Barastoc Grand Circuit Series
Stories:   Pacers 2008/2009 Season
Leg 13:  PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup   2008/2009Results   Points
               31/01/2009  Ballarat, Vic  2710m  Mobile Start  $125,000
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A late charge by Mister Swinger edged out the favourite Mr Feelgood USA in Saturday night’s PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, allowing this now Victorian-trained stallion to grab a one-point lead over Blacks A Fake in the 2008-09 Barastoc Grand Circuit Series. 

It was a gem of a drive by Geoff Webster.  He remained calm under pressure even when his horse briefly locked wheels with Gotta Go Cullen NZ in the home straight.  Moments later, he remained pocketed behind Mr Feelgood USA. 

The American import appeared to have the race in its keeping with less than 50 metres to the post.  It was here that Webster angled for a narrow gap between the favourite and Gotta Go Cullen NZ, with his five-year-old sprouting wings to burst through to grab victory.  

Fleur De Lil, the Queensland mare trained and driven by Luke McCarthy, who missed out on luck in two starts on the Grand Circuit in Perth these past weeks, returned to her brilliant best to come from near the rear to finish a nice third behind Mister Swinger and Mr Feelgood USA.  

Before transferring his stables from Adelaide to Bannockburn, Victoria three years ago, Webster had long enjoyed a reputation in South Australia for being at his best in the sulky when the big money was at stake, a sure sign that pressure does not get to him. 

Mister Swinger only moved to Victoria a few months ago.  He was previously prepared in NSW by Paul Fitzpatrick, taking a backseat in the stable to Lombo Pocket Watch.  ‘The Swinger’ was then considered little more than a nice youngster with some potential.  

Owner-breeder Peter Plummer elected for a change of stables.  He obviously was attracted to Webster’s success with a smaller than usual team of horses trained at stables not far from Geelong.  The horse has continued to thrive since making the move south. 

Mister Swinger now has 11 points on the Barastoc Grand Circuit progressive points table, one clear of Blacks A Fake, with just two further Grand Circuit events to be held on Australian soil.


Geoff Webster and Mister Swinger (No. 1) sprint to the
finish line to win the 2009 Ballarat Cup

Blacks A Fake won two events early in this Barastoc Grand Circuit Series but leading up to the SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile things started to go wrong for the champ.   

Since the Queensland star has been sidelined for some weeks now, Mister Swinger has made the most of its chances.  The horse finished third in the Victoria Cup, then won the SA Pacing Championship in Adelaide at its last outing prior to Saturday’s Ballarat Cup.  

Blacks A Fake, winner of the past three Inter Dominions, is over its recent minor injury and the bout of infection that followed and is reported to be again pleasing trainer-driver Natalie Rasmussen with its most recent trackwork.  

The stable is concentrating on the WATPAC Inter Dominion Championship on the Gold Coast on 28 March, and will bypass this Saturday night’s BIG6 Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley – a race that can be a real gut-buster. 

When the draw for the PETstock Ballarat Cup was released last week with Mister Swinger to come out of gate one and Mr Feelgood USA next to it in gate two, the early pre-post market clearly indicated it would be a two-horse affair.  The early scratching of Divisive and Ultimate Mark did little to change the thinking of punters.  With no emergency named, a field of 10 would start.  

There was solid support for both pacers in betting, with Mr Feelgood USA earning a great many fans with the manner it had won the Bendigo Cup a week earlier, its second start since last racing in the USA.  For an American pacer to have come from last to first under Australian racing conditions would have left an indelible print in the minds of many.  

This horse, noted for starting quickly from a mobile barrier, was drawn ideally to lead in the Ballarat Cup.  The question to be decided was the staying test of 2,710m – a longer journey than the usual one-mile distance American pacers race over.   

This was reflected in the betting.  As the countdown neared the time for the 10 starters to be called forward, the continued solid support for the American import brought it in at $2.60 favourite when the field was despatched, with Mister Swinger having eased to $4.10.  

