Australasian Grand Circuit - Pacers
Stories:  Pacers 2001/2002 Season
Leg 7:   Carlton Draught Ben Hur 2001/2002Results   Points
              14/12/2001  Harold Park, Sydney, NSW  2965m  Standing Start  $150,000
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Published in NSW Harness Racing Gazette, January 2002, and used with permission from Bill Ellis.

It was more of a stutter than a spring which launched his bid, but in the end it was the desired result for Smooth Satin as he emerged victorious from the $150,000 Group 1 Ben Hur (2965m) at Harold Park last month.

At first it was the on-again, off-again procrastination of part owner Laurie Paton and trainer-driver Steve Turnbull as they wrestled with the dilemma of whether or not to start the five-year-old in the Australasian Grand Circuit leg.

Prominent in their minds were the facts Smooth Satin had never contested a standing start race, that he had to concede the start to the majority of his rivals after being handicapped on 10 metres (thanks to his Miracle Mile win a fortnight earlier), and that he had already come through a period of some tough competition and there were still some more attractive prizes beckoning.

According to Turnbull, he and Paton literally left it until the last minute to decide to proceed to the Ben Hur.

"Laurie drove out home on the Monday morning and we both had a good, long look at the horse before deciding we would go ahead," Turnbull recalled.

"I have been extremely happy with the way the horse has come through these races and I told Laurie I could guarantee he would strip as fit as ever, but I couldn't guarantee (how he would handle) the start."

The start.  That was another stutter.  Smooth Satin's inexperience showed as he stumbled and pranced on the spot after the strand sprang across in front of him on the way to the outside fence after being released by the race starter.


Smooth Satin

Once into stride though, he quickly surged forward as Steve Turnbull sent him up in search of the lead.  He got there with a little under 2400m left to travel.

And it was obvious there was not going to be any slackening of the tempo as Jofess surged forward to race on his outside soon after.

It was the showdown between two talented five-year-olds, the new kids on the Grand Circuit stage who had shown promise of taking the next step through some memorable clashes in their four-year-old campaigns, and who were sharing favouritism for this, their latest encounter.

His presence obviously contributed to Smooth Satin putting the last mile behind in 1L57.5 but Jofess had to be content with fifth money.

It has to be said though, he was far from disgraced as there was only a nose separating him, back-marker Safe And Sound (fourth) and minor placegetter Parawanga, who was only a nose behind runner-up Bar Ron Boy who failed by two metres to catch Smooth Satin.

So, regardless of which definition you attach to spring, be it a leap, a coiled steel wire, a fountain, or the season, there's absolutely no doubting Spring sprang for Smooth Satin.

He was the undisputed star of the new five-night tournament combining flagship races of the Bankstown, Newcastle, and NSW Harness Racing Clubs.

Placed after getting clear late in the Tooheys Mile at Newcastle, Smooth Satin was far from disgraced by his second to Leftrightout in one of the sprints at Harold Park, won the Miracle Mile, was a close-up fourth after getting clear too late in the Treuer Memorial at Bankstown, and then backed up to win the Ben Hur at Harold Park.

The conducting clubs are yet to assign a signature to their new feature carnival, which will annually launch with the Tooheys Mile at Newcastle towards the end of Spring.

But a couple of suggestions which spring (pardon the pun) to mind are "springboard" as the carnival certainly added impetus to Smooth Satin's "spring to fame," giving him the singular distinction of completing the Miracle Mile-Ben Hur double.



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