Day At The Track

Cooper takes out BOTRA Novice Drivers series

06:23 PM 22 Jul 2019 NZST
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Fortino,Harness racing
Fortino
Tasracing.com.au

Oatlands reinsman  Matthew Cooper continued his terrific season when he claimed the 2019 BOTRA Claiming Novice Drivers series in Launceston on Sunday night.

“I was a bit surprised to win the series but I am very wrapped to win it,” said a very excited Matthew Cooper after the series victory.

Cooper won heat three where he teamed up with the state's leading trainer to win on Fortino (pictured).

Fortino who started as the race favourite, speared straight to the lead, and the seven-year-old gelded son of Sutter Hanover couldn’t be rundown with stablemates Our Quinn (Samantha Gangell) and Monarkmac (Matthew Howlett) filling the placings.

“Ben (Yole) said before the race that he was a good mile horse and that he was very similar to Call Her Julie that I didn’t have to take a whip to so that suited me down to the ground. I only need an easy quarter in the race which I got and he sprinted home well to win,” the winning driver said.

Cooper wasn’t overly interested in the industry early on but it didn’t take him long to get hooked.

“I never liked horses early on but I owed Justin Campbell a favour and I went and gave him a hand at his stables one day, I  jumped on a horse that day and I fell in love with the industry and from that day on I always wanted to be involved in the sport,” said the series winner.

The Oatlands-based trainer-driver worked as a race day controller for Tote Tasmania for six years until its sale in 2012. He now trains his small team of horses and spends time working with his partner Chantelle with their courier business, Rapid Couriers.

Cooper was extremely grateful for the trainers and owners that supported the series.

“It’s always good for the owners and trainers to support the series by giving us horses to drive, it can be hard for a trainer to put a horse in a race like that without knowing what driver you will get and I’m very appreciative of that as well as BOTRA and the Launceston Pacing Club for their support of the series,” said Cooper.

The first heat saw the Todd Rattray-trained Karpenkova Leis and Bremusa fight out the finish with Karpenkova Leis proving too good over the concluding stages to win by 3.3-metres. Driver Hannah Van Dongen was keen to hold the lead early on Karpenkova Leis but she elected to hand up to Pushkin (Matthew Cooper) after a quicker than average lead time, before gaining the one-out one-back position at the 700-metre mark Van Dongen found clear racing room at the 400-metre pole, and from there she was able to run down Bremusa (Kimberley Grant) over the concluding stages.

Former New Zealand driver Kimberley Grant continued the good start for the female drivers when she teamed up with trainer Sally Stingel to win with three-year-old gelding Rowley. It was the seventh career win for the gelded son of Badlands Hanover who settled one-out and two-back before working around the field to find the spot outside the leader with 700 metres of the race remaining, Grant asked Rowley for a bit more effort on the final corner and the gelding responded well to score by 2.1 metres.

Cooper and Grant went into the final heat as joint leader of the series on 39 points, and they had to settle for third and fourth placing respectively with only a head between the duo as they chased home the Charlie Castles-driven Jacks Command.

The Kate MacLeod trained pacer dropped a lot in class in the national rating 60 to 69 event after contesting a heat of the Easter Cup five starts ago, and was able to cling on to a narrow victory over Gems (Troy McDonald).

The final points score of the series was:

  • 50 - Matthew Cooper
  • 48 - Kimberley Grant
  • 40 - Troy McDonald
  • 34 - Samantha Gangell
  • 31 - Georgia Hayward
  • 30 - Charlie Castles
  • 29 - Hannah Van Dongen
  • 26 - Wade Rattray
  • 22 - Matthew Howlett
  • 20 - Andrew Freeman
  • 19 - Taylor Ford
  • 13 - Lachlan Dakin

Rohan Hillier took driving honours on the card with a driving double winning with Im Compliant and Artyboy Glenwood, with training honours going to Ben Yole with a treble preparing Quick Changeover, Fortino and Machitelli to victory.

 

Duncan Dornauf

for Tasracing

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