As expected, Mr Feelgood USA came out hard and fast to take up the lead with its main danger Mister Swinger on its back.  Inside the first lap, Cincinnati Kid NZ was back at the tail, in company with the only mare in the race, Fleur De Lil. 

When Brian Gath eased out early with Manwarra Goforgold, a move he often makes with this Ballarat-trained pacer, the pair glided around the field to lead the outside line.  This enabled another local pacer, Decorated Jasper, to have the ideal position of one-out one-back.  

Ti Vogliobene and Kiwi visitor, Zeanad NZ, were both positioned just off the speed, with Our Malabar NZ and Gotta Go Cullen NZ back in the second half of the field. 

But the real action was up the front.  Manwarra Goforgold did not exactly eye-ball the favourite out front, allowing Anthony Butt to get away with a moderate 30.5 sec. for the first quarter of the last mile.  By edging a little closer, Gath saw to it the next quarter from the leader was a little quicker, putting this quarter behind them in 29.9 sec. 

Meanwhile, back near the rear, ace Kiwi reinsman Tony Herlihy was out and running with Gotta Go Cullen NZ, with Fleur De Lil dropping onto its back for a cart into the action. That third quarter was put behind in 28.7 sec. 

Rounding the home turn, Gotta Go Cullen NZ was moving up stylishly four wide with a big run until briefly locking wheels with Mister Swinger in the home straight.  It would have felt like someone had applied the brakes to both sulkies for one important moment.   

Mr Feelgood USA was looking the winner, though perhaps not having too much gas left in the tank, when from seemingly nowhere, the head of Mister Swinger poked into a small gap between the favourite and Gotta Go Cullen NZ.

Working to the long-held theory that if a horse will put its head into a needle-eye opener, its body will follow, Webster asked his horse for the supreme effort.  The stallion fairly exploded forward.  The race was over in a flash, with a further $81,337 in stakemoney jumping into the pocket of Peter Plummer. 

The latter was not there to see his horse win.  He was giving away his daughter at her wedding.  While Plummer gained a son-in-law on Saturday, there is no way he will be giving Mister Swinger away anytime soon. 

The final quarter of 28.6 completed a mile rate of a 2:00.1.  The effort by Mr Feelgood USA suggests the remarkable efforts by a small syndicate of influential names on the Barastoc Grand Circuit to purchase a stallion in the States to contest this Inter Dominion series with a view to later standing him at stud, is on track.  

As a three-year-old, Mr Feelgood USA won the prestigious Little Brown Jug and later added to his reputation as being the best performed pacer to ever come this way to contest our biggest event of all, the Inter Dominion, which this season will be held at the Gold Coast track. 

The major shareholder is Brisbane businessman and Inter Dominion sponsor Kevin Seymour of WATPAC.  The horse is prepared and part-owned by the highly successful Kiwi duo of Tim and Anthony Butt, no strangers to winning an Inter Dominion title.   

This stallion will probably go on improving with further experience at racing Down Under.  Unlike thoroughbred racing when a stallion is purchased for big money with a siring career in mind, connections become queasy at any thought of the horse being beaten on the racetrack, and often hasten its journey to the breeding barn.   Not so with the connections of Mr Feelgood USA.  

The PETstock Ballarat Cup produced several noteworthy efforts apart from the first two home.  Gotta Go Cullen NZ will only need a little luck in coming weeks to pocket another cheque.  For one probably racing out of its class, Ti Vogliobene should be something to bet on when the stars are away competing at the Inter Dominion and the opposition at Moonee Valley is not so hot. 

In finishing last, perhaps Decorated Jasper has given his Ballarat connections time to reconsider a trip to the Inter Dominion after a few weeks of hard racing.

Meanwhile, the spotlight on the Barastoc Grand Circuit Series will turn to Moonee Valley this Saturday night when Australia’s major staying event is run – the $400,000 BIG6 Hunter Cup. 


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

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