Chariots winner accepts invitation
By Michael Guerin
Australia’s most exciting pacer is coming to New Zealand as Jewels day at Cambridge receives two huge boosts.
Miracle Mile runner-up Jilliby Kung Fu has been confirmed as the Australian invite for the four-year-old male pace at the Jewels on June 2, with trainer Marg Lee saying the group one is his main aim for the remainder of the season.
He was one of two major players invited last night, with the connections of dual Oaks winner Shez All Rock also accepting their invite to the three-year-old fillies division.
She heads to New Zealand this week to be set for the New Zealand Oaks at Addington, where she will race in the green Australian Jewels invitee colours before coming north to Cambridge.
Shez All Rock has won both the NSW and then the Victoria Oaks last Friday and would rate alongside New Zealand’s best filly Elle Mac in a true Jewels market.
But as good as she is, the news Jilliby Kung Fu should --- all going well --- be at Cambridge will bring the biggest smile to harness racing bosses.
He was a brave winner of the Chariots of Fire in February before being beaten in the last two strides of the Miracle Mile, where he paced 1:47 mile.
The bold-going Victorian pacer is rated the next big thing in Australasian pacing and his clash with Star Galleria, Eamon Maguire and A G’s White Socks shapes potentially as one of the fastest in Jewels history.
While trainer Lee has never travelled a horse to New Zealand, Jilliby Kung Fu is driven by one of the young stars of Australian harness racing in Jason Lee and he will have no fear of the new environment.
HRNZ’s Darrin Williams says while all involved are thrilled to have five group-one winning invites confirmed from Australia, there could be more to come.
“We have a really top class, in-form three-year-old male pacer close to being invited and serious interest from the connections of a couple of two-year-olds,” said Williams.
“But we are realistic too. Horses can get injured, lose form or have other things go wrong so we could lose one or two of these horses. That is racing.
“But we have worked with their connections for a while around all this and they have made firm commitments that all going well they will be here.
“That can only add to the day and the Australian interest in the event, let alone the real depth and the chance to rate our horses against the Australian stars.”