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A nose cost Lennytheshark victory in last year’s Miracle Mile when Australia’s most popular harness racing pacer was beaten by Have Faith In Me. So that probably made revenge all the more sweeter at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle tonight when Lennytheshark prevailed by that barest possible margin, beating Mark Purdon’s trio of Smolda, Lazarus and Our Waikiki Beach in the $750,000 Group One Ainsworth Miracle Mile . . . the 50th running of the elite invitation-only race. It was an emotional reinsman Chris Alford who returned after ‘Lenny’ broke the magical 1:50 mark, rating 1:49.2 in a fabulous finish that capped off a great night of harness racing before a massive crowd at the south-western Sydney circuit. Alford has run several placings in Miracle Miles with some great horses like Golden Reign and Tailamade Lombo but will be talking about Lennytheshark’s greatness for the rest of his days after a victory that defied the critics. Trainer David Aiken was just as overcome by this horse’s incredible victory. “He’s had his problems this horse and my name may be in the racebook as the trainer but I can tell you this is very much a team effort,” said Aiken. “I’m originally a Sydney boy and I’ve been going to the Miracle Mile since I was eight or nine years old and I never really dreamed I would have a horse good enough to win it. “This horse is just a dream. He’s has leg issues and he had a foot injury in Perth but we’ve continued to swim him and get him right and tonight he showed what he can do. He’s a freak.” Turning for home the crowd was on its feet as four great horses fought it out tooth and nail and despite Purdon’s trio  giving it everything, Lennytheshark refused to yield as he added the Miracle Mile to his Inter Dominion and a string of other great victories. Lennytheshark is by Four Starzzz Shark from the Albert Albert mare Botswana. He is now the richest pacer ever in Australasia with over $2.56 million in the bank. Amanda Zammit  

If Lazarus is to cap one of the great summers in New Zealand harness racing history, he is going to have to do it the hard way. That is the reality of tonight's A$750,000 Miracle Mile, the centrepiece of a stunning night at Menangle where Kiwi horses are favoured to win five group ones inside 140 minutes. The meeting is the strongest held at Menangle since it opened in 2008 but good as the support card is, the Miracle Mile is the race people will remember, especially if Lazarus wins. After his New Zealand Cup demolition job, a similar display in the Victoria Cup and bullying wins in the NZ Free-For-All, Chariots of Fire and Ashburton Flying Stakes, if Lazarus wins tonight his body of work sits alongside the golden summers of Christian Cullen, Christopher Vance and Chokin. But first he has to win and to do that he may need to add a new string to his bow. Lazarus is at his most crushing when able to lead and run consistently searing sectionals which deter challengers before rolling into a quick last 800m. But there is next to no chance of him leading tonight and trainer-driver Mark Purdon admits that if a fast tempo allows him to drive the champ sit-sprint something special could unfold. "I have never really had the chance to drive him cold before and I think he might love it," said Purdon. "I am pretty sure Hectorjayjay will lead and if he tries to go slow then I might have to come sit parked. "But if the pressure is on and we follow the right horse into the race, then he might come out and really sprint." With Lazarus likely to settle midfield at best in a race where swooping victories are rare, those who take the short odds tonight could be in for some uncomfortable times. But he is still the best horse in the race and Purdon believes having a week off from racing has helped bring both him and stablemate Our Waikiki Beach on. "They sprinted up together well on Thursday morning and I am sure they will both be better than in the Chariots two week ago." Purdon has already had one win going into tonight's meeting, where he trains all five New Zealand favourites. Auckland Cup winner Our Dream About Me, who has struggled with corns, passed a NSW stewards-ordered vet check yesterday and is almost certain to start in the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile. "She had a small corns issue and we have been working hard to get her to the race. "She hasn't missed any real work but it is going to be tough for her without a lead-up race and while she is a great mare, Piccadilly Princess has to be at least as good a chance now." Purdon favours Vincent from the ace draw over stablemates Ultimate Machete and Motu Meteor in tonight's NSW Derby, while Partyon's inside second line draw in the NSW Oaks may not be as bad as it looks. She follows out a fast beginner in Takara Truffle and may be able to get a tactical advantage over arch-rival Petacular. The night's other Group One pace looks the trickiest for the Kiwis, with Have Faith In Me and Chase The Dream both coming off hard summers into an even free-for-all tonight. - NZ Herald Read more by Michael Guerin  Email Michael Guerin

