Emma Stewart’s stable has given an extraordinary muscle flex on night one of the Alabar Farms Vicbred Super Series with a clean sweep of the night’s seven two-year-old heats at Bendigo.
Having last year produced a national record equalling eight victories on Vicbred Super Series semi-finals night at Tabcorp Park Melton and seven victories on three-year-old heats night at Kilmore, the stable looks set for another golden three weeks of racing in the 2019 edition.
“It speaks for the talent that they have at Emma and Clayton’s stable of getting their horses prepared for racing, not only to get them fit and ready to go, but to have them so tractable,” said reinsman Greg Sugars, who piloted Mirragon and Maajida to victory for the stable.
“It makes our job a lot easier as drivers when you want to race at the top level, which these horses are competing at at the moment. Sometimes you can have the best horse, but if you don’t have the manners that can get you beat. They are certainly doing a wonderful job to get the horses to perform as they do and to behave as they do.”
They were thoughts echoed by Chris Alford, who produced a race-to-race Stewart double with Jemstone and Beale Street.
“It’s a lot to do with the way they train them at home I think,” Alford told TrotsVision. “They sit in and follow or go round and lead, swap and change so they are all pretty adept to doing anything really.”
It was also a golden night for Alabar Farms’ sire Art Major, who produced four of the Vicbred Super Series winners and also earned the praise of Sugars.
“He’s record speaks for himself. Very few sires out there have done a better job than he has. He just keeps producing headline acts year after year.”
So how did all it happen?
Always B Miki Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ heat one:
Pandering continued his impressive season in the first of the night, building on his June 8 hit on Globe Derby when he won by 12.5 metres in Group 1 The Allwood.
The Tiger Army showed some initial resistance from the inside draw but reinswoman Kima Frenning’s determination to find the front on Pandering won through and from there she was able to control proceedings, taking a breather with a 31-second second quarter before hustling home in 27.6.
“It’s a big relief,” Frenning told TrotsVision host Paul Campbell post-race. “He’s such a cool dude, every single time I drive him he just keeps improving. Emma and the team are doing a great job with him and I’m very happy and grateful I get the drive.”
Owned by Justin Baker, the Courage Under Fire two-year-old colt was bred by Shepparton’s Danny Gange out of Pandalay Bay, also the mare of US half-a-million-dollar winning colt Panmunjom.
The Tiger Army held second by almost 18 metres from third-placed Sham Rock, with Our Art Christian, Mea Culpa, Yianni, Alte and Monsieur Delacour rounding out the top eight, who advance to the June 29 Vicbred semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton.
Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ heat one:
Amelia Rose put on the afterburners to set a significant statement in the first of the fillies’ heats, getting home in 27.3 seconds to make it two from two for Emma Stewart.
After leading early and then allowing WA visitor Askmeilltellya to slide to the front, Amelia Rose was in a class of her own in the final stages, winning by 3.9m from a dogged Vouchers on the back of a blistering initial burst for reinswoman Amanda Turnbull.
“She was very quick and sprinted home good,” Turnbull told TrotsVision post-race. “They said not to panic if she does carry the sit, because she’s got blistering speed, so it didn’t matter where you come up and there was a good one to follow.
“She went straight past (Askmeilltellya) in two strides and then didn’t know what to do. It was pretty exciting to go that quick and she wasn’t that switched on.”
The Art Major filly was bred by Benstud Standardbreds out of mare Bennies Daughter, who herself is out of Benelise, the dam of the likes of Majordan ($333,028), Soho Valencia ($332,782), Niki No No ($294,455) and Wardan Express ($195,068).
Amelia Rose advances to the June 29 Vicbred semi-finals at Tabcorp Park Melton along with Vouchers (2nd), Askmeilltellya (3rd), Rockingwithsierra (4th), Power Of Faith (5th) and Oursouthernstar (6th).
Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ heat two:
The show rolled on for Stewart, Turnbull and sire Art Major in the next with that trio combining to guide Treasure to victory in the second of the fillies’ heats, having clawed over stoic second favourite Realnspectacular.
Treasure had to do it from the breeze and the pair separated from the field with a 28.2 third quarter and 27.3 run to the finishing post, with the winner getting home by a neck.
“She got checked a couple of times, but she’s got a motor,” Turnbull said of Treasure. “She just seems to do it so easy, she just sort of switches off and stays out in front of them.”
The filly is owned by Buckland Park Homestead for South Australia’s Glenda and David Battye and was bred by Bruce and Vicki Edward out of US mare O Narutac Bella, making her a full-sister to Perfect Sense, who placed second in her Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies final in 2016.
The front running pair will be joined in the semi-finals from heat two by Kezzamac, Easy Rolling, Cuzin Lyndal and Fixed Lines.
The next question for Turnbull will be which one she’ll drive going forward, but she said that will be a decision for Stewart and partner Clayton Tonkin, before adding both Amelia Rose and Treasure “give you a super feel”.
