Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Pacers 2001/2002 Season
Leg 6:  M H Treuer Memorial 2001/2002Results   Points
             8/12/2001  Bankstown, NSW  2540m  Mobile Start  $100,000
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Officials at Bankstown Paceway were delighted with connections of all three visiting New Zealand pacers when they chose to stay on in Sydney to contest the Treuer Memorial eight days after the Miracle Mile. Only one of the six contestants from the nation’s premier sprint would be missing. Despite Shakamaker having returned to Victoria, it was generally agreed this field would be the strongest of all six Grand Circuit events so far contested this season.

Brian Hancock that week had become somewhat feisty at some harness racing writers who had not been too kind writing about the defeat of Courage Under Fire NZ by Smooth Satin, trained and driven by nephew Steve Turnbull. “You have only to take a line through the performance of Holmes D G NZ before putting the boot into Courage Under Fire,” declared Hancock. “The fact that Holmes D G NZ couldn’t beat a runner home says a lot for Courage Under Fire NZ’s run. That first 400 metres really took care of Holmes D G, while my horse was getting beaten.”

Not for the first time did Hancock have a point to prove as he headed towards the only mobile start race on the Grand Circuit named after a former official/breeder. Back in 1996 Hancock’s Our Sir Vancelot NZ had been a surprise omission from the Miracle Mile field. Hancock and his pacer a week later were all fired up in outclassing horses from that big sprint in the Treuer Memorial.

“Everyone has been trying to find faults in the little horse, but I would like to have another two or three like him in the yard. In this league, you are not likely to get a dominant horse. It all comes down to the barrier draw and what type of run your horse gets.”  The barrier draw that week did Hancock no favours with Courage Under Fire NZ to start from outside the second line.

The field in barrier order: 1 Mon Amigo (1st emerg.), 2 Kyms Girl NZ, 3 Camsplace Alec (2nd emerg.), 4 Holmes D G NZ, 5 Jofess, 6 Lombo Rapida, 7 Seelster Sam NZ, 8 Double Identity, 9 Yulestar NZ, 10 Smooth Satin, 11 Ocean Spirit, 12 Courage Under Fire NZ.


Kyms Girl NZ

Bookmakers it seems agreed with Hancock. In the first pre-race betting on Leg 6 of the Grand Circuit they had Courage Under Fire NZ favourite at $4, from Miracle Mile winner Smooth Satin on $5, then Holmes D G NZ and Jofess both at $6.50, and Kyms Girl NZ ($8) the only other pacer under $10.

Despite having finished last in the Miracle Mile when trying for its third successive win in this race, Holmes D G NZ still was the apple of trainer Barry Purdon’s eye. The horse had won the Treuer in 1999, and Purdon was delighted the gelding would start from gate two after the two emergencies came out. “He is drawn to lead here. I cannot be critical of his effort at Harold Park after using up a lot of early petrol. I believe he is racing as well now as ever he has. Kyms Girl is also a fast beginner, but I think I can cross her at the start,” he predicted.

Trainer-driver Steve Turnbull was pleased with his second-row draw with Smooth Satin. “I can just poke him through from the back line without having to do much work in getting onto the back of Holmes D G. Had he drawn outside barrier three on the front line then I would have had to use him up a bit early. Now I won’t have to worry about that.”

Trainer Lorraine Nolan was also pleased with Yulestar NZ drawing barrier nine. “He won the Brisbane Inter Dominion earlier in the year after racing mid-field on the pegs. From inside the back line he should get a similar trip. I also think the horse appreciates being driven with cover as he does not seem as tough as he used to be. He has done well since his good placing in the Miracle Mile.”

Atitagain NZ was still causing trainer Dennis Wilson some concern.  His stable would be represented by Seelster Sam NZ, regarded as a speed pacer when a four-year-old. Months earlier there had been some who believed this now five-year-old would be the one to take the next step competing on the Grand Circuit. Since then the horse had fallen behind Smooth Satin and Jofess, two other NSW pacers of the same age, both with considerable ability. Jofess was highly regarded for its staying prowess. On Miracle Mile night it had looked impressive beating Seelster Sam NZ and Parawanga in the main support race, a Free-For-All.

