First run in 1986, the Youngbloods Challenge has been the premier junior drivers series in Tasmania, and Tasracing have announced the drivers that will take part in this year’s series.
This year’s series will see a slight change to previous years.
It will still remain a six-race series but will be spread across two venues this year with three heats in Hobart on 6 December and a further three heats in Launceston on 13 December.
Drivers selected for this years series are listed in alphabetical order:
Andrew Freeman: drove his first win aboard Hez The One in April last year. So far this season he has driven two winners from limited opportunities. His biggest success to date was on the Heath Woods trained The Shallows in a heat of the Youngbloods Challenge late last year.
Ben Woodsford: is a former New Zealander who now calls Tasmania home, Woodsford currently splits his time between training pacers and riding track work for a number of trainers at Brighton.
Bronte Miller: is a recent addition to the states driving ranks and currently sits in fifth spot on the states drivers title, she has been around horses for many years, including her involvement in pony club.
Charlie Castles: is currently in fourth spot on the states junior drivers title. Castles last year spent a period of time in New South Wales developing his skills under the care of duel Inter Dominion winning trainer and former Youngbloods winner James Rattray.
Georgia Hayward: has been sidelined from the sulky in recent weeks due to injury but will be right to take her place in this years Youngbloods Challenge. She drove her first winner It Is A Glacier in Launceston earlier this year at triple figure odds.
Lachlan Dakin: has notched up six winners this season and is another that has been driving well in recent times. He currently splits his time between his university studies and working for trainer Todd Rattray.
Malcom Jones: is continuing a strong family tradition into the industry and the youngster drove his first winner at a TAB meeting in Launceston last week abroad Scotlynn Beach. Jones spent a lot of his early childhood on King Island before moving to mainland Tasmania when his parents returned home.
Matt Howlett: will be chasing his third Youngbloods Challenge title after winning the series in 2013 and 2016, he was also narrowly defeated in 2015. His victory in 2013 was a Youngbloods record being the youngest driver to win the series at 16 years and seven months of age.
Samantha Gangell: missed last years Youngblood’s challenge as she was on an overseas holiday, she was last seasons leading female driver in Tasmania. Gangell took out her trainers license early this season.
Taylor Ford: currently leads this seasons leading female trainers, female drivers and junior drivers premiership tables. She is the defending champion of the series and will be out to follow in the footsteps of her father Phillip who won the Youngbloods on two occasions in 1995 and 1997.
Sam Clotworthy has been listed as the emergency.
All six heats are rating exempt races for the winning horse.
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 as per Tasracing’s policy.
Recent winners of the Youngbloods Challenge:
- 2011 Todd Rattray,
- 2012 Jaimie-Lee King,
- 2013 Matthew Howlett,
- 2014 Alex Ashwood dead heated with Dylan Ford,
- 2015 Wade Rattray,
- 2016 Matthew Howlett,
- 2017 Jack Laugher,
- 2018 (June) Brady Woods,
- 2018 (Nov) Conor Crook,
- 2019 Taylor Ford.