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IF you’re a fan of the NZ Cup, then make sure you tune in a race at Penrith in suburban Sydney on Thursday night. One of Australia’s most exciting young pacers Ignatius kick-starts a campaign which will see him tackle the NZ Cup and then the Auckland Inter Dominion. “We’re very keen on the NZ Cup, especially with the Inters starting just a couple of weeks later,” trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray said. “Plus, Gareth (Rattray, Jimmy’s brother) gave him a few standing-start runs back in Tassie and he really handled it well.” Ignatius won his Chariots Of Fire lead-up then drew poorly in the big one itself and finished down the track. He’s been freshened since. “He’s been working well at home, pleased with a strong trial win in 1min53sec and change last Tuesday and he’s ready to go,” Rattray said. “The problem we have at Penrith is the draw. Inside the back around that tight track could be tricky. “But the time I took him to Penrith he went as good as he ever has in any race, anywhere. It was an amazing win, so I know he loves the little track.” Ignatius has opened $3 second elect on the Aussie TAB with the older and in-form Ellmers Image $2.80 favourite from outside the back row. This Renshaw Cup is a ripper with other class runners including Brent Lilley’s recent Kiwi import Sicario (gate five, $5) and Kevin Pizzuto’s Harness Jewels hopeful Picard (six, $5). Beyond Penrith, Ignatius will head to the one-time Grand Circuit race – the $65,000 Group 2 Treuer Memorial – at Bankstown on April 26. “Then it’s into the Breeders Challenge series before we decide on whether to take him to Queensland for their winter features or rest him and focus just on NZ. He could do both,” Rattray said. “He really enjoyed that little freshen-up after the Chariots and it’s exciting to have him back racing again.”   Adam Hamilton

Tasmanian champion four-year-old Ignatius suffered from another horror draw in Saturday night's Group 1 $200,000 Chariots Of Fire. Trainer-driver James Rattray had no other option than to press forward in the early stages from a wide draw, but was trapped three-wide through the first turn in a scintillating first quarter of 26 seconds and drew up into the death seat through the second split of 27.9-seconds. The enormous effort started to take its toll in the home stretch as the Emma Stewart trained Poster Boy, with Chris Alford in the sulky, swamped the early speed setters to claim the Chariots Of Fire and record a mile-rate of 1:49.1. Ignatius battled on courageously in the straight to finish ninth, 15.3-metres from the winner.   Shane Yates

Todd and James Rattray have enjoyed a glorious run with their star pacer Ignatius, tonight at Menangle they plan another step in the successful journey with a tilt at victory in the Group 1 Chariots Of Fire. Ignatius earned his place in the $200,000 4YO feature with a sensational win in last week’s Group 2 Paleface Adios Stakes. “He couldn’t be better than he is right now, Todd has prepared him perfectly for this campaign, he has eased him through a slight setback in January and got him right for the trip,” said James. “His run last week to win the Paleface Adios Stakes was certainly one of his best ever performances and has him primed for an all-out assault on the Group 1 tonight against the best in the land.” Ignatius drew wide in the Paleface Adios and did some early work out three-wide through the first turn before James found the death-seat outside the favourite Chase Auckland. “Chase Auckland and Ignatius have drawn almost identical gates to last week, Chase Auckland is in one again we are again out wide in eight but Ignatius returned his career best mile-rate of 1:50.2 to beat him last time and he has felt even better at home during the week,” said James. “Chase Auckland, Poster Boy, Picard and Ashley Locaz are all topliners but they will know Ignatius is there when the pressure is on turning for home over 1609-metres, the winner receives an invitation to the Miracle Mile so there’s a lot on the line.” Todd made the trip to Sydney during the week and was there to keep a close eye on Ignatius as he was taken into the Retention Barn at Menangle Park on Thursday. “He’s looking and feeling great, he put up a great performance last week and that will have just topped him off perfectly for the Chariots,” said Todd. “Ignatius couldn’t be in better hands than James, we have a great relationship, racing to us has always been a family affair, we all share the ups and downs together and that’s the way it should be, let’s hope we all have something to celebrate tonight.”   Shane Yates

