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Ben Yole continued his powerful defence of his Leading Trainers Title by preparing four of the eight winners on the programme at Devonport on Sunday. Ben’s winning run commenced in race two with Pushkin, despite being friendless in the betting. “It was three-way photo at the finish and I was probably the only person not worried about which way the result went because we trained all three but Pushkin (pictured – middle) has been a grand campaigner for us, he won four races last season and has already picked up two wins this season at odds of $18 and $51,” said Ben. “Troy (McDonald) has been driving well so it was no surprise to see him lead all the way with Giant Steps in the fifth race and collect his double and I’m sure punters were much happier as it was well supported ($3.10) to run favourite.” Monarkmac has gone close to winning on two occasions this season going down narrowly to Haleys Comet in Launceston and El Jays Monet in Hobart. “He’s a ten-year-old now and he found himself in the right race with the right draw and he was able to do the rest, Rohan (Hadley) rated him well and he had enough in hand to stave off stablemate No Apachemee which made a late charge after getting off the pegs turning for home,” said Ben. “The stable finished off with Im Barney Rubble, he’s just a machine, he won six races last year at ten years of age and has already nailed three from six this season, he won by over five metres and had them covered a long way out.” The Todd Rattray trained and driven six-yer-old Taurisi ($1.60) showed his class to come off the 30-metre handicap and score a runaway 5.1-metre win in the Discretionary over Karalta Dazzler and Poker Storm. Paul Ashwood trained the quinella in the Maxfield Drilling Pace for Mick Maxwell but not in the order most punters would have preferred with Krafty Boy ($4.80), driven by Rohan Hillier,  storming home over the top of popular pick Miracle Marcus ($2.00). Punters won the battle on the night with six favourites saluting including the Bianca Heenan prepared Mon Poppy Polly ($2.70) driven by Taylor Ford and the Melissa Maine-trained Better Go Go ($2.30) steered home by Gareth Rattray. Shane Yates

IMPECCABLY bred two-year-old pacer Max Delight is a long way from recovering the money his owner Mick Maxfield paid for him as a yearling but the youngster is well on his way to repaying the debt. In Launceston on Sunday night Max Delight treated his rivals with contempt as he powered his way to an effortless win in the $15,000 Golden Slipper over 1609 metres. He scored by 16 metres from the previously unbeaten Resurgent Storm that had collected the Sweepstakes and Dandy Patch finals prior to Sunday night’s assignment. The Paul Ashwood-trained colt was purchased by Maxfield for $245,000 at the 2017 Australian pacing Gold Yearling sale in Melbourne. The colt was dispatched to the Darren Hancock stable in NSW where he was prepared for a tilt at the 2YO APG Gold series in which he finished third in a heat before being unplaced in a repêchage that sent him into a consolation final in which he finished fourth. Maxfield brought him back to Tasmania for the Golden Slipper and is now expected to either campaign the youngster in Victoria or send him for a spell. Ashwood is confident Max Delight is better than Majestic Emperor, another pacer Maxfield raced that won 18 races including the $50,000 Sweepstakes final in Hobart at two before finishing a gallant fifth to megastar Lombo Pocket Watch in the $285,000 APG final at Albion Park in 2006. Peter Staples

