Night racing season questioned

THE poor fields for tomorrow night's thoroughbred meeting at Mowbray poses the question: is the night racing season dragging on for too long?

Night racing is supposed to showcase the local product but it's hardly achieving that goal when it is serving up three races with only five runners and another with six.

In total, eight races with 61 acceptors.

Any scratchings will be embarrassing.

It's the time of the year when horse numbers are at their lightest so is it wise to be trying to run two meetings in four days?

Only 56 horses went around in the seven races at Elwick on Sunday.

The Moonee Valley night racing season ended last week.

Yet, Tasmania still has three to go, not finishing until April 16.

And, they are not being put on for the benefit of on- course spectators. The crowds at the past two night meetings have been woeful.

Admittedly, it's all about betting not attendance figures but surely turnover also must suffer with five- horse fields.

Two of the next four Sundays have no thoroughbred racing in Tasmania - dates that could have been utilised had night racing ended earlier.

That would also have allowed for a fairer spread of meetings between the North and South.

As it stands, Hobart gets only one meeting in the next month.

Obviously, all factors will be considered when TasRacing does its annual season review but a repeat of tomorrow's night field sizes at the final two meetings next month will make a compelling argument for change.

Carr firing

STAR Tasmanian apprentice Siggy Carr got a belated birthday present when she won four races in Adelaide on Saturday.

Carr turned 26 the previous day.

Her quartet of winners ranged in price from $1.20 favourite Classy Jack to $11 chance Almighty Bullet.

Carr has made amazing progress, considering she had her first ride only 18 months ago.

She rode 47 winners in her abbreviated debut season to be Tasmania's leading apprentice and had another 30 on the board when she packed her bags and headed to South Australia earlier this month.

Since then, she's won races at Gawler, Moonee Valley and Morphettville as the juggernaut rolls on.

Now that all Adelaide trainers realise they have an apprentice in their ranks who rides more like a senior jockey, but still claims three kilograms, her opportunities should skyrocket.

Going Ford

FORMER leading reinsman Scott Ford is not far off returning to race driving after completing a lengthy disqualification.

Ford was disqualified for three years in September 2011 after a horse he was training returned a positive swab, with the penalty later reduced to 30 months on appeal.

The Appeal Board found that his actions were "grossly negligent or reckless", rather than deliberate and, under those circumstances, a three-year ban for a third-time offender was excessive.

Ford appeared before the licensing panel last week to re-apply for his reinsman's licence, which was granted with some conditions.

These include the completion of 12 drives in official trials.

Ford has always been in the top bracket of drivers in Tasmania and his many feature-race wins include the 1996 Easter Cup on What A Muck Up.

Rodney Ashwood also appeared before the licensing panel last week after completing a three- month positive swab disqualification and was successful in having his trainer-driver's licence reinstated.

However, he can't drive in races until he finishes a 12-meeting suspension.

That penalty relates to a race in Hobart on November 22 but the inquiry was only finalised recently.

Ashwood was found guilty of "improper driving" on Drifting West and will be sidelined from the sulky until midnight May 5.

Smart debut

BETTING on barrier trial form can be hazardous but there were no problems when Ishbell made a winning debut at Elwick on Sunday.

The David and Scott Brunton-trained filly had won a trial by 17 lengths and punters backed her from $1.80 to $1.40.

She never looked like getting beaten and scored by more than five lengths.

Scott Brunton said that, although Ishbell beat nothing of note in her trial, the time was good and he was confident of first-up success.

"She's a promising filly but she's got bad legs so she's a day-to-day proposition," Brunton said.

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