Tasmania’s champion pacer Ignatius took another giant step in his quest for Chariots Of Fire glory by winning Saturday night’s Group 2 Paleface Adios Stakes at Menangle. Ignatius scored one of the most sensational victories of his illustrious career to assure himself a berth in the $200,000 four-year-old Group 1 Classic. Despite again having no luck with the barrier draw, starting from barrier nine in a field of 10, James Rattray went forward in the early stages and found cover out three-wide on the track before running to the death at the thousand-metre mark. With quarters of 28 seconds and 29 seconds behind them, Ignatius applied the blow torch to the race favourite Chase Auckland ($1.75) as they thundered through the third quarter in 26.7 seconds. Turning for home James called upon his champion for the supreme effort and just as he has done throughout his career Ignatius responded. The Lyrae Rattray-owned four-year-old (pictured) showed all of his courage and superstar qualities to take the lead and stave off the challenges down the never-ending Menangle home straight to win by a half-neck in his career-best time of 1:50.2 seconds. “He went great, his two runs back this campaign have been enormous, he seems to have pulled up well from last night and is keen to get out into the paddock this morning,” said James. “He went to the post strongly and felt comfortable when holding off the challenges over the last 400-metres, I couldn’t hope for him to be in better shape, the Chariots Of Fire has always been his target and he will be right in the finish, we are due for a good draw so fingers crossed for that to be this week.” The amazing victory was the 17th of a 21 start career for the Roll With Joe-Ashkalini gelding. Shane Yates

A STAR-studded field of three-year-old boys has been assembled to contest tonight’s $195,000 IRT Group 1 Breeders Crown final. And racing, punting and media experts believe it is shaping at the season’s greatest harness race. Eight Group 1s are scheduled,peaking at 8.33pm with the three-year-old colts and geldings final. The voice of Victorian harness racing, Dan Mielicki, said there was a possibility this could be the best race in Victoria this season. “The high-quality depth is obvious,” he said. “It’s the end of the three-year-old season and looking at horses like Ignatius, Ride High, who is possibly still on the up, Poster Boy is such a classy professional and the Derby winner (Colt Thirty One) has drawn gate one and is almost an afterthought. “If people are struggling to put the Derby winner in their top three, that gives a reflection of how strong it is.” The quality is also reflected in the numbers. When compared to the previous four stagings of the race, the winning percentage of this year’s class (47 per cent of all starts) far exceeds any other. The next highest was 41 per cent in 2015-16, when Menin Gate saluted, and the average winning mile rate (1:56.6) was almost two seconds slower than this year’s contenders. The depth is not lost on top New Zealand trainer-driver Mark Purdon, who will steer South East Derby winner Duplicated, a $35 TAB chance, from gate 12. “The overall quality is high, four or five of the best chances could win any other year,” he said. “James Rattray’s Ignatius heat run was very, very good, as was Poster Boy — they are two real class acts.” Their war in last Saturday night’s Breeders Crown semifinal at Bendigo is burned into the memory of leading bookmaker Tom Hogan. “Poster Boy and Ignatius were the best of the heat runs,” he said. “I’d probably tip Poster Boy from Ignatius, but the depth and quality — I’m sure in 18 months’ these horses are going in Grand Circuit races and I’m sure they will measure up. “I’ve never seen a field like this — it presents as one of the greatest three-year-old races I’ve seen in the last 20 years. “This field is as good as you can get … usually you only get one or two that stand out, this time it’s five or six.” Michael Howard

TRAINER-driver James Rattray is optimistic about drawing the second row with his star pacer Ignatius in Saturday night’s Group 1 Breeders Crown Final at Melton, Victoria. Ignatius will start from barrier 10 and it will be the fourth time in his 18-start career that he will begin from the back line. “I don’t think it’s the worst draw,” said Rattray. “It makes the race interesting because some of the others have drawn a bit tricky as well.” Ignatius holds the favouritism to win the $195,000 epic battle despite facing the second defeat of his career in the semi-final last weekend. The three-year-old is currently ranked as the $3 TAB Fixed Odds favourite to win over the likes of Poster Boy ($4.20), Ride High ($4.50) and Colt Thirty One ($5). “Colt Thirty One has drawn well and looks like one of the main dangers with the draw,” said Rattray. “Poster Boy and Ride High are the other main dangers and they have drawn the second row too. “It makes for an interesting race and my tactics will just depend on how the race is run. “Ignatius is pretty versatile.” Ignatius was defeated by Poster Boy in last Saturday’s qualifier at Bendigo. After being forced to do the work outside the leader, Ignatius was only beaten a head in track recording-breaking time. The mile rate for the 2150m event was of 1:54.2. “He took no ill effects from that run . . . he has been bright and sharp ever since,” said Rattray. “His work has been good as well. “He hasn’t had a race like that for a long time so it was a bit of a wake up for him. “It was a huge run from him considering he sat parked and they broke the track record and he kept fighting to the line. “He has such a high cruising speed, I knew we were running along but it didn’t feel like it was in track record time. “He is so versatile and can do all the work and he’s come from behind to win before, like when he won the Breeders Challenge as a two-year-old, so we have options.” Ignatius won 13 races in a row before his recent second-placed effort. The son of Roll With Joe has won 16 races and has pocketed $283,134 in prizemoney.   Amanda Rando

