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Great Southern Star night shorts

 By Adam Hamilton

It was the night the baton was passed on.

Long-time Aussie trotting “King” Chris Lang Sr officially departed the sport after Maori Time and Aldebaran Shades contested heats of the Great Southern Star at Melton, but failed to make the final.

On the same night, former Kiwi horseman Brent Lilley further cemented himself as the key trainer of trotters in Victoria right now with a treble on the big night.

Throw into the mix the rejuvenated Kyvalley Blur ran second in a heat and a solid fifth in the Great Southern Star final and it’s no wonder Lilley left the track with a huge grin on his face.

Lilley pleased favourite punters when he the first two races with odds-on shots Our Twentyten and My Arya.

“Our Twentyten is coming along well and still not wound-up. He did it easily. He won’t have a really big season. There’s not a lot around for four-year-olds,” he said.

“My Arya has improved at each run and once she led, they were never going to beat her.

“She goes back to Mark and Nat now for a couple of big races in NZ, but the plan is for her to return her for the bigger race later in the season.”

Lilley’s treble came in unexpected fashion when stable second-stringer, Rosemma, won the Breed For Speed Silver Series final.

It was a race the trainer expected to be a major player in with Daenerys Targaryen drawn the pole in what many felt was a match race with Illawong Helios.

Staggeringly, both favourites broke at the start and were tailed-out.

Rosemma, driven by Rodney Petroff who won on Our Twentyten, sustained a big run down the back straight and won narrowly in a 1min59.9sec mile rate for 1720m.

Lilley was delighted with Kyvalley Blur, who only recently joined his stable from Lang Sr’s barn.

“He’s a work in progress, but the signs are good. He showed a lot of potential as a younger horse and I’m starting to see why,” he said.

 

It truly was a Monster night at Melton.

Visiting Danish father and daughter, Knud and Michelle “Mini” Monster, both snared winners to add to the strong international flavour of the Great Southern Star meeting.

Knud, who extended his stay Down Under after the recent World Driving Championship, teamed with trainer Nicole Molander and former classy Kiwi trotter Irish Whisper for an all-the-way win in the free-for-all.

“We didn’t quite know what to expect going into the race, but we did know the best of Irish Whisper would certainly be good enough to win the race,” Molander said.

“Knud got him out of the gate well to lead and let him roll along. It was really pleasing.”

Irish Whisper posted a solid 1min59.4sec mile rate for 2240m to beat more-favoured stablemate Lord Liam by 4.2m.

Michelle Monster’s win came in very different circumstances when she won the Monte on the Jodi Quinlan-trained Si Capisco.

“What a thrill. I’ve had a greatest time during this trip across with Dad and to win this race is amazing,” Michelle said.

“I felt at home in the Monte, but I even got to drive a pacer over here, which I’d never done before.”

That was last Friday night at Cranbourne when Michelle drove the Lance Justice-trained Bushie into a close second as a $40 outsider.

 

Young driver Josh Aiken has ruled-out a Harness Jewels raid with star Aussie three-year-old trotter Eljaykay Phoenix.

Even though he boasts 12 wins from 15 starts – and four from five this campaign – Aiken thinks the son of Sundon is still maturing and growing.

“He’s winning, but I don’t think he’s at his absolute top,” he said. “He’s better than what he’s showing. I think he’s having a bit of a growth spurt.

“We’ve got some thinking to do about what we target and when for the rest of the season. He won’t be going to NZ even though it sounds exciting.”

Eljaykay Phoenix led, dictated with a 32sec second quarter and ran home in 58.6 and 28.9sec to narrowly stave-off the zippy Illawong Armstrong and win the $60,000 Group 1 Need For Speed Prince final (1720m) last night.

 

 Anthony Butt continues to make his mark since moving to Victoria.

 Butt drove a double at Great Southern Star night aboard My Arya and Barefoot Sally.

 As much as was impressed by My Arya, he also tipped big things going ahead for Barefoot Sally, who blitzed her rivals by 16.8m in the last race of the night.

 “She’s really promising and starting to trot better and better every start. She had plenty on them and proved it,” he said.