Day At The Track

Emma Stewart's stranglehold on the final

02:10 PM 20 Jan 2020 NZDT
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Fourbigmen,Harness racing
Stuart McCormick photo

Emma Stewart looks to have a stranglehold on the final of the Mercury80 after scoring a third win in the four-heat series at Tabcorp Park Melton.

And the Cardigan-based trainer also appears well placed to secure the lucrative bonus for connections of Fourbigmen, who set a new benchmark time of 82.1 seconds on Friday night.

The fastest winner in the series snares an extra $20,000, half of which is collected by owners and the other half split by the trainer and driver.

Chris Alford drove the first heat winner Liftntorque on New Year’s Eve and was at the controls on Friday night as Fourbigmen darted through along the sprint lane to land a convincing five-metre victory.

“He had a nice run in there behind the leader and the pace was on sort of all the way. He felt really good and once the run came, he just powered through then,” Alford said.

The champion reinsman said he wasn’t bothered if he drove Liftntorque or Fourbigmen in the final.

“They’re both nice horses… whichever one they put me on I’ll be happy with,” Alford said.

Michael Stanley’s Soho Nolita came home strongly to pip leader Major Exclusive for second, therefore booking a place in the $50,000 final next Saturday night.

The qualifiers for the feature from the first three heats include: Liftntorque (Emma Stewart), Van Mara (Andy Gath), Always Fast (Emma Stewart), Gilty Hanover (Kari Males), Off The Radar (Richie Caruana) and Call Me Hector (Matthew Cooper).

While his father Ted missed out on reaching the Mercury80 final with Major