IT is the Jewel in the Crown, literally. This epic showdown between the best modern era crop of three-year-olds Australia has seen is the standout highlight of Breeders Crown Super Saturday. And it’s come at a crucial time with the new wave – including NZ’s Chase Auckland when he returns - offering the solution to our desperately think open-class stocks across Australia and NZ. But, for now, we await this awesome contest between the likes of former Tasmanian pacer Ignatius, glamour Emma Stewart pair Poster Boy and Ride High, gun Queenslander Colt Thirty One and the support cast. Emma Stewart has qualified half the field – six of the 12 finalists -  but such is the depth she doesn’t even have the favourite. Ignatius, despite suffering just his second defeat in 18 starts when edged-out by Poster Boy in their semi-final, has been backed from $3.50 into $3 on the Aussie TAB despite drawing the back row (gate 10) in the final. “I was proud of him last week. He did the work, they broke the track record and Poster Boy just got him,” trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray said. “The run should bring him just that little bit more as well.” Poster Boy, already a winner of the NSW Derby and Vicbred finals this term, is her most favoured runner. He’s been $4.50 into $4.20 from gate nine. “He just shouldn’t have been able to do that,” said driver Chris Alford, shaking his head after Poster Boy came three-wide without cover in a 55sec last half to edge-out Ignatius. Stewart’s other runners are the untapped Ride High (gate 12, $4.50), who beat stablemate Konan (gate eight, $5) in the other semi. She also has outsiders Maraetai (gate seven, $16), Major Times (gate five, $26) and Tam Major (gate two, $35). Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One had little luck when fifth in his semi behind Ride High, but drew to be a big factor from the pole in the final. “I think he’s in the top five of an amazingly strong crop,” trainer-driver Grant Dixon said. “We needed a good draw and got it. “You’ve got to use these draws. Plan A is to get out as quick as can and hold the lead if possible. “I know the pressure will be on, but I’d rather be in front than anywhere else.”   Adam Hamilton

Tasmania’s superstar pacer Ignatius is through to the IRT Breeders Crown Final after running a sensational second to Poster Boy in his $20,000 Semi-Final tonight at Bendigo. The James Rattray trained and driven dual Group 1 winning three-year-old was forced to sit in the death seat outside the Emma Stewart-trained Tasmanian Derby winner Maraetai. Maraetai kicked on the home corner and led Ignatius by four metres but the Tasmanian champion was in for the fight. “I called on him at the 400-metre mark as the leader sneaked away and he responded like the fighter he is, slowly but surely he was closing the gap on the front-runner and then Chris Alford came with Poster Boy and put his head in front but Ignatius kept coming and he’s only gone down by a half neck,” said James full of admiration. “To cap it off the Semi was run in track record time of 1:54.1 and he never wilted at any stage, it was a courageous effort, he had the seven-hour float trip earlier in the week and he now has another week to acclimatise and ready himself for the Final, the tough run will just top him off nicely.” Leading Victorian trainer Emma Stewart dominated the earlier Semi-Final with her four stable runners filling the first four placings. Ride High made it seven wins from eight career starts, including a win in Launceston on Final night of the Bandox and Glode Derby in May, with a brilliant display accounting for stablemates Konan, Major Times and Tam Major, but the race was run in much slower time than the second Semi recording 1:56.3. “We didn’t get any favours with the barrier draw in the Final starting from three on the second line,” said James. “But both of Emma’s top hopes are drawn out the back as well so it could have been worse, I’m confident he will do us proud in the Final.” The draw for next Saturday nights IRT Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Final. 1 Colt Thirty One 2 Tam Major 3 Braeview Bondi 4 Diamonds N Cash 5 Major Times 6 Brackenreid (emerg) 7 Maraetai —–Second row—– 8 Konan 9 Poster Boy 10 Ignatius 11 Duplicated 12 Ride High 13 Alpha Charlie   The Paul Ashwood-trained Max Delight, driven by Rohan Hillier, ran a huge race at odds of $58 when fourth behind Centenario in his Semi Final of the Two-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Division, beaten 10.6-metres.Max Delight has drawn outside the front line in seven for the Final. Shane Yates

