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Since being claimed for just $11,000, Im The Boss has secured harness racing connections in excess of $111,000 in seven months. The six-year-old’s remarkable rise continued at Shepparton last night in the $50,000 Group 11 Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup as the curtain came down on a successful 2017-18 Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship. Im The Boss set a new Shepparton record for the 2690m trip, the David Aiken-trained pacer overhauling champion stablemate Lennytheshark in the shadows of the post for a 1.5m win in a blistering mile rate of 1:56.1. An elated Swedish monte rider turned reinswoman Kima Frenning couldn’t speak higher of her champ post-race. “I just don’t know what to say,” she said. “To be able to run down a horse like Lennytheshark on a horse we claimed for $11,000 … he’s just the biggest fighter of all time. I’ve never driven a horse who tries as hard as him. It’s ridiculous.” Expected by many to be in front shortly after the start, Frenning’s plan A was thrown out of the cart when Nathan Jack and Cruz Bromac crossed from gate seven. Im The Boss trailed Cruz Bromac in the box seat until just inside the 400m when Lennytheshark, who had been punching the breeze for the previous mile, was driven to the front by David Aiken. Im The Boss got off the pegs and tracked his more celebrated stablemate – who literally had a huge tent full of supporters cheering him on – until the home straight when Frenning peeled to the outside. To use a cliché, Lennytheshark was as brave as Lennytheshark, fighting on like Lennytheshark right to the wire. But in the last 50m his death-seating efforts took effect and Im The Boss capitalised. The last quarter was in fact the slowest section of the race at 30.8secs, a rip-roaring 27.1secs down the back ensuring it game-on a fair way out. “I’m shaking my head. Even from Mildura, I was very edgy coming on to the track tonight – it’s always very nerve-racking against the good horses. You just hope you’re good enough and this horse does not stop trying,” Frenning said. And so the Inter Dominion discussion begins. With Victoria hosting the big dance for the first time in 10 years, it’s expected Im The Boss will target the riches. Since joining the Aiken camp in September last year, the six-year-old by Major In Art (out of Golden Navajo) has shown he’s adept at backing up. He won the Cobram Cup two days after his previous start, and followed a track record-breaking Mildura Cup heat win with a brutal victory in the Group 2 Final four days later. Meanwhile, Lennytheshark lost no admirers whatsoever. In fact, the superstar reached another career milestone, taking his career earnings past the $3 million mark by finishing second. Brallos Pass ran a super race for third, with Ellen Tormey in the sulky, narrowly defeating Cruz Bromac. Earlier Rickie Alchin trained and drove Tough Monarch to win the Alabar Shepparton Trotters Cup by 12.3m over runner-up Regal Pepperell, with Father Christmas third in 2:02.9. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

