Queen Elida's possible tilt at the Elitloppet
By Adam Hamilton
Brent Lilley (pictured above, far left) is loving being back “home” in New Zealand, but part of his mind is in Sweden.
Although this year’s famed Elitloppet is still more than a week away, Lilley is pondering whether he could be there next year.
“It’s more than 12 months away and there’s lots to play out, but I do think Queen Elida would be an ideal trotter to take to the Elitlopp,” he said.
“She’s just so versatile. She can work early and is just so fast when driven off the pace.”
Lilley, who took Maori Time to the Elitlopp without luck or success in 2018, will be watching Aussie star Just Believe closely this year.
"It's such a strong race. I've got everything crossed for him, but if he can make the final he's done a mighty job," he said.
Kiwi owned and Kiwi-bred, Queen Elida showed she was right back to her best, maybe better than ever, with a stunning win in the Group 1 Macarthur Mile at Menangle two week’s ago.
She’s chasing a fifth successive win in Saturday night’s I Didnt Do It Free-For-All (2240m) at Melton.
“She’s something and is right back to her best,” Lilley said. “She knocked her head just before the Great Southern Star earlier in the year and wasn’t quite herself. In hindsight, we should’ve tipped her out.
“But she’s had the break and come back in fantastic form.”
Queen Elida has “another couple of $30,000 mares races” at Melton in coming weeks before a break.
“She’ll come back for the Bill Collins’ Sprint in October and then the Inter Dominion (in Queensland). We’ll get through those before we talk seriously about the Elitlopp.”
More immediately, Lilley’s back in NZ for his other star trotter, Aldebaran Zeus, who steps out again in the Group 2 Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park tomorrow (Friday) night.
“It’s been good to have a few weeks between runs,” he said. “We were a bit unlucky last time. Chris (Alford, driver) almost dropped in behind Muscle Mountain and I think we’d have given him a real race if we did.
“Realistically, it’s not going to be easy off 20m over the (short) 2200m this week.
“Even though he’s a good beginner, it’ll be hard to give that sort of start away to nice trotters off the front over the short trip.
“We go back to the free-for-all the week after and he’ll have a better chance then.”
Once again, Alford is in a busy weekend as he heads to Auckland to drive Aldebaran Zeus and back to partner Queen Elida at Melton.