Tasmania’s champion three-year-old pacer Ignatius has arrived in Victoria in preparation for his bid for Breeders Crown glory. The James Rattray-trained and driven superstar will take his place in the $20,000 second Semi-Final of the Three-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Division of the IRT Breeders Crown on Saturday night at Bendigo. “We floated him down from New South Wales on Monday night to the stables of Keith Cotchin here at Elmore, the trip took seven hours but he handled it well and has settled in perfectly and eating just as he does at home,” said James. “I gave him a good hit out on Wednesday morning and he worked well, I will give him a couple of jogs in the cart and a little light work between now and Saturday.” Ignatius is unbeaten this season and will carry a record of winning streak of 13 into the Semi-Final including 11 straight this season. “I’ve been very happy with his performances this season, he crushed his rivals at Penrith and smashed the track record there after doing all the work, then went back to Menangle and streeted them in the Semi-Final of the New South Wales Breeders and strolled home in the Final,” said James. “He won his heat of this series at Menangle and then followed up with a 10-metre MO victory going 1:53.3, so he’s ticking over nicely.” Ignatius has started at the prohibitive odds of $1.04 at his last four outings but has been quoted at $1.50 in pre-post markets for Saturday’s Semi-Final. “I’d expect Emma Stewart and Chris Alford’s Poster Boy to be the main danger Saturday night and Duplicated for Dean Braun has been going well, they have both won seven races this season,” said the dual Interdominion winning trainer and reinsman. “Ignatius has drawn five on the front line and will start from the four alley with the early scratching of  Mach Up, so he is ideally suited and he has the speed to lead so we will more than likely use that to advantage.” Ignatius will run in race seven at 20.00 while the Paul Ashwood-trained Max Delight will tackle race eight the Two-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Division of the Breeders Crown at 20.30.   Shane Yates

There is no more exciting pacer in Australia than Ignatius. The former Tasmanian three-year-old heads to Victoria for his Breeders Crown assault with a 16 wins from just 17 starts. And he's won his past 13 starts on end. With the disturbing attrition rate in our open-class ranks, some say Ignatius may already be the best pacer in Australia. Even trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray (pictured) admits that attrition rate has turned his mind to "possibly" nominating Ignatius for the Melbourne Inter Dominion series in December. “I might nominate, but all I’m focused on at the moment is the Breeders Crown. As good as he’s looked this season, these runs in Victoria will be the next step for him when you consider how strong this crop of three-year-olds is. How can not have enormous respect for Emma Stewart’s horses like Poster Boy and Ride High and there’s plenty of others as well,” Rattray said. “I’ve been amazed how much he’s just kept improving with every start this season and I think he’s a really special horse, but this Breeders Crown will be a test, no doubt. “I’m certainly not making any plans beyond the Crown final.” Rattray is floating Ignatius from Sydney to Keith Cotchin’s stables, not far from Bendigo where the Crown semi-finals will be run on Saturday week. The Aussie TAB has Ignatius $2.30 prepost favourite for the Breeders Crown final from Ride High ($3.80), Poster Boy ($6), Colt Thirty One ($8) and Duplicated ($9). If Ignatius conquers the Crown, it becomes a juggling act if Rattray opts to chase the Inter Dominion, which starts on December 1 at Melton. How long a spell can he give Ignatius after the Crown to then have him primed for the Inter Dominion, but also being mindful of races like the Chariots Of Fire, Miracle Mile and NSW Breeders Challenge in the early to middle parts of next year?   By Adam Hamilton & Harness Racing New Zealand For The Trots  

