Group one glory has commenced, with the running of the $100,000 TAB-sponsored regional championship finals.
Tamworth has a shot on Saturday night in both the Hunter Region Championships Final at Newcastle and the Menangle Metropolitan Championships Final.
Moonbi trainer and reinsman Dean Chapple will be carrying the Tamworth flag in the $100,000 Hunter Region Final, with Emm Aye Dee starting from the three barrier after qualifying for the race on May 9 at Newcastle in taking out the opening heat.
The Sportswriter mare is raced by James Sills, and won the heat by a short half head and in a mile rate of 1min 57.1sec.
For Chapple it will be another race on his "bucket list" to be ticked off in his lifelong journey in harness racing . He will have a warm-up for the feature when he contests the Hunter Regional Championships' $9,690 B consolation race with Right On With It - who he also trains and drives. The horse finished third to Elsie Gem in the eighth heat.
"At the end of the day, win, lose or draw, we're there [in the final]. So, it's off my bucket list. It's great." Chapple told the Leader earlier this week.
"Obviously being in a race like this it's the next level. So, I've gotta tick all the boxes going into this race."
Fellow Tamworth trainer Graham Moon will see his stable runner Corsini contest the Menangle Metropolitan Championships' $14,970 A consolation race. The horse has drawn the four barrier and will be driven by Maitland reinsman Brad Elder.
The Newcastle final will also be a big showcase for former Tamworth reinsman Tom Ison, who is relishing a purple patch in his career. He will take the reins behind the Adam Ruggari-trained Hazelnuts - a $3.30 favourite and the winner of the fourth heat.
And let's not forget Caitlin McElhinney - who recently moved from Nowra to Tamworth - and will take the reins behind the Neil Thompson-trained Ultra Bliss in the Newcastle final. Ultra Bliss will start from the 10 barrier after winning the ninth heat.
Meanwhile, the Tamworth-owned Star Major will commence from the four barrier in the $100,000 TAB Metropolitan Regional Championships Final. The Art Major gelding is trained and driven by James Rattray and raced by Tamworth's Dean York.
The championships are showcasing the best of the best in the regions, with Bathurst hosting their final on Wednesday night. The race was a dream come true for the Parkes father and son combination of Malcolm Hutching (the trainer) and his son Brett (the reinsman). Their win in the TAB Western Region Championships Final, with Terryrama, was a boil-over.
Terryrama had a 2.3-metre win over the Josh Turnbull-trained and Nathan Turnbull-driven Bettor Jiggle and paid $81 for the win.
Wagga will host the Riverina Regional Championships Final on Friday afternoon.
MAITLAND reinsman Blake Hughes was the star of last Sunday's Tamworth harness meeting, in driving five winners on the eight-race program. It is the second time the young reinsman has achieved this feat, with the other five-win day also coming at Tamworth.
Hughes achieved three winners for his boss and mentor Clayton Huarmey behind Azure Express, Gold Reactor and Choisir Damour, before giving Tamworth trainer Tony Missen a training double with Are You With Me and I'm So Better.
"It's pretty good to equal the record," said Hughes, with I'm So Better being his fifth winner on the night.
"I took off with her at the 400[m] mark and she went pretty good.
"I forgot about it (the record) and didn't know how many wins I was up to for the night but it was a good feeling once I realised I had the five."
Missen has only had I'm So Better for two race starts.
"You can't do more than win but she is a beautiful mare to do anything with," he said. "She came to me from Canberra."
Hughes almost made it six winners but had to settle for a third placing with the Russell Murray-trained Penny A Packet in the last race.