Day At The Track

Aiken's Len Smith Master Stroke

07:00 PM 26 Jun 2016 NZST
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David Aiken and G Hall.jpg
Trainer David Aiken and part owner Gareth Hall after Hectorjayjay's Len Smith Mile win.
Ashlea Brennan Photography

Master harness racing trainer David Aiken pulled off the ultimate big-race success when he trained the quinella in today’s $100,000 TABCORP.COM.AU Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle.

The only problem was it wasn’t quite the way punters expected it to go.

Aiken’s up and comer Hectorjayjay ($10.10), finished like a train to swamp odds-on favourite Lennytheshark ($1.40 favourite) by 1.2m, with Ohoka Punter ($7) a fighting third 7.1m further way. The winner rated a slashing 1:50.5, confirming the huge wraps that Aiken had placed on the five-year-old gelding, who is now bound for Queensland and further feature starts.

Victoria’s two leading reinsmen Gavin Lang (Hectorjayjay) and Chris Alford (Lennytheshark) cleared away to fight out the finish although the wicked grin on Lang’s face in the last 100m clearly indicated he knew he had the race in his keeping.

Close behind the placegetters were outsiders Blazin N Cullen and Alta Jerome, just ahead of the mighty mare Frith, who endured a torrid run and couldn’t match the Grand Circuit stars in the straight.

“Gavin really likes this five-year-old gelding by Dream Away,” said Aiken.

“He doesn’t say a lot but I just really got the feeling he’s been impressed with his turn of foot.”

Lang explained that draws were important and 14 was not ideal against a quality field like that.

“As I always say before the race, it’s only a number, we usually have a post mortem after and decide if they’re good bad or otherwise . . . and it turned out perfectly,” said Lang.

“That’s one thing about drawing 14, you need those type of quick sectionals early to bring you into the race and that’s how it turned out.

“That early burn gives you a chance. Over a mile if they go slowly early then you are left to do your share of work to get into the race and chasing quality horses, well, you just won’t catch them.”

Lang said Hectorjayjay always travelled well and his only concern pre-race was that he had been scratched from his last run because he had a minor problem.

“But a solidly run race (like today’s) can be their downfall and to the stable’s credit they did a great job and had him in excellent condition,” he said.

Home straight: “He’s a good horse and that’s one of the qualities that good horses have - under pressure they really dig in.”

“I’m sure these two horses will have some epic battles in the future.”

Michael Howard

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