Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Pacers 2002/2003 Season
Leg 1 Garrards Queensland Pacing Championship   2002/2003Results   Points
            26/10/2002  Albion Park, Brisbane, Qld  2647m  Mobile Start  $99,000
  Grand Circuit Home Page

It would have surprised no one when Bathurst’s Smooth Satin was judged Australian ‘Horse of the Year’ in early September.  The gelding had competed in just 16 races during 2001-2002 for nine wins and four placings. It had emerged a real track specialist at Harold Park, as it was in Sydney this pacer had won the Miracle Mile and the Ben Hur, and then topped off its Grand Circuit success when claiming the Inter Dominion Grand Final. This son of Jack Honan’s imported Stature USA had banked a total of $644,095 for owners Laurie and Gwen Paton.

After several weeks in work, the announcement that Courage Under Fire NZ would not race again caught many by surprise. Like Halley’s Comet, he had flashed across the harness racing world remaining unbeaten at two and three. Because he was not much more than pony-size tall, he was known in New Zealand as “The Pocket Rocket’, and in Australia it was “Mighty Mouse”. You can probably count on one hand other horses in the past fifty years that had the crowd appeal of this son of In The Pocket USA. The horse retired with a record of 41 wins and stakemoney of almost $1.5 million. Queensland owner Greg Brodie elected to send the stallion to New Zealand for its first season at stud. Its battles with the smart Shakamaker and Atitagain NZ on recent Grand Circuits had been thrilling affairs and highlights of those years.

With no Courage Under Fire NZ to contend with, the main rivals that seemed likely to challenge Smooth Satin when defending his title appeared to be Shakamaker and Atitagain NZ. At their best they were both outstanding performers, though their last few starts before going to the spelling paddock the previous March were unlikely to have made the short list of their finest achievements. Perhaps the improving Sydney pacer Jofess would be a challenger. Another winning name from the previous Grand Circuit missing was the crack Perth pacer The Falcon Strike NZ. It had been injured during the A.G. Hunter Cup and had not raced since. With a little luck, it just might be back later in the season. When these horses met in battle on the forthcoming Grand Circuit, reputations would mean little.

There is excellence and there is greatness. We know it when we see it – we think. But how does one measure it? The word ‘champion’ is so easily tossed around in the media that one can be excused for thinking there are always a couple of champions racing in any one year. This is not usually so, in the real sense. Perhaps it is accepted that the best one or two horses of their year are champions, but maintaining such a lofty tag well after their retirement from the track can be very much another matter.


The Shakamaker that raced for John Justice in the 18 months that followed the horse’s return to racing when a four-year-old, did enough to warrant this son of Bookmaker USA being looked upon as a champion of the day. The horse in this period had the edge over Courage Under Fire NZ and all other rivals. Now, ‘Shaka’ was poised to create a new prizemoney record. A win in any Grand Circuit race would enable the Victorian to become the richest standardbred of all time Down Under. 

For several years Justice had not missed a trip north for the launching of the Grand Circuit. Having the Queensland Championship followed a week or so later by the Australian Championship was a huge incentive for southern stables to be represented in two Group One events in October. The aspirations of Justice in Brisbane had been firstly with Safe And Sound and then Shakamaker. The highly successful big-race stables of Brian Hancock had an even longer involvement attending the opening races on the Grand Circuit in Brisbane. The appearances in Brisbane by other stables from the south all played their part in providing a great spectacle, even if it did make it difficult for local pacers to enjoy success in these events. 

This year there would be two interesting changes awaiting the southern visitors and their horses. For the first time in some years Queensland would be hosting just one Grand Circuit event. The Western Australian Trotting Association had earlier put up its hand to stage its first Australian Pacing Championship since Village Kid had won it back in 1987 at Gloucester Park. Programming this feature race in January as part of Perth’s major carnival now meant that on a calendar year there would be no Australian Pacing Championship in the year 2002. This would not be the only major change to harness racing in the Sunshine State when the curtain went up on the Queensland Championship. 

For more than thirty years Brisbane’s Albion Park had remained unchallenged for the title of Australia’s fastest harness track, based on all racing held in a year. In the months leading up to the 2002-2003 season, times across the board at Albion Park had dipped for the first time since the track’s inception. Perth’s Gloucester Park, a track of just 804.5m, had now grabbed the mantle of its racing being on the fastest paceway in the land, a statement supported by an analysis of times of all races at the two tracks during this period.

