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THE POWERHOUSE Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin barn has four runners in Australia’s biggest four-year-old race, the Chariots Of Fire. Demon Delight qualified with a slashing second to prepost favourite Self Assured in the Hondo Grattan and the stable then completed “owned” last night’s qualifier, the Paleface Adios. Stewart and Tonkin landed the trifecta with the brilliant Hurricane Harley leading throughout to win from the eye-catching stablemate Out To Play and Fourbigmen. Although Self Assured is a $1.75 pre-draw favourite, it promises to be a fantastic Chariots next Saturday night. The final field (pre-draw) is: Self Assured, Lochinvar Art, Hurricane Harley, Demon Delight, Out To Play, Max Delight, Culture King, Fourbigmen, Make Way, Rockin Marty, Catch A Moment (1st emerg), Supreme Dominator (2nd emerg). _____________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIA Derby winner Line Up is clearly the horse to beat in the NSW Derby despite having his colours lowered at Menangle last night. The former Kiwi was astronomical in defeat, doing a power of work to find the lead the copping plenty of midrace pressure in a blazing 1min53.4sec mile rate for the long 2300m trip. Stablemate Perfect Stride, who led for young driver Cam Hart then took a trial and had a much easier run, nabbed Line Up to win by a neck. They went the four splits of the last mile in 27.6, 29.4, 28.3 and 28.4sec. Although trainer Anthony Butt doesn’t think there is much between the pair, Line Up’s run was clearly the better of the two last night. Victoria Derby runner-up Governor Jujon was slightly disappointing in fourth spot after staying out of the early speed burn and making a midrace move to sit parked. And former Victorian Youaremy Sunshine, sensationally-backed into favouritism at his first run for Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy, went roughly at times and never looked comfortable before dropping out sharply from the 600m to finish last. _____________________________________________________________________________ STAR Kiwi filly Stylish Memphis suffered a shock defeat in the build-up to the NSW Oaks. Maybe she needed the hitout and the closing splits were superb, but $26 outsider Muscle Mach still sat outside Stylish Memphis and nabbed her on the wire to win by a nose. Stylish Memphis, the $1.35 favourite, led easily from the pole, seemed to settle quite well through a very cosy 59.3sec first half and dashed home in 53.3 and 26.1sec. Driver Tim Williams nursed her as long as he could down the straight and it looked like she was doing enough, but Muscle Mach snatched the win. Stylish Memphis now heads to the Oaks heats next Saturday night. _____________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal is right back to his best just in time for the great sprint race again this year. It’s been a tricky preparation with an aborted WA raid, but trainer Tim Butt’s decision to skip the Hunter Cup and stick to Menangle racing counting down to the Miracle Mile seems to have worked. My Field Marshal made it back-to-back Menangle wins when he overpowered the leader and favourite, Majordan, and staved-off an eye-catching Alta Orlando to win by a head. Alta Orlando’s effort to get so close, from second-last on the home bend, was huge, showing he’s also right on target. All Stars’ runner Chase Auckland was never a hope after going back to last from a wide draw, but there was plenty to like about the way he closed in the last 150m for a close fourth. It will now be interesting to see which Miracle Mile hopefuls head to Friday night’s $100,000 Group 1 Newcastle Mile or wait for the two qualifying sprints at Menangle eight days later. _____________________________________________________________________________ CRAIG Cross won the $50,000 Group 2 Sibelia Stakes, but just not with the mare punters hoped. Punters sent Cross’ much-improved mare Better Enforce out a $2 favourite despite a wide draw, but she drifted back and powered home late for an eye-catching third. Stablemate Hows The Memory grabbed the win after leading early, being shuffled to three pegs and getting inside runs in a 1min51.2sec mile. Kiwi raider Havtime did plenty of midrace work to find the lead and weakened late for sixth.   Adam Hamilton

It was cold and chilly last night at Lord's Raceway, Bendigo, but the form of the most feared harness racing partnership in the land, Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, was nothing short of incandescent. The meeting marked the start to the Vicbred Super Series for 2019 and the Ballarat-based pair showed utter domination, going home with a clean sweep. They won all seven of the two-year-old heats and finished with nine out of nine runners qualifying for the semis. The seven-wins tally fell one short of Stewart's best ever "night at the office", when in June last year at a metropolitan Melton meeting, she trained eight winners on the night - as well as six runner-ups and two third placings. Stewart and her long-time partner Clayton Tonkin last week passed the 200 mark for winners this season and make no secret they have a hard work ethic. Their incredible success is no doubt due in large part to the consistent workload poured into the huge team, the pair paying tribute to the dedication and commitment of their staff to ensure each horse is trained in the cart daily. Clayton's father Peter is an astute horseman, well known for his ability to pull off a good old-fashioned plunge, and a great trainer in his day with an incredible strike rate. At Bendigo, rising star Kima Frenning started the ball rolling in the opening event with an impressive win with Pandering (Courage Under Fire-Pandalay Bay (Artsplace) in the first heat for the boys. Leading New South Wales reinswoman Amanda Turnbull, again accumulating a host of frequent flyer points as she criss-crosses the country to compete, stole the limelight in the next two events. Turnbull scored a convincing win with Amelia Rose (Art Major-Bennies Daughter (Falcon Seelster) in the first of the fillies heats but was forced to earn her driving fee in the next. Piloting Treasure (Art Major-O Narutac Bella (Western Ideal), Turnbull was on the receiving end of some early interference, broke at the start and settled last. After getting balanced up, she slipped around three wide to sit outside the leader Realnspectacular (Blake Jones) approaching the bell lap. The two fancied runners raced head-and-head over the last 450 metres with Treasure, going for a hat-trick, doing best over the concluding stages. Crack freelance reinsman Greg Sugars was given an armchair ride on Mirragon (Art Major-The Waratah (Mach Three) in the colts and geldings second heat. After summing up the situation in a flash, Sugars took off three wide early to sit parked. The heavily backed son of Art Major, an eye-catching type, did all the work and then strode away when Sugars gave him an inch of rein. The final two splits were identical in 27.8 apiece. Most impressive! Champion Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford, who had been cooling his heels watching the action unfold from the sidelines, made the most of his available chances with consecutive wins in races six and seven. He piloted $2.50 favorite Jemstone (Bettors Delight-Hawaiian Hottie (American Ideal) for Stewart and Tonkin in the third heat for the fillies, and then got the chocolates nicely in the boys' third heat with Beale Street (Art Major-Shezacullen (Christian Cullen). Jemstone Beale Street In the fourth and final heat for the fillies, punters put their faith in Kima Frenning aboard another Stewart-Tonkin runner in Artemede, sent out at $1.70 favorite. Frenning did her best with a cushy lead time, and then a slow speed early but the tempo picked up when Greg Sugars allowed stablemate Maajida to stride up outside. It was Sugars who got the chocolates, Maajida (Somebeachsomewhere-Arterial Way (Art Major) too strong, running to the line to score by a neck. Final Peace (David Murphy), who was behind the leader all the way, tried valiantly to upset the party with a fast-finishing burst along the sprint lane, ahead of Artemede hanging on for third. The VicBred Super Series mission marked the end of an incredible 10 days for the team, winning no fewer than 17 races, including the $100,000 Allwood 2YO at Globe Derby Park (with Pandering), and the $25,000 NSW Breeders Crown semi final at Menangle (with Be Happy Mach). Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura               P 0498 490 672   E   W      

