Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2004/2005 Season
Leg 11:  Be Active Australian Pacing Championship   2004/2005Results   Points
               21/01/2005  Gloucester Park, Perth, WA  2143m  Mobile Start  $100,000
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Critics of The Falcon Strike NZ who claimed the horse was spent as a major force after it knocking up to finish 8th in the Fremantle Cup the week before, had to eat humble pie when the stallion, after looking a spent force on the hometurn, displayed considerable courage to win the Australian Pacing Championship from Ohoka Ace NZ and Buck The Odds.  

The 7YO son of Falcon Seelster USA has been plagued by leg injuries for the past three years. His recent form was below its brilliant best. Yet, Friday night was its sixth Grand Circuit victory, taking its winnings past a million dollars. Village Kid is the only other WA pacer to have achieved this milestone.  

An emotional Gary Hall Jnr said the horse seemed beaten 600 metres from home, and at the 400m he felt his pacer was struggling. “But when Ohoka Ace came at me he lifted, showing a lot of heart and proving what a great horse he still is.” 

The 24-year-old Hall became the first horseman to drive three successive APC winners. He shares the treble in the race with his father Gary Snr who trained Bengeeman to win in 2003 after Backina Falcon was disqualified. The Falcon Strike NZ also won the race last year.   

The Falcon Strike NZ has now won two WA Pacing Cups, two Fremantle Cups and two Australian Pacing Championships. On earlier trips to Sydney and Melbourne he failed in major events. His record is 34 wins from just 64 starts, and stakemoney of $1,015,000. Hall has trained the horse in all 49 starts since it came to Australia. The stallion is raced by M and J van Rens, E. Manolas, A. Kay and M. Taylor. 

Nats Nifty, who broke after the start in the Fremantle Cup, began fast from barrier two to take the early lead with Buck The Odds quickly up to lead the outside horses. The Falcon Strike NZ was back at the rear. Hall wasted little time in moving three wide but did not have the speed to take up a forward position. Whenever the speed up front eased (which was not often), Hall tried to improve his position. 


The Falcon Strike NZ

The Falcon Strike NZ was still three wide racing for the bell. Down the back the last time the field became tightly packed with Buck The Odds moving to the lead around the final turn. Not even the trainer of the favourite watching on anxiously or its driver at this very point thought their horse could go on at the top of the straight, they said later.   

 “I didn’t want to hit him as he was giving his best,” said young Hall after the race. “But when I did give him a smack, he lifted and just kept on giving to the line.” 

The much improved Ohoka Ace NZ who had turned in a slashing second in the Fremantle Cup to Sandy Bay NZ loomed as the likely winner when he made a move turning for home with four horses then abreast in the dash to the post. But The Falcon Strike NZ just kept on digging deep to outstay all rivals. 

Sandy Bay NZ, drawn out in eight, was far from disgraced following its “all the way” win in the Fremantle Cup, and it finished not far behind the placegetters. 

Andrew De Campo (Ohoka Ace NZ) said he could not have been happier with the effort of his pacer. “I have stepped up its work in recent weeks and the horse just keeps on going better. I am now looking forward to the forthcoming WA Pacing Cup with the 5YO.” 

Mark Reed (Buck The Odds) said his 6YO was now back to its best. “He did all the work outside the leader and he was still there at the finish. Now he is firing again, all we need is a good draw in the WA Pacing Cup this week.” 

Another horse on the improve has been Money Magnet NZ. It had no luck in the Fremantle Cup, and again on Friday night struggled to get a run when it counted most. Colin Brown pointed out how his 5YO gelding was still learning. “He did not get a lot of room Friday night, and he is not used to being cluttered up. The good thing is that he has not been flattened in either race.” 

In the 1990s, Western Australia was able to attract top horses from the eastern states for their summer carnivals. However, things have changed since the closure of the major flight company that flew horses in and out of Perth. Floating horses across the continent in the hottest time of the year is too much of a risk for most eastern state trainers.  In addition there are also other significant Feature Race opportunities particularly in Victoria. 

Because of this, several eastern state scribes have been quick to claim the obvious that the lack of interstate horses is robbing the carnival of true Grand Circuit racing. Whether a principal club in the east puts its hand up to sponsor an APC remains to be seen, while there have been unconfirmed reports that another flight company is looking at opening a service flying horses from Melbourne to Perth.  

Meanwhile, Perth is preparing for its biggest harness race this week with the rich WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park Friday night. Unfortunately, Baltic Eagle NZ will be again missing. This former Inter Dominion winner, following its excellent third in the Fremantle Cup from the backmark, has again gone amiss and is now spelling for the next five weeks.

The next Grand Circuit race in the eastern states will be Melbourne’s A.G. Hunter Cup, Australia’s premier handicap race. This week’s Ballarat Cup will give horses their final tune-up for the big two-miler with several Kiwi visitors likely to be in the mix. Last Saturday night’s Geelong Cup was won by The Warp Drive.  

An excellent second in this race was turned in by Sydney’s Te Kanarama having only its fourth start since going amiss during the Perth Inter Dominion last March. Given a good run three back on the inside, the 5YO gelding finished strongly to make it a photo finish with The Warp Drive. That was just this horse’s 19th start in a race.

Good crowds have highlighted all Grand Circuit racing this season, and the excellent promotion of this latest APC event was well attended by Perth harness racegoers. 


All Time Pacing and Trotting Records pre-2001 please refer to the Australian Harness Racing Annual.

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