THE Harness Jewels remains very much “front and square” in the minds of the Jilliby Kung team. Although the Chariots of Fire winner and Miracle Mile placegetter is yet to be officially invited to the Jewels, it looks a formality if trainer Marg Lee and the team want it. “The Jewels is the plan at this stage,” driver Jason Lee said. “I’d say he’s three weeks or so away from a race. “We need to race the big boys to get better and for the spectacle of the game.” What a great attitude and what a coup it would be for Cambridge. Jilliby Kung Fu hasn’t raced since his fantastic second to My Field Marshal in the Miracle Mile on February 24. With Custodian invited and Jilliby Kung Fu, Wobelee and Carlas Pixel surely soon to follow. Then a bunch of others chasing invites, this will take the Aussie presence at the Jewels to a new level. Yes I’m biased, but surely this is the year an Aussie wins a Jewels final for the first time. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ AGEING champ Lennytheshark will try to break the $3 million stakemoney barrier without a lead-up race. Connections had hoped to run at Bendigo last Friday night, but the race was scrapped so will have to settle for a trial on Tuesday. “Sure we’d have loved a race, but he’s got a great first-up record and ‘Aikey’ (David Aiken) will have him ready for a race like this,” part-owner Martin Riseley said. It will be an emotional night with Lennytheshark needing just $4915 to reach $3 million with his 79 starts netting 39 wins and 30 placings so far. “We’ve had this planned for a long time. The chance to chase a milestone like this at his and Aikey’s home track is so exciting,” Riseley said. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ANDY Gath admits an Addington raid in November is tempting, but first he wants to win a Group 1 at home with his new stable star Tornado Valley. The former Kiwi trotter made it six wins on end when he did the work and won as he liked in a slick 1min56sec mile rate for 1720m in the Group 3 Uncle Petrika Trot at Melton last night. Gath’s immediate target is the $50,000 Group 1 Australasian Trotting Championship at Melton on May 19. “We loved him the first time we worked him, but the best part is he just keeps getting better and better in his work and he’s thriving on racing just about every week,” Gath said. “Other than the Australasian Champs next month there’s nothing big for him, but if he can just keep picking off these free-for-alls it’s money in the bank.” Tornado Valley has already banked more than $120,000 from just nine Aussie runs for Gath. Asked about NZ, Gath said: “We did think about the Anzac and Rowe Cups. We like to travel with out horses for the right races, so the Dominion is definitely an option later in the year.” ________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER buzz Kiwi filly Our Angel Of Harlem lost fans in defeat in yet another WA Oaks prelude at Gloucester Park. It’s the third prelude of the Oaks (final run on May 5) she has contested and after a second and a win, she had to settle for a close and brave third in last Friday night’s race. Gary Hall Sr’s classy filly Liberty Rose was crossed at the start, re-took the lead, and then dictated through a 62.9sec middle split before dashing home in 56.0 and 27.7sec to win from another former Kiwi, Purest Silk. Our Angel Of Harlem settled well back and had to sustain a long three-wide run without cover in the sprint home, so to get within 3.4m was a big effort. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ IF Ladyship Mile winner Carlas Pixel doesn’t tackle the Harness Jewels then Shane Tritton’s former Kiwi mare Reaza Grunter would be a strong second pick. The four-year-old made it eight wins from just 11 Aussie runs when she blasted to the front in a 26.5sec opening quarter and found plenty late to win in a 1min52.5sec mile at Menangle on Saturday night. Tritton and wife Lauren have made it clear they’d love a Jewels invite. The feature race at Menangle was the Group 2 Bulli Trotters’ Cup which was won by former Kiwi veteran Sundons Comet, now in the Joe Rando barn and driven by David Morris. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ EMMA Stewart has a staggering four finalists in the $300,000 Australian Gold final for colts and geldings. Centenario, Hurricane Harley and Hardhitter all won their heats at Melton last Friday week. Then Fourbigmen, who was a well-held third to Hurricane Harley in his heat, lifted for a powerhouse repechage win at Melton last night. Amazingly, Chris Alford drove all four to win their qualifiers. Fourbigmen’s improvement didn’t surprise the stable who have always said he is as good as any of their stellar juvenile crop on ability, but is still raw and developing. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ OUR Waikiki Beach’s baby brother Bechers Brook is doing the family proud. While Our Waikiki Beach was a superstar from day one, the raw and tough Bechers Brook is getting better with every run. He just missed winning the WA Derby when a close second to King Of Swing on April 6, then narrowly but impressively won at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Bechers Brook has raced just 13 times for seven wins, four placings and almost $120,000. “I like him. He’s really strong. It didn’t surprise me he ran so well in the Derby,” Reed said. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ CANBERRA Raiders captain Jarrod Crocker loves his harness racing and classy pacer Our Triple Play is rewarding his passion. Our Triple Play continued his golden season with another feature win, the Group 3 Sydney Cup, at Bankstown last Friday night. The Brad Hewitt-trained and driven four-year-old had already won the time-honoured Inter City Pace final at Maitland and Wagga Cup this season. He’s won six races this term for almost $76,000 in earning to take his career record to 41 starts for 11 wins, 17 placings and $141,720 in stakemoney. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ NO doubt the news of Hectorjayjay’s switch from David Aiken to Gavin Lang’s stable turned a few heads. Lang hasn’t trained many horses for the past decade or so,  but now has an exciting team of “10 or 12” in work. One of them, recent Kiwi import My Cash, made it two very impressive Aussie wins from as many starts with a dominant display at Bendigo last Friday night. Despite sitting parked in solid times, My Cash left her rivals standing to win by 10.2m in a 1min57.8sec mile rate for 2150m. All going well, Hectorjayjay could have his first start for Lang as soon as early June.   Adam Hamilton