IN the end it was sheer strength of numbers which won a war of attrition for champion trainer Emma Stewart in last night’s $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific (2760m) at Melton. Stewart had four runners Victoria’s biggest mares’ race and it was the second-outsider of them - $52.40 shot Pistol Abbey – who stormed home for an easy win after an epic race. Stablemate Tell Me Tales was sensationally-backed from $2.60 to $1.80 favourite to give Chris Alford his 100th Group 1 win, but spent too much petrol in a blazing move around the field to find the lead midrace. She battled on well fourth. Mick Stanley’s classy mare Soho Burning Love sustained a long run and looked the winner on the home bend before driver David Moran moved Pistol Abbey into clear air and the four-year-old blasted home in a 1min56.1sec mile rate. Soho Burning Love ($51.20) was monstrous in second spot with another outsider Makes Every Scents ($46.30) grabbed third spot for a blowout trifecta. Kiwi mare Our Step Up had little luck at crucial times back along the inside and finished sixth. The other Melton Group 1 was the $50,000 Australasian Trotting Championship won by the country’s most improved trotter, Savannah Jay Jay in a thrilling three-way finish. Trainer Stan Cameron has rejuvenated the eight-year-old gelding who led throughout and staved-off class mare Red Hot Tooth by a half neck with another neck away to McLovin in third spot. It was also great to see Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile placegetter Poster Boy make a winning return, albeit closer than most expected, at Melton. Emma Stewart’s star led and just did enough to beat a gallant and flying Rishi by a half-neck in a 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2240m. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ NO wonder the connections of Mirragon were gutted when a gallop cost him qualifying for the recent Australian Gold final. Emma Stewart’s freshman colt would have a been a major player in the final – won by Jilliby Nitro – judging by his powerhouse win a Home Grown Classic heat at Ballarat last Thursday night. Despite sitting outside highly-rated stablemate Pandering, who dictated the terms, Mirragon knuckled down late and snared a 1.4m win in a 1min56.3sec mile rate for 1710m. It was more the closing splits and the way he did which impressed. Mirragon closed in 56 flat and 27.1sec. Stewart almost snared both heats when first-starter Beale Street did all the work and failed by just a half-head to overpower the leader, Withouttheuh in a 1min56sec mile rate. Clearly Stewart has yet another fantastic juvenile crop he best-performed youngster Be Happy Mach ran a massive third in the Australian Gold final at Albion Park after doing the work outside winner, Jilliby Nitro. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER star Kiwi youngster King Of Swing continued his WA resurgence with a dazzling Gloucester Park win last night (Saturday). The Gary Hall Sr-trained four-year-old led throughout and thrashed a handy field by 23m in a slick 1min56.3sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip. He ripped home in 54.7 and 26.8sec. “It’s great to see him finishing off his races so well,” Hall Sr said. “He’s got so much ability, but he has been able to lead to win his past couple. The next step is seeing what he can do in the field or outside them, but we’re thrilled with how he’s going right now.” The Gloucester Park feature was the $50,000 Pearl 3YO Classic won by underrated trainer-driver Aldo Cortopassi and his gelding Theo Aviator in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER Ben Yole keeps smashing records in Tasmania. By far the state’s most dominant trainer, Yole created history by becoming the first trainer in the state to win 125 races in a season. It bettered his own record of 124. Yole reached the mark with four wins from the eight races at Launceston last Friday night. It was former Lance Justice pacer, 10-year-old Jeans Mattjesty, who made it 125 wins when he scored easily in the final event. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ EVERGREEN pacer Maximan returned to winning form in the free-for-all at Menangle last night. Shane and Lauren Tritton’s 10-year-old overpowered his rivals in a slick 1min50.9sec mile with young driver Lachie Manzelmann in the sulky. Lauren Tritton drove stablemate and favourite Franco Nelson, who didn’t fire at his return from a spell and finished a distant eighth. Speedy mare Eye See Diamonds led throughout in a 1min52.9sec mile to win the Menangle feature, the Group 3 Miss Brazilian Stakes for mares. Another win of note came from former Great Southern Star winner Glenferrie Typhoon, who proved a class above his rivals for new trainer Roy Roots Jr and driver Lauren Tritton. Glenferrie Typhoon left Andy Gath for a stint in WA and was then sold to clients of Roots Jr. He’s won two of his five NSW runs and is now a nine-year-old. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ NORTHVIEW Hustler is the latest of the Lincoln Farms pacers to enjoy the move from NZ to Queensland. The talented five-year-old turned heads with a winning debut for Alistair and Hayden Barnes in the feature race at Albion Park last night. Northview Hustler worked to the front from the standing start and always looked in control before winning well in a fast 1min57.3sec mile rate for the long 2647m trip in The Flashing Red Discretionary. It was a sign he could be a factor in the Queensland Winter Carnival features in July. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ EMMA Stewart and Amanda Turnbull left their mark on one of South Australia’s biggest meetings at Port Pirie  last night. Turnbull trained and drove Catch A Moment to the easiest wins in the Group 2 3YO colts and geldings Southern Cross final. She then drove two-year-old filly Treasure to win an easy win in her final for Stewart. Stewart also Southern Cross finals for two-year-old colts and geldings with locally-owned One Highway Tohell. Local Port Pirie trainer Dale Afford had a night to remember, winning the 3YO fillies’ final with Shesashark and one of the consolations with Hesashark.   Adam Hamilton

