News Article

Weekly Harness Wrap

24 / 12 / 2014 Article by: Damian Kawa

Tasmanian Performances During The Week

Tasmania Cup to Nathan Ford and Star Chamber

Nathan Ford experienced the highlight of his career in harness racing when Star Chamber won the $40,000 Smithawards Tasmania Cup at Hobart on Sunday afternoon. The 27 year old Brighton trainer/driver took full advantage of a pole draw with his 6YO gelding and the pair camped on the early pace before unleashing a powerful sprint in the home straight. At the finish, Star Chamber ($23.80) was charging away from the interstate trained favourite Im Corzin Terror ($1.20) with Blue Pointer third.

Ford has managed Star Chamber superbly. He arrived at the Ford stable in October 2013 after winning two from 16 New South Wales starts. Star Chamber has progressed from C1 class and won eight of his 25 Tasmanian starts.

Star Chamber’s two most recent wins indicate Ford can now plan ahead with confidence. Star Chamber equaled the standing start record for the Launceston track on 30 November when he rated 2.00.0 for the 2698 metre Danbury Park Cup. Star Chamber followed up with a near track record performance at Hobart on Sunday rating 1.57.9 for 2579 metres – a mere 0.3 seconds outside the record established by Blacks A Fake (1.57.6) winning the third heat of the 2006 Inter Dominion series.

Young Southern based trainers have dominated the Tasmania Cup in the last three years. Seven Mile Beach trainer Zeke Slater, who is 15 days younger than Ford, won with Motu Crusader in 2012 and 2013.

The change to $40,000 for the Tasmania Cup (previously the Tasmanian Pacing Championship) has seen a massive turnaround in the strike rate for Tasmanian trainers. From 1986 to 2010, the race was worth $90,000 – $150,000 and there were five Tasmanian trained winners of the 25 races – Star of Broadway (1986), Karalta Bay (1989), Thomas Magnum (1992), Karalta Jet (1993) and Prodigious (2001). The four $40,000 races since 2011 have produced three Tasmanian trained winners.


Other Tasmania Cup Day Highlights

Nathan Ford completed a double when he drove the Zane Medhurst trained Luke Peter to win the inaugural running of the Des and Kay Logan Memorial Pace (Eric Reece Consolation). The 9YO gelding, was given a perfect trip by Ford, and the win in the $8,500 race was the best of his nine wins (20 placings) from 100 race starts.

It was a big day for the Ford clan. Nathan’s cousin Dylan also drove a double. His first winner was the Zeke Slater trained Sky Tower in the first heat of the 2015 Hobart Pacing Cup. The 10YO gelding enjoyed a perfect trip on the back of Livin It Lovin It and got the better of him in the straight with Quastor Centurion third. The mile rate of 2.00.9 was just outside the track record of 2.00.4 established by Bettors Strike in the 2009 Tasmania Cup.

Dylan Ford’s other winner was Billabong Bertie in the $10,000 Eric Reece Memorial Final. Ford took over the lease and training of the 9YO gelding in late November. At that time, Billabong Bertie had won one of his previous 88 starts. His three starts since have resulted in two wins and a fourth placing for $10,400 in stake money. Billabong Bertie is now on the cusp of $100,000 in stake money with a career record of 121 – 12 – 17 – 22 – $95,958.

Ford is now hoping to take Billabong Bertie back to the scene of his greatest triumph. Billabong Bertie won the 2011 North Eastern Pacing Cup at Scottsdale the 2015 version will be on 16 January.

Ace Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang has a great record in Tasmania. He finished the Tasmania Cup meeting with a double and continued his dominance of the George Johnson with an easy win behind the Rohan Hadley trained Spitfire Rose. The $20,000 Relish Catering George Johnson is Tasmania’s premier mare’s race and Lang has won four of the last 10 – Billabong Girl (2005), Innocent Eyes (2007), Deanna Troy (2008) and Spitfire Rose (2014).

