The Devonport track continues to be a happy hunting ground for Scottsdale owner-trainer Wayne Campbell and his evergreen pacer Riverboat Jasper.
Returning from a 10-month break, Riverboat Jasper on Sunday won the $12,000 NWTLHA Cup for the third time.
The nine-year-old’s six wins on the track also include this year’s Devonport Cup.
“It’s a tight track but it’s not so tight out where he runs because, starting off back marks, he always has to race wide,” Campbell said.
Riverboat Jasper was the lone backmarker on 20m in Sunday’s 2645m feature but driver Rohan Hillier soon had him in a good spot, one out and three back.
He started a three-wide run before the bell and joined the leaders in the back straight before running to the front approaching the home turn.
Perfect Mach, having his first start in the state for trainer Ben Yole, gave chase and got within 2-½ metres on the line.
His driver James Austin then fired in a protest for interference in the home straight but it was quickly dismissed.
Campbell said that Riverboat Jasper had benefited from his spell which followed a long campaign in Victoria and Tasmania.
“He needed a good break but he’s been back in work for 11 weeks now and I knew he was ready to go,” the trainer said.
Whether the gelding heads towards another Devonport Cup is uncertain.
“Like a football coach, I take every week as it comes,” Campbell said.
“He’s nine years old so you never know what might happen but he’s always been a sound horse.
“I think the fact that he only raced twice as a two-year-old has helped.”
Despite Riverboat Jasper’s good record – 22 wins and $206,000 – Campbell has just a tinge of disappointment about one win that got away.
“He got beaten in a photo (by Victorian Ginger Bliss) in the Tasmanian Derby – it would have been nice to win it, especially with a horse we bred ourselves,” he said.
CROOK AND FORD DRAW FIRST BLOOD
Conor Crook and Taylor Ford won the opening two heats of the Youngbloods Challenge series.
Crook led all the way on the Kate MacLeod-trained Rattlenhum in the first heat and Ford came from second-last to win the second on Ready To Fire.
Rattlenhum was one of three winners on the program for Crook and Ready To Fire completed a treble for Ben Yole to go with his four wins in Launceston last Friday night.
The Youngbloods continues in Hobart on Friday night with the final round of heats in Launceston on November 16.