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Australia's fastest pacer Hectorjyayjay is primed to smash the clock. Driver Josh Aiken just hopes that’s quick enough to win Saturday night’s Miracle Mile. Aiken has cast aside the initial disappointment of yet another bad barrier to focus on the main positive – Hectorjayjay is as good as he can possibly be for the most suitable feature race on the calendar for him. “Of course we’d have loved a better draw, but it is what it is and at least he’s off the front row this time so he can use his gate speed,” Aiken said. “I don’t think it’s a given he’s the leader, but if the form plays out like last week, Yayas Hot Spot should be across those inside really quickly and I’ll come across with him. “Hector did get off the gate really quickly last week and he’s shown before he can muster lots of speed from those wider draws.” Aiken was thrilled with Hectorjayjay’s qualifying win last week and said the fact it was really just a 400m dash home actually suited his preparation. “He had a hard run in the Victoria Cup after finding the early trouble so we spent a lot of time freshening him up after that. It meant he needed the run last week,” he said. “I know it was a $100,000 Group 1 race last week, but we were all so focused on this week it felt like a heat and so it was about get as easy a run as possible, which is why I drove him so conservatively and was happy to let it be a dash down the home straight. “If I find the front this week it will be different, not just for me, but for everyone else. You can sure there won’t be any slow quarters. “But Hector is ready now. That run topped him off. I think he can get down to that 1min47sec zone and I base that on the fact he’s gone 1min51sec for the sprint trip at Melton and 1min53sec around Gloucester Park. Menangle is so much quicker. “If I find the front, I know I have to make those away from the markers really work hard, especially around that final bend. “This has always been the race we’ve thought best suits him of all the really big races and we’ve got him right where we want for it.” Hectorjayjay remains a $3.80 second favourite on the Aussie TAB behind Lazarus at $2.60. Next come Bling It On and Lennytheshark at $6 and Smolda at $6.50. Adam Hamilton

Josh Aiken has heard all the theories on how Hedctorjayjay can down Kiwi pacing hero Lazarus in the A$400,000 Victoria Cup. He just isn’t sure they are right. The Victorian reinsman isn’t conceding Saturday night’s spectacular at Melton to the hot favourite but he says he is relying on his fellow Aussie drivers going nuts early to help him. Aiken and Hectorjayjay have become the most dominant pair in Australian grand circuit pacing but have yet to snare their really big win, being outstayed by Smolda in the Inter Dominion final. Their chances of revenge on the All Stars stable this week took a blow when Hectorjayjay drew two on the second line and Lazarus drew the front line, logic suggesting the Kiwi has a great shot at the lead. Then the Australian media started to suggest Hectorjayjay may actually be able to push through from the second line early and get in front of Lazarus, with the believers backing Hectorjayjay in from $5 to $4. But even the aggressive young Aiken doesn’t hold much hope of that actually happening. “It would be nice if it did but to be honest I can’t see us getting in front of him early,” said Aiken. “With horses and drivers this good the gaps don’t come easily early and I think we more likely to end up three back on the outer. “But we can still win from there. There is a lot of gate speed right across the front line and if they all come off hard then the first 400m could be really fast. “That gives us a chance of getting them late.” Backing Hectorjayjay to beat Lazarus won’t feel quite as comfortable in that scenario, especially as no horse has ever run past Lazarus in a race. So expect the favourite to keep working forward out wide and if he is able to get the lead, which looks likely with those inside him hardly proven grand circuit performers, then he should win. Lazarus’s stablemates Vincent and Have Faith In Me only have to perform anywhere near their best to win too and Jack’s Legend is good enough to overcome his wide draw in the first Victoria Derby heat but his $2 fixed quote is too short. Making money off the Kiwis won’t be easy but the best value option for loyal punters is Sunny Ruby in the Dullard Cup. The Australian trotters are not super sharp and favourite On Thunder Road is not ideally suited by the ace draw so if Sunny Ruby can work forward to the marker pegs she will be hard top catch, especially after pleasing in a trial at Melton on Tuesday. Michael Guerin

