The biggest and most important event staged in Queensland harness racing is without doubt the Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, the highlight of the Queensland Constellations and a Grand Circuit event.
The Australian Pacers Grand Circuit began in 1977 and was designed to be the showpiece of the Australian Harness Racing Industry with horses competing from every state within Australia.
In 1992, New Zealand was admitted and the Circuit was renamed the Australasian Grand Circuit.
The best horses available are brought together to race for very attractive prize money.
Back in 2016, it was decided to combine the Queensland Pacing Championship – normally staged in October – and the Winter Cup, the two biggest pacing events staged in the Sunshine State.
And given that Blacks A Fake, the greatest pacer of all-time and a true Queensland champion, won both events multiple times, the new combined event would also carry his name moving forward.
The 2680m mobile start event has witnessed the likes of Ohoka Punter, Hectorjayjay, Let It Ride, Colt Thirty One, King Of Swing and Amazing Dream prove triumphant.
Last year, Majestic Cruiser prevailed in a gripping contest.
Each year, prize money has swelled. The 2016 edition ran for $200,000 while the 2023 version has now soared to $400,000 – the highest level it has ever reached.
Back in 2020 when King Of Swing scored, the race was staged in a different timeslot and for reduced prize money owing to the effects of the global pandemic.
The 2023 edition has the potential to be the best yet with several stars eyeing off the rich prize money, and big name performers travelling from far and wide in a bid to claim the silverware.
So, can the locals repel the challenge?
Since the race morphed into what it’s become today, the only locally prepared pacer to taste the ultimate glory is Colt Thirty One back in 2019.
But the depth chart reads deep this year headlined by a triple threat of pacing power including generational type talent and reigning Australian three-year-old of the Year Leap To Fame, reigning Queensland Aged Pacer of the Year Turn It Up and current track record holder Blacksadance.
Leap To Fame after taking out the 2023 Sunshine Sprint.
The latter is the only horse who has paced under 1:50 at the famed Breakfast Creek oval with his 1:49.2 victory last September.
“Naturally, this is the big assignment for him, and everything has been geared for the Constellations, we’d love to win the double, the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake, that’s been our aim for quite some time now,” Pete McMullen, regular reinsman of Blacksadance said.
The last time Queensland-trained horses won both major events (Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake) in the same year was 2019 when leading horseman Grant Dixon scored with Ohoka Punter and Colt Thirty One.
The only pacer to claim both events in the same year under the current format was Hectorjayjay back in 2017 while the last Queensland pacer to claim both events in the same year was none other than Blacks A Fake back in 2007.
As history proves, it’s not easy to win both major pacing events.
With time and maturity, Blacksadance has developed into a topflight open class performer who consistently produces excellent efforts in both victory and defeat.
Looking back over the past 12 months, the A Rocknroll Dance – Washington Lass gelding has four obvious blemishes on his form card which includes the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake (from ordinary draws), Len Smith Mile (parked out in 1:48.8) and Queensland Cup (end of campaign).
A rugged pacer with a strong cruising speed, the six-year-old has been under the care of Chantal Turpin throughout his career.
“From an early stage, we dubbed him Dumbo because he looked like a slow maturing type, but the penny is starting to drop with him now,” Turpin explained.
“His attitude over the past year has changed and he now knows he’s a racehorse.
“He’s got his own routine and he thrives on work and racing.
“Since the carnival last year, he’s won eight races (all at Albion Park) including features and all those wins have been in 1:55.5 or faster no matter the distance.
“I’m hoping he’s ready to step it up and produce his best this year, but the competition will be as strong as ever so luck is required.”
Blacksadance is raced by his breeder and biggest fan, John Polson.
The Taree (NSW) dairy farmer has enjoyed considerable success with Washington Lass, a mare he raced with success on the track before retirement.
At stud, her foals include Blacksadance ($285,000), Big Wheels ($265,000), Awaywego ($138,000) and Attachment, a two-year-old winner this season.
Naturally, Polson is very proud of his pacers and is hoping the best is still to come and given the Constellations and Inter Dominion are being staged in Brisbane this year, the possibilities are endless.
“It would be the ultimate prize to win the Blacks A Fake given my horse is named after him but I’m trying not to think about it too much. In my heart, I know he could do it,” Polson stated.
“Given the Constellations and Inter series are being staged at his home track, these two carnivals have been the primary focus for quite some time so I’m excited yet hopeful at the same time.”
The Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship will be staged this Saturday, July 22.
Racing Queensland will host the Inter Dominion at Albion Park in December (1-16) for the first time since 2009 (Parklands – Mr Feelgood) but it’s the first time since 2001 the series has been staged in Brisbane.
Turn It Up.
Source: Racing Queensland