It was a popular district win in Saturday night’s $50 000 Group Two Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup with Avenel-trained Jaccka Clive upstaging his rivals in a courageous performance.Pictures: Julie Mercer Gold strike: Trainer David Aiken and owners Anne and Brendan James enjoy their Shepparton Gold Cup victory with Jaccka Clive. Crown in hand: Jaccka Clive and driver Greg Sugars return to scale after their brilliant cup win. Stepping out: I Can Doosit (inside) leads the field in the third heat of the Inter Dominion Trotters Championship with a lap to go before running away for an impressive win.
The David Aikentrained seven-year-old son of Tinted Cloud out-toughed his rivals in the 2690 m marathon to win automatic selection to the $425 000 Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Park, Melton, in two weeks.
Despite racing outside the leader for nearly a lap early in the race before being taken audaciously to the front with justmore than two laps to travel by reinsman Greg Sugars, Jaccka Clive was able to bravely fend off fellow Victorian Villagem and the New Zealander and favourite Choise Achiever in a stirring duel down the home stretch.
A $9.80 chance on the TAB, Jaccka Clive prevailed by a neck from Villagem ($3.60) and Choise Achiever ($3.30) with the Bathurst-trained Mega Alexander filling the fourth placing.
Despite doing more work than any of his rivals in the race, Jaccka Clive still peeled off blistering final sectionals of 28.4 and 27.5 to bury his rivals in his gutsy effort.
The win helped to compensate a little for last year’s cup when the Aiken-trained Karlsruhe lost the race in a thrilling finish to the Geoff Webster-trained Mister Swinger.
Aiken said after the race he regarded Shepparton as his home track and it was nice to be able to win the biggest race on the club’s calendar.
‘‘He really deserved it,’’ a naturally pleased Aiken said.
Aiken said Jaccka Clive always showed from a young horse he was an extra-smart performer, but a hind leg suspensory injury had sidelined the pacer for his fiveyear-old season.
‘‘He has really hit his best form this season and now he is just fulfilling the potential he has always shown,’’ Aiken said.
Aiken said he was not sure whether Jaccka Clive would contest the Ballarat Cup on Saturday night.
‘‘I will have to talk to the owners about that, but he will be going around in the Hunter Cup,’’ he said.
Sugars was in awe of the pacer’s performance in winning the cup.
‘‘He did all the work in the race and gave his heart and soul,’’ Sugars said.
‘‘It was just an amazing performance. He has just leapt at every challenge David has asked of him and gone ahead.’’