Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2004/2005 Season
Leg 1 Garrards Queensland Pacing Championship   2004/2005Results   Points
             23/10/2004  Albion Park, Brisbane, Qld  2680m  Mobile Start  $99,000
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Cobbity Classic overcame a wide barrier draw to power home to victory in the $100,000 Garrard’s Queensland Pacing Championship at Brisbane’s Albion Park on Saturday night when the curtain went up on the 2004/05 Australasian Pacers Grand Circuit. 

Unraced at two, the now six-year-old gelding took his record to 26 wins from 57 starts with 14 placings for leading Brisbane trainer John McCarthy. The gelding was driven as usual by McCarthy’s son Luke. Both father and son have won the past three Albion Park trainers’ and drivers’ premierships. 

The race may not have attracted the established Grand Circuit players such as Sokyola NZ, Double Identity, Jofess and The Falcon Strike NZ, or the boom Perth star Lively Medley NZ (unbeaten in all 14 starts since moving to the west). However, the race was a thriller from start to finish with Cobbity Classic beating The Twister NZ by 4m with Flashing Red a head away third.    

Punters sent Camlach (Neil Day) out favourite, despite the NSW pacer starting from a similar spot on the second row from where he has failed in several recent outings. Essentially a sit-and-sprint pacer, Camlach was flushed out wide mid-race and then raced wide for the remainder of the event, folding up in the home straight to beat only two home.     

On a visit to the Bathurst Gold Crown four years ago, Brad Steele, now President of Redcliffe Harness Racing Club took a liking to a youngster he saw grazing in a local paddock. By Panorama USA from Cobbity Cairn, Steele was able to purchase the youngster from breeder Sue Robinson. 

Often considered to have been unlucky with many of the horses he has raced, Steele brought in three friends to the ownership. Brian Hewitt (an owner-breeder); Reg Weller (owner-breeder and Committeeman at Redcliffe) and Ken Harper (a relatively newcomer to the ranks of owners.) 


Given to John McCarthy to train, this horseman had something in common with the young gelding. McCarthy and his family had also moved to Queensland from Bathurst. The trainer’s previous best performer had been Trois Frere. It had finished third at big odds in the 2002 Sydney Inter Dominion Grand Final. 

Cobbity Classic showed ability right from the start, and in 2003 it won the Four-Year-Old Championship at Albion Park. It had made its Grand Circuit debut last season, finishing fifth in the Queensland Championship. In its final tune-up for its latest appearance in the Sunshine State’s major race, the gelding a week earlier had finished the race off nicely to be sixth to the speedster Sissies Double in the $50,000 Gold Coast Bulletin Cup.  

After the previous Queensland Championship having been decided over 2100m, this season’s event was back over 2680m. It was expected to be a true test of stamina for horses and driving tactics. As usual, the barrier draw was made under the lifetime earnings bracket. 

In pre-race discussions, it was expected that Sissies Double (from the pole, following the emergency Fullaspeed failing to secure a start) had just the one challenger to grab the early lead. This was the usually fast beginning Poppys Boy from gate three. 

As expected, Stuart Govers left the barrier fast with Poppys Boy, but not fast enough to head off Sissies Double. With the two leaders eyeballing each other early, the lead time was a quick 78.61 seconds. 

Not wishing to be caught out back near the tail of the field at the end of the first lap, several drivers were keen to get moving a long way from home. When Neil Day saw them coming, he elected to move away from good cover mid-race, putting Camlach to the ultimate staying test – a challenge the horse would not be equal to. 

The first quarter of the last mile was paced in a leisurely 30.15 secs. before upping the tempo slightly with 29.65 secs for the second quarter. It was a gut-busting 27.97 secs third quarter which really sorted out the stayers from the sprinters, with the final quarter paced in 29.01.  

Cobbity Classic’s mile rate for the 2680m was 1:57.31, a smart time considering the Albion Park track these days has lost some of the spark that for years had made it the quickest track in the country. 

Lisa Hooper, the sole reinswoman in the field piloting The Twister NZ, had been pleased with that gelding’s fifth behind Sissies Double the previous week. She had her horse well placed throughout the last lap and it battled on gamely to finish second in her first start in a Grand Circuit event. 

Flashing Red, second the previous year which led to the horse then being sent to Perth to campaign there for several months, was forced to cover extra ground from its second-row draw. It too battled on gamely for driver Chris Petroff to be third, cutting out the outsider Yahoo Buckaroo of a top three placing.  

Mustang Fighter trained by Chris Robinson and driven by brother Terry, were always doing it tough from a wide barrier and it finished seventh. The brothers are sons of the outstanding Sydney horseman of a bygone era, Kevin Robinson. Dad had won this race in 1974 with Spike and Koala King in 1979. 

If the good fortune for owner Brad Steele seems to have turned the corner for him, after the race he pointed out how he had since obtained two more pacers from Cobbity Classic’s dam, with both showing little or none of the six-year-old’s ability. But he did suggest he and his fellow owners were keen to see their horse contest more races on the Grand Circuit.


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

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