AS THE countdown to Saturday night’s TAB Inter Dominion continues, we travel back in time to relive past editions of the Championships hosted by Club Menangle.
HONDO GRATTAN took the first step towards harness racing immortality when he secured the 1973 Sydney Inter Dominion.
A year later Hondo Grattan became the first Inter champion to successfully defend his title by capturing the series in Perth, cementing his place among the all-time greats.
The 1973 edition consisted of three rounds of six heats – the first night qualifiers were over 11 furlongs and165 yards, the second round was over 13 furlongs and 98yards, with the third night’s racing to be held over nine furlongs and 170 yards.
When everything was done and dusted, turnover records and massive crowd attendances delighted the New South Wales Trotting Club.
Hondo Grattan put the writing on the wall when he captured his opening round heat.
The four-year-old led throughout to win by four yards over New Zealand’s Arapaho, which was just ahead of local Jason King.
On a rain-affected track, Hondo Grattan ran his last mile in 2:03.6, with his last half and quarter in 59.6 and 29 seconds.
The crowd gave trainer-driver Tony Turnbull a standing ovation as he returned to scale.
With the second heat conducted on an even wetter surface, thanks to a massive deluge between races, Temora’s Hard To Get saluted with Peter Wolfenden in the sulky as a replacement for the suspended Joe Ilsley.
Hard To Get defeated defending champion Welcome Advice, which rattled home, with third going to outsider 50/1 Artanis, which raced handily throughout.
The mile rate was 2:06.4, with Bay Foyle running fourth.
Adios Victor produced a sensational last half to get up in the final stride to defeat leader Glamour Chief by a long neck.
Immediately after the victory, prominent owner Bob Ingham, who was racing Jason King in the series, offered a substantial $80,000 sum to trainer Arthur Bray to purchase Adios Victor.
The four-year-old was owned by Bray’s mother, who subsequently rejected the offer for the pacer, which had won 13 of his 20 starts.
Just Too Good took out the fourth qualifier, quashing any thoughts of him not being ready for the series.
Leading into the Inter Dominion, he finished fourth to Reichman at Junee, which subsequently saw him fall from favouritism in pre-post Inter markets.
His winning time was 2:07.8 in beating Bold Biami and the unlucky Globe Bay, which began off 18 yards.
New Zealand raider Robalan overcame his 12-yard mark to be an impressive winner, albeit in slow time of 2:11.
Apollo Eleven, for Kevin Newman, came from seventh at the bell to finish second, just ahead of fellow local pacer, Canu Bay.
Another Kiwi, Manaroa, won the final heat on the opening night after beginning off 24 yards.
Neville Hargraves had him away quickly and was positioned sixth from the mile before circling the field and racing away to the biggest margin of the night.
His time of 2:05 was easily the quickest of the evening.
Coming from last along the home straight, West Australian Durante was second, with Celevale Van third.
The second round of heats saw two drivers suspended for four weeks, several others fined and generally rough racing all round.
Owen Glendenning’s assessment of Jason King being unlucky on the opening night proved spot on, when the pair led throughout in their heat to easily defeat Manaroa and Glamour Chief.
His time of 2:05.2 was a record, slicing a fifth of a second off the previous mark set Caduceus during the 1960 Inter Dominion.
Privately, Jason King was timed to his last mile in 2:01.
Manaroa, in running second from 24 yards, broke Halwes’ track record and set the standard at 2:04.2.
Coming from last, Welcome Advice stormed home to take out his heat.
Beginning off 24 yards, he ‘flew’ over the final lap to beat leader Local Ayr and Bret Armagh.
Bill Barry caused somewhat of an upset in his heat when he defeated hot favourite Globe Bay, which was unplaced.
Sitting handily early, before drifting back to be fifth at the bell, Bill Barry hit the lead at the top of straight and won by eight yards in 2:07.
His driver, L Hendry, suffered a suspension for his drive, after forcing Globe Bay three-wide after coming off the fence.
It was NSW one, two, three in this heat with Alecane and Grawlin Gee filling the minors.
Turnbull and Hondo Grattan made it two-from-two after sitting parked and racing to an impressive seven-yard win.
Tasmanian Speedy Ben flashed home for second, with Bold Biami again third.
Reichman, the outstanding Victorian, won the 11th heat after coming from 12 yards.
