Grand Champion- History & Mystery

Albion Park is set to host the pinnacle of Australasian harness racing for the sixth time when the Ladbrokes Inter Dominion Championship commences on Friday December 1.

With Brisbane’s famed Breakfast Creek track the venue for the 2023 Series, The Creek is also currently home to an amazing piece of Inter Dominion history.

The original Inter Dominion Championship Trophy from 1936 sits on display at Albion Park, with the origins of how this piece of trotting history found its way to Brisbane, perhaps equally as perplexing that many people do not know the story behind the first winner, Evicus.

The initial origins of the Inter Dominion can be traced back to 1923, where the West Australian James Brennan proposed to an assembly of officials, a concept that was far ahead of any idea of its time.

Brennan suggested that an annual championship be held and rotated amongst each Australian State, New Zealand and the United States of America, an idea that was not met with any enthusiasm by the delegates of other jurisdictions.

While Western Australia did host an Australasian Trotting Championship in 1925, the idea was shelved until J P Stratton, the president of the Western Australian Trotting Association revisited the idea a decade later.

In 1935 The Australasian Trotting Conference was held in Sydney where trotting administrators from all States of Australia and both Islands of New Zealand gathered.

From this conference agreement was reached to commence a new race Series and the Inter Dominion Championships were born.

To recognise the contribution of Stratton, who had been instrumental in pressing for the introduction of the Series, the decision was reached for Perth to host the inaugural Series.

The running of that initial Series in February of 1936 soon fell victim to the transport capabilities of the day, seven nominations from New Zealand withdrawing and then a shipping strike saw the Series delayed a week.

With standing start the conditions of the day, the back marker for the Series was Walla Walla, but the handicap was too big, and he was unable to even make the Final.

Logan Derby was handicapped off the front mark for the Series, with the Tasmanian Evicus facing a 24 yards mark.

Tasmanian mare Evicus prepares for an Inter Dominion Championship Heat

Conditions were set for that initial Series that placings received points on a 3-2-1 basis in the Heats and the Final.

On top of the placing points, the fastest horses also gained points on a 3-2-1 basis.

After the heats were finalised, Logan Derby, trained by Harry Barnes and driven by Jim Agnew had progressed through to the Final undefeated after winning all three rounds of Heats.

Logan Derby had defeated Evicus in two rounds of the Heats, while New Derby had managed to win two Heats that he contested from 36 yards, however had not scored as well with his times, but was still sent to the post as the favourite for the Final.

To secure the Championship Logan Derby needed to not only win the Final, but he also had to post a big enough margin over Evicus to ensure he gained both the winning and time points.

Logan Derby went on to score victory in the 12-furlong Final by a winning margin of 6 yards to remain undefeated in the Series, the time for the trip equating to a mile rate of 2.12.

Finishing second in the Final was Evicus for driver Freeman Holmes, holding a three-yard margin over the third placed, Nancywood.

With Evicus rating 2.11 from the 24-yard handicap, the result saw the Barnes trained six-year-old mare gain three points for the time rating.

Logan Derby finished with 18 points, while Evicus with her second-place finish in all four starts in the Series and with timing points, finished on 20 points.

Thus, after the initial Inter Dominion Championship, it was Evicus that was given the title of Inter Dominion Grand Champion.

Driver Freee Holmes is congratulated by part-owner H F Rudd

Messrs H F Rudd and E Challis were presented with the Gold Cup and Championship for the win of their six-year-old mare, while the £1,500 prizemoney was reportedly split between connections of Evicus and Logan Derby.

At a departing function held at the Adelphi hotel in Perth, sticks of curly jarrah were handed to visitors as souvenirs for making the trip West.

The Gold Cup was also put on display by the winning owners and Mr Rudd filled the trophy with champagne and passed it around the crowd.

A scene that might possibly be recreated when the 2023 Champion is crowned on Saturday, December 16.

As for the 1936 Gold Cup, with mystery surrounding how it came to be in Brisbane, can you help us solve the mystery?

The 1936 Inter Dominion Championship Trophy