Day At The Track
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Queens Advocate scored one of the most courageous victories of her outstanding career on Sunday night in the Plunkett Family Ascot Gold Cup. The eight-year-old Mcardle-Genes West mare, owned by Lauren Dwyer and trained by Matthew Dwyer, was the first to take the race on thanks to the mercurial touch of Todd Rattray and the gamble paid off. As the class field of 13 runners made their way past the 1200-metre pole Todd decided it was now or never and moved the mare out three-wide to make her bold move. Dylan Ford wasted no time on the 20-metre backmarker Star Chamber and quickly hitched his wagon to the back of Queens Advocate in the run to the judge's box with the bell sounding. Gareth Rattray was dictating the terms on the Steven Davis prepared Black Centurian while The Majority toiled away in the death chair. At the 400-metre mark Todd sensed a chink in the armour of The Majority and he surged forward on Queens Advocate and the sprint to the post was on. Black Centurian and Queen's Advocate and the brothers-Rattray settled down for a ding-dong struggle as the chasing pack was left flat-footed. Black Centurian was still in front 50-metres off the line but Queens Advocate was not to be denied grabbing the lead near the post and staving off the barnstorming late challenge of the Easter Cup runner-up Isaac and Star Chamber which warmed up late to grab fourth just 2.7-metres from the winner. Queens Advocate has been in the Matty Dwyer stable for just one season and has been a model of consistency winning the Launceston Mile and the Toreace Flying Mile in Hobart. "She has had a year off which appears to have done her the world of good, Queens Advocate has had 12 runs for us for three wins and five placings," said Matthew. "She galloped out in the Devonport Cup and lost 60-metres and was beaten only 10, so she just had to go away cleanly to be a super chance, I told Todd to drive her like she was the best horse in the race and he drove her a treat." "We will give her another run Sunday in Launceston and then all going well we will head to the Easter Cup Series." Todd Rattray dominated the nine race-card greeting the judge on four occasions, as well as Queen's Advocate ($6.50) he steered home Goggo Gee Gee ($5.00), Kvitova Leis ($2.30) and Cardinal Art ($13.00). The Paul Hill-trained Ideal Bliss further enhanced her status as the state's top filly with a fighting win in the Triple M Hobart Three-Year-Old Fillies Championship over interstate invader Ghadastar. Master reinsman Gavin Lang shot last year's Evicus winner Ideal Bliss to the early lead and held the opposition at bay up the home stretch to take a further step toward a tilt at the Tasmanian Oaks. Shane Yates

Talented harness racing trainer Matthew Dwyer spent a number of years in the harness racing wilderness but the lure of a good horse has seen him make an overdue return to racing in Tasmania. At the Elwick Racing Centre in Hobart on Sunday night two of his three stable tenants produced bold efforts with Queens Advocate scoring an impressive win in a C7 or better event over 2579 metres and The Majority was game when fifth in the feature race the Hobart Pacing Cup over a grueling 3060 metres. It was a gem of a drive from Gareth Rattray who settled Queens Advocate ($2.80) near last before latching onto the back of the well-backed Queens Advocate ($3 into $2.40 fav) and when they reached the home turn Rattray eased his mare four-wide to challenge and she ran home powerfully to score from Jetcraft and Jaccka Len. Queens Advocate was a well-performed mare when in the care of top trainer Juanita McKenzie before being moved on after the mare had suffered an injury that kept her out of racing for a year. Dwyer's wife Lauren leased the mare from owner Georgie Johnson (Lauren's cousin) and provided the mare stays sound the Dwyers should look forward to more success in the coming months. "I am very pleased with how Queens Advocate has come on this time in and I thought on her previous run at Carrick that she'd be very hard to beat. "The mare had a quarter crack injury at the end of her time with Juanita (McKenzie) and when Lauren (Johnson) said she was thinking about what to do with the mare we decided to try her out and she's going super." The Majority led in the Hobart Pacing Cup after stepping straight to the front from the standing start and after being taken on twice in the run the Art Major gelding battled on tenaciously over the final 300 metres to be just edged out of fourth place. "At first I was a shade disappointed with The Majority's effort but when I watched the replay of the race a couple of times I realised he did a pretty good job so we'll progress now to the Devonport Cup and if he happened to lead and put in a similar effort he'd be hard to beat." Dwyer only has a stable of three with his otter tenant an unraced two-year-old. Peter Staples

