Racing: Lennytheshark chews up our best

By Michael Guerin, Michael Guerin in Sydney

Lennytheshark (6) outpaces Smolda and Lazarus (8) in the A$750k Miracle Mile at Menangle on Saturday night.
Lennytheshark (6) outpaces Smolda and Lazarus (8) in the A$750k Miracle Mile at Menangle on Saturday night.

Lennytheshark confirmed the new reality of the pacing world with his brave Miracle Mile win.

And that is the days of the one-horse domination are over.

The beautiful Victorian pacer clearly outpointed Kiwi stablemates Smolda, Lazarus and Waikiki Beach to win the A$750,000 Mile at Menangle, the style of his victory leaving no room for argument.

He was parked throughout and looked a sitting duck at the top of the long straight, especially with Lazarus stalking him in the one-one.

But those waiting for Lazarus to blast past his Australian rival are still waiting, as he only ground away into third. That seems almost incomprehensible for the horse who won November's New Zealand Cup by 10 lengths and bolted away with the Victoria Cup.

But that is pacing at the highest levels these days. It is simply too taxing for one horse to win all the time, regardless of how good they are.

Lazarus paced a world record in the New Zealand Cup, a track record in the Victoria Cup and has broken 1:50 for the mile twice in a fortnight.

He is being asked to run times almost every start which were unthinkable just five years ago and his rivals are running them too, so it only takes a drop off in performance of a few percentage points for victory to be turned into defeat.

So the days of a Christian Cullen, Christopher Vance, Chokin or Elsu like domination at the highest level may be over, especially when pacing's six best races are spread across five different tracks from Christchurch to Perth.

Lazarus may continue on to the four-year-old features at Alexandra Park in April and May, although a trip to the Jewels in June may be too late in the season.

Smolda may have gone down on Saturday but could still emerge a winner out of the race as his overall record for the season could win him Australia Horse of the Year, courtesy of capturing the Inter Dominion, South Australia and Ballarat Cups as well as going within a nose of Mile glory on Sunday.

As for Lennytheshark, his win left trainer David Aiken shaking his head. "He shouldn't have been able to do that," said Aiken. "Horses don't do that. Not sit parked and win a Miracle Mile with a champion like Lazarus sitting on his back.

"He did all the work, they all had their shot at him in the home straight, he wouldn't lie down.

"When you have been in harness racing your whole life like I have, that is unbelievable.

"And I'd say that even if he wasn't my horse."

It meant just as much to driver Chris Alford, one of only three Australians to drive over 5000 winners.

"That is as good a win as I have been involved in," said Alford.

"He has always been a great horse but he sat parked and beat the best. This is my best win."

The remainder of the night belonged to his Kiwi superstars Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen though, as they won the NSW Oaks (Partyon), Ladyship Mile (Piccadilly Princess) and provided the trifecta in the NSW Derby won by Vincent.

- NZ Herald

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