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Talented pacer Rockin An Runnin might have missed an entire season through injury but the harness racing gelding could yet make up for lost time given the way he powered his way to victory in the $10,000 Meander Valley Cup at Carrick Paceway on New Year's Eve. The Chris Howlett-trained five-year-old gelding was forced to face the breeze for most of the race outside of the hot favourite Hafter but he made light of the task to go on and score convincingly from Cemento Rapido that trained the leader throughout with Hafter a close-up third. It was Rockin An Runnin's fifth career win and his second from three outings this season and Howlett is very upbeat about how far Rockin An Runnin can go. "He looked like being a very good two-year-old but he strained a tendon and then he missed his entire three-year-old season and last season we were heading him to the Raider Stakes when he suffered another leg injury. "But he's fully recovered and he is a very nice horse with a bright future." Rockin An Runnin is from well-bred stock and what makes his success even more enjoyable is that he was bred by his owners. "We bred this horse from a very good mare (Run Matilda Run) but unfortunately that's the only time we were able to get her in foal," Howlett said. Run Matilda Run (x Fake Left) won six and placed nine times from 45 starts before heading to the breeding barn. She slipped her first foal to Our Sir Vancelot in 2007 but two years later she delivered a filly by Courage Under Fire named Matilda Rocks but she was unsuccessful from only six starts. The broodmare then produced Rockin An Runnin in 2011 but her foal to We Will See in 2013 died and she showed no return from her mating with Shadow Play the following season. Rockin An Runnin is owned and raced by the trainer and his wife Donna and her parents Paul ands Elizabeth Geard who are the state's most prominent thoroughbred owners and breeders. The gelding won three last season and given the way he has improved with each start the gelded son of Major in Art will be a force with which to be reckoned in some of the country cups. Rockin An Runnin has been driven by talented reinsman Mathew Howlett in all of his 21 starts and last time out was an absolute gem of a drive. He summed up the situation perfectly when Hafter's driver Todd Rattray slowed the tempo. Howlett sent Rockin An Runnin charging around the field to face the breeze from where he was able to dictate the tempo and when he called on his charge for the big effort the gelding forged clear to deliver arguably a career-best win. Matthew has recently returned from Queensland where he represented Tasmania in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship in which he produced some brilliant drives. He finished eighth of 10 on 51 points which is not a true reflection of how well he drove during the 10-heat series. Like all of these events the winner is determined on a points-score basis with drivers allocated horses based on random draws and luck in this area plays a dominant role in the overall outcome. Peter Staples

Dual Tasmanian Youngblood's Challenge harness racing champion Matthew Howlett will represent Tasmania at the Garrard's 2017 Australasian Young Driver Championships in Brisbane this week. The best young talent from each state, along with three representatives from New Zealand arrived in Brisbane to tackle the first round of heats at Redcliffe tonight (Wednesday). The AYDC Series, showcasing the star drivers of tomorrow, then moves to Albion Park on Friday, December 15 with the last round of heats conducted on the final night of the Queensland Summer Carnival on December 16. Albion Park's chairman David Fowler said the Australasian Young Drivers Championship provided many benefits for both the drivers and industry. "These are our driving stars for the future and series like these give them a really good shot of being in the national limelight," he said. "The young drivers are chosen for their natural ability, it will be the cream of harness racing's National young talent campaigning so punters won't be afraid to put their money on them," he added. Matthew became the youngest winner of the '60 degrees' Youngblood's Challenge in 2013 at just 16 years of age and repeated his title win again in 2016. Proudly following his father and grandfather's footsteps into harness racing, Matthew first hit the track in pony races at six years of age. Matthew's driving career commenced in November of 2012 and he greeted the winner's circle just two months later, he went on to clinch the 2015/16 Tasmanian Junior Drivers Title and has racked up 60 winners in total including a victory last night with Rockin An Rollin at Luxbet Park. 2107 Australasian Young Drivers Championship - State and New Zealand representatives: Todd McCarthy (NSW - defending champion). Narissa McMullen (QLD). Chris Geary (NSW). Michael Grantham (WA). Jayden Brewin (SA). Jason Lee (VIC). Sheree Tomlinson (NZ). Dylan Ferguson (NZ). Kimberly Butt (NZ). Matthew Howlett (TAS). Peter Staples

