Day At The Track
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Brady Woods decision to interrupt his Australian Kelpie Muster holiday in Victoria paid dividends when he sealed the 6ty° Youngbloods Challenge in Launceston on Sunday night. Brady led the six-heat Series by eight points over Samantha Gangell going into the final night of heats but it didn’t take long for the Series to take a major twist. Samantha Gangell stormed into contention lifting outsider Streetside Classic into second place behind the Shelley Barnes-trained Lead Singer, driven by Wade Rattray in Heat five to close the gap in the Series to just a solitary point as Brady laboured into sixth place on Keep Playing. With the pressure well and truly on the two combatants lined up aboard two of the top fancies, Usain Jolt (Brady) and Zhukov Leis (Samantha) in heat six. Hannah Van dongen, went into the final Heat with a sneaky chance of pulling off the Youngbloods Title and duly fired the Christian Salter-trained pacer Metro Star to the lead. Brady settled Usain Jolt back third last with his main danger Samantha behind him at the tail with Zhukov Leis, the Series leader made his move on the $2.20 favourite in the run to the bell and was up chasing the leader at the 800-metre pole, Gangell surged Zhukov Leis forward but it was painfully obvious turning into the back straight she faced a forlorn task of outpointing Woods in the final lap. Metro Star always looked to have enough up its sleeve in the run to the post to hold Usain Jolt with Zhukov Leis left lamenting back in fifth place. Hannah’s win not only lifted her into third place in the final standing’s of the Youngbloods Challenge but also catapulted the youngster to the top of the Leading Female Drivers Premiership with nine wins for the season. 6ty° Youngbloods Challenge Final points: 58 pts – Brady Woods 51 pts – Samantha Gangell 48 pts – Hannah Van dongen “I’m rapt to have won the Youngbloods Challenge, even though I had planned my trip to the Muster a long time ago I would never pass up the opportunity to win such a prestigious Series as the Youngbloods, I’ve had a few cracks at it and this was my last chance so I’m very happy to finally get the job done,” said Brady. “It’s a great Series and gives all up and coming drivers the opportunity to experience the pressure of a Series, a big thanks must go to all the trainers who support the Challenge every year and 6ty° for their sponsorship every year.” Shane Yates

Any one of the ten harness racing drivers engaged in this year's 6ty° Youngbloods Challenge can still take out the series after the fourth round was completed in Devonport last night. Teenager Samantha Gangell emerged as the leader in the annual harness racing Youngbloods Challenge series after the fourth round was completed at Devonport on Monday night. Gangell didn't have a drive in one of the two heats contested on the North-West Coast but accrued enough points in the other when fourth aboard Isundula Artist (7 points) for a total of 36 to hold a one-point lead over Justin Howlett. Any contestant who misses out on a drive through their horse being scratched or insufficient starters in a field the driver is awarded six points. It was a great drive on Isundula Artist as Gangell's charge was buried back in the field three-back on the rails but she was able to manoeuvre her way through needle-aye openings in the back stretch and rattled home for fourth. The 17-year-old year-12 student from Brighton won her first-round heat in Hobart last Sunday night aboard first-starter The Real Reverend who defeated Heavenly Rock (Matthew Howlett) and Miss Sharapova (Jack Laugher). "I have only been driving in races for a short while but I love it," Gangell said. "I am still at school and intend going to university to study psychology so harness racing is really a hobby," she said. Justin Howlett won the second-round heat aboard the Tommy Jackson-trained Finn Mac Kee to enhance his chances of winning the series while Nicholas Brockman delivered a great drive aboard Karalta Boomer in Devonport last night to take maximum points. Last year's Youngbloods winner Wade Rattray also put himself in contention for back-to-back titles with a brilliant drive aboard the Kent Rattray-trained Thirlstane King to take the 16 points in the fourth heat of the series last night. The series comprises six heats with two heats held at each of the three main venues - Hobart, Devonport and Launceston. The winner is determined on a point-score basis with 16 points allocated for first, 12 for second, nine for third, seven for fourth and reduces by one through to last (10th)) place who receives one point. The final two rounds will be held in Launceston on Sunday night and any one of the 10 drivers could win the series. Points score after four rounds: 36 - Samantha Gangell. 35 - Justin Howlett. 33 - Wade Rattray. 30 - Nicholas Brockman, Lyarna Graham. 29 - Matthew Howlett. 28 - Dylan Ford. 21 - Jack Laugher. 20 - Samantha Freeman. 18 - Brady Woods. Peter Staples

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