AT last there is some great news in pacing’s open-class ranks. It’s a tough few months with horses like Vincent retiring, stars like Heaven Rocks and Have Faith In Me leaving our shores and questions marks on Lazarus’s racing future. But one of the sport’s absolute stars, the brilliant Hectorjayjay, is just weeks away from a comeback. The millionaire pacer hasn’t raced since sustaining a suspensory ligament injury after the biggest and best win of his career in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 15. Managing-owner Matt McLellan hopes Hectorjayjay could be back to defend that title. “It’s been a long road, but we are getting to the business end now,” he said. “He’s had PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) treatment, a full body scan and several extra targeted scans, four different vets go over him and eight months of rehab. “The past few months he’s been with Peter Clarke on the water-walker. “He’s been back in work for three weeks, will have another month with Peter and then head to the stables to decide when he can race again. “I’d love to think he’ll be back for a few lead-up runs in Victoria and then head to Queensland, but that’s the aim more than anything definite.” Champion driver Gavin Lang will be Hectorjayjay’s new trainer, mainly because he is Melton-based and much closer to McLellan’s home. “This horse is special to me and I want to see him regularly. I’ve had a long association with Gavin, he knows this horse so well and he’s 45mins from my place rather than two hours or so to David (Aiken’s) stables,” McClellan said. “David has done such a fantastic job with the horse, but this is last roll of the dice with Hectorjayjay and there are no guarantees he will make it back. The signs are good, but I want to be close to him to see him often as I can and stay right across his progress. “I also want to give special mention to the huge input Josh Aiken and Kima Frenning had when the horse was at the Aiken stable.” Lang has driven Hectorjayjay 12 times for eight wins – including the 2016 Group 1 Len Smith Mile and Group 2 Sunshine Sprint – three seconds and a luckless fifth. Hectorjayjay’s record sits at 79 starts for 42 wins, 21 placings and $1,143,907 in stakemoney.   Adam Hamilton

He’s the forgotten horse of Saturday night’s $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Yet veteran Lennytheshark, the oldest horse in the race, cannot be completely written off, despite being listed as a $21 shot in the eight-horse harness racing field. He is the defending champion and his trainer David Aiken wouldn’t swap his stable star for any other horse in the race and issued a reminder ‘Lenny’ was going as well as ever. “He is meeting the new kids on the block this season, but he is feeling terrific and is ready to do it all again,” Aiken said. “I still wouldn't swap him for any other runner. “I just finished working him an hour ago and he is going as well as ever.” Despite his defeat last week, Lennytheshark earned an invitation into the Grand Circuit event as the defending champion, with Aiken confident the son of Four Starzzz Shark could still join a select group of consecutive Miracle Mile winners. Victory will see Lennytheshark become just the seventh titleholder to successfully defend his crown since the prestigious sprint began in 1967. Westburn Grant led the way win consecutive wins in 1989 and 90, followed by Chokin (1993 and ‘94), Holmes D G (1999 and 2000), Sokyola (2003 and ‘04), Be Good Johnny (2005 and ‘06) and Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11). Lennytheshark has drawn barrier seven, but moves into six when the emergency comes out. “I was just looking at the sectionals from last week again and he got home in 53 seconds after doing a bit of work early,” Aiken said. “He went quicker last week than he did the year before when he won.” Aiken agreed that the draw hadn’t helped but suggested punters would leave him out at their peril as he was in good enough shape to win. The former Sydney premiership-winning trainer cited Soho Tribeca as the horse to beat, but said he also rated My Field Marshal as one who could spring an upset. Soho Tribeca has drawn gate seven while My Field Marshal will come from four. Soho Tribeca is a $3.20 second elect, while My Field Marshal is sitting on $10. Lazarus heads the betting market at $2.40 despite drawing the outside of the front row. “Soho Tribeca should be favourite as I reckon he is the one to beat,” Aiken said. “That said, I can see My Field Marshal getting a really good run from the draw, which brings him right into it.” Michael Court

