Barastoc Grand Circuit Series
Stories:   Pacers 2008/2009 Season
Leg 7:  SEW Eurodrive Victoria Cup   2008/2009Results   Points
            20/12/2008  Moonee Valley, Melbourne, Vic  2575m  Mobile Start  $375,000
  Grand Circuit Home Page

He is big and strong, and early was inclined to be a little headstrong and over-race.  But in the hands of Bacchus Marsh reinswoman Amy Tubbs, Melpark Major has responded so well to a woman’s touch that his win on Saturday night in the SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup confirmed he is the new excitement machine of Australian pacing. 

The big bay gelding always showed promise for owner-breeder and trainer-driver Don Smith at Melton.  But a year or so back Smith was man enough to admit he was not getting the best out of the then four-year-old, and sent him down the road a few kilometres to be trained by Alan Tubbs. 

The son of sire Iraklis NZ and dam, Golden Forrest, responded well to Tubbs’ way of training.  Each time he started during these past 12 months, the gelding seemed to show improvement in his manners. 

The speed was always there, but throughout the past year he was forced to show his special brand of toughness because he constantly drew wide or the second row, not once having to be asked in this period to come out quick and search for the early lead. 

In winning the major Kilmore sprint in October 2008, he sat three-wide throughout and still blew his rivals away.  This was followed by one of the toughest efforts seen in a Miracle Mile with a most unlucky second to Divisive in late November. That was his last start before Saturday night’s Victoria Cup.   

While awaiting the Victoria Cup barrier draw, the Tubbs were not concerned where the horse drew – just so long it wasn’t the pole. And that’s exactly what he drew. Bookmakers eased the horse slightly in pre-race betting as there was a growing feeling this was one horse not suited starting from gate 1, as it was more than likely it would be headed and locked away on the inside for the race.  

Not only did the favourite show speed at the start, he more than held out the usually quick beginning Divisive (two) and I Am Sam (four).  Once established as the pilot, Amy Tubbs showed her early intentions to keep them all honest - she allowed Melpark Major to pace the lead time of 69.3 seconds. 


Amy Tubbs celebrates as Melpark Major crosses
the line to win the 2008 Victoria Cup
photo copyright Gary Wild and courtesy Harness Racing Victoria


Blacks A Fake, Australia’s top pacer these past three years, was back second last early from its second row draw, with Grant Dixon stuck three-wide before dropping into the ‘death’ seat with I Am Sam.  Anthony Butt gave Gotta Go Cullen NZ the run of the race on the back of the favourite. 

Gavin Lang attempted to make the most of the great recent form of Robin Hood by switching it out three wide to tack onto the back of Manwarra Goforgold when Brian Gath sent that pacer forward.  But the steady speed being carved out by the leader had those out wide working overtime. 

While the ‘Major’ saluted from Gotta Go Cullen NZ and Mister Swinger, the sectionals for the last mile told the story of the sustained speed set by the winner;  reeling off the sections for the last mile in 28.7 seconds, 30.9, 28.1 and 28.3.  The mile rate of a fast 1:55.8 easily smashed the race record for this distance of 2575m. 

The chances of Blacks A Fake and Robin Hood were not improved when they briefly locked wheels some 120 metres from the finishing post. 

Divisive (Peter Rixon) had many supporters before the race, but he lost a forward position early to be shuffled back through the field and was at the tail racing for the home-turn the final time.  He was a most disappointing ninth. 

Owner Don Smith 74, who recently refused a one-million dollar plus offer for his champion, stated then he did not need the money and was having a ball with the rise to the top of Australian harness racing with Melpark Major.  A usually reserved man, he had every reason after the race to be cock-a-hoop. 

Some 25 years back Smith sold his farm on Sydney Road to a developer.  He then established stables at Melton, next to trainer Clinton Welsh.  His best previous horse was the trotting mare Melpark Maid.  He is justifiably proud that Melpark Major, the likely early favourite for the Queensland Inter Dominion in March 2009, is a five generations home-bred horse.  He did not go out and use his money to find a good one, taking the longer route of trying to breed it.  

Melpark Major has now won 22 of his 49 lifetime starts for more than $600,000 – and the best seems yet to come. 

The champion Kiwi stallion, Changeover NZ, winner of the New Zealand Cup on November 11, could finish only fifth.  His disappointing failure in the Miracle Mile at his previous start was put down to having been dehydrated with his trip from Auckland to Sydney. 

He fared much better around the more spacious Moonee Valley track on Saturday night, and could be coming back to his best.  He is too good at his best to be discarded from being a top chance in the forthcoming legs of the Barastoc Pacers Grand Circuit Series.  

When it comes to marking a great horse like Blacks A Fake for its sixth, this winner of the past three Inter Dominion Championships might well be at the crossroads so far as retaining its greatness.  

He still leads the points table for the 2008-2009 Barastoc Grand Circuit by three points from Melpark Major by virtue of the two ‘kills” in Queensland at the beginning of the series before the horses from the southern states joined the series.  Vet inspections have to date failed to fault his condition.  Can he regain those extra two or three lengths now required to be a worry for Melpark Major? 

The Group One spotlight moves next to Tassie where the Wrest Point Casino Tasmanian Pacing Cup is ran in Hobart (December 21).  The series then moves to the west for the Stallion Station’s Fremantle Cup on January 9, and the following night in Adelaide for the South Australian Pacing Cup.  Perth then hosts the WA Pacing Cup on January 16, and a week later the Australian Pacing Championship.   


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

back to top