SUPERSTAR Tasmanian pacer Ignatius continued on his winning way in Sydney last Saturday night with another effortless victory, this time in an M0 pace over 1609 metres against quality opposition. The James Rattray-trained three-year-old remains unbeaten from 11 starts this season as he heads towards the Breeders Crown series in Victoria. If the gelded son of Roll with Joe can emerge from that series with his unbeaten record intact, few would argue that he will own the Australian three-year-old of the year title. In this latest assignment, Ignatius showed good early speed to lead from gate seven and once in front Rattray ensured a modest first half before allowing his stable star to sprint home the last 800 metres in a slick 54.8 to score untouched by 10 metres from The Golden Cross with The Major Rocket almost three metres astern. The Tasmanian connections of Ignatius pocketed the prize money three starts back when he blitzed his rivals in the Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge final at Menangle on July 1 and he followed up with another easy win in a Breeders Crown heat at the same venue just over two weeks later. Rattray will take the gelding to Melbourne next week to prepare for his Breeders Crown semi-final and if successful he will line up in the $200,000 Group 1 final at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday fortnight. Ignatius’ career record stands at 16 wins and a second from 17 starts for $269,934 in stakes.   Peter Staples

The All Stars barn unleashes a couple of its key Breeders Crown players when Harness Jewels winners Our Princess Tiffany and Im Anothermasterpiece step-out at Menangle on Tuesday. Under the quirk of the different racing seasons, Our Princess Tiffany is of course still a juvenile in Australia and will tackle boys and girls of her own age in the third race. Although sure to be a hot favourite, it’s not a “gimme” race with talented Christian Cullen gelding Regulus, a winner of five of his 10 starts, drawn to lead from gate six. Our Princess Tiffany has gate seven. In a differing quick, although still a two-year-old in Australia, Im Anothermasterpiece, tackles open-aged rivals in the fourth race. The Aussie TAB has Our Princess Tiffany $1.80 favourite in the Breeders Crown final prepost market from Kualoa at $3.20. Im Anothermasterpiece is $4.50 third favourite in the two-year-old colts and geldings final behind Emma Stewart’s star pair Hurricane Harley ($2.40) and Centenario ($3.40). Still on the All Stars’ barn and their emerging open-class pacer Cash N Flow turned heads even in defeat at his first Menangle run last Saturday night. Team Tritton’s speedy My Alpha Rock controlled the tempo from outside the lead and zipped away with a huge lead before Cash N Flow stormed home from near out and out very wide to finish just a head away in second spot. Cash N Flow was clocked to run 54.7sec last half. _______________________________________________________________________ THE countdown to the Breeders Crown continues with Victoria’s two heats for juvenile fillies at Ballarat Tuesday night and two colts and geldings heats at Kilmore on Wednesday night. At Ballarat, most focus will be on Emma Stewart’s powerhouse Vicbred final winner Kualoa, who is considered the main threat to the All Stars’ brilliant filly Princess Tiffany. Kualoa will have a fascinating battle in her heat with gifted stablemate Two Times Bettor, who ran second to Kualoa in the Vicbred final, drawn the pole. Kualoa has gate four. At Kilmore, numbers are surprisingly thin, but the quality is great with Stewart having six of the 15 runners across the two heats. The first heat has Australian Gold and Vicbred winner Centenario drawn the pole and the one to beat, but Tim Butt’s buzz new stable addition Whereyabinboppin (gate five), Nostra Ideal (two), Fourbigmen (six) and College Chapel (eight) also command respect. Stewart certainly holds the key to the second heat with the brilliant Hurricane Harley (seven) and her NSW Breeders Challenge winner Hardhitter (six). _______________________________________________________________________ THE hype just keeps growing around Ignatius and its easy to see why. The former Tasmanian three-year-old, now in Jimmy Rattray’s care, made it 16 wins from 17 starts when he toyed with older rivals at Menangle on Saturday night. The son of Roll With Joe led, dictated through a 58.5sec first half then Rattray allowed him a little rein for a 54.8sec closing half to win with plenty in reserve in a 1min53.3sec mile. It will be fantastic to see him step-up against the best of his age in the upcoming Breeders Crown semi and final. Also at Menangle, Amanda Turnbull’s emerging four-year-old Ellmers Image caused a big upset when stalked hot favourite Gotta Go Ya Hu and simply beat him for zip in the Group 3 Mount Eden 4YO Stakes in a 1min51.4sec mile. Gotta Go Ya Hu led easily with Ellmers Image on his back and they dawdled through a 58sec first half before ripping home in splits of 26.5 and 26.9sec. _______________________________________________________________________ TEAM Tritton looks to have another feature race at their mercy with exciting juvenile Muscle Factory. The Roll With Joe colt won his Brisbane Australian Gold Graduates heat at Albion Park by half the straight last Friday night and should be far too classy in next Saturday night’s final at the same track. Muscle Factory worked forward to lead for Lauren Tritton and cleared out to win by 36.4m in a flying 1min54.1sec mile rate for 1660m. By comparison, talented Art Major filly For All We Know dominated the first heat to win by 8.6m, but went a much slower 1min58.5sec mile rate. _______________________________________________________________________ IT has taken The Storm Inside almost three seasons to build his unbeaten streak of 11 wins, but he looks primed to make up for lost time. Emma Stewart’s rising five-year-old scored with ease again at Melton on Saturday night – in a sharp 1min56.4sec mile rate for 2240m – as he prepares to step into much better races.   Adam Hamilton