Avenel pacer Im The Boss has provided harness racing Swedish reinswoman Kima Frenning with her biggest win in Australia by taking Sunday’s Group 3 $30,000 Jim Phillips Memorial Cobram Pacing Cup. Just when the favourite Major Secret was being hailed the winner halfway down the straight, the David Aiken trained Im The Boss rallied to snatch victory by a head in the last couple of strides in a thrilling climax to the 2678m marathon. Hickstead filled the minor placing while another of the local hopes, the Steve O’Donoghue trained and Bec Bartley driven mare Shakahari ran an honest race to finish fourth. The win was a bonus because the Harnes Racing Victoria vet was still tossing up half an hour before the first race as to whether he would cancel the meeting because of the 40°C-plus weather. But he didn’t and the rest was history for the Avenel-based trainer and driver. The first four placegetters raced on the pegs throughout the trip with only the leader and runner-up changing positions at the finishing line. Second favourite Milly Perez put some life into the race when she moved to the death seat mid-race but she was gone with 400m to run and finished second last. Driver of Major Secret, Mark Pitt, put the handle bars down at the start from outside the second row to take up the front running and leave punters, who had supported the Emma Stewart trained Art Major seven-year-old into a $1.90 favourite, on good terms with themselves before Im The Boss spoilt the party at the death knock. Frenning, who has been driving regularly with consistent success since March last year, was confident Im The Boss could run down Major Secret even though he had opened up what seemed a winning break around the home turn. ‘‘He never stops trying and he is a very tough horse,” Frenning said, describing the win as her biggest since arriving here and ‘‘up there’’ with her most memorable moments in the sulky. Im The Boss deserved his win, breaking a run of four consecutive seconds in the process to have his biggest payday, collecting $17000 for connections with the 15th win of his 73-start career. Frenning has driven Im The Boss in 12 of its past 13 starts since David Aiken took over the training of the six-year-old Art Major gelding and has now won four races on the pacer. But a Shepparton Cup appearance this Saturday night is not on his agenda because he has gone to the water walker for a week to freshen before plans for his next assignment are made. ‘‘As soon as the race started we lobbed in a good place just behind the leaders and throughout the race I thought he felt really good,’’ Frenning said. ‘‘As we came off the bend and into the straight I was sure we had the favourite covered but they weren’t going to give up,’’ she said. ‘‘But we got our head in front with about 50m to go and my horse wasn’t going to stop. ‘‘He is a super consistent horse and he has been a big part of my good season and I have also been given a lot of good horses to work with, giving me plenty of opportunity and I am really grateful for that.’’ Last season, which finished at the end of August, she had 12 winners. So far this season she already has 15. Reprinted with permission of The Telegraph  

Lazarus will be a hot favourite to land his first heat win of the Perth Inter Dominion series at Gloucester Park on Friday night. After two gallant seconds so far, Lazarus has landed the easiest of Friday night’s three heats and should control the race despite a wide draw (gate seven). He will also relish the step-up to 2536m. Lazarus won’t have to contend with any of the other big guns of the series with the likes of Soho Tribeca, Chicago Bull, Tiger Tara and Lennytheshark also drawn different heats. Speedster Yayas Hot Spot drew directly outside Lazarus in gate eight, but it’s likely Mark Purdon will get serious on his stable star at the start to hone his gate speed ahead of a possible good draw in the final. Lazarus did all the chasing outside winner Tiger Tara when second in a record-smashing 1min52.3sec mile rate for 2100m at Bunbury last night (Tuesday). It took 1.5sec off the record. Lazarus’ stablemate Have Faith In Me is one of his rivals on Friday, but is out of contention for a final berth. He’s drawn the outside (gate nine). Lazarus will relish the 2536m. He’s had 13 starts at 2400m or further for 11 wins, a second in the Ballarat Cup and 3rdf in the Avon City Ford Cup. Tiger Tara faces an even harder challenge now he’s drawn (gate six) outside local star Chicago Bull (gate one) in the first of Friday night’s heats. Chicago Bull looks certain to hold the front and has proven unbeatable when leading during his Aussie career. Tiger Tara will likely have to sit outside the leader as he did when second to Lennytheshark on opening night. Emerging local Shandale needs big points to make the final, but could get his chance from gate five against Chicago Bull and Tiger Tara. The second of Friday night’s heats shapes as the best of the series so far with San Carlo drawn one against Lennytheshark (gate seven) and Soho Tribeca the outside (nine). “The draw wouldn’t worry him if he was at his top,” Lennytheshark’s driver Chris Alford said. “I’m backing him to bounce back on Friday. I’m sure David (Aiken, trainer) will have him right. “He definitely ran a bit below his best at Bunbury, but he’s bounced-back before. “David’s getting a precautionary blood test done so we will know more after that, but Lenny’s a smart horse and maybe some of the memories of last year at Bunbury when he first felt the hoof injury came back to him last night.” Lazarus is a $2.80 favourite on the Aussie TAB from Soho Tribeca at $3. Then comes Chicago Bull ($4.50), Lennytheshark ($8) and Tiger Tara ($9). The field for the Grand Final will decided after Friday night’s heats with the barrier draw held on Sunday. Adam Hamilton

