Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2004/2005 Season
Leg 7:   Federal Hotels & Resorts Tasmanian Pacing Championship   2004/2005Results   Points
             26/12/2004  Hobart, Tas  2750m  Standing Start  $130,000
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A decision to bypass the rich Victoria Cup to concentrate on winning the Tasmanian Pacing Championship and Hobart Cup double, proved stunningly effective for the connections of the highly promising The Warp Drive from Bacchus Marsh. 

The opposition may not have had the same depth as some Grand Circuit events but so impressive was this lightly raced 5YO son of Albert Albert USA that he will surely have many admirers whenever he and champion Sokyola NZ clash for the first time. This is likely to be in the $450,000 Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley on February 12. 

The Warp Drive was driven by former Queenslander Ian McMahon, now a freelance reinsman in Victoria. McMahon shocked supporters of the favourite in the early stages when leaving good cover to just sit out three-wide off the speed – a move that is usually “suicide tactics” on the small Hobart circuit. 

Jodi Quinlan looked to have made a winning move when she dashed the well supported Frame Game around the field to take up the running with Sir Romulus (Michael Bellman) leading the outside division. However, when McMahon finally went forward, so quickly did The Warp Drive find a new gear that it dashed forward sweeping to the front before racing away to score a most memorable victory.  

To underline the quality of this effort was how The Warp Drive made it a successful one-act affair in defeating proven Grand Circuit performers Hexus and Flashing Red. McMahon was actually easing his horse up before the line. The mile rate of 2:02.4 was a new track record for Hobart’s Royal Agricultural Showgrounds over the distance. 

McMahon was moved to tears when describing his horse’s effort at the presentation. “He is the best I have ever had anything to do with, a total freak. I can’t say just how good he will get. To do the work he did tonight and then kick into another gear and leave a couple of Group 1 horses for dead – I just don’t know what to say.” 


Classy Victorian reinswoman Jodi Quinlan, who won the latest Miracle Mile driving Sokyola NZ, finished fourth with Frame Game. After the race she was quick to offer her opinion about the winner. “That was just an incredible win. I can’t believe he could run past me so easily after having sat out wide like he did.” 

The two Tassie pacers to have made the field of 12 were outclassed. However, how many mainland enthusiasts could name which of the starters has won the most races around the Hobart Showgrounds?  The answer – Queensland’s Flashing Red, these days a regular on the Grand Circuit. 

This now 7YO with a record of 24 wins from 99 starts going into the race did its first racing in Tasmania, winning 10 races in Hobart before being sold to the Sunshine State as a 4YO. It is noted for its toughness, and again battled on well to be third, not far behind Hexus. The latter was just beaten in the recent Victoria Cup by Sokyola NZ. On that form, The Warp Drive does seem to be on the way to being Australia’s next established Grand Circuit pacer. 

Swan Hill, on the Victorian side of the Murray River, is best known as a thoroughbred centre. But two of the mainland pacers came from there. Cobargo Wind is now trained there by Shane Kittel, with Lady Lisa trained at Swan Hill by Paul Gadsden. Neither raised the hopes of connections in the race. 

The interestingly named Jailbird, which does its racing in NSW, had been sent to Tasmania a month earlier to be trained for its Grand Circuit debut by local horseman Neville Webberley. It had trailed well at Hobart, but was outclassed in the big race, as were the two only local pacers – Joesashyguy and Fleet Express. 

The Warp Drive, after a most unlucky second to Sparkling Melody in the Cranbourne Cup on December 4, was taken down to Hobart by trainer Phillip Chircop where it was off 20m in the Hobart Cup. After beating Frame Game in that race, the trainer said how The Warp Drive had been badly in need of a solid hit-out and would be greatly improved for the Group 1 race. 

Two horses sent from Queensland to contest feature races on the big program were both driven by McMahon. In the annual George Johnson (for mares) McMahon was outdriven on Bronski Gorgeous by Tassie’s most successful reinsman of the modern era, Barrie Rattray, who dashed Queen Carey away at the top of the straight. But McMahon in the following race won the Tasmanian Derby with Sir Galvinator after a spirited battle with the Victorian Flyingrama. 

Meanwhile, Sokyola NZ is now concentrating on contesting the South Australian Cup in Adelaide in mid-January, before returning home to Victoria to await a strong challenge in the prestigious Hunter Cup. Not only will this race likely to include the two-mile specialist Just An Excuse NZ from across the Tasman, but on The Warp Drive’s latest effort, he too must be thrown into the mix. 


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

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