Day At The Track

Lennytheshark again Victoria's finest

06:42 AM 25 Oct 2017 NZDT
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Lennytheshark's connections celebrate his Victorian Horse of the Year award. Harness racing
Lennytheshark's connections celebrate his Victorian Horse of the Year award.

Lennytheshark’s place as a giant of the trots was reaffirmed Sunday night when David Aiken’s superstar harness racing pacer was installed as Victorian Horse of the Year for the second successive year.

A breathtaking Miracle Mile win separated the “people’s champion” from stablemate Hectorjayjay in a decision that divided judges, thrusting Lennytheshark into the status of dual winner, an honour only Shakamaker, Sokyola, Smoken Up and Caribbean Blaster have achieved before him.

“He’s just an amazing animal,” Aiken said. “He’s got the best attitude and that’s why he goes good at Menangle, it’s a long straight and when others are getting tired he’s the one fighting on. He’s a tiger.”

He was a popular winner at the industry’s gala night at the Palladium at Crown, which hosted a big crowd for a polished celebration behind hosts Michael Guerin and Adam Hamilton.

They welcomed Lennytheshark’s proud connections on stage, fresh from celebrating the Four Starzzz Shark eight-year-old’s victory in this month’s Allied Express Victoria Cup. With his second favouritism in the upcoming Perth Inter Dominion an unprecedented third Victorian Horse Of The Year triumph is not out of the question for Lennytheshark.

“I’m so happy with Lenny this time in,” Aiken said. “He’s sharp and I can’t fault where I’ve got him at the moment. He likes Perth and I think he gets a little bit excited with the crowd near him. He’s pretty laid back but he’s a good half-mile track horse.”

He’s also formed a special partnership with driver Chris Alford, who was presented with state and metropolitan titles on Sunday night after an extraordinary season.

Alford was a key fixture throughout the night, having also been in the sulky for horse of the year category winners Nostra Villa, Poster Boy and Wobelee’s finest moments.

The latter was particularly special, having been trained by Alford’s wife, Alison, and winning not only the two-year-old trophy but being named the overall trotter of the year. It brought great delight to owner Colin Murphy.

“He just kept finding and finding and finding. This horse is really good,” Murphy said. “He ran about three or four track records. I’ve been in the sport for 20 years and this is the best horse I’ve had.”

It was also a remarkable night of achievement for Emma Stewart, having had three horse of the year category winners in addition to being named state and metropolitan trainer of the year.

But it was perhaps her being gifted the Pearl Kelly Award that would have carried most weight, having honoured outstanding contribution to the sport by a woman.

“I’m accepting the award but everyone who works for me and is involved – family, owners – it’s their award as well,” Stewart said. “I’m so humbled to get this award, it’s something I never thought would happen.”

Of course, the night reached its climax with the announcement that Jim O'Sullivan had won the Gordon Rothacker Medal, honouring a brilliant career on and off the track. Click here for a feature story on Jim's win

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS:

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS

Gordon Rothacker Medal winner: Jim O’Sullivan

Pearl Kelly Award winner: Emma Stewart

Harness Racing Victoria’s Distinguished Services Medal winner: Doug Gretgrix

HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARDS

Victorian Horse Of The Year: Lennytheshark (finalists Hectorjayjay, Nostra Villa, Wobelee, Petacular)

Two-year-old pacing colts and geldings winner: Poster Boy (finalists Lumineer, Tam Major)

Two-year-old pacing fillies winner: Nostra Villa (finalists Molly Kelly, Nostra Beach)

Three-year-old pacing colts and geldings winner Our Little General (finalists Jilliby Kung Fu, Stars Align)

Three-year-old pacing fillies winner: Petacular (finalists Miss Graceland, Tell Me Tales)

Four-year-old pacing entires and geldings winner: Dont Hold Back (finalists Rock Of America, Mr Mojito)

Four-year-old pacing mares winner: Heavens Trend (finalists Whirily School, Rocknroll Magic)

Aged pacing entires and geldings winner: Lennytheshark (finalists Hectorjayjay, Major Crocker)

Aged pacing mares winner: Amaretto (finalists Milly Perez, Bettor Downunder)

Two-year-old trotting colts and geldings winner: Wobelee (finalists Smashthemcalder, La Grange)

Two-year-old trotting fillies winner: Moonshine Linda (finalists Aleppo Jewel, Moonlight Dream)

Three-year-old trotting colts and geldings winner: Magicool (finalists War Spirit, Deltasun)

Three-year-old trotting fillies winner Une Belle Allure (finalists Dance Craze, Kinvara Sue)

Four-year-old trotting entires and geldings winner: Maori Law (finalists Enrolled, Conon Bridge)

Four-year-old trotting mares winner Red Hot Tooth (finalists Aldebaran Eve, Into The Unknown)

Aged trotting entires and geldings winner Glenferrie Typhoon (finalists The Boss Man, Maorisfavouritesun)

Aged trotting mares winner Sunny Ruby (finalists Maori Time, Heavenly Sister)

COUNTRY CLUB AWARDS

Country Club Of The Year winner: Ballarat (finalists Cobram, Horsham)

Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary Of The Year winner: Marnya Watson, Swan Hill (finalists Brad Sharp, Birchip; Chrissie Hawker, Hamilton; Paul Prout, Geelong)

Country Club with Best Media winner: Bendigo (finalists Ballarat, Swan Hill)

Country Club Event of the Year winner: Birchip Mallee Bull Pacing Cup (finalists Bubbles In The Bush, Charlton; Dual Code Cup Night, Cranbourne)

Country Club with Best Presented Track/Venue winner: Hamilton (finalists Charlton, Cobram)

PREMIERSHIP AWARDS

Melton Saddlery State Drivers Premiership winner: Chris Alford

Renown Silverware State Trainers Premiership winner: Emma Stewart

SBG Accountants Metropolitan Drivers Premiership winner: Chris Alford

Taylors Metropolitan Trainers Premiership winner: Emma Stewart

Alabar Concession Drivers Premiership winner: Jason Lee

Aldebaran Park Leading Monte Rider winner: Kima Frenning

VHRSC Owner Of The Year winner: Danny Zavitsanos

BREEDERS AWARDS

Woodlands Stud Victorian Breeder of the Year winners: Peter Gleeson, Craig Cameron and Bruce Cameron

Niota Bloodstock Victorian Trotting Broodmare of the Year winner: Sundonna (Fred Crews)

Benstud Standardbreds Victorian Trotting Broodmare of the Year winner: Amarillen (Naomi and the late Rick Hinds)

Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

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