Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2005/2006 Season
Leg 5:   SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile   2005/2006 Results   Points
              25/11/2005  Harold Park, Sydney, NSW  1760m  Mobile Start  $500,000
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The Queensland family of John McCarthy is this week the toast of the Sunshine State after grabbing the quinella in Australia’s richest sprint on Friday night with Be Good Johnny and Slipnslide.  It was only the second time this big race has been won by a Queenslander. 

A hobby trainer who conducted a butcher shop at Bathurst South, McCarthy and his wife Narelle eight years ago made a major career move. They sold up the shop, and along with their young family, decided to leave the strong harness racing centre west of the Blue Mountains of NSW and set-up stables in Queensland at Logan Village, an area out of Brisbane not noted for harness racing. 

The move has since brought the McCarthy’s remarkable success winning numerous Brisbane premierships, culminating in John’s patience with Be Good Johnny’s early injury problems. This season the now 6YO gelding has burst on the national scene to now win two of the first three Grand Circuit events so far on Australian soil, finishing an unlucky third in the other. 

Having only its 29th lifetime start in the Miracle Mile, Be Good Johnny displayed great fighting qualities in the home straight to hold off Slipnslide, trained and driven by John’s son Luke. It was a real family affair, as the winner is raced by Narelle, and Slipnslide is part-owned by Luke’s wife. 

There was no celebration well into the following morning for the family. John and Narelle at dawn were on their way back to Queensland with the winner, while Luke was staying on with Slipnslide to contest next the Grand Circuit race at Bankstown this Saturday night, the Treuer Memorial. 

This was the first time a father-son combination had finished first and second in a Miracle Mile. In the lead-up to the big race, John was keen to stand aside and let their younger son Andrew drive. However, Narelle insisted as it had been John who had always handled Be Good Johnny, he would be the one to drive her pacer. (The only previous horse from Queensland to win this event was Lucky Creed.) 


Be Good Johnny

The Western Australian pacer Lookslikelightning was sent out favourite following its brilliant 1:54.7 win at Harold Park over the same distance the previous week. Since that night it was generally agreed this horse being such a fast beginner would cross straight to the pegs and lead. It was here that Lance Justice, out to win a third successive Miracle Mile with Sokyola NZ, set the ‘cat among the pigeons.’ 

Justice declared war on the Perth pacer out of the mobile. Into the first corner they careered with probably the fastest lead-time yet in a Miracle Mile. When Sokyola NZ, now a 9YO, could not wrest the lead from the favourite, the Victorian reinsman gave up the quest, dropping to the pegs on the back of Lookslikelightning. 

The favourite steadied the pace in front, and actually got away with a quarter in the ridiculously slow time of 37.1 seconds. But that ‘two-horse-war’ cost both horses plenty. Unless the Perth pacer was a super horse in the making, even at the bell many would have thought both combatants struggle, and struggle they did in the home straight, both knocking up to tail in their rivals.  

The Victorians Robin Hood (third) and It Is I (fourth) both turned in big efforts. A noted stayer who is as tough as they come, Robin Hood (Gavin Lang) had been held up for a last dash at the leaders, and was making up ground stylishly when they reached the post in a blanket finish with a half-head, half-neck between the placings. It Is I had been left behind by that early fight for the lead, and was then shuffled back along the rails in the last lap. It was actually last rounding the home turn. David Murphy angled for an inside run up the straight and would have made it interesting had the race been longer. 

It seems no one in the media has yet caught up with the unusual pedigree of the horse sent out favourite in the race. It is generally accepted by most these days that we are breeding better and faster horses than we did 20 or even 10 years ago. To say that Lookslikelightning’s recent effort of 1:54.7 at Harold Park helps confirm this might be somewhat misleading when you look at this pacer’s pedigree. 

His sire Armbro Intercept USA was foaled in 1987, and has spent years in WA. His dam Nybor Miss was by a 1967 son of Johnny Globe (Kinsman, whose best time was 2:13.4). Nybor Miss was from a 1977 daughter of Prying Miss, the latter racing in Victoria in the early 1960s when trained at Ouyen by Jack Munro.  Lookslikelightning on these stats was from an old family that was fashionable more than 25 years ago. Yet it has taken all this time for it to produce a 7YO gelding from old Nybor Miss to scoot around Harold Park in such a brilliant time in 2005!  

What made Be Good Johnny’s effort so good was that he raced for more than half of the race leading the outside division. Perhaps the last to win this event racing throughout from being in the ‘death’ was Popular Alm, back in 1981.  

The winner is yet another by Fake Left USA, from Fleetwood Mandy (by The Southside USA). Slipnslide, now a 5YO gelded son of Perfect Art USA and Vanturk NZ, has been in the money in all three of its Grand Circuit appearances in its first year on the circuit. It would seem the McCarthy family can be expected to play a dominant role on this Grand Circuit with this pair, and perhaps with stablemate Cobbitty Classic as a reserve.  

An eye-catching effort from this latest Miracle Mile came from the 4YO mare Foreal NZ. She ‘bombed’ the score-up and had to work to be a couple of lengths away at the start, yet stilled worked home nicely against the males to finish an impressive fifth.


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

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