FORMER star apprentice Daniel Ganderton has enjoyed his best month in the saddle since returning home late last year.
A double on Viva La Verve and Wanaea at Spreyton on Sunday gave Ganderton four wins for the opening month of the new season.
He is only one win behind Jake Bayliss on the jockeys’ premiership.
Ganderton admitted to being ‘‘mentally shot’’ when he returned to Tasmania after a lean stint in Western Australia.
‘‘My body was also an issue but I’m improving all the time and hoping to carry that improvement through to the summer carnival,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s now just a matter of getting a bit more consistency.’’
Ganderton said that he had found it difficult to live up to other people’s expectations since winning the Sydney apprentices’ premiership in 2008-09.
However, the recent signs have been positive for the 25-year-old.
He is again getting opportunities from the top stables and justifying their confidence with good rides.
Ganderton gave the Adam Trinder-trained Viva La Verve a perfect run to win Sunday’s Maiden Plate and repeated the performance with a copybook display on the Mark Ganderton-trained Wanaea in the Class 1 Handicap.
He just failed to cap a big day when beaten a head on the Trinder-trained Big Time in the $25,000 Tapeta Distance Final.
REINSMAN Ricky Duggan capped an amazing final month of the harness racing season when he drove five winners in Hobart on Sunday night.
He averaged three winners a meeting in August, with hauls of four, one, two and five.
He did not drive at the postponed Mowbray meeting last week.
At the four meetings he attended, Duggan had drives in 39 of the 44 races, a testament to his popularity with trainers.
Of his 39 drives, 32 finished in the first five placings.
FORMER successful Launceston thoroughbred trainer Leo Kelly died last month aged 93.
Kelly prepared many good horses in his heyday including Landmark, Wilson, Justice, Piper’s Flute and, in more recent years, Aeros Boy who was a prolific winner in the late 1980s.
His stable was noted for its betting plunges and, in the early days, for starting horses twice at the same meeting – and winning both races.
He usually had only a small team and, during one season, boasted an Australia-best strike-rate of 37 per cent.
Born in Victoria, Kelly’s other talents were many and varied. He was a blacksmith, water diviner and, in his younger days, a highly-ranked boxer.
THE Elwick track is reported to be ‘‘in good order’’ for Sunday’s first meeting after an eight-week layoff.
During the break, the irrigation system has been upgraded and is now capable of watering the course proper and Derwent track.
Tasracing chief executive Eliot Forbes said the upgrade took into account the future needs of the site and would ultimately improve the consistency and operational efficiency of the track.
Trials will be held today, starting at 10.30am, when the track will be inspected by stewards and jockeys.
‘‘As at today, the scheduled race meeting for Sunday will go ahead with the rail out one metre,’’ Dr Forbes said.
ARMIDALE Stud’s new stallion Needs Further got a timely boost on Saturday when his half-brother Hallowed Crown won the Run To The Rose at Rosehill.
Hallowed Crown is now $5 favourite with Tattsbet to win the $1 million Golden Rose in a fortnight.
Armidale is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Needs Further’s first crop of foals in the next week or two.
Their mothers include quality mares Queen’s Own (dam of Lady Lynette), Oceans (a Sydney-winning daughter of Fastnek Rock) and Gehenna (a former Tasmanian two-year-old of the year).