Spreyton trainer Leanne Gaffney all but rules out return trip to Hobart for Tasmanian Guineas | The Examiner

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Successful Spreyton trainer Leanne Gaffney says it’s highly unlikely she will risk another trip to Hobart with her leading Tasmanian Guineas contender Freelancer. Gaffney said a second seven-hour road trip in the space of four days would be too physically demanding on the horse whose ultimate target is the Tasmanian Derby in February. “It would be a fair bit to ask – at this stage I very much doubt that we’ll go back,” she said. “If we did, it could again be for nothing. “I’ve heard the jockeys are still concerned about the track and there’s no guarantee the meeting will go ahead on Wednesday anyway. “We could get down there and have them called off again.” However that shouldn’t happen, as it’s understood there will be a track inspection at 10am Tuesday to enable an early decision. Gaffney said the only way Freelancer would get to run in the Tasmanian Guineas was if the meeting was moved to Devonport. “And that won’t suit others so it’s not going to happen,” she said. “They’ve added a 1600m three-year-old race on Devonport Cup Day so the plan now is to go there then onto the 2100m Launceston Guineas and the Derby.” Gaffney also has Up Wind and Weldborough among the acceptors for Wednesday’s rescheduled meeting but they won’t be running. “There are races for all three of my horses at Devonport so none of them will go to Hobart,” she said. Wesley Vale trainer Glenn Stevenson was left with only one runner and two emergencies after the fields were revamped but said he also would be staying at home. “I personally don’t think the meeting should be going ahead at all,” he said. Colin McNiff, the voice of Tasmanian racing, will be missing from the airwaves for all of January. Tasmania’s leading racecaller will go into hospital next week for bowel cancer surgery. He will miss the Devonport Cup but is aiming to be back for the two-day Hobart Cup carnival. “The signs are good and the prognosis is that I should be right for Derby Day (February 5),” he said. Senior racecallers Brett Davis (Adelaide) and Mitch Manners (Sydney) will fly-in from interstate to cover the thoroughbred meetings in McNiff’s absence. Matt Robinson and Duncan Dornauf will take on extra workloads to cover harness and greyhounds. Setting the Elwick kerfuffle aside, there’s a lot of racing to look forward to this week with four other meetings. Devonport has two meetings on Tuesday – a 10-race greyhound program starting at 12.17pm to be followed by an eight-race harness card starting at 6.27pm. Longford will host one of the most popular meetings of the year on Friday, with a massive 145 nominations for six advertised races including 19 for the $20,000 Longford Cup which has a field limit of 10. Races at Longford are not normally divided but Tasracing may make an exception this season given the current circumstances. Acceptances aren’t taken until 9am Wednesday. A Hobart harness meeting will wrap up the week on Sunday when the feature race will be the $25,000 Hobart Pacing Cup. Racing Minister Jane Howlett has refuted claims that compensation to be paid to participants under the “postponed and abandoned race meeting policy” would be at the expense of stakemoney. Trainers Association president Nigel Schuuring said on Facebook that the payments would come out of the divided race pool. “So in actual fact we have less stakemoney to run our races,” he said. Without saying what part of Tasracing’s budget the payments would come from, Howlett gave an assurance they would not come out of code funding.


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