After no shortage of drama and intrigue Hectorjayjay unleashed the shackles and produced a stirring Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup win. And David Aiken's superstar pacer did it in style, rattling off a 56.4-second final 800m to cruise to the harness racing Group 2 $60,000 crown, giving connections a night to remember. If Hectorjayjay’s triumph wasn’t impressive enough, with the speed machine defeating his rivals by more than 8m, then the drama that preceded the victory fortified its mystique. In a story unfamiliar to the traditions of racing, Hectorjayjay’s place in the Shepparton Cup was put in serious doubt just 33 hours before its renewal after tests revealed an elevated white cell count. Fearing the presence of a virus, Aiken advised Harness Racing Victoria stewards of his concerns and by Friday night the dominant consensus was that the $1.10 favourite would not run. By Saturday morning, however, Hectorjayjay’s clinical presentation had improved and after a clean bill of health by HRV vets he elevated Eynesbury Victoria Cup anticipation to new levels with an awesome, arrogant win for driver Josh Aiken. “He (Hectorjayjay) gave us a scare but I knew when we went on track tonight what he was capable of and what you saw tonight was just how naturally talented he is,” Josh Aiken said. “I’d hate to think what he could do with a perfect preparation. “I think right now when you look at the top six free-for-allers in Australasia we are going through a golden era but he is capable of mixing it with anyone, anytime. Bring on the Victoria Cup. Bring on Lazarus.” Hectorjayjay delivered Aiken the last of four consecutive winners, with outstanding four-year-old Roll With It outclassing his rivals, Vics Cheval regaining her best form at giant odds in The George Gath and classy stable recruit Magic Oats also saluting. The victory propelled Hectorjayjay to the top of the $25,000 Trots Country Cups Championship, one point clear of Geelong and Horsham cups winner Major Secret and two clear of Cobram and Hamilton cups winner Cruz Bromac. by Jason Bonnington Harness Racing Victoria

Star pacer Hectorjayjay’s return race itself was hassle-free, but the days leading-up to caused connections angst. The six-year-old made a winning return to race when he led throughout and scored by 8.3m in the $60,000 Group 2 Shepparton Cup (2690m) last Saturday night. It was his first run since the brave second to Smolda in the Perth Inter Dominion final on January 9. But it was a race he almost didn’t start in. Driver Josh Aiken said Hectorjayjay sent a scare through the camp when he “wasn’t quite himself” during the week. “That’s why we got his blood tested and it came back about 80 per cent right,” he said. “We then waited and had our vet (Simon Robinson) check him again on the morning (of the Cup) before making the final decision on running him. “I went into the race confident. I saw him bouncing all around his paddock in the morning (Saturday) and that was enough to tell me he was ready to go.” Aiken said Hectorjayjay felt his old self once he speared to the front at Shepparton. “He won well and wasn’t fully extended, but he felt like he just needed the run a bit in the final stages,” he said. “It’s good to get that run into him.” Aiken said connections were considering running Hectorjayjay again in the sprint – the support race to the Ballarat Cup – at Ballarat next Saturday night. Maybe it’s a long shot, but there is some chance Lazarus could also head to that race. If they don’t meet at Ballarat, the megastar pair will clash for the first time in the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on Saturday week. In other stable news, Lennytheshark will definitely resume in the Ballarat Cup against Smolda and others. “Dad was really, really happy with his work (over the weekend) and he’s set to go. His foot is fine,” he said. “We’re actually taking him to the (Melton) trials on Tuesday so Chris (Alford) can hop on and have a drive of him before Ballarat.” Adam Hamilton

