Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Pacers 2003/2004 Season
Leg 12:  Be Active WA Pacing Cup   2003/2004Results   Points
               23/01/2004  Gloucester Park, Perth  WA  2544m  Mobile Start  $200,000
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Young Perth reinsman Gary Hall Jnr will not forget Friday night in a hurry, capping his five winners at the meeting with a victory on The Falcon Strike NZ over defending champion Baltic Eagle NZ.


The Be Active WA Pacing Cup was the third of three winning legs of the Australasian Grand Circuit The Falcon Strike NZ has won in Perth this month, having first won the Fremantle Cup, then the Australian Pacing Championship leading up to the biggest harness race held annually at Gloucester Park.


The race was a promoter’s dream being the first time The Falcon Strike NZ had clashed with Baltic Eagle NZ on their home track. Last season when The Falcon Strike NZ was out of action for the year with a serious leg injury, Baltic Eagle NZ burst upon the scene to win several Group One races, including the Christchurch Inter Dominion.


It was generally agreed by both stables and regulars to Gloucester Park that whichever of the pair could lead, would win the WA Cup. Betting on the race was virtually locked in when The Falcon Strike NZ drew barrier two, with Baltic Eagle NZ on its outside.


The first surprise came at the start when Tricky Vic NZ flew the barrier from gate four to easily cross Flashing Red, The Falcon Strike NZ and Baltic Eagle NZ. With Baltic Eagle NZ latching onto the back of the short-priced favourite, a great tactical and interesting race looked on the cards.


But this script was soon dashed when Mark Reed (Tricky Vic NZ) allowed The Falcon Strike NZ to go forward and take up the running without spending too much energy. The result was virtually assured two laps from home with Baltic Eagle NZ having to lead the outside line, working harder than the favourite.


There seems little doubt that had the roles been reversed, Baltic Eagle NZ would have surely led The Falcon Strike NZ home, as Baltic Eagle NZ fought on strongly to finish less than a length from the winner.


Baltic Eagle NZ was having its first start since November 28 when a most impressive fourth in the Miracle Mile at only his third start for the season. Trainer-driver Kim Prentice said the reason the horse had missed so much racing was not because of the tear to a suspensory ligament, but a long-term plan.


The Falcon Strike NZ

“When we returned from winning the Inter Dominion last April, I sat down and talked with the vets about the horse’s joints and legs. We then decided to aim at the Group races, restricting his season to no more than eight or nine appearances.


 “So, it has been our plan all along to space his races,” said Prentice. “And his run in the WA Pacing Cup was sensational,” he added.


Gary Hall Snr, trainer of The Falcon Strike NZ, and Prentice, have indicated there is a good chance of the pair next meeting in Australia’s premier staying race, the $400,000 A.G. Hunter Cup in Melbourne on February 28, if a suitable flight can be obtained to get the pair there.


Officials in Perth are trying to charter a plane to fly a number of horses from Melbourne to Perth two days after the Hunter Cup in plenty of time for the opening of the 2004 Inter Dominion Championship, also to be hosted by the Western Australian Trotting Association at Gloucester Park. But flying Australia’s top two rated pacers to the Hunter Cup will not be so easily arranged in these days of uncertain flights for horses.


Hall’s first reaction after The Falcon Strike NZ’s latest big-race victory was to keep the horse in ‘cotton wool’ until the start of the Inter Dominion. However, the part-owners of the stallion are extremely keen to take their pacer east to show the harness world how good he is, following it being injured on its only previous start at Moonee Valley, then this season’s two disappointing efforts in the Miracle Mile and the Treuer Memorial.


Hall also described this latest victory as the easiest yet for his horse in a big race. “He strolled to the front, then did nothing, before sprinting home. I was happy to see him have an easy run for a change.


 “He is trained a special way in sand, and I should have stuck to that when I took him to NSW before Christmas,” said Hall. “The next time we go away, I will stick to that, and the people there will see a different horse.”


Hall added that if his horse does not go to Melbourne for the Hunter Cup, he will not race again until the first round of Inter Dominion heats in March.


It is extremely rare for any horse to win three straight races on the Grand Circuit. With The Falcon Strike NZ in such great form, it will not surprise to see him add to this splendid record, unless Baltic Eagle NZ can get the job done with the planned spacing of his races.


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