STAR Tasmania pacer Ignatius has set another track record and this time it was at least an Australasian best for a three-year-old. Ignatius led throughout to win a heat of the Australasian Breeders Crown series at Menangle on Tuesday with his mile rate of 1.53.5 over the 2300-metre trip shattering the previous best set by Sushi Sushi and The Black Prince (1.54.1) by six-tenths of a second. The James Rattray-trained gelding led and set scintillating sections coming home his last 800 metres in 56 seconds. According to Rattray there was a helicopter parked in the centre of the arena and he was frightened it might break his stable star’s concentration so he placed a racing hood over the horse’s head but that only led to the three-year-old becoming “fired up”. “Putting the hood on sort of back-fired but he did a great job all the same.” Ignatius had scored by 15 metres at his previous outing in the final of the Group 1 Breeders Challenge series which he won by 15 metres and hard-held but on Tuesday the winning margin was only 2-1/2 metres ahead of Royal Gamble. “The margin might not have been as big as in previous wins but he still did it comfortably and there was a bit in reserve.” Rattray said he would wait and see how the horse pulls up before deciding whether he needs another run before tackling the Breeders Crown semi-final at Bendigo in Victoria on August 18 with the final to be run at Tabcorp Park, Melton, the following week. Peter Staples

Early indications are that this year’s three-year-old top pacing boys’ division is a bumper crop. Ignatius stamped his authority at Menangle last weekend in the Group 1 Breeders Challenge to take his record to 14 wins from 15 starts. Is he the benchmark? Some are comparing him to Beautide – but that may be merely because both were trained by Jimmy Rattray. The picture should be clearer – but of course could be muddied – after Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Emma Stewart-trained Ride High carries a 100 per cent win strike rate into the $125,000 big dance but has to overcome barrier 12 against an outstanding field, including rising star stablemates Poster Boy and Konan. Poster Boy is the reigning Vicbred champ and New South Wales Derby winner, while Konan has looked every bit the barbarian in his Vicbred heat and semi-final wins. Whichever young prodigy wins Vicbred has legitimate claims to be part of the ‘best three-year-old’ discussion, but if Ride High overcomes the draw and delivers a KO despite doing a power of work in the run, he might just be No.1 seed. Among the conversation are Brisbane gun Colt Thirty One from Grant Dixon’s stable, who outpointed Poster Boy in the Victoria Derby, reigning Breeders Crown champ and WA Derby winner King Of Swing and south-west Victorian luminary Lumineer, last year’s APG Final victor. Then there's the mystery of the Kiwis. Chase Auckland has a magnificent record with eight wins from nine starts, including victory in the Great Northern Derby for the Mark Purdon All Stars team, while Jewels winner Pats Delight for Cran Dalgety is a serious youngster.  Deciding which beast is best this year is hard enough, predicting how the alumni will be positioned looking back years from now is next level difficult. However, there are parallels between this season’s young guns and that of the super draft of 2012-13. The latter crop contained superstar Lennytheshark, millionaire earners Ohoka Punter and Bit Of A Legend, Dixon-trained Majestic Mach and Stewart-prepared Guaranteed. Of the most impressive three-year-olds in recent seasons only some have gone to be genuine Grand Circuit stars – think Bling It On (2013-14), Chicago Bull and Lazarus (2015-16). Others like Menin Gate – Victorian Horse of the Year at three in 2014-15 – and Our Waikiki Beach – 11 out of 12 at three in 2015-16 – looked potential world-beaters at three but are yet to necessarily replicate that at open-age. So will the next champion please stand up? Cody Winnell

