Day At The Track

The Empress lives up to her reputation

10:00 AM 29 Sep 2018 NZST
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The Empress,harness racing
The Empress after winning at Winton
Photo Bruce Stewart

When a horse is having it's first start and is paying $2.10 to win, the expectations are understandably high and it imposes some pressure for both trainer and driver. However after she managed to navigate around the breaking Elegant Jewel at Winton yesterday, there were no doubts The Empress was going to live up to her reputation.

Driver Brent Barclay pushed her forward from the second line and had to go four wide into the first bend in his quest for the lead. On straightening to run down the back of the track the Art Major filly was in front and thats where she stayed, winning impressively. Barclay only had to run the reins over her rump for her to pull away and win by two and a quarter lengths.

"Like most horses she's probably better from behind. Being favourite and having her first start, Brent took the initative and took out any bad luck," said trainer Robin Swain

The Empress was bred in Australia but has a strong Southern breeding connection. She's out of the Washington VC mare Easton All Action which was owned by Brian Norman and won three of she nine starts for Graeme Anderson and Amber Hoffman in 2011. Easton All Action won another nine races in Australia and The Empress is her first foal.

"I think when the mare finished racing (in Australia) Brian actually tried to buy her back."  

The Express is owned by the Butterworth Racing Syndicate which normally buys New Zealand horses and sends them to other New Zealand stables or flys them over to Australia. However for The Express the trip went the other way. 

"Merv bought her at the sales and sent her over here. I broke her in and also had her as a two year old. She went up to Mark's (Mark Purdon) for a month and got a small injury. It was nothing major and she just needed a bit of time out. Merv has just left her with me for a while and we'll see what happens."  

Swain says she was always going to take time. 

"I had her running along for a bit as a two year old but she was such a big filly. When I picked her up at Diane Cournane's place as a yearling I thought she looked like a two year old."  

He says The Empress will have her next start in the first Ladyship Stakes Final at Gore in a fortnight. It's a $12,000 race over 1700 metres. 

"After Christmas I think she's got the potential to be right up there with those good fillies I've driven if she keeps improving. She's got a strong will to win and Brent said she got lost a bit in front and would be better coming from behind."

The win on The Empress was the first of three for Barclay who followed it up with back to back wins on Mighty Flying Art and King Cassidy.

 

Bruce Stewart

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