Champion Avenel trained pacer Hectorjayjay could not have drawn better for his return to racing in Saturday night’s Group Two Shepparton Gold Cup.
The David Aiken superstar, who his son Josh will drive, has drawn barrier three in the $60000 feature and is likely to start a firm favourite, although he has not raced since running a gallant second to Smolda in the Perth Inter Dominion final on December 9.
While the race is not loaded with superstar pacers as has been the case in the past, there is still some talented pacers in the 10-horse field.
Leading Sydney trainer John McCarthy will bring stable star Allblack Stride south to tackle the time-honoured feature after a mind-blowing runaway win at Menangle last Saturday, when he dashed over the 1609m in 1:49.8.
From that race the Amanda Turnbull-trained and driven Tact Tate, who has some district owners, will also take his place in Saturday night’s cup after a third placing, beaten 13.6m, by Allblack Stride.
But the Shepparton Cup is over the far more challenging marathon trip of 2690m.
McCarthy’s son Luke will have the drive on Allblack Stride.
Apart from Hectorjayjay, other district-trained pacers Pepe Bromac and Aiken’s veteran Smudge Bromac will take their place in the field.
Smart South Australian trained pacer Adam Cartright is one of three interstate pacers contesting the race and has drawn the pole.
He was skittled early in last Saturday’s SA Pacing Cup won by Smolda and was never a chance.
The other feature on Saturday night’s program, the $20000 Group Two The George Gath has attracted last season’s Australian Trotting Mare of the Year Maori Time and another of the state’s best trotters Glenferrie Typhoon, who has not raced since October.
The extra smart Shepparton trotter and Victorian Trotting Mare of Year Sky Petite also makes her return to racing in this event and is drawn to lead in barrier two over the 2190m trip.
- Gus Underwood