Albion Park had not made any structural changes to its 1019.34m circuit, which might well have many scratching their head. Because fast times can also be dictated by how a racing surface is prepared, it does beg the question as to whether the club at Brisbane had made any significant change to its method of preparing its surface for its weekly Saturday night meetings? Supporting this theory is that on occasions when a major meet was held, the best horses were still capable of turning in a fast time.

Race times in North America is a topic always to the fore, as the industry there very much hangs its hat on fast racing. Times do not carry the same significance in Australia where the public places greater importance on form, though many a breeder and some of our track promoters here do use fast times to promote horses for their individual benefit. 

Reports from Sydney and Melbourne were encouraging early in September regarding the early preparation of the likes of Jofess, Shakamaker and the latter’s stablemate Safe And Sound. Before this outstanding trio could return to racing, the first piece of seriously bad news involving the Grand Circuit followed Dennis Wilson’s trip to Brisbane with Atitagain NZ, the 2001 Grand Circuit Champion. Wilson was devastated after his now nine-year-old failed to beat a rival home in the $75,000 Winter Cup at Albion Park. “I’ve lost him again,” a shattered trainer-driver said later that night. “I was crowing in the run because the race seemed to have been put on for a horse of his ability. But he gave me nothing.”

The following day Wilson had the gelding’s blood tested. The result confirmed that all was not well. When the Cobbitty horseman first took over the training of Atitagain NZ two years before, the horse had stepped up to a new level. In between some fine performances, the racetrack efforts of Atitagain NZ became a roller-coaster affair with sudden bouts of form losses, puzzling veterinarians and the stable. Blood problems had long plagued Atitagain NZ. This went back to the days when it was trained by Peter Walsh. When Walsh moved to train in the USA, Atitagain NZ was transferred to Wilson and, for a time, the gelding seemed to have never raced better, culminating in it being crowned Grand Circuit Champion.

The well-liked Wilson after having his horse finish last told the media he did not know whether to turn Atitagain NZ out for a spell, or keep him in light work. He explained he was taking time off to go across to the Little Brown Jug in Delaware (Ohio) the following week, and while in the USA he would sit down and have a long talk with the gelding’s former trainer. “The horse still has all the ability in the world, but every time I think I have got him back to what I know is his best, I lose him again. It’s so frustrating,” said Wilson.

Meanwhile, John Justice could hardly have been happier with the return of Safe And Sound to racing after a five-month spell. The stallion at Geelong showed he was even more forward than Justice had thought by sweeping around a handy field to win easily, clocking his last 800m in 56.9 seconds, including a 27.7 seconds last 400m split. Justice pointed out his former Australian Pacing Championship winner had gone into the Geelong race 17 kilos above its normal racing weight. “He felt really terrific and was never going to get beaten.”

Although a truly fine stayer in his own right, Safe And Sound had long been in the shadow of stablemate Shakamaker. In mid-September, much travelled writer Adam Hamilton began his major article with a little prophecy. “If you thought Safe And Sound looked impressive winning first up at Geelong last week, then expect Shakamaker to toy with his rivals at Moonee Valley this Saturday night after also being away from racing for five months. Shakamaker is carrying less condition than Safe And Sound did, and I am expecting it to be very sharp for his return to racing in the $15,000 Navy Cup.”

That Saturday night ‘Shaka’ shocked not only Hamilton, but most patrons at the ‘Valley’ when a beaten $1.10 favourite. It’s rare for any horse to be sent out such a short-priced favourite, and rarer still for it to be beaten. Blood tests later found nothing to be wrong with the horse. The trainer was now inclined to put the defeat down to ‘Shaka’ not being as forward in condition as he had thought. “I’ll go back to Moonee Valley this Saturday night with a great deal of confidence for his next start.”

The stallion had often demonstrated his versatility having won numerous races over staying distances. He was also unbeaten in five starts over 1609m at Moonee Valley, including the past two Legend Miles. Punters were quick to forgive the horse for its first-up failure, and it lined up at the barrier an extremely short-priced favourite. Two starts for two disappointing efforts was something Melbournians had never seen before from this pacer. Now, his large army of fans must have been wondering whether or not the wheels had suddenly fallen off the best horse Victoria had produced since Golden Reign. No one was more surprised than trainer-driver Justice.

