Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Finley's new star on trotting circuit

Finley-owned two year-old Eljaykay Phoenix claimed the Vicbred Super Series Group 1 Final on Friday night.

July 9, 2014 4:00am

Josh Aiken steers Eljaykay Phoenix over the line on Friday night.

Local harness racing followers have a new hero to cheer for with the emergence of two-year-old trotting star Eljaykay Phoenix.

The athletic son of trotting sire Sundon is raced by local butchers Ashley Haynes and Chris Shaw in partnership with friends Brian and Ted Payne.

The group celebrated its biggest win in the sport on Friday night when Eljaykay Phoenix won the Vicbred Super Series Group 1 Final for two year-old trotting colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park, Melton.

The owners have raced and bred horses for several years and the win on Friday night capped what has been a long journey from humble beginnings.

Eljaykay Phoenix has now won five of his six starts with his only defeat a narrow second at his debut run in early April.

Named after local identity Louis John Koschel (LJK), the horse has now amassed more than $77,000 in career earnings.

Friday night’s win was also a first for the horse’s driver, Josh Aiken.

The young pilot was having his first Group 1 race drive and showed nerves of steel during an exciting race.

Finding the lead after half a lap, a serious challenge was laid down by second favourite Illawong Armstrong as the runners reached the bell lap.

So much so that Eljaykay Phoenix relinquished the lead to the well-bred opponent.

Undeterred, Aiken steered the little gelding to the outside, rounding the home turn to race to the front and claim victory in the $60,000 feature race.

A flourish of the whip showed the excitement of the 21 year-old driver’s big win. The horse is trained by his father, David Aiken, at Avenel in central Victoria.

Eljaykay Phoenix, which started as a $1.30 favourite on Friday night, will have its next run in the time-honoured Redwood Classic on Sunday, July 20.

After that, a tilt at the rich Australasian Breeders Crown series will conclude what has already been an outstanding freshman season for Finley’s newest star.

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