Always B Miki Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ second heat:
Few were more eye-catching in tonight’s heats than Mirragon, who advanced to the breeze at the mile mark and was left to do plenty of bullocking outside Yejele Hammer.
A 27.8-second third quarter saw reinsman Greg Sugars draw level with the leader and at the turn he had put his rivals to the sword, getting home in 27.8 to win in the equal fastest mile rate (1:56.7) of the night’s heats.
“Very impressive,” Sugars told TrotsVision post-race. “His run was full of merit last week after being wide early in a very fast mile, just found one (Youaremy Sunshine) that was too good for us on the night.
“He’s backed that run up with a complete performance tonight. When I first drove him at the trials I had him up a few times and he showed incredible acceleration over a short distance and I envisaged him being a more of a sit-sprint type horse. As he’s developed he’s turning into a lovely well-rounded racehorse and can be put into the race and sustain a very long run. Very important thing to have.”
Aishabeach (second), Star Hunter (third) and Yejele Hammer claimed good ground out of the winner late to advance through to the semi-final along with Night Spirit, Adapt, Focus Stride and Nevada Yankee.
But all honours went to the winner, his big group of owners and breeders Ross, Aaron and Hugh Gange, who coupled their mare The Waratah with Art Major for her first foal and would be rapt with the results.
Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ third heat:
Alice Kay threatened to break the Stewart stable’s hold on the night in the third heat but the Adam-Kelly trained, Zac Phillips driven filly fell just shy in her attempt to climb over leader Jemstone.
Reinsman Chris Alford emerged from a 64.3-second first half to run 28.3 and 27.3 in the third and final quarters and register a half-neck win.
“This little filly she was good,” Alford told TrotsVision post-race. “She was really relaxed in front, that’s probably why I went a bit slow, and ripped home a good half.”
It was a victory enjoyed by a big syndicate of owners the Big Wookie Racing Group, Clayton Tonkin, Ben Prentice and Simon Holt, with the Bettors Delight filly out of breeders Bruce and Val Edward’s mare Hawiian Hottie, making her a full sister to Vicbred winner Kualoa.
Jemstone will be joined in the semi-finals by second-placed Alice Kay, third-placed Summertime, Dougs Cino, Dolly Peachum and Bella Bronski.
Always B Miki Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings’ third heat:
The cult following is likely to be large for the big boy of the two-year-old class, Beale Street, who claimed the third heat and looks to have a future as grand as his frame going by his trainer’s review.
“He’s my Breeders Crown tip, I think he will just keep getting better and better,” Emma Stewart told TrotsVision. “I’ve never had a bigger two-year-old and he’s quite solid for his age as well, so he’s not gangly but he doesn’t really know what it’s all about at the moment.”
Improvement aside the present also looks pretty impressive as Beale Street was guided to the front by Chris Alford from gate two with major threat, Gavin Lang’s Withoutthetuh, on his tail.
He’d roll out in the night’s quickest lead time (37.1 seconds) before consistent quarters (31, 30.1 and 29.2) left enough in the tank to get home in 28.5 seconds and keep a length on Withoutthetuh.
“He’s a big fella, he’s starting to learn what it’s all about now,” Alford said. “His first two starts were good but he didn’t know a lot, but now he’s starting to switch right on.
“He’s starting to get on the bit now and travel, and when a horse comes near him he wants to race, so he just keeps getting better and better and that’s a good sign.”
Joining Beale Street and Withoutthetuh in advancing to the semi-final were third-placed Forever Yin, Highclere, Ozzie Battler, Sahara Sirocco, Ilkiemebettor and Junior Warfare.
Art Major Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies’ fourth heat:
A bold sprint lane rally by David Murphy’s Final Peace almost upset the applecart but Maajida clawed over all comers to land Emma Stewart her seventh Vicbred Super Series heat win for the night and cap the clean sweep.
It was an impressive win given Maajida had punched the breeze outside highly rated stablemate Artemede, who led throughout with Final Peace – a $67-1 shot – tracking her every move. But the last 100m belonged to Maajida and she swept clear for reinsman Greg Sugars to win by a neck.
“I knew the leader would be hard to catch and sort of had to stay with it and just make it a strong last half a lap basically, and make sure we can hold off any challenges from behind,” Sugars said.
“I wasn’t quite confident I would be quick enough to catch the leader because it had pretty good sectionals early but to this filly’s credit she just knuckled down and just wanted to win. She’s got a terrific attitude.”
It was a super result for owners Gary, Ian, Leslie and Steve Johnson, who coupled their mare Arterial Way with sire Somebeachsomewhere to produce the full-sister to Gold Chalice winner Lifeonthebeach.
Joining Maajida, Final Peace and Arte Mede in booking a semi-finals spot were fourth-placed Elita, The Pantheist (fifth) and Starsbythebeach (sixth).