Darren Hancock, another nephew of Brian, said how he had several options on the way he would drive Jofess at Bankstown. “I expect Holmes D G to hold the lead, but my bloke is going to be somewhere in the leading division from barrier three. A lot will depend on what Lombo Rapida does. If she goes forward, as she usually does, then there’s a chance I could lob the one-one trail. Jofess is probably a better horse racing outside the leader, so whatever happens, he is going to be right in this race.”

Brian Hancock, now 53, had won the Treuer three times as a trainer, and twice as a driver – Thorate in 1990, and Our Sir Vancelot NZ in 1996 and 97. Barry Purdon, now 45, had also won the race twice as a trainer (Luxury Liner NZ in 1988 and Holmes DG NZ in 1999). His brother-in-law Tony Herlihy had been aboard when Luxury Liner NZ had won.

Holmes D G NZ remained high on the betting charts having drawn to lead, while it was thought that Colin De Filippi from the pole would seek to try and give Kyms Girl NZ a trail on the back of whatever led. This would suit the mare’s reputation of being a fine sit-and sprint style pacer that could really finish her races off strongly. The recent NZ Cup winner had finished only fifth in the Miracle Mile after settling at the rear in the early stages. Colin De Filippi liked its draw in the Treuer, and confidently expected the mare to hold a prominent position.

At barrier rise both Kyms Girl NZ and Holmes D G NZ came out fast. With the advantage of the inside, it seemed as though De Filippi could have retained the lead. But as he later disclosed, this was never a real option that night, preferring to sit on the back of Barry Purdon and the gelded son of Holmes Hanover USA.

It would be a race of many moves, with the next coming from Darren Hancock, who took off with Jofess to go up on the outside of the leader. Soon after Brian Hancock swept around the field with Courage Under Fire NZ only to see nephew Darren make it clear he would not give up the ‘death-seat’ easily. As Jofess slipped up a gear, Brian Hancock was able to drop Courage Under Fire NZ in for a one-out one-back trail.

It was not long before another dash around the field was attempted. Peter Jones had taken hold of Yulestar NZ at the start from barrier six. Mid-way through the race he went forward, but again Darren Hancock on Jofess seemed keen to retain the front outside of Holmes D G NZ. This move also allowed Yulestar NZ to drop in for a trail, with Courage Under Fire NZ now two back, and Smooth Satin three back on the inside with nowhere to go even had Turnbull wished.

For much of the race the speed was rather moderate, making it a real sprint home. Under such tactics, horses caught out the back had little hope of having much of a say at the finish when the leaders paced their last quarter in 27.6. It was De Filippi dashing Kyms Girl NZ along the inside to beat the pacemaker Holmes D G NZ, with Yulestar NZ grabbing third to make it an all-Kiwi finish. Smooth Satin edged out Jofess for fourth, with Courage Under Fire NZ struggling into sixth.

Barry Purdon was pleased with the effort of Holmes D G NZ. “Unfortunately, he just drifted away from the inside enough to give Kyms Girl the run, and she went to the post better.” Brian Hancock said the way the race unfolded had not suited Courage Under Fire NZ. “The first three horses in running filled the first three placings, which shows how hard it was to make up ground from back in the field.” Smooth Satin was the unlucky runner, not getting out of a pocket until the race was virtually over.

After the mare’s win, De Filippi announced a change of plans for Kyms Girl NZ. She was to have returned to New Zealand as soon as possible after the Treuer Memorial. Now the stable was more than happy to stay on in Sydney to contest the $150,000 Ben Hur over 2965 metres at Harold Park the following Friday night. By moving this race to this new date, it provided Sydney with a carnival of racing over three successive weekends.


1977-1991 known as Australian Grand Circuit.  1992 New Zealand included, and Circuit renamed Australasian Grand Circuit.

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