Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Pacers 2002/2003 Season
Leg 10:  Smoke Free SA Cup   2002/2003Results   Points
              11/01/2003   Globe Derby, Adelaide, SA   2645m   Mobile Start  $100,000
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At this stage of the Grand Circuit series, Double Identity from New South Wales was joint leader on the progressive points with the highly promising Kiwi pacer Young Rufus NZ.

The return to Grand Circuit racing by Double Identity in Adelaide would give the Harry Martin-trained gelding a great chance to again move clear at the top of the points. Young Rufus NZ was still in New Zealand not expected to re-appear in a Group One race until moving to Melbourne for the Victoria Cup in February.

Double Identity would be one of four Grand Circuit pacers from the eastern States to contest the biggest race of the season at Globe Derby Park. Three other lessor lights would also be border-hopping from Victoria. The other trio of Group One performers were Jofess, Selby Bromac NZ and Shakamaker. Lance Justice was returning to his old home track with the outsider Jamestown, a son of Chandon; Brian Gath would drive Manwarra Maker for Portland-trained Peter Tonkin, and Andy Gath would start Orse M Wheels Bro NZ with his wife Kerryn doing the driving.

The barrier draw was carried out during a function on the Tuesday night in the main dining room at the track. The club used a novel way of deciding the barrier draw, placing numbers one to 10 each under the base of a different bottle of red wine. When Harry Martin selected his bottle and turned it over, he was delighted to see No 1 looking back at him. Had the son of Embrace Me USA drawn the second row, bookmakers claimed they might have taken the horse on. From the pole, Double Identity was installed a very short-priced pre-race favourite.

Following a week off in the paddock after the Treuer Memorial, Martin had set the gelding for this race and had arrived by float with the horse in Adelaide a week early to enable horse and driver to compete at the meeting a week prior to the SA Cup. Martin gave his horse a solid hit-out around Globe Derby Park the day after arriving. This was good planning for a horse that was far from flawless around tight tracks. The Adelaide track is of 845m with a home straight of just 140.2m. After its solid workout soon after settling in to stables near Globe Derby Park, the gelding had a real decent blow. On that Saturday night the NSW performer won the $20,000 Clipsal Cup from a field of locals. “He again blew a bit more than I expected,” Martin said after that victory.  “But I am very happy with what he did. You can expect him to be right at his peak for this Grand Circuit race.”  This was not the kind of news rival trainers had wanted to hear about the polemarker.


As well known Adelaide harness racing writer Dennis Browne reported two days before the Cup, Martin’s unshaken faith in his stable star had seen the 62-year-old now driving the gelding with enormous confidence. “His belief in attacking from the outset has certainly paid dividends.” Browne also reported that Selby Bromac NZ in barrier two and Jofess from barrier four, also had strong hopes of getting amongst the prizemoney.

The word out of Melbourne that week was that John Justice had Shakamaker primed and ready for its return to Grand Circuit racing. The trainer-driver was confident his stable ‘flagship’ would come out that Saturday night and prove him right. “What more can I say,” said Justice. “The horse is fit and certainly no has-been. I just need him now to come out and prove me right in the big races.” Shakamaker did win at Geelong the previous Saturday night after leading from the pole and setting a dawdling pace early. He came home his final 800 metres in 56.8 in beating Manifold Bay, which had since been floated over to Perth.

Justice is always great for harness racing writers as he speaks his mind. That week he told Dennis Browne he wished he had drawn barrier two for the SA Cup instead of barrier seven. “I would have loved coming out from barrier two and having a real crack at Double Identity.” Then, with tongue in cheek, Justice asked Browne if it was possible for the club in Adelaide to put in a sprint lane just for this week. “My best chance now seems for Double Identity to lead, and if Harry runs them along, then it will give ‘Shaka’ the chance to run him down in the straight.”

Harry Martin had also taken such a scenario into his thoughts. “My horse should be able to hold them out from barrier one, but I will be very wary if Shakamaker happens to be sitting on my back.” The veteran horseman agreed that drawing the pole at Globe Derby Park was a huge advantage for his gelding.

Brian Hancock was also pleased with the barrier draw. “Selby Bromac has plenty of gate speed. And from barrier two we will have some options.” Nephew Darren Hancock was not making any rash predictions about the chances of Jofess. His pacer, a noted stayer, had failed to run down Double Identity in the home-straight of the Treuer at Bankstown, which had surprised more than a few supporters of this son of Jeremy Lobell USA. Now, Double Identity would start from the pole with Martin  unlikely to risk having his horse crossed at the start and become pocketed.

The local brigade were given little hope of causing a boilover. Its best chance appeared to be the former Victorian Go Charles NZ, a tough and prolific winner two years earlier when trained by Andy Gath. The son of Vance Hanover USA was well and truly past its best, but now trained and driven by Geoff Webster, it was far from disgraced when fourth in the Clipsal Cup, more than 24m astern of Double Identity. Friends For Life had inherited some speed from sire Classic Garry, but would be at big odds along with Kotare Jaeger NZ to be driven by Paul Cavallaro.

No horse had won the Clipsal-SA Cup double since the Victorian Gosh had in 1986. But then, few of the visiting stars arrive early in Adelaide in time to contest that first leg. Orse M Wheels Bro NZ had been a late scratching because of a float breakdown on the way over from Victoria. This pre-Cup event is usually taken out by a local with the visiting horses then dominating the SA Cup.

It has often been said in South Australian tourist brochures how Adelaide has a similar climate to the Mediterranean area. This is usually so. That Saturday the weather was very hot, even for January. The locals turned out in force to witness the clash of Double Identity and its fellow Grand Circuit contenders. Shakamaker was the sentimental favourite for many South Australians. John Justice had spent much of his time as a lad on a property next to Globe Derby Park and had later won training and driving premierships there before moving to Melbourne.

According to Dennis Browne, the start of that SA Cup was rather scrappy. He reported that several had appeared to have hung back in the score-up and were virtually close to top speed when the barrier drew away. One of these was the polemarker. Double Identity came out flying, leaving no room for speculation of the gelding being crossed at the start.

Starting a 7/10 favourite, Double Identity at no stage appeared in danger of defeat. It was left in the final lap for Shakamaker to do the chasing. Both drew away from their rivals with the gelding being most impressive in holding out ‘Shaka’ with Go Charles NZ a distant third. There were some tired horses to finish in this race, as John Justice confirmed when interviewed after the event.

“Shaka was such a tired horse at the finish that he almost stumbled in the back straight when coming to a halt.” The trainer-driver said he was not offering excuses, as both his horse and Double Identity had to chase the mobile barrier at break-neck speed, and coupled with the winner’s brilliant last quarter (56.7) in the heat, it took all the stuffing out of my horse,” said Justice. Then added: “I think the early burn also took its toll on Selby Bromac NZ and Jofess. Both stopped noticeably in the home straight.”

Harry Martin and Double Identity were given a rousing reception, with the veteran horseman full of praise for Adelaide, and local horseman Ross Sugars and his family where they were stabled since arriving from New South Wales. Martin said his horse would now be aimed at the Victoria Cup at Moonee Valley on February 8. “There is also a chance he might start in the $75,000 Ballarat Cup a fortnight before the first of the two Group One races at Moonee Valley.” Martin said he was keen to take the horse across to the Addington Inter Dominion, but only if they were able to secure a direct flight to Christchurch.


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

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