Barastoc Grand Circuit Series
Stories:   Pacers 2007/2008 Season
Leg 13:  Watpac-Ariadne Trans-Tasman   2007/2008 Results   Points
             24/05/2008  Albion Park, Brisbane, Qld  2680m  Mobile Start  $150,000
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The 2007/2008 Barastoc Pacers Grand Circuit will be remembered as Queensland’s year after Be Good Johnny (John McCarthy) ended the Series at Albion Park with a brilliant last-to-first burst to easily capture the Watpac Ariadne Trans-Tasman, the last of the 13 Group 1 events that made up the circuit this season. 

The result ensured fellow Queenslander Blacks A Fake would be crowned Barastoc Grand Circuit champion.  The Victorian Smoken Up NZ had to win Saturday night to snatch the crown away, or finish second to tie the series with Blacks A Fake, out spelling following a recent minor injury. 

Following its first-up win at Moonee Valley a week earlier, Smoken Up NZ started tote favourite in this finale to the Barastoc Grand Circuit, with on-course locals remaining so loyal to Be Good Johnny that it was sent out the marginal favourite with bookmakers.  

With pole-marker Motor Parade the emergency taken out, it was assumed the usual aggressive reinsman Lance Justice, from gate five, would fly the mobile barrier and grab the lead to enable Smoken Up NZ to dictate terms out in front as so often has been the case whenever drawn the front line in its races. 

His plan was thwarted when Rebel Taj, the new pole-marker, driven for dear life by Luke McCarthy, held out the visitor, forcing Smoken Up NZ to settle in the ‘death’ leading the outside line. 

Atomic Ark (Grant Dixon) had begun well to grab the trail on the leader’s back, with Bold Cruiser NZ (Daryl Douglas) finding the one-out one-back position.  

From the awkward draw of second from the outside of the second line, trainer-driver John McCarthy in knowing how Be Good Johnny’s best efforts has been when saved for a late run, had no intentions of trying to go forward early. 


Be Good Johnny

With the early speed right on because Smoken Up NZ attempted to wrest the lead from Rebel Taj (Luke McCarthy), John McCarthy might not have believed his good luck. A long way from home it was obvious the race was being set-up for the swoopers. It was no place up front for the feint-hearted. 

With the pace right on, most drivers were content to hold their positions. At the bell, Be Good Johnny was last, though to that point had plenty in the tank. 

When McCarthy turned Be Good Johnny loose going into the back straight the final time, his horse sprinted hard and fast, even when forced five wide. In reeling off a sub 28 seconds for the last two furlongs, it was more than enough to see the local star round up the opposition on the home-turn and race away with the race in its keeping.

The extra smart mare Good Lookin Girl (Natalie Rasmussen) had been making up ground nicely until Be Good Johnny had cut loose.  She held on well for second, 15 metres astern, leaving Atomic Ark to plug away along the pegs to finish third. 

It was not surprising to see Smoken Up NZ not finish the race off like it usually does. 

Justice had earlier explained that after its dashing placing in the Watpac Inter Dominion Final on 1 March, the plan had been for the horse to have a good spell.  After returning it to work, the owners on discovering their much-improved pacer had the chance of becoming Barastoc Grand Circuit Champion, they had Justice hasten its return to racing and make the trip to Brisbane. 

It was one of three Victorian-trained pacers flown up for the race.  Bold Cruiser NZ had won its previous four starts against moderate opposition, while Blatant Lie had overcome poor draws to be second at its latest two outings. 

When this noted leader again drew the second line, no doubt many considered it would need a great deal of luck to finish in the money. It came last in the field of 10, not even catching the tiring Rebel Taj that had earlier held off Smoken Up NZ. 

It is believed the cost of airfare for each of the Victorian stables was $11,000 to have the trio flown from Melbourne to Brisbane and return.  This was against $100,500 for first; $30,000 for second, and $15,000 for third.   Fourth (Be Diligent) collected $4,500 for its connections. 

The overall mile rate was a fast 1:57.3.  The last mile covered in sections of 29.9 seconds and then a more leisurely 30.6, at which point Good Lookin Girl and Be Good Johnny started going forward in a hurry.  The last half mile returned 28.2 and 27.9 seconds.  

Be Good Johnny is a speed pacer that often needs its races run to its liking to see this fellow at its best. He has had his share of success on the Grand Circuit, but remains in the shadow of Blacks A Fake, without question the top pacer in Australasia these past two seasons. 

This latest Barastoc Grand Circuit clearly shows that after Blacks A Fake, the Victorian Safari and then Be Good Johnny (all sons of Fake Left USA), then Decisive from NSW, there is a noticeable drop to the next level of Australia’s best pacers. 

Blacks A Fake has already etched its name into the record books for having won the past three Inter Dominion Finals.  With the Watpac Brisbane Inter Dominion series (two heats and a final) being in the backyard of the Natalie Rasmussen-trained and driven Grand Circuit champion, who dares claim this star cannot become the first horse in history to win four in a row. 

While the trainer is setting Blacks A Fake for this challenge this coming March, two leading Queensland representatives will spend three weeks in North America during June to speak with the trainers of the leading pacers on that continent coming to Australia for the Inter series to be followed soon after by the inaugural World Pacing Cup.  


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

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