Trainer Todd Rattray is hoping Hafter will measure up to the best four-year-olds in Tasmania this season.
The gelding took the first step when he resumed from a spell with a strong win in a heat of the C1 Pace in Devonport on Friday night.
He will now tackle the $10,000 final in Hobart during the Australian Drivers Championship meeting on October 28.
“This horse wasn’t far away from the best three-year-olds last season and he’s improving all the time,” Rattray said.
“He might be right up with them this season.”
Rattray has a good measuring stick as he also prepares Harjeet, winner of last season’s Globe Derby Stakes and runner-up in the Tasmanian Derby.
“Harjeet was clearly my best three-year-old last season but I have a couple that could measure up to him this year,” the trainer said.
Rattray tried to lead on Hafter but was held out by polemarker Paddy Mach and the driver was then content to bide his time on the $1.10 favourite.
He put the result beyond doubt rounding the home turn but, to his credit, Paddy Mach fought on strongly to go down by only five metres.
KINGS MEADOWS trainer Wes Targett got his second winner when Tiz A Shaker led throughout in the first Devonport race of the new season.
Targett’s only previous success was with Isundula Artist about 18 months ago.
However he has trained only three horses in a short career.
“I started helping out Kent Rattray about three years ago and now I work for Todd Rattray,” Targett explained.
“I also helped my father Ashley train a few horses back in the mid-80s.”
Tiz A Shaker was having her first start for almost 14 months.
“I was a bit disappointed with her as a three-year-old when she had 19 starts without winning but I was hoping she’d got a bit stronger,” the trainer said.
Todd Rattray also drove Tiz A Shaker to give him an early double.
KEN RATTRAY won his first race since returning from Queensland when Tuxedo Max came from the rear to win the C2/C4 Pace at good odds.
Rattray trained at Scottsdale before leaving the state about 25 years ago and had many top horses including Ebony Mac, Star Of Broadway and Hae Zeus.
Tuxedo Max hadn’t won a race for almost a year but was down in class and was beautifully driven by Gareth Rattray.
Leading trainer Ben Yole had half the runners at the meeting and went home with half the winners.
He scored with Midair Meltdown and Jeans Mattjesty, both driven by Rohan Hadley, and Pushkin, driven by Conor Crook.