A young gun jockey and the oldest horse in the field could prove a winning combination in the main race at Elwick on Sunday.
Twenty-year-old apprentice Chelsea Baker has been enjoying an amazing run for a first-season jockey, having ridden at least one winner at the past seven meetings including five doubles.
She teams up with nine-year-old gelding Blaze Forth, also in a purple patch of form, in the $30,000 Kevin Sharkie Open Handicap over 1400m.
Blaze Forth is rated between 4.5kg and 9.5kg superior to every other runner in the race but, after Baker's claim, will carry only 3kg above the minimum.
And, the winner of 16 races and $430,000 has been going as well as ever, taking out consecutive races in April/May before a third to in-form sprinters Music Addition and Kuroset and a second to class mare Take The Sit.
He was heavily backed, from $3.60 to $2.80, a fortnight ago but was swamped by Take The Sit after pulling his way to the front mid-race.
Trainer John Blacker doesn't expect Blaze Forth to win every week but does expect him to always race well.
"He's pretty honest but he's got to race at the top level all the time so if he doesn't draw well he finds it hard to win," Blacker said.
"So he's suited in small fields and a claim always helps."
Blaze Forth has only six rivals on Sunday when Hellova Night and Romary look his main dangers.
The start could hold the key to whether smart pacer Similan Beach can bring up consecutive wins in feature sprint races at Mowbray on Sunday night.
The Kristy Butler-trained gelding hasn't raced since leading all the way to beat Lockaway Kacie and Sunny Sanz in the Launceston Mile on May 15.
His time on a rain-affected track was career-best 1:55.8.
He has drawn the same barrier (4) in Sunday night's $12,000 Golden Mile and, if he can lead again and run similar time, he's going to be hard to catch.
Pardoe Plugga, drawn barrier 2, may have sufficient early speed to hold him out, but given that he's rising sharply in class, driver Todd Rattray may prefer to take a sit.
Short course specialist Sunny Sanz will start from the second row but is drawn right behind Pardoe Plugga and could follow him through into a good spot.
Call Me Hector, the 2019 winner, returned to form in Hobart last week and looks another major player.
The Golden Mile was first run in 1978 and the list of past winners, particular in the first 20 years, reads like a who's who of Tasmanian harness racing. It includes James Maru, Melfield Tyros, Prancing Percy, Vicar Neptune, Napoleon Stone, Prince Nijo, Karalta Bay, Gold Label, Genghis Karalta and Northern Brewer.
Past winners also include mainland Grand Circuit horses Franco Tiger and Hexus.
Jumps racing in South Australia is to be officially banned by the State Government.
Racing SA stopped programming jumps races late last year, stating that the declining numbers of horses and jockeys had made the industry unsustainable.
Some within the industry have continued to fight that decision but it is now a lost cause.
The SA government announced this week that it would support a Greens bill to outlaw the sport.
Deputy Premier Susan Close said jumps racing no longer had the public's support.
There has been no jumps racing in Tasmania since 2007 but,contrary to popular belief, it was never officially banned.
The then Tasmanian Thoroughbred Racing Council simply stopped programming jumps races for the same reason as its SA counterpart - they had become commercially unviable.
Local horse numbers had dwindled to the extent that fields were being propped up by Victorian horses, most of the jockeys had to be flown in from interstate and betting turnover was poor.
The decision ended a long tradition, with the highlight of the jumps season, the Tasmanian Grand National Steeple, first run at Campbell Town in 1845.
The race was moved to Deloraine in 1883 and went on to become an Easter Monday institution, attracting the third biggest crowd of the season behind the Launceston and Hobart Cups.
The 2004 Grand National became infamous when, for the first time in Australian racing history, a stewards' decision to upheld a protest was overturned.
The protest was re-heard almost three months after the race by an independent panel headed by Victoria's chief steward Des Gleeson.
Authorities had ordered the re-hearing, which took almost two hours, after it was revealed that a trainer and jockey, not involved in the protest but who benefited from the decision, were related to two members of the local stewards' panel.
The connections of the Victorian horse Kwila's Quest, relegated from first to third in the original decision but subsequently reinstated as the winner, had threatened legal action.
Greyhound racing's prestigious Shane Yates Memorial will again be run in Hobart this year.
The $12,000-to-the-winner feature will highlight the meeting on Tuesday July 26 after heats a week earlier.
It is named in memory of racecaller, football administrator, sports identity and television personality Shane Yates who died of pancreatic cancer in May 2020.
The inaugural running at Mowbray in July 2020 was won by Wynburn Lethal and last year's edition in Hobart was won by Twisted Reality.
It was Devonport's turn to host the race this year but with that track closed it has been allocated to a Devonport meeting in Hobart.
Racing writer at The Examiner since 1978
Racing writer at The Examiner since 1978
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