Lennytheshark, brilliant harness racing winner of the Inter Dominion championship in Perth two years ago, is still racing with youthful enthusiasm as an eight-year-old and looks a certainty in the second heat of the Choices Flooring Inter Dominion championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night.     He has no difficulty in handling the tight 805m circuit at Gloucester Park where he has appeared five times for three wins and two seconds. Trainer David Aiken and reinsman Chris Alford are looking confidently to Lennytheshark winning in the opening set of qualifying heats for the third successive year. The handsome stallion is unbeaten in his current campaign of three starts, making most of the pace in all three wins, scoring decisive victories over My Field Marshal in the Smoken Up Sprint at Melton (rating 1.51.9 over 1720m), beating Ameretto and Tiger Tara in the 2240m Victoria Cup at a 1.53.2 rate at Melton and smashing the track record when he rated 1.55.4 in defeating My Field Marshal in the Yarra Valley Cup over 2650m. Lennytheshark is favourably drawn at barrier three on Friday night and Alford should be able to send him to an early lead, with the drivers of his inside runners Majordan (Luke McCarthy) and Vultan Tin (Chris Voak) expected to be happy to enjoy handy runs on the pegs behind the champion. Voak said that he expected Vultan Tin (a runaway winner in considerably weaker company over 2536m two starts ago) to slot in three back on the pegs and was hopeful that the Phil Costello-trained six-year-old would finish in the top four or five. Tiger Tara (barrier seven) and Motu Premier (No. 9) have excellent place prospects. Tiger Tara, to be driven by Todd McCarthy for trainer Kevin Pizzuto, is in splendid form and his past 19 starts have produced 11 wins and five placings. He has won twice and been placed three times from his five starts in his current campaign. Tiger Tara dashed to the lead 100m after the start and set a brisk pace when a neck second to Ultimate Machete in the $234,000 Group 1 Woodlands New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington last Friday. That followed his outstanding third behind Lazarus and Jacks Legend in the 3200m $800,000 New Zealand Cup three days earlier when he worked hard in the breeze, broke into a gallop 800m from home and lost four lengths in dropping back to eighth before recovering to run on from seventh with 200m to travel. Before his two excellent New Zealand runs, Tiger Tara had worked hard, three wide and then in the breeze, at his two previous outings before scoring in fine style over 1609m at Menangle, with times of 1.51.3 and 1.51.8. Motu Premier, to be handled by dual Inter Dominion winning driver Chris Lewis for trainer Ross Olivieri, fared badly in the draw and faces a very difficult task from the outside in the field of nine.           “It looks tough from out there,” said Lewis. “But I expect Motu Premier to perform well in the series.” Gary Hall Jnr said that Ohoka Punter also faced a difficult assignment from barrier six. “However, if he draws to lead in the remaining heats he will prove hard to catch,” he said. An interesting runner is the Greg Bond-trained nine-year-old Our Jimmy Johnstone, who has not raced for seven weeks, since finishing a well-beaten 11th behind Shandale at Gloucester Park. That followed a close-up second to Run Oneover at his previous outing, five weeks earlier.   Ken Casellas

THE old boy seems to be getting quicker.  At least that’s what the clock says about the great Lennytheshark.  David Aiken’s eight-year-old smashed the clock despite showing his wayward and wobbling racing ways again in today’s $30,000 Group 3 Yarra Valley Cup – his last lead-up run to the start of the Perth Inter Dominion on November 24. Lennytheshark paced the marathon 2650m trip in a scorching 1min55.3sec mile rate. It smashed the previous track record of 2min0.1sec set by retired star Restrepo in last year’s Cup. Most remarkably, Lennytheshark roared home his last two splits in 26.9 and 27.3sec. It was his third sparkling victory from as many starts this campaign. Knowing he had his main rival, My Field Marshal, parked outside him, driver Chris Alford poured on the pressure down the back straight. As he so often does, Lennytheshark wobbled, hung-out, drifted-in and looked oh so wayward at times. But he was simply a class above them and won by 3.9m. Driver Anthony Butt had to make a midrace move from a trail to sit parked on My Field Marshal once Alford had found the lead and was able to dictate. My Field Marshal never looked like winning, but ran yet another gallant race for second. He’ll be glad to see Lennytheshark head west as My Field Marshal stays in Victoria for some other country cups. Talented sit-sprinter Tee Cee Bee Macray sustained a booming three-wide run around them in those blistering closing splits and ran one of his best races for a close third. And former Kiwi stayer Messini, who returned to form winning the Swan Hill Cup at his previous run, franked that form with a strong fourth. Adam Hamilton

