Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2005/2006 Season
Leg 12:  The Advertiser SA Cup   2005/2006 Results   Points
               14/01/2006   Globe Derby, Adelaide, SA   2645m   Mobile Start  $100,000
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An aggressive drive by Bacchus Marsh horsewoman Jodi Quinlan set up an all-the-way win for The Warp Drive in The Advertiser South Australian Cup on Saturday night over About To Rock (Kate Thompson) and Mister D G NZ (Anthony Butt).  

After beating a classy field in the Geelong Cup 12 months earlier, The Warp Drive was then considered to be the likely successor to Sokyola NZ as Victoria’s next top pacer. The horse was then put away for a spell, allowing it a further year to mature before racing in an Inter Dominion. 

The now six-year-old stallion’s return to racing this season was delayed by a setback, and in seven starts it had failed to salute the judge. However, a last-start tough second in the Tasmanian Championship to About To Rock suggested this son of Albert Albert USA was ready to show something like its best. 

Quinlan, who two years ago had driven Sokyola NZ to win its second Miracle Mile, adopted similar tactics on Saturday night. She had The Warp Drive come away from the mobile gate hard and fast, crossing the much vaunted Adelaide pacer Conte De Cristo NZ from the pole to grab the lead. 

In the build-up to the South Australia Cup, the Adelaide media believed the Group One race was as good as over if Conte De Cristo NZ could retain the lead. Its record of five wins from nine starts this season might have been even better but for this gelded son of Christian Cullen NZ usually pulling fiercely in its races. 

The previous week the Adelaide fans sent the horse out a short-priced favourite in the annual $20,000 Clipsal Cup at Globe Derby. It was caught outside the leader and again pulled hard before weakening to finish fifth to Scruffy Murphy. 


No pacer has ever won the Clipsal Cup-South Australian Cup, so Geoff Webster conceded he would need a lot of luck for Scruffy Murphy to get the better of the visiting Victorians – The Warp Drive, About To Rock, Robric Jonboy and Ok Windermere NZ, along with the Kiwis Mister D G NZ and Winforu NZ, and Iron Realm from NSW. 

The extra smart Victorian Safari, a winner of five of its seven starts this season, including a last-start Horsham Cup off the back-mark, was a scratching, leaving 10 horses to contest South Australia’s only Grand Circuit event. 

The betting on-course Saturday night narrowed the race down to only five chances – the local star Conte De Cristo NZ, The Warp Drive, About To Rock, the veteran Mister D G NZ and Scruffy Murphy. 

But each time the locals got behind the big-betting stable of Conte De Cristo NZ, more money would come for the Philip Chircop-trained The Warp Drive, starting from its best draw in ages out of gate three.Conte De Cristo NZ is owned by a syndicate of friends who have been associated with a number of horses in recent years, and is trained by Joe Carbone and his partner Peter Sergi at Golden Grove. 

A confident Carbone told the media during the week how Conte De Cristo NZ was getting out of the mobile better with every start. “When he leads he drops the bit, so he will have plenty left when the pressure goes on in the last lap. Out in front he will take plenty of catching.” 

Usually well-informed Adelaide pressman Dennis Browne believed that NSW pacer Iron Realm was the one to beat. “He turned in a bottler to finish third in the Clipsal Cup after starting from an awkward draw, and trainer Michael Day has had the horse in Adelaide for a couple of weeks and it is ready to run a big race.” 

Day agreed his horse was a big chance. “It is pretty tough and from barrier four I will be greatly disappointed if he does not go close,” he said.   

In betting there was little between Conte De Cristo NZ and The Warp Drive when the field of 10 was sent on its way. Local supporters of the pole-marker did not have long to wait in the hope of their horse holding the lead, as Quinlan drove The Warp Drive hard out of the gate to have little trouble crossing to the inside. 

Coming out of the first turn, Max Wishart sent Robric Jonboy up three wide to grab the ‘death’, with About To Rock moving into the one-one. Up on the back of the leader, Conte De Cristo NZ was already wanting more rein, giving Cavallaro an uncomfortable drive. 

Anthony Butt, who has driven in more Grand Circuit races than any other in this field, was giving Mister D G NZ as easy a run as possible. When Scruffy Murphy pulled out three wide racing for the bell, Mister D G NZ was able to slide into second place with Conte De Cristo NZ already having just about run its race. 

Kate Thompson gave About To Rock its head inside the final 400 metres, and it strode up stylishly to The Warp Drive with both these pacers clearing out to fight out the finish, just as they had done two weeks previously in the Tasmanian Pacing Championship in Hobart. This time The Warp Drive became the victor. 

Thompson, a former South Australian horsewoman, almost brought up a unique double on the night, as two races earlier she had scored a dashing win in the South Australian Pacing Derby with Jagged Knight, also trained at Melton by Andy Gath. 

The big race was also the last time leading South Australian horseman Geoff Webster would be flying the flag for his state, as in the next two weeks he moves to his new training stables in the Geelong district. Webster has dominated training and driving for the past decade in Adelaide. 

After a few months out of the limelight, The Warp Drive now appears to be ready to resume its lofty position in Australian harness racing, as after a scintillating first quarter, and then a much quieter quarter mid-race, it still rated a smart 1:58.5 in beating About To Rock by 2 ½ metres with Mister D G NZ plugging on well to be a head away third.  

As for Conte De Cristo NZ, this comparatively lightly raced gelding will need to be taught to race more tractably for it to be considered a genuine Grand Circuit performer. 



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

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