Although second past the post, Spot Nine was declared the winner of the Show Cup at Launceston last Sunday night. Star Chamber, which was driven along the inside turning for home, scored by three-and-a-half metres from Spot Nine and Falco Peregrinus. But a stewards' inquiry revealed Nathan Ford had gone inside the pegs with Star Chamber and was subsequently disqualified for gaining an unfair advantage. The placings were amended with Spot Nine declared the winner from Falco Peregrinus and Tessanzo. It was a disaster race for punters with the favourite Riverboat Jasper ($2.90) tailed out to last after making a mess of the standing start, while the well-backed Divas Delight ($3.90) was unable to make any impression from his 10-metre handicap. Spot Nine is trained at Seven Mile Beach by Zeke Slater and driven by Christian Salter, who was also successful with Aninchofhislife, which he also trains. PETER STAPLES
TALENTED harness racing trainer Zeke Slater has built a reputation for rekindling the careers of horses which have lost form and at Hobart last Sunday night he was at it again. Mister Pinjarra made his debut for Slater in a C2 Pace over 2090 metres and delivered the goods with a powerful last 400 metres to score from Spot Nine and Maybe Doc. Mister Pinjarra was driven patiently by Nathan Ford, who waited until entering the back straight before calling on the son of P Forty Seven for the supreme effort. Slater purchased the five-year-old on the internet for $2500. “I had a few blokes from Victoria who were keen to get a horse and I found this one and we got him at the right price,” Slater said. “When he arrived at my stables he had lost form, but he had won seven and been placed 15 times from just over 40 starts in New South Wales, so I was quietly confident we would pick up a race or two with him here in Tassie. “He also had a recurrence of a minor tendon injury, but working on the beach has been good for him and he is a very happy horse at the moment and he raced accordingly on Sunday.” Slater doesn’t believe Mister Pinjarra will reach any great heights in Tasmania but says he will be very disappointed if he didn’t win more races. It was good night for Slater who landed a double after his former smart free-for-aller Greysteel scored an impressive win in the Wolfe Brothers Pace over 2090 metres. The 10-year-old powered home to score from Spot Nine and Maybe Doc to give Slater plenty of reasons to smile. “We all know that Greysteel was a very classy open class horse when at the top of his game, but he’s had plenty of problems since he was winning feature races during the Christmas Carnivals here in Tassie.” “He had an operation and that has helped overcome some issues, and if we can keep him sound, I’m sure he will be competitive in the better races later in the year.” PETER STAPLES
STAR Tasmanian reinsman Ricky Dugan is having on of his best seasons with his efforts at the past two Hobart harness racing meetings netting him six winners and multiple minor placings. Last Sunday night he partnered Angela De Marco and Giuliani to victory and both drivers were superb. He rated Angela De Marco to perfection in front and he made a midrace dash aboard Giuliani to find the front and that proved to be the winning move. He was quite upbeat about both hoses. "I thought Angela De Marco's win was full of merit because she stargazed a bit when she slipped clear in e straight but when she caught a glimpse of on coming she lifted," Dugan said. "I have no doubt that the filly will be even better after a spell so the owners should expect her to do some good things as a four-year-old," he said. Giuliani sowed courage in the home straight when at one stage it appeared that he might be swamped by the challengers. "Giuliani has developed into a very strong type and he has good high speed," Dugan said. Angela De Marco is owned by Barry Cooper and Jamie Cockshutt while Merv and Meg Butterworth pay up or Giuliani hat is prepared by Zeke Slater. Peter Staples
