Myrniong-based driver Greg Sugars had the magic touch in the sulky on Saturday night with a winning four-peat at Tabcorp Park Melton.
Among his triumphs on the nine-race card were two for trainer-wife Jess Tubbs and others for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin.
Sugars and Tubbs struck early with stablemates Huli Nien and Larajay Macray, which scored decisive wins in the DNR Logistics Vicbred Pace (1720m, 4YO+) and Alabar Vicbred Pace (1720m, 4YO+) respectively.
For Huli Nien, the victory was his 11th overall and backed up a recent win at Maryborough in late February, while for Larajay Macray the sixth career triumph ended a long run of outs which spanned back to August last year.
Sugars then took aim with Stewart’s returning star Major Times, which scored a fresh victory first-up since a second placing in the Breeders Crown Championship (4YO entires and geldings) of August 2019.
“He’s had a couple of good trials, but it’s never the same as match fitness,” Sugars said after the win in the Allied Express Pace (2240m, NR 85-99).
“He was very impressive. We know he’s a top-class, tough sort of horse when he’s right and that was pretty good.”
Major Times had to work in the early stages to eventually find the lead and ran along in solid time before shaking off runner-up War Dan by close to three metres. The victory, in a mile rate of 1:55.1, was the son of Art Major’s 14th from 32 career starts.
Sugars then made it four for the night when he lifted Tonkin’s Out To Play over the line in the Pridmore Electrics Pace (1720m, NR 77-84).
Sugars parked back in the field from barrier eight and then came with a sweeping three-wide run down the back straight, which proved just too good for runner-up Franks Very Much, which was beaten close to two metres.
The victory, in 1:53.3, followed a gallant fifth in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire behind Lochinvar Art a few weeks ago and takes the horse’s record to seven wins from 16 starts.
“He’s a hard horse not to love, really,” Sugars said.
“He’s got a beautiful nature, he’s a good looking fella, he’s fast and he ticks a lot of boxes. He’s good to be part of.”
Sugars said it was basically just Out To Play’s class that got him over the line on Saturday night.
“He still had to put up a pretty special performance because he was giving them a big, big start and they’ve run great sectionals,” he said.
Trainer-driver husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath enjoyed a winning double with Eureka (Hyland Sportswear Pace, 1200m, NR 60-69) and Majestuoso (Garrards Trot, 2240m, NR 70-85), while Stewart also claimed a double when Freddy Funk took out the Hygain Claiming Pace (2240m) to register his third success on end.