VICTORIAN-based junior driver Alex Ashwood took the lead in the 2014 Youngbloods Challenge series after showing great initiative to win the fourth heat at Devonport last night.
emAshwood was sitting one-out, two-back on Jane Grant as the field reached the bell, but then made a lightning move to hit the front and raced 20 metres clear heading into the back straight.
Jane Grant was tiring over the closing stages, but Ashwood had pinched the race and held on to score by four metres from Chirac with Barrys Best five metres away third.
The win took Ashwood to 40 points in the six-race series, which has another two heats to go at Mowbray on Sunday night.
He is two points clear of last year's winner, Matthew Howlett, who won last night's other heat on Kinda Grey.
Jane Grant is trained at Fingal by Scott Woods and has now completed a hat-trick after wins at Carrick and St Marys.
Kinda Grey is trained at Sassafras by Shelley Barnes, the mare's win over Joe Cable and Cooked Books was her first in 33 starts.
Lyarna Graham was suspended for two meetings for careless driving last night, but stewards deferred the penalty to allow her to compete in the final round of the series.
Points table after four heats -
Alex Ashwood 40, Matthew Howlett 38, Dylan Ford 34, Duncan Dornauf 32, Nicholas Brockman 31, Braden Howlett, Samantha Freeman 26, Lyarna Graham 24, Brady Woods 23, Justin Howlett 18.
Jazz in tune
WELL-BRED two-year-old Karalta Jazzman opened his winning account when he led all the way in the Adam Brooks Pace.
The Kent Rattray-trained gelding was driven by John Walters and cruised home by 12m in a four-horse field.
Raced by Wayne and Gaye Rattray, Karalta Jazzman is by Million Dollar Cam from Dreaming Jerry and was bought at the same sale as this year's first two-year-old winner in Launceston, Karalta Impulse, who has since won in New South Wales.
``He's a nice horse and I don't think they paid a lot for him,'' Kent Rattray said.
``He is out of a mare that has produced a 2YO Sires Stake winner in Sydney.''
That horse, Muddy River, won the $100,000 sires final at Harold Park in 2002 and won 23 races overall.
``The stallion, who is also the sire of Karalta Impulse, recently had the winner of a $570,000 race in America,'' Rattray said.
``Karalta Jazzman is still learning and I think he's going to make a very nice three-year-old.''
DRAWING outside the front line can be fatal at Devonport, but it proved no problem for Talkabout Dexter in the John McKenna Pace.
Driver Todd Rattray was content to ease back to last at the start and bided his time until just over a lap to go.
He then started to work his way into the race and, by the time the field reached the back straight, Talkabout Dexter had cruised up to the leaders under a hold.
He hit the front on the home turn then strolled clear for an effortless win.
Trainer Barrie Rattray said the five-year-old had done a good job to win seven races from only 21 starts.
``But we've never really known what to make of him,'' Rattray said.
``He's been a surprise all the way through.''
Rattray said he was pleased to win another race for Talkabout Dexter's owner-breeder, Burnie vet Roger Topping.
``Roger hasn't had a lot of luck in recent years, but this horse has been real good for him and we've got another one at home that we think is okay,'' the trainer said.