Day At The Track
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After an impressive 2019-2020 harness racing season, Ryley Major will be looking for back-to-back Hobart Pacing Cups when he lines up in the $25,000 event in Hobart on Sunday night. The gelded son of Art Major recorded an 8.7-metre win in last year’s Cup in 1m 57.9s, but that race was run over 2090 metres. This year’s edition will be held over the longer 2579 metre distance. Like many in the race, Ryley Major comes out of the Tassie Golden Apple at his most recent appearance where he missed a place for the first time in his 47-start career, but he was far from disgraced finishing fifth after racing wide in a fast last half mile. Tasracing’s calculated sectionals recorded Ryley Major’s own last half mile in 54.67s, the second fastest since they have been recorded since December 2018. “I was really happy with him. Obviously, it’s that hard to win off 30 (metres) over that distance it isn’t funny,” said Rohan Hillier after that event on TasracingTV’s coverage. “He hit the line well and had a flat tyre the final 150 (metres), but he never gave it away,” added Hillier. Ryley Major has drawn inside the second row on Sunday night, with eight runners’ the small field will suit his chances. The Golden Apple was won by the Heath Woods-trained and driven The Shallows, with the Group 3 win being the biggest success in his 30 start career and with the scratching of Blackbird Power, he will start from barrier four in the $25,000 feature on Sunday. By completing the course in the $25,000 event, The Shallows will break the $100,000 mark in prizemoney as he aims for a winning hat-trick. The Shallows loves the Hobart track with 10 of his 14 wins coming at the venue. An interesting newcomer to the state, The Crimson Prince, is the only other runner in the race at single-figure odds. The former Victorian trained pacer has joined the Northdown stables of Geoff Smith with 10 wins from 31 starts to his credit. He won a claimer at Ballarat on boxing night in 2m 0.4s but was placed at Melton the start prior in metro grade when defeated 1.6 metres in 1m 53.0s Paul Hill will drive the Betterthancheddar gelding. Many horses contesting the Hobart Pacing Cup will head towards the Group 3 Devonport Cup on 17 January, but some horses that may face a big handicap in that event may look at many country cup’s that are being held during that period in Victoria. Sunday night’s 10-race Hobart card will be live hosted on TasracingTV, with the first race to be shown on Sky Racing 2, with the remaining races on Sky Racing 1 Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

Former Tasmanian Derby winner Mister Lennox returned to his brilliant best to win the Triple M Hobart Pacing Cup at the Elwick harness racing centre in Hobart last night. Mister Lennox ($7) came from well back with a lap remaining to score comfortably from outsider Call her Julie ($61) with Dapper Dana ($5.50) a close-up third and just ahead of Bayridge Bill ($31). The win gave Hall of Fame driver Ricky Duggan his first Hobart Cup and he heaped praise on the gelding that had been struggling to find the winner's circle in recent times. "This horse was a good run in the Tasmania Cup behind Master Secret two weeks ago and I thought all he would need to win tonight was a bit of luck to go his way," Duggan said. "He stepped away safely and we just took our time to find a spot and then I was able to latch onto the back of Remember Joe when that horse made his move a lap from home. "I just needed Remember Joe to take us far enough into the race and thankfully he did and when I pulled my horse out four-wide at the top of the straight he ran on strongly and won well." It was a fiercely contested race with The Majority stepping straight to the front while the favourite Taurisi ($2.50) galloped away and settled last of the field of 14. Mister Lennox, prepared by Juanita McKenzie, has notched 15 wins and nine minor placings from 49 starts for $126,461 in stakes. Peter Staples

Emotions ran high at UBET Park Hobart last night when Remember Joe powered home to score an impressive harness racing win in the Smithawards Hobart Pacing Cup. Remember Joe, a horse named in honour of the late Joe McKenzie who was one of the best and most colourful harness trainers of the modern era, delivered a career best performance to win a race that trainer Juanita McKenzie has longed to win. "The Hobart Pacing Cup is a race I have wanted to win as a trainer and to win it with a horse named after my Dad is just amazing," McKenzie said. McKenzie had three runners in the race with outsiders Something Eyre and veteran pacer Our Chain of Command sent around at big odds. "To be honest I wasn't confident about winning the race but I thought Remember Joe would be a chance if he could lead and when that didn't happen I thought it was all over." "But Rodney (Ashwood) drove a perfect race and when he got him to the outside in the home straight Joe just powered home." "I was also worried that Joe might not be able to get the trip (3060 metres) but he proved me wrong," she said. Outsider Truly Blissful ($51) began brilliantly to roll to the front but Ashwood was keen to take that spot and sent Remember Joe in pursuit of the lead. But when that failed he opted to take hold and settle behind the leader. The favourite Resurgent Spirit ($2.60) moved up to face the breeze while the rank outsider Dodgermemate ($81) settled in the one-out-one-back position with the well-backed Jukebox Music ($5.50) on his back in the one-out line. Turning for home it looked as if Remember Joe would fail to gain a clear run but Ashwood cleverly eased into the right spot at the right time. Once in the clear Remember Joe powered home to defeat Dodgermemate by 3-1/4 metres with his stablemate Truly Blissful almost three metres away third. McKenzie said there had been a temptation to take remember Joe back to Melbourne for another campaign but connections have agreed to keep the horse racing in Tasmania. "There are a couple of country cups we'll have a look at before we give him a spell," McKenzie said. Peter Staples  

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