Tasmanian Hall of Fame harness racing trainer Rod Burgess doesn't spend a great amount of time in the winner's circle these days but when he does land a winner it's usually with one that has the potential to go on with it. In Devonport last Friday night Burgess won the Mitavite Pace with Jaminas Joy and she definitely fits the bill. Jaminas Joy was partnered by talented young reinsman Matthew Howlett who gave the Major in Art filly a cozy run on the back of the leader. When Howlett eased his charge into clear racing room and called on her for the big effort she charged home to win convincingly. Jaminas Joy is an ex-Victorian that was unable to win from 11 starts in her home state but since arriving in the care of Burgess she has won two of her three starts and is proving to be a very good investment for her owners. It was the Devonport club's last meeting of the season with racing not to return to the showground complex until October 13.   Peter Staples

Talented young Tasmanian Harness Racing reinsman Matthew Howlett clinched his second harness racing Youngbloods Challenge at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night in what was one of the closest finishes in the series' 30-year history. Howlett guided Spot Eight to victory in the fifth heat of the series to earn maximum points (16) and in the sixth and final heat he partnered Bona Fide Hustler into fourth place to earn just enough points (7) to emerge the victor with 52 points. He finished one point clear of Nicholas Brockman and Wade Rattray who dead-heated for second on 51 while Samantha Gangell was next best on 43 points. In 2013 Howlett was 16 years and 10 months when he became the youngest ever winner of the competition that is restricted to drivers under the age of 23. Howlett was seven points off the pace going into the final two heats and gave himself little hope of winning as both of his drives were at double figure odds. Spot Eight won paying $13.50, much to the displeasure of punters who regarded The Real Reverend a good thing, backing the previously unbeaten gelding in to start the $1.30 favourite. The second heat also went to an outsider, with Wade Rattray's drive The Last Guy Standing ($17.80) finishing too powerfully for the favourite Finn Mac Kee (Brockman). Howlett clinched the title courtesy of a heady drive to finish fourth aboard Bona Fide Hustler that travelled three-back the fence but was snagged back to last when the leader Rusty Red Comet capitulated in the back straight. FINAL POINTS after six heats: 52 Matthew Howlett; 51 Nick Brockman, Wade Rattray; 43 Sam Gangell; 40 Dylan Ford, Lyarna Graham; 39 Justin Howlett; 28 Brady Woods; 25 Jack Laugher; 21 Duncan Dornauf; 20 Sam Freeman. Photos courtesy of Greg Mansfield.   Peter Staples  

Any one of the ten harness racing drivers engaged in this year's 6ty° Youngbloods Challenge can still take out the series after the fourth round was completed in Devonport last night. Teenager Samantha Gangell emerged as the leader in the annual harness racing Youngbloods Challenge series after the fourth round was completed at Devonport on Monday night. Gangell didn't have a drive in one of the two heats contested on the North-West Coast but accrued enough points in the other when fourth aboard Isundula Artist (7 points) for a total of 36 to hold a one-point lead over Justin Howlett. Any contestant who misses out on a drive through their horse being scratched or insufficient starters in a field the driver is awarded six points. It was a great drive on Isundula Artist as Gangell's charge was buried back in the field three-back on the rails but she was able to manoeuvre her way through needle-aye openings in the back stretch and rattled home for fourth. The 17-year-old year-12 student from Brighton won her first-round heat in Hobart last Sunday night aboard first-starter The Real Reverend who defeated Heavenly Rock (Matthew Howlett) and Miss Sharapova (Jack Laugher). "I have only been driving in races for a short while but I love it," Gangell said. "I am still at school and intend going to university to study psychology so harness racing is really a hobby," she said. Justin Howlett won the second-round heat aboard the Tommy Jackson-trained Finn Mac Kee to enhance his chances of winning the series while Nicholas Brockman delivered a great drive aboard Karalta Boomer in Devonport last night to take maximum points. Last year's Youngbloods winner Wade Rattray also put himself in contention for back-to-back titles with a brilliant drive aboard the Kent Rattray-trained Thirlstane King to take the 16 points in the fourth heat of the series last night. The series comprises six heats with two heats held at each of the three main venues - Hobart, Devonport and Launceston. The winner is determined on a point-score basis with 16 points allocated for first, 12 for second, nine for third, seven for fourth and reduces by one through to last (10th)) place who receives one point. The final two rounds will be held in Launceston on Sunday night and any one of the 10 drivers could win the series. Points score after four rounds: 36 - Samantha Gangell. 35 - Justin Howlett. 33 - Wade Rattray. 30 - Nicholas Brockman, Lyarna Graham. 29 - Matthew Howlett. 28 - Dylan Ford. 21 - Jack Laugher. 20 - Samantha Freeman. 18 - Brady Woods. Peter Staples