With Smooth Satin not being aimed at the Queensland Championship and a question mark now underlining the form of Shakamaker, the spotlight now turned on New South Wales pacer Jofess, trained and driven by Darren Hancock, a nephew of Brian Hancock. The younger member of the Hancock tribe announced he could hardly be happier over the manner Jofess was responding in its preparation for this latest campaign.  As with Shakamaker, Jofess had not started in a race since the Sydney Inter Dominion Grand Final on March 15 when finishing fifth to Smooth Satin. 

“Jofess has come back well and is forward enough in condition to win first-up,” predicted Hancock, discussing his horse resuming at Harold Park on September 13. “I put a lot of slow work into him, and the horse since has been trialling well.” Unfortunately for the public, Jofess was withdrawn at the track that Friday night as a precautionary measure. On arriving at Harold Park it was found Jofess had a cough with some mucous running from its nose. (The pacer would later return to racing at Bathurst, only missing two days work.)

Darren Hancock also planned on taking stablemate Piccini north for the Queensland Championship. By Stature USA, the same sire as Smooth Satin, Hancock was giving Piccini some chance of finishing in the money at Albion Park. “He seems to be really flying at the moment. I know he was beaten last Friday at Harold Park, but he did come home a fast 56.2 for his last half. The horse has high speed, and a race like the Queensland Championship will be a good test for him,” he added.

It was generally agreed that Jofess would be the big hope for New South Wales. The now six-year-old had won the previous Victoria Cup at Moonee Valley, and had been placed in all three heats at the Sydney Inter Dominion, finishing just 9.5 metres behind Smooth Satin in the Grand Final. The long-range plan for Jofess was to return to Melbourne to defend his Group One title. However, standing-start races, such as the A.G. Hunter Cup, were off the agenda. “There are plenty of races for him from mobile starts without starting him in the stands.”

In keeping with the tradition Brian Hancock had founded when winning the opening race of a Grand Circuit in 1989 with Thorate, he had hardly missed this event since. He would be back, this time with Selby Bromac NZ. Among the horses he had campaigned there in the 1990s had been Our Sir Vancelot NZ, winner of three Inter Dominion Championships. Then followed several visits to Brisbane with Courage Under Fire NZ.

At the time the Hancocks were eagerly looking forward to this latest trip to Brisbane, an interesting announcement was made in Melbourne. Fred Kersley, one of Perth’s finest ever horsemen, would take over the training of proven Grand Circuit performer Safe And Sound when the 15-times metropolitan premiership winning trainer-driver the following month returned to the west. Kersley was staying in Melbourne with the nation’s No 1 galloper, Northerly, but still dabbled in the sport that had seen his grandfather and then his father and uncles enjoy great success years.  Justice, along with the other part-owners of the horse, were now keen for Kersley to take Safe And Sound back to Perth for it to be prepared for the three Grand Circuit events at Gloucester Park in the New Year.

Safe And Sound had been given several days off in the paddock following its impressive first-up win at Geelong. Justice’s plans were to give the stallion two or three starts leading up to the horse defending its Kilmore Cup title on October 27. For such a proven Grand Circuit performer as this horse having won an A.G. Hunter Cup, an Australian Pacing Championship and a South Australian Cup, along with numerous other classics, Safe And Sound anywhere near his best would give the best Perth pacers something to think about.

Unfortunately, only days after the announcement of the horse being sent to Perth after the Kilmore Cup, Safe And Sound became lame. A veterinarian examination discovered it to be suffering from a slight tendon tear. Justice immediately pulled the plug on it racing again, announcing this son of Safely Kept USA would now be retired and got ready for stud duty. Following so closely on the sudden retirement of Courage Under Fire NZ, and the loss of form by Atitagain NZ, this was yet another blow to this latest Grand Circuit.

In the 10 years of Group One racing in Australia since 1991, every one of the nation’s top twelve performing pacers in this era, bar one, had broken down at some stage during their racetrack career. The sole exception was three times Inter Dominion Champion, Our Sir Vancelot NZ. This record alone is enough to suggest that some study should be undertaken by suitably qualified experts as to this appalling strike rate of injury to our finest horses of the modern era.

Steve Turnbull, trainer-driver of Smooth Satin, when asked by National Trotguide to comment on the breakdown of the Justice trained pacer, said: “The loss of Courage Under Fire and now Safe And Sound is a blow to our industry. I don’t think people realise how hard it is to keep horses of their calibre in one piece. When you have a horse racing on the Grand Circuit, you have the utmost respect for other trainers in the same situation,” said Turnbull. Then added: “I certainly don’t have the attitude of ‘that’s another one out of the way’.”