Young gun driver Josh Aiken described Hectorjayjay’s narrow Perth Inter Dominion as bittersweet. Aiken, son of trainer David Aiken, said his time to reflect on the near miss was over and it was now important to focus on a string of major races still to come this season with Hectorjayjay and stablemate Lennytheshark. “I felt like I gave it my best on the night and I know Hector did as well,” he said. “You can look at all the ifs, buts and maybes, but in the end a champion trainer-driver with a great stayer was just a bit too good for us. “At the bell things looked good, then 200m later, when the leader stopped, I was out three-wide by myself and it was always going to be hard doing it that way. “On the bend I was still travelling and Mark (Purdon) had been at Smolda since the 500m, but when I said ‘go’, Hector didn’t ping. I put my head in front for a couple of strides, but Smolda had been in those situation before and just kept giving. “People felt Hector had a tendency to ‘give it up’ when he got tired in the past, but he didn’t do that. If you look at the replay, he’s still closing the gap again on the line. I was so proud of him.” Aiken said Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark were headed for a “10-14 days” on the water-walker before returning to training for the upcoming Victorian feature races. “They both seem well. Hector came through it really well,” Aiken said. “And Lenny was almost 100 per cent right again Friday, but time just beat us. He’ll be right to go again very soon. “They both thrive at the water-walker so they can some time there while we map out what races they go to. “There are the Shepparton and Ballarat Cups next month and we’ll be working around those races with the two horses … keeping them apart if possible. “We’ve got some thinking to do around the Victoria and Hunter Cups. We’d love to run in both, but it’s a busy time with the Miracle Mile leads-up not long after at Menangle.” It seems likely Hectorjayjay will go to the Ballarat and Victoria Cups ahead of Sydney for a qualifier and the Miracle Mile. Lennytheshark’s program could start with the Shepparton Cup and go to the Victoria Cup before Sydney. Adam Hamilton

Will he blast or will he wait? Young harness racing reinsman Josh Aiken faces his biggest decision with star pacer Hectorjayjay ahead of Friday night’s $1.1 million TABTOUCH Inter Dominion Grand Final at Gloucester Park in Perth. The dynamic speedster has swept the series to date with three scintillating victories in his heats and as a result, he was a clear punters elect pre-barrier draw but things changed dramatically following Sunday’s barrier draw. Amid some minor confusion, Hectorjayjay was slammed gate 9 – the outside gate in the 2936 mobile start feature. Naturally, bookies reacted and quickly wound his price back out again while still a clear fancy. In recent times, favourites have a good record in the Inter Dominion Grand Final including last year’s winner Lennytheshark followed by the likes of Beautide (x 2), Im Themightyquinn, Blacks A Fake (x 3) and Elsu amongst others. The last pacer to sweep a series was the incomparable Im Themightyquinn back in 2012 and ironically, it was staged at Gloucester Park. So, can Hectorjayjay add his name to this great list? The David Aiken prepared gelding is blessed with brilliant gate speed which has been evident throughout the series to date, so the temptation is obvious. But his two most breathtaking performances since joining Team Aiken have been come from behind victories, the Len Smith Mile at Menangle in Sydney followed by the Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park in Brisbane. Many still sit in disbelief after he made high quality opposition eat his dust following the electrifying burst of acceleration he displayed on both occasions. It’s a massive decision for the 23-year-old and his army of loyal followers. While it remains unclear who is the top seed of the Aiken stable between Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark, the defending champion faces many other battles before Friday night’s final. Following his shock loss last week in the last round of qualifying heats, the glamour pacer pulled up noticeably sore and faces an around the clock battle to take his spot in the final. The most often asked question away from what tactics will be adopted for the favourite is whether Lennytheshark will be fit to take his spot? Lennytheshark has drawn gate 4. Leading Perth mentor Gary Hall has a double-edged sword with the richly talented pacers Run Oneover and Beaudiene Boaz representing the stable. Run Oneover has been hugely impressive winning two of his three heats while the multiple feature race winner Beaudiene Boaz has performed without much luck owing to awkward draws. On Friday night, Run Oneover will start from gate 2 for Clint Hall while Beaudiene Boaz will start from gate 10, the sole second-line runner for regular reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. Millionaire pacer Bling It On has flashed his skills during the series including an impressive display at Bunbury coming off the speed to win. Gun reinsman Luke McCarthy has options after the American Ideal entire landed the inside gate for the final. An added dimension to this year’s final is the New Zealand interest, classy pacers Smolda and Franco Nelson are set to chase the big prize following some tidy efforts during the qualifying stages. Smolda, prepared by champion horseman Mark Purdon, will start from gate 7 and looks suited over the staying distance and will relish the couple of extra days rest between starts. The Robert Dunn trained Franco Nelson went winless through the heats but has drawn nicely and will start from gate 6 in the final. Local pacers Our Jericho (gate 3), John Of Arc (gate 5) and Bettors Fire (gate 8) have all performed with great distinction throughout the series and will carry plenty of support in the final. Bettors Fire is considered as the fastest pacer off the gate in his home state and most expect him to make a play for the lead, the Kyle Harper prepared pacer scored an easy victory when leading throughout in the opening round of heats. The emergency runners are listed as The Bucket List and Our Jimmy Johnstone. All these questions will be answered on Friday night and another champion will be crowned. The Inter Dominion is the second leg of the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit. 1 - Bling It On - by American Ideal 2 - Run Oneover NZ- by Changeover 3 - Our Jericho NZ - by Tomahawk 4 - Lennytheshark - by Four Starzzz Shark 5 - Joan Of Arc NZ - by Courage Under Fire 6 - Franco Nelson NZ - by Christian Cullen 7 - Smolda NZ - by Courage Under Fire 8 - Bettors Fire NZ - by Bettor's Delight 9 - Hectorjayjay - by Dream Away 10 - Beadiene Boaz NZ - by Badlands Hanover by Chris Barsby

