Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2005/2006 Season
Leg 7:   SEW Eurodrive Victoria Cup   2005/2006 Results   Points
              17/12/2005  Moonee Valley, Melbourne, Vic  2570m  Mobile Start  $300,000
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Queensland’s Be Good Johnny has taken a firm grip on progressive points for the season’s Grand Circuit Championship with a win on Saturday night in the Victoria Cup, the equivalent to thoroughbred’s Cox Plate. 

The victory over Dinki Di and Sting Lika Bee was highlighted by a superb drive by its trainer John McCarthy in what was almost a carbon copy of how this lightly raced 6YO gelding had also won the recent Trans-Tasman and the Miracle Mile – two Grand Circuit events. 

It is not surprising to have supporters of Be Good Johnny claiming the gelding is now the undisputed champion pacer of Australia. However, its three recent wins on the Grand Circuit have been from barriers 2, 2 and now 1. Could it have won these races from second-row draws? 

In pre-race betting, Victorians rallied strongly for the up-and-coming star Robin Hood despite drawing awkwardly on the outside of the second row. Both Robin Hood and Be Good Johnny had their own little war as to which of the pair would start favourite. At barrier-rise there was little between them on the tote or with on-course bookmakers. 

Robin Hood (Gavin Lang) was going in to the race having won seven of its previous eight starts, including an outstanding victory in the Kilmore Cup. Its only defeat this season was a fast-finishing and unlucky third to Be Good Johnny in the Miracle Mile around Harold Park. 

Despite the solid support from the general public for the Victorian, trainer Peter Tonkin was under no illusions as to just how tough it would be for his 5Y0 son of Fake Left USA. He stated that if Be Good Johnny retained the front from the pole, no horse would beat the Queenslander on the night from the second row. 

The anticipated battle for the early lead between Be Good Johnny and the Kiwi Winforu NZ was a no-contest. McCarthy had his horse away like a flash to comfortably lead, with Mister D G NZ poking through from the inside of the second line to get a good trail behind the leader. 



In each of its recent outings in Queensland and then NSW, the Bathurst-trained Dinki Di has mustered a strong early sprint after being away only fairly. Again driver Jack Butler went forward in a hurry inside the first lap with McCarthy again content to then have the trail on the back of Dinki Di, yet another sired by Fake Left USA. 

While these early changes were taking place, Robin Hood was back at the rear with Harnetts Creek NZ, Ohoka Ace NZ and London Legend NZ. 

Predictably, Lang was not prepared to bide his time with Robin Hood until the last lap. As is usual with this tough stayer when drawn badly, he was off and around the field after a lap to work into the ‘death’, with Slipnslide then having good cover one-out and one-back. 

McCarthy waited until more than a lap out before working Be Good Johnny away from the inside to challenge Robin Hood down the back straight the last time. It was unusual to see the latter give ground racing for the home-turn, though not surprising. The horse had worked harder than any other in the race. His dropping back, for a time, held up Slipnslide, preventing the McCarthy family the chance to quinella the race as they had the Miracle Mile. 

For a $50 chance on the Victorian tote, Dinki Di held on surprisingly well to hold down second, with Sting Lika Bee (Daryl Douglas), having enjoyed good cover throughout, running on strongly for third in his first appearance on the Grand Circuit. 

After settling mid-race, Kiwi mare Alta Serena NZ (yet another sired by Fake Left USA), was shuffled back towards the rear in the final lap before finishing off the race better than any of her rivals. On that effort, this mare will certainly have won over a few Aussie fans for her forthcoming assignments. 

London Legend NZ made a run in the last lap, but as this one we are told is essentially a sit-and-sprint pacer, it was no surprise to see it beat only Robin Hood home. 

It was the 31st running of the Victoria Cup, and HRV chairman Neil Busse described the field as the best yet seen on the Grand Circuit this season. 

While starting from the pole, Be Good Johnny actually became the first winner of this race from barrier 1 in the past 20 years. 

The mile rate of 1:58.2 was a race record, and underlined the difficult task those coming from well back in the field faced. The pace was maintained throughout the last mile with quarters of: 29.9, 30.9, 28.0, and 29.2. John McCarthy said after the event he was now taking the winner home to Queensland where he would qualify it from a standing start, no doubt with the Hunter Cup in mind. 

The win was a family affair with Be Good Johnny raced by John’s wife Narelle. A stablemate the family also brought down hoping for a start in the race was Cobbity Classic, driven by another son Andrew. It turned in a remarkable effort when an unlucky second to Tromos in the Victoria Cup Consolation. 

The race was a triumph for the now deceased imported stallion Fake Left USA, a Little Brown Jug winner. No fewer than four of the 11 starters were sired by this horse. 



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

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