Meanwhile, Jofess had won at Bathurst when returning to racing, beating the Craig Turnbull-trained Strong Blade. Despite the nice effort of the second horse, when taken to Harold Park the following week, Strong Blade had won, pacing its last half-mile in 57.4 seconds, and surprisingly returning a tote dividend of $23! So much for punters being impressed with the form in that Bathurst race.

Queensland horses in more recent years have a poor record winning the Queensland Championship against the class of visiting pacers. Once again some journalists were viewing this forthcoming opening to the Grand Circuit as a contest limited to several pacers from the southern States. There was, however, another Sydneysider now endearing itself to racegoers in the Sunshine State. This was Double Identity, a son of the Albatross sire, Embrace Me USA.

Raced by breeder Brian Lockwood and friend Peter Gadsby, this pacer as a youngster displayed good potential when trained and driven by Harry Martin. This was a veteran horseman who years before had cut his teeth on harness horses when working for the noted Jim Caffyn at Menangle Park. It had won nine races with three placings from 17 starts when Martin, for personal reasons, decided to take a break from the sport and go farming on 230 acres at Murringo, near Young. It is believed this drastic decision followed the sudden death of his brother-in-law from a heart attack. Martin figured it was time to do things he had not done before, having rarely taken a holiday in all the years he worked with horses.

Given to Hunter Valley horseman Peter Neilson, the form of Double Identity in its next campaign did not flatter following a first-up third to Courage Under Fire NZ and Shakamaker in the Australian Pacing Championship. It raced well below what most would have expected of a real Grand Circuit performer. Part-owner Gadsby believed his horse was under-achieving, as the pacer struggled to compete with opposition not quite up to the best standards.

Gadsby, a real estate agent, set about trying to coax Harry Martin away from the farm and to renew his association with Double Identity. The horse had never been well gaited, usually having to resort to the use of tube spreaders. The ageing horseman went back to shoeing each of the pacer’s hooves differently from the other three, as Martin claimed this was required to assist with the six-year-old’s gait. The results were extremely satisfying.

Double Identity in its next 13 starts won 10 of these outings for earnings of $142,715.  Perhaps the opposition in many of these races were not Grand Circuit performers, but it did suggest the gelding was moving up in the world. Because of what Martin described as a lack of fast-class racing at Harold Park at that stage of the season, the trainer had taken the son of Embrace Me USA to Queensland for the Winter Carnival. The pacer seemed to thrive up there, going from strength to strength. Its recent starts had included victories in the Garrard Sprint, beating the Victorian Manifold Bay; then taking out the Powerhouse Hotel Winter Cup over local hope Indigo Classic.

On October 12, the horse took its record to three consecutive wins at Albion Park. His time in the sprint was a startling 1:54.22 over the mile. The Queensland media almost overnight changed its thinking, now believing Shakamaker would need to find something like its best form in a hurry, and Jofess having to be fully wound up if this pair were to best Double Identity in the opening to the Grand Circuit. Brisbane officials now had a horse race on its hands.

Several days after that sizzling mile, a story appeared in the Harness Racing Weekly (Melbourne) and its sister publication in Sydney, National Trotguide, penned by hard-hitting writer Paul Courts. It was an interview with part owner Peter Gadsby defending Double Identity against alleged whispers and innuendo surrounding the improved form of the gelding. “A moderately-performed pacer before returning to Martin, “ wrote Courts, “Double Identity is without question the most improved pacer in Australasia. According to Gadsby, the tall-poppy syndrome that so often affects harness racing is the obvious backbone to the rumours.” The owner said he believed one reason why Martin got on so well with the horse was in the way the trainer shod the not well-gaited Double Identity. “I think that is important with this horse, but I guess it’s fair to say the gelding just goes better for Harry.”

The leading owners for the 2001/2002 season at Albion Park meetings was long-time committeeman Kevin Seymour and his wife Kay. When seeking a pacer they could race in Brisbane’s lone Group One race this season, this hard-headed businessman had dug deep in the first days of September to purchase Leftrightout, the fastest horse in New South Wales during the previous season. Back on November 23 it had reeled off a 1:55.8 rate for 1760m to beat Smooth Satin at Harold Park. This indeed was an impressive time on the Glebe track.