A Tasmanian Group 1 winner, the first Trotting race in the state for 91-years, the terrific response from the double seater sulky race and a terrific crowd in Hobart on Sunday all point to the great direction that the Tasmanian harness racing industry is heading after a very successful weekend. Tasmanian-bred and owned star, Ignatius showed his class once again in a Group 1 event at Menangle for his trainer-driver James Rattray who proudly still calls himself a Tasmanian despite living in New South Wales for the past five years. The squaregaiters contested the first Trotting race in Tasmania for 91-years at the well-attended race meeting in Hobart on Sunday, the race was a highly contested affair with only 2.7 metres between the five-horse field and if the fifth-place getter didn't cop a small squeeze in the shadows of the post that margin would have been a lot less. This week we see the last two heats of the BOTRA (Tas) Claiming Novice Drivers Series in Launceston on Friday night. The Stars Ignatius - in the 2014/15 breeding season there were 123 foals born in Tasmania, amongst them was multiple Group 1 winner Ignatius who made light work of his rivals in the NSW Breeders Challenge at Menangle on Sunday afternoon. The star Tasmanian ran the mile trip in 1 min 51.3 secs. The gelded son of Roll With Joe was bred by the Rattray Family Trust which is managed by Barrie Rattray. Ignatius is the winner of over $152,000 this season alone and is raced by Campbell Town Primary School teacher Lyrae Graham who is due to tie the knot with her partner Todd Rattray on October 6. Ricky Duggan - moved to third position on the state driver’s premiership after driving four winners in Hobart including the $12,000 Tasmanian Sires Produce with the Marc Butler-trained Peaceful Thomas (photo), and an all the way win with Usain Jolt in a slick 1 min 56.6 secs for the 1609-metre trip. Adam and Natalee Emery - husband and wife combination took out Tasmania's first Trotting race in 91-years when six-year-old gelding Ten Caisses got along the Roberts Sprint Lane to win in a bunched up finish which saw only 2.7-metres between the five-horse field. If Sunday's race is anything to go by then we are in for some terrific Trotting racing over the upcoming weeks. Melissa Maine - the Latrobe trainer prepared Another Swinger to his first win since September 27 with an all-the-way win in the Cascade Draught Pace. It was only the second start for the Village Jasper gelding in Maine's care since he was claimed in Hobart on June 15. Rohan Hillier - has featured in this segment the past few weeks for producing some terrific drives but he gets in this week for his training performance to get Rocknroll Turbo back to the winner’s circle. The star two and three-year-old was sidelined through injury after his win in Hobart on June 11, 2017. After finishing fourth at his first run back on 22 June, Hillier wasn't afraid to back him up on Sunday night where he was too tough for his rivals. Double Seater Sulkies - one of the best promotional tools used to promote harness racing in Tasmania for a long time. It was a credit to all involved to get the race off the ground. The popularity was seen on the Tas Pacing Club Facebook page where a GoPro video of Ricky Duggan and Blair Brownless attracted over 6,700 views. You can click here to watch the race from Tasracing's Live Stream coverage on the night. Multiple Winners Devonport – Friday Ben Yole - training double; Drifting Away and Heza Rummage. Hobart – Sunday Ricky Duggan - driving quartet; Usain Jolt, Peaceful Thomas, Streitkid and Remember Joe. Calculated Sectional Standouts Quickest last halves (800m) from last week’s action in Devonport on Friday. Ima Ginger Rogers 58.10, Ready To Fire 58.27, Ektoras 58.31, Monarkmac 58.37 and El Jays Monet 58.57. From Hobart on Sunday Rocknroll Turbo 56.52, Ready To Fire 57.14, Chasing Cheetahs 57.49, Jaccka Len 57.58 and Usain Jolt 57.70. View all Tasmanian Sectional Data here. Tasracing Official Price Devonport  Hits: My Ruby Rose $1.80 into $1.65 and Heza Rummage $13 into $9. Defied The Drift: Flying Wingard $2.60 out to $3.10 and Shesastandout $3.80 out to $5.50. Missed: Rocknrollhighlight (5th) $5.00 into $4.40, Artarama (2nd) $26 into $9.50 and Vapar Gleen (2nd) $3.20 into $2.80. Hobart  Hits: Usain Jolt $1.85 into $1.65, Another Swinger $26 into $21 and Streitkid $1.45 into $1.30. Defied The Drift: Inner Light $7.50 out to $9, No Apachemee $3.80 out to $5 and Ten Casisses $8.50 out to $10. Missed: Jakes A Joy (7th) $8 into $6.50, Jaks Teller (3rd) $1.35 into $1.24 and Redason (5th) $3 into $2.70,. Trial File Carrick Park on Saturday. Open class pacer Taurisi has returned back to the Todd Rattray stable after his recent New South Wales preparation where he last raced at Menangle on May 5. He commenced this preparation with a trial win on Saturday morning where he sat on the leaders back before winning the trial by 10 metres. The mile rate for the C3/B trial was 2 mins 9.8 secs which was the only trial of the morning to break 2:10.0. Other trial winners included; Major Davvin (2:14.7), Prince Of Dawn (2:13.9) and Charlottescrown (2:14.7). Week Ahead Harness racing heads to Launceston on Friday for the only meeting in the state this weekend where there are four $10,000 races on the seven-event card. Two of those races are the final heats of the BOTRA(Tas) Claiming Novice Drivers Series. The points table sees Conor Crook 40, Allister Woods 34, Matthew Cooper 32, Samantha Gangell 30, Samantha Freeman 28, Lee Simmonds 27, Wade Rattray 24, Brady Woods 20, Charlie Castles 16 and Chris Aylett 11. Series leader Conor Crook has been drawn to drive talented three-year-old Similan Beach in the fifth heat of the series. The Marc Butler-trained pacer will start the race favourite and no doubt Crook will be using the pole position draw to his full advantage in the 2200-metre event. Crooks drive in heat six is Stylish Trend, who is a winner three starts back and is trained by his employer, Ben Yole. The night sees Smart three-year-old Bettabrown Tiger out to continue his brilliant form in the second race of the night, while the last race has brought together a talented group of two-year-old’s where you can make a case for every runner in the five-horse field. The first race is scheduled to start at 15:14. We once again have a strong representation interstate including at Melton on Saturday night: Race 2 No. 3 - Reign Of Pain - part-owned by Heath Szczypka, Race 2 No. 9 - Sultan Fella - owned by Michael Maxfield, Race 8 No. 7 - Wardan Express - part-owned by Warren Viney, Race 10 No. 9 - Isaaac - owned by Juanita McKenzie and Matt Triffitt and Race 11 No. 7 - Christian Jazz - trained by Michael Laugher, owned and driven by Jack Laugher.   Duncan Dornauf

