Two prominent trainers disqualified over harness dinner brawl

DEBUT WIN: Jessica, Leigh and Leanne Dornauf with Levi Jimmy after his win at Mowbray on Friday night. Picture: Greg Mansfield
DEBUT WIN: Jessica, Leigh and Leanne Dornauf with Levi Jimmy after his win at Mowbray on Friday night. Picture: Greg Mansfield

Two prominent trainer-drivers have been handed lengthy disqualifications by stewards over their involvement in a fracas at the annual harness racing awards dinner in Hobart 18 months ago.

Brighton-based Nathan Ford was disqualified for a total of four years on four separate charges, including conduct prejudicial to harness racing, failing to attend an inquiry and giving false evidence.

Ford is already serving a disqualification for an unrelated offence that doesn’t expire until November 2019.

With the new penalty added to that ban, he is now out until November 2023.

Grant Hodges, a premiership-winning trainer when based at Bridport but now living in Victoria, was disqualified for three years – two years for assault and one year for failing to attend an inquiry.

He is out until May 2020.

Stewards also warned off Tyler Ford, an unlicensed person, for three years for assault, prejudicial conduct and failing to attend an inquiry.

Beauty Point trainer-driver Rohan Hillier and his brother Troy were found to have played lesser roles in the altercation but were each fined $1000 for prejudicial conduct.

All penalties are subject to possible appeals.


Westbury trainer Leigh Dornauf could not have asked for a better Tasmanian debut from recent stable addition Levi Jimmy.

The former NSW three-year-old was an impressive all-the-way winner at Mowbray on Friday night, scoring by 34 metres and rating 2:00.5.

He ran his last half in a smart 57.4 seconds.

Dornauf bought the gelding off the Internet for $10,000.

“I watched his races and his form was good,” the trainer said.

“His previous trainer had entered him for the Western Derby at Dubbo where he was due to race against horses that had won $100,000.

“I thought that was a good sign – it showed she had a fair opinion of him.

“She agreed to scratch him after I bought him.

“I thought getting him down here as a 3CO horse there would be wins in him.”

Levi Jimmy’s win completed an early double for driver Gareth Rattray who also scored on $21 outsider Martys For Real for leading trainer Ben Yole.

Yole’s second winner of the night, Modern Chic, was more popular with punters, backed into $2.70 favourite.

Riverside trainer Chester Bullock continued his good recent form when Cardinal Spec led all the way to provide favourite-backers with another winner.