Leftrightout had been trained by Owen Glendenning. This son of former Queensland-based sire Fake Left USA had in its first 75 starts won 25 races with 17 placings for stakes of $148,566. Then, returning for another campaign the previous season, it enjoyed a remarkable period of racing at Harold Park winning a further five races with three placings against handy opposition. The Grand Circuit might have been seen as a little ambitious for this pacer by some, but if the horse continued its improvement, then it was well worth including in the field and representing Queensland. It was now trained and driven by Graeme Bowyer, one of the most successful horsemen in the Sunshine State.

Leading up to the Championship in Brisbane, the Australian Harness Racing Council (AHRC) as usual held its annual meeting. Western Australian businessman, Mick Lombardo, now the nation’s largest breeder and owner of pacers, was voted in as President. Writer Adam Hamilton in his report on the meeting described Lombardo as “the man who recently brokered a peace deal between the warring AHRC and Harness Racing Victoria.”  Tasmania’s Noel Salter was made senior vice-president, with Neil Busse of Victoria the vice-president. New Zealand’s Tony Abell retained the post of the Inter Dominion Council President.

With the club at the Gold Coast not hosting another Australian Pacing Championship, it framed a $50,000 to fill the vacuum. Named the Parklands Gold Coast Cup, it would be held one week before the Queensland Championship. The visiting stables viewed this as good planning, as it was an ideal tune-up for horses to contest the Group One race. A smart field accepted for the Parklands Gold Coast Cup.

Perhaps the Shakamaker Queenslanders had known a year or so before had indeed been an awesome sight when in full flight. When good money came for the Victorian at the Gold Coast, many local punters were more than happy to disregard its latest form, and throw in their support for the 2000 Inter Dominion Champion. Shakamaker was sent out favourite ahead of Double Identity, with Jofess easy in the betting.

The early pacemaker was the local My Overland. Trapped wide at barrier release, Harry Martin allowed Double Identity to go forward and sit on the outside of the leader for a short while before then being able to drop in for cover. From its awkward draw, John Justice had allowed the favourite plenty of time to warm up, making his move with ‘Shaka’ when racing for the bell. In covering the race for National Trotguide, Marshall Dobson later wrote: “Harry Martin effectively check-mated Shakamaker when he trapped the favourite three wide and kept him there from the 1250 metres. The wily veteran earned a 10 out of 10 for his canny drive.”

Double Identity won from Shakamaker, with Leftrightout finishing third at only its second start in its new State. Darren Hancock’s pair failed to flatter with Jofess ending up fifth and Piccini 11th. The winner’s mile rate of 1:55.2 was just outside the track record held by Tailamade Lombo. After the race John Justice said he was pleased with the effort of Shakamaker as his pacer would derive a great deal of benefit from the outing. Among the onlookers there were the directors of the NSW Harness Racing Club – the select group who would in several weeks have the task of selecting by invitation the field for Australia’s richest sprint, The Miracle Mile at Harold Park.

Most trainers when visiting from interstate train their horses out of stables adjacent to Albion Park, or on occasions at the Gold Coast. Harry Martin, however, preferred to stable at Toowoomba, a two-hour float trip away from Albion Park. “Our daughter, Natalie, lives at Toowoomba, so we can kill two birds with the one stone,” he replied, when asked about the four-hour round trip for the horse each time it raced in Brisbane. The racing and training of Double Identity was somewhat of a family affair. Martin had known breeder and part owner Brian Lockwood for years, while the partner in racing the horse, real estate agent Peter Gadsby’s daughter was married to the trainer’s son.

Being stabled at Toowoomba did provide some excitement in the days leading up to the race. On the Wednesday the district was hit by a severe dust storm, then on Friday and Saturday (the day of the Championship), bush fires raged out of control through the area. “It was touch and go for a while as to whether or not we could get the horse here,” said the trainer on arrival at Albion Park that Saturday night.

For the first time a Queensland Championship would be decided over 2647 metres. Prior to this, the event was over 2100 metres. For eight years in the 1980s it was over a mile, a move aimed at helping winners break 1:55. A couple of smart ones did -- Preux Chevalier (1:54.3) in 1985, and Thorate (1:53.9) in 1989.

In barrier order, the field for the Championship was: 1 Sammy Power, 2 Selby Bromac NZ, 3 Secret Harmony NZ, 4 My Overlander, 5 Piccini, 6 Leftrightout, 7 Gobemouche, Second line 9 Trois Frere, 10 Double Identity, 11 Jofess and 12 Shakamaker.

