Harness racing champion Flashing Red dies

Queensland harness racing great Flashing Red has died aged 25.

Foaled in 1997 and inducted into the Queensland Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2008, Flashing Red was a star of the track in the mid-2000s.

He won a string of feature events including the first of two New Zealand Cups in 2006.

In the same year, he won the Ashburton Flying Stakes and Methven Cup in New Zealand while also taking out the Victorian Popular Alm Free for All (FFA), and two heats of the Inter Dominion Pacing Championship in Tasmania.

He returned across the ditch in 2007 to claim a second New Zealand Cup which was in NZ record time for 3200 metres, while also winning the Auckland Cup as a 10-year-old.

His other significant wins came earlier in his career.

In 2004, he claimed the Cordina Sprint at Harold Park, the Group 2 Queensland Winter Cup at Albion Park over 2680 metres which is now called The Blacks A Fake.

The following season he won the Ballarat Pacing Cup, the listed South Australian Barastoc Cup (Clipsal Cup) and was second in the South Australia Cup to Young Rufus.

By Echelon from Courvy Kazi, the stallion was bred by John Campbell.  

Flashing Red (right) surges to one of his 38 victories. The Queensland Hall of Fame inductee has died, aged 26. Photo: Mark Mitchell

He had three trainers during his career, starting with Eric Blomquist in Tasmania, followed by Stuart Hunter and Tim Butt and Phil Anderson.

His stellar career included 38 victories and 57 minor placings from 171 starts and more than $2 million in prize money.

Butt recalled Flashing Red’s second New Zealand Cup win, when he came off 15 metres and sat last until a lap to go, and then travelled three wide for the final circuit, and it was the better of his Cup wins.

“The first one (New Zealand Cup), it’s easy to say now, but I felt like he was unbeatable. The way he was working and the way he was racing prior to the race and it proved that way,” Butt told RadioTAB.

“Going into the last Cup…he was coming to the end of his career.

“I pulled him out of the box for the second Cup at Addington and you could see the determination in his eye and the mannersims, and I felt he was going to give a special performance. These horses can talk to you sometimes and he duly delivered.

“The second Cup was a herculean performance and to do it like that, was terrific.”

During his time, Flashing Red crossed paths with harness racing’s elite pacers Blacks A Fake, Be Good Johnny and SlipnSlide and his competitiveness made him “one in a million”, Butt said.

“He was a terrific gutsy great staying horse,” he said.

“I remember him sitting outside Blacks a Fake in the Victorian Cup and going down to him just by a head.

“He never missed a dogfight and never had an easy run, so horses like him, to still be giving when they are 10 years old, are one in a million.”

Flashing Red contested most of the biggest feature races across Australasia including the Inter Dominion, Miracle Mile, Victoria Cup, AG Hunter Cup, New Zealand Cup, WA Pacing Cup, South Australian Cup, Queensland Pacing Championship, Australian Pacing Championship, Hobart Pacing Cup and Treuer Memorial.

Racing Queensland holds an annual race in honour of the Hall of Famer, in the first week of June, The Flashing Red Discretionary Handicap over 2647 metres. This year it was run at Group 3 level for the first time.

Flashing Red first announced himself as a star pacer in Tasmania as a two-year-old for Blomquist with a second in the Tasmanian Metro Stakes and third in the Tasmanian Golden Slipper.

He would go on to win 16 races of his 60 starts for Blomquist, including the Danbury Park Cup, the 2002 and 2003 Hobart Free For All and Devonport Cup.

It was as a rising six-year-old that he was sold and raced in Queensland.

Flashing Red was inducted into the Tasmanian Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2014.

By Darren Cartwright