Motu Crusader confirmed his harness racing status as one of the mot consistent pacers to race in Tasmania in many years when he powered home to win he 2014 Examiner Newspaper Easter Cup over 2698 metres in Launceston last night. The Zeke Slater-trained seven-year-old not only had to overcome a back mark of 40 metres but he also travelled three-wide for the last two laps. Motu Crusader has won the past two Group 3 Tasmania Cups along with other feature races in Tasmania since finding his way into Slater's Seven Mile Beach stables. The gelding is owned by Merv and Meg Butterworth who have invested heavily in standardbreds to become two of the biggest owners in the nation. Motu Crusader ($5) settled at the rear of the field while Dylan Ford took the Keith Toulmin-trained Falco Peregrinus ($10) to the lead and that gelding set a solid pace while the well-backed favourite Call The Marshall ($3.20) enjoyed the coveted one-out-one-back position. When driver Grant Campbell opted to set Motu Crusader on a forward move 1400 metres out he flushed out Cal The Marshall that led the three-wide brigade. Falco Peregrinus kicked clear turning for home but a wall of horses made a charge for the line with only four metres separating the first eight across the line. Motu Crusader hit the line less than a neck clear of Falco Peregrinus with last year's Easter Cup winner Biggernbettermax ($22.70) a close-up third. Listen to what trainer Zeke Slater had to say about Motu Crusader's brilliant Easter Cup win. Peter Staples
LONGFORD trainer Barrie Rattray continued his dominance of country cup victories when his four-year-old gelding Divas Delight outgunned his rivals in the St Marys Cup over 2685 metres on the grass track at St Marys on Saturday. Divas Delight emerged triumphant with stable driver Todd Rattray aboard, hitting the line clear of the Zeke Slater-trained duo Class Above Lombo and Babes Boy Bob. It was the sixth win of the season for Divas delight and with six minor placings from the remaining seven starts this season he is proving to be one of Rattray's most consistent stable tenants. Divas Delight (Bettors Delight-Draw Card) is one Rattray's home-grown mob and he joins Devendra that has won the Devonport Cup, Carrick Cup and Burnie Cup this season and he too has an ou9tatanfing record of 12 starts for six wins and five minor placings. Divas Delight and Devendra form part of Rattray's four-pronged attack to tackle the Raider Stakes four-year-old sires stakes feature in Devonport next Sunday night. He also has likely favourite Pachacuti that won his Raider Stakes heat last week in Launceston and the other heat winner Rykov leis that led all the way to win his heat. By Peter Staples
HARNESS racing trainer Zeke Slater has his eyes in the St Marys Cup with Class Above Lombo that scored an impressive win in Launceston last Sunday night. The St Marys annual meeting is traditionally run on New Year's Day but when the SMPC had to cancel this year's event because of the state of the grass track the meeting was set aside to be run in another timeslot Tasracing, in conjunction with the SMPC, settled on Easter Saturday and all is in readiness for what should be another brilliant day of harness racing at the East Coast venue. The rescheduled meeting features the St Marys Cup that boasts prizemoney of $10,000 and it is being targeted by many trainers, including Slater. Class Above Lombo is unbeaten from his three starts in Tasmania, the latest last Sunday night in Launceston in a C4 event over 2200m. But he needs one more win to take her to C5 class that is the benchmark for entry into the St Marys Cup, which is a standing start event. "The horse has not won from a standing start but he has very good manners so I don't think it (standing start) would present a problem," Slater said. "It looks an ideal race for him and it's worth $10,000 so I'll probably run him at Devonport next Monday night in a C5 or better race to try and get his qualified class wise," he said. By Peter Staples
Veteran harness racing pacer Motu Crusader captured another feature race in Tasmania when he scored a game win in the $10,000 Beautide Launceston Mile over 1680 metres last Sunday night. Motu Crusader has enjoyed a lot of success in Tasmania as he has won the past two Tasmania Cups and a bunch of other feature races over the past two years. At this most recent outing he was partnered by Victorian driver Grant Campbell who allowed the gelding to settle rearward and come with a late charge but he only just got there in the end. Motu Crusader, owned by Merv Butterworth, powered home to edge out Five Star Anvil in the shadows of the post. "We enjoyed a great run in the race but a slower than expected first half mile didn't help his cause," Campbell said. "I always thought that I was going to catch Five Star Anvil but we only just got there." "The fact that it's a long home straight certainly helped," he said. The driver was full of praise for trainer Zeke Slater who had not started the gelding since he contested the Hunter Cup in Victoria on February 1. Slater said Motu Crusader's next target will be the Easter Cup in Launceston on April 20. Peter Staples.
