David Aiken enjoyed a stellar season just past, coming within three wins of the metropolitan trainer’s premiership, but he has picked up where he left off with 12 winners from just 70 runners this term.
The trend is set to continue too with a strong hand engaged at Tabcorp Park Friday night and at the Maryborough Cup meeting on Sunday for the Avenel trainer.
Jaccka Clive will headline his Central Goldfields Shire Maryborough Gold Cup hopes and although he is coming in with the figure form of 0, 7, 7, Aiken is convinced he is starting to reach his peak.
And his peak is well and truly up to this race, having run a placing in the past two Hunter Cup’s.
“I’m pretty happy with where he is at and even though he is off the 20 metres I think he is going better than his form probably reads,” Aiken said.
“My other runner, Composed, has been beaten a head two years in a row in the race (Maryborough Cup) so hopefully he can go one better this time around.
“I thought he was good at Kilmore off the 20-metre mark so if he steps away he shouldn’t be far from them.”
But first attention will turn to Tabcorp Park where brilliant trotting mare Cold Sister returns from a break in the Pryde’s EasiFeed Trotters Free For All.
Having drawn two, she comes off a handy trial win at Shepparton where Aiken believed she had plenty in hand.
“It’s just the start of her prep but we are really happy with where she is at. It’s a short race but the others are racing really well and they have a few runs under their belt whereas we will be an improver I think,” he said.
“She’s a free-for-all class trotter now so there are a lot of races on for her and hopefully she will get to the Great Southern Star like last year.”
Nominating his best for the weekend’s racing, the in-form horseman leant to stable stalwart Smudge Bromac, who has been around the money throughout recent claiming series without getting to the line in front.
Drawn outside of the front row on Friday night, he gets his chance to work forward over the mile and stamp his authority on the race.
“Catch Your Breath has been getting in our way so with him not there he gets his chance,” Aiken said.
“Catch Your Breath came out and beat Smoken Up in the Popular Alm Sprint so it’s proof that we’ve been racing well.
“I’d say he will keep rolling forward from the wide barrier but I’ll just leave that up to Nathan (Jack, driver).”
Jasper Jumping At Mares Races
The win of Stylish Jasper at Tabcorp Park Melton may have been a fair while in the making, but that brilliant turn of foot suggested that despite being 12 months in the metropolitan wilderness, it won’t take that long to return to the Melton winners stall.
Having done the majority of her racing at Tabcorp Park in the last year, Stylish Jasper returns to the track Friday night for the Harness Breeders Victoria Tailamade Lombo.
And once again she has been underrated in the market, opening $21 with TAB fixed odds.
She proved last time that the odds mean nothing as she stormed home at cricket score odds and her trainer, Vivian Tomren, will be hoping that’s the case again.
“She went super last week and it was a good drive too which always helps,” Tomren said.
“I’ve thought for quite a while that she would be competitive in these sorts of races but she kept getting balloted out so she never really got to prove it.”
Having finished second in the mares feature race three weeks ago behind Bettor Give It, she drops back from the open class of her M1 win to mares grade but the competition isn’t lacking with Shake It Mama the favourite at $2.10.
It’s been a pretty long road for Stylish Jasper, 92 starts for $92,000 in prizemoney indicates she has been a handy mare who has toiled her way to 14 wins.
But with a lack of success coming earlier in her career, Tomren is convinced she is now ready to blossom.
“I wouldn’t say she’s always had a lot of ability, she only fell in at her first win and as a younger horse she was probably a fat and lazy horse but as she’s got older and fitter she’s just kept on improving,” she said.
That improvement has taken her a long way in a short time, but her trainer can also put the leap she has made down to a few other factors, namely having an open-class pacer to work with.
“Because we don’t have any paddocks at the training centre I probably started working her a little bit harder,” Tomren said.
“Her workmate went to Queensland last year so when we lost her we needed something to work her with to get her up in the grades and we had In Monaco so we thought this will either make her or break her and it has certainly brought her on.”
Josh Duggan will again be in the cart from barrier five for the first leg of the Quaddie to be run at 7.09pm.
By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)