Much improved Tasmanian pacer Ductape delivered a career best harness racing performance to take out the Allen Williams memorial final over 22397 metres at Devonport last night. Ductape was coming off an impressive first-up win in Hobart in a heat of the Allen Williams Memorial series that comprised six heats with each heat winner and the four fastest seconds qualifying for the final. It was a masterful drive from talented novice driver Matthew Howlett who was prepared to allow the colt to settle at the rear of the field while the lead changed hands a few times. Ductape ($3.50) came with a barnstorming finish to score by almost five metres from God Sake ($12.70) with the $3.30 favourite Coccinella 1-1/2 metres away third. The Ben Rossendell-trained three-year-old colt produced multiple minor placings as a two-year-old that included a couple of top efforts behind class opposition. But this time in the colt has produced outstanding efforts to suggest he might be competitive in some of the better quality three-year-old races later this season. Ductape is raced by the trainer in partnership with Craig White and Stuart Van Driezum who also bred the colt who is by Sutter Hanover from Elsunola Babe. "He didn't win as a two-year-old but he was in some very tough races and that was god experience," White said. "Hopefully we'll reap the benefits of that this season and so far it's been good."   Peter Staples  

Hobby harness racing trainer Ben Rossendell has a big opinion of his three-year-old Ductape so it came as no surprise that the gelding emerged triumphant at his first start for the season at UBET Park Hobart last night. With talented novice reinsman Matthew Howlett in the sulky, Ductape delivered a brilliant performance to score by almost seven metres from Maravilloso with about the same margin to Penny Will Play in a heat of the Allen Williams Memorial over 2090 metres. Ductape showed great promise last season in good quality two-year-old events without winning from eight starts. "Ductape did a great job last season and was probably unlucky not to win a couple of times," Rossendell said. "I have a good opinion of him and I expect him to come into his own this season." Ductape (Sutter Hanover-Elsunola Babe) settled last from his wide front row draw (6) and Howlett waited until the bell lap before making his move. The three-year-old gelding worked gradually around the field and joined the leader War Chest nearing the home turn before forging clear in the home straight. Ductape covered the 2090 metres in 2m.39.31s for a mile rate of 2.02.67 and covered his last 800 metres in 59.03. Rossendell made it a double when his former Victorian gelding Warrior Mac won a C1 over 2090 metres. Warrior Mac had not started since July last year and had not been to the trials but with the run of the race in the one-out-one-back position he packed too many guns for his rivals to score by almost a metre from race leader Threestones with Robert Moreau over four metres astern. "I bought this horse in Melbourne last year but he had a bit of a rough trip over in the float so after a couple of runs I had to tip him out and start again," Rossendell said. "It took a while to get him going but we finally got there. "He isn't blessed with a lot of talent but if I keep him in this sort of company he's capable of winning a couple more," he said. Peter Staples

A decision by harness racing trainer Melissa Maine to book claiming driver Matthew Howlett to partner her five-year-old Notimetothink in Hobart last night paid big dividends. Howlett urged Notimetothink from the gates to eventually find the lead from barrier two and then the talented young reinsman rated the son of Metropolitan superbly to score by nine metres from Deejay Bromac, with Bone Fide Hustler a neck away third. It made it back-to-back wins for Notimetothink which delivered a similar performance at his previous start and it was a race-to-race double for Howlett, who also guided Frankie Falzoni to victory in the opening race on the seven-event card. Punters were relentless in their pursuit to back Notimetothink, forcing his price in from $2.50 to start $1.80 favourite. Notimetothink arrived in Maine’s stables at Latrobe about seven weeks ago and this was only his second start for the talented mentor, whose partner is star reinsman Gareth Rattray. Putting Howlett on with a novice driver claim enabled the gelding to line up in another C1 and another good draw also played into their hands. The old trainer’s adage of keeping themselves in the best company and their horse in the worst was definitely played out with Notimetothink at his past two starts. The trick for Maine will be to find a C2 that doesn’t boast too many entries that have above average ability. Notimetothink had won once and been placed from 19 starts before joining Maine’s stable, so he is obviously settled in his new environment. Maine and Rattray have been developing their property at Latrobe, about 10 minutes East of Devonport and once finished it should be one of the best in the region. PETER STAPLES

