Ready for any­thing Hec­tor­jay­jay sweeps health scare aside

Seymour Telegraph - - SPORT -

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.

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