The Emma Stewart stable has the potential to dominate this Friday night’s colossal Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Semi-Final night at Tabcorp Park Melton.
Stewart has 10 runners engaged across the 12-race program, including numerous expected prepost favourites.
Headlining her chances are unbeaten two-year-old filly Lovelist ($1.60) in the 2YO fillies’ second semi-final and Group 1 star Guaranteed ($1.60) in the 4YO males’ first semi-final.
Since arriving on the scene with a win at Maryborough on April 7, Lovelist has won twice at Tabcorp Park Melton – including victory in the Group 2 Vicbred Home Grown Final – before a last-start 5m win at Maryborough in the Super Series 2YO Fillies second heat.
“She’s our best two-year-old filly,” Stewart declared on Wednesday.
“She’s done everything right. I’d expect her to get through on Friday night and then we hope she goes on to win the final.
“While we don’t know exactly how good she is yet, she’d have to be right up there with the best two-year-olds we’ve trained.”
Lovelist comes out of gate four on Friday in Race 10, with her main dangers expected to be highly rated David Miles-trained Diamond Castle (drawn 10) and Amanda Turnbull’s Missed By Red (gate five).
Harness Racing Victoria’s popular ownership program Raceapacer owns Diamond Castle, which will have an enthusiastic group cheering her on in Friday night’s race.
Stewart is confident four-year-old Guaranteed can win through to the Super Series Final but admitted to being concerned about the Chariots of Fire winner’s gate-one draw on Friday night.
“I can see us being buried away back on the pegs again,” she said.
“But as long as we get through to the final, that’s the main thing.”
Stewart believes Ginger Bliss will lead on Friday night before handing up to something else, which would shuffle Guaranteed three back on the markers.
However, if Ginger Bliss leads as expected and doesn’t hand up, Guaranteed should be able to hold its back and secure its shot at victory via the sprint lane.
Another scenario would be Ginger Bliss pings out early to lead clearly and something else – maybe Classy Guy or Boyz Torque – drops in behind the leader, shuffling Guaranteed back early.
Stewart said she would prefer Guaranteed to be off the markers and doing some work rather than being buried away on the inside, but added it was up to driver Gavin Lang to assess the situation on Friday night.
“Gavin’s got to weigh it up,” she said.
When asked about Guaranteed potentially starting near $1.60, Stewart replied: “That’s pretty short…”
Stewart’s three-year-old gelding Presidentialsecret ($6.50) could be her each-way value runner for the night, the trainer spruiking the horse as one “she really likes”.
“He does need a bit of luck because he’s not the strongest horse going around but I really like the way he’s working at home and if we can get into the final and then draw a nice gate, he’d be a good chance,” she said.
Stewart opens the marathon program with Goodtime Marjie ($3) in the 4YO mares’ first semi-final from gate six.
“She’s a really top-class mare but she can do a few things wrong,” the trainer said.
“It depends which Goodtime Marjie turns up.”
The daughter of Village Jasper has turned up more often than not though, winning seven of her 11 starts to date.
Stewart also has a likely favourite in Race 2, the first semi-final of the 2YO fillies’ division with Licinia drawn gate three.
“I like her. We’ve only had her for three starts for us and she’s won two of them. She can go forward and do some work so the gate looks ideal.”
Punters also look set to put their faith in yet another Stewart runner in Race 6, the 4YO mares’ second semi-final, with Our Femme Fatale drawn gate six.
“She’s the most underrated horse we’ve got, I think,” said Stewart.
“You always know what you’re going to get from her; she always tries her hardest. She’s a great mare.”
Our Femme Fatale sat in the death and out-toughed Earth Angel, which has drawn five on Friday night, last time out at Kilmore.
In the 3YO fillies’ first semi-final Stewart will put the polish on Berisari from gate two, with Nathan Jack to take the drive.
“If you’d said to me at the start of the year that she’d be one of our best fillies I’d have laughed,” Stewart said.
“But she’s going really, really well, and she’s a really good show on Friday night.
“Nathan drives her very well. She can go forward and do some work but she also has a sharp sprint on her, so I’m not fussed about tactics. I’ll leave it up to Nathan.”
Of Hes Kinky (gate 12 for the second semi-final of the 4YO boys) Stewart said: “He’s a good sit-and-sprint horse who is up in class. He’s a chance.”
And in the last race of the night Stewart will have two runners, Tuscan Breeze (John Caldow, gate two) and Bettors Package (Gavin Lang, gate 10).
“We were happy with Tuscan Breeze’s first start with us. She’ll keep improving.
“Bettors Package is a lovely filly. She’s only tiny but she tries her hardest and with a little bit of luck she can hopefully go very close.”
By Cody Winnell