Justin Baker has quickly become attached to the Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stable. The 42-year-old has enjoyed plenty of success since joining the ownership ranks in recent times and is hoping one of his newest acquisitions can debut in winning fashion this Friday night at Ballarat. The well-bred Pandering, who is a half-brother to $500,000-winning US pacer Panmunjom, heads to the races with some good trial form under his belt. Pandering, who will be driven by Chris Alford in the Cervus Sunshine 2YO Pace (1710m), is being targeted at the Group 1 Allwood Stud SA Sale Classic Final. "Really the aim was to buy a horse to support the sale and then hopefully try and get a runner in the Allwood race in June," Baker said. "That Adelaide race is just a really good one in terms of where it sits in the program." While there are Group 1 aspirations for the son of Courage Under Fire, Baker isn't going over the top with his expectations. "He's a pretty natural two-year-old. He just does everything right," Baker said. "We think he's going to be a nice two-year-old. I'm not sure where he sits in the pecking order down there (at the Cardigan stables) and that's obviously an Emma and Clayton thing. I generally don't ask them, but I think he's going to make a nice two-year-old. "He's just really well gaited. I think doing it all right at this stage as a two-year-old is a big part of it, so I reckon he'll go pretty well." Baker's first real taste of success came with the ultra-talented The Storm Inside. That horse collected the Group 1 Australian Pacing Gold Final before being crowned the 2YO Pacing Colts/Geldings Horse of the Year in 2016. "It has really gone from there," Baker said. "I get along really well with (Emma and Clayton), I love spending time with them and their records speak for themselves. "We've probably bought 15 or 20 horses with them in the last three or four years." Surely the most exciting of those is gifted trotter Alpha Male, who is already a dual winner at the elite level and is being set for the IRT Harness Jewels in New Zealand later this year. "It's a heck of a lot of fun with those guys and spending time with them outside of the races is also really good fun," Baker said. "They're great mates of mine and they make it all the more worthwhile from our perspective." Baker has never achieved a winning double on the same program, but looks a chance of securing a treble at Friday night's meeting. He also has ownership of Stewart-trained pacers Concealment and Phoenix Prince, which look well placed on their home track.   Tim O'Connor for Trots Media

The aptly named Alpha Male put it all together on the big stage in such a jaw-dropping demolition job that trots long-timers are reaching deep into their memory banks to find a comparison. “He’s a very exciting horse,” said bookmaker Tom Hogan, partner of Alpha Male part-owner Sue Murray. “Except for Maoris Idol when he was younger - around three-year-old, four-year-old – I think he’s the best young (trotter) I’ve seen since. We’ve had Noopy Kiosk, many a good horse over the years, even Blitzthemcalder not so long ago, but this is an outstanding horse and I think he will go all the way to the top. “He’s just starting off and we’ll just follow his career over the next 18 months and I think he’ll be running in the big races.” Gradually blossoming as the first trotter in Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s stable, Alpha Male has oozed brilliance despite putting the odd foot wrong since being snapped up for $48,000 at the 2017 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale. Lot 56 was the second most expensive purchase at the sale, which will have its 2019 staging at Inglis Complex from 11am tomorrow, but with tonight’s win in the $60,000 Alan Mance Holden Need For Speed Prince Final he's already eclipsed his sale price in only his fifth start. Stuart McCormick photo The Majestic Son three-year-old kept his cool while many others lost stride, continually working forward from his second-row draw before finding the front and dominating proceedings to win by 34m in 1:56.9, only 0.3 of a second outside Blitzthemcalder’s age trotting track record. “He was really good this one, he’s still a baby racing wise but he has all the ability under the sun,” said reinsman Chris Alford. “He did a good job, first the two (The Penny Drops) galloped in front of him and he had to check, then the three (Archleo), then the four (Montpellier), so he did a bit of checking early and when he saw daylight coming into the first turn he said 'race on' and he was off. “He still had a lot in reserve. I just talked to him to keep him concentrating in the last 400, but he still had plenty left.” “He’s pretty special,” Tonkin said. “Every time he steps out everyone sees what ability he’s got. It’s a real excitement for the (owners), their first (trotter) and for him to have so much ability is a great thrill.” For details on tomorrow's Australasian Premier Trotting sale head to   Michael Howard for Trots Media

APG Australian Premier Trotting Sale graduate Alpha Male is poised to provide trainer Emma Stewart with her second Group One for squaregaiters. Chasing just her fourth win with a trotter, Stewart is odds-on to capture the Need For Speed Prince Final. Successful with Manwarra Dollamaka more than a decade ago, Stewart’s second win came with Alpha Male in the Group One Home Grown Classic last December. “I won a race at Geelong with Manwarra Dollamaka in 2005, which was the only winner I’d had with a trotter before Alpha Male,” Stewart said. “That said, trotters haven’t been a big part of the stable.” Sent for a spell following this top shelf victory, Alpha Male returned to secure a Need For Speed Prince heat in Maryborough last week. Despite drawing the back row in Saturday night’s $60,000 Final at Tabcorp Park Melton, the three-year-old son of Majestic Son is rated as a $1.40 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds. “He did very well in his heat and will benefit from the run,” Stewart said. “His work has improved and he’s in pretty good shape “The draw makes it tough, but he is going well enough to overcome it.” Although Montpellier is regarded as the biggest threat as the $5.50 second elect from barrier four, Stewart considers Archleo has a major danger. Runner-up to Alpha Male in the qualifier, Archleo is listed at $13 from gate three. “I liked Archleo’s run in the heat and think he will be right in the finish on that effort,” Stewart said. Alpha Male was purchased from 2017 the APG Premier Trotting Sale, with this year’s edition being conducted on Sunday. “We purchased Alpha Male at the Trotting Sale as he looked like a nice type and has certainly turned out that way so far,” Stewart said. “Everything he has done suggests he can develop into a pretty handy trotter.” APG Media

