an article by this writer) “It isn’t the risk of getting injured that has influenced my decision to retire from driving, although it is a fact that injuries like I copped in that fall at Mowbray take so much longer to heal when you get to my age.” ”I have always believed that many footballers play one season too long and are labeled has-beens when they play on so I didn’t want anyone thinking that of me so I am retiring before my use-by date.” The last winner Don trained was Top Premier at Burnie in March 2011. Dons many feature race wins included: 1968 Easter Plate – By By Dixie 1969 St Marys Cup – Comenchero 1974 Sires Produce Stakes – Green Lea 1976 Easter Plate – Green Lea 1979 Easter Plate – Dromicia 1981 Show Cup – Mod Humor 1983 Ulverstone Cup – Mod Humor 1987 North Eastern Cup – Ermis  1994 Raider Stakes – Mandasha 1995 Diamond Stakes – Hillcot Jay 1996 Tasmanian Premiers Classic and Youthful Stakes – Our Rocky Knight 1997 Danbury Park Cup – Newry Flash 1998 Danbury Park Cup – Quite Paleface   1998 Diamond Stakes and Princess Of Pace – Lindys Ticket 1999 3YO Fillies Championship – Lindys Ticket  1999 Globe Derby – Maldon Blaze 2000 St Marys Cup – Cranleigh 2000 Governors Cup and Granny Smith – Lindys Ticket 2003 Evicus and Blue Bonnet – Cher Mon Amour Peter Staples

North-West Coast harness racing stalwart Rod Burgess has been rewarded for his dedication to the industry by being awarded the 2013 Edgar Tatlow Medal. The award was presented at the Tasmanian Harness Awards Dinner at Wrest Point Hotel, Hobart on Saturday night. The Edgar Tatlow Medal commemorates the major influence of the Tasmanian pioneer breeding legend Edgar Tatlow, whose stallions and their progeny have dominated Australasian Harness Racing since the 1930’s. Burgess was born at Wynyard in 1948 and spent his formative years at Smithton. He started driving track work at 14 and, at 17, drove his first winner at Spreyton. Over the years Burgess became involved in most areas of the industry – trainer, driver, owner, breeder and administrator. From his base at Smithton on Tasmania’s far North West, he quickly established a reputation as a quality conditioner of horses. He travelled statewide to compete in Tasmania’s best races with the trip from Smithton to Hobart taking a minimum of 6 hours one way and, in the early days, having an overnight stop at Hagley on the Friday and Saturday nights – a three day venture. His best horses included Byatic, Vespasian and Captain Byrd.  Vespasian won the Easter Cup in 1972 and won twice at the Melbourne Showgrounds at Ascot Vale the same year. In 1973 he moved to Ulverstone and the winners continued. Burgess was the state’s leading trainer for two consecutive seasons (1974/75 and 1975/76) and he was the state’s leading driver in 1975/76. His best performers were Captain Byrd, Fringe Benefit (Tasmanian Derby), Ben Ean (Carrick Cup and second in every major cup that season including the Tasmanian Pacing Championship) Junee Royal (City of Glenorchy Cup), Junee Princess, Karlindon (Devonport Cup) and Our Lady Lindy (Scottsdale and Hobart Metropolitan Cups). Nubeena won consecutive Easter Cups at Elphin in 1982 and 1983. Burgess represented Tasmania in driver’s invitation races in Sydney and Perth, winning the Sydney event at Harold Park. He was a professional farrier and he continues to successfully train a small team at his Ulverstone property. His contribution to harness racing includes administration where he has demonstrated his commitment to improving harness racing statewide. He joined the North West Tasmania Light Harness Association at age 17 where he is Life Member and he served as President for a total of 30 years. Burgess also is a past President and committee member of the now defunct Tasmanian Light Harness Association. In 2006 he received a Meritorious Service Award from Harness Racing Tasmania.   Rod was an active volunteer at the Ulverstone track when it existed and fought hard to maintain the track for the sake of the industry. He has driven the mobile at trials, and occasionally at race meetings, at Devonport and Burnie. He has assisted with track maintenance at Devonport and was a committee member of the Burnie Harness Racing Club for six years. He has been a member of the Harness Advisory Group for the last six years.   Previous winners of the Edgar Tatlow Medal reads like a who’s who in Tasmanian harness racing – Doug Martin (2001), Peter Cooley (2002), Keith Stanley (2003), Pauline Barker (2004), Darrell Rockliff (2005), Don Cornish (2006), Eric Fleming (2007), Eric Bean (2008), Tem Fish (2009), Henry Pullen (2010), Doug McKillop (2011) and Gerald Gee (2012) Peter Staples

One of Tasmania's leading harness racing trainer-drivers Scott Ford has been disqualified for three years. Racing Services Tasmania Stewards concluded an inquiry into the elevated TCO2 readings produced from blood samples taken from the Ford-trained horse Boozy Rouge following the running of the 'Sotas Pace Division Two' at the Tasmanian Pacing Club's meeting on Sunday 12 June 2011.

When harness racing stalwarts gather for a special occasion they invariably start to reminisce about some of the stars of bygone days and in Tasmania the conversation usually focuses on Halwes, Golden Alley or Sinbad Bay.

The success of any race meeting is best judged by the amount of harness racing turnover and on-course patronage and it was this combination that confirmed the Tasmanian Pacing Club's Tasmania Cup meeting on Boxing Day as the club's best on record.

Victoria Cup winner Robin Hood is poised to make it back-to-back grand circuit wins when he lines up in the $150,000 Wrest Point Tasmanian Pacing Championship at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart on Sunday night (December 23).

The barrier draw for the $150,000 Wrest Point Tasmanian Pacing Championship to be run at Tattersall’s Park at Elwick n Sunday night has opened the door for a part local victory in the state’s most prestigious harness event.

EIGHT appeals lodged by interstate and local harness trainers against alleged breaches of the rules pertaining to the prohibited substance hydroxyprogesterone caproate (HPC) have been adjourned.

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