Lennytheshark continued Team Aiken’s recent run of poor draws in feature harness races when he came up with the visitors draw for tomorrow night’s $500000 Group One Hunter Cup.
David Aiken’s superstar seven-year-old has drawn barrier 13 — the extreme outside of the second row — in the 2760m marathon.
The only consolation for Lenny is that Smolda, the reigning Inter Dominion champion and his conqueror in the recent Ballarat Cup, also has a second row draw, barrier nine, to contend with.
The fall of the barrier marbles has opened up the race considerably, but proven champions in Smolda and Lenny are the two most fancied runners in the pinnacle Grand Circuit event.
Smolda, the defending champion who is looking to become the fifth horse to win the race twice, is a $2.30 favourite, while Lenny a $3.50 chance.
The only other pacer under double figure odds is Bling It On, who is a $4.80 shot.
After an aborted Inter Dominion campaign, Lenny showed he was close to his best with his hard-finishing third to Smolda and Lazarus in the Ballarat Cup.
He will have benefited from that run and his toughness and the testing distance of tomorrow night’s race will be right up his alley.
The interesting runners in the cup are Guaranteed, once touted as potentially the best horse in Australia, who is first-up also from an aborted Inter Dominion campaign in Perth, the talented NSW visitor Yayas Hot Shot from the powerful Shane and Lauren Tritton camp and the New Zealander Hug The Wind.
Yayas Hot Shot is drawn to run a big race in barrier two, which will become the pole if there are no scratchings, while the Barry Purdon-trained Hug The Wind, who has drawn the second row, has solid form over the long trips in New Zealand.
Shepparton will have a horse to barrack for in the cup with the John McCarthy-trained Bling It On, who will be in betting, being prepared at the Kialla track.
●District trainers will be chasing big money in other feature races on tomorrow night’s marathon 11-event card.
Shepparton trainer Russell Jack will be represented by Wardan Express in the Group One $200000 Victoria Derby. To be driven by Luke McCarthy, Wardan Express has drawn barrier eight.
Young Avenel horseman Josh Aiken also has The Defiant running in the Derby from barrier three.
He appeals as an each-way chance in the race in which the Mark Purdon-trained runaway heat winner Vincent looks the pacer to beat, despite a second-row draw.
The Steve O’Donoghue-trained Shakahari faces her biggest career challenge in the $100000 Group One Alabar Ladyship Cup over the 1720m trip.
While it is a big step up in class for Shakahari, who has won seven of her nine starts in this campaign, her barrier one draw gives her the chance to run a bold race at big odds.
O’Donoghue also has Herehecomes in the Four Year Old Bonanza, also a Group One race worth $100000.
Again O’Donoghue has been lucky with the barrier draw, coming with gate three over the 1720m trip.
Bec Bartley will drive Shakahari and Herehecomes.
Kyabram-trained Brallos Pass is also contesting the Four Year Old Bonanza for Mark Watson, but has a second row draw.
But last Saturday night’s Victoria Cup winner, super New Zealand pacer Lazarus, has drawn barrier two and realistically looks unbeatable if there is no unforeseen bad luck.