If one man holds the master key to this weekend’s racing – and perhaps Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star night – then there is no doubt it’s leading trainer David Aiken.
He won’t just trainer one of Australia’s leading hopes for the Group 1 features in the next fortnight, he will also play a strong hand in the burgeoning Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed series.
And the greatest wildcard of them all – Queensland trotter The Dude Abides.
My High Expectations has been one of the most talked about squaregaiters in the months leading into the Great Southern Star and despite being defeated in the Glenferrie Challenge; Aiken has a stern warning for his rivals.
“Since that race at Menangle he has come back and been really good at home and I think we have the right horse for the race,” Aiken said.
“They came out pretty hard (in the Glenferrie Challenge) and when I made my move I didn’t think The Fiery Ginga would go with me again but he did and it probably just ended up a bit much for my bloke.
“You’ve always got to have a bit of luck in these big races but I don’t think the continual racing is taking any toll. He backs up well and he was really good in the heat and final last year.”
Drawn the second row, Aiken will have options over the middle-distanced journey of 2240 metres as his charge has opened a $3.40 second favourite with TAB fixed odds.
On the same night the Avenel trainer will produce DJ Alexander Memorial winner The Dude Abides in the Pryde’s EasiFeed Trotters FFA on his way to the Great Southern Star.
Having already qualified for the heats Aiken has plotted a path for the ex-Kiwi to be peaking on March 22.
And he will have an abundance of squaregaiters readied for the date with a further four of his team competing in a heat of the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Gold series.
Cold Sister returns from being peppered in front in the Glenferrie Challenge while Victoria and NSW Oaks runner-up from last season, Spidergirl, steps up to meet the open class mares.
“She (Spidergirl) made a break the other night which was pretty unfortunate because she made up a lot of ground so I was pretty happy with her run. I was planning not to go around this week but now we have to in order to qualify,” Aiken said.
“Cold Sister was pressured in the Glenferrie Farm challenge which didn’t help her and prior to that she was in terrific form so the drop back in class should really help her. Spidergirl hasn’t really met these horses yet but she raced through all the Oaks and Derbies last year.
“I can’t really split them on Friday night, there really isn’t a lot between them.”
By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)