Decision time looms for Ignatius and Harjeet

15 January 2020 | Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing
Ignatius winning at Menangle on Saturday night, taken by Ashlea Brennan.

Ignatius winning at Menangle on Saturday night, taken by Ashlea Brennan. Photo by Ashlea Brennan

The next start of Tasmanian owned and bred pacers Ignatius and Harjeet will determine if they will press on to the $500,000 A G Hunter Cup at Melton on 1 February or stay in New South Wales and target the upcoming carnival according to their trainer-driver James Rattray.

Ignatius was back in the winner’s list at Menangle on Saturday night when leading for the majority of the event over the 2300 metre trip in a mile rate of 1m 54.6s, dashing home his last two quarters in 26.8s and 27.1s.

“His sectionals were very good on the way home, the way he did it and the way he pulled up I was very happy,” said Rattray about the 5.1-metre victory which was the first win of the season for the gelded son of Roll With Joe.

Rattray will likely start Ignatius again at Menangle on Saturday week before he and owner Lyrae Rattray make a decision if they head to Victoria’s premier race, the A G Hunter Cup.

“He will probably race on Saturday week at Menangle, and then we will make a decision on whether we tackle the Hunter Cup at Melton or stay up here in New South Wales for the Carnival of Miracles,” explained Rattray.

Another Tasmanian in his care, Harjeet, has been nominated for a race at Goulburn this Sunday afternoon, and that performance will also be a strong guide to where he heads next.

The gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover hasn’t been seen since running a brave fifth on 26 December in the Group 2 Shirley Turnbull Memorial in Bathurst when defeated just over 3.5 metres.

“He was supposed to race last week but the meeting got called off because of the smoke,” said Rattray who is hoping that Sunday’s race attracts enough nominations to proceed.

“If he goes well this week, we will still aim him at the Goulburn Cup, but if he happens to go really good, we will look at the Hunter Cup as well,” explained the trainer.

“The Hunter Cup is over 2760 metres which will suit him down to the ground,” he added

It has been an interrupted preparation for both pacers with a number of meetings in New South Wales being abandoned due to the poor air quality from the bush fires across the state, which were within 4km of Rattray’s Exeter based stables about 80km south of the Menangle track.

“Its been awful with the smoke that has been around and then with the fires a couple of weeks ago we had to evacuate twice so it hasn’t been a great prep for both horses,” said Rattray.

“The first bad night with the fires we had a battle as there were over 30 horses on the property, the second bad night I only had ten horses on the property as I could handle those by myself if I had to clear everything as the other horses had been moved to other locations,” explained Rattray.

Rattray won the 2005 Tasmanian Junior Drivers Premiership and the Youngbloods Challenge in 2003 and 2004 before working for a number of stables across the globe.

He returned to Tasmania in 2013 before Beautide took him on an incredible journey winning the 2014 and 2015 Inter Dominion and the Miracle Mile in 2013.

Although based in New South Wales, James is still proud to call himself a Tasmanian and he is certainly doing the local Tasmanian industry proud.