TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion History
The TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion is the harness racing championship of Australasia that has been contested since 1936. The host of the series was rotated between the six harness racing states of Australia and the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
Traditionally the series was held over a two week period with three heats held in the first week, over a sprint distance, a middle distance and a staying distance. At each round of heats there were three races to accommodate the number of horses in the championship. The grand final was held a week after the final round of heats. The distance for the grand final was a test of endurance over a longer distance.
From 2013 to 2015 the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion grand final will be conducted in Sydney with horses qualifying in a single round of heats conducted around Australasia.
1952 - AVIAN DERBY
It was Sydney's first Inter-Dominion at Harold Park in 1952.
Overall, more than 116,000 attended the four nights of the 1952 Inter-Dominion carnival, more than double the total crowd for a whole year of meetings at Harold Park in the day trot era. Overall, more than 116,000 attended the four nights of the 1952 Inter-Dominion carnival, more than double the total crowd for a whole year of meetings at Harold Park in the day trot era.
Prizemoney, too, underwent a dramatic increase with the advent of night trotting and fittingly the stake for Sydney's first Inter-Dominion final - 10,000 pounds ($20,000).
A seven-year-old by Lawn Derby from Avian Lass, Avian Derby was owned in Victoria by Melbourne bookmaker Fred Hanlon, a brother of legendary Victorian thoroughbred trainer, George Hanlon, but was trained at Temora by Sylvester Bray.
Bray was the regular driver of Avian Derby but was suspended just before the Inter-Dominion which resulted in Dave `Darkie' Wilson - later to be crippled in a race at the Melbourne Showgrounds in the early 1970s - gaining the drive.
There was a sensation when Avian Derby was scratched from the third round of qualifying heats after scoring convincing wins in his first two heats. The pacer suffered a colic attack on the day of the race and for a time looked in danger of being ruled out of the final because he hadn't contested all three qualifying heats.
In the end though, he was allowed to start, and before a then record crowd of 38,090, was sent out 4-6 favourite. Overcoming difficulties that would have stopped a lesser horse, Avian Derby managed to get clear in time and finished too well for the opposition.
1956 - GENTLEMAN JOHN
Four years later, in 1956, another Victorian-owned pacer, Gentleman John, carved his name on the Inter-Dominion roll by winning Sydney's second championship series.
Driven by his trainer, Eric Rothacker, who at 26 was at that time the youngest reinsman to win the race, Gentleman John came off 12 yards and got up in the last stride to score by a head, rating 2:08.8 for 13 1/2 furlongs.
The 1956 carnival was marred by atrocious weather conditions which caused four postponements. As a result, the series ran nine days longer than the fortnight originally scheduled.
The final, run on a Monday night because of the postponements, drew 34,020 spectators, who cheered the house down as Gentleman John and Mineral Spring fought out a nailbiting finish.
1960 - CADUCEUS
It was Harold Park's third Inter-Dominion series and the attendance records set then have not been threatened in Australia or New Zealand since, nor are they ever likely to be.
The total crowd for the four nights was 126,570, an average of 31,642. But it was the mammoth attendance of 50,346 on Grand Final night that set the scene for the sensations that were to
Talk about drama. Today it sounds more like the scenario for a movie blockbuster, but back in 1960 it was real life drama as Caduceus took out the championship at his sixth attempt.
Not only did the pony-sized Kiwi star have to overcome a 36-yard handicap, but before being crowned the winner, he had to survive a protest lodged on behalf of the runner-up, Apmat.
The crowd poured in. For the first, and only time at Harold Park, the `House Full' sign was posted as police ordered the gates closed before the running of the Grand Final.
Although a nine-year-old with a difficult handicap to overcome, Caduceus went out 3-1 favourite. In an action-packed final in which Brilliant Moon fell going into the back straight the last time, there was further interference involving Caduceus and Apmat soon afterwards.
Caduceus, however, lost no momentum. Thunderous applause erupted as he moved up to challenge Fettle, which led around the home turn. The cheering continued all the way down the straight, reaching a crescendo as Caduceus held off Apmat's determined finishing bid to score by a half-length on the line.
