Day At The Track

Victoria Cup starts new Grand Circuit season

01:00 PM 11 Oct 2019 NZDT
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Colt Thirty One,Harness racing
Colt Thirty One
Dan Costello photo

Star Queensland pacer Colt Thirty One is back looking for more.

Fresh from his success in his home state feature back in July, the Gr.1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park which doubles as the final Grand Circuit event on the calendar, the five-year-old stallion is now eyeing off the opening leg of the new season.

The Gr.1 $250,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton on Saturday night kicks off the 2019/20 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series and Colt Thirty One finds himself in prime position to stamp himself as a genuine star of the sport.

Prepared by Grant Dixon, the country’s leading trainer, Colt Thirty One will start from the inside gate in the 2240m mobile start feature which gives the astute horseman plenty of tactical options.

Despite his shock first-up defeat at his home track last weekend, bookmakers have installed the recently crowned Queensland Horse of the Year as the punters elect.

First staged back in 1974, the Victoria Cup has witnessed a trio of winners prepared from the Sunshine State with Sovereign Cloud scoring in 1990 amid a massive betting plunge followed by dual Miracle Mile champion Be Good Johnny in 2005  while the incomparable Blacks A Fake won the following year.

Can Colt Thirty One join that exclusive club?

The interstate raiders make strong appeal with Sydney trainer Craig Cross having three representatives from his Cobbitty stable in millionaire pacer Bling It On (Luke McCarthy), last week’s Smoken Up Sprint winner Cash N Flow (Todd McCarthy) and richly talented former New Zealand performer Alta Orlando (Anthony Butt).

The McCarthy brothers are no strangers to success in the Victoria Cup with Luke already a dual winner (For A Reason and Mr Feelgood) while Todd scored last year (Tiger Tara).

Leading Victorian trainer Emma Stewart is also represented by a trio of stars in Tam Major (Chris Alford), Code Black (Amanda Turnbull) and Shadow Sax (Kate Gath).

Both Alford (Golden Reign & Lennytheshark x2) and Gath (Caribbean Blaster) are hoping to add another trophy to their cabinet while providing the leading conditioner with her maiden success.

Dual Victoria Cup winning trainer David Aiken is hoping talented performer Wrappers Delight (Josh Aiken) can join his former stablemate Lennytheshark as a winner of the famed event.

Craig Demmler, a massive upset winner of the Victoria Cup in 2000 with Breenys Fella is hoping for lightning to strike twice when he sends out My Kiwi Mate, a richly talented performer capable of matching it with any pacer on his day.

Buzz pacer Cruz Bromac looms as a genuine threat for trainer Amanda Grieve and driver Greg Sugars following an impressive first-up victory at Kilmore, the big striding gelding possesses brilliant ability and can’t be under estimated.

Last start Kilmore Cup winner San Carlo is chasing another feature race victory for trainers Steve O’Donoghue and Bec Bartley, the fan favourite will carry plenty of support yet again while Kima Frenning chases the big prize with her stable star Buster Brady.

The emergency runner for the event is Cant Refuse (Matt Craven).

Interestingly, six of the 12 starters are either trained or co-trained by females while four female drivers are competing.

Only Natalie Rasmussen and Belinda McCarthy have trained a Victoria Cup winner while Rasmussen, Amy Tubbs and Kate Gath have driven a Victoria Cup winner.

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. 

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.


Chris Barsby

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