When talented harness racing trainer Chris Howlett purchased Frankie Falzoni as a yearling he was prepared to bide his time with the colt which was passed in at the 2012 Tasmanian Yearling Sale. Howlett bought the youngster after the sales for $9000, but it took a while to see some return. Frankie Falzoni won a race at Carrick last season with some sizeable bets enabling the owners to recoup a chunk the purchase price. In Hobart last tonight Frankie Falzoni delivered a brilliant first-up effort to score a last-stride win in a C0 over 2090 metres. With the trainer’s son Matthew in the sulky, Frankie Falzoni was urged forward from gate three, but was forced to face the breeze before gaining cover as the favourite Who Is Hardeen was sent to the ‘death seat’. When Frankie Falzoni was eased three-wide to improve he gradually made his way to the leaders, but when Howlett called on him for the supreme effort 200 metres out, the son of Chief Marty dug deep to score by a half-neck from Who Is Hardeen, with Tizyalater flashing home from well back to finish third. Howlett explained Frankie Falzoni had a few issues that needed to be sorted out, and given the way he performed at his first start for five months, the gear changes have been successful. PETER STAPLES

Tim Yole and Samantha Freeman ended up squaring the BOTRA Novice Driver Series in Launceston on Sunday night. Yole took a five-point lead into the final two heats of the series over Freeman and Lyarna Graham but the best Yole could manage from his only drive was a third aboard Helen Wheels in heat five and he was restricted to a mandatory six points in the final heat as he didn't have a drive. Freeman had to win the last heat to square the series and she had no trouble in guiding long odds-on favourite Mickwillrev to an effortless all-the-way win to earn maximum points (16). It was Freeman's second win in the six-race series. Matthew Howlett finished third with 53 points courtesy of a win aboard Robyn Scherbotsky in heat five that put him in a winning position going into the last heat but he could only guide Little Jethro into fifth place in a field of seven. Final standings after six heats: 56 - Samantha Freeman and Tim Yole. 53 - Matthew Howlett. 48 - Lyarna Graham and Kristy Grant. 44 - Duncan Dornauf. 41 - Braden Howlett. 36 - Shane Boon. 33 - Nicholas Brockman. 29 - Adrian Collins. By Peter Staples

Tim Yole retains a handy lead following another two heats of the BOTRA Claiming Novice Drivers series at Devonport last night but two of the state's leading female drivers are hot on his heels. Despite not winning a heat Yole snared second in the fourth heat of the series aboard Animi Sub Ignis and as he did not have a drive in heat three earlier in the night he was allotted six points in accordance with the conditions of the series. Any driver who misses a drive through insufficient starters or through a scratching is awarded six points. Yole won a heat on the opening night of the series in Hobart last Sunday to earn 16 points and his other drive finished fourth to earn seven points to give him the lead with 23 points after the first two heats. He leads Lyarna Graham and Samantha Freeman who has accrued 34 points. Freeman won heat four with a clever front-running drive aboard Apple that she also owns and in heat three she drove Gottalovefridays into third place. Graham partnered Kinda Cute As into second lace in heat three last night and she didn't have a drive in heat four. Braden Howlett put himself into contention by winning heat three aboard Barrys Best to take his tally to 29. The winner of the series is determined on a points score basis with 16 points awarded for first; 12 for second; nine for third and seven for fourth reducing by one through to one point for last place (10th). The series concludes with two more heats in Launceston on Sunday night. Points tally after four heats:   41 - Tim Yole. 34 - Lyarna Graham, Samantha Freeman. 31 - Matthew Howlett. 29 - Braden Howlett. 27 - Krysty Grant. 26 - Duncan Dornauf. 24 - Shane Boon. 23 - Nicholas Brockman. 20 - Adrian Collins. By Peter Staples    

