Local trainer receives good news

Seb's Choice. (Stuart McCormick)

John Nicholson would have been a happy man when he turned on his phone and discovered two of his stable stars had combined for a double at Victorian harness racing headquarters.

The Mt Cottrell trainer was in transit to Thailand during the Tabcorp Park Melton meeting on Saturday night and missed being on track for the wins of Sebs Choice and Its Back In The Day.

Sebs Choice was favourite for the feature on the card – the APG Vic 4YO Consolation Final – and trimmed up even further in the minutes before the start when Beach Music was scratched from the event after presenting lame in the warm-up.

And he made no mistake with his key rival out of the race, spearing to the front from wide on the front row and controlling the tempo before slipping clear in the straight to win by nearly 20m over stablemate Alby Two Chains.

“Everyone knows that this horse is the absolute best that I can nearly say that I’ve sat on and partnered with, and it means a lot that his owners are happy to keep putting me on and trusting me with Sebby. We’ve got a great connection,” Phillips, who was celebrating her first Group 2 triumph, said.

“Any win with any of Bully’s (Nicholson) horses is a good win and I can’t believe how good of a night we’ve had and he’s not here to witness it.”

Sebs Choice has won three of four runs this preparation, with Saturday night’s success taking his record to 11 wins from 24 starts.

Earlier in the night, Its Back In The Day broke a long winning drought with a last-gasp success in the DNR Logistics Pace.

The victory was the horse’s first since July 2020 and his 12th overall at start 31.

“He fractured his hock back in 2020 and it’s been a long time. It’s a team effort between Bully and I to get him to this stage and it seems after every run we have a little problem arise,” Phillips said.

“It was a big drop in class tonight so it was good to get up on the outside.”

Top trainer Emma Stewart had a night to remember in Sydney with two Group 1 wins, but also dominated back in her home state.

Stewart prepared a treble at Melton and all were driven by Mark Pitt.

Banglez returned from a long spell with a brilliant death seat win in the Allied Express Trot, Treachery also made a successful start to life as a four-year-old mare by leading all the way in the Prydes Easifeed Pace and Cant Top This backed up his Mildura track record with victory in the Woodlands Stud Pace.

Tim O’Connor