Grand Circuit Start Shows A Bit Of Bite

Lennytheshark is a hot favourite for the Victoria Cup

Breckon Farms bred or owned horses have made a great start to qualifying for the prestigious NZ Sires Stakes Series, with a win and a 2nd placing in the first two heats staged.

Last week in the first heat of the series, King Of Swing (Rocknroll Hanover / Twist And Twirl), bred by Breckon Farms Ltd, was triumphant at Cambridge on Thursday in a good 1:56 Mile Rate, then the following night at Addington, The Devils Own (Art Major / Bishops Blessing), part owned by the Breckon Racing Syndicate together with fellow Breckon Farms Syndicate Members Glenys and Philip Kennard, ran second to Pat’s Delight in the exact same Mile Rate, making it two-from-two. This qualifies both horses for the prestigious Group 1 $170,000 Final at Addington on the 14th November.

However, further afield the Group 1 action is about to start, with the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit for pacers beginning in Melbourne, with the Group 1 $200,000 Allied Express Victoria Cup, at Tabcorp Park Melton, on Saturday night, the 14th October.

With Smolda (recently retired) being crowned the Grand Circuit champion last season, the Kiwi contingent has a lot to live up to.

This Grand Circuit racing series began back in 1977 for the pacers, as a showpiece of the Harness Racing Industry and over the years several changes have been implemented to the eight-race series that is run from October to July and now includes the Victoria Cup, New Zealand Cup, Inter Dominion Final, Auckland Cup, WA Pacing Cup, Hunter Cup, Miracle Mile and Blacks A Fake. Total prizemoney for the series this year is $4.25 million.

The field for the Victoria Cup was finalised earlier this week, with the Inter Dominion, Miracle Mile and Victoria Cup winning champion Lennytheshark heading the bill and drawing Barrier No.1, which has seen his odds shortened into an odds-on $1.35 for the win. The short odds are certainly justified after Lennytheshark was a decisive fresh-up winner of the Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint on the track last Friday, beating the leading New Zealand hope in the race, and second favourite, Field Marshal.

Driver Chris Alford has won 27 races behind Lennytheshark and is confident the champion can hold the lead from the ace draw, but many of the other horses’ connections are adamant they are going to make a race of it.

The likes of the mare Ameretto who has won her last six in a row, ex-pat Kiwi Mr Mojito who has won his last three, San Carlo who has won 19 from 22 starts, another ex-pat Kiwi in Tiger Tara who has won 22 races and is fresh-up on a new campaign here and inform Kiwi My Field Marshal, all present threats to the favourite.

Field Marshal came from well back in the field last week, flashing home late out wide, after pulling a punctured tyre from about the 700m point. He was still reported to have run his last 800m in a very quick 54.7secs, wide out on the track and reports are that he has tightened up after this run, so he should certainly present some stern opposition to the favourite. He has drawn the 2nd Row and will most likely follow out Ameretto, if the Emergency Flaming Flutter doesn’t start, so will need some luck in the running, but if he gets a chance to unleash his withering finish, he will be right in this.

Of note is the fact that there are two Breckon Farms bred horses contesting the race and both are not without a chance.

Code Black (Bettor’s Delight / Christian Watch) was bred by Breckon Bloodstock Ltd and is the winner of 16 races, the latest of which was at Menangle in Sydney just last Saturday night, where he won impressively in a 1:51.4 mile. He will start in the Victoria Cup from Barrier No.4, so will get his chance to apply some pressure from the start.

Burnaholeinmypocket (Bettor’s Delight / Kelly Maguire) was also bred by Breckon Bloodstock Ltd and is the winner of 18 races, including five of his last eight starts at Melton and two of his last three. He will have a 2nd Row draw to contend with, but with a little luck in the running he is capable of getting some of the spoils.

The Barrier draw for the Group 1 $200,000 Allied Express Victoria Cup is:-

1 LENNYTHESHARK
2 AMERETTO
3 GALACTIC STAR NZ
4 CODE BLACK NZ
5 TIGER TARA NZ
6 MAJOR CROCKER
7 SAN CARLO
——————————————
8 FLAMING FLUTTER NZ (Em.1)
9 YAYAS HOT SPOT NZ
10 MY FIELD MARSHAL NZ
11 MR MOJITO NZ
12 BURNAHOLEINMYPOCKET NZ
13 TEE CEE BEE MACRAY

So, if Lennytheshark can retain the lead from his plum alley, over the 2240m distance, it is hard to see him being beaten, but while the field is not a particularly strong one, there certainly are many chances of an upset in this race, the least of which is not the classy Kiwi My Field Marshal.

Rob Carr

 

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