The adrenaline kicked in, the hand kept going up and Tom Hogan walked away the much-coveted sale topper, whose talented family inspired the late bidding frenzy. The hammer dropped at $130,000 on lot 229 at Sunday’s Australian Pacing Gold Melbourne sale, when 250 lots were offered and sales averaged $32,713, up 16 per cent on the 2018 staging. It was a full-brother to brilliant Victorian filly Petacular who prompted the bidding war, the Durham Park bred Somebeachsomewhere colt catching the eye of Hogan and Clayton Tonkin, partner of trainer Emma Stewart. “Breeding was the main thing,” Hogan said. “Clayton and I had look at him, walked him up many times with his farrier and vet, and then went back and had another look at him. They couldn’t fault him. “His breeding, he has great conformation, he’s a yearling but you could have passed him off as a two-year-old. He was the clear pick of the sale. Clayton had no hesitation in recommending him.” His full-sister, Petacular, sadly had to be euthanised in November 2017 after breaking a cannon bone while spelling, prematurely ending a career that yielded 19 wins and $454,083 in stakes for trainer-driver Michael Stanley. “Petacular and Miss Graceland had some battles but she was number one,” Hogan said. “If she didn’t break down she would still be number one. It’s unfortunate she is gone early, she was going to be a household name. “We went overboard (at the sale), but that can happen when you are waiting two and a half hours. The adrenalin gets you going. I’m hoping for a big two-year-old season, because the family and friends are not going to be happy with me if I’m wrong.” His partner, Sue Murray, will hold 20 per cent of the horse while her brothers-in-law and their three sons will also grab a slice, the first time the latter trio have ventured into trots ownership. Hogan said former Bulldogs footballer Mark Hunter, Maori Time’s owner Fred Crews, Darryl Edwards, Russell Condie and John Wilkins would also be among those sharing in the colt’s career. “I’ve been going for the last 10 or 12 years and buying horses at the APG for family and friends and fitting them in and they all get a kick out of it,” Hogan said. “I’m really happy. All of the owners are excited, in footy terms they’ve walked away with a number one draft pick.” For a more modest $35,000 Hogan also snapped up a Bettors Delight colt by The Waratah, having the previous year brought his half-brother, who was sired by Art Major. “His brother will trial in three weeks and he goes all right,” Hogan said. “He’s the pick of the two two-year-olds we bought last year.” Durham Park also delivered the sales topping filly courtesy of an Art Major yearling out of dam Hawiian Hottie, a full-sister to gun two-year-old Kualoa ($176,760), who fetched $120,000. They stole the headlines but there were many dreams pursued on Sunday as owners chased the next big thing only a day after watching Tiger Tara claim the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. A Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Dreams Of Heaven drew $95,000, with his new owners hoping a similar career to full-brother Menin Gate, winner of $574,758. David Moran and Laura Crossland’s in-form stable was prolific purchasing four, including a $70,000 Captaintreacherous colt out of Always Target, a half-sister to Milly Perez, and a $50,000 Rock N Roll Heaven colt out of Timely Loch. The latter is a half-sister to Just Irish Lock, the dam of Rock N Roll Heaven filly Shez All Rock ($426,350), who had a breathtaking three-year-old season. 2016-17 Victorian VHRSC owner of the year Danny Zavitsanos swelled his stable with two purchases, including snapping up a Durham Park filly for $40,000. She is by American Ideal out of Camluck dam Magic Z Tam, a half-brother to Tam Major ($125,500). He also topped the bidding at $50,000 for a two-year-old by Somebeachsomewhere, who was the second foal out of Repelem, a half-sister to three-year-old Revolt. Fellow owner Kevin Riseley has enjoyed plenty of good horses and was drawn to Alabar’s Bettors Delight filly, who he purchased for $30,000. She is the second foal out of lightly raced Maid For You Lombo, a Sportswriter mare who’s dam was none other than Tailamade Lombo, winner of $1.3 million The Go Racing Syndicate, which has the likes of Cant Refuse, Hectorjayjay and King Of Swing among its number, put the hand up for a Rock N Roll Heaven filly whose dam, Manellira, is out of Amarillen. The latter’s foals include Nostra Beach ($236,080), Miss Graceland ($224,458), Villagem ($626,585) and Pixel Perfect. While Pixel Perfect was unraced, all five of her foals produced six-figure stakes including Soho Tribecca ($1,103,374) and Carlas Pixel ($475,128). Justin Baker was again prolific at the sales, with his purchases including $80,000 for a Somebeachsomewhere filly out of Perfect Life. Part of Peter Gleeson and Bruce and Craig Cameron’s lines, the filly was a half-sister to two-time Southern Cross Series winner That’s Perfect. The dam, Perfect Life, is a half to Beauty Secret ($425,921) and Major Secret ($464,872). Barker also paid $75,000 for an American Ideal colt out of Smouldering Desire, with the dam a half-sister to Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup winner Smolda. Also prominent were New South Wales based trainers, with Tim Butt, Rickie Alchin, John McCarthy, Blake Fitzpatrick and James Rattray each snapping up lots sired by Captaintreacherous among their purchases. Rhiannon Park mare Slip Slop Slap produced reigning Victorian Horse of the Year Jilliby Kung Fu ($526,710) in 2012 and so her Captaintreacherous colt attracted $70,000. A key juvenile rival of Jilliby Kung Fu was Our Little General whose half-sister, Someone To Love, had A Rockndoll Dance colt sell for $44,000. Florida-based Victorian trots owner Marc Hanover and Gordon Banks purchased lots 130 ($41,000) and 135 ($78,000), the latter a Captaintreacherous colt out of The Baggy Green, a winner of $108,700 in race stakes, whose dam was multiple Breeders Crown winner Lady Waratah. The Kiwis were also prevalent. Mark Purdon snapped up a Bettors Delight colt, out of Arivee, for $45,000 and an Art Major filly, out of Almihata, for $25,000. And Cran Dalgety spent $60,000 on a Bettors Delight colt, out of Breeze On Bronski, and $70,000 on a Bettors Delight filly out of Glenferrie Diva, who is a half-sister to Foreclosure ($807,746).   Michael Howard for Trots Media

AUSTRALIAN Pacing Gold purchases are poised to dominate tomorrow night’s Caduceus Club Cup. Not only are APG stock well represented in numbers, they also dominate betting markets thanks to some stellar form. Six of the nine runners in the $30,000 are APG graduates. Winner of his three starts, Demon Delight will be looking to maintain his perfect record for owners Russell and Pam Hockham. Although drawn the outside of the front row, the Emma Stewart-trained colt is a $1.45 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds. “I’ve got a very big opinion of him,” Stewart said. “He’s only had three starts and is still on the way up, but he’s as good as any of the three-year-olds in the stable!” Demon Delight is followed closely in the market by Soho Thunderstruck, with the son of Art Major fresh from a first-up win at Maryborough last week. Prepared by Michael Stanley, Soho Thunderstruck is expected to be pushed forward in search of the lead from barrier two – the same draw as his Maryborough success. A stablemate of Soho Thunderstruck, Watch List – also a recent first-up winner – will follow his training partner through from the second row. Despite boasting an impressive record of four wins and two placings from six starts, Hudsen is at the juicy odds of $26 from barrier five. Arggghhh from the pole and Zoliver from gate three round out the APG ‘crew’. APG Media

