Racing Queensland has been successful in securing Grand Circuit Status for the State’s feature harness racing event, joining an elite group of race events from Australia and New Zealand.
The Blacks A Fake, Queensland’s pinnacle event, is the feature race on the 10-race Blacks a Fake night, the final event of the Albion Park Winter Carnival.
The $200,000 Group One race is named after Australia’s highest ever stakes earner and greatest champion Blacks A Fake, the winner of three Winter Cups and two Queensland Pacing Championships and four Inter Dominions for his trainer Natalie Rasmussen.
Racing Queensland CEO Dr Eliot Forbes said Grand Circuit recognition is an exciting development for Harness Racing across the State.
“With this event joining Grand Circuit events in New Zealand, WA, New South Wales and Victoria it raises the profile of Queensland harness racing. This race over many years has attracted a far greater depth and quality of field at a time of year which fits in well with the campaigns of many of the great horses racing within Australasia. It’s going to be an exciting Carnival.”
David Fowler, the Chairman of the Albion Park Harness Racing Club welcomed the decision.
“The Albion Park Harness Racing Club is delighted that after careful consideration The Blacks A Fake has been acknowledged as a Grand Circuit race recognising the contribution and importance of Queensland harness racing on the national stage with a race named after the greatest horse ever produced in Queensland, Blacks A Fake.”
The Blacks A Fake, once known as the Winter Cup, continually attracts the best available stars from Australasia with the most recent winners including the Victorian Philadelphia Man, Western Australia’s I'm Themightyquinn and New Zealand’s Ohoka Punter.
The event has also showcased some of the greatest drivers in Australasia such as Gavin Lang, Mark Purdon, Luke McCarthy, Tony Herlihy, Brian Gath, Brian Hancock, Natalie Rasmussen, Grant Dixon, Shane Graham, Lance Justice, Gary Hall Jnr and Dexter Dunn.
The Blacks A Fake race night in 2017 will offer total prize money in excess of $570,000 with supporting races including two other Group 1 events of $100,000 each.
Harness Racing Australia CEO Andrew Kelly said the decision to award Grand Circuit Status was an easy one given the strong support and quality of event.
“The Feature Race Committee were full of praise for the way in which the industry has embraced and enhanced the Blacks A Fake race meeting in recent years.
This, along with the excellent lobbying of Queensland industry representatives, was recognised by the HRA Executive who, in the end, made an easy decision to award APG Grand Circuit status to this important event.
“With the enhanced status to take effect immediately, competitors in the race will earn points toward being crowned the 2016/17 Grand Circuit Champion and the $20,000 Australian Pacing Gold bonus which accompanies it.”
The FRC had to consider a number of factors in determining Grand Circuit status including prizemoney, quality of the field, interstate and international participation, timing, public interest and history.