Barstoc Grand Circuit Series
Stories:   Pacers 2008/2009 Season
Leg 6:  M H Treuer Memorial   2008/2009Results   Points
             6/12/2008  Bankstown, NSW  2540m  Mobile Start  $125,000
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Robin Hood, the reborn Victorian on the 2008/2009 Barastoc Pacers Grand Circuit, landed a solid betting move ($9.50 to $4.60) to win Saturday night’s Group 1 Treuer Memorial from Karloo Mick and Misty Miller.

Divisive, the short-priced favourite and winner of the SEW Eurodrive Miracle Mile the previous week, burst a tyre one lap into the race at Bankstown when racing on the back of the leader.  It dropped out badly in the final 500 metres.

With no Blacks A Fake or Kiwi star Changeover NZ in the list of eight starters, it was thought by many rank and file fans that Divisive (Peter Rixon) would take a power of beating, an opinion not shared by Ballarat trainer Peter Tonkin or Robin Hood’s driver Josh Willick.

Even half-hour before the big race, many viewers to Sky Channel’s Saturday night coverage of harness racing would have been surprised to hear trainer Peter Tonkin rate Robin Hood as the best of good things in the race, with one commentator stating the trainer would not hear of his horse being beaten.

Robin Hood has been plagued on and off by unsoundness over the past four years.  At its best it has been competitive on the Barastoc Grand Circuit, but is generally considered to be a step below the likes of Blacks A Fake, the injured Safari and Divisive, usually showing its best when held up for a sharp sprint home.

The eight-year-old surprised all but its trainer at Harold Park two starts earlier when beating a useful field that included several hopefuls vying for a start in the Miracle Mile. In that race the Victorian sat three wide for much of the race!

With the Bankstown track considered to be advantageous to horses that can lead or sit on the pace, it was no surprise in the early betting markets that Robin Hood was at $9.50 having drawn outside of Divisive (4) with the improving Iron Hudge NZ on the pole.  After all, the Victorian had beaten only one home in the Miracle Mile a week before.


Robin Hood

The first surprise at barrier-rise was second favourite Iron Hudge NZ going away slowly, dropping its way back through the field.

Rixon had Divisive away smartly, easily sweeping to the lead where it could then dictate its own terms.

Gotta Go Cullen NZ, driven by New Zealand reinsman, Tony Herlihy, did not begin well from its second row draw.  Right from the first bend it was obvious this visitor was having trouble handling the tight turns of Bankstown and it was never a chance.

Willick was the first to make a forward move, hooking Robin Hood out three wide and moving around the leaders.  It was surprising to see Divisive make no effort to retain the lead, with the Victorian easily moving across to take up the running.

Perhaps the problem with Divisive’s tyre had already made Peter Rixon aware the favourite was in a bit of trouble.  Karloo Mick, a former handy performer in earlier Grand Circuits and now on the comeback trail from injury, was quick to take up leading the outside line.

After a first quarter of 29.6, the next quarter was paced in 30.7.  It was here that backers of the short-priced favourite got the message that all was not well with Divisive, a horse who usually finishes its races off solidly.

Gotta Go Cullen NZ was still out the back, with Iron Hudge NZ having made up ground stylishly to be handy to pounce.  Outsiders Misty Miller and Bold Cruiser NZ were in the mix, while the Victorian Master Of Disguise was another not comfortable in handling the tight turns.

Robin Hood was driven a treat by local reinsman Josh Willick (his usual driver Gavin Lang is still recovering from a serious illness).  The leader gave plenty in the final lap with sections in 29.5 and 29.1 to return a mile rate of 1:59.5 for the 2540 metres.

Karloo Mick had some support on the NSW tote to start at $12, with Misty Miller sent out at $51.

Trainer Peter Tonkin said after the win this was the first time in years that Robin Hood was not being worried by hoof problems. “We went into this race full of confidence.

“Last week’s Miracle Mile didn’t suit him, but with the right draw tonight (five) the horse made it a real staying test and was just too good.”

Robin Hood, an eight-year-old by Fake Left USA, has now won 24 of his 76 starts, including four Group 1 events, bringing his earnings to more than $796,000.

Tonkin told reporters he was not sure where the horse will race next. “We just want to get over tonight and see how he pulls up before making any firm decisions.”

On the gelding’s present form, the $375,000 Victoria Cup at Moonee Valley on 20 December does seem to be ideal, as Robin Hood was successful in this event last season.

Although Iron Hudge NZ has finished fourth at its past two starts (both Group 1 races), at Bankstown it made up ground so well rounding the home turn that for a brief moment it seemed capable of making a race of it with the winner.  However losing ground at the start had taken its toll and it could only plug away to the line.



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

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