THE hopes of a “local” win in the upcoming Melbourne Inter Dominion gained more momentum with sparkling wins by San Carlo and Wrappers Delight this week. San Carlo is into $7 equal second favourite for the final with Let It Ride and behind only Tiger Tara ($5) on the Aussie TAB. Wrappers Delight is right in the mix at $11. San Carlo won a heat of last year’s Perth Inter Dominion final before drawing poorly and not being a factor in the final, but he’s clearly a better and more complete racehorse now. That was underlined when he crushed a small field, which included the tough and in-form In The Boss, in slick times in last Thursday’s Yarra Valley Cup. He’s three wins from as many starts this campaign and has won 24 of his 36 career runs. At Yarra Valley he did all the work, but powered clear to win by 4.8m without being extended by driver and co-trainer Bec Bartley in a 1min56.8sec mile rate for the long 2650m. “We’re very happy with the way he’s come back. He feels terrific,” Bartley said. San Carlo will have one more run before the first round of Inter Dominion heats at Melton on December 1. That will be in either the Popular Alm free-for-all at Melton next weekend or the Geelong Cup a week later. Wrappers Delight continued his rapid rise with an arrogant win in the $75,000 Group 2 4&5YO Championship at Melton last night. It followed a booming second to Shadow Sax from a back row draw in the Smoken Up Sprint. Last night driver Kima Frenning punched through from the back row, kept surging forward in a very slick 42.5sec lead time to find the front and never looked in danger. Wrappers Delight raced away to win by almost eight metres over an eye-catching Diamond N Cash in a sharp 1min54.4sec mile rate for 2240m. __________________________________________________________________________________ THE Rando family’s hopes of having two runners in the Inter Dominion trotting series looks a light brighter after last night. First came the impressive win of the rejuvenated veteran mare Rompers Monarchy in the Group 3 La Coocaracha Mares’ free-for-all at Melton. The Rando clan specifically sent her south to try and impress and climb the rankings for the Inter Dominion and she delivered. The Kiwi-bred nine-year-old led throughout in a 1min58.1sec mile rate and zipped home in 57.1 and 28.2sec to win easily over the classy Red Hot Tooth, who sat parked. Hot favourite Dance Craze ruined her chances by galloping at the start. Up at Menangle, the Randos won the trot with Kowhai Monarch in a 1min59.6sec mile rate for 2300m. __________________________________________________________________________________ WE are continually given reasons to marvel at the powerhouse Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin training team. And one-time buzz mare Delight Me gave us yet another reason with a spectacular return from more 15 months on the sidelines to win at Melton last night. It was no “soft” return either. They picked the Group 3 Cinderella Stakes for her return and had to content with reigning Ladyship Mile champ Carlas Pixel. But Delight Me worked to the front, kept bowling along and made it a one-act affair, cruising home with plenty left in the tank by 4.1m. Her 1min52.3sec mile rate was just 1.6sec outside Cruz Bromac’s Melton track record. “We’ve always thought the world of her, but she’s had a few setbacks along the way,” Emma Stewart said. “She’s been really pleasing us at home and it’s such a thrill to see her go back to the races and win like that.” Make no mistake, Delight Me has the potential to be Australia’s best mare is she stays sound. __________________________________________________________________________________ WHAT a lovely touch at Bendigo last Friday night where they ran a “veteran” drivers’ race won by the legendary Brian Gath. How fitting it was Gath, who lives in Bendigo, led and held off Lance Justice and Noel Shinn to win. Others in the race were: Geoff Webster, Jim O’Sullivan, Glenn Conroy, Ginger Gleeson, David Jack and Mark Hayes. __________________________________________________________________________________ TEAM Tritton’s two Inter Dominion players, Franco Nelson and My Alpha Rock, won’t race again before the opening round of heats at Melton on December 1. Shane Tritton said the emerging My Alpha Rock was scratched from Menangle last night after a minor hiccup, but would primed for the Inter Dominion. “We just had to treat him so, like Franco Nelson, we’ll take him fresh into the Inter Dom,” he said. “We think they’ll both be very competitive with luck in the draws.” Tritton said Gotta Go Ya Hu would bypass the series and be saved for a quest to make the Miracle Mile field. “The Victoria Cup run showed he wasn’t as mature as the other two, so we’ll keep him to races up here and aim for the Miracle Mile,” he said. “We are considering paying the late entry for Maximan because he’s going so well, but it’s tricky because we’re not sure where they will rank him and you lose the $20,000 late entry fee if you don’t make the cut. We’ve got until November 19 to make the late payment.” __________________________________________________________________________________ CHAMPION driver Luke McCarthy is starting to work out the All Stars former classy pacer Cash N Flow. “I think you’ve got drive him quite aggressively and put him into the race,” he said before Cash N Flow won impressively at Menangle last night. “He won really well at Melton when I went to the breeze then I was disappointed with him when we sat him up last week, so I wanted get serious at the start this time,” McCarthy said. Cash N Flow led and McCarthy increased the tempo from the 1200m with a 28.7sec split then zipped home in 54.4 and 26.6sec to win easily in a 1min56.4sec mile rate for 2300m. “He was a nice horse in NZ and we’ve got a good opinion of him. He’s going to have some fun in the free-for-alls here if he keeps running up to this sort of form,” McCarthy said. McCarthy teamed with trainer Craig Cross for a double on the night after talented young mare Darkershadeofpale won the forth event in a slick 1min52.8sec mile. __________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER Gary Hall Sr thinks he has a Golden Nugget “smoky” in the Kiwi-bred Ideal Liner. The son of American Ideal went to the races for the first time at Gloucester Park last Wednesday and turned plenty of heads, overcoming a very tough run to win in a 1min56.3sec mile rate for 2130m. “Not many horses can do that at their first start,” Hall Sr told Gloucester Park TV. __________________________________________________________________________________ IT’S great to see one-time “whiz kid” Mark Reed back and driving winners at Gloucester Park. Reed, son of prominent WA trainer Mike Reed, was a megastar young driver before losing his way and having time out of the sport. But he’s back and showed he’s still got it with a drive of real poise to win the feature race, the $30,000 Group 3 York Cup, aboard family horse Maczaffair last Friday night. “It’s good to be here tonight,” Reed said. “I got really crook last week and had some time in hospital, but I bounced-back well and to come here and win for the team with this mare is fantastic.” Maczaffair finished too strong for a very gallant Eden Franco, who sat parked in a slick 1min55.1sec mile rate for 2130m. Trainer-driver Kyle Harper also enjoyed a big night with a double on Thereugo and Ace Bromac. Adam Hamilton

