Day At The Track

Grand Circuit starts this Saturday

06:47 PM 22 Oct 2015 NZDT
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Australasian Grand Circuit
Australasian Grand Circuit

The Gr.1 $200,000 Garrards Queensland Pacing Championship at Albion Park this weekend kick starts another season of harness racing Grand Circuit racing for Australian Pacing Gold.

And what a season it promises to be!

With some minor tweaking made to the scheduling, the 2015/16 Grand Circuit season will be exciting, exhilarating and exceptional – harness racing at its best.

The Australian Pacers Grand Circuit began in 1977 and was designed to be the showpiece of the Australian Harness Racing Industry with horses competing from every State within Australia. 

In 1992 New Zealand was admitted and the Circuit was renamed the Australasian Grand Circuit.   The best horses available are brought together to race for very attractive prizemoney. 

With the associated opportunities for promotion and marketing, this benefits both owners and harness racing clubs as well as the industry overall. 

In its first season in 1977, total stakemoney for the eight races forming the Circuit was $554,020. 

The Trotters Grand Circuit commenced in 1999.  In 2012, the Grand Circuit was revamped with the Trotters competing in a standalone branded series, Trotting Masters.

Today total stakemoney has risen to a projected $4.6 million for the Pacers Grand Circuit Season and $880,000 for the Trotting Masters in 2015/2016.

Points are awarded during the Circuit, 100 points for a win, 60 points for second, 40 points for third, and so on, to last placing.

The horse with the greatest number of points is crowned Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit Champion and Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters Champion.

The pacing series will consist of eight races while the trotting series will feature five events.

Last season, New Zealand trained stars Christen Me and Stent claimed respective honours and were duly crowned the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit champion.

The Kiwi record at Grand Circuit level is simple astonishing.

And speaking of astonishing records, Team McCarthy has a vice-like grip on the sunshine state feature, winning 8 of the past 10 editions.

The event was not held in 2007 owing to the equine influenza outbreak.

Only the incomparable Blacks A Fake and his back to back victories (2008/09) have thwarted the McCarthy domination.

Luke has claimed the race on 7 occasions while his wife Belinda has prepared the past two winners.

John, Luke’s father, has also tasted success in the state’s biggest event.

And this year, the Sydney based stables have representation through Bling It On (Luke & Belinda) and Monifieth (John).

The youngest of the McCarthy clan, Todd, is also hoping to add his name to the honour roll as a winning driver when he partners Shannonsablast for trainer Darren Elder who starts from gate six.

Bling It On looms as a serious winning threat following his track record breaking performance last week in the Gold Coast Cup when downed star Victorian pacer Philadelphia Man.

The American Ideal entire rated 1;52.4 for the 2138m distance last week and the added distance this week holds no fears for the speedy pacer.

Again, Bling It On must overcome a second-line draw after landing gate ten.

Master reinsman Gavin Lang, winless in the Queensland feature will partner the Emma Stewart trained Philadelphia Man again and starts from gate seven, the outside of the front-line.

Monifieth, a progressive pacer having his first start at the track will start from gate five.

The local contingent is spearheaded by the Ian Gurney trio of Mach Alert (Gate 2), Our Hi Jinx (3) and dual Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova (12) while Grant Dixon also has a trio of contenders in the shape of Alleluia (4), Majestic Major (8) and Millwood Liberty (11).

Caesars Folly (1) and Compton Street (9) are both likely to start at massive odds for their respective connections.

The 2680m track record is held by Mr Feelgood at 1;55.9 when successful in this event back in 2010.

It will be a fascinating contest with so many questions raised and many wanting answers before the race is even run but one thing is guaranteed, another great name will be etched into the history books.

The QPC is race 7 and will be run at 8.44pm local time.

by Chris Barsby

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