Rising harness racing star Hectorjayjay possesses dazzling pace, but he is certainly not just a speed machine, according to his driver Josh Aiken. “Going up from the first two rounds of heats over 2130m and 2100m to 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night will not trouble him,” Aiken said. Hectorjayjay, the only unbeaten runner after the two nights of qualifying heats and a warm favourite for the $1.1 million final of the TABtouch Inter Dominion championship on Friday week, will start from barrier five in the Retravision interdominion qualifying heat No. 7 on Friday night and his clash with John of Arc promises to be a highlight of the ten-event program. “There’s no doubt that this horse can run a 26sec. flat quarter,” Aiken said. “He’s a pretty quick horse who ran his final quarter in 26.3sec. when he led and won the Swan Hill Cup over 2790m in October. “He has also run some crazy quarters from back in the field and I’m confident that he can sit off any speed and be quick enough to run past some nice horses.” Aiken said he was not concerned that Hectorjayjay (trained by his father David) would have to run in a heat over 2536m and the $1.1 million final on Friday week over 2936m. “We’ve given him two starts over longer trips (in the 2790m Swan Hill Cup and the 2650m Yarra Valley Cup) and he went really well,” Josh Aiken said. “He won very well at Swan Hill and then ran second to Restrepo at Yarra Valley when Restrepo was outstanding on the day. “I don’t think that the longer distances in his next two runs will worry him too much. He’s grown a bit of strength and has now got a bit more bottom. I’m really looking forward to his next two runs; he should be fitter after his two heat wins. I can’t wait. “Now, after his Bunbury win (when he led from barrier two and was not extended in winning from Our Jericho and Ultimate Art), it’s all about recovery and refreshing him. He’ll spend time at the beach and have a light jog the day before his race on Friday.” Favourite at 10/1 on in the fifth qualifying heat at Bunbury on Tuesday night, Hectorjayjay was not troubled to burst straight to the front from barrier two before an easy lead time of 35.4sec. and a slow opening 400m section of the final mile in 31.3sec. He strolled to victory after a slick final 800m in 53.7sec. and crossed the line more than two lengths ahead of Our Jericho, who had trailed him throughout. “It was pretty moderate early and then he copped a bit of pressure (from Ultimate Art) through the middle half and was still able to rattle off a 26.6sec. final quarter which was really pleasing,” Aiken said. “Ultimate Art is a really nice horse and is a big, good-looking horse who is actually quite intimidating. He’s got a lot of presence and so it was quite intimidating to have him up on the outside with two nice horses, Major Crocker and Bettors Fire, on his back. It was all so pleasing to go to the line on the bit and with his plugs in.” John of Arc, trained by Clive Dalton, is one of the big improvers in the series and he will have admirers from the prized No. 1 barrier in Friday night’s seventh heat. The lightly-raced injury-plagued seven-year-old produced a wonderful effort when second to the fast-finishing Bling It On in the sixth heat on Tuesday night. He raced three wide early and then in the breeze before surging past the pacemaker Ima Connoisseur and getting to the front 120m from the finish before he was swamped by Bling It On, who had enjoyed a perfect one-out, one-back trail for Luke McCarthy. This followed John of Arc’s excellent third behind Bettors Fire and Smolda in the second heat last Friday night when he sustained a spirited three-wide burst from sixth at the bell. Ken Casellas