If Lazarus is to cap one of the great summers in New Zealand harness racing history he is going to have to do it the hard way. That is the reality of tonight’s A$750,000 Miracle Mile, the centrepiece of a stunning night at Menangle where Kiwi horses have favoured to win five group ones inside 140 minutes. The meeting is the strongest held at Menangle since it opened in 2008 but as good as the support card it, the Miracle Mile is the race people will remember, especially if Lazarus wins. After his New Zealand Cup demolition job, a similar display in the Victoria Cup and bullying wins in the NZ Free-For-All, Chariots of Fire and Ashburton Flying Stakes, if Lazarus wins tonight his body of work sits alongside the golden summers of Christian Cullen, Christopher Vance and Chokin.   But first he has to win and to that he might need to add a new string to his bow.  Lazarus is at his most crushing when able to lead and run consistently searing sectionals which deter challengers before rolling into a quick last 800m.  But there is next to no chance of him leading tonight and trainer-driver Mark Purdon admits if a fast tempo allows him to drive the champ sit-sprint something special could unfold. “I have never really had the chance to drive him cold before and I think he might love it,” said Purdon.  “I am pretty sure Hectorjayjay will lead and if he tries to go slow then I might have to come sit parked.  “But if the pressure is on and we follow the right horse into the race then he might come out and really sprint.”With Lazarus likely to settle midfield at best in a race where swooping victories are rare, those who take the short odds tonight could be in for some uncomfortable times.  But he is still the best horse in the race and Purdon believes having a week off from racing has helped bring both him and stablemate Our Waikiki Beach on.  “They sprinted up together well on Thursday morning and I am sure they will both be better than in the Chariots two week ago.”Purdon has already has one win going into tonight’s meeting, where he trains all five New Zealand favourites.  Auckland Cup winner Our Dream About Me, who has struggled with corns, passed a NSW stewards-ordered vet check yesterday and is almost certain to start in the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile.  “She had a small corns issue and we have been working hard to get her to the race.  “She hasn’t missed any real work but it is going to be a tough for her without a lead-up races and while she is a great mare, Piccadilly Princess has to be at least as good a chance now.”  Purdon favours Vincent from the ace draw over stablemates Ultimate Machete and Motu Meteor in tonight’s NSW Derby while Partyon’s inside second line draw in the NSW Oaks may not be as bad as it looks.  She follows out a fast beginner in Takara Truffle and may be able to get a tactical advantage over arch rival Petacular.  The night’s other group one pace looks the trickiest for the New Zealanders, with Have Faith In Me and Chase The Dream both coming off hard summers into a even free-for-all tonight. Michael Guerin

