Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2006/2007 Season
Leg 5:  SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile   2006/2007 Results   Points
             24/11/2006  Harold Park, Sydney, NSW  1760m  Mobile Start  $500,000
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A week after Queensland captured the quinella in the New Zealand Cup, the Sunshine State dominated the $500,000 Miracle Mile at Harold Park when another pair of stars from that State claimed the quinella in Australia’s premier sprint.  All three placegetters were sired by a Queensland based stallion. 

Be Good Johnny (John McCarthy) did it at both ends to win its second successive SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile, from Blacks A Fake (Natalie Rasmussen) with Smooth Crusa NZ (Gavin Fitzpatrick), representing NSW, holding on for third. 

It was the second fastest ever Miracle Mile, only a metre or so off creating a new mark with the winner rating 1:54.3 for the 1760m.  The record set by Iraklis NZ stands at 1:54.2. 

Once again this major sprint race showed how difficult it is for horses starting out wide behind the mobile barrier at Harold Park to have much chance of a sweet run in transit, with those drawn to lead holding most of the aces by virtue of inside barriers.  

The New Zealand flyer Pay Me Christian NZ, which set a new Australian record at its previous start around Newcastle, would surely have been the favourite had it drawn better.  From the outside of the line, it worked overtime to throw down the gauntlet soon after the start to the $3 favourite from the pole, Be Good Johnny. 

John McCarthy was not prepared to hand over the lead, and both pacers turned in a scorching two hundred metres before David Butt was prepared to back off with the second favourite from across the Tasman.  Pay Me Christian NZ has drawn barrier 2 in this Saturday night’s Grand Circuit race at Bankstown, the Treuer Memorial, and will probably start one of the shortest-priced favourites we have seen on the Grand Circuit.  

The seven-year-old Be Good Johnny, trained and driven by John McCarthy, joins an elite group of pacers to have won two Miracle Miles.  The earlier ones were Village Kid (1986 & 1987), Westburn Grant (1989 & 1990), Chokin NZ (1993 & 1994), Holmes DG NZ (1999 & 2000) and Sokyola NZ (2003 & 2004).  


Be Good Johnny

When the mobile despatched the eight starters on Friday night, Slipnslide was the first to show out.  But trainer-driver Luke McCarthy, not wishing to be caught up in an early speed battle from barrier 6, eased in the hope of finding cover.  Luke’s father John, driving the favourite from the pole, was able to push through and retain the inside, with Pay Me Christian NZ maintaining its fast start out wide to slip around the field until landing outside the leader. 

A 27.8 seconds quarter followed with Smooth Crusa NZ dropping into the box seat behind them.  Because of the battle between the two leaders, Pay Me Christian NZ was eventually able to slot in behind the favourite ahead of Smooth Crusa NZ.  The four-year-old Kiwi to then had used a great deal of petrol. Butt was obviously keen to give his young stallion cover on the back of the favourite with such a fast pace being maintained. 

On straightening up for the dash to the post, Be Good Johnny still had something to give and moved clear.  Blacks A Fake, lacking recent hard racing after illness had interrupted its preparation, battled on gamely out wide to grab second, with Smooth Crusa NZ coming through on the rails to edge out Pay Me Christian NZ for third. 

The disappointments in the race were Sly Flyin NZ and Slipnslide.  The former is owned these days in Queensland by owner Greg Brodie, whose best known pacer among a number of handy ones was Courage Under Fire NZ.  For a horse that has won 23 races with 14 placings in smart company and taking a record of 1:53.6, this eight-year-old driven by Tony Herlihy from barrier two, seemed to have trouble coping with the early pressure and could beat only one home. 

Slipnslide, which finished second in this race last season, has been struggling to find its best this time in.  It was hard to reconcile Friday night’s effort with that of his wins on the Grand Circuit last year. 

Flashing Red, the much improved veteran since joining the Butt stables in New Zealand some weeks ago where it recently won the New Zealand Cup and then a quality second several days later in the New Zealand Free For All, was under pressure from the start.  This Victorian-bred hardy traveller will be better suited over longer distances on the Grand Circuit. 

Blacks A Fake served notice that it will take a power of beating in any mobile race in the coming weeks.  He seems to have thrown off all sign of his recent illness which set him back several weeks in training.  He battled on well up the home straight and will be much improved with that outing.  The Inter Dominion title-holder was having only his 33rd start in a race for 25 wins and six placings.  

There are numerous form followers who claim Be Good Johnny races best when fresh with its form inclined to taper off with solid racing.  That might be selling the Grand Circuit leader a little short, as this season the gelding has had a more solid preparation that this time last year when the then six-year-old was moving through the grades with continued improvement.  

John McCarthy will bypass this week’s Treuer Memorial to keep his gelding on the fresh side for the big Victoria Cup at Moonee Valley on December 16.  No firm decision has yet been made on tackling the Inter Dominion, with the stable indicating this will depend on how well Be Good Johnny pulls up after defending his Victoria Cup.  

Until some eight or nine years ago, John McCarthy operated a butcher shop at Bathurst in Central NSW, pottering around with a few pacers virtually as a hobby trainer.  With his two young sons Luke and Andrew both showing early enthusiasm to be with the horses, John McCarthy and his wife Narelle moved their family north to Queensland where they established their training complex in the Logan area.  “I might be NSW-born, but I am glad to be a Queenslander right now,” he said with some passion after the race. 

Be Good Johnny races in Narelle’s name, with their son Luke training and driving Slipnslide.  “It’s a pretty special feeling to now have won two Miracle Miles,” said McCarthy senior at the presentation.  “When I lived at Bathurst, I never dreamed I could one day win one Miracle Mile, let alone two,” he added. 

After many years in the wilderness, Queensland these past 12 months has been enjoying an unprecedented run of success in big races, especially with sons of the now defunct Fake Left USA.  After proving to be an early siring sensation in the Sunshine State, the stallion moved to Victoria to stand at Alabar Farm when veterinary advice confirmed a serious illness the horse had earlier contracted would see it last for only a few more months.  With the benefit of AI, many semen straws were collected and stored away for the horse to go on siring even a year or two after its passing. 

Also to take their places this week in the Grand Circuit event at Bankstown will be Slipnslide and Blacks A Fake, drawn out wide and requiring a lot of luck in running to be able to match it at the finish with Pay Me Christian NZ.  An interesting inclusion in the field is the Victorian speedster from North America Cams Fool USA.  This pacer can reel off extremely fast times over a short distance.  Another in it will be the proven placegetter in big races, Hexus, with the promising Make Me Smile to start from the pole.  

Be Good Johnny has now joined the millionaire’s club with earnings of $1,135,579, along with Blacks A Fake (The Hobart Inter Dominion winner), Slipnslide and Flashing Red. All four pacers are owned in Queensland. 


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

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