HARNESS racing trainer Grant Hodges has a knack for rejuvenating aged pacers and the latest to find form under his training regime is Yushchenko Leis that had been out of the winner’s circle for over a year.
Yushchenko Leis notched his first win in 15 months and 21 starts when he led all the way to take out the free-for-all over 2200 metres at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night.
It was an impressive effort as he was up against a to quality field that boasted recent Easter Cup winner Our Sir Jeckyl and other in-form performers Babyitsu and the winner’s stablemate Yakuza.
Yushchenko Leis was driven by Erin Hollaway who rated the seven-year-old superbly, saving him for a sizzling last half (800m) of 57.2 seconds.
He belied his starting price of $20 the way he staved off all comers over the final 400 metres to score by a metre from Our Sir Jeckyl with Yakuza 2-1/2 metres astern.
Yushchenko Leis is well travelled. The owners dispatched him to NSW two years ago where he won four races at Harold Park and a few minor placings over a period of almost two years.
This was his first win for Hodges at only his third start for the Bridport-based mentor.
Yushchenko Leis is owned and raced by his breeders Trevor and Marjorie Leis who have experienced a lot of success lately.
Yushchenko Leis was the second leg of a winning double for the owners who also bred Levina Leis that made it back-to-back wins when she came from behind to win the Betfair 3YO Stakes over 2200m.
Levina Leis was given the run of the race in the one-out-two-back position and when driver Gareth Rattray eased her out three-wide to stake their claim heading down the back stretch the filly hauled in the leader Iden Justasmyrk and then held out a determined Cardinal Tucker.
Levina Leis is prepared at Longford by top trainer Barrie Rattray.