Tim Yole will take the lead into tonight's second round heats of the BOTRA Claiming Novice Drivers Series at Devonport Showground.  Yole scored a great win aboard Aninchofhislife in them opening heat in Hobart on Sunday night, taking daring inside runs to secure victory aboard the Christian Salter-trained five-year-old. Aninchofhislife rattled home along the rails to score by 1-1/2 metres from Fletch Davis (Duncan Dornauf) with Krysty Grant's charge Tinkers Taxi a close-up third. All three placegetters were driven superbly along with four-placed Mes Elsu that was handled by Lyarna Graham who set a solid clip in front and was only overhauled in the closing stages. The second heat was won by the Brent Parish-trained The Family Guy that was driven by Matthew Howlett. The Family Guy started the $2.10 favourite but his backers had some anxious moments over the concluding stages with the favourite getting up by only a half-head from the Shane Boon-driven Island Disco for Brighton trainer Christian Salter. Scruffy Jake ran third in advance of Yole's charge Lucky Dave. The series continues at Devonport tonight with two more heats but unfortunately only six horses have accepted in each heat. This means that only two drivers will have had four drives from the four heats with all other drivers to have had only three drives. Those drivers who do not get a drive in either of the heats at Devonport tonight will be allocated six points. The winner is determined on a points score basis with 16 points awarded for first; 12 for second; nine for third and seven for fourth reducing by one through to one point for last place (10th). The series concludes at the Launceston meeting on Sunday night. Points score after two rounds: 23 - Tim Yole. 18 - Matthew Howlett. 16 - Lyarna Graham. 14 - Duncan Dornauf. 13 - Shane Boon. 12 - Krysty Grant. 10 - Nicholas Brockman. 9 - Samantha Freeman. 8 - Adrian Collins. 7 - Braden Howlett. Peter Staples Jamie Cockshutt's tips and form analysis on tonight's meeting at Devonport.  

TALENTED young harness racing drivers Alex Ashwood and Dylan Ford produced only the second tie in the 28-year history of the Bullock Consulting Youngbloods Challenge series at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. The only other tie was shared by Tammy Mollross and Tamra Fawdry in 1998. It was a thrilling finish to the series with Ashwood holding a six-point lead going into the final heat. Ford partnered Livia Degerolstein into second place in the last heat to earn enough points to draw level with Ashwood who guided Elsudoku into fifth place. Ashwood is now domiciled in Victoria where he has driven 19 winners this season and is earning a reputation as one of the most promising young reinsmen in that state. Ford has gone from strength to strength since he acquired his driver's licence talking out the novice driver's premiership in Tasmania last season. He is on his way to achieving that feat again with 28 winners so far this season that also places him sixth on the overall drivers' premiership table. Ford also has just returned from NSW where he finished second in the 2014 Australasian Young Drivers' Series held in conjunction with the Inter Dominion. Justin Howlett ended the series by winning the final heat aboard Chopstix Boris for Beaconsfield trainer Rohan Hillier. Final points tally for the 2014 Youngbloods Challenge series: 46 - Dylan Ford, Alex Ashwood. 41 - Matthew Howlett. 39 - Duncan Dornauf. 35 - Nichols Brockman. 34 - Justin Howlett. 33 - Lyarna Graham. 32 - Samantha Freeman. 27 - Braden Howlett, Brady Woods. By Peter Staples