Finding a horse with the ability to score five wins on the trot is like finding a needle in a lucerne bale, so it's no surprise it took Russell Maisner four decades and just as many generations of breeding to find one in Abridged.  Maisner, whose first taste of the trots was attending the Showgrounds as a 10-year-old in the 1970s, will be at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night watching the unbeaten four-year-old shoot for win number six in the 1720m Fixwell Smash Repairs Pace.  But the story behind this promising pacer is anything but abridged. It all started in the early 1990s; Maisner was driving in races – his main passion – for about a decade while forging a corporate career to pay the bills. Along came Lady Muck, a Muckalee Strike mare who won six races from 13 starts for Brian Hancock in 1990/91. “(She was) the first horse we bought,” he said. “There were a couple of friends (in on her, but) we dissolved the partnership (and) I kept her.” Maisner bred Laconic, a filly out of star sire What’s Next. He raced her 21 times with wife Karen Dunwoodie for nine wins, including winning the 2001 Australian Pacing Gold three-year-old fillies’ final with good friend Darren Hancock aboard. He said Laconic, who was trained by Peter and Kerryn Manning, was the fastest horse he had owned.  “She just had blinding speed, brilliant gate speed and as long as you didn’t look at her from the knees down she was a beautiful horse,” he said. “She won (the APG final) with bone chips in both her knees, so we never saw the best of her.” Laconic was sent to the breeding barn and it didn’t take long for her to excel. Her first foal, by US sire Panorama, was Abbreviated – the dam of Abridged. He brought good friend, Sydneysider John Chase, on board. “John had been in the thoroughbreds and had a horse with Gai Waterhouse but didn’t really enjoy the experience of a syndicate,” he said. “So we went halves and John put his wife in and I put my wife in (as co-owners) and he has been my partner now for 14 years.” Abbreviated, also trained at Great Western, won eight races – including one with Maisner on board – between 2006 and 2008 until injury issues again took their toll. But Abbreviated would shine as a broodmare, with her first three starters – the last Abridged – all winning at least four races. The fourth, three-year-old Brevity, is also looking promising. The son of late, brilliant Alabar stallion Mach Three, Abridged won those races faster than any horse Maisner had owned or driven. “We know he will get beaten as it gets harder. I don’t know where we will end up, you harbour dreams (of winning top-flight races) deep down in your soul,” he said. “But it is hope and so you just go ‘we will just enjoy the wins as they come’. We saviour every win; we don’t take anything for granted.” Maisner doesn’t take his love for driving for granted either: He has driven in almost 100 races since 1980, winning six of them. He is so passionate about sitting in the sulky he makes almost weekly 300km round trips from his Hawthorn home to Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s Smythes Creek stables for the privilege. He said he loved the professionalism of Stewart, who along with regular driver Chris Alford departed Sunday night’s Gordon Rothacker Medal celebration with a suitcase of trophies.  “The reason why I drive the distances I do to go there is just because I love the way they train, I love their approach to the horses,” he said. The regular trips also give him a chance to see the treasure chest of quality four-year-olds at Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s stables, the likes of Poster Boy, Ride High and Konan to name a few. “I know we think reasonably well of Abridged, but I drive these horses and it is like, ‘err, I don’t know if we want to meet any of these’,” he said. “You look at them, there’s probably about six or seven of them on the list. It is very intimidating.” Regardless of what the future holds, Maisner is always looking forward with hope – and with good reason. Abbreviated is one a handful broodmares booked in to be served with Mach Three’s final reserves of frozen sperm. All going well, a full brother to Abridged is on the way.   Shaun Campbell for Trots Media

“HE’S as good as any of the three-year-olds in the stable!” That’s the high praise from trainer Emma Stewart when discussing unbeaten Australian Pacing Gold purchase Demon Delight. Especially considering her team includes Group One winners and fellow APG graduates Hurricane Harley and Centenario, which was named 2017/18 Victorian Two-Year-Old of the Year just moments ago. But with an average winning margin of 11 metres, it’s hard to argue with Stewart’s huge wrap. “I’ve got a very big opinion of him,” Stewart said. “He’s only had three starts and is still on the way up, but he’s as good as any of the three-year-olds in the stable! “We are definitely looking at races such as the Victoria Derby with him.” Demon Delight maintained his perfect record with a commanding triumph at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. With Chris Alford holding the reins, the son of Bettors Delight began quickly to lead from the pole as Im Sir Blake worked on his outside. Striding clear around the final bend, Demon Delight was untouched to score by 15-and-a-half metres from Prosecco Boy, with Im Sir Blake six metres away third in a slick 1:52.7 over 1720 metres. “After leading he was never going to be run down,” Stewart said. “His ran a quick time without being tested, which shows how much upside there is to him.” APG Media

