An uncharacteristic early error ended Hectorjayjay’s bid to win Saturday night’s Group One $400000 Victoria Cup at Melton, but the Avenel pacer did not die wondering.
After he had gone off stride, driver Josh Aiken then circumnavigated the field on Hectorjayjay to race in the death seat outside the New Zealand superstar and hot favourite Lazarus.
But the tough run and race record pace the favourite set took its toll at the finish and Hectorjayjay, who faded to finish sixth, 22m from the winner.
Considering the sectionals Lazarus peeled off it was still a commendable effort from the David Aiken-trained champion and he will lose no admirers with his performance.
Lazarus dashed home in a scorching 53.8 last half with a 26.4 final sectional, with his mile rate of 1.52.5 clipping 0.7 seconds off the previous race record for the 2240m trip.
The track record of 1:52.3 is shared by All Eyes On Us and Keayang Cullen.
Lazarus became only the third four-year-old to win the Victoria Cup along with Sinbad Bay and Holmes DG, trained by Barry Purdon, who is brother of the Lazarus’ trainer Mark Purdon.
The Aikens plan to miss this Saturday night’s $500000 Hunter Cup, where they will rely on their other stable star, Lennytheshark, to tackle Lazarus and his champion stablemate and last start Ballarat Cup winner, Smolda.
Hectorjayjay is being aimed at a Menangle campaign.
- Gus Underwood