Barastoc Grand Circuit Series
Stories:   Pacers 2008/2009 Season
Leg 14:   BIG6 AG Hunter Cup   2008/2009Results   Points
                7/02/2009  Moonee Valley, Melbourne, Vic  3065m  Standing Start  $400,000
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The decision seven months ago by Queensland businessman/owner/breeder Kevin Seymour to organise a small syndicate to purchase Mr Feelgood USA, then one of the highest rated pacers in North America, was rewarded at Moonee Valley on Saturday night when the stallion won Australia’s premier staying race. 

The bay horse worried the favourite I Am Sam out of victory after this stablemate of Blacks A Fake had done a splendid job leading for the last 2,900m of the race.  Kiwi, Report For Duty NZ, grabbed third place. 

Seymour, a former chairman of the Albion Park Harness Racing Club and now, through one of his companies, the major sponsor of the WATPAC Inter Dominion Championships, races Mr Feelgood USA in the name of Solid Earth P/L, along with friends P. O’Shea and C. Payne.  

Until being sold to Australia for a figure reportedly to have been edging close to a million dollars, all of Mr Feelgood USA’s racing to then had been over the sprint distance of one mile, and always from a mobile barrier.  

The syndicate’s strategy was to have the horse trained by the highly successful New Zealand brothers, Tim and Anthony Butt, the latter having driven the winner of three previous Hunter Cups, along with several Inter Dominions. 

Now a six-year-old stallion by Australian time, the idea for buying the best available pacer in the States was to race it in several major events in the New Year leading up to the WATPAC Inter Dominion Final on the Gold Coast on 28 March.  A stud career is planned for him later.    

Trainer Tim Butt recently explained that in doing what this syndicate did, it was  like being on a kicking to nothing, as it had not been done successfully before. “But it is something we’ve long been keen to try,” he added.


Anthony Butt guides Mr Feelgood USA to victory in the
2009 BIG6 Hunter Cup

After coming Down Under, this son of Grinfromeartoear USA from the mare, Best Of Memories, had its training schedule switched to the way Australian horses are prepared for the longer distance races. 

Mr Feelgood USA has now had four starts in Australia for two big wins – the Shepparton Gold Cup, winning at $42 on the tote,  and Saturday’s night’s stunning success.  He also finished a close second to Mister Swinger in the recent Ballarat Cup. 

With some doubt over the American import running out a strong 3,065m from a standing start, Mr Feelgood USA started a $7.60 chance on the tote, with the Queensland gelding I A Sam the well supported favourite at $2.70 with it having drawn ideally in barrier four. 

Changeover NZ, the star Kiwi pacer and winner of the 2008 New Zealand Cup, has not found its best in several starts during this Australian campaign.  However, having now had ample time to have recover from dehydration after a rushed trip from NZ for the Miracle Mile, this pacer came in for solid support, being right at home racing over two miles.  It started at $5.50 on the tote. 

The start of the BIG6 Hunter Cup was somewhat controversial when the pole-marker Wideford Hill NZ appeared to jump outwards when the tapes were released, briefly interfering with several others.  Ultimate Mark appeared to be the worst affected by the interference and it tailed the field throughout.  

Meanwhile, as expected, Natalie Rasmussen dashed I Am Sam away well, then rushed forward to take up the lead from Report For Duty NZ and the Perth-based pacer Power Of Tara NZ driven by Chris Alford. 

Changeover NZ began brilliantly from the 15-metre mark, but fellow New Zealander Gotta Go Cullen NZ had to be content back at the rear of the 14 starters. 

When Alford moved Power Of Tara NZ into the ‘death’, there was no intention of going up to eyeball the favourite, especially with Butt setting such a solid pace out in front. 

Gavin Lang had top mare Deanna Troy travelling fifth when the field begun to spread out a little.  Mister Swinger, a big drifter in late betting to start at $17.70 from its re-handicap, was also back near the rear.  

The first quarter of the last mile came up in 29.3 seconds, followed by a 28.9 quarter.  I Am Sam, a noted stayer, was keeping them running along, and even at the half-mile it was obvious that several rivals were feeling the pinch. 

I Am Sam kicked clear, straightening up for the dash to the post, when out of the pack emerged Mr Feelgood USA full of running and seemingly with plenty in its tank.  The favourite still appeared likely to hang on for victory, but in the shadows of the post the American import really showed its class to win by a half-neck. 

The good-sized crowd at Moonee Valley gave the winner a grand ovation, with many appreciating the mountain Mr Feelgood USA had to climb, racing in Australian conditions over distances it had never previously encountered.   

The mile rate of 1:59.3 was a good effort, with the last quarters brought up in 28.0 and 29.0 seconds. 

When the Australian syndicate purchased the American pacer, its No 1 mission was to be prepared for the WATPAC Inter Dominion at the Gold Coast, so perhaps picking up the winner’s cheque of $270,000 was a lovely bonus along the way. 

Mr Feelgood USA is making a late dash up the progressive points for the 2008/09 Barastoc Pacers Grand Circuit, but with the leaders Mister Swinger (11) and Black’s A Fake (10), it would seem the imported stallion would need to win the WATPAC Inter Dominion to have a winning chance of becoming Grand Circuit Champion.

The Pacing Series is now down to the last two events – the Trillian Trust Auckland Cup on 6 March, and the WATPAC Inter Dominion Final on 28 March at the Gold Coast.  


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

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