Although the much travelled Grand Circuit performer Brian Hancock a year earlier had his share of disagreements with John Justice out on the track, this did not prevent Hancock from naming Shakamaker as the likely winner of the big race. “I believe he can win and become Australasia’s richest horse of all time. (The NSW horseman had won the race the previous season with Courage Under Fire NZ). Hancock was inclined to dismiss the reports that ‘Shaka’ had not been racing anywhere near its best. “Last week the horse turned in the run of the race at the Gold Coast.  It was unbelievable to see the way he just kept coming despite being trapped off the track for more than the last lap.”

Hancock would drive Selby Bromac NZ in the big race from barrier two. Double Identity, off the second line behind Hancock, was expected to follow Selby Bromac NZ out at the start. Shakamaker had drawn poorly, the outside of the second row. Selby Bromac NZ was actually the ‘baby’ of the field having had just 28 lifetime starts. Typical of Brian Hancock’s opposition to racing his horses when two-year-olds, he had given this Kiwi-bred just one outing at two. The following season Selby Bromac NZ was second in the Queensland Derby and third in the Chariots of Fire. The son of Caprock USA had to now won 13 races with eight placings. Despite having won at both his Harold Park starts this time in, the usually fast beginning representative from the Hancock stables was not expected to upset either Shakamaker or Double Identity.

Hancock would drive his horse in the race after securing a stay of proceedings after stewards in NSW had suspended him for eight weeks for contacting several marker pegs when driving Blue Chip Hanover. He had pleaded guilty to the charge and said: “I did skim two pegs and knocked one down, but I cannot believe the penalty they game me.” Stewards some months earlier had given him eight weeks after he had knocked down some eight pegs. “I copped that on the chin, but not this one. It’s wrong, and I am going to fight it,” Hancock said in the days leading up to the Group One event.

Double Identity had plenty of support in betting, but the big money came for Shakamaker. If the horse could find its best, only bad luck would prevent it from saluting. On its latest form, that might have been a big ‘if’. However, ‘Shaka’ had stuck on gamely the week before after doing it extremely tough in the final lap. A little luck this time was surely all it needed. The John Justice-trained stallion was sent out an odds-on favourite, with Double Identity firming from 2/1 into 7/4. Next in betting at barrier-rise was Jofess at 7/1 and Selby Bromac NZ at 8/1.

Brian Hancock as expected had Selby Bromac NZ out of the barrier quickly to take up the lead, with Jofess having little trouble moving up to sit on the outside of the leader. Soon after when Double Identity went forward, neither Brian Hancock or his nephew Darren made any real attempt to make the second favourite work overtime. Harry Martin allowed his gelding to amble to the front where they would have a sound chance of dictating their own terms.

There was not a great deal John Justice could have done from his wide draw on the second row. Shakamaker was allowed to bide his time in the hope someone up ahead would make a move and put some real pace into the race. Past the 800-metre mark Darren Hancock on Jofess upped the ante, with Martin keen to retain the lead. It was here that Justice turned the favourite loose, and down the back straight Shakamaker was timed to pace a quarter in a fast 26.5 seconds.

But the bird had flown. Double Identity held off all challengers to win for Martin his first Group One race over a much improved effort from Jofess. Selby Bromac NZ was a close-up third. Shakamaker was a somewhat disappointing fourth. “He finished off on heart alone,” Justice told the media. “I even went back to the inside coming to the home turn, but the race was over at that stage.”

Darren Hancock was well pleased with his horse finishing second. “He was going as well as the winner on the line, and that was after racing outside him. He should be short-listed for this month’s Miracle Mile at Harold Park.”  Hancock’s Uncle Brian was also pleased with the effort of Selby Bromac NZ. “The 27.2 second up the back sapped him, but he never switched off,” said Hancock. “I think you can say he will be a genuine Grand Circuit horse.”

There were no real hard-luck stories to come out of the event. Double Identity had come from the second line, looping the field, then fighting off the challengers. For Harry Martin, who had given up the sheep and cattle down at Murringo to try and get the gelded son of Embrace Me USA back on song, he had just won the biggest race of his career, and with the best horse he had ever trained. His previous best had been Resilience and Miss Cedes, probably not known outside of New South Wales. On the form emerging from the Championship, it would seem Double Identity and Jofess could just about pack their bags for a shot at the Miracle Mile.


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

back to top