Big week for Stewart


Michael Howard

Breeders Crown season has long been the domain of trainer Emma Stewart’s stable and last week’s winning times rolled on into Saturday night when the stable was prominent and dominant at Tabcorp Park Melton.

Having been prolific during the two-year-old and three-year-old Breeders Crown heats on Wednesday and Friday night, Stewart clocked a further three winners at Victoria’s harness racing headquarters on Saturday.

Among those victors was Tam Major, who enjoyed the perfect trail behind stablemates Major Times and then Code Black to blister home and win the Allied Express Pace for reinsman Chris Alford.

“Things worked out really well, the speed was quite strong all the way, he got that good drag and once Major Times got to the breeze it left Code Black with no trail,” Alford said.

“(Code Black) was always going to be hard to run down, (Tam Major) just had to finish it off and that’s what he did.”

Racing for owner-breeders Bruce and Vicki Edward, the win was Tam Major’s first since he claimed the Breeders Crown 4YO Championship in August last year, having placed seven times between salutes.

“He’s very strong, but sometimes that works against him. He had a great four-year-old year, I think he won the sires and Breeders Crown, it’s just taken him a little while to get back to that form and that’s what he’s done tonight,” Alford said.

Stewart also claimed the night’s first race, the DNR Logistics Pace, when Like A Wildfire circled the field, sat in the breeze and then careered away to win for reinsman Greg Sugars, and later another impressive pacer Always Fast led and won in the TAB Make A Date With Play Pace for reinswoman Jodi Quinlan.

Like Stewart, driver Sugars walked away with a trio of wins having coupled the win on Like A Wildfire with victories on Zadaka (for trainer Greg Norman) and Bopper Jet (for trainer Kima Frenning).

As mentioned, it was a continuation of a stellar week for the pair.

Stewart trained five of last Wednesday’s seven Breeders Crown’s two-year-old heat winners, with partner Clayton Tonkin and fellow Ballarat district resident Michael Stanley the only other trainers able to pinch a heat.

“Obviously we know how good Emma and Clayton and all their team are with all their horses, but especially their babies – they are always the ones to beat,” said reinsman Jason Lee, who guided filly Dangerous Hand to a Breeders Crown heat victory for Stewart.

Victoria’s leading trainer kept the good times rolling on Friday night when she claimed a further three heat wins, including from stand out performers Mach Dan and Maajida, who were both steered by Sugars.

The Myrniong reinsman was particularly taken by Maajida’s effort, having enjoyed extraordinary success with the filly to date that looks like continuing through the spring and summer.

“She just keeps winning, just gets the job done week after week,” Sugars said. “She’s a lovely filly and it’s been great to be a part of the ride. She’s one of my all-time favourites for sure.”

The TAB Breeders Crown series continues with the trotting heats for the two and three-year-olds, before the spotlight returns to the pacers for the semi-finals night at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday.

All roads from there lead to the November 21 finals at Tabcorp Park Melton, when six Group 1s will be run and won.