Victorian harness racing has a new pinup boy.
A combination of good looks, versatility, speed and a brilliant name has the trots world raving about David Aiken-trained rising superstar Lennytheshark.
He’s taken all before him this season with five wins from five starts and tomorrow night will be shooting for a seventh straight win overall when he takes on the best four-year-olds Victoria has to offer at Tabcorp Park Melton.
Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series grand final night has become all about Lenny.
The Shark has simply devoured his opposition of late – his combined winning margin from his five wins this season stands at a whopping 58.7 metres.
“He’s one of the nicest horses I’ve trained … he’s got a great attitude and really I don’t think I’ve got him 100 per cent fit yet,” Aiken said.
“He’s so easy on himself at home. I think there will be loads more improvement when he starts racing against the better ones.
“Once you reach Grand Circuit level, you’re up against the big boys. There’s always sustained pressure throughout in those races but I’m confident Lennytheshark will relish that and really improve seeing he’s shown he’s a tough horse. He’s got all the attributes.”
While you would happily own a share in any of the 12 starters in tomorrow night’s four-year-old entires’ and geldings’ Vicbred final, most agree Lennytheshark and second-favourite Guaranteed should be fighting out the finish.
Both won their semi-finals in dazzling fashion last Friday night, Lennytheshark rating 1:58.5 in his 13.7m win and Guaranteed going 1:58.2 in his 9.9m triumph.
Guaranteed has had two runs back from a spell and ran third beaten 10.5m behind Lennytheshark in the Vicbred heat two runs back.
But the son of Artsplace should be at the top of his game tomorrow night and if Lenny doesn’t bring his A-game, Guaranteed looks the beneficiary.
That said, Guaranteed won the Group 1 Chariots of Fire in awesome fashion earlier this year, rating 1:50.4 at Menangle to beat Ginger Bliss and Majestic Mach and has been victorious at 20 of his 29 starts, so it’s probably hardly fair to assume he can’t beat any four-year-old on his merits.
“I would have loved to take Lennytheshark to the Chariots, but the way Guaranteed won that race, you can’t take anything away from him,” Aiken said.
Adding to the theatre of tomorrow night’s showdown is that two legends will be in the cart behind the two favourites.
Gavin Lang will steer Guaranteed, while Chris Alford will pilot Lennytheshark.
Alford and Lang boast almost 11,000 wins between them and have been the dominant drivers in Victorian harness racing since the 1980s.
Meanwhile, one can never rule out the emergence of a dark horse when all the talk is skewed elsewhere.
In the four-year-olds’ final, Ginger Bliss looks to be that runner.
Ginger Bliss finished second to Guaranteed in the Chariots of Fire earlier this year and beat that horse to the line two starts back in the Vicbred heat when he finished 1.9m behind Lennytheshark.
But drawing inside the back row tomorrow night could make things tricky for Ginger Bliss, whose major weapon is an abundance of gate speed.
One thing’s for certain. This is going to be one heck of a race.
by Cody Winnell