Avenel harness racing trainer David Aiken was the big winner at Tuesday morning’s barrier draw for the 2014 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series grand finals.
Aiken, who has qualified several of his big-name stars for the Tabcorp Park Melton Friday/Saturday grand final night double-header, would have been smiling to hear about Eljaykay Phoenix drawing gate two for the two-year-old trotting colts and geldings’ final, Spidergirl drawing gate two for the four-year-old trotting mares’ final, Jedi Mind snaring gate one in the three-year-old colts and geldings’ final and Lennytheshark coming up with gate four in the four-year-old entires and geldings’ final.
The four-year-old entires and geldings' final (to be run at 9pm on Saturday night) will see champion pacers Lennytheshark and Guaranteed lock horns.
Both comfortably won their Vicbred semi-finals last Friday night and Guaranteed’s back-row draw (gate nine) won’t be any problem at all for the Emma Stewart-trained star, which gets back early.
Ginger Bliss won’t be able to utilise his greatest weapon – blistering gate speed – as he is drawn inside the back row behind pole horse Boyz Torque, which is likely to be overtaken by Lennytheshark early.
Trainer David Miles had mixed feelings about Tuesday morning’s barrier draw, his star three-year-old filly Mindarie Priddy snaring gate five in her final, which should allow her to find the lead and dictate terms, while his two-year-old Diamond Castle – raced by Harness Racing Victoria’s successful ownership scheme Raceapacer – drew gate 13 for her final.
“Mindarie Priddy looks like she might be able to find the top and if she does she’ll be hard to beat from there,” Miles said.
“She worked the best I’ve seen her work this morning, so she’s flying.
“Diamond Castle is a bit of a one-trick pony at this stage, a real sit-sprinter.
“We’ll have to spot them 40m at some stage so it will be hard but we’ll just have to see what happens.”
Most punters think Eljaykay Phoenix and Illawong Armstrong have the two-year-old colts and geldings’ trotters’ final between them.
While the Aiken-trained youngster got the luck at the barrier draw – and Illawong Armstrong was out of the draw and thus has to start from gate 12 – trainer Jodi Quinlan would still be confident about her horse’s chances given it has won four on the trot in dominant fashion.
Spidergirl will be a short-priced favourite in the four-year-old trotting mares’ final, punters surely including the Aiken-trained superstar in all their multi-bets after she came up with the plum gate two at the barrier draw.
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By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)