If anyone needed more convincing to chase their dreams at tomorrow’s Australian Premier Trotting Sale they could get no better advert than in the headliner at Tabcorp Park’s all-trotting card.
The ultimate opportunist, Big Jack Hammer, again showed his winning flair to capture a third straight Group 1 and become the sale’s greatest earner, with the $57,000 prize from tonight’s Hygain Australian Trotting Grand Prix boosting his stakes won to almost $265,000.
“Always been a nice horse,” said trainer David Aiken. “(Previous trainer) Geoffrey (Webster) won a Group 1 with him as a three-year-old. Geoff looked after him and I’m sort of reaping the benefits of that, he just seems to be getting better. He’s a nice horse, he’s good gaited and he’s an opportunist.”
He showed that again in tonight’s open trot which had its share of ebbs and flows, with many of the perceived favourites inconvenienced, making mistakes or short of their best.
Dance Craze galloped early to seemingly put paid to her hopes as Tough Monarch found the front and was joined with a lap remaining by Tornado Valley in search of a 10th straight win.
But this wouldn’t be Andy and Kate Gath’s all-conquering trotter’s day and his challenge faded at the final turn as Dance Craze re-emerged three-wide to run down Tough Monarch, looking for all the world a brilliant winner until Big Jack Hammer delivered his final kick.
A now trademark withering final burst would secure the third consecutive Group 1, rewarding devotees with a $25.60 starting price with the TAB.com.au. It brought a smile to the face of Josh Aiken, with the reinsman saluting in a welcome return to the family’s silks.
“It’s fantastic, it’s always good to come back to Melbourne,” Josh said. “I was just enjoying the night and to win is really special.
“Credit to Dad (David Aiken), Marika (Eriksson) and the team at home, I got here half-an-hour ago and they have been doing the work for the last few months. It’s a credit to them, his last three starts have been unbelievable.
“Once I was following Dance Craze down the back I thought if I can follow Jason (Lee) to the home straight I’m at least going to earn some money. Credit to the horse, he was in a position to win and he finished off. He had his chance and he took it.”
Josh has returned from a European sabbatical, having left Australia’s shores after out-driving his junior concession claim before returning to drive in Sydney for Shane and Lauren Tritton.
“Back in Melbourne now and I’m just going to try and do some driving for Dad on a few of the ones that we own ourselves and see what happens from there,” he told TrotsVision.