This Miracle Mile and the support card that goes with it shapes as one of the best we have seen.  Our Aussie correspondent ADAM HAMILTON casts his expert eye over the major races at Menangle On Saturday night. RACE 7 - MIRACLE MILE  Think LENNYTHESHARK (6) is the value. Primed after three runs from a break, huge second in this race last year and drawn best of the big trio. HECTORJAYJAY (10) should still blast across and lead, but how much petrol will have to spend from yet another bad draw? The draw is tricky LAZARUS (8) and don’t think we’ve seen his NZ Cup form in Aussie yet this trip. Still a huge chance of course. BLING IT ON (3) didn’t enjoy sitting parked last week. Vic and Hunter Cup runs fantastic. Drawn well, respect. SMOLDA (1) could place from the pole. SALTY ROBYN (5) and OUR WAIKIKI BEACH (4) also place hopes.  SUGGESTED BET: Something win LENNYTHESHARK (6) if $6 or better and HECTORJAYJAY (10) is $5 or better.    RACE 5 - NSW DERBY  On what we’ve seen from him Aussie, VINCENT (1) just needs to stay out of trouble to win. His Vic and NSW Derby heat wins were simply breathtaking. What gate speed will he show? Can he get straight away from the marker pegs if crossed early? ULTIMATE MACHETE (7) is the query. Unstoppable in NZ this season, but raced flat even though he did a power of work last week. Wouldn’t surprise to see a return to his best and a huge threat if we that. MOTU METEOR (5) keeps improving. So much speed. Dexter aboard. Respect. OUR LITTLE GENERAL (2) never looked happy last week. Better for the experience, Vic Derby win good and drawn well. Rough show.  SUGGESTED BET: VINCENT (1) to win if $2 or better     RACE 3 - NSW OAKS  The draw has opened this right up. Happy to be on MISS GRACELAND (5) each-way. Well held by PETACULAR (14) last week, but gets the chance to push forward and get a big head start on key rivals this time. Should be fitter as well. PARTYON (11) will need some early luck from inside back row. Class act, unbeaten, but this by far her biggest test. PETACULAR (14) has come back a brute this season. Controlled the heat and dashed home too quick, but very different from this draw. Expect an aggressive drive. Major player. TAKARA TRUFFLE (1) is on the up, good behind PARTYON in the heat and draws well. DONT THINK TWICE (10) was big after finding trouble in heat. Awful draw. Place.  SUGGESTED BET: MISS GRACELAND (5) each-way at $6 or better     RACE 4 - LADYSHIP MILE  Such a tricky race made harder by big queries over the champion mare OUR DREAM ABOUT ME (9). Hasn’t raced since that awesome Auckland Cup win on New Year’s Eve and hasn’t paced well in two recent Menangle trials, most notably Tuesday when she bobbled much of the trip. Can’t take the short odds on that. The old champ FRITH (2) gets her chance from great draw. Likely leader, fitter for strong first-up showing. A PICCADILLY PRINCESS (10) was monstrous last week and might have to be again from extreme draw, but gee she’s going well.  ROCKER BAND (3) blasted out to lead and upstage A PICCADILLY PRINCESS at Melton last time. Drawn well again and kept fresh. Definite claims. AMERETTO (4) resumed with a ripping run last week. Fitter, handy draw, keep safe. CYCLONE KATE (5) is back in form. Led and won without looking ultra-impressive last time. Tricky draw with so much speed inside. Rough show.  SUGGESTED BET: Something on FRITH (2) if $5 or better and ROCKER BAND (3) is $8 or better.     RACE 6 - BOHEMIA CRYSTAL FFA  Not sure where to look here. Ripper race, but so many chances. TIGER TARA (2) ran well at first start for Kevin Pizzuto stable here last week and 2400m should suit better than a mile last week. Should be improved and drawn well. Roughie with a big chance is AZTEC BROMAC (12). Actually made-up ground and didn’t have much racing room in 26sec flat last quarter behind Lennytheshark last week. Obviously needs luck from draw. HAVE FAITH IN ME (14) is obviously well down on his Miracle Mile-winning form of last year, but racing as though 2400m will suit and down in grade. TACT TATE (11) is drawn to have a cosy run and had no racing room late last week. Respect. LETS CHASE THE DREAM (7) needs luck from draw, but must be kept safe. MACH DORO (13) caught the eye last week as well. Not hopeless.  SUGGESTED BET: TIGER TARA (2) if $5 or better and something small each-way AZTEC BROMAC (12).     SUMMARY  BEST BET: R5 N1 Vincent (if $2 or better)  BEST VALUE: R3 n5 Miss Graceland (each-way if $6 or better)  BEST ROUGHIE: R6 n12 Aztec Bromac

Harness Racing New South Wales Stewards advise that all horses engaged in the 2017 AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY MIRACLE MILE (Group 1), including the emergency runners, will undergo a routine veterinary examination tomorrow morning. Regulatory Veterinarian, Dr Don Colantonio vetted all horses and blood samples were taken when they entered the Retention Facility yesterday. HRNSW Chairman of Stewards, Graham Loch, stressed that the examinations were quite routine and intended to avoid unnecessary speculation regarding the fitness of any of this year's Miracle Mile field. MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY OFFICER (02) 9722 6600 GRAHAM LOCH | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600    

