Open class Tasmanian pacers Ryley Major and Scooterwillrev will clash for the third time in their career on Sunday night in the Hobart Signwriters Pace, a 2090-metre standing start event in Hobart.
The pair haven’t met since 20 April 2019 where Scooterwillrev finished second in the Easter Cup that was won by Franco Tristian with Ryley Major flashing home late for third.
Their only other clash was in the 2019 Launceston Mile where Ryley Major led from barrier seven, with Scooterwilllrev sitting on his back from the pole draw and finishing 7.6 metres away in third spot.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.
Scooterwillrev embarked on a Sydney campaign at Menangle where he won one race from 14 starts.
The gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere was narrowly defeated at his first-up effort in Launceston last Sunday behind Blackbird Power, his first public appearance in eight months.
Trained at Stowport on the states north-west coast by Craig Hayes, Scooter has a standing start record of 16 starts, eight wins and six placings.
In tonight’s event, Scooterwillrev faces the front mark while his main rival Ryley Major has to overcome a 30-metre handicap.
Ryley Major has overcome 30-metre handicaps in standing start races before.
His performance when winning the Tassie Golden Apple late last year over the 2200 metres was one of the best this writer has seen on the Launceston track.
The star pacers other winning performances from a 30-metre handicap include the heat of that event and a discretionary handicap in Hobart last October, plus the Group 2 Tasmania Cup two starts ago on 14 March where trainer-driver Rohan Hillier believes the pacer was below his best and he wasn’t disappointed with the Art Major geldings first-up second to Call Me Hector in Launceston on 19 July.
“I think Tasmania Cup time he was a little bit tired, he was at the end of a long preparation, so he had six weeks in the paddock. He had his first run two weeks ago. Obviously, he was beaten but he wasn’t disgraced, and I think he will improve from the run,” said Hillier when speaking on Victorian radio on Thursday.
“He has always been a horse that loves to race so getting some runs into him will do him the world of good, he had a trial before that race and that race will bring him right up to where he needs to be,” added Hillier.
Ryley Major has been first past the post in two of three Victorian starts and Hillier will be happy to take the pacer back across Bass Strait when the COVID-19 situation in that state eases.
“I always thought pre-COVID that we would like to go and test the waters in Victoria or New South Wales, just at the moment we can’t go anywhere so we aren’t looking too far down the track we are just going to poke around down here week to week and obviously if things open back up then we would love to have a crack over the water,” he said.
Ryley Major has won 28 of his 40 starts and he has never missed a top-three finish in 18 starts in Hobart.
Tonight’s event is race five on the 10-event card and is set down to start at 19:07. The first event is pencilled in for 17:20.
All races will be televised on Sky Racing 1 and TasracingTV.