Then came the announcement that Apmat's driver, Bert Alley, had lodged a protest against the winner. The objection was dismissed after a hearing lasting only a few minutes.
1966 - CHAMFER'S STAR
Following the victory of Caduceus in 1960, it was six years before the Inter returned to Harold Park. This time victory went to the Tasmanian-owned Chamfer's Star, which completed a clean sweep of the series when he led throughout to win the Grand Final.
Once again, rain hit Sydney at carnival time. Although no postponements were necessary, the final was run on a quagmire track. The heavy going, however, did not worry the front-running Chamfer's Star.
He ploughed through the mud at a 2:13.2 rate for 13 furlongs and 98 yards,the slowest time since Single Direct scored at a 2:14.5 rate at Adelaide's Wayville circuit 17 years earlier. It was a dashing drive by the then 25-yearold Brian Forrester on Chamfer's Star, as well as a training triumph for Max Treuer, who was always confident of winning with the Tassie pacer.
Treuer freely tipped the horse on the eve of every heat, as well as the final. Those who listened profited handsomely. Chamfer's Star, rated a 200-1 chance when nominations closed, won his three qualifying heats so well, he wound up 3-1 favourite for the final.
1973 - HONDO GRATTAN
Sydney's fifth Inter-Dominion, run at Harold Park in 1973, still ranks as the most successful conducted in New South Wales.
The quality of entries was so high that six heats were run on each of the first three nights - a record that stands today and is unlikely to be bettered in the future.
The series saw the emergence of a new champion - the legendary Hondo Grattan - a horse with seemingly endless supply of stamina. He won the hearts of thousands with his courageous displays during the series.
Trained at The Lagoon, outside Bathurst, by his driver, the equally legendary A D (Tony) Turnbull, Hondo Grattan followed in the footsteps of Chamfer's Star by making a clean sweep of the series. He was to make history the following year by winning the Inter-Dominion Grand Final again in Perth, becoming the first pacer to score two years in succession.
His Sydney triumph though, earned him a special place in the record books. In winning the $50,000 final that year, Hondo Grattan became the first NSW pacer to take out the championship in his home State - and he did so over one of the best line-ups on record.
A crowd of 31,073 was on hand to see the action as Hondo Grattan produced all his courage to score in a desperate finish. After a hard run outside the leader, he looked beaten as he straightened for the run home with Royal Ascot looming up outside him.
1980 - KOALA KING
Moving on to Sydney's sixth Inter-Dominion in 1980.
Koala King, trained to the minute by Ray Wisbey, was driven to perfection by Brian Hancock giving the man who would later become known as the "Inter Dominion King" the first of a record six wins in the race as a driver and/or trainer.
The night Koala King won, everyone thought Locarno had it in the bag when he led coming to the home turn. It was at that point that Hancock was starting to feel confident, and Koala King did not let me down - he really finished over the top of them.M
With Hancock waving his whip high in a victory salute, Koala King motored down the home straight to take out the final with 10 metres to spare.
1988 - OUR MAESTRO
A lucky last-minute drive provided Sydney reinsman JE Binskin with the highlight of his career when the Victoriantrained Our Maestro took out the Harold Park Inter-Dominion in 1988.
A master of the art of driving front-runners, Binskin was never seen to better advantage than on that March night of the bicentennial year of 1988.
It was Sydney's first Inter-Dominion under mobile conditions, and Binskin jumped Our Maestro straight to the front in the final, driving him to an all-the-way win over Palimar and Tiff's Mystery, rating 2:01.2 for the 2700-metre journey.
1994 - WEONA WARRIOR
A marvellous training feat and a super drive, were ingredients that paved the way for an upset win by Weona Warrior in the eighth Inter-Dominion run at Harold Park in 1994.
Hancock weighed in as both the trainer and driver of Weona Warrior making the win his most rewarding in an Inter Dominion.
While punters dismissed his Inter-Dominion prospects and allowed him to go out at 25-1 in the final, Hancock never gave up on him. Weona Warrior was so far down the point-score table he had to win his last heat of the series to be sure of qualifying for the final line-up.