Former Inter Dominion champion Lennytheshark is going to the country for his final lead-up race to this year’s series. David Aiken’s superstar will dominate the betting again despite a back row draw (gate nine) in Thursday’s $30,000 Group 3 Yarra Valley Cup (2650m). The preferential draw means Lennytheshark will start from outside the back row, but with just nine runners it’s actually ideal as he’s two-out on the back row and should trail through well. Main danger, former Kiwi star My Field Marshal, is drawn inside the back row (gate eight), which could prove tricky for driver Anthony Butt. The other class runners in the Cup are Messini (gate seven), who returned to form winning the easier Swan Hill Cup last start, and speedy Tee Cee Bee Macray (six). Driver Chris Alford reaffirmed his opinion that Lennytheshark was going as good as ever. “It’s actually amazing. He just feels so sharp. He’s got that brilliance back,” he said. “As good as he was going last season, he was a bit dour at times. He’s got that speed back now. “He doesn’t usually run away them, but he’s doing that now. It’s a great feeling. “David (Aiken) says he’s doing it at home as well and he did at the trials when he won by 20m and broke the track record at Shepparton last week.” Alford is equally thrilled about the barrier draw. “It’s helped my cause. I’d rather nine than eight where My Field Marshal has drawn,” he said.  The Yarra Valley Cup is race seven on Thursday at 6.49pm NZ time. Adam Hamilton

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)

Lennytheshark became a two-time harness racing Allied Express Victoria Cup champion tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton and will now turn his fin toward Perth in a bid to achieve a second Inter Dominion success. The most popular pacer in the southern hemisphere drew a rapturous reception from the big crowd at Tabcorp Park Melton following his domination in the Grand Circuit Classic, and his trainer, David Aiken, sounded a warning to his Inter Dominion rivals. “We’ve got unfinished business there.” “We’re really looking forward to Perth now. He’s my once-in-a-lifetime horse,” Aiken said. “I’m just so proud of him.” Driven by Chris Alford, Lennytheshark (by Four Starzzz Shark out of Albert Albert mare Botswana) led from the pole draw and defeated flying mare Ameretto by 3.6 metres in a slick mile rate of 1:53.2 for the 2240m trip. “He came up to the gate really good and they went full tilt for the first 100m, but once he held the front he always had it under control,” Alford said. The win was Lennytheshark’s 36th from 69 career starts, his stakemoney now at over $2.8 million. Following his gate one draw punters put their faith in Lennytheshark, the Inter Dominion, Miracle Mile and previous Victoria Cup hero sent out the shortest Victoria Cup favourite in years at $1.20. Allied Express Victoria Cup - Lennytheshark Due to the calendar change for the Victoria Cup that saw the race moved from January to October, owner Kevin Riseley, who also races reigning Vic Cup winner Lazarus, has amazingly now won the race twice in the same calendar year. Earlier on the program super mare Maori Time won the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint for trainer Brent Lilley and driver Gavin Lang in a thrilling finish, with a neck separating the winner from runner-up Sparkling Success and third placegetter Glenferrie Typhoon. OTHER COVERAGE Trots Media Pryde's Easifeed Pony Trots Videos Trots Media Facebook Live Coverage Trots Media Photo Gallery of Winners Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Driver Chris Alford expects champion pacer Lennytheshark to win Friday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint (1720m) at Melton. David Aiken’s stable star is first-up since a brave fourth in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park in July. But Alford said he’s primed and the wide barrier draw (gate seven) is no major hurdle. “A lot’s been said about his trial last week when It Is Billy ran past him, but he didn’t have his shades on, it was daytime and I didn’t ask much of him at all. It was a trial, not a race and they still went a 1min53sec mile,” Alford said. “It’ll be a different Lenny this week. Shades on, under lights and he’s back at the races. I think he’ll win.” Alford thinks Lennytheshark will work across from the wide draw at the start and quickly land outside the likely early leader, Yayas Hot Spot. “If we get across quickly enough, I’ll have a look for the lead, but if I’ve got to sit parked then so be it,” he said. The Aussie TAB has opened Lennytheshark a $1.90 favourite, while Yayas Hot Spot has been backed from $14 into $9. Tim Butt’s star My Field Marshal will need luck from a back row draw (gate 10) in the 1720m scamper. In other news, trainer Kevin Pizzuto has opted for a trial rather than a race with Tiger Tara ahead of the Victoria Cup. Tiger Tara will go first-up into the $200,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup on Saturday week.   Adam Hamilton

