Tassie gelding toast of harness racing

Tassie gelding toast of harness racing

BEAUTIDE'S win in the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle on Saturday night was the biggest all-Tasmanian triumph in a feature horse race, of either code, in almost 50 years.

In that time, other Tasmanian horses have won the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Inter-Dominion and Miracle Mile _ but none of them have been bred, owned, trained and driven (or in the case of thoroughbreds, ridden) exclusively by Tasmanians.

Our best thoroughbreds, headed by Sydeston, Piping Lane, Beer Street, Alfa and El Mirada, have all been trained interstate at the time of their biggest wins.

And, ridden by interstate jockeys.

Tempest Tost, winner of the $820,000 Magic Millions on the Gold Coast in 2009, was trained in Tasmania by Gary White but was ridden by Victorian jockey Darren Gauci.

Our most recent Inter-Dominion winner, Thorate in 1990, was trained in New South Wales and our only previous Miracle Mile winner, Halwes in 1968, was driven by Sydney maestro Kevin Newman.

Harness racing historian Peter Cooley said yesterday that the last Tasmanian-bred, owned, trained and driven feature-race winner in his code would have been Golden Alley in the 1969 Hunter Cup.

``In those days, the Hunter Cup was a huge race _ the Inter-Dominion was harness racing's equivalent of the Melbourne Cup; the Hunter Cup was our Caulfield Cup and the Miracle Mile our Cox Plate,'' Cooley said.

Beautide was bred by his original trainer Barrie Rattray, of Longford, is raced his family trust and is now trained and driven by his son James who recently relocated to Sydney.

At 28 years of age, James Rattray is the youngster trainer to win the Miracle Mile in the race's 47-year history.

TIMES CHANGE

A COMPARISON of Tasmania's two Miracle Mile winners emphasises just how much harness racing has changed in 45 years.

Halwes earned $10,000 for his 1968 win, plus a $2500 bonus for breaking the two-minute barrier and a further $5000 bonus for breaking the race record of 1:59 set by Robin Dundee the previous year.

His time was 1:58.6.

A crowd of 19,858 packed into Harold Park to watch Halwes win as a red-hot $1.40 favourite.

Beautide earned $450,000 for his win, recorded a race record 1:50.2 and started at $5.10.

Saturday night's crowd is unknown but it's a safe bet that it wouldn't have come anywhere near the 1968 figure.

FINE LINE

IT'S been mentioned in some quarters that Beautide is actually the first Tasmanian-bred horse to win the Miracle Mile.

The argument being, that Halwes was born in New South Wales.

That is drawing ``a fine line'' according to Peter Cooley, who said that the early history of Tasmania's greatest-ever pacer has often been debated by breeding purists.

Cooley said that Mr H. G. Williams, who bred Halwes, lived in Tasmania but sent his broodmare Desmouth to NSW to be served by the stallion Nephew Hal.

``Mr Williams had a foal-for-foal arrangement with the owner of Nephew Hal, Mr C.thM. Dickson _ in other words, they would take in turns keeping the foal,'' Cooley explained.

``If it was Mr Williams' turn, the foal would be left in NSW until it was almost a year old, then shipped to Tasmania.

``That is what happened with Halwes. But, the bottom line is that he was bred by a Tasmanian and is out of a Tasmanian mare which, technically, makes him Tasmanian-bred.

``It's an argument that wouldn't come up in this day and age because, thanks to artificial insemination, mares never have to leave the state.''

NEW STEWARD

HEIDI Lester from Racing Victoria will be joining the Tasmanian stewards' panel for the next three months.

A former apprentice jockey, Lester has been a steward for more than eight years and regularly chairs race meetings in Victoria.

Racing director Tony Murray said the move was part of an exchange program that had been operating for about two years.

Tasmanian stewards have gained experience in Victoria, NSW and Western Australia.

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