The $400,000 Group 1 A. G Hunter Cup is on the agenda for recent Tasmania Cup winner Motu Crusader that scored another effortless win in Launceston last Friday night. At this latest assignment Motu Crusader gave his rivals a 40-metre start but meted out a pacing lesson to his rivals as he powered home to score by over three metres from recent Hobart Pacing Cup winner Spot Nine in the McKillop Insurances Discretionary Handicap over 2200 metres. Motu Crusader's trainer Zeke Slater was delighted with the win and confirmed the A. G Hunter Cup as the likely next big-race target for the seven-year-old. "He meets most of the qualifications to run in the Hunter Cup so that's the race we're looking at," Slater said. "He ran a terrific time off his 40-metre handicap and he ran home his last half (800 metres) in 55.4 so you don't get much better than that on this track," he said. Motu Crusader stepped cleanly off his back mark and top reinsman Ricky Duggan had him pacing sweetly and in touch with the main body of the field after traveling 600 metres. It was obvious a long way from home that the Merv and Meg Butterworth-owned gelding had the field covered and when Duggan called on him to extend at the top of the home straight he powered home to win without being fully extended. The Hunter Cup will be run in Victoria at Tabcorp Park Melton on February 1. By Peter Staples
Recent Tasmania Cup winner Motu Crusader kept his winning streak intact when he powered his way to an effortless win in the Lees Orchard Free-For-All at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. With Gareth Rattray in the sulky, Motu Crusader began well from his near outside front-row draw (7) and when the field settled he was set alight and had the lead in no time. When Rattray gave him more rein turning for home the seven-year-old gelding forged clear and went on to score by nine metres from interstate invader Amadmancomesundone with Maybe Doc just over 10 metres astern. It was an awesome win and one that trainer Zeke Slater expected. Motu Crusader is owned and raced by Merv and Meg Butterworth who have been sending horses to Slater for a few years and with much success with other horses such as Greysteel and star mare Queen of Fire. Slater has emerged as a quality trainer-horseman and with an owner such as Butterworth behind him he should be able to look forward to a bright future. Moto Crusader is likely to stay in Tasmania and be aimed at the Easter Cup By Peter Staples
THE Tony Petersen-trained Ransom Olds lost no admirers with a gallant fourth in the $40,000 Tasmania Cup at Tattersall's Park last Sunday so those who supported the gelding will no doubt be keen to rally for him in tonight's heat of the Hobart Pacing Cup at the same venue. Ransom Olds has started four times this preparation for two minor placings but his fourth last week was good enough to suggest he can be the testing material for his rivals in race seven tonight. The heat boasts only a small field of six with Ransom Olds, Greysteel and smart mare Laterron likely to do battle for favouritism. Greysteel has not started since mid July when third of seven in ka free-for-all over 2200 metres in Launceston. The Zeke Slater-trained nine-year-old has a terrific first-up record and from barrier five he could have enough speed to either lead or grab the one-one spot if Ransom Olds finds the front. Slater also has Laterron engaged and this talented mare comes off a game third in the George Johnson behind Delightful Christian and Arts Bliss last Sunday night. The interesting runner is the sole interstate invader Amadmancomesundone from the Craig Knowles stable at Mitchell Park. Amadmancomesundone hasn't won since March last year and the closet he has come to winning a race recently is a fifth at Swan Hill in a field of nine and seven metres from the winner. The Melissa Maine-trained Spot Nine (gate 2) and pole marker Udoit have only moderate form from recent outings and would need to improve significantly to cause an upset. Peter Staples