Back near the rear early before coming three-wide at the bell, Reichman overcame several checks to defeat Bay Foyle, with trainer-driver Rex Hocking claiming he was lucky to stay in the cart due to the severe interference.
John Heath, driving Bay Foyle, claimed the interference cost him the race.
Arapaho, which began from a 12-yard handicap, led for the majority of the final heat to beat Just Too Good and Apollo Eleven.
Rain caused constant problems throughout the series and effected the track on night three so badly the racing had to be postponed until Tuesday, February 27 – four days after its initial programming.
The delay actually worked to the benefit of South Australian Glamour Chief, which injured a leg on Friday morning, the day the third round of heats were originally meant to be run.
On the other hand, Bay Foyle, was retired to stud prior to the third round heats after suffering a flare up in his tendon.
Owner Neville Johnstone put the stallion on the first available transport to New Zealand before standing him at Rangiora.
Glamour Chief used the extra days to his advantage, defeating Davian and Kiwi Lad in 2:05.6.
Adios Victor was unplaced as the favourite after galloped out and striking interference before which cost him a berth in the Final.
James Eden returned to form in the second heat, with the shock failure of Arapaho (sixth) leaving people scratching their heads.
Bill Barry, Alecane and Welcome Advice were just behind the winner.
Yankee Rhythm, like James Eden, gave West Australia another heat winner when he too reversed his form to salute.
Finishing towards the tail of the field on nights one and two, Yankee Rhythm began well this time to sit third on the rail before finishing over the top of the leaders to score by six yards in 2:05.4.
Bold Biami was second, with Chase On third.
Hondo Grattan completed a clean sweep of the heats, and while this race was billed as a clash between he and Manaroa, it didn’t eventuate with the latter jumping out of his gear at the start before colliding with Deep Court.
Chasing hard as driver Neville Hargraves realised that his pacer needed every point possible to make the Final, he ran his last mile in an unbelievable 1:58 – yet still finished last!
Just Too Good took out his heat by leading throughout to narrowly prevail over Reichman in 2:05, with the pair staging a war down the Harold Park straight.
Royal Ascot’s victory in the final heat for Alan Harrison, over Jason King, was in a record 2:31.4 for the distance, beating WA pacer Red Vicar’s previous best.
In winning, Royal Ascot ensured that Manaroa missed a spot in the Final.
A big crowd of 31,073 attended the Glebe circuit to witness what would be the first of Hondo Grattan’s two Inter Dominion triumphs.
The NSW Trotting Club offered $190,000 in prizemoney for the series, which included stakes towards the Trotters Inter.
The Pacers’ Final was $50,000 and was accompanied by a massive four Consolations!
Turnbull had Hondo Grattan away nicely and was third on the fence early, with Harrison positioning Royal Ascot on his outside.
Later, Harrison admitted that Turnbull had tried to “con” him in proceeding with a run around the field and that caused him to hesitate, enabling Turnbull to come off the fence and occupy the ‘death’.
Jason King, which led, was under siege as the challengers began coming during the last lap, with Reichman and Robalan coming from the back and Hondo Grattan maintaining his spot on his outside.
With a squeeze up approaching the home turn involving Reichman, Glamour Chief (behind the leader), Robalan and Welcome Advice, the attention quickly turned to the leading pack.
Hondo Grattan got the better of Jason King, however, in hitting the front as early as he did, Turnbull allowed Royal Ascot his shot down the straight.
Harrison and Royal Ascot hit the front, but Hondo Grattan came back strongly, earning him the moniker ‘the Bathurst Bulldog’.
To the surprise of everyone, the two drivers included, Hondo Grattan lifted to score by a head, with Glamour Chief flashing home to be a short-neck away third.
The time was 3:33.2, the rate of 2:06.8 wasn’t exceptional, and in fact slower than two Consolations run on the evening, but it didn’t matter.
Hondo Grattan was the fourth horse to complete a clean sweep of the series, following Logan Derby (1936), James Scott (1952) and Chamfer’s Star (1966).
The four nights of the Inter Dominion had seen previous trotting records smashed for turnover in Australia and New Zealand.
Final night saw turnover reach $2,618,747, with the overall carnival turnover reaching $8,021,928.
Attendance for the 1973 series reached 87,479.