BY HRNZ MEDIA – ADAM HAMILTON
PHOTO SUPPLIED BY HRNZ
Top Aussie trainer David Aiken is excited and ready for a new challenge.
The man behind Australia’s two best open-class pacers Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay will be part of this year’s Harness Jewels.
Aiken and owner Brendan James last night delightfully accepted an invite to contest the Jewels at Ashburton with their classy four-year-old mare Rockstar Angel.
It was the first official Jewels invite offered to an Australian horse for this year’s Jewels.
“This is a thrill and Brendan (James) is really keen to give it a go,” Aiken said. “We think she’s a really nice mare and still improving.”
“It fits her season well. She’s got the final of a mares series she’s already qualified for as a lead-up to the Jewels and then her next target at home isn’t until the Vicbred 4YO mares series, which is well after the Jewels.”
“We know going across to run against the Kiwis over there won’t be easy but we’re up for the challenge.”
Rockstar Angel finished last season with a luckless third in the Breeders Crown 3YO fillies and has returned this season with six starts for four wins, a second and a third.
“She won her first four starts back and has run really well in defeat at her past couple,” Aiken said.
“Initially we were a bit disappointed when she led and Four Ex Dan beat her in the Wangaratta Cup but the inside was a bit off that night and the winner has since gone to Melton and won in fantastic style. He’s obviously very good.”
“Her only run since was a close third at Kilmore last weekend when she had to come with a long three-wide run without cover and was beaten in a three-way photo.”
Rockstar Angel’s form says she will be very competitive with the right draw and some luck in the Jewels.
The added bonus of having Aiken, Australia’s top trainer at the moment, part of the Jewels is a real coup for the event.
In other stable news, Aiken said Lennytheshark was having a freshen-up then a stint on the water-walker before returning to racing in the Bulli Cup at Menangle in May.
“Then comes the Len Smith Mile and probably a trip to Queensland for the winter carnival,” he said.
More immediately, Hectorjayjay is finishing a water-walker stint, returns to Aiken’s stable this week and is being set for the Warragul Cup on April 16.