Day At The Track

Ignatius and Ryley Major go head to head

04:24 PM 19 Dec 2020 NZDT
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Ryley Major, Harness racing Photo

The Group 3 Faithful Park Stud Tassie Golden Apple headlines a nine-race card in Launceston on Saturday night, where the state’s best pacers do battle headlined by Ignatius and Ryley Major.

Ignatius has had seven starts back on Tasmanian soil since a New South Wales campaign, including three wins in a row, before running second in last weeks heat.

He ruined his chances by galloping away in the 2200-metre event from his 30-metre handicap, and trainer-driver Todd Rattray said he only had one person to blame, himself.

“It was probably more my fault, I probably rushed him a little bit, and turned in a bit late to get up there, said Rattray.

The gelded son of Roll With Joe recorded the quickest individual last half mile of any runner at last week’s meeting in 55.55s, and did that out three-wide.

“He was pretty good in his heat I thought, they ran a quick half and he was out there doing it,” explained Rattray.

Rattray said the pacer had come through his heat run “alright” but did admit the pacer will have to be on his game given the 2200-metre event where he starts off a 30-metre handicap.

Rattray indicated that he and the pacers owner, his wife Lyrae, will discuss the future plans with Ignatius after Saturday’s event, with a trip back across Bass Strait on the cards.

Last year’s winner Ryley Major will also start off a 30-metre handicap.

Since that win, the pacer has won the Group 2 Tasmania Cup and he looks a certainty to be crowned the Tasmanian Horse of the Year in this extended season.

However, after three runs back from a spell trainer-driver Hillier believes the pacer isn’t near where he was 12-months ago.

“I think 12 months ago Ryley was going a lot better than he is at the moment, so take that into account and also take into account it is a lot stronger field off the front line and the 10 metres (compared to last year), so he is going to find it extremely hard,” said Hillier.

“One thing in his favour he is a brilliant beginner and loves to win,” added the trainer.

Ryley Major chased home Ignatius in his first two runs back from a spell in Hobart on 22 November and again on 6 December before winning last week’s heat in 1m 58.5s off his 30-metre handicap.

“His first run back I thought he was ok, the second run he was dreadful, and his third run he was a little better, I couldn’t really pin point why he went bad in Hobart, but last week he was ok and this week on the track has been something like his best so touch wood he can produce his best on Saturday night,” said Hillier who has done an outstanding job to get the pacer back to the track from an injury after his three-year-old season.

Hillier also prepares Lip Reader in the race who finished third in his heat behind Ryley Major after racing outside the leader over the final mile and the trainer is happy with how the horse has come through the run.

“He came through the run well, it was his first run at that sort of level, and I’m sure he is not a breeze horse that can do the work and win the race,” said Hillier.

“Conor (Crook) will drive him quiet in the final, and he will need a lot of luck to go his way, he has proven in the past if he gets the luck, he is a genuine chance,” added the trainer.

Another main chance in the heat is progressive talent The Shallows for trainer-driver Heath Woods.

The heat winner is yet to miss a top-two finish in five starts on the Launceston track including a win in the Show Cup over this distance four starts ago, and last week’s heat over Ignatius where he scored by 1.3 metres.

He only has a 10-metre handicap to contend with which is a huge asset over the 2200-metre trip.

The Tassie Golden Apple is race six on the card and is scheduled to start at 20:50, with the first of nine races to commence at 17:55.

Sky Racing 2 will televise race one, with Sky Racing 1 showing the last eight races.

TasracingTV will be live-hosted from the track and can be viewed at


Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

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