Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Trotters 2001/2002 Season
Leg 9:  Tommo's Pizzas J Rowe Memorial Cup 2001/2002Results   Points
             9/04/2002  Alexandra Park, Auckland, NZ  3200m  Standing Start  $NZ100,000
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Winning an Inter Dominion trot or pace remains the most cherished achievement in Australasian harness racing for most owners and trainers. With the passing years, no enthusiast forgets a winner. Unfortunately, with the passing of time, few ever remember a runner-up.

Even before contesting the Sydney Inter Dominion, La Coocaracha had stitched up more than enough points to become Grand Circuit Champion for 2001-2002.

No doubt smarting at not having added the Inter Dominion title to the mare’s impressive performances, the Andy Gath stable elected to take the mare to Auckland for the Rowe Memorial Cup.

This race long billed as the biggest annual trotting race in New Zealand, would bring down the curtain on this latest Grand Circuit.

The best Australian trotters had not been able to beat her on Aussie soil, so it would have surprised no one that this daughter of Safely Kept USA would be the only Aussie to head for Auckland in mid-April. La Coocaracha and Take A Moment NZ were both handicapped off 15 metres.

Only one other starter was handicapped behind the front -- Game Bid NZ off 10 metres. He would meet the two back-markers considerably worse for having won the recent Inter Dominion title.

Major Decision (NZ), who had performed well earlier in the season’s Grand Circuit, had been set for this race and another clash with Take A Moment NZ.

Special Force NZ and Waihemo Hanger NZ would also be a part of the action. Last Sunset NZ was then out spelling, allowing Tony Herlihy to be driving Frugal Echo NZ.


La Coocaracha

This was not the only name unknown to many Australians to start in this big race. The others included Down For The Count, Cordon Rouge (NZ), Duchess Of Whiz (NZ), Superstaragogo (NZ) and Thomas Brydon (NZ).

Early in the race La Coocaracha broke stride, but quickly made up ground, with Kerryn Gath electing to sit the mare out three wide. Covering a great deal of ground beyond her back-mark, the mare turned in one of her finest wins. Just how great she was in beating Frugal Echo NZ and Major Decision (NZ) in race record time, would not be fully understood until after the event.

When La Coocaracha returned to the winner’s stall she was lame in the near-side leg. A veterinary examination would later reveal this mare, poised for international greatness, had chipped a sesamoid bone. The headlines in New Zealand newspapers were quick to claim she had won the biggest trot in that country with a ‘broken leg.’

La Coocaracha was returned to Victoria with veterinarian opinion suggesting she would never race again.


Australian Trotters Grand Circuit commenced 1999/2000 season.

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