Grand Circuit pacing harness racing superstar Hectorjayjay is likely to be ruled out of the Allied Express Victoria Cup and Perth Inter Dominion after a lesion was discovered. Part-owner Mick Harvey said the syndicate was shattered their David Aiken-trained superstar would likely be sidelined for an extended period, having suffered what they believed was a small tear in his front off-side leg. "Everyone involved with the horse is devastated," Mr Harvey said. "I am also sad for the public, because in my eyes he is the most exciting pacer in Australia and had it all in front of him. "This hurts big time, but we just hope the further scans come up pretty good early next week and he comes through." Winner of July's $200,540 2017 Ubet Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, the son of Dream Away, Hectorjayjay has amassed more than $1.1 million in stakes and owners hoped the six-year-old would go one better in December's Inter Dominion, having placed second last year. "He's never looked better or been better and was working toward the Victoria Cup," Mr Harvey said. "But in the third phase of his trackwork he didn't pull up well and scans revealed a lesion." Yesterday's grim discovery will be verified with further scans likely to take place early next week. "He will have a more detailed scan when the swelling goes down. The early prognosis is he will be out for six to 12 months. It's one of those things that takes time for it to rehab." Harness Racing Victoria

The 2017 Brisbane winter carnival at Albion Park finished with a bang last night (Saturday). During the month of July, the metropolitan venue has played host to number of special events featuring some of the best stables in the southern hemisphere and that culminated with the running of the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship plus the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad 2yo Finals. Millionaire pacer Hectorjayjay made a clean sweep of the open class features, fresh from his triumph last week in the Garrards Sunshine Sprint when leading throughout, the David and Josh Aiken pacer sailed down the outside to complete his unique double by winning the Blacks A Fake on a rain soaked track. Hectorjayjay proved too good defeating the New Zealand trained My Field Marshal and race favourite Tiger Tara in a thrilling finish in the 2680m feature rating 1:56.1. During the past decade, only Blacks A Fake and Im Themightyquinn had completed the Sunshine State open class double. Last year, Hectorjayjay was the beaten favourite in the Blacks A Fake behind Ohoka Punter. In the Triad Final for colts and geldings, local ace Colt Thirty One stamped himself as the best rookie pacer in the state with a thumping victory in the $100,000 feature defeating Only One Promise and Ark Patrol. The Mach Three colt rated 1:53.9 for the 1660m event and remains unbeaten on local soil, his only two defeats coming earlier this season at TABCORP Park, Menangle. Prepared by leading horseman Grant Dixon, Colt Thirty One has won 6 of his 8 starts to date and is eligible for the Australasian Breeders Crown in Melbourne next month. Inter Dominion winning horseman James Rattray claimed the fillies feature when race favourite Arts Treasure led throughout defeating Fame Assured and Well Disguised in a time of 1:56.0. It’s the second juvenile Gr.1 feature victory for Rattray this season following his success last month with Ignatius in the Breeders Challenge Final at Menangle in an Australian record time of 1:51.3. Interestingly, both Arts Treasure and Ignatius are progeny of emerging sire Roll With Joe. The victory of Arts Treasure also provided Rattray with his maiden feature race triumph in Queensland. The Gr.2 $75,000 AQWA Constructions Queensland Derby was taken out by New Zealand colt The More The Better who proved too strong for game fillies Shartin and My Casino Belle in a driving finish. Prepared by master horseman Mark Purdon, the Bettors Delight colt made a clean sweep of his three start Brisbane campaign winning the Premiers Cup, Provincial Derby and last night’s blue riband classic. It was the second Queensland Derby triumph for Purdon after preparing Best Deal Yet back in 2012. Albion Park Club Chairman David Fowler was naturally delighted with the night’s racing. “This is our premier meeting of the year and it delivered on all levels, the racing was fantastic while the public interest was also at a very high level which is very pleasing. The club and staff have done a wonderful job.” Fowler stated. Racing continues on Tuesday afternoon. Chris Barsby