YOU can rule-out the Victoria Cup and the Inter Dominion is very much touch-and-go with sidelined superstar Hectorjayjay. It’s not that anything has gone wrong, more the rehabilitation process new trainer Matt Craven is putting him through. “It will be a very fine line for the Inter Dominion. Any little setback and it will be off the cards, I’d say,” Craven said. “I’d say at the start of November I’d know either way for sure. “Ultimately there’s no point pushing him too for the Inter unless we’re sure he’ll be ready. There are lots of good races after Christmas. “He’s been jogging well and doing his beach work. He’d got another three weeks or so of that before we’d step him up.” Hectorjayjay has raced just once since his barnstorming Group 1 Blacks A Fake win at Albion Park on July 15, last year. That one run was his comeback win for Gavin Lang at Kilmore on June 30, this year when he was found to have sustained another injury soon after. ________________________________________________________________________________ AWFUL news late last week with an injury to one of Australia’s most exciting pacers The Storm Inside. It’s the second major injury setback for the five-year-old, who boasts 11 wins and a second from just 12 starts. Trainer Emma Stewart confirmed The Storm Inside had suffered a fractured hind leg and would be sidelined for four to six months. The son of Rocknroll Hanover had surgery last Sunday and Stewart said all signs indicated it had been successful. The Storm Inside burst onto the scene winning all six starts as a juvenile, including the Australian Gold final. He posted 11 successive wins before being beaten for the first time, but smashing the clock in the process, when second to Wrappers Delight in the Breeders Crown 4YO final at his latest run on August 25. ________________________________________________________________________________ SHANE Tritton declared Gotta Go Ya Hu one of his Inter Dominion horses during the week and he duly resumed from a freshen-up with a sparkling win. The five-year-old could not have been more impressive, launching with a last-to-first Menangle win in a 1min51.1sec mile. Gotta Go Ya Hu thrives on being saved for one big, late run and this time he reeled-off his own last half in 54.2sec out three, four and five wide a times to gun down a gallant leader Epaulette. “That’s his go, sitting back and having the last go at them. It leaves him vulnerable if the race isn’t run to suit, but it; the way to drive him,” Tritton said, Gotta Go Ya Hu, the in-form My Alpha Rock and Franco Nelson – who trials at Menangle on Tuesday – are Team Tritton’s three major Inter Dominion hopefuls. “Gotta Go Ya Hu and My Alpha Rock will have a crack at the Victoria Cup as well,” Shane Tritton said. Another impressive Menangle winner last night was Amanda Turnbull’s emerging five-year-old Ellmers Image, who, despite doing the work outside the leader from a wide draw, won strongly in a 1min50.7sec mile. Turnbull had to be content with second in the Menangle feature when Eye See Diamonds chased home in the in-form Village Witch in the Group 3 Adore Me Stakes for mares. ________________________________________________________________________________ IT’S steep climb in a short time, but exciting former Kiwi pacer Diamonds N Cash could tackle the Inter Dominion. The four-year-old didn’t win by much, but did smash the clock with a 54.2sec last half – after sitting parked – at Ballarat last Friday night. It was his third win from six starts since being bought from NZ by Norm Jenkin for trainers Andy and Kate Gath. The best pointer to his potential was his fifth in that super strong Breeders Crown 3YO final won by Ride High. “He’s just kept improving since,” Kate Gath said. “He’s going through his grades at the moment, but the Inter Dominion is here in our backyard so we’ll obviously consider it if he keeps winning.” The Gaths also snared a winning double at Melton last night (Saturday) with former Kiwi pair Three Ways and Star Of Memphis. Three Ways, who finished second to Lazarus in the Victoria Derby at three, has fluctuated form since, but looked good winning the free-for-all at Melton. Things are about to get busier for the Gath’s with their star trotter Tornado Valley nearing a racetrack return and being set for two runs, including the Dominion Trot, during NZ Cup Week. ________________________________________________________________________________ A PATIENT Gary Hall Jr drive helped the emerging Runrunjimmdunn overpower his main rival Vampiro to win the free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Vampiro sat outside the leader, Tricky Styx, in a slowly run race, put paid to him down the back in a 28.4sec split, but Runrunjimmydunn stormed home from last in the small five horse field to win by 1.9m in a 1min57.8sec mile rate for 2130m. It reversed the result of their previous clash when Vampiro stalked Runrunjimmydunn and beat him. Chicago Bull is the obviously standout in Australia let alone WA, but outside of him Vampiro and Runrunjimmydunn are the emerging stars of Perth’s open-class ranks. Chicago Bull is due to return from a freshen-up in the free-for-all at Gloucester Park next Friday night. The plan is two lead-up runs in Perth ahead of the Victoria Cup at Melton on October 13 then across to Auckland for a lead-up race on his way to the NZ Cup. Former All Stars’ pacer Motu Premier broke a long drought from the winner’s circle with an impressive display at Gloucester Park and he looks another major open class player. It was a big effort to sir parked outside the emerging Speed Man and out-tough him a slick 1min57.6sec mile rate for the longer 2536m trip. Motu Premier had gone winless in 17 starts since scoring at Gloucester Park on October 13, last year. ________________________________________________________________________________ COMEBACK trotter Maori Law continues to build towards his Inter Dominion bid. Trained by Bill Morgan and raced by Fred Crews, who races Maori Time, Maori Law won as he liked again at Melton in a slick 1min58.7sec mile rate for 2240m last night (Saturday). Maori Time has 13 months out with injury, resumed with a couple of strong placings and has now won his past two. His career record is 18 starts for 14 wins and four placings. ________________________________________________________________________________ IT was siring double for Art Major in the two Group 2 Vicbred Home Grown finals at Melton last night. Trained David Aiken teamed with driver Kima Frenning to win the colts and geldings final with Malcolms Rhythm (Art Major-She’s Got It All) in a 1min56.8sec mile rate for 1720m. The fillies’ final went to Izzy Jolie (Art Major-Dee Jay Jolie) for trainer David Miles and driver Greg Sugars in a 1min58sec mile rate.   Adam Hamilton

Top trainer Emma Stewart took over the mantle for the most number of wins prepared in a season in Australia when Tiger Storm won the fourth race at Warragul trots on Sunday afternoon. It was only the second horse Stewart had raced at the Warragul Pacing Bowl during 2018, but Tiger Storm's victory goes down in the record books with the success bringing up 300 victories for the season for the stable, passing the previous mark of 299 wins set by Queensland horseman Bill Dixon in 2010/2011. Tiger Storm ran a a short-priced favourite on Sunday, and went straight to the front at the start of the race for driver Chris Alford, one of four wins on the day for the master horseman who himself has set a national record for winners driven this season. Alford's quartet of victories enabled him to secure the Warragul Driver of the Year title for the fifteenth time. Three of those victories came for Gippsland horseman Gary Quinlan, who was once again crowned Trainer of the Year at Warragul. His winners on Sunday were Scruffy Marshall, Starofsahara and Emiliana. Feature race on Sunday was the Women in Trotting Tribute, to acknowledge the involvement of females past and present in harness racing. The race, for female drivers only, attracted seven starters, and, fittingly, local reinswoman Casey Parker drove the winner, Rocknroll Gold. It was Parker's biggest racetrack success so far, having been a past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Competitors in Sunday's Women in Trotting Tribute staged at Warragul -photo Matt Walker Fellow local Simone Walker drove Montenero to produce a local Quinella. The winner is trained by Michael Hughes, who produced a double on the day, after Express Yourself won the Trotters Handicap. Hughes has recently settled into a new property at Iona, and Sunday's victory by Express Yourself was the first winner from the new facility. It was also the first race success for Michelle Seamons, another past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, who owns the talented five-year-old mare. Gippsland trainer Steve Austen was a proud man after his horse Priddy Easy won the first race of the day. Four months ago Priddy Easy suffered a nasty chest injury after a paddock accident at Austen's Labertouche property. He and his wife Karen have nursed the horse back to health, and Sunday's victory was the third for the pacer, which has also run nine minor placings. Greg Sugars drove Priddy Easy on Sunday - his wife Jess trained Fong Nien to win the sixth event to bring up a double for the top reinsman.   Kyle Galley