Just eight months ago there was just one metre that separated stablemates Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark but that gap has narrowed according to harness racing trainer David Aiken. As the two quality pacers prepare to go head-to-head in this Saturday night's Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle, it will be just the second time they have raced each other. Their first clash saw Hectorjayjay come out on top in the 2016 Len Smith Mile and Lennytheshark finished a close second, 1.2m away to be precise. "They have trialled against each other but at the races I've tried to keep them separated as much as I could," revealed Aiken. "They were going to race each other in the Inter Dominion but then we had to withdraw Lenny from the Final with his hoof issues. "There isn't much separating the pair of them now. "They are two different types of horses . . . Lenny is tougher and Hector has the speed." Both horses won preludes for the Miracle Mile at Menangle last Saturday night. Lennytheshark was the faster one of the pair, leading throughout in the Group 1 Canadian Club Sprint recording the mile in a rate of 1:50.3. "Lenny is back to his best," said Aiken. "We were really happy with his latest run and is spot on heading into the Miracle Mile." Lennytheshark is currently the equal third favourite at $6 with TAB Fixed Odds to win Saturday's Grand Circuit race after drawing barrier six. His stablemate Hectorjayjay is the second favourite at $3.80 despite drawing barrier 10. He too led throughout to win his Miracle Mile qualifier last week, the Group 1 Allied Express Sprint, in a rate of 1:51.5. "We haven't sat down to discuss what our tactics will be in the Miracle Mile but Hector will be going forward," stated Aiken. "He ran home his last quarter in 25.8 (seconds) last week and he will only benefit from the run considering it was only his third start back from the Inter Dominion." Aiken's son Josh has secured the drive on Hectorjayjay having won seven races and two placings in his 10 drives on the gelding. As the age of 23, Josh is the second youngest driver in this year's 50th edition of the Miracle Mile with Chris Geary on Salty Robyn the youngest at 19 years of age. Meanwhile, Chris Alford will drive Lennytheshark. Alford, a winner of 5893 races, has driven Lennytheshark in every start the pacer has had in Aiken's care.   AMANDA RANDO

It is that time of year - the 50th Miracle Mile is just two days away. This week Trots TV caught up with a couple of the stables that have dual runners in the Grand Circuit gem including trainers David Aiken and Lauren Tritton. There is also usual CEO's Blog and The Week That Was. See links below.               David Aiken interview: http://www.harnessmediacentre.com.au/trotstv/tvvideos/28855 Lauren Tritton interview: http://www.harnessmediacentre.com.au/trotstv/tvvideos/28854 CEO's Blog: http://www.harnessmediacentre.com.au/trotstv/tvvideos/28857 The Week That Was: http://www.harnessmediacentre.com.au/trotstv/tvvideos/28856 AMANDA RANDO

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

HARNESS Racing New South Wales advises that the Retention Facility will be utilised for all horses, including emergencies, entered in the Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle this Saturday (February 25). Horses engaged in the Ainsworth Miracle Mile must be presented at the Facility at Menangle prior to midday on Thursday, February 23. All trainers with horses entered for this race have been notified by HRNSW of the requirements for the presentation of their respective horses at the Retention Facility. Horses will remain under the supervision of HRNSW until released to the raceday stables two hours prior to the race.   To arrange an interview or for further information please contact:   MCIAHEL PRENRICE | INTEGRITY OFFICER   (02) 9722 6600 or mprentice@hrnsw.com.au     GRAHAM LOCH | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS   (02) 9722 6600 or gloch@hrnsw.com.au     AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES      

