Day At The Track

Aiken Delight's in intriguing sprint

07:53 PM 02 Oct 2019 NZDT
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Wrappers Delight,Harness racing
Wrappers Delight
Stuart McCormick photo

A breathtakingly even field will collide for the right to be a Smoken Up Sprint champion, throwing up scenarios that have trainer David Aiken among the many “really looking forward” to the Group 2 dash.

The preparer of three of the past four winners of the sprint – Lennytheshark in 2015 and 2017 and Wrappers Delight (pictured) last year – Aiken’s well positioned to add a fourth in only the sixth staging of the race, but admitted to being intrigued to the many tactical ramifications.

In particular, the question who will lead?

While Aiken has reigning champ Wrappers Delight drawn in gate one and lightning beginner Audi Hare in gate four he said there was no easy answer, but added reinsman James Herbertson and Audi Hare would be advantaged by their mid-row draw.

“The middle is probably the best barrier at Melton at that distance,” Aiken said.

“Wrappers Delight is pretty quick out, but it depends on how it plays out. We probably have our best chance with Wrappers Delight, but Audi Hare will be doing his best to cross him.”

He said “the barriers couldn’t have worked out better” for the stable, and some form analysts were confident Aiken’s runners would be leader and leader’s back in the early stages.

Among that number is Good Form’s Jason Bonnington.

"The quandary for punters here is that there are perhaps four different conceivable speed map scenarios and each one has the potential to badly mitigate and significantly elevate the winning chances of several runners,” Bonnington said.

"The fact is Audi Hare has Coastal-like gate speed, he's the fastest horse off the arm in Victoria and as a specialist miler and last start winner I'm favouring the concept that he will lead and hold.

"What happens after that from a pressure perspective probably relies largely upon Born To Rocknroll, but if Audi Hare does lead I think they'll run a freakishly fast mile with several horses rolling up to occupy the breeze and fireworks throughout."

So, Aiky, if Audi Hare leads what’s next?

Let’s start with can Wrappers Delight follow his stablemate out and retake the lead?

“A horse like Phoenix Prince is very quick out, it will probably cover up the outside,” Aiken said. “Cant Refuse comes out quickly. I don’t know about retaking.”

So it’s not completely off the table, but at least very unlikely.

Which begs, if Audi Hare leads, does he hold the front?

“If it was 2200 metres Audi Hare would be handing up, but he is good over 1700. If he leads he will definitely hold them.”

So, in that case, Herbertson would attempt to hold the front for as long as possible, with Wrappers Delight – whose driver is yet to be finalised – to be leader’s back hoping his stablemate can take him to the sprint lane.

“(Wrappers Delight) likes the distance, especially if he doesn’t have to do a lot of work,” Aiken said, adding he expected “a pretty quick mile, at least the (one minute) 52 mark”.

One horse who may ensure that pace is Buster Brady, trained at Aiken’s stable by Kima Frenning.

A prodigious talent, Buster Brady may have lost a few fans after another “weird” run in last Saturday’s Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup, when he again lost momentum about 800m from home before crashing the line late, having eased to $6.50 with for Saturday night’s Smoken Up Sprint after opening at $5.50.

“It’s frustrating,” Aiken said of Buster Brady’s fade-outs. “He seems to be better leading, when he’s back in the field he seems to drop off at the wrong time of the race and then pick up again.

“I’ve never seen a horse do what he does and then remake the ground. He doesn’t do it when he’s on top, it’s weird what he does.”

Aiken has an enormous opinion of Buster Brady, particularly when he leads. “I think he’s the best horse in Victoria, he’s the best horse here (at my stable).”

So what role will he play Saturday night? Aiken said he was a candidate for an early move to the breeze “unless there was super pace on”.

All will be answered from 9pm on Saturday night.


Michael Howard

HRV Trots Media

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