TASMANIAN trainer Zeke Slater celebrated back-to-back wins in the prestigious $40,000 Tasmania Cup when his gallant seven-year-old pacer Moto Crusader stormed home to beat the favourite in a photo-finish at Tattersall's Park today. Dapper Dana showed great acceleration to lead from the pole position but a lap further out and the favourite Im Corzin Terror assumed that mantle and looked to be in control when the field wheeled for home the last time. But that's when ace driver Gareth Rattray called on Moto Crusader to unleash and the gelding quickly put himself in contention and powered home to grab victory in the last few strides. Moto Crusader scored by a head from the Dean Braun-trained Im Corzin Terror (Chris Alford) with Our Chain of Command motoring home to finish third but 7-1/2 metres from the runner-up. Moto Crusader has been back in the care of Slater for a while but the gelding's run in the City of Launceston Cup last week was too bad to be true. He finished fourth in a field of seven and beaten over 15 metres when sent out a long odds-on favourite. But Slater said he was confident before this latest assignment that the horse had improved enough to be at his best for today's race, although punters did not share his views as the horse was sent around a $22 outsider. Listen to what trainer Zeke Slater had to say about Moto Crusader's latest Tasmania Cup win. Peter Staples
Well bred pacer Giuliani delivered somewhat of a knockout blow to punters in Launceston on Sunday night even though he went onto the race on the back of successive wins. Giuliani had gone around a short-price favourite at his two previous outings for trainer Zeke Slater but he was the big drifter in the betting easing to start at the lucrative price of $7 in the Lees Orchard pace. All the educated money came for Mister Sumna that was heavily backed in to start the odds-on favourite. But punters were licking their wounds a long way from home after the favourite, when trying to hunt up along the rails to prevent The Majority from leading, jumped out of his gear and went into a wild break with his trainer-driver Craig Hayes unable to get him back into a pace. The Majority travelled well but with Giuliani having spent most of the race in the one-out-one-back position he w as poised to pounce. When driver Ricky Duggan finally decided to present Giuliani he quickly put the end result beyond doubt going on to score convincingly from Willbe Doc that came from beyond midfield leaving the back straight the last time with High Flyin Ruler a fast-finishing third just ahead of The Majority. Peter Staples
HARNESS racing trainer Zeke Slater is confident that once the “penny drops” with his lightly raced four-year-old Giuliani the sky could be the limit. Giuliani contested a 3C0 or better for three-year-olds and older over 2090 metres at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart last night (Sunday) in which he emerged triumphant despite trying to throw the race away turning for home. Giuliani worked his way to the front early in the race but turning for home he broke gait and looked likely to miss a place but driver Ricky Duggan was able to get the gelding back in his gear and in the home straight he regained the lead and went on to score by seven metres from Podarkes with Smokin Mustard almost five metres away third. It was Giuliani’s second career win from only nine starts and he also has notched four minor placings of which most have come in the past two months. It was an impressive effort on Sunday night and one that pleased Slater but he also could not hide his frustration with the gelded son of Live Or Die that is owned by Merv Butterworth. Listen to what trainer Zeke Slater had to say about Giuliani after his win. Peter Staples
Winning three feature races on the Launceston circuit was enough for talented free-for-aller Greysteel to win the Launceston Club’s Horse of the Year award. Greysteel emerged triumphant in the $20,000 City of Launceston Cup, $10,000 Golden Mile and the $10,000 Launceston Mile. The Zeke Slater-trained grey gelding had eight starts on the Mowbray track for three wins and two minor placings. The award, which is for performances on the Mowbray track only, is decided upon by an independent panel of judges. The Launceston Pacing Club’s other awards were decided by points accumulated throughout the season. Riverboat Jasper was named 3YO of the year courtesy of him winning six of his nine starts at The TOTE Racing Centre while Tessanzo was mare of the year winning four of her 16 starts. All of the above mentioned winners are likely to poll well in the statewide horse of the year awards that will be announced at the Tasmanian harness Racing Awards dinner at Wrest Point casino in Hobart on September 21. by Peter Staples
Talented harness racing trainer Zeke Slater continues to fill up his stable with tenants belonging to high-profile Melbourne based owner Merv Butterworth.
Talented harness racing trainer Zeke Slater continues to fill up his stable with tenants belonging to high-profile Melbourne based owner Merv Butterworth.