Day At The Track

Lennytheshark to bounce back

11:48 AM 01 Dec 2016 NZDT
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Lennythshark and connections after a win in Heat 1.
Lennythshark and connections after a win in Heat 1.
Paceway Photography

The seemingly impossible occurred at Donaldson Park in Bunbury on Tuesday night when harness racing superstar Lennytheshark was beaten into fourth place in the sixth heat of the TABtouch Inter Dominion championship.

It was the first time in 637 days that the reigning interdominion champion had failed to finish in the top three placings.

However, trainer David Aiken declared after Lennytheshark’s fourth behind Bling It On, John of Arc and Waylade that he was not concerned at the defeat.

“I’m not disappointed and he’ll bounce back at Gloucester Park on Friday night,” Aiken said. And his optimism increased considerably on Wednesday morning when Lennythshark drew the coveted No. 1 barrier in the Westral interdominion qualifying heat No. 8.

Lennytheshark started from the inside of the back line in Tuesday night’s 2100m heat. He was favourite at 2/1 on. Ima Connoisseur revealed his customary brilliant early speed and was untroubled to lead from barrier four.

John of Arc (9/2) quickly dashed forward to race in the breeze, with Waylade trailing the pacemaker and Bling It On (13/2) enjoying the one-out, one-back trail. Chris Alford settled Lennytheshark in eighth position in the one-wide line.

Alford sent Lennytheshark forward, three wide, 650m from home and the seven-year-old fought on gamely to finish just over two lengths from the winner after the final two quarters were covered in 27.5sec. and 27.3sec.

Aiken said that the race wasn’t run to suit Lennytheshark, who faced a massive task with the final 800m (off the front) whizzing by in 54.8sec. “He has pulled up well and there are no problems,” he said.

Lennytheshark’s previous 21 starts had produced 14 wins, six seconds and one third. His previous unplaced effort was his sixth behind Beautide in the final of the interdominion championship at Menangle in March 2015. That sixth was Lennytheshark’s only unplaced effort in his previous 37 starts (24 wins, ten seconds and two thirds) before his comparative failure on Tuesday night.

On Friday night Lennytheshark should be capable of holding up from fast beginners Bettors Fire (barrier two) and Franco Nelson (three) and setting the pace in the 2536m heat.

Bettors Fire, Franco Nelson and Run Oneover appear Lennytheshark’s main rivals. Bettors Fire, who led from barrier three and won from Smolda and John of Arc in a 2130m heat at Gloucester Park last Friday night, raced in sixth position in the one-wide line when a fighting fifth behind Hectorjayjay over 2100m at Bunbury on Tuesday night.

Smolda, second favourite at 7/4, finished third behind Run Oneover (6/4 favourite) and Freyberg in a 2100m heat on Tuesday night after racing in the breeze for the entire final circuit.

Run Oneover, trained by Gary Hall sen., began speedily from the No. 4 barrier and he gave a powerful frontrunning performance to win by 2m from Freyberg (who trailed the leader). After a fast lead time of 34.4sec. and opening sections of 30.3sec. and 29sec. Run Oneover sprinted over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 26.8sec. and his rate of 1.53.8 set a track record for 2100m.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said reinsman Clint Hall. “Run Oneover proved on the first night (when second to Hectorjayjay after over-racing in the breeze) that he was up to them and he’s put them away tonight. It was a pretty decent field and he did it in good fashion.

“He was good tonight even though we had to open him up early. He came back to me, which was pleasing. I knew that we would cop some pressure from Smolda at some stage, and it all worked out well. I had a plan and that was to keep Smolda, when he came, at my wheel. And Run Oneover was good enough to keep Smolda at my wheel for the rest of the race.

“Run Oneover broke 27sec. for the final quarter to show that he has a chance in the final. We’ll need a bit of luck to beat the good ones, but it is not beyond him.”

Click on this link for the full fields on Friday night at Gloucester Park

Ken Casellas

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