Day At The Track

Aiken takes drive behind Champion Pacer

07:38 PM 05 Jul 2017 NZST
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The decision has been made. Victorian based trainer David Aiken will take the reins behind his champion pacer Lennytheshark in Saturday night’s Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park, the second night of the Queensland harness racing winter carnival.

Unfortunately, a clash of feature race dates has prevented regular driver Chris Alford being in Brisbane to partner the $2.6 million earner.

Alford is heavily committed to a large book of drives in several finals of the Vicbred Super Series at TABCORP Park, Melton across the weekend.

It becomes the first time since June 28, 2013 that Alford hasn’t driven Lennytheshark under race conditions.

But co-owner Martin Riseley is confident that Aiken can get the job done this week before Alford reunites next weekend in the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake.

“David is aboard this weekend, he knows Lenny better than anyone and while he doesn’t drive as much as he once did, he’s still a very good driver and a proven feature race winner at Albion Park.” Riseley said.

Debate has raged over the past week on who would land the drive behind the Inter Dominion/Miracle Mile winner with a number a names thrown about but following the draw, the decision was made quite easily.

Lennytheshark will start from the coveted inside draw in the 1660m sprint feature, his first start in the Sunshine State.

The Four Starzzz Shark entire hasn’t started since finishing third behind My Field Marshal and Mach Doro in a time of 1:50.2 when breezing in the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle two weeks ago.

Miss Inter Dominion Natalie Rasmussen was the other driver given serious consideration of replacing Alford before Riseley and his father Kevin made the final call.

“It came down to two drivers in the end and after consultation with David, we’re happy to say he will take the drive this weekend. We have close ties with Natalie through the All Stars stable in New Zealand along with Mark Purdon.

“Natalie was considered because she is driving at the meeting and her deeds as a big race driver are well known plus she knows Albion Park really well.

“The decision has been made and we’re really looking forward to the race, it’s a strong line-up but we expect another big effort from Lenny. We’re excited to be part of the carnival.”

Aiken was a regular Queensland campaigner many seasons ago when he was previously based at Condell Park, near Sydney.

He won the 1990 Queensland Oaks aboard Swing Out Sister.

Another matter which has also been clarified is where Riseley will view the race.

With a number of qualified finalists in Melbourne, many expected Riseley to remain local.

But airline tickets have been purchased to fly north.

“We’ve got some trotting fillies qualified on Friday night but I’ll be flying up on Saturday afternoon to cheer on Lenny before catching the first flight back on Sunday morning.

“I must be back early on Sunday owing to my son’s (Sam) soccer fixture, it’s a big game and I don’t want to miss it.”

The Riseley family shares in ownership of Patsdelight, Allthemoves, Moresuccess, Beltane and Stars Align in the Gr.1 Vicbred finals.

Chris Barsby

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