ONE of harness racing’s underrated stars will be honoured at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.
Named after the multiple feature winning trotter of the mid 1990s, the Lenin Free-For-All has attracted a solid field, headed by outstanding mare, Queen Elida.
Racing in sensational form, Queen Elida completed a winning quartet before finishing second behind Ultimate Stride a fortnight ago.
Although the widest drawn of six runners, the Brent Lilley-trained daughter of Love You is a $1.55 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds.
Among her rivals again, Ultimate Stride is considered the biggest threat at $3.20 from gate four.
As for the honouree, a veteran of 107 starts, Lenin was trained by Ray Matthews and John Justice, who both enjoyed feature wins with the gelding.
Debuting for trainer Ray Matthews as a four-year-old, Lenin opened his account with a victory at Maryborough.
Successful at six of his first eight starts, with two placings also in the mix, Lenin then mixed his form before again finding his best.
Making a quick transition through the grades, Lenin announced his arrival at the top with a gripping triumph in the 1991 V L Dullard Cup at Moonee Valley.
The son of Noodlum then captured the E B Cochran Cup before being sent for a well-earned spell.
Returning with a pair of wins in late 1991, Lenin mixed his form again before stringing together six wins, including the Freestone Cup.
Transferred to the Justice stable, Lenin continued to compete against, and beat, the best Australasia had to offer, including another Dullard as well as a Cochran Cup win.
A triple Inter Dominion finalist, the squaregaiter’s best result in the time-honoured series was a third behind Night Allowance and David Moss at Alexandra Park in 1993.
After finishing towards the tail of the field during his four starts in early 1996, Lenin was retired with the record of 41 wins, 11 second, eight thirds and earnings of $282,259.
Lenin enjoyed his retirement as a member of the Pleasure Driving Club before passing away in April 2014 aged 28.
According to owner and then club President, Rob Johnson, Lenin continued his star status until the very end.
“I have driven hundreds of horses, but there has never been a character like him,” Johnson said at the time of Lenin’s death.
“He demanded your attention when you sat behind him and let you know he was there at all times.
“If you weren’t paying full attention, he’d build up speed on you and get ready to take over.
“Until the very end he still had so much of the zest that made him a champion at the races.
“When we got him we thought he was going to be a real handful, but it couldn’t be any further from the truth.”