1992 – Westburn Grant
When Westburn Grant won the 1991 WA Pacing Cup few could have questioned his credentials to defend his crown the following year.
But a freak set of circumstances led to him being sent out at double figure odds in 1992 and few on the night thought that that he could achieve the feat.
The first hiccup was a major one, when routine light jog work at Richmond Raceway after the 1991 Cup resulted in a shattered pastern and put his career in jeopardy. Fortunately, local vet John Yovich managed to operate successfully on Spot (as he was affectionately known) and he returned to racing 10 months later with four steel screws in his leg.
Trainer/reinsman Vic Frost escorted his champion pacer on a flight across the Nullabor en route to the 1992 Cup but was met with the devastating news on arrival that his 24 year old son, Garry, had suffered a fatal injury on the family property. Vic and his wife, Margaret, immediately caught a return flight home and Spot was left with a local trainer.
Westburn Grant disappointed greatly in a Pacing Cup prelude, finishing a lacklustre 6th behind Zakara and it was obvious that he was missing his trainer. Vic returned in the days leading up to the final and a positive track workout gave him hopes of improvement but there would be more bad news to come, with him drawing gate nine, the widest barrier.
Bookies bet as much as 12/1 about Spot but Frost drove him aggressively off the arm and wrestled the lead off Imprimartar within a lap. He was joined by Franco Ice, the Kiwi who was odds on favourite having won all three preludes. The two duelled for the remainder of the race, with Franco Ice heading for the majority, but Westburn Grant not relinquishing the rail.
Spot kicked back to regain the lead at the 300 metres with the huge Gloucester Park crowd ignoring any financial investments and willing Frost and his charge to the line. Franco Ice was valiant but in the end Westburn Grant held a half-length advantage at the post to record one of the most memorable WA Pacing Cup victories of all time.
1993 – The Harlem Boy
The 1993 edition of the WA Pacing Cup was an exciting affair from the moment the blue light went on.
Whitbys Miss Penny began speedily but when the $3.50 second favourite Jack Morris found the lead – the race looked to be his for the taking.
Unfortunately for his followers, reinsman Sean Harney slowed the speed and was caught napping when the genius of Brian Gath came to the fore mid-race as he launched the $3.25 favourite Franco Tiger to take up the running.
Harney managed to extricate Jack Morris off the pegs and down the back, Hilarion Star, Jack Morris and Zakara were making their runs in a bid to catch the Victorian who had stolen a march.
While all of this was going on, Ray Duffy, well known for his aggressive driving style, was conserving energy on The Harlem Boy who was tracking into the race nicely. Duffy eventually made a crucial decision to switch back to the rails with all eyes on Jack Morris and Franco Tiger as they looked to fight out the finish.
The voice of legendary caller John Hunt seemed to break as he summed it up perfectly…“The Harlem Boy getting up on the inside, he could beat them all. It’s the biggest boilover in history!”
2007 – Tealsby Karita
Tealsby Karita was a horse that caught trainer Gary Hall Snr’s eye when racing in Victoria but it wasn’t until a couple of years later that the moderately performed pacer joined his Hazelmere stables. He had a reputation as a hard puller whose habit of over racing meant that he often had little to give at the end of his races.
The heavy soft sand jog work at Hazelmere settled Tealsby Karita very quickly and he made his WA debut with a 2nd in a heat of the Nights Of Thunder Series. He was only an M1 pacer at the time but won his next five starts to reach Free For All company and book his place in the 2007 WA Pacing Cup.
Proven Grand Circuit campaigner, Flashing Red, was the pre-race favourite after wins in the New Zealand and Auckland Cup’s, but a flood of local money for Tealsby Karita saw him start a $3.70 favourite, marginally ahead of Flashing Red at $3.90
The race arrived and Lookslikelightning showed his customary early speed to cross from barrier seven but the two favourites pushed forward with the three horses racimg across the track until the 1200 metre mark where Tealsby Karita found the lead with Flashing Red crossing to the breeze.
The early battle should have ensured that the “swoopers” came into play but Tealsby Karita and Flashing Red kept pushing and their rivals all fell by the wayside, with Tealsby Karita holding off his more decorated rival to record a memorable Pacing Cup victory.
2011 – Im Themightyquinn
The 2011 Fremantle Cup was run at a hectic tempo that suited Im Themightyquinn perfectly as he ran on from the rear to win convincingly. This ensured he went out a short priced favourite in WA Pacing Cup a week later but those who took the $2.10 about the champion pacer were wishing they hadn’t 1200 metres from home.
Mysta Magical Mach found the lead comfortably in the early stages with defending champion Washakie on his outside meaning that nobody else could make a move. They went through a slow lead time of 69.1 and when the first quarter was posted as 32.7 it seemed a mathematical impossibility for Quinny to win the race from near the rear.
Kim Prentice, filling in for the suspended Gary Hall Jnr, decided at that point to throw away Plan A and drive Quinny outside of his usual pattern by taking off three wide without cover a long way from home.
He moved up to be 5th at the bell but still faced a mammoth task considering the quality of horseflesh in front of him. Down the back for the last time, the handlebars were down as they ran the quarter in 27.6 with Quinny moving into third. He then did the unthinkable and ran past the leaders in a 27.9 quarter sectional that at the time was considered exceptional by a horse on the pegs, let alone wide on the track.
Richard Bell’s call to the line summed it up perfectly, “He’s mighty, he is quintessential!”
2015 – My Hard Copy
After booking his place in the 2015 WA Pacing cup with a win the previous week’s consolation of the Fremantle Cup, the connections of My Hard Copy had their jubilation cut short as he drew the extreme outside barrier with his odds drifting accordingly.
Gary Hall Snr had five runners in the race (including My Hard Copy) but it was the well-drawn pair of Toretto and Northview Punter who were considered the most likely to topple David Hercules – the mighty warrior who had won the previous week’s Fremantle Cup and was installed as a warm favourite.
The race began at a hectic speed, with Toretto crossing Northview Punter but Kyle Harper launched Bettors Fire off the gate who burnt hard for 400 metres before he took control. This early war suited Morgan Woodley on David Hercules and when he put his charge into the race, all looked to be going to plan.
But at this point, Gary Hall Jnr was able to get off the fence on Toretto and keep Herc wide. Hall Jnr pushed on to get the front and Woodley had to be content being parked in the breeze for the remainder of the 2936 metre event.
Throughout the chaos, Clint Hall was sitting last with My Hard Copy before switching him back to the rails with over a lap to go. As David Hercules surged past a tiring Toretto, Hall extricated his charge off the pegs and began a sweeping run off the track.
Northview Punter and Our Jimmy Johnstone had enjoyed perfect trips and they both challenged David Hercules who valiantly fought them off, only to be overcome by the trademark finishing burst of My Hard Copy who won in a new track record – rating 1.57.4 for the 2936m journey.
The 2015 WA Pacing Cup was widely acclaimed as the best Grand Circuit race of the season and will go down as one of the most exciting Cup’s in history.