Talented Tasmanian harness racing owner-trainer Matthew Dwyer has always had an opinion of The Majority and on Sunday night the gelding indicated he could be in for a successful summer with an emphatic win in the $10,000 Doug Martin Danbury Park Cup at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston. Driver Mark Yole was content for his charge to face the breeze for most of the 2698m journey and when he called on the gelding for the supreme effort turning for home he forged clear of the leader Truly Blissful. The Majority ($14.20) quickly established a winning break and had enough in reserve to stave off determined challenges to score by 3.5 metres from the well-backed Outback Mach ($2.40fav) with rank outsider Call The Marshall running on well for third and only a head astern. Dwyer will aim The Majority at the Hobart Pacing Cup and Devonport Cup with both of those events playing to The Majority's strength. "He is a very good stayer so it's a case of the longer the race the better for this horse," Dwyer said. ''The horse is starting to get a bit of his speed back now, but he's always been able to stay, so the 3000 metres of the Devonport Cup will suit him perfectly,'' Dwyer said. "He also likes standing starts because he's a very good beginner,'' he said. The Majority, raced by the trainer and his wife Lauren, has won 11 and been laced as many times from 44 starts for $74,410 in stakes.   Peter Staples

Star Tasmanian reinsman Gareth Rattray wrapped up another great season by winning the Tasmanian harness racing driver's premiership but this latest crown was special. Despite missing the first two months of the season through illness Rattray powered his way to the lead mid-season and a treble at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night gave him 100 wins for the season. His treble came courtesy of Fioki winning a C2-C3 over 2090 metres; rank outsider Cardinal Eddy scoring in a nail-biting finish in a 3C1-C0 and he finished with a heady drive to win aboard the Matthew Dwyer-trained Original Art in a C4-C5 . It was the third time he has reached the magical century of winners and this latest title is his 10th in succession. To say Rattray has dominated this past decade would be an understatement with his feats so far ranking him amongst the greatest drivers of all time. The first time he topped the century was in the 2007-08 season when he drove 113 winners but two seasons later he bettered that by snaring 115. His father Barrie also achieved the feat three times driving a state record 118 winners during the 1989-90 season; 100 in 1995-96 and 109 the following season. The father and son are the only two to reach the 100 milestone in Tasmania's driving ranks. This season Gareth passed another milestone of reaching the 1000 winners mark and he now sits fifth on the all-time list with 1040 winners but he still has a way to go to catch his father who has amassed 1566 winners and is still driving competitively. Ricky Duggan had another good season in the caret to end with 68 winners to take his career tally to 1370 to take over second place on the al-time list from Neville Webberley (1369). All-time driver's record: Barrie Rattray          1566 Ricky Duggan          1370 Neville Webberley   1369 Darrell Alexander    1315 Gareth Rattray          1040 Scott Ford                    891 Jack Stamford             848 Rohan Hadley            794 Don Peck                     661 Mark Stanley               638 Terry Knowles             572 Tony Petersen            569 Len Moriarty                556 Terry Peck                   556 Ken Austin                   551 Webb Jones                544 Hec Baker                    516 Meanwhile Beauty Point horseman Rohan Hillier captured his first trainer's premiership ending the season with 43 winners from only 100 starters which must rank as one of the best strike rates of all time. Hillier finished ahead of Barrie Rattray (41) and Juanita McKenzie (37) who won her fourth female trainer's title ahead of Melissa Maine (33). McKenzie and Maine proved beyond doubt that they can hold their own amongst the male trainers. Dylan Ford was the leading junior driver finishing with 34 wins for what was his third consecutive title while his younger sister Tayla Ford and Wade Rattray dead-heated for second with 16 wins apiece. However Ford was a clear winner in the female driver award winning from Natalee Emery (12) and Erin Hollaway (11). Peter Staples

