THE Brighton community is fortunate to have one of the best horse training facilities in the State, therefore it’s little wonder that half of the young harness drivers selected in the recent Youngbloods Series live in Brighton and use this great facility.
The series is open to all drivers statewide under 23, with southern participants Nick Brockman, Dylan Ford, Samantha Gangell, Justin Howlett and Matthew Howlett all of whom were selected on their performances over the past 12 months.
The make-up of the field comprises the drivers who finished in the top five of last season’s Tasmanian junior driver’s premiership and the current season’s leading five drivers.
The skills and dedication of these young drivers are a credit to them, with all five drivers enjoying harness racing as a hobby outside their work or school commitments.
The series was run over six heats that included race meets at Hobart, Devonport and Launceston. The winner was determined on a point-score basis with 16 points allocated for first, 12 for second, nine for third, seven for fourth and reduces by one through to last (10th) place who receives one point.
The series is sponsored by Launceston business 6tyo,a building and construction consultancy business that has supported the series for 16 consecutive years
Brighton has a long history of producing quality young drivers with many locals winning the series in its 30-year history. Most recently Matthew Howlett was the youngest winner of the series (16 years and seven months) in 2013 while Alex Ashwood and Dylan Ford tied for the title in 2014.
Going into the last night of heats any of the 10 drivers could have taken out the series with Samantha Gangell emerging as the leader after the fourth heat on 36 points with a one-point lead over Justin Howlett.
Those involved in racing know there’s not always a sure thing which was the case when the two favourites were defeated in both heats on the final night. In a very close finish for the 2016 title, Matthew Howlett emerged as the winner on 52 points guiding home a winner and fourth placing in the last two heats.
He finished one point clear of Nicholas Brockman and Wade Rattray who dead-heated for second on 51 while Samantha Gangell was next best on 43 points.
Congratulations to all young drivers for their wonderful exhibition of their skills and thank you to all owners and trainers who enter their horses in these races giving our future stars the opportunity.