A good run through from the second row at the start of the race helped, but it was the genius of Hancock in the last lap that was the major factor in Weona Warrior's victory. On a rain-affected track, Hancock deftly weaved the pacer between horses from the 600-metre peg, then brought him with a welltimed run to score by a metre from Ultra Jet, with Valley Champ a half-neck away third.
2002 - SMOOTH SATIN
When Smooth Satin won in 2002, he became the last-ever winner of an Inter Dominion grand final on the historic Harold Park track.
Not only was the year 2002 destined to mark Harold Park's last Inter Dominion, but the series also broke new ground when the Newcastle Club was invited to join forces with the NSW Harness Racing Club and stage one round of qualifying heats.
For trainer-driver Steve Turnbull, Smooth Satin's victory in the grand final gave him a place on the Inter Dominion honour roll alongside his father, the legendary A D (Tony) Turnbull who won the race twice with Hondo Grattan – at Harold Park in 1973 and at Gloucester Park, Perth the following year.
Like Hondo Grattan, Smooth Satin was trained at The Lagoon outside Bathurst and his win was one of the most popular Inter Dominion victories since Hondo Grattan's first success in the big race 29 years earlier.
2010 - BLACKS A FAKE
Blacks A Fake earned his entry to Hall of Fame as winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Inter Dominion Championship Grand Finals, and re-affirmed that status with a brilliant historymaking fourth victory in 2010.
The 2010 was the first time that the NSWHRC had run the Inter Dominion away from Harold Park, this time at Sydney's new home of harness racing Tabcorp Park Menangle.
Blacks A Fake became the leading World standardbred pacer of all time at end 2011 with winnings of $4.535 million, and his overall achievements now include eleven Group 1 races staged on six different tracks across Australia. In 105 career starts, Blacks A Fake has won 72 races and been placed in a further 24 starts – a remarkable effort not equalled by any other Australian pacer. He was retired in July 2011.
2013 - Im Themightyquinn
Im Themightyquinn created history with his barnstorming finish to claim the $750,000 Group One. This was the champ's third Inter Dominion in succession.
Settling at the tail of the field from barrier six by reinsman Gary Hall junior, the third favourite Mah Sish and driver Anthony Butt controlled the tempo in front.
As the first quarter of the last mile of the 3009m event was posted in 31.2 seconds, Hall junior managed to flush out Mach Alert (Shane Graham) and gain a three-wide trail into the race.
With the second and third quarters 29.7 and 28.3 seconds, Hall angled Im Themightyquinn four wide in the turn of the home straight.
Sprinting sharply, the eight-year-old gelding overcame a last split of 26.7 seconds to beat the Hunter Cup winner Mah Sish by four metres.
Local pacer Excel Stride fought on for third ahead of a Terror To Love, the equal $3.20 favourite with the winner. Clocking his last half in 54.3 seconds, Im Themightyquinn set a new world record of 1:58.1 in the process.
2014 - Beautide
Beautide became only the third horse to capture the Inter Dominion/Miracle Mile double in the same season - joining Our Sir Vancelot (1997-98) and Smooth Satin (2001-02).
The former Tasmanian pacer showed amazing speed and strength in obliterating Im Themightyquinn’s world record when he mile-rated 1:55.5 for 3009m in the Inter Dominion decider – with his final mile being clocked in 1:52.2!
And he did it the hard way, travelling three-wide to park outside the lead before facing the breeze and eyeballing the top class New Zealander Smolda for the final 1400m.
Beautide won in World Record time in the 3009m Grand Final and scored clearly by 5.9 metres from Steel N Print (Todd McCarthy) with For A Reason (Luke McCarthy) running on strongly for third, 1.1 metres further back with Smolda holding on for (12.9m) fourth.
His decisive win stamped Beautide as the best horse in the Southern Hemisphere, a miraculous rise considering the six-year-old had arrived at Cobbitty on Sydney’s south-western outskirts a restricted-class competitor just nine months earlier.