Harden Up Johnny heads into Monday’s Sires On Ice Tasmanian Derby Final in Launceston as the fastest heat winner after landing the first qualifier over 515 metres of the $7,280-to-the-winner age classic.

Trained by Josh Wright, the son of Sennachie and Silent Boloney produced a strong running effort when leading throughout to dispatch Winemaker and Raider’s Guide by almost five-lengths in 29.76s off box 8.

Victory in his Tasmanian Derby heat notched up 14 wins from 31 starts for the Gold Nugget Syndicate.

“It was good to see Harden Up Johnny back to his best, he was very hit and miss for a while,” Josh Wright said.

“He seems to have become a bit stronger running out his 500m races, he looks to have lost his early speed at the moment, hopefully he will pick that back up with a solid run and should be ready for the final.”

Harden Up Johnny is after the second feature win of his career after success in the Johnston Puppy earlier this year.

Josh Wright will prepare two finalists for the 2023 Tasmanian Derby decider after the litter brother Hey Thunder finished fourth behind Ah We’re Tight in the second qualifier just 4-3/4 lengths off the winner.

Ted Medhurst trains Ah We’re Tight for Rodney Campbell looking for his fourth Tasmanian Derby win.

“I was really pleased with Hey Thunder’s effort after his slipped on the mat in front of the boxes, he showed great determination to chase after the leader, still copping a check, he made plenty of ground,” Josh added.

Harden Up Johnny will exit from box 7 and Hey Thunder off box 6 in another great edition of the event.

“They’ve certainly been a fantastic litter to us, it would be nice to claim another big race with either dog.

“I don’t think there is too much concern with the draw, even though they’re drawn side by side, I’m hoping that won’t be an issue, both will be vying for the lead early as there is speed in the race,” Josh said.

The 2023 Sires On Ice Tasmanian Derby Final Box Draw

  1. Ah We’re Tight
  2. Nitro Harvey
  3. Winemaker
  4. Fawn Shadow
  5. Fast Minardi
  6. Hey Thunder
  7. Harden Up Johnny
  8. Raider’s Guide
  9. Black Tsunami (1st reserve)
  10. Jaivant (2nd reserve)