Battle of the best
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.