20 April 2012 - Victorian-based Tassie driver Josh Duggan completed a winning double at Bendigo on Thursday night to take out the 2012 Goulburn Valley & Central Victoria Under 23 Drivers Challenge.
Duggan scored 65 points at the three race meeting series held during this week at Maryborough, Shepparton and Bendigo to win the trophy, three points clear of Australasian Young Drivers Champion Ellen Tormey. Duggan was in sparkling form at Bendigo, winning the first of the two young driver races on Heathcote trained long shot Statelyness ($15.40). Statelyness showed good gate speed and led throughout to hold out Aristotleonassis (Matt Rue) and Rosenlea (Ellen Tormey) in a tight three way photo-finish. The Challenge then came down to the final race of the series with only one point separating the Challenge front runner Tormey and Duggan. The two title chasers looked set to go to the post locked together in the decider with Duggan piloting the $2.70 favourite Henry Ducket and Tormey on Andy Miller ($4.90). Duggan's drive went strongly to the line while Tormey's Andy Miller broke stride under pressure. Duggan took the sprint lane home on Henry Ducket after tracking the leader and scored by 4.9 metres over Andy Miller but stewards later relegated Andy Miller to third, due to the gelding gaining an unfair advantage while galloping. Gordons Ville (Rhys Nicholson) was promoted to second place. Henry Duckets win gave Duggan a three point winning margin over Tormey at the end of the competition which attracted invited talent from Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. - David Aldred