Ready for anything Hectorjayjay sweeps health scare aside
Avenel trainer David Aiken and his reinsman son Josh owned the Kialla Raceway on Saturday night with four successive winners, including the Group Two $60 000 Shepparton Gold Cup with the hot favourite Hectorjayjay.
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.
‘‘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 was close to his brilliant best, coasting to an allthe-way 8 m win against the NSW pacer Allblack Stride, with another of the Aiken runners, veteran Smudge Bromac a further 7 m astern in third.
It was, as punters predicted, a one-horse race.
The large crowd roared when Hectorjayjay kicked well clear of his rivals rounding the home turn to score the popular victory on the track the Aikens class as their home.
Hectorjayjay, who started $1.20 on the tote, returned a 1:57.5 mile rate for the challenging 2690 m trip in the first cup for 10 years run under the mobile start conditions.
Hectorjayjay has won 37 of his 71 starts and was bred by district harness racing stalwarts Pauline and Russell Thomson.
He was on the end of a hot run from the Aikens, who also claimed the three races leading up to the cup with the promising Roll With It, the George Gath trots feature with outsider Vics Cheval and the C6 or better with Magic Oats.
Josh Aiken was in the sulky for each of the four wins.
— Gus Underwood with Jason Bonnington
Celebrations: Owner Matt McLellan, strapper Kima Frenning and driver Josh Aiken with Hectorjayjay after their Shepparton Gold Cup victory on Saturday.