Blacker settles back at Longford

PREMIERSHIP-WINNING trainer John Blacker has returned permanently to Tasmania, after trying his luck in Victoria for the past two years.

Blacker has acquired stables at the Longford training centre and already has 20 horses in work _ with room for another 20.

Although he had success while based at Seymour, Blacker said he was never able to completely sever his Tasmanian ties.

``I'd ring home every day to see what was happening,'' he said.

``Although I thought we slotted in okay (to Victorian racing) it was always hard.

``Even if you went to Donald, Wangaratta or Wodonga, you could run into horses trained by Robert Smerdon, Mick Price or Peter Moody.

``They might only be horses not good enough to win in the city but they'd still be hard to beat.''

Blacker said he felt the timing was right to return to Longford, where his father George and brother Troy also train.

``The stakes have just gone up here and we're heading into the best time of the year for Tasmanian racing,'' he said.

``Plus, my daughter Laura lives here.''

Blacker has always been in the top bracket of trainers in Tasmania and has won the premiership three times _ in 2001, 2005 and 2008.

His biggest wins include the group 2 Tristarc Stakes at Caulfield with Nuclear Free and group 3 Tasmanian Derby at  Elwick with Esterel.

Yole departs

TALENTED young reinsman Mark Yole is returning to Victoria to launch a training career.

Yole has been working with his Launceston-based brother Ben in recent times and enjoying plenty of success.

He has previously spent time with Tasmanian trainers Tony Petersen and Dick Eaves, as well as David Murphy in Victoria and Shane Tritton in Sydney.

``I've had a good apprenticeship and think it's now time to branch out on my own,'' he said.

``If anyone in Tasmania is interested in sending me a horse, they are welcome to give me a call.''

Yole rates his 2012 Golden Mile win in record time on Our Chain Of Command as one of the highlights of his time in Tasmania.

Also high up are his wins on Greysteel in last year's  Launceston Mile and City Of Launceston Cup.

He won the prestigious Tasmanian Youngbloods Challenge in 2007 and in 2006-07 he won six races on two-year-old of the year Ima Miss Molly.

Going strong

AFTER 26 years in the sulky, Ricky Duggan may be nearing the ``veteran'' category, but it's doubtful he's ever driven in better form.

Another four winners in Hobart on Sunday night have taken him to a narrow lead over Gareth Rattray on the 2013-14 drivers' premiership.

It was his second successive four-win haul on his home track  and his strike-rate this season is an amazing 33 per cent.

Duggan, 43, has driven 1240 winners and won the drivers' premiership four times, but it's the quality of his wins, not the quantity, that has marked his long career.

His record in feature races ranks him as one of the all-time greats.

Strong sale

ORGANISERS of the Tasmanian Magic Millions yearling sale are more than happy with their 2014 catalogue despite a drop in numbers.

Only 95 yearlings have been catalogued, compared to 136 this year, but Tasbreeders consultant  Nick Hay says that ``arguably, the quality of bloodstock on offer has improved.''

``Tasmanian breeders have focused on quality with matings and there is a diverse range of local and interstate sires represented, including some of the hottest sires in the country,'' Hay said.

The sale will be held at the Inveresk Showground on Thursday, February 13, the day after the Magic Millions race meeting at Mowbray.

Grenville Stud will be the biggest individual vendor, with 27 yearlings on offer, followed by Armidale with 22 and Brooklyn Park 18.

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