Rohan Hillier currently sits third on the State’s Drivers Premiership table behind reigning champion Todd Rattray and the surging Ricky Duggan. The Beauty Point trainer-driver has enjoyed another fantastic season and goes into tonight’s meeting in Launceston quietly confident of success. “I’ve got a handy book of drives, a couple from my own stable and two from Paul Ashwood’s so I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Rohan. Former Shakey Isles pacer Im Compliant kicks off Hillier’s night in the opening race on the card the Bevan Lee’s Butchery Pace over 1680-metres. “Im Compliant came across from New Zealand earlier in the year and scored impressively in Hobart first-up and followed up with 0two strong performance in Launceston winning narrowly over a couple of smart ones like Buster William, Offthetopofmyhead and Koolaz Elvis,” said Hillier. “I’ve given him three months off so he will be short of a run but his class will carry him a long way.” RocknRoll Turbo (pictured) has drawn the pole position in race two the Lyndon and Gail Menegon – El Jays Mystery Stakes 0ver 1680-metres. “Turbo has a great draw, he’s the punter’s pal, he’s run favourite nine times and has saluted on eight occasions from a dozen starts, I believe he can lead and if he does I’ll be very disappointed if he doesn’t win,” said the four-year-old gelding’s trainer. The Paul Ashwood-trained Somebeachsomewhere-Bylong Bele gelding Miracle Marcus won it’s first race start in Launceston in April of last year and then had the misfortune to run into a Todd Rattray two-year-old on debut by the name of Ignatius which is now regarded as the three-year-old champion of Australasian Harness racing. Miracle Marcus has raced throughout Victoria and  South Wales in the past 14 months before returning to Tasmania earlier in the month for a first-up second to Beam Me Up Chopper and will contest the Rick and Naomi Hinds-Nostra Beach Stakes. “He won on the road at Echuca and Wagga and we’ve drawn inside the second line so I will be looking to work off the pegs in the early stages which will give him his best chance,” said Hillier. Rohan’s final drive for the night is behind Max Design in the Two-Year-old feature the Olympus Feeds Golden Slipper. The Bettors Delight-Lady Euthenia colt has had four runs in New South Wales for a victory at Goulburn and a placing at Menangle in his first campaign. “This will be his first run in Tasmania, Paul tells me he is working well so I’m looking forward to the drive and to seeing how he feels.” Tonight’s Launceston Pacing Club meeting commences at 17.14 and can be seen on the live stream service at tasracing.com.au. Shane Yates

Mersey Delight delivered a knockout blow to harness racing punters when she upstaged the top fancies in the McKillop Insurance Brokers Stakes on Sunday night at a water-soaked Luxbet Racing Centre in Launceston. The Bettor's Delight - The Spider Woman six-year-old mare, trained at Kimberley by David Hayes, was one of three despised outsiders in the field and was sent out at bolters odds ($78), but that didn't stop her notching up the fourth win of her career. Driver Paul Ashwood snagged Mersey Delight to the pegs behind the leader Whenthegroundshook in the charge to the first turn and enjoyed a soft run until 200 metres from home when the gap opened between the frontrunner and Goggo Gee Gee. Mersey Delight (pictured-No 3) surged through the opening to gain the day in a blanket finish by a short half-head over Goggo Gee Gee with the favourite Jilliby Gigi close-up third. Ben Yole took the training honours, preparing four winners for the night. Postal Express ($25), driven by Rohan Hillier started the ball rolling early by flying home in the opening race on the card. Punters were much happier when the state's leading trainer prepared the winner of race three, the 6TY Stakes. Hear The Call, the $2.60 favourite, was lifted over the line by Robert Walters after leading all the way over 1680-metres, defeating Olwen Jackka by a head. Ben's third winner came when Todd Rattray piloted Ultimate Courage ($18.70) to the post, knocking off the short-priced elect All My Savings by 1.4 metres. Robert Walters rounded out the successful night for the stable by turning in a drive of the night performance aboard Another Swinger, squeezing through along the pegs after the favourite Roger Ramjet galloped under pressure to topple the gallant Destreos in the shadows of the post. Last season's leading reinsman Todd Rattray also shrugged off the torrential rain that fell throughout the night to land a winning treble. Along with his victory with Ultimate Courage, Todd picked up wins with his highly talented five-year-old gelding Taurisi scoring a runaway victory by 11.4 metres and followed up with success behind promising four-year-old Hayley's Comet ($2.60). Cromac Jamie ($12) led all the way for owner-trainer Bianca Heenan scoring a solid win over the luckless Full Speed Ahead in race seven. Dylan Ford dictated the terms to a nicety with the nine-year-old and still had a metre up his sleeve in a driving finish over the odds-on favourite Full Speed Ahead, which was badly inconvenienced at the start. Eternal Shadow broke through for the first win of its career in the last for trainer-driver Paul Williams. The Shadow Play - Eternal Life four-year-old gelding got home by the barest of margins over Triple Aitch Fella in the very last stride. When studying  the sectionals from Sunday's meeting in Launceston you will need to factor in the torrential rain that fell throughout the night and the effect it had on the track. TasRacing

Harness racing owner Mick Maxfield has owned some handy two-year-olds over the years but the latest youngster to sport his colours could be his best. With Gareth Rattray in the sulky, Offthetopofmyhead scored an emphatic win in a 2C0-2C1 event over 1680 metres in Launceston on Sunday defeating recent Dandy patch Stakes winner Usain Jolt by a comfortable margin. But the most impressive part of the win was that he broke the state two-year-old mile rate record. The Paul Ashwood-trained colt rated 1:56.67 for to eclipse the previous best of 1:56.9 recorded by Williamtell earlier in the year. "He's the best horse I've trained for a while but the penny hasn't dropped yet," Ashwood said. "He still does a few things wrong like running up the track a bit but he is at least starting to think about what's going on." Offthetopofmyhead had an interstate trip to Melbourne in April but he failed to flatter. "He wasn't really ready for the trip or the opposition but I have no doubt he will get another chance. "The son of Western Ideal will run in a $10,000 race in Hobart next Sunday then in a heat of the Breeders Crown before going back to Victoria for the Breeders semi-finals." Stablemate Lynniemach, who ran third in Sunday's race, will follow a similar path. Ashwood also won with smart three-year-old El Major who isn't paid up for the coming feature races. Peter Staples

Improving harness racing pacer Im Full Tilt made a one act affair of the Hardings Hotmix Pace in Devonport on the North-West Coast last night to make it three wins in succession. The Paul Ashwood-trained gelding had been threatening to find is best form and ever since he broke through for an overdue win in Launceston late last month he has continued to improve. Driver Gareth Rattray had to use the five-year-old up early to make the most of the pole position but once in front he set a solid tempo and when the reins were released leaving the back stretch the last time the gelded son of Gotta Go Cullen left his rivals in his wake. Im Full Tilt ($1.60 fav) hit the line three metres clear of The Black Centurian ($11.80) that stormed home from near last to grab second with Little Jethro ($8.40) 13 metres astern. It was the second leg of a winning double for Ashwood who also prepared Weona Masterpiece to win the John McKenna Race Night Vet Pace over 2297m courtesy of a brilliant drive from Rohan Hillier. Weona Masterpiece ($2.80 fav) settled just worse than midfield but when Mark Yole sent Jimbaran to the front and set up a huge margin Hillier sensed the danger of being left to far back in the field so he sent Weona Masterpiece scorching around the field to slot in behind the leader. It proved to be the winning move as Weona Masterpiece (Tiz A Masterpiece-Dominion Lady) ranged alongside the leader tuning for home and went on to defeat Outlaw ($4.50) by 4-1/2 metres with Jimbaran ($5.50) a metre away third. Peter Staples

Well bred two-year-old pacer Williamtell delivered a workmanlike harness racing performance to win the Elderslie Horse Care colts and geldings division of the 2YO Sweepstakes at UBET Park Hobart today. Williamtell had to pull out all stops to stave off a determined Usain Jolt to defeat that gelding by a neck with outsider Really Frank a distant third. The Paul Ashwood-trained Tell All gelding was taken straight to the front from gate two by Gareth Rattray and when he kicked clear turning for home he looked set to win easily. But the lightly raced Tony Petersen-trained Usain Jolt (James Austin) unleashed a powerful sprint over the final 100 metres to almost nab the leader on the line. Ashwood said Williamtell had been set for the race and he wasn't fussed by the narrow winning margin. "It was tough going out there today. He led and did all the tough work in front while the other horse (Usain Jolt) has come off his back and had cover for almost all of the race," Ashwood said. The conditions were made tough by the near gale-force winds that swept across the track during the race. "I couldn't have asked any more of this horse and he will now head to the Dandy Patch (2YO Sires Stakes series) and then have a spell," Ashwood said. Williamtell will now head to the Dandy Patch (sires stakes) series after which Ashwood said the gelding would be spelled. Peter Staples  

When well-bred two-year-old pacer Williamtell won the Golden Slipper in Launceston in late March it came as a surprise to most harness racing punters who invested heavily on his stablemate Offthetopofmyhead that was sent out the $1.15 favourite. But at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday Williamtell is likely to start favourite to win the colts and geldings division of the $20,000 Elderslie Horse Care 2YO Sweepstakes over 1609 metres. Williamtell won the Golden Slipper convincingly at only his second race start and he has since gone on to finish third to Swap Me at his first start on the Hobart track in a Sweepstakes Prelude before winning an open two-year-old event in Launceston last Sunday night. The Paul Ashwood-trained Tell All gelding has drawn barrier two and will be driven by Gareth Rattray who has been in the sulky for all four of the gelding's starts. "I am pleased with my horse's draw and while he hasn't had to be used up early at his four starts so far he has good natural gate speed and I would expect that to be called on for this race," Ashwood said. "I don't know that he can lead but he is the sort of horse that could face the breeze if he had to and still win. "He needed the run in Launceston last Sunday night to top him off for this race." The Rohan Hillier-trained Solid as a Rock has been placed second at all of his four starts but he still looms as Williamtell's main danger on the strength of his gallant second to Swap Me in the Sweepstakes Prelude in Hobart two weeks ago. Solid as a Rock has drawn gate five on the front row while Swap Me has drawn the outside of the back row (10) from where he will need to be driven for luck by Hall of Fame reinsman Ricky Duggan. The Tony Petersen-trained Usain Jolt has drawn the coveted pole position and should he show enough early speed to take advantage of the draw he could surprise at odds. The fillies division of the Sweepstakes boasts only five starters but all are capable of winning. All are winners with the exception of the Shelley Barnes-trained Volkova Leis that has had two starts for a debut third and a last-start fourth behind Resurgent Dream in the Sweepstakes Prelude two weeks ago. Playing Arkabella from the Paul Hill stable was second in the Sweepstakes Prelude (1609m), beaten almost five metres, while Harshali was third but about 12 metres astern and two metres ahead of Volkova Leis. Resurgent Dream, a full sister to former star juvenile Resurgent Spirit (American Ideal-Resurgent Star), is trained by Marc Butler but is owned by her breeder Roger Whitmore who still trains Resurgent Spirit that goes around in the Ascot Gold Cup on Sunday's 10-even program. Peter Staples

When well-bred harness racing two-year-old pacer Williamtell powered home to win the $10,000 Golden Slipper in class record time in Launceston last Sunday night you could have heard a pin drop in the viewing area in the main grandstand. The winner's stablemate Offthetopofmyhead was sent around a $1.15 favourite while Williamtell had little support drifting from $8 to start at $12 with the bulk of the support for the gelded son of Tell All likely to have come from those who liked the sound of his name. After all, Williamtell was second to Offthetopofmyhead at his only other start and he was beaten almost 10 metres in a race in which the winner set a new class record mile rate of 1.58.3. But most likely what brought about the demise of the favourite was the incredibly hot tempo he endured for the first 600 metres of the race and was then not eased to a more reasonable tempo by his driver and trainer Paul Ashwood once he had acquired the lead with over 1000 metres remaining. Ashwood was called to the stewards' room to explain his driving tactics and the following is an extract from the official stewards' report. "When queried he told stewards that the colt had hung out rounding the first turn and then travelled well within itself to race up outside Solid As A Rock with 1100 metres to go and when that geldings driver Rohan Hillier then restrained he was able to take the lead. "He added that when in front he did not commence to ask the colt for an effort until after the 400 metres and that the colt had then shifted out whilst tiring close to the finish. "Whilst Stewards had concerns over Ashwood's drive, in particular his not taking the opportunity to ease the pace after taking the lead after a fast first half, they did not believe his drive was blameworthy to the extent that a charge could be sustained against him." Gareth Rattray, the driver of Williamtell, said: "That (the way the race was run) was probably the only way this horse could have won." In winning, Williamtell clocked a mile rate of 1.56.85 which was over a second off the previous best (1.58.3) that was set by Offthetopofmyhead a week earlier and the new time was only 1.85 seconds of the track record set by Queens Advocate (1.55) last month. Peter Staples

IT would appear a year of harness racing against top quality opposition has played a hand in Melolyn's impressive win in a heat of the Easter Cup in Launceston last night. Melolyn enjoyed a lot of success as a two and three-year-old in Tasmania but in March last year his owner Mick Maxfield opted to send him to Darren Hancock where he stayed for almost a year. He enjoyed a lot of success in the first two months he was with Hancock but in recent times his form waned so Maxfield decided to have him sent home to tackle the Easter Cup. Melolyn began safely from his sole back mark of 10 metres to settle third behind the leader Macho Comancho that began like a flash to find the front ahead of the favourite Jaruzelski Leis. Jaruzelski Leis' driver Todd Rattray was prepared to allow his charge to face the breeze and waited until the home turn the last time to make his move. But the leader found plenty when placed under pressure and Jaruzelski leis struggled to reduce the margin while driver Paul Ashwood opted to persevere with rails runs. Melolyn (Ponder-Mi Shaette) finished strongly and hit the line a metre clear of Macho Comancho with Jaruzelski Leis a close-up third ahead of Queens Advocate who was slowly away from th4e standing start but ran home well. Jerrys Jet ($3.50) galloped soon and driver Rohan Hillier was unable to get him back into a pace leaving him to tail out last and took no active part in the race. The Easter Cup will be run at the UBET Racing Centre in Launceston on Easter Sunday, March 27. Peter Staples

Tasmanian harness racing trainer Shelley Barnes has been spending a lot of time in the winner's circle of late and given the efforts of her small team the juggernaut looks set to continue. Barnes snared a double in Devonport on Sunday night and both of her winners rewrote the record books. Her talented five-year-old mare Angel or Demon won the Hyland Harness Colours Pace (C5-C7) over 2297 metres and set a mile rate record of 1.58.4 that shattered the previous best held by Hugo of 1.59.3 that he set in March 2013. If that wasn't enough for the Sassafras-based mentor her six-year-old gelding Chief Destroyer powered his way to an impressive win in the Brian Hopkins Patrons Marathon (2645m) clocking a mile rate of 2.03 to equal Dontfencemein's effort that he set in February 2009. Angel or Demon was up against the heavily backed Victorian mare Starzzz of Icon from the Adam Kelly stable that had no trouble leading from gate two. But despite having to face the breeze for the entire journey Barnes' mare was able to forge clear of Starzzz of Icon over the concluding stages to win comfortably. It was Angel or Demon's fourth win in succession which has her unbeaten this preparation. Chief Destroyer's win was clearly a career-best effort as he galloped away from the pole position of the standing start event and ended by last and at least 30 metres from the leader for the first two laps. Driver Paul Ashwood gradually got him into the race and tacked onto the main bunch at the bell. When he eased out four-wide to make his charge in the back straight the last time the gelded son of It Is I cut loose and powered home to defeat Our Archangel by two metres.   Peter Staples

Former Victorian harness racing mare Laforce has proven to be a good money spinner for her new owners since arriving in Tasmania in August last year. Laforce had won twice from 17 start in her home state when she arrived at Paul Ashwood's Brighton stables but it didn't take her long to recoup her purchase price of $5500. The mare won at her second start for her new owners who include the trainer and his wife Paige Ashwood and their son Alex who was the one who suggested they buy the mare. Laforce won again in early December but those early wins in her adopted state were nothing compared to what she did to her rivals at Carrick where she powered home to score by 24 metres from Rockbank Dancer in a strong C1-C2 event over 2150 metres. The mare made it back-to-back wins in a C2-C3 race over 2090 metres in Hobart last Friday night where she defeated the long odds-on favourite Tales of the City ($1.30) coming from well back on the home turn. "This mare has done a great job since she's came to Tassie and it's probably time to let her go," Ashwood said. "The plan all along was to win a couple and move her on so she is on the market at $9000 and that's a very good price given she can probably win another couple here in Tassie and then go to Melbourne and win an M0," he said. Laforce is entered for the $10,000 Matron Stakes for mares in Hobart on Sunday night over 2090 metres and while it is a steep rise in class it is only a small field of six with the in-form Angel or Demon the likely favourite given her recent wins in the Coastal Pacing Thousand at Devonport and in a C3-C4 in Launceston last Sunday week. Peter Staples

Astute harness racing trainer Paul Ashwood has always had a good opinion of Im Full Tilt so when he won in Hobart last month he predicted the gelding might go on and win a few in succession. At UBET Park last night Im Full Tilt also made it two wins in succession when he powered his way to an impressive win in the Cheatin Heart Pace over 2090 metres. With reigning premier driver Gareth Rattray aboard Im Full Tilt settled midfield in the one-out line with cover before Rattray eased him three-wide to make his run entering t7he back straight the last time. When Rattray called on the gelded son of Gotta Go Cullen for the big effort he quickly collared the leaders and went on to score by over eight metres from Scruffy Jake with Union Force almost a metre away third. Im Full Tilt has won six and been placed 23 times from 46 starts, is prepared by Paul Ashwood at Wesley Vale for prominent owner Mick Maxfield. Peter Staples

TOP class Tasmanian reinsman Rohan Hillier has been enjoying life in the fast lane of late with his association with the Dick Eaves-trained star filly Barynya that won her way onto the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series in Victoria last Friday night. Back home in Launceston two nights later he was back in the winner's circle, this time aboard his own three-year-old Chopstix Boris that caused a major upset to win the $30,000 Globe Derby Stakes. It was a hot field and one that would not be out of place in any feature three-year-old race around the country. Resurgent Spirit was sent out favourite ($3.80) but there was plenty of smart money for Estevao ($4), Rusty Red Comet ($4.60) and the in-form Vande Velde ($5.10) with Chopstix Boris getting into $11.80 after touching $16 midway through betting. Estevao (Gareth Rattray) was able to hold the lead but when Resurgent Spirit was unable to find a spot with cover from his outside front-row draw driver James Austin had no option but to go forward and park outside of the leader. Chopstix Boris settled near last in the one-out line with Vande Velde at the rear on his back. Estevao looked set to steal the race when Rattray urged him to extend turning for home but his lesser fancied stablemate Ektoras that had trailed the leader throughout, came off the fence to challenge and looked set to win. But that's when the tailenders started to swoop and so fast did Chopstix Boris finish he swamped the leaders close to home to score by almost a metre from Ektoras with Estevao a half-head away third. It was a masterful drive and a brilliant performance by the gelded son of Jeremes Jet from Flo Jo Fernandez that won the 2001 bandbox Stakes for 3YO fillies. Chopstix Boris is owned and raced by Hillier in partnership with his wife Katrina and two of the driver's mates Danny Bennett and Andrew Baxter. He was originally trained by Hillier who opted to send the gelding to Paul Ashwood to train. "He was working well for Rohan but not producing his best on race day and Rohan thought a change of environment would suit him so he sent him to me," Ashwood said. "Tonight he showed what he could do, although I wasn't that confident with the slow early pace," he said. Resurgent Spirit ($3.80) battled away in the home straight to finish sixth for what was his first time out of a place in 17 starts. By Peter Staples      

Recent 2YO Sweepstakes winner Sweet Pea Jasper tuned up for her final feature race assault with an impressive all the way win in a heat of the $30,000 Evicus Stakes over 2090 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart last Sunday night.

Talented two-year-old pacer Sweet Pea Jasper gave her trainer Campbell Watt the biggest win of his training career when she won the Big Park Stud Sweepstakes final in Hobart last month.

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