Harnesslink’s award winning columnist, Sydney Weaver, is set to go on another world adventure starting this week. Last August it was Ireland and now she’s headed to Australia. Weaver, along with her parents, Lisa and Don, will be enjoying the trip of a lifetime down under, compliments of a host of sponsors making this “dream come true” for the Weaver’s. “I am truly blessed to be going on this trip,” Weaver said. “It’s the trip of a lifetime. It is hard to put into words my excitement, joy and gratitude. Being able to go to Australia is a dream come true!” The sports leading breeders, owners and trainers, many of whom met Sydney for the first time in Ireland, were enchanted by the young women’s enthusiasm for harness racing and her passion to achieve whatever goals she set for herself despite having Cerebral Palsy. Led by Alan Galloway of Alabar Farms, Sydney Weaver and family will be spending three weeks in Australia, sponsored in part by Adam Bowden’s Diamond Creek Farm, A Rocknroll Dance Syndicate, Nevele R Stud, Blue Chip Farm, Pepper Tree Farm (Art Major’s owners), the owners of Auckland Reactor and Joe Bellino and the owners of Rock N Roll Heaven (Pepper Tree Farm and Alabar).  "Sydney is a very inspirational person," Said Alabar's Alan Galloway. "When I first met her in Ireland I was just blown away by her enthusiasm for Harness Racing. I just knew we had to help her come down to Australia. This trip will enable her and her parents, Don and Lisa, to see some of the best horses and racing in the World. We can't thank our fellow stallion owners enough for their support as well."  Once Sydney arrives in Sydney, the funs gets started right away as she will be attending the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle Park in New South Wales this Saturday, February 25. Her trip will also feature attending the APG Sydney Yearling Sales, the Lyn McPherson Memorial Night at Tabcorp Park Melton on March 11, tours of Alabar Farm, the training facilities of Andy Gath and Emma Stewart in Victoria, Aldebaran Park in Victoria plus getting to visit Tanya McDermott, who is the manager of Harness Racing Victoria’s HERO (Harness Education & Rehoming Opportunities) operations. “To think that soon I am leaving on a grand adventure still feels surreal.” Weaver explained. “I have so much to look forward to, but I am most looking forward to meeting new friends and getting to meet those who I have connected with on social media.” Of course, Sydney will be posting daily on her great adventure to Australia. By Steven Wolf, for Harnesslink

Mark Purdon's star pair drew perfectly in the harness racing barrier draw for the $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle today. The only problem was, neither of them was Lazarus. Inter Dominion winner Smolda drew gate one and Our Waikiki Beach drew four but is expected to come into gate three when the second emergency, Major Crocker, is scratched, despite drawing barrier two. Purdon's star four-year-old Lazarus threw the race open when he drew out in gate eight (will come into six with the emergencies out) but can be expected to endure a wide run if he is to figure in the finish. David Aiken's pair of hotshots Lennytheshark (six) and Hectorjayjay (gate 10) also drew poorly as did another speedster Yayas Hotspot, who has to contend with gate nine if he had any hope of being first to the pegs. The final draw for the $740,000 Group One classic, to be run next Saturday night at Menangle is: 1. SMOLDA 2. MAJOR CROCKER (2nd em) 3. BLING IT ON 4. OUR WAIKIKI BEACH 5. SALTY ROBYN 6. LENNYTHESHARK 7. AZTEC BROMAC (1st em) 8. LAZARUS 9. YAYAS HOTSPOT 10. HECTORJAYJAY   By MICHAEL COURT                    

Unlike some of the previous years, there were no Miracle Mile 'shocks' with selections for the 50th running of the great race when harness racing directors of Club Menangle settled on their final field after the two qualifying sprints were decided tonight. After Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark won their respective heats the David Aiken-trained pair were assured of invitations into the big race, alongside the two runners-up Yayas Hotspot and Smolda. With Lazarus already accepting a spot after winning last week's Chariots Of Fire that effectively left three invitations to be issued. Chariots Of Fire placegetters Our Waikiki Beach and Salty Robyn were invited alongside Hunter Cup winner Bling It On, ensuring the strongest field possible will go around next Saturday night. Connections ruled out a possible invitation for defending champion Have Faith In Me, who finished a disappointing sixth in the Canadian Club Sprint. Mark Purdon's All Stars stable decided all was not right with their erratic son of Bettors Delight, declaring he would not be seeking a return invitation. Still the race will have a trio of four-year-olds contesting the big race with Lazarus, Our Waikiki Beach and Salty Robyn all genuine contenders. The Purdon stable will have three runners, Lazarus, Our Waikiki Beach and Smolda, the Shane Tritton stable will have two with Yayas Hotspot and Salty Robyn and the David Aiken stable will have Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay. The only other stable with a runner is John McCarthy's Bling It On. Lennytheshark by Four Starzzz Shark Hectorjayjay by Dream Away Lazarus by Bettor's Delight Yayas Hotspot by Jereme's Jet Smolda by Courage Under Fire Our Waikiki Beach by Somebeachsomewhere Salty Robyn by Art Official Bling It On by American Ideal The two reserves will be Aztec Bromac  by American Ideal (1st emergency) and Major Crocker by Art Major (2nd emergency) . . . both finished third in their respective sprints. By MICHAEL COURT

Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark gave David Aiken a double-barrelled harness racing attack on next week's $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile when they won the two qualifying sprints tonight at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Lennytheshark quickly found the front and led all the way to win the Canadian Club Sprint in 1:50.3, beating Yayas Hotspot and Aztec Bromac with the first two horses automatically sealing Miracle Mile spots alongside Chariots Of Fire winner Lazarus. Trainer David Aiken barely had time to smile as he quickly harnessed up Hectorjayjay, who put in a repeat performance of his stablemate's effort, zipping across to lead from gate five before cruising home in 1:51.5, beating the gusty Smolda and pegs-hugging Major Crocker. "His gate speed is his biggest asset so we really had to make use of that tonight," commented young reinsman Josh Aiken, who drove a confident race on Hectorjayjay, ensuring this 50th Miracle Mile will have all the big guns except defending champion Have Faith In Me. Last year's winner finished a disappointing sixth in the Canadian Club Sprint and connections quickly ruled out any possibility of the five-year-old being here next weekend to defend the title he won last year in a record 1:47.5. With the committee of Club Menangle heading off to decide on the other three runners, the five assured of a Miracle Mile run were Lazarus, Lennytheshark, Yayas Hotspot, Hectorjayjay and Smolda. Lennytheshark Hectorjayjay By MICHAEL COURT                        

Lost: The real Have Faith In Me.  If found, please return to Menangle in time for next week’s $750,000 Miracle Mile. That is the strange story of the defending Miracle Mile champion and Australasian mile record holder as he returns tomorrow night to Menangle, where he is unbeaten. If last year’s version of Have Faith In Me turned up in the $100,000 Canadian Club Sprint tomorrow night there would be plenty of punters willing to bet he could down Lennytheshark and Bling It On. After all, he came from behind Lennytheshark to down him in last season’s Miracle Mile in 1:47.5, still the fastest mile ever paced in the Southern Hemisphere. Bizarrely he has only won one moderate race since, struggling to find his best form in New Zealand and Victoria and more often than not racing erratically. Exhaustive vet tests have found a kidney abnormality which nobody knows how to fix, leaving trainer Mark Purdon with little option but to keep racing him. "It has been a strange season with him,” says Purdon. “He wasn’t himself at the start of the season and even though we now know why he hasn’t come right back to his best. “He is good enough to still be racing but can he make it back to what he was this time last season in time for the Miracle Mile? I doubt it, to be honest.” The other problem facing Have Faith In Me is his poor manners in recent starts have seen him placed out of the draw behind the mobile, meaning he will have to give the Hunter Cup trifecta of Bling It On, Yayas Hot Spot and Lennytheshark a start over the mile. “It is not going to be easy because he has to be put in the race. “He has to run top two to be guaranteed his Miracle Mile spot but as the defending champion we are hoping he can sneak in even if he only finishes third or fourth.” Purdon is more confident with Inter Dominion champion Smolda in tomorrow night’s other Miracle Mile prelude, but says it will be hard to catch Hectorjayjay. “He was a bit tired after his below par run in the Hunter Cup but his work on Tuesday morning was better. “But it stacks up as a tricky race and if he can finished top two or three and qualify then I’ll be happy.” Purdon does have four hot favourites and a second favourite at tomorrow night’s meeting, with the TAB opening a market on how may races he will win, up to three wins being the favoured option at $2.40. MICHAEL GUERIN | @GuerinSports 

