Tasracing has selected the 10 participants for the 2018/19 6tyo Youngbloods Challenge. The series for young drivers will be conducted at Devonport on 4 November, Hobart on 9 November and Launceston on 16 November.
The drivers selected are Georgia Hayward, Charlie Castles, Lachlan Dakin, Samantha Gangell, Taylor Ford, Matthew Howlett, Brady Woods, Hannah Vandongen, Conor Crook, Troy McDonald and Wade Rattray (emergency).
Drivers to watch include:
- Matthew Howlett re-wrote the Youngbloods Challenge record books when at 16-years and 7-months he became the youngest winner of the series in 2013. He claimed his second Youngbloods title in 2016 by one-point over Nicholas Brockman.
- Samantha Gangell finished fifth in last season’s Junior Driver title and was runner-up to Hannah Van Dongen in the Female Driver’s premiership. Since driving in her first race in October 2015, Gangell has driven 27 winners. Gangell finished second in last season’s Youngbloods Challenge.
- Taylor Ford is the daughter of two-time Youngbloods winner Phillip Ford (1995 & 1997). She has driven 52-winners in her career that started in April 2014. Ford has driven four winners this season and has a one-win lead on the state’s Junior Drivers premiership in the early stages of the 2018/19 season.
- Brady Woods won the series last season by seven points. Woods drove three-winners from limited opportunities last season. He has driven 19 winners in his career that commenced in 2011.
- Hannah Van Dongen was the state’s leading female driver last season where she recorded 10-wins and 14-placings from 72-drives. She finished third in last season’s Youngbloods Challenge. Van Dongen has a foot in both racing codes as she is a trackwork rider for a number of north-west coast thoroughbred trainers and has plans to go further in that code.
- Conor Crook has been one of the biggest improvers in the sulky since arriving in Tasmania from New South Wales to take up employment with leading trainer Ben Yole. Conor’s improvement was seen last season where he was crowned the BOTRA Young Achiever along with claiming the state’s leading junior driver title.
Tasracing interim chief executive officer Alicia Fuller said the 6tyo Youngbloods Challenge was an important annual showcase for young drivers in Tasmania.
“All eligible drivers look forward to this event, and the random draw for drives provides an opportunity for participants to work with a variety of trainers and owners,” she said.
“Tasmania has a long history of producing quality young drivers. Participation in the challenge is an important part of their development.”
6tyo’s Chester Bullock said he had supported the series for 19 consecutive years.
“6tyo is again very proud to be associated with the series,” he said. “It allows our emerging young drivers to compete against each other in quality races. They have earned the right to participate and with all races being non-penalty for the winning horses. I anticipate good support for the series from owners and trainers.”
The series will comprise six heats with 10 starters and an emergency.
Rotated barrier draws, similar to the system used for the Australasian Young Drivers Championship, will apply for the first five heats with a random barrier draw for the sixth.