Emma Stewart recorded her 300th training win of 2017-18 today, the most wins an Australian trots trainer has produced in a single season. Only hours after claiming three Group 1s titles at last night’s TAB Breeders Crown it was back to business for the Ballarat trainer at Warragul, where she achieved the unprecedented milestone with Tiger Storm winning the Leonie Collins and Deb Quinlan 2YO Pace. The victory moved Stewart pass the record set by Queensland trainer Bill Dixon in 2010-11, with Stewart amassing the triple century from just 772 starts, a remarkable 39 per cent win rate. The achievement is testimony to Stewart and her great partnership with Clayton Tonkin, who said they had a real “passion for it and I’m sure when success follows you, you want to work hard because it’s something you love”. Last night’s TAB Breeders Crown delivered three Group 1 wins to Stewart’s stable, with Ride High winning the showcase IRT three-year-old colts and geldings final and Lauriston Bloodstock speedsters Speak No Evil and Hurricane Harley claiming their divisions. “(Ride High’s) very special to us, for him to win I'm very excited,” Stewart said. “We just let him mature and he's only had a handful of starts and he just keeps getting better and better." Tiger Storm’s victory that brought up the 300 was fittingly steered by reinsman Chris Alford, boosting his season win tally to 447, a national driving record that by Friday’s season end will be a mark that many think will never be bettered. Michael Howard

Lamborghini or Harley? It’s a question for punters, but champion trainer Emma Stewart needn’t pick — both are in her stables near Ballarat. Stewart dominates tonight’s Woodlands Stud two-year-old pacing $290,000 colts and geldings Breeders Crown final, which presents as a crowning glory in a history-making season for a trainer who appears destined to eclipse Queensland legend Bill Dixon’s all-time Australian record of 299 wins in a season. Her stable boasts clear favourites in Centenario, named after the $2 million Lamborghini, and Hurricane Harley, as well as Hardhitter, Fourbigmen, Brevity and first emergency Nostra Ideal. “They haven’t surprised us, really, because they’re all wellbred stock, they’ve all had a good grounding and we’ve liked them ever since they’ve come along,” Stewart said. “They’ve been easy to do anything with the whole way through — we’ve been lucky with the crop this year.” Punters believe Centenario — from gate four — is the horse to beat, with TAB posting him at $1.75 fav, because he drew inside Hurricane Harley ($2.20 from gate five). Last time the Stewart stars met, Centenario won the Vicbred Super Series final as an $8.30 shot from barrier two, while Hurricane Harley misbehaved from gate one and came in 10th at $1.20. Both have sensational strike rates — Centenario has eight wins including two Group 1s from 10 starts for more than $257,000, and Harley six from eight for more than $101,000. “They’re hard to split,” Stewart said. “Centenario has done nothing wrong — he’s a genuine racehorse — but if Hurricane Harley was on his back then I’d be a little bit worried because he’s very fast.” If the Stewart juggernaut was to be upstaged, the odds suggest it may be another leviathan in famous colours. Champion New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon saddles up Im Anothermasterpiece, who ran an audacious second to Centenario in their semi-final at Bendigo last Saturday night and is the $6.50 third favourite. And while Stewart said “the market is probably right”, she admits to having a soft spot for $61 outsider Fourbigmen. “He can do a bit wrong at the races at the moment, but if he puts his best foot forward and there’s speed on early he’ll definitely be running home strong,” she said. “He is a great type, has a good attitude and is beautiful to look at.” For those who value trackwork, Stewart said “Fourbigmen can match Centenario here (at home) and Harley doesn’t work as good. “If you drove them here you’d pick Centenario every time because he’s a real good track worker whereas Hurricane just does what he has to. “Fourbigmen works as good at home, but at the races he’s a little bit naughty.” Stewart’s stable has 21 horses in action tonight.   Cody Winnell

IT is the Jewel in the Crown, literally. This epic showdown between the best modern era crop of three-year-olds Australia has seen is the standout highlight of Breeders Crown Super Saturday. And it’s come at a crucial time with the new wave – including NZ’s Chase Auckland when he returns - offering the solution to our desperately think open-class stocks across Australia and NZ. But, for now, we await this awesome contest between the likes of former Tasmanian pacer Ignatius, glamour Emma Stewart pair Poster Boy and Ride High, gun Queenslander Colt Thirty One and the support cast. Emma Stewart has qualified half the field – six of the 12 finalists -  but such is the depth she doesn’t even have the favourite. Ignatius, despite suffering just his second defeat in 18 starts when edged-out by Poster Boy in their semi-final, has been backed from $3.50 into $3 on the Aussie TAB despite drawing the back row (gate 10) in the final. “I was proud of him last week. He did the work, they broke the track record and Poster Boy just got him,” trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray said. “The run should bring him just that little bit more as well.” Poster Boy, already a winner of the NSW Derby and Vicbred finals this term, is her most favoured runner. He’s been $4.50 into $4.20 from gate nine. “He just shouldn’t have been able to do that,” said driver Chris Alford, shaking his head after Poster Boy came three-wide without cover in a 55sec last half to edge-out Ignatius. Stewart’s other runners are the untapped Ride High (gate 12, $4.50), who beat stablemate Konan (gate eight, $5) in the other semi. She also has outsiders Maraetai (gate seven, $16), Major Times (gate five, $26) and Tam Major (gate two, $35). Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One had little luck when fifth in his semi behind Ride High, but drew to be a big factor from the pole in the final. “I think he’s in the top five of an amazingly strong crop,” trainer-driver Grant Dixon said. “We needed a good draw and got it. “You’ve got to use these draws. Plan A is to get out as quick as can and hold the lead if possible. “I know the pressure will be on, but I’d rather be in front than anywhere else.”   Adam Hamilton

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