Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Pacers 2003/2004 Season
Leg 1 Garrards Queensland Pacing Championship   2003/2004Results   Points
             25/10/2003  Albion Park, Brisbane, Qld  2138m  Mobile Start  $99,000
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Double Identity began the latest Grand Circuit for pacers on October 25 just as it did the previous season, with an emphatic win in the $100,000 Queensland Championship at Brisbane’s Albion Park.

Last season the New South Wales owned and trained Double Identity established a handy early lead on the progressive points table that decides the Grand Circuit Champion, but then suffered a form slump at a time when New Zealand’s Young Rufus came into its own to tie for the lead. The pair remained tied for championship honours when Young Rufus NZ almost died from complications of a twisted bowel on the opening day of the Christchurch Inter Dominion, while Double Identity failed to grab its chance in this series, racing well below its best.

Double Identity went into the first of the latest 11 Grand Circuit races on Australian soil this season in great form having set a new track record for The Gold Coast track three weeks earlier. In Queensland’s only Group 1 race this season, Double Identity easily held out the local horse Flashing Red with Bathurst’s Smooth Satin finishing third. The winning mile rate for the 2138m journey was a fast 1min 55.7sec.

The usually strong Victorian contingent to contest the opening to another Grand Circuit in Queensland did not eventuate. Sokyola NZ, a winner of 13 of its previous 14 starts including two victories over Double Identity at Albion Park in September, did not make the trip following a six-week suspension to trainer-driver Lance Justice. Brother John Justice, a regular in Brisbane in recent years with Shakamaker or Safe And Sound, did not have a current Grand Circuit performer in the stable following the retirement to stud of those two outstanding pacers.

With only three regular Grand Circuit names in the field – Double Identity, Smooth Satin and Jofess – this opening to the latest Grand Circuit was considered by many to likely be a match race between Double Identity and Smooth Satin. Jofess previously had shown it needed a few hard runs under its belt to be anywhere near its best.


Of the local horses, the 200/1 Power Tune was the one mentioned the most in despatches. It had never started on the Grand Circuit, nor had driver Gary Vernon and owner-trained ‘Chilla’ Mann been represented. But Power Tune was rated the fastest beginner in Queensland, and from barrier two, was expected to take up the early lead. Vernon, who rarely even drives at Albion Park, said he planned to burn off the pole-marker (Clifton Knight) at the start, and would then only be prepared to hand over the lead to either Double Identity or Smooth Satin.

Under the handicapping system of prizemoney won, the best pacers are drawn in what is considered to be the hardest of the barriers in Brisbane. In the past this has never prevented the best horses dominating the finish, a situation expected to occur again.

The eight local pacers were seen to be merely there making up the numbers. If more classy performers from the Southern States were not making the early trip north, it did provide local owners with an opportunity of picking up good place money.

With Jofess turning in one of his poorest ever races, the Victorian-bred and former Tasmanian Flashing Red, now competing for Queensland, ran the race of its life for driver Chris Petroff to finish second. It returned $10 for a place on the tote! So disappointed was trainer-driver Darren Hancock with Jofess that on returning home to New South Wales he turned the horse out for a short spell, planning to begin another preparation later with this winner of two Grand Circuit events in the previous two seasons.

Harry Martin, trainer-driver of Double Identity, had every reason to be thrilled with the effort of his seven-year-old. It was the third occasion the gelding had bettered a 1:56 mile rate in a race. Martin said immediately after the win how he had planned to follow outsider Power Tune out from the barrier. “But the Queensland roughie showed too much toe for us early.”

Sitting off the pace, Martin was able to pull off the heels of the leaders to round them up. The gelding was travelling so well that at no stage in the final lap was he not looking the logical winner. Martin said this season’s win had not been the staying test it had been the previous year, pointing out that in 2002 the distance of the race was then 2647 metres.

In winning his fourth Grand Circuit race with Double Identity, it capped off a huge week for Martin and the two part-owners of the gelding. The previous Sunday the horse had been crowned NSW Harness Horse of the Year, and weeks earlier it had been named Australian Harness Horse of the Year. 

Immediately after its victory, Harry Martin said there was every chance his horse would not race again before the Miracle Mile at Sydney’s Harold Park on November 28. Australia’s premier sprint race, by invitation only, this season carries total stakemoney of $600,000, including bonuses.

Double Identity was the first Australian pacer to be given an invite into the rich Miracle Mile, with New Zealand Cup winner Just An Excuse (NZ) and Jack Cade NZ to follow soon after. With Perth’s The Falcon Strike NZ back on song after an injury and pressing claims to be Australia’s top pacer, the Miracle Mile by mid-November was shaping up to be one of the best fields ever for Australia’s premier sprint.

The NSW Harness Racing Club will use its annual sprint races on Friday 21 November to help it decide on the last names to make up the Miracle Mile invitations.


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

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