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THE MIRACLE MILE

THE MIRACLE MILE

H A R O L D PA R K

THE TROTS Standardbred trotters originate from a single progenitor, the legendary grey English thoroughbred stallion named Messenger. Messenger originated from England however was transported to America in 1788.His sire, Mambrino was an excellent trotter who won 10 of his 16 starts. However Messenger wasn’t considered a stayer as he was unable to last past the two mile mark. Despite this, Messenger’s status as a great horse was proven by his stud record. In one season he was visited by 106 mares. In the following decades, Messenger’s bloodlines were passed down through great mares and stallions and continued along through many decades. His greatest descendant was Hambletonian in 1849 who sired hundreds of foals and 150 of these foals would go on to make significant developments to create the modern harness horse. In Australia, harness racing was first introduced in 1810, and the first Australian winner of any harness race was “Miss Kitty”. Despite the popularity of harness racing, Australia still heavily relied on imported stock to continue racing and breeding Standardbred horses. In 1820 Edward Curr noticed the excellent pedigree of trotting horses being bred in Tasmania. During the 19 Century, the most popular race track was named the Lillie Bridge track. This was used primarily for pony racing however in each programme there was also a trotting race. The track was extremely dangerous and was closed for a short time. In the early 1900s the Government banned unregistered racing and in 1902 the New South Wales Trotting Club was established to formalise the new found sport. Despite this new club, organising the sport took some time with the registration of horses, licensing and framing of rules taking time to complete. In 1929 the famous Harold Park track was named after Childe Harold, a great sire of past trotting stock. Harold won races throughout the world and was then brought to Australia. Australian trotting really took off once night trotting meetings were established in 1914 in Western Australia. Following this trend was South Australia in 1920. As most fans of the sport were required to work during the day, the Gaming and Betting Laws were amended by the Government

to allow for betting to take place at night and therefore the sport would attract more spectators and betters. This amendment improved the sport dramatically with both the crowd numbers and stakes increasing. The invention of the sulky can be traced back to the mid-1800s when wooden wheels were first used to carry a one man carriage with two wheels. The carriage was then labelled as a “sulky” due to the owner’s desire to ride alone. Until the 1820s the sulky was only used to carry doctors and light travellers. In the first two decades of trotting, riders would sit on top of the horse in a saddle however in 1860 when the sulky was introduced to horse racing, the rider became the driver. To suit the racetracks, the springs were removed from the carriage to lower the driver’s position. Soon after, several companies increased the wheel height, hoping this would improve stability. However at six or seven feet high, the wheels were too wobbly. The axle was also an aspect of the sulky which received constant modifications. In Boston, a carriage builder was using a steel arch axle while others were using wooden axles which reduced the weight of the sulky. Experimentation with sulky’s structure continued with bicycle tires, elevated seats and wheel heights. Harold Park Paceway was a harness racing track in Glebe, New South Wales. It was a halfmile track (804.5 metres) but was just 739m in circumference until some changes in recent years. Races were run over distances of 1,760m, 2,160m, 2,565m and the occasional 2,965m event during the 120 years that it was in use. The Miracle Mile became the signature race at the Glebe circuit since its inception in 1967. It was the brainchild of former President Len Smith. Winners have included some of the greats of harness racing. Horses such as Caduceus, Young Quinn, Hondo Grattan, Mount Eden, Halwes, Paleface Adios, Chokin, Westburn Grant, Village Kid, Christian Cullen and Smooth Satin have saluted in this famous dash. Paleface Adios contested the race for seven consecutive years from 1974 to 1980. The Harold Park race record is held by the New Zealand champion Iraklis. The last Miracle Mile run at Harold Park was won by Divisive on 28

November 2008. The Miracle Mile then moved to the new Menangle Park Paceway in 2009. The initial winner was the New Zealander, Monkey King who added the Mile to his NZ Cup and NZ FFA wins in a track and race record time of 1.50.8.later on the race record was held by Halwes for a good time of 1:55. The Inter-Dominion has been run on several occasions at Harold Park. Notable among the Inter-Dominion pacing winners was Hondo Grattan who won the first of his two Inter-Dominions in 1973 for Tony Turnbull. In 1980 Koala King gave Brian Hancock his first Dominion win. 1988 saw Our Maestro give John Binskin his lone Inter-Dominion success for the Bob Knight stable. In 1966 the Tasmanian Chamfer’s Star made a clean sweep of the series for driver Brian Forrester. 2002 saw Smooth Satin add the Inter to his Miracle Mile, Ben Hur and Chariots of Fire. In 1994 Weona Warrior gave Brian Hancock another Inter success. Some of the winners of the trotter’s edition of the series at Harold Park have included Hano Direct, Yamamoto, Diamond Field and in 1973 the NZ’er Precocious was too good. Patrons who attended the 2002 Inter Dominion Grand Final didn’t know at the time that they were witnessing one of the last Inter Dominion’s to be run at Harold Park. The 2010 Inter-Dominion series will have rounds of heats at Harold Park and Newcastle with the final to be run at Menangle Park, known also as Tabcorp Park due to sponsorship. The list of champions who have raced at the famous Glebe circuit reads like a “Who’s Who” of harness racing. Champion Standardbreds from all parts of Australia and New Zealand have achieved great feats on the track and re-written the record book before appreciative crowds. On 17 December 2010 the last race meeting was held at Harold Park Paceway with Karlow Mick winning the final event. A special commemorative racebook was issued for the occasion.

H A R O LD PA R K

OPERA HOUSE

CADUCEUS YOUNG QUINN H O N D O G R AT TA N MOUNT EDEN HALWES PA L E FA C E A D I O S CHOKIN WESTBURN GRANT VILLAGE KID SMOOTH SATIN

© COPYRIGHT DEUS EX MACHINA 2011 PHOTOGRAPHED by Carby Tuckwell Matthew Woodward and Bill Forsyth at HAROLD PARK Paceway MARCH 2011 DEUS Australia 98 PARRAMATTA Rd. Camperdown NSW 2050 AUSTRALIA


Harold Park Paceway revisited