Brilliant Victorian pacer Hectorjayjay etched his name into the record books. Prepared by David Aiken and driven by his son Josh, Hectorjayjay produced an electric finish to land the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship defeating My Field Marshal and Tiger Tara at Albion Park tonight (Saturday). The come from behind victory matched his all the way success seven days earlier in the Sunshine Sprint, therefore claiming the two open class Sunshine State winter carnival features. The last horse to achieve the feat was Im Themightyquinn back in 2014. Under a rain soaked Brisbane skyline, the Blacks A Fake promised to be a fascinating contest and it didn’t disappoint. Race favourite Tiger Tara pushed forward from his favourable draw soon after the start before taking the lead from Major Crocker who initially led the 2680m feature. Shortly after handing the lead over, Major Crocker was eased out of the contest owing to his sulky being contacted. Tiger Tara posted a lead time of 79.7 seconds. With Tiger Tara controlling the speed, star pacer Lennytheshark was left racing on his outside after working off the inside while My Field Marshal landed a perfect trail behind Lennytheshark. The first quarter of the final mile was covered in 29.5 seconds But the extreme pressure was still to come. With a lap remaining, Tiger Tara was turned loose on the lead and forced the pressure with the middle half covered in 27.7 and 27.4 seconds. Heading past the 400m marker, Tiger Tara led the way from a game Lennytheshark who continued to match him while My Field Marshal, Mr Mojito and Hectorjayjay staged sweeping moves from back in the pack. At the top of the straight, Tiger Tara led the way but closers were coming thick and fast. Hectorjayjay was the widest runner in the straight but he powered down the outside to beat My Field Marshal by a long neck with the same margin separating Tiger Tara in third. The final quarter was timed in 29.1 seconds. The mile rate was 1:56.1 – the same time recorded by Im Themightyquinn when successful three years earlier. “This is a massive thrill and that was a great race because the pressure was on from start to finish, I knew I would come into at some point and thankfully when arrived in time.” Winning driver Josh Aiken said. Twelve months earlier, Hectorjayjay was a runner-up in this event behind Ohoka Punter. Hectorjayjay is raced by Matt McLellan, Earl Sakareassen, Mick Harvey, Jane Hughes, Luke & Paul Stokie and Gareth Hall. The 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season is now complete and New Zealand superstar Lazarus is the champion after amassing 240 points throughout the term. Lazarus finished well clear of his stablemate Smolda (185) and Bling It On (165). Chris Barsby

Millionaire pacer Hectorjayjay is facing many major hurdles this weekend. Fresh from his success last weekend, he now aiming to join an elite group of pacers that have claimed the Sunshine Sprint/Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship double. Only two horses have achieved the feat in the past decade. I repeat, two (2). And it just so happens that those two pacers are the greatest of the modern era – Blacks A Fake (2007) and Im Themightyquinn (2014). So, the pressure is on. And a second-line draw has only dampened the mood of landing the big double. But co-owner Matt McLellan is still upbeat. “He’s no one trick pony, yes he led last week but some of best victories have come when driven with cover. The Len Smith Mile and Sunshine Sprint last year quickly spring to mind, his speed always gives him a chance.” McLellan said. The barrier draw was a total bust earlier this week for Team Aiken after both of their star pacers landed second-line draws, Lennytheshark was slammed with gate 8 (the inside of the second-line) while Hectorjayjay was left with gate 12. In fact, at the public draw, McLellan only had two options when his time was called; it was either 12 or 13 Last year, Hectorjayjay was the beaten favourite in the Blacks A Fake when Ohoka Punter proved too classy in the 2680m feature. And McLellan is hoping he can go one better this time around. “I think he’s a more rounded horse this year compared to twelve months ago, given that he’s been on the Grand Circuit trail over the past twelve months has made a big difference. He’s tougher and stronger while he’s still super-fast. “It’s a great field, really strong with great depth. Obviously Lennytheshark, Tiger Tara and My Field Marshal have my respect because they’re proven performers while there are plenty of other very talented runners engaged. “If we get the right horse to follow then we’ll be right in the fight, Josh (Aiken – driver) is driving with good confidence and I know he was really happy with last week and he’s trained on well this week. It’s great to be here and involved in this super race.” Hectorjayjay sits on the second line of betting with UBET at $4.50, Tiger Tara is quoted at $2.30. McLellan shares ownership with Earl Sakareassen, Mick Harvey, Jane Hughes, Luke & Paul Stokie and Gareth Hall. Chris Barsby

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