Aldebaran Zeus heading stateside

By Adam Hamilton

The trotting world has suddenly got a lot smaller.

Fresh from Just Believe's heroics in Sweden, another star Down Under trotter will tackle some of the world's best in the US in September.

Connections of Victoria’s multiple Group 1 winner Aldebaran Zeus have accepted an invitation to tackle some of the world’s best trotters in the $US1mil MGM Yonkers International Trot in New York on September 9.

Aldebaran Zeus, who recently campaigned with mixed success in NZ, has won 18 races and almost $420,000 for trainer Brent Lilley and high-profile owner-breeder Duncan McPherson OAM, who has been a leader in promoting trotting in Australia.

Crucially, Aldebaran Zeus led throughout to beat Just Believe at Group 1 level at Menangle in March. It was Just Believe’s last run before heading to Sweden where he ran a second and third against elite company in his three starts.

Lilley, an expat Kiwi, is no stranger to taking on global challenges. He took former brilliant mare Maori Time to the Elitloppet in Sweden in 2018, but she made a mistake and lost all chance.

Aldebaran Zeus is one of two star trotters in Lilley’s care. The other, Queen Elida, has already been touted by the trainer as a possible Elitloppet raider for next year.

Aldebaran Zeus started his recent NZ’s campaign with a Group 2 win at Cambridge over the flying mile before he was unplaced in subsequent longer distance races.

“I’m so thrilled to be invited and we’ve all jumped at the chance to go,” McPherson said about Yonkers.

“Sure, it’s nice for me and the team around the horse and Aldebaran Park, but I’m equally excited that our southern hemisphere trotters are attracting the attention they deserve and can show their racing
prowess on the international stage.

“As we saw recently with Just Believe’s campaign in Sweden, our trotters here in Australia are more than competitive in this company and the world is now watching with a different level of expectation.

“These types of opportunities don’t just happen. I appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes and thank HRA for its continued efforts to promote our industry in new markets.

“I’m pleased to be a small cog in what is a bright and exciting future for our sport.”

Lilley cannot wait to take on the world again.

“The experience I gained through Maori Time’s trip to Sweden will be invaluable in having my horse ready for Yonkers in September,” he said.

“He’s handled his interstate and NZ travel without missing a beat, so I expect he’ll handle the flights and quarantine in Chicago without issue. We’ll time it for him to peak on the day."

Meanwhile, Just Believe is due back in Australia in late July and will spell before being prepared for a defence of his Inter Dominion title at Albion Park in December.

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