Day At The Track

Two more Jewels invitations accepted

10:03 PM 02 May 2018 NZST
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Jilliby Kung Fu,Harness racing
Jilliby Kung Fu
Stuart McCormack photo

Brilliant Australian three-year-old pacing filly Shez All Rock and Chariots Of Fire winner Jilliby Kung Fu have been announced as the latest recipients of an invitation to the 2018 Harness Jewels.

Shez All Rock

In winning the Victoria Oaks last Friday night for trainer-driver Mark Pitt Shez All Rock became the first filly since 1989 to collect the rare Victoria Oaks/New South Wales Oaks double.

The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven has now been defeated just once in eight career starts, with her only other race resulting in a second place at Cobram in February.

Trained by Mark Pitt in those eight starts, Shez All Rock was purchased by expat Kiwi trainer Chris Ryder in late February.

She will now transfer to the care of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen to tackle the New Zealand Oaks on Friday 18 May and now for certain target the Harness Jewels on Saturday 2 June.

The intention for Ryder is to return the filly to Australia after the Jewels to head to the Vicbred Series and the Breeders Crown but was unsure as to when she will head to the Northern Hemisphere.

“It’s still to be determined. I had a little bit of an idea to leave her down there as a four-year-old but I haven’t looked into it much. Either way I’ll give her a good break and just decide at the time,” said Ryder.

Originally from Greymouth, Ryder is based in Allentown, New Jersey and has been living in the States for 29 years.

He made the move after his wife Nichola received a transfer with her job to work in New York city as an accountant, and after a two years he decided to start a training career there.

Ryder been associated with some exceptional pacers during his training career there, including Put On A Show ($2.4 million and former 3YO US Filly of the Year), I Luv The Nitelife ($1.94 million and former 3YO Filly of the Year in the US and Canada), Art Major for the early part of his career, and he also trained McArdle who earned $2.6 million before heading to stud.

Ryder had previously been very keen to purchase a filly down under.

“I’d been trying to buy a couple of horses around New Zealand without much luck and Mark Purdon had been at the Miracle Mile and saw Shez All Rock win the New South Wales Oaks. He thought she might be available to buy,” explained Ryder. “After looking at her replays there was everything to like about her. So Mark (Purdon) called them up and we got her bought.  It was quite a simple deal and I was very happy to be able to buy her at the time.”

“So far it’s working out very well.”

Ryder was keen to make the trip down to New Zealand to witness his filly race, but due to it being spring currently at home his training schedule didn’t allow for him to be here.

However Ryder will be keenly waiting for news from his family down under admitting he has a sister ‘who is pretty handy on the telephone.’

Despite being half a world away Ryder was grateful for the opportunity to start a horse in a feature race in his home land.

“We are very pleased to be invited. We appreciate it.”


Jilliby Kung Fu

Australia’s next emerging star, Jilliby Kung Fu, has been announced the recipient of an invitation into the Four-Year-Old Emerald at this year’s Harness Jewels.

The 2018 Chariots Of Fire winner will represent Australia in the Four-Year-Old Emerald on Saturday 2 June at Cambridge Raceway.

In his Chariots win he recorded a sizzling 1.48.8 over a mile, and followed that win with a brave second placing to My Field Marshall in the Miracle Mile. On that occasion he was beaten by a mere head when just caught on the line, with the winner recording a new Australasian record of 1.46.9.

Since then the horse has had a month spelling and all things going to plan will start in a fresh state on Harness Jewels day.

A son of Four Starzzz Shark, Jilliby Kung Fu is trained by Marg Lee of Terang, Victoria and is driven regularly by her son Jason Lee.

At just 22-years-old Jason has focused on his harness racing career diligently and this year it has really paid off.

Being associated with a horse like Jilliby Kung Fu has presented Lee with some remarkable opportunities to compete at the highest level. The horse has continued to go from strength to strength.

“To do what he did in the Miracle Mile was really quite special when you go back and think about it. At the time you were probably disappointed just to get beat but it was quite an extraordinary effort from a four-year-old,” said Lee.

Jilliby Kung Fu has raced 29 times for 14 wins and 10 placings, and has earned just over $492,000 in stakes.

His impressive resume already includes the Group One Chariots Of Fire, Group One 4YO Bonanza, Group One Vicbred 3YO Final and a Group Two  APG 2YO Consolation Final.

And whilst the horse faces a big ask coming into the Jewels potentially in a fresh state, Lee was positive about the trip.

“It’s one of those things if you don’t go and try you may never get a horse or the opportunity to go and try and do it again.”


To listen to the full interviews with Chris Ryder and Jason Lee click here


Jess Smith

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