Exciting pacer Hectorjayjay fared poorly by drawing out wide at barrier No. 8 in the third heat of the Choices Flooring Inter dominion championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but young harness racing reinsman Josh Aiken is likely to steal a march on his rivals by using the six-year-old’s dazzling gate speed and charging to an early lead. Trainer David Aiken, father of Josh, gave a strong clue to the possibility of the Dream Away gelding surging straight to the front when he said: “He can burn out pretty quickly when he wants to and he may be able to cross them.” Hectorjayjay is the form runner of the 30 pacers who will contest the heats of the championship, with his past 15 starts producing 11 wins, three seconds and a fifth placing. He was most impressive at his most recent outing when he was not extended in winning the Markovina Free-For-All at Bendigo last Friday week. He started out wide at barrier six and revealed sizzling pace to charge to the front after 50m. He was untroubled to win from Stunning Grin and Yankee Rockstar, reeling off the final quarters in 27.2sec. and 26.9sec. At his previous outing Hectorjayjay was the lone runner off the back line and he raced in sixth position in the one-wide line before running home determinedly, three wide, over the final 800m to finish second to the pacemaker Restrepo in the group 3 Yarra Valley Cup over 2650m. “He ran a sub-53sec. last half and his was a really good performance,” David Aiken said. “If he just gets one little easy section in front he can run a very fast time.” Restrepo, who charged straight to the front from barrier three in that event. A slow early pace and slow opening quarters of the final mile in 32.3sec. and 31.1sec. made life extremely difficult for Hectorjayjay. Restrepo (barrier four) ande can burn out pretty quickly if he wants to. He and Franco Nelson (five) are speedy beginners and there is a strong possibility that Gavin Lang (Restrepo) and Dexter Dunn (Franco Nelson) will fire their horses out of the gate. The John McCarthy-trained Bling It On is favourably drawn at barrier two and the six-year-old will have many admirers, particularly after Luke McCarthy produced a superb drive to bring Bling It On with a sparkling late burst of speed to beat Lennytheshark in the 1720m Smoken Up Sprint at Melton last Saturday week.    Freyberg, trained by Kevin Pizzuto, gave a solid performance when second to Smokey The Bandit over 2300m at Gloucester Park last Friday night. But this week he meets sterner opposition and must overcome a wide draw at No. 7. Simply Susational, to be driven by Ryan Warwick for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is capable of causing an upset. He is the sole backmarker and he could well be able to replicate his powerful finishing burst which gave him victory over Run Oneover and Waylade on November 4. Ken Casellas  

