Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Pacers 2002/2003 Season
Leg 6:  M H Treuer Memorial 2002/2003Results   Points
            14/12/2002  Bankstown, NSW  2540m  Mobile Start  $100,000
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Grand Circuit history would be made at Bankstown on this night. Excluding an Inter Dominion, this would be the first time any city would host three Grand Circuit events in three successive weeks.

Bankstown is a well populated suburb in Australia’s largest city, 21km south-west of the Sydney GPO. It has long been a harness racing stronghold for many stables, even before and after the tremendous contribution made by the late Max Treuer. The race is just one of only two events on the Grand Circuit to take its name from a man. Treuer served harness racing with a passion over many years, as an owner, breeder and importantly, as a prominent administrator.

Just by merely staging this leg of the Grand Circuit, a goodly number of people around Bankstown would be breathing more easily. It was two months earlier that the front page of the National Trotguide announced how a cash-strapped Bankstown Harness Racing Club was in danger of losing its flagship, the M.H. Treuer Memorial. A crisis meeting that brought together about 50 local trainers disclosed considerable unrest.  In the following two weeks further adverse publicity was thrust into the public domain. Late in October, Noel Ovington, writing in the National Trotguide, delivered the good news that Bankstown would not only have the money to host its major race, but all other races on the program would carry a minimum of $6,000 in prizemoney.

To this stage of the Grand Circuit, Double Identity had set up a handy lead on the progressive points for the title, with Young Rufus NZ emerging as the Kiwi’s next likely star of Group One racing. Two of the pre-season’s expectations of carrying Australia’s main hopes -- Smooth Satin and Jofess – were still to win on this latest Grand Circuit. Jofess had been second in the Queensland Championship, third in the Miracle Mile, then sixth in the Ben Hur. When this horse drew the plum barrier two in the Treuer Memorial, trainer-driver Darren Hancock declared to the press how it was time for he and his horse to get serious.

Hancock said he was hoping to be able to grab the early lead. “A lot will depend on what Dennis Wilson (Seelster Sam NZ) does from barrier one, but given the extra distance of this race, he may opt for a sit this time”.  (Seelster Sam NZ had led from this draw in the Miracle Mile, but then weakened to finish last.) “Barrier two gives me the chance to make the race into a true staying test. I believe I can hold Double Identity out from barrier three”, said Hancock.



The Sydney horseman explained how the dawdling pace of the Ben Hur had not suited Jofess, and when Mark Purdon was the first to make a move with Young Rufus NZ, it enabled the Kiwi pacer to win the race with a sprint home. “Had I gone forward with Jofess a mile out in the Ben Hur, Harry Martin would have come away from behind the leader, which meant I would have been posted wide for the rest of the trip. Now it is time for me to hold the leading hand if I can lead from barrier two”.

Martin echoed Hancock’s thoughts on the Ben Hur. “My bloke has had harder trials than that race. But I knew that as soon as I tried to put some pace into the race, Young Rufus NZ would have eased away from the inside, and then I risked being posted off the track”. The veteran horseman said he would love to lead in the race with Double Identity. “But we will have to wait and see what happens”.

There were many of the opinion that Double Identity’s past record revealed he had never been at home around small tracks, and the tight corners at Bankstown might well bring the current leading horse on the Grand Circuit points table unstuck. Young Rufus NZ would start from barrier nine on the second line, drawn to follow out on the back of Double Identity. The Ben Hur winner was a little easy in pre-post betting following the barrier draw, with pre-post betting on the race wide open.

Smooth Satin the previous season had consistently drawn awkward barriers in Grand Circuit racing. For once he had now been given a front row draw, even though  coming up with the outside alley. If the emergency, The Fall Guy (barrier four) did not secure a start, then the defending Grand Circuit champion would start from barrier five. This would still be the outside of the front row.

Barrier draw for the Treuer Memorial: Front – Seelster Sam NZ, Jofess, Double Identity, The Fall Guy (emerg.), Rusty Mahoney, Smooth Satin. Second row – Wally Walton, Holmes D G NZ, Young Rufus NZ, Selby Bromac NZ and Trois Frere.

Much of the pre-race discussions in the media seemed to hinge around the likely early tactics of Dennis Wilson with his pole-marker. Having led out in the Miracle Mile and then dropped out to finish last did encourage talk that over this longer journey he seemed likely to take a ‘sit’ if either Jofess or Double Identity began well and made a determined bid to cross to the rails. There was little other speed off the front row. Smooth Satin in most of its major races the previous season had always come from behind in the final lap. No one in the media expected Steve Turnbull to become involved in an early battle for the lead.

In the final minutes of betting on the race, there were solid moves in the betting ring for both Jofess and Smooth Satin. The latter would start a $2.50 favourite over Jofess at $3.20. Double Identity was steady on $5, closely followed by Young Rufus NZ. The only other starter inside single figures was the Kiwi Holmes D G NZ.

As the field was despatched from the mobile gate, Seelster Sam NZ did begin with its customary speed, but it was not Jofess or Double Identity that took it on. Steve Turnbull had Smooth Satin charged up for a quick getaway, and the son of Stature USA speared out fast from barrier five, smartly crossing its rivals to grab the lead. Darren Hancock pressed on with Jofess, confirming his early claims in the media on tactics had not been to mislead his rivals. Turnbull wanted no part of a two-horse war up front so early in the race, allowing Jofess to take up the running, with Double Identity then settling on the outside of the new leader and Wally Walton dropping in for the one-one trail.

Once again the two hopes from the Mark and Barry Purdon stables were back in the field, largely landing in such positions by courtesy of their second row draws. With no one from back in the field making any move mid-race, Hancock was able to give Jofess an easy half-mile in the middle stages. It was almost a replay of the Miracle Mile when the two leaders went for home coming to the final turn. Jofess got to the line with just a neck to spare over Double Identity, with Smooth Satin hot on their tails a mere half neck away third.

One reinsman who said after the race he had not ruled Steve Turnbull out from going for the early lead was Darren Hancock. “I thought he might give it a go, so I was not surprised when he did cross to the lead. I was confident that if I pushed up on Steve, he would hand up the front. We have raced against Smooth Satin plenty of times and, over 2540 metres, I thought he would be happy to take a trail on my back”.

The winning trainer-driver said that after burning early, no one challenged him when he backed off the speed in the middle stages. “That much-needed breather enabled me to win. You have to be up on the pace at Bankstown. The way the race was run, it would have taken a big effort for something to have come from behind my horse to beat him”.

The victory took the stake-earnings of Jofess to $604,978, with its record of  28 wins and 21 placings from 62 starts. Jofess is owned by Tony Hilton, along with Bruce and Libby Trevaskis. Libby, then battling with leukaemia, heard the race from her bed in a Sydney hospital. Hancock said after the race how the win would  certainly have lifted Libby’s spirits.

Steve Turnbull did have trouble securing a run in the final lap for Smooth Satin. He only got clear in the latter stages when pushing through on the inside of Jofess. The two Purdon trained and driven pacers at no stage looked likely to play a hand in the finish when both brothers bided their time for late moves in the race.

Hancock said he planned to give the winner a few days off in a paddock before heading off to Melbourne to defend his Victoria Cup title in February. He had not given too much thought to the $100,000 SA Cup (over a similar distance) at Globe Derby Park on January 11. “But I might now discuss this with the owners,” he said.


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

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