Even off 30m, Rohan Hillier's Ryley Major was always going to be hard to beat.
Coming in off five consecutive victories, the seven-year-old narrowly pipped New Zealand gelding Full Speed Ahead to take out the first heat of the Tassie Golden Apple at Mowbray.
The result made it six wins in a row for the star pacer and 21 wins from 31 starts.
"It was always going to be pretty hard off 30 and they ran hard out front so he's done a really good job," Hillier said post-race.
"When that other horse jumped to the front, he's a really good frontrunner so he was going to be pretty hard to run down I thought, he's done a really good job."
Hillier backed October's Show Cup winner to back up the performance in next Saturday's Golden Apple final.
"That was the hardest heat so he's only got to do the same again," Hillier said.
"He's fit and well and he'll do a good job next week."
Another Hillier backmarker - Troy's New Zealand pacer Illegal Immigrant - was in action in heat two, but the seven-year-old had to settle for fourth as Taylor Ford drove Dasher Houli to a comfortable victory.
Racing for the first time since March, the Mark Reggett-trained gelding finished well clear of Im Jaks Teller with FrostyFlyer another six metres back in third.
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