Ignatius laid to rest any questions over who is the best three-year-old in the land with another scintillating performance on Sunday in the Group 1 New South Wales Breeders Challange Final at Menangle Park. The James Rattray trained and driven superstar staved off an early challenge for the lead from Picard before establishing control at the head of proceedings through the first turn in the $150,000 Feature over 1609-metres. "Todd McCarthy came out quickly from out wide with Picard and drew a metre or two clear so I just allowed Ignatius to muster and he shot through to hold him comfortably and he settled beautifully into his work," said James. "With that brief burn Ignatius recorded 27.1 seconds for the first section and then relaxed into the back with a 29.8 second effort to the 800-metre pole before I started to lift the tempo with a 27.5 third split and they were then struggling to stay with him so I just let him finish off strongly in 26.9 seconds." The Roll With Joe-Ashkakini gelding, owned by Lyrae Graham, strolled away to break the hearts of his rivals, scoring by 12.3-metres in a mile rate of 1:51.3, matching the time mile-rate recorded when winning the two-year-old division of the Breeders Challenge Series last year. "We ran home in 54.4 seconds for the last half and there was plenty left in the tank so its now on to the Breeders Crown Series, he's doing everything asked of him so it will take a good one to stop him," said James looking forward enthusiastically to the future. The Breeders Crown Final, promoted as the 'Race To Royalty' will be staged at Melton in Victoria on Saturday, August 25. To watch Ignatius obliterate his rivals in the Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge Final on Sunday click on the link below. 2018 NSW Breeders Challenge Final  Shane Yates

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