THE popular Bullock Consulting Tasmanian Youngbloods Challenge continues at Devonport tonight with the second round of heats of the six-race series to be staged on the seven-race card. Dylan Ford and Duncan Dornauf share the lead on 23 points going into the third and fourth heats tonight and Ford could hand rival driver Nichols Brockman a winner as Ford trains Cooked Books that has drawn gate three in the first of tonight's two heats while Ford will drive outsider Inner City for Northdown trainer Geoff Smith. There is not a lot of solid form around the eight runners but Cooked Books was an improved second at his most recent outing and would be hard to beat of Brockman can urge him to find the front. The second heat also comprises eight starters and it would be an ironic result of Dornauf can win on the Dylan Ford-trained Stareeshar that has drawn gate four on the front line. But the favourite should be the Scott Woods-trained Jane Grant (barrier three) that has won its past two and will be driven by Victorian-based Tasmanian reinsman Alex Ashwood. The Youngbloods Challenge series is open to all Tasmanian drivers who are aged under 23 years at the start of the 2013-14 season. Tasracing has selected 10 drivers to contest the series, Alex Ashwood, Nicholas Brockman, Duncan Dornauf, Dylan Ford, Samantha Freeman, Lyarna Graham, Braden Howlett, Justin Howlett, Matthew Howlett and Brady Woods with Taylor Ford the emergency. In races where there are less than 10 starters those drivers whop do not gain a drive will be awarded six points in accordance with the rules of the series. The final two heats will be run in Launceston on Sunday night. By Peter Staples

Duncan Dornauf and Dylan Ford share the lead after the first two rounds of the Tasmanian Youngbloods Challenge that began at the Tasmanian Pacing Club meeting at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Sunday night. The Youngbloods series is for drivers under the age of 23 at the start of the 2013-14 racing season and it has been sponsored by Bullock Consulting for the past 14 years. Dornauf won the opening heat aboard long odds-on favourite Ramplestiltskin for Beauty Point trainer Rohan Hillier with the remaining heat taken out by Ford aboard Ektoras for the Barrie Rattray stable. They both finished fourth in their other heats. Dornauf sent Ramplestiltskin straight to the lead in the opening heat and ensured a solid tempo. The daring tactics paid off with the gelding holding on to score by a narrow margin from I Am Mister Red (Alex Ashwood) with The Matthew Howlett-driver Elsudoku over six metres away third but well in advance of Ford's charge Karoola Town. But Ford made the most of partnering the odds-on favourite in the remaining heat that had only six starters. Ektoras worked hard early from his wide front row draw but eventually found the lead and from there on the end result was never in doubt. Ektoras scored by almost two metres from Helen Wheels (Nicholas Brockman) with Samantha Freeman's charge Cardinal Art only a metre astern. In the case of a race having less than 10 starters in a heat, the drivers who miss a drive will be awarded six points which is in accordance with the rules of the series. The winner is will be determined on a points-score basis with 16 points awarded for first, 12 for second, nine for third, seven for fourth and then a reduction of one point for each subsequent placegetter down to one point for tenth. The Youngbloods series comprises six heats with the next round of heats to be run at Devonport tonight (Monday) and the final two heats will be run in Launceston next Sunday night. Points tally after two heats: 23 - Duncan Dornauf and Dylan Ford. 18 - Alex Ashwood. 16 - Nicholas Brockman. 15 - Matthew Howlett and Samantha Freeman. 10 - Justin Howlett. 9 - Lyarna Graham. 8 - Braden Howlett. 7 - Brady Woods. By Peter Staples

At the starts of the racing season trainer Chris Howlett was on the verge of retiring his stalwart free-for-aller Jilliby Rio. Most pacers who reach the age of 12 are usually long retired but Jilliby Rio is one of the exceptions to the rule and his performance record suggests he might still have wins to come. In Launceston last Sunday night the gelding led all the way to win the Kohnke Products Claimer with the trainer’s son Matthew Howlett in the sulky. It was the gelding’s 27th win with his record also including 46 minor placings for stakes of $218,000 from 182 starts. Jilliby Rio is owned and raced by the trainer’s parents-in-law Paul and Elizabeth Geard who also own and race thoroughbreds and they snared a double in that code in Hobart on the same day courtesy of wins by Geegees Velvet and Geegees Doublejay. “At the start of the year I thought this horse was getting to the end of the road and I suggested to Paul (Geard) that we might have to retire him,” Howlett said. “But after I freshened him up for a couple of weeks he came out and won at his next start and he’s won another three races since.” “Like most horses of that age he has got his issues but he tries very hard and that carries him a long way but he also loves to race,” he said. Jilliby Rio has become almost a family member so whenever he does retire there is no doubt he has a home for life roaming the fields of one or many of the paddocks on property owned by the Geards at Broadmarsh about 40 kilometres north-west of Hobart. By Peter Staples

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