Hectorjayjay has struck first blow in the 2016-17 Trots Country Cups Championship with a barnstorming win in tonight’s harness racing 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup. Despite having to overcome gate seven in the $30,000 Group 3, the star six-year-old was sent out $1.40 favourite with punters and made light work of his barrier early when he thundered by Johnny Fox after about 125 metres. Once he grabbed the lead role Hectorjayjay was indomitable. For the remainder of the 2790-metre trip he and reinsman Josh Aiken would ensure things played out on their terms. And when Aiken loosened his grip a half-mile out, Hectorjayjay exploded for a 53.1secs final 800m (third and fourth quarters in 26.8 and 26.3secs). It's also worth noting at the finish Hector still had the plugs in. Guaranteed (Gavin Lang, breeze for the last 1700m and a $3.80 second-favourite), Smudge Bromac (Mark Pitt, one-one and $21.20) and Johnny Fox (Kerryn Manning, leader’s back and $15.20) were left in a race of their own when the winner whooshed off into the distance, Hectorjayjay finishing officially 24.4m clear of runner-up Guaranteed in a mile rate of 1:57.6, with Smudge Bromac third beaten 24.9m and Johnny Fox fourth and 27.6m from the winner. Meanwhile, at Menangle in New South Wales Hectorjayjay’s stablemate, Inter Dominion winning champion Lennytheshark returned to the track with victory in the Garrards Kevin Newman Free for All over a mile in a polished 1:49.9 for reinsman Chris Alford. Both the Aiken top-liners are bound for the almost $2million Inter Dominion series at Gloucester Park in November/December before chasing more feature riches in Victoria and New South Wales early next year. By winning tonight Hectorjayjay (Dream Away-Sheer Finesse) has speared to the early lead on the Trots Country Cups Championship ladder, with the table topper at the end of the 25 Victorian Country Cups to receive a $25,000 bonus. The Trots Country Cups Championship will roll into Maryborough next Sunday for the $30,000 Maryborough Gold Cup. RELATED: DOUBLE FOR MCDERMOTT STABLE AT SWAN HILL Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

“It’s like driving a Ferrari”. That’s how young gun harness racing reinsman Josh Aiken today summed up his first hit-out in the gig behind star pacer Hectorjayjay. Aiken, 23, drove the brilliant six-year-old at the Shepparton trials last Thursday, where he came in first ahead of Inter Dominion winning champion stablemate Lennytheshark in a rate of 1:55.7 (55-second last half). “I said straight afterwards I think I might have gone too slowly on him but he ran home in a 55secs last half and a 26.2 last quarter,” he said. “It was just unreal.” Today Aiken received the news he’d be piloting the David Aiken-trained 31-time winner in Saturday night’s Group 3 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup. Hectorjayjay’s regular reinsman, Gavin Lang, has committed to Emma Stewart-trained 2014 Swan Hill Cup winner Guaranteed, who is first-up since the 2015 A.G. Hunter Cup on Saturday. “I’m excited to have picked up this opportunity,” Aiken said. Swan Hill is the first of 25 Trots County Cups to be held across Victoria. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Fields for Swan Hill, Saturday 15 October 2016 Form guide for Swan Hill, Saturday 15 October 2016

Harness Racing Driver Josh Aiken is looking forward to driving Hectorjayjay in Saturday night’s Italian Cup (2240m) at Melton.   The five-year-old gelding is trained by Aiken’s father, David, but regular reinsman Gavin Lang won’t be in the sulky due to driving commitments at Menangle.    Hectorjayjay continues to grow from strength to strength and Aiken has enjoyed watching the gelding add strength to go along with his sheer point-to-point speed.   “It’s exciting to have a horse like him here; we always knew he was an extremely quick horse, everyone knew that, but watching him develop has also been a thrill,” Aiken told Harness Racing New Zealand.   “This week is another challenge because I’ve got great respect for the pole horse (Major Secret) but Hector showed in the 4YO and 5YO Championship that he can do some work as well.   “Whether he could race tough off a strong tempo and still sprint as quick I’m not sure but he’s certainly developed a lot not only with us but just from his years of racing before he came here.”   Bookmakers expect Hectorjayjay to account for his seven rivals in the Italian Cup. He has been installed at the short quote of $1.25 with the Emma Stewart-trained five-year-old entire Major Secret the only other runner in single figures at $4.20.   READ: Italian Cup preview   Hectorjayjay has won five of his past six starts with his only defeat coming when held up for a run in an M2-M4 contest. He followed that up by leading in 1:56.0 in the Bold David Free For All (2240m) and then sitting parked in 1:55.1 over course and distance in the Group 2 4YO & 5YO Championship.   Major Secret has won both starts since returning from injury and he will look to make the most of barrier one with Chris Alford picking up the drive. Lang normally drives the entire also and it could have given punters a lead had he been driving at the meeting.   Aiken returns to driving after serving suspension for inconveniencing Ideal Majority in the Young Pedro Free For All (1720m) at Melton on June 3 when driving Cold Major. With Aiken choosing Hectorjayjay, David Moran has picked up the drive on Cold Major who will follow out Major Secret in the event.   Reprinted with premission from