Plans remain modest for handy Tasmanian harness racing performer The Majority. Despite his impressive form, owner Matthew Dwyer stated he is yet to determine a direction with the son of Art Major. “I’ve got nothing in mind for him long term,” Dwyer said. “At this stage he will race again next week, then I will have to sit down and think about it. “At the moment he still races like a big kid, but he is improving, so hopefully we can aim at some of the better races. “He is good from the stand, so some of the Cups close to Christmas could be options, plus I may even take him back to Victoria for an M0.” Prepared by Dwyer’s father, David, The Majority continued his unbeaten form this season with an impressive win at Hobart last night with Ricky Duggan in the cart. A class above his rivals, the gelding was untroubled to account for Ardlussa Express and Kinky Boots to complete a hat-trick. “He went well again, but he is still a bugger as he switches on and off,” Dwyer declared. “I am disappointed with the way he lets others get to him. “He can be lazy and is never going to be one of those horses which will win by 20 metres. “When he can’t see anything he switches off because he thinks the job is done. Hopefully he will get out of that habit with more experience.” PAUL COURTS

HARNESS racing trainer Matthew Dwyer is confident his New Zealand-bred three-year-old Original Art has the potential to measure up to feature races later this season following the gelding’s impressive win in a 3C0-3C1 at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart on Sunday night. Original Art was having only his second race start but he made light of facing the breeze for the duration of the 2090-metre race.  With talented novice reinsman Dylan Ford in the sulky, Original Art eyeballed the odds-on favourite Jazzy Jane ($1.90) to the home turn and when the gelded son of Art Major was asked for the supreme effort he drew clear and left his rivals in his wake.  It was a far cry from the gelding’s debut effort when last in a field of eight in Hobart on October 27. Dwyer admitted he eared in not giving Original Art a trial prior to racing the starter for the first time this preparation. Original Art is owned and raced by Michael Cloak who is a relative newcomer to harness racing although this is his third pacer and the two others have won multiple races. Listen to what trainer Matthew Dwyer had to say about Original Art’s maiden win. Peter Staples  

Tasmanian harness trainer Chris Howlett and his teenage son Matthew combined to produce a double and share the training and driving honors at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart last Sunday. Matthew guided Guerrero to victory in a C3-C4 event over 2090 metres and he teamed up with veteran free-for-aller Jilliby Rio to win as claimer (2090m). Guerrero showed god speed to lead from gate one and he gave his rivals a pacing lesson as he burst clear turning for home and held on to score from Aninchofhislife and Ciskei. It was a different scenario for Jilliby Rio with the gallant 12-year-old coming from last to score a thrilling win over Watchmefella and Givitaname. The 17-year-old has notched three wins and a minor lacing from only eight drives so far this season. Jilliby Rio took his career win tally to 25 from 179 outings and he also has notched 46 minor placings for career stake earnings of $207,000. Brighton trainer Matthew Dwyer and Alex Ashwood also combined to produce a double courtesy of Hermione winning a C5-C7 and The Majority making it four wins in succession by taking out the C1 over 2090 metres. By Peter Staples

When newcomer harness racing owner Michael Cloak tasted success with the first horse he owned he decided to expand his involvement. Fictional Hero won two if his first three starts for Cloak and that paved the way for him to ask his trainer Matthew Dwyer to look for a lightly raced younger horse. Dwyer found The Majority, a three-year-old that had won its last three starts on country tracks in Victoria but had run some handy sectional times. The asking price for The Majority was $20,000 but that was negotiated down to $18,000 and the deal was done. At Tattersall’s Park in Hobart tonight (Sunday) The Majority scored an impressive win over 2090 metres with top reinsman James Rattray in the cart. The Majority is impeccably bred being by Art Major from the Albatross mare Oh Please. He had only nine starts in Victoria for trainer Dylan Marshall and all of his wins were just prior to him being sold. Listen to what trainer Matthew Dwyer had to say about The Majority’s win at his first start in the state – click on the audio file. by Peter Staples

Brighton harness racing trainer Matthew Dwyer is confident he has found the key to former Victorian pacer Fictional Hero. When the five-year-old arrived in Tasmania he was a maiden that boasted 11 minor placings from 37 starts. Since joining Dwyer’s stable last month he has won at his only two outings for his mew mentor. This latest victory follows a first-up win for Dwyer in Hobart a week earlier. On Sunday night driver Troy Hillier was content to allow the gelding to face the breeze outside of the leader Hesione. Fictional Hero forged to the lead in the home straight and staved off determined challenges from runner-up Partyboy Glenwood with the heavily backed favourite Lonesome Kid a luckless third. Lonesome Kid was backed in to start the $1.70 favourite but had insufficient room to get through over the concluding stages with the driver Grant Hodges hitting the line with a lap full of horse. Dwyer is building a handy team and he could be a major player in some feature races over the December carnival. Peter Staples

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