Spitfire Rose has blossomed under the care of Bridport trainer/driver Rohan Hadley. She arrived in Tasmania as a late 3YO with four placings from nine NSW starts. Over the next 18 months her race record is 25 – 10 – 7 – 1 and it is likely Hadley will now target interstate races with Spitfire Rose.

Rusty Red Comet was the other winner for Lang. The 4YO gelding, trained at Brighton by Eric Jacobson, scored his first win in five starts this preparation and recorded his first sub 2.00.0 mile rate (1.59.9). In doing so, Rusty Red Comet broke through the $50,000 barrier and now has a career record of 26 – 6 – 14 – 3 – $51,977.


Eight at Devonport on Boxing Night   

Eight races are scheduled at Devonport for the popular Boxing Night meeting which traditionally attracts a big crowd. The first four races are on Sky 2 and the last four are on Sky 1.

Four Ex Dan (N4) is a first starter in Race 2 and, on breeding, is likely to start a short priced favourite. The 3YO Four Starzzz Shark colt is the fifth foal for Flo Jo Ferandez. The other four have all raced and won – Hillbilly Delux (8 wins), Thirsty Mach (16 wins), Lilbitachicknfied (14 wins) and Chopstix Boris (7 wins).

Four Ex Dan won a five horse Carrick trial on 22 November defeating Vishpala, Safety Girl and Punter Karalta.


Keith Stanley Debutante Stakes at Launceston

The highlight of the seven races at Launceston on Sunday night is the record turnout for the first 2YO race of the season with 11 acceptors for the $10,000 Keith Stanley Debutante. Over the previous 12 years, the first 2YO of the season has been deleted five times and acceptors for the other seven have ranged from three to seven.

Seven of the 11 acceptors have won trials. Hillview Jake (N10), trained by Paul Hill, and Karalta Boomer (N4), trained by Kent Rattray, have won three trials each. Hill also trains Chica Bella, a winner of two Hobart trials.

The Steve Lukac trained Pockets Of Courage (N1) won a Hobart trial on 8 December and Canholdagrudge (N7), prepared at Brighton by Dylan Ford won a Hobart trial on 1 December.

The Paul Ashwood representative, Sultan Swing (N6), won a Carrick trial on 13 December and Phil Mascall prepares the Hobart trial winner (1 December) Origin Cronk (N2).

Five former Victorian pacers will have their first Tasmanian start. Ben Yole has Classic Falcon (N6) in Race 2. The 9YO gelding has won four of his 60 starts and was fourth of seven at the Carrick trials on 13 December behind the handy performers Driller Mac, Whodeani and Georgefromguam.

Bridport trainer Mick Alexander has two of the ex Victorians. Georgefromguam (R3 N5) is an 8YO that hasn’t raced for two and a half years but has an impressive career record of 13 – 6 – 2 – 2. The Fire Within (R5 N1) is a 5YO who has won six of 23 starts and was a close up fourth at Stawell on 3 December.

Village Me (R6 N6) is now in the Zeke slater barn. The 6YO gelding won three starts back at Echuca (October 2014) and his record is 28 – 2 – 5 – 2.

Rohan Hillier trains Arty Miss (R5 N10), a 6YO mare who started racing as a late 4YO and has won three of her 12 starts. Arty Miss was fourth at Bendigo in late November.


St Marys on Sky 2

St Marys boasts the best attendance of any harness meeting in Tasmania and this year their New Years Day fixture will be conducted in the twilight timeslot with Sky 2 coverage. The first race is scheduled at 4.03 pm and the last of eight at 7.52 pm.

The venue will be listed as ‘Launceston’ by most wagering operators.

Trainers are reminded that acceptances for the St Marys meeting close at 9.00 am next Monday (29 December).


Harness Form Analysis

Information on Hobart is available  at the Punters Corner section on the Tasracing website.