Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2005/2006 Season
Leg 9:  Wrest Point Tasmanian Pacing Championship   2005/2006 Results   Points
             1/01/2006  Hobart, Tas  2579m  Standing Start  $120,000
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Victorian trainer Andy Gath scored his biggest pacing win yet when About To Rock (Kate Thompson) overcame a second row draw to brilliantly edge out The Warp Drive (Jodi Quinlan) in the Wrest Point Tasmanian Championship in Hobart. 

During the presentation Gath briefly mentioned how in recent months he had been re-establishing his operations in the Melton area, training his team at Toolern Vale, near the Melton Airfield. Gath has two training tracks there, including one of sand that makes the horses work harder than usual in his training program. His brother Glen is a stablehand, and for extra advice, in his corner is his father Neville, winner of numerous training and driving premierships when racing was at the Melbourne Showground. 

Hexus, the consistent NSW pacer listed in the race-book as now being trained in Tasmania by Max Hadley, battled on for third when driven by Sydney’s Greg Bennett. It was this 7YO gelding’s third successive placing in Tasmania’s only annual Grand Circuit race. 

A delighted Gath said at the presentation how Tasmania had been very good to him as a trainer. “This is the fourth Group One race I have now won in this state, and hopefully we will be back with this horse for the Inter Dominion in March.” 

Raced by Rob Nalder, About To Rock (by River Khan) is from the former Tasmanian mare Karalta Cheri. Now a 6YO, the gelding was extra smart when a juvenile until breaking a pedal bone when three. A delighted Nalder said after the win that if his horse can remain sound, it was as good a pacer as any now going around. 

 “I am rapt for Andy and the way Kate drove the pacer. The horse had been set for this race for sometime, and the gelding had been luckless at each of its past three starts. 

“Last start he sat three wide at Moonee Valley and still finished third, with the winner that night coming home its last half-mile in 56.5 seconds,” said Nalder. 


About To Rock

 In the betting, punters had narrowed the race down to two main chances. The more money that came for the sole performer off a handicap, The Warp Drive, the more that was put on the Kiwi London Legend NZ to be driven by Gavin Lang. Trainer Cran Dalgety had sent this son of In The Pocket USA to Hobart for experience in a handicap on Boxing Day at this new track at Elwick. The horse had been something beaten that night.  

London Legend NZ blew its chances in the big race by missing the start from what had seemed an ideal draw from barrier three. It soon found itself out the back. Meanwhile, Tromos, whom Lang had driven at its previous start when winning at Moonee Valley, began fast for its usual driver Chris Alford before allowing the local Fleet Express to go to the front. 

Robric Jonboy made its customary forward rush before mid-race to move into the death, with another Victorian, Dallas Page, latching on behind Tromos on the inside lane.

With Tromos appearing to be having the run of the race behind the leader, Gavin Lang wasted little time in taking the favourite around the field with London Legend NZ then leading the outside lane. Having got there without spending too much petrol, Lang was then determined to hold out The Warp Drive when an aggressive Jodi Quinlan set the second favourite alight racing for the bell. 

While there was action aplenty up front, a patient drive by Kate Thompson had saved About To Rock for a last-lap dash. With London Legend NZ running up the white flag 500m out, The Warp Drive swept to the lead around the final bend, with About To Rock storming home wide out. They both moved clear of all rivals, leaving it up to Hexus to battle on for third. 

There were few hard-luck stories with all honours going to the first two pacers across the line. London Legend NZ disappointed its backers greatly, but in this strong company, one does need to have good barrier manners. A winner of 13 races in New Zealand, it would seem this gelding is better suited when it can sit-and-sprint in its races. 

It was a welcome return to form by The Warp Drive following a set-back in its latest preparation several weeks earlier. On the way it and About To Rock fought out this finish, both pacers are not without a chance in the forthcoming A.G. Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley. The victory by About To Rock provides it with automatic entry into the $500,000 Hunter Cup field. 

Owner Rob Nalder said he had backed his horse to win Australia’s biggest two-mile staying test in February at the early odds of 200 to one. Those odds have now been significantly reduced after Sunday night’s impressive showing. 

The new track at Elwood was given mixed reviews by visiting drivers. But from the viewpoint of harness racing in Tasmania, it is a giant step forward over the old Showground circuit which had previously had been Hobart’s home for the sport since 1943. 


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

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