Harness - News

Aussie superstar confirmed for Jewels

  • Wed, 02 May 2018
  • Garrick Knight
JIlliby Kung Fu will, all things being equal, be at Cambridge on June 2. Photo: Ashlea Brennan.

JIlliby Kung Fu will, all things being equal, be at Cambridge on June 2. Photo: Ashlea Brennan.

If everything goes to plan in the next month, an Australian superstar will be the headline act at the Cambridge Harness Jewels.

Connections of brilliant four-year-old pacer Jilliby Kung Fu have accepted an invitation to contest the $150,000 4YO Emerald on June 2.

The Four Starzzz Shark entire was last seen running second in February’s Miracle Mile at Menangle, beaten narrowly by Field Marshal in 1.46.9.

Prior to that he won the Chariots Of Fire against his own age group in 1.48.8 on the same track and the 4YO Bonanza at Melton in 1.51.9.

He’s trained in Victoria at Terang by Marg Lee, her son Jason his regular driver and likely to accompany the horse across the Tasman.

According to Jason Lee, something would have to go horribly wrong in the horse’s preparation for him not to be at Cambridge and he fully anticipates making the trip.

“The two main things were that the horse is going to be fit and well enough and that nothing here was going to suit him better at the time,” he said.

“If it was going to be too hard to go there and come back with the calendar for his main couple of targets here, then we probably wouldn’t be going.

“But it slots in nicely and he’s fit and working well at the moment so if it keeps continuing we will definitely be there.”

JIlliby Kung Fu will be an exciting addition to a competitive four-year-old ranks that includes A G’s White Socks, Eamon Maguire and Star Galleria, among others.

Lee calls himself a bit of a harness racing tragic that has seen plenty of the Jewels on TV over the years and he’s thrilled at the prospect of being able to take part.

“I’ve always had a strong interest in the day despite never having been as a spectator.

“I’ve enjoyed watching the day as a harness racing supporter and it’s always looked like a fantastic spectacle.”

As well as Jilliby Kung Fu, Harness Racing New Zealand also announced last night that the American owners of New South Wales Oaks and VictorianvOaks winner Shez All Rock have accepted an invite to the $150,000 3YO Diamond.

She has recently transferred to Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s stable ahead of the New Zealand Oaks at Addington and will transit north to Cambridge after that.

These two huge announcements, plus that of freakish trotter Wobelee, Ladyship Mile winner Carlas Pixel and 2016 Jewels winner Custodian previously mean this will be Australia’s biggest involvement in the day by a long, long way.

“How good would it be if they smash the clock at Cambridge and break the 1.50 barrier?”

HRNZ’s Racing Manager Darrin Williams has been tasked with the recruitment drive and, while he still has to tread cautiously a month out, he is over the moon at the progress made thus far.

“I am absolutely stoked to get the quality of horses accepting invites for this year. Every invite so far is a Group 1 winner, many multiple times.

“I guess as we talk to trainers and connections each year that investment grows our stocks for getting the best here. To secure a horse like Jilliby Kung Fu is the jewel in the crown.

“There are more to come, too, but locking him in is quite frankly bloody amazing. We get to see a horse placed in an incredible time behind Field Marshal in the Miracle Mile.

“How good would it be if they smash the clock at Cambridge and break the 1.50 barrier?”

Williams was hoping to have confirmed former Auckland three-year-old The Black Prince by this edition’s deadline but his Newcastle connections were unable to give a definitive answer.

The three-year-old smashed the clock at Menangle last Saturday night, running a 1.54.1 mile-rate over 2300 metres, a track record.