A BRILLIANT victory in last season’s Easter Cup in Launceston was the catalyst that earned star free-for-all pacer Pachacuti the title of Tasmania’s best harness horse for season 2016-17.
Pachacuti was crowned horse of the year at the annual gala award presentations at Luxbet Park Hobart on Saturday night.
Pachacuti’s Easter Cup victory in track record time gave his trainer-driver Todd Rattray his biggest win in his home state but the gallant gelding also snared the Devonport Cup, Governor’s Cup and Toreace Cup as well as finishing a game second to Lets Elope in the Group 3 Tasmania Cup.
The gelding amassed seven wins and three seconds from 13 starts for $73,512 in prizemoney that took his career stake earnings to well beyond $300,000.
It is the gelding’s second horse of the year title having won the crown as a three-year-old in 2012-13.
Todd Rattray won his first driver’s premiership with 87 wins and along with his second place in the trainer’s premiership (67 wins) the talented horseman was awarded the Halwes Medal which recognizes industry participants who have excelled in either or both disciplines (training-driving).
Pachacuti also was voted the best four-year-old and older pacer while Rattray’s brilliant two-year-old gelding Ignatius was voted the best 2YO in the colts and geldings division.
Ignatius created headlines nationally when he won the Group 1 Breeders Challenge final at Menangle in NSW and in winning he clocked the fastest mile rate by a two-year-old in Australia.
Talented young reinsman Jack Laugher was a clear winner in the junior driver category driving 31 winners to finish sixth on the overall premiership table.
Old Beach trainer Paul Hill again produced smart juveniles with his two-year-old filly Ideal Bliss named 2YO filly of the year while Playing Arkabella took out the 3YO fillies’ title.
The best three-year-old of the colts and geldings was the Craig Hayes-trained Scooterwillrev that won 10 of his 16 starts with three minor placings for $70,312 in stakes.
Shelley Barnes and Deborah Williams shared the leading female trainer title while Natalee Emery again emerged as the state’s leading female driver.
Tasmania’s best-performed mare last season was After Lunch and the leading broodmare title went to Amarillen that produced winners of Group races in Miss Graceland and Nostra Beach.
Veteran Tasmanian harness racing trainer-owner-breeder Noel Salter was honoured for his service to the industry by being awarded the Edgar Tatlow Medal (look for a feature on Salter in next Tuesday’s Mercury).
Salter has spent a lifetime in the industry and along the way has bred some of the state’s best pacers including On Parade and he also spent two decades in racing administration, primarily with the Tasmania Pacing Club.
The state’s leading trainer was Ben Yole who amassed a record 124 wins to eclipse the previous best of 118 set by Hall of Fame trainer Neville Webberley in the 1989-90 season.
The Hall of Fame inductions was again a highlight of the night with Chester Bullock one of the most popular inductees.
Bullock has devoted much if his life to harness racing, as a breeder, owner-trainer and administrator.
The late H. W. (Hec) Baker was inducted in the driver category and he is best remembered for his association with champion Chamfer’s Star in the 1960s and Charlie Cooley, grandfather of well-respected Tasmanian harness racing historian Peter Cooley, was inducted almost 100 years after his death in 1922.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame were talented trainer-driver Tony Petersen, Harry Lewis, Rod Burgess and horses Belle Logan, Collaborate, Emilius Way, Dainty Design, Halyer and broodmare Gorse Bush.
Halyer’s induction ceremony was quite emotional as his owners Dean Cooper and his father Don Cooper were at the function to accept the certificate and to reminisce about the champion’s feats.