DAVID Aiken can’t split his star pair Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay in the countdown to Saturday week’s $750,000 Miracle Mile.  Both have been heavily-backed to win their respective lead-up sprints at Menangle this Saturday night. Lennytheshark has been $2.10 into $1.85 with the Aussie TAB to beat the likes of Bling It On and Have Faith In Me in the Group 1 Canadian Club Sprint, while Hectorjayjay has firmed from $1.60 to $1.50 in the Group 1 Allied Express Sprint.  “It’s easy to say Hectorjayjay is so fast and brilliant that he’s a better miler, but when they go a really hard mile at Menangle, the stayers often win,” Aiken said.  “Look at last year’s Miracle Mile. They went the record time and the two best stayers, Have Faith In Me and Lenny, ran first and second.   “A lot will depend on how the race is run. If they go hard all the way, then Lenny comes right into his own.    “If it’s more of a speed test, then Hector has that brilliance.    “I’m just lucky to have two horses as good as them heading towards the race.”  Aiken said both Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark have thrived since their last runs during Victoria’s Summer of Glory.    Hectorjayjay hasn’t raced since finding early trouble, breaking stride and then running a 1min50.4sec last mile when fifth to Lazarus in the Victoria Cup.  “He came through that hard run surprisingly well and I can’t fault him since,” Aiken said. “The draw (to start from gate four) is good for him this week. I think he’ll find the lead, whether straight away or off Tact Tate when they settle, and he’ll be very hard to beat.  “I know it will be a serious test though. Salty Robyn is there and I thought his run was great against Lazarus last week.  “The way Shane (Tritton) wants his horses driven, you’d expect they will be going a 1min49sec mile or quicker this week.”    Lennytheshark’s last run was that mighty third, after doing all the work, behind Bling It On in the Hunter Cup last Saturday week.  “He’s as good as I’ve had him. I thought his Hunter Cup run was enormous and he’s on the up,” Aiken said.   “The draw (gate two) is great for him as well. He’s quicker out than people give him credit for and I think he’ll lead.” HRNZ News

DAVID Aiken’s chances of having two Miracle Mile runners have been dealt a significant boost.  Aiken’s glamour pair Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark have both drawn well and installed clear favourites in their respective Miracle Mile qualifiers at Menangle on Saturday night   In the first of the races, the Allied Express Sprint, Hectorjayjay drew five but will start from four if first emergency Saloon Passage doesn’t gain a start.  The Aussie TAB has opened him a $1.60 favourite.  The All Stars’ Inter Dominion champ Smolda, who beat Hectorjayjay in that race, faces a big challenge from a wide draw (gate eight) over the mile. He is a $4.20 shot, but will surely start longer odds.  The other key player in that first qualifier is last week’s brave Chariots Of Fire third placegetter Salty Robyn, who is a $7 chance from gate six, but is likely to have to sit parked outside Hectorjayjay.  Some Kiwi fans will also be interested to see No Doctor Needed in the first qualifier, but is is a $35 shot from out in gate seven.  In the second qualifier, the Canadian Club Sprint, Lennytheshark is a $2.10 favourite from barrier two and most expect him to shorten as the race gets closer.  His two main rivals, last-start Hunter Cup winner Bling It On and defending Miracle Mile champ Have Faith In Me, have drawn wide.  Bling It On is a $3.80 shot from gate eight, while Have Faith In Me is $3.50 from the outside (gate 10).  The other runners with strong Kiwi interest are Barry Purdon’s Hug The Wind (gate five, $16) and former Kiwi pacer Tiger Tara (gate three, $12) who is having his first run for new trainer Kevin Pizzuto.   So far only Lazarus is the only guaranteed Miracle Mile runner, courtesy of his Chariots Of Fire win last Saturday night.  As expected, the All Stars’ team did not opt to back-up Our Waikiki Beach this week after his return to form for second to Lazarus in the Chariots.  Our Waikiki Beach is still strongly in contention for a Miracle Miloe berth should connections wish to contest the race.  The final Miracle Mile field will be announced after Saturday night’s qualifiers with the barrier draw held at a Menangle function early afternoon in Sunday (Sydney time). HRNZ news

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