Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Pacers 2003/2004 Season
Leg 5:  M H Treuer Memorial   2003/2004Results   Points
             6/12/2003  Bankstown, NSW  2540m  Mobile Start  $100,000
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Held a week after the Miracle Mile, the Treuer Memorial has traditionally provided top pacers with reputations deflated in the helter-skelter of Sydney’s big sprint at Harold Park, to be regained the following week at Bankstown.   

With Miracle Mile winner Sokyola NZ heading home to Melbourne, the two Western Australian stars Baltic Eagle NZ $2.40 and The Falcon Strike NZ $4.50 were quickly installed the two main fancies on the NSW Fixed Odds market released for the Treuer Memorial on the Monday following the Miracle Mile. 

So impressed had The Falcon Strike NZ been since returning from a year off through injury, that the Perth stallion had gone into the Miracle Mile as Australia’s latest pacing star. Driven confidently in the big race, the stallion had this new-found reputation shot down in flames with what can only be described as an inglorious performance against the best from both sides of the Tasman.   

Now The Falcon Strike NZ had drawn the unflattering barrier 10 for the Treuer, which did little for punters who had had their fingers burnt when making the horse a short-priced favourite in the Miracle Mile. Trainer Garry Hall Snr, still reeling from disappointment over the Harold Park effort, was confident the horse would bounce back, despite Bankstown being known as a leader-dominated circuit.  

Baltic Eagle NZ had ended the previous season amongst Australia’s best performed pacers when capturing the Christchurch Inter Dominion Championship. In Sydney, with only a couple of recent runs under its belt, it had turned in a slashing fourth in the Miracle Mile. After drawing the coveted pole position at Bankstown, everyone it seemed now wanted to be on this gelding. 

Trainer-driver Kim Prentice was over the moon with his horse in the Miracle Mile. “I was very proud of him having to come out of barrier six, then having no luck before finishing fast to be so close up. The horse just felt so good that it took me a half lap to pull him up after the race.” Baltic Eagle NZ clocked a 56.3 last 800 metres, the fastest split by any horse in the race. 


 “I have been told the inside gate is a big advantage at Bankstown, and I expect to hold the lead from there, and we can make our own luck out in front.” Perhaps Prentice was speaking too soon, as bad luck was waiting for the pair around the next turn.     

Three days after the barrier draw, Baltic Eagle NZ was found to have sprained a fetlock. Plans were quickly made to have the horse returned to Perth for treatment so it could then have time to begin its usual training routine on a beach near Bunbury. Prentice was already ruling out two of Perth’s Group One races – the Fremantle and the WA Cups, and perhaps even the Australian Pacing Championship. Interestingly, Perth this summer will become the first ever city to host four legs of a Grand Circuit in the one season. For two solid months there will be major open class racing at Gloucester Park. 

With his horse obviously requiring time for the injury to heal after treatment, the big hope now for Kim Prentice is for Baltic Eagle NZ to recover in time to defend its Inter Dominion Crown during the 2004 carnival at Gloucester Park, which will follow the three earlier Group One events. This grueling series would require any horse to be fully fit going into the event with four planned starts in two weeks against hot opposition. 

With an entirely new pre-post betting market framed for the Treuer Memorial, NSW pacer Double Identity was now the favourite, favoured by a handy draw (gate four) which suggested the Harry Martin-trained and driven pacer could lead throughout. The Falcon Strike NZ drifted in betting, with fans in the Eastern States still to be convinced of its ability under pressure. 

As expected, Double Identity came out of the mobile hard and fast. The race was almost as good as over with Martin allowed to dictate his own terms in front. The last mile and a-half was covered in halves of 63.8, 64.1 and 57.2. The final quarter of 28.00 made it difficult for the favourite to be run down. 

A gallant Big Bad Holmes NZ, driven by Dennis Wilson, surprised when it kept on grinding away, finishing only a neck from the winner. Smooth Satin (Steve Turnbull) was five metres away third. If many were surprised by the impressive staying performance of the second horse, its trainer certainly was not. Wilson said he always knew Big Bad Holmes NZ had the ability to be a Grand Circuit horse “Only now is he putting it all together.” 

Harry Martin later admitted he had been surprised when he saw Big Bad Holmes NZ looming up on his outside up the home straight. “I was actually looking for Smooth Satin at that stage. Big Bad Holmes NZ had earlier been out three wide, and I did not expect to see him still there up the straight.” 

Smooth Satin, which has been struggling to repeat its great season of two years before when Grand Circuit Champion, had dropped in on the back of Double Identity early to enjoy a good run throughout. The Bathurst pacer battled on fairly in the home straight, with The Falcon Strike NZ finishing not far behind the placegetters. Still, on its Perth form, it was again disappointing. 

Connections were quick to have the horse returned to Perth (along with Baltic Eagle NZ), bypassing the two big Group One events in Melbourne at Moonee Valley in the second half of December. Trainer Garry Hall Snr now has the challenge of having his stallion regain its best form which has made it such a popular performer with Perth trotsgoers as the national spotlight now moves to Melbourne for the Victoria and A.G. Hunter Cups. 

Last season Double Identity also began the Grand Circuit series in fine form, and accumulated enough points to tie with Young Rufus NZ for Grand Circuit Champion. Its victory in the Queensland Pacing Championship followed by a third in the Miracle Mile before its Treuer Memorial win, has enabled this gelding to take a handy early lead on the progressive Grand Circuit points table. 

Meanwhile, the outstanding Sokyola NZ, winner of the Miracle Mile and now conqueror of Double Identity in all three of their clashes, has since been beaten in the Cranbourne Cup by Kiwi Mister DG NZ, stablemate of the champion trotter Take A Moment NZ. The SEW Eurodrive Victoria Cup at Moonee Valley stands as their next Grand Circuit challenge.


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