Bat­tle of the best

Mercury (Hobart) - - RACING - PETER STA­PLES Mer­cury rac­ing writer

THE na­tional har­ness rac­ing spot­light shines on El­wick tonight, where a star-stud­ded line-up will vie the ti­tle of Aus­tralia’s best driver.

It will be the third time the Aus­tralian Driv­ers’ Cham­pi­onship has been held in Ho­bart and it is con­sid­ered by par­tic­i­pants as one of the most pop­u­lar on the na­tional har­ness rac­ing cir­cuit.

The line-up of driv­ers in­cludes Todd McCarthy from NSW and Queens­land’s Pete McMullen, both of whom are pre­vi­ous win­ners of the se­ries.

Vic­to­rian Ker­ryn Man­ning con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate around Aus­tralia with her ca­reer tally of 3903 win­ners from more than 16,500 drives the most im­pres­sive of the group to line up tonight.

South Aus­tralia’s Dani Hill is no stranger to Tas­ma­nia hav­ing rep­re­sented her state the last time the se­ries was held in Launce­s­ton (2017) and her tally is 1668 win­ners from 8287 drives.

The event in its present for­mat has al­ter­nated be­tween South Aus­tralia and Tas­ma­nia since 2014, com­pris­ing two driv­ers from each of the six states.

The win­ner is de­ter­mined on a point-score ba­sis with points al­lo­cated based on fin­ish­ing po­si­tions in each of seven heats. West­ern Aus­tralia’s Ryan Warwick and Garry Hall Jr are equal favourites to take out the ti­tle.

Tas­ma­nia is rep­re­sented by Ricky Dug­gan, who has rep­re­sented the state mul­ti­ple times, along with last sea­son’s premier drover Mark Yole.

“I am rapt to be rep­re­sent­ing the state again be­cause we get to pit our skill against some of the best in the game,” Dug­gan said.

It is a ran­dom draw for horses and that’s where the first part of luck chimes in, but Dug­gan says the lo­cals have an ad­van­tage in that they know the form of all the horses in each heat.

“Mark [Yole] and I have a bit of an edge be­cause we know the lo­cal form, but in the end we still need to draw rea­son­able chances in each heat to be a chance.”

Hall Jr could get off to a fly­ing start as he will part­ner the con­sis­tent Red Shed Rob­bie in the open­ing heat (race 1) with the main dan­ger likely to come from Wandary Mus­cat, driven by Warwick.

The first heat starts at 7pm with the last (race seven) sched­uled to start at 10.20pm.

Richmond premier­ship player Jack Riewoldt will be a spe­cial guest at the meet­ing and he will com­pete in a dou­ble-seater sulky race as well as be­ing avail­able to sign au­to­graphs.

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