Harley lives up to his name

Hurricane Harley (Stuart McCormick)

Hurricane Harley produced a scintillating final 800m to dominate Saturday night’s Allied Express Casey Classic, with his first Victorian victory in more than two years putting his name forward as a major player in next weekend’s Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup.

The star seven-year-old was only having his second start back for trainer Emma Stewart following a Western Australian campaign and showed he’s still got what it takes to compete at the elite level with a dashing display in the Group 2 feature at Melton.

After being unchallenged through the early stages from barrier one, Mark Pitt released the breaks in the last lap and the flashy bay reeled off closing quarters of 27.0 and 26.7 to record a winning mile rate of 1:54.1.

He had more than 3m to spare over A Gs White Socks, with Torrid Saint third.

“He felt amazing tonight. He felt like the old Harley again,” Pitt said.

“He’s had those couple of runs now, and if he’s lucky enough to get a run in the Hunter Cup, they’re going to know he’s there for sure.

“I see tonight he just blew up a little bit over the back, so he’s going to be better again for the run.”

The win was Hurricane Harley’s 25th in a 55-start career and his first in this state since December 2020.

He has now collected more than $600,000 in prizemoney.

The horse is one of 22 nominated for Saturday night’s Hunter Cup, with final acceptances taken for the Grand Circuit classic on Monday at 2pm.

The field will be revealed at thetrots.com.au on Monday afternoon before the barrier draw is broadcast live on Sky Racing on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, Bob Kuchenmeister was the toast of the industry on Saturday night after landing a special victory with his mare Leanne Leeann at Melton.

The 82-year-old trainer-driver partnered his squaregaiter to a narrow win in the Western Ford Trot – a second success at Victoria’s harness racing headquarters.

Kuchenmeister holds a rare place in history, with driving wins at the state’s premier tracks of The Showgrounds, Moonee Valley and Tabcorp Park at Melton.

“I don’t think there’s very many of us – I think we’re a very small number now and that’s just because of our age,” he said.

“37 I would have been when I won at The Showgrounds.”

Tim O’Connor