Day At The Track

Hectorjayjay on pace for a Cup double

08:15 PM 08 Apr 2016 NZST
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Josh and David Aiken
Josh and David Aiken may well shape the $60,325 Mildura Pacing Cup.

Hectorjayjay has pulled up a peach and is ready for a repeat dose of harness racing success at Mildura racecourse.

A dominant winner of the second Park Douglas Printing Mildura Pacing Cup heat while on debut for trainer David Aiken, Hectorjayjay will start favourite in Saturday night’s final despite drawing outside Stunning Grin and Ideal Success on the front row.

“There were a few good runners in the other heat, so it is going to be a good race,” Aiken told RSN’s Inside Word. “I think my horse will start favourite, but there are a lot of other good horses in the race.”

VIDEO: JASON BONNINGTON TAKES A LOOK AT THE MILDURA CUP NIGHT QUADDIE

Outside of Hectorjayjay, none are likely to start shorter than Stunning Grin, winner of Tuesday’s first heat after a scorching start that saw Vince Vallelonga’s five-year-old stop the clock at a 1:57.5 mile rate, a track record over 2600m.

In the wake of the race Vallelonga told Trots Media he had the Mildura cup in mind for Stunning Grin for some time, and while he “was not super confident we can beat Hectorjayjay”, he “can make it tough for” Aiken’s favourite.

Aiken said Hectorjayjay had recovered well from his heat after a light couple of days and benefitting from driver Gavin Lang’s light hands.

“Gav (Lang) looked after him good (in the heat), he is renowned for getting horses through heats and finals,” Aiken said. “I think they went two seconds slower than the first (heat), hopefully that is to our advantage.”

A Group 2 Mildura cup, with its $60,325 total purse, would be a significant early return for the Aiken stable, which has only recently taken training duties of the five-year-old by Dream Away out of Sheer Finesse.

“Those sort of horses are hard to come by,” Aiken said. “He has had a good career, Simone (Walker) did a great job with him and I hope I can just keep him at that level and have a bit more fun with him.

“We are just learning a little about the horse now. We haven’t really got a plan after Mildura, so we just have to see how he recovers from the two runs in the week. Throughout his career he’s always been competitive against the really good ones. It’s a very good acquisition for the stable.”

The Aiken stable also has Cold Major in tomorrow night’s final, a family favourite who will again be driven by David’s son Josh.

“He’s drawn bad, but ... when they go hard he can compete with the better ones when things go his way,” Aiken said. “He’s got through the heat good too, so hopefully he will be good on Saturday night.”

The pacing cup starts at 8.30pm and comes amid a 10-race card, which also includes the Mark Gurry and Associates Cup and the Tankard Dental Mildura Guineas.

Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

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