Human nature dictates that potential is more attractive than achievement, promise more seductive than stability. That’s why when Hectorjayjay takes his place in Saturday night’s Italian Cup at Melton the average harness racing fan will be beside themselves with glee. A race made most famous as the arena for Popular Alm’s emotional comeback in 1984, this weekend the Italian Cup will be the next step in Hector’s star-making apprenticeship for team Aiken. Of course, it won’t be easy. Awaiting the dual Group 2 winner will be Super Series and NSW Derby winner, Major Secret, who himself is two runs into a brilliant comeback campaign. He also draws the pole to aid his chances. But most experts and almost all pacing enthusiasts are hoping and expecting that Hectorjayjay will prove too fast, too complete and too talented for his strong but less charismatic list of adversaries. “It’s exciting to have a horse like him here; we always knew he was an extremely quick horse, everyone knew that, but watching him develop has also been a thrill,” Josh Aiken said. “This week is another challenge because I’ve got great respect for the pole horse (Major Secret) but hector showed in the 4 and 5YO Championship that he can do some work as well. “Whether he could race tough off a strong tempo and still sprint as quick I’m not sure but he’s certainly developed a lot not only with us but just from his years of racing before he came here.” All things being equal, Victoria’s most exhilarating constant resident will progress from Saturday night’s $20K mini-feature to the Group 1 Len Smith Mile where he’ll be no doubt welcomed by superstar stablemate Lennytheshark. The lover of promise, the devotee of the untapped will be dreaming of that clash and secretly hoping that the younger tyro can test his Inter Dominion and Victoria Cup winning co-habitant. But if Josh and David Aiken are both on the pulse then there’s still a little water left to flow before that happens. “I’m with Dad I suppose,” Josh said. “I might think there’s little less between them than he does but Lenny had to run second in a Vic Cup and place in a Len Smith before he started winning those big races and Hector might have to as well. “The beauty about our situation is that they’re two very different horses. “Lenny is the king and he can do everything where Hector’s got that explosive speed when conditions suit. “That means you can drive Hector a little more conservatively at the top level and get him battle-hardened for that type of racing without conceding him a real winning chance. “Any race is winnable with a sprint like his.” Jason Bonnington

Reining Inter Dominion champion Lennytheshark’s trainer David Aiken has confirmed this week he will defend his title when the Inter Dominion Carnival returns later this year. Having won the Victoria and Bendigo Cup’s since his emphatic Perth Inter dominion win, the Four Starzzz Shark entire is aimed at the Len Smith Mile (G1) at Menangle after competing in the Golden Mile (G3) one week earlier. His travel-buddy on the trip to Western Australia will be Hectorjayjay. With the Mildura Cup (G2) and the 4 & 5yo Championship (G2) in his trophy cabinet in his last 4 starts - the Dream Away gelding will contest the Sunshine Sprint (G2) and the Blacks A Fake (G2) in Queensland. Hectorjayjay “I knew he was good when he came to our stables, but I didn’t realise just how good” Trainer David Aiken said after his impressive Melton win on Saturday night. Aiken is hoping the trip to Queensland will give Hectorjayjay much needed travel experience before attempting one of Harness Racing’s tough tasks - the Inter Dominion. Scott Hamilton

Emerging Victorian star Hectorjayjay is Queensland-bound. Trainer David Aiken had planned a freshen-up, but Hectorjayjay’s breathtaking 4&5YO Championship win at Melton last Saturday night changed his mind.  “He forced our hand, he changed our minds. He went to another level the other night. We have to give him a chance against the big boys now,” Aiken said.  “He’s scary fast and the other night he showed a new side when he did so much work in a really fast last half and still won with the plugs in.  “I knew he was good when he came to our stable, but I didn’t realise just how good.”  Hectorjayjay has won four of five starts since a change of ownership saw him switch from Simone Walker’s stable to Aiken’s barn. “He’d be unbeaten for us with any luck. His only defeat came when he drew inside the back row and never saw daylight,” Aiken said.  “This is a seriously exciting horse and I’m setting for the Perth Inter Dominion along with Lennytheshark.  “This guy can go to Queensland for the Sunshine Sprint (July 9) and Blacks A Fake (July 16), while Lennytheshark can go to Sydney.”  Lennytheshark finished a pre-training stint on the water-walker and returned to Aiken’s satellite stable on-course at Menangle yesterday (Monday).  The reigning Inter Dominion champ will go first-up into the Group 3 Golden Mile at Menangle on June 11.  Then comes the $100,000 Group 1 Len Smith Mile at the same track on June 26.  “I can get him fit enough by working at Menangle and a trial before the Golden Mile and that run should top him off nicely for the Len Smith,” Aiken said.  “Then he’s out for another little break until the new season.  “He didn’t really need these races, but he puts on too much weight when he’s out spelling, so I didn’t want to leave him out too long.  “It’ll be great to have he and Hector to bring-up together towards Perth.” Adam Hamilton

According to HRNZ, New Zealanders are breeding better quality horses. While breeding numbers are slightly down, from around 2690 last year to 2520 this year, the breeding industry isn't in dire straits like many think. The slight decline can be attributed to a major shift from breeders to produce a higher quality product, with a significant commercial value.  With sire fees going up, many breeders are cutting back their broodmare numbers to focus on better bred mares, who have shown ability on the track. Leading sire Bettor's Delight served 289 mares this season, while Christian Cullen has dropped to just he 45 mares this season.  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ The Shane Tritton trained 2yo High Rolling will not make the Harness Jewels trip.  While stablemate Arms Of An Angel ,Kevin Pizzuto trained Heza Bromac and the Craig Demmler trained My Kiwi Mate are the only confirmed Australian invites to the Cambridge Harness Jewels. The focus has shifted to the trotting sections with HRNZ's Racing Manager Darrin Williams working on several runners and awaiting responses. The David Aiken trained 3yo trotter Princess Phoenix will not make the trip, although her stablemate Eljaykay Phoenix is still a chance of making the trip to complete against Monbet and Sunny Ruby in the 4yo Ruby.  Connections will sit down with the Aiken’s this afternoon to make a decision on their first jewels trip. Andrew Fitzgerald

Cold Major (7G Art Major/Van Gold) is headed west for the Perth Inter Dominion later this year after his Group 3 Casey Classic win on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. The 21-time winner (64: 21-7-7, $208,494) dashed along the sprint lane to upstage Geoff Webster’s fast-class stable stars Flaming Flutter (1.9m away second) and Franco Ledger (beaten 3.3m in third) over 1720m in a rate of 1:53.2. The time was Cold Major’s best in 10 goes at the trip. Trained by David Aiken at Avenel, Cold Major was steered by regular reinsman Josh Aiken and paid odds of $14.20, knocking those punters who stood out $1.10 shot Philadelphia Man (fifth) in the final leg of the quaddie. Philadelphia Man paced to the front early and reeled off opening splits of 28.3secs and 29.7secs after a 7.4secs lead time. Flaming Flutter (Greg Sugars) put the heat on Philadelphia Man from the chair down the back (28.1secs third quarter) and when Gavin Lang asked the favourite for his effort in the stretch he found little. Flaming Flutter stuck on valiantly for second with stablemate Franco Ledger (Anthony Butt) third after a one-one trip. Five Star Anvil (Chris Alford) got through for fourth ahead of the long odds-on favourite. A post-race veterinary examination revealed no abnormalities with Philadelphia Man, but stewards tweeted Saturday night they would follow up with the Emma Stewart stable during the week to see how the horse pulled up. >> Cold Major takes out the Group 3 Casey Classic at Melton Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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