WHILE the Rattray family dominated the meeting in Launceston on Sunday night with Gareth driving five of the seven winners and his twin brother James winning another, the equine star of the show was former Victorian gelding Ulos.
The six-year-old produced a barnstorming finish to win the $10,000 Doug Martin Danbury Park Cup in a three-way photo finish that resulted in him defeating back-marker Fleet Express by a short half-head and the favourite Just Callme Cullen the same margin astern.
Ulos has been a revelation since joining the Phillip Ford stable and with the trainer’s brother Scott in the sulky the gelding proved why he is being aimed at some of the better quality stand-start events over the Christmas-New Year period in Tasmania.
“This horse has done a great job since he arrived in my stable. He’s missed a place only once in eight starts and he also won the Show Cup,” Ford said.
“It will depend what comes from interstate as to whether he’ll be a chance in the better feature races such as the Tasmania Cup but there is no doubt he will be very competitive in whatever he contests during the summer,” he said.
Ulos is owned and raced by former top Victorian racing identity Garry Rogers who has invested a lot of money in standardbreds that race in Tasmania.
The Scott Dyer-trained Victorian Just Callme Cullen lost no admirers given he looked a bit overweight and underdone for his first assignment in almost five months.
“The horse is still a bit chubby and while I thought he could still win he will derive a lot of benefit,” Dyer said.
Fleet Express came off the back mark of 40 metres and again showed he will be competitive during the summer carnival.
The Danbury Park Cup was reintroduced to the calendar due primarily to the work and enthusiasm of the late Doug Martin who was one of Tasmania’s most loved and admired industry participants.
He felt so strongly about the Danbury Park Cup that he took it upon himself to find sponsors to enable the race to be reintroduced after it was scrapped by the Launceston Pacing Club and the then controlling body Harness Racing Tasmania eight years ago.
Martin died last year, so it was fitting that this year’s race was named in his honour and Shirley attended the meeting to make presentations of trophies to the winning driver and trainer in every race.
Martin was a huge fan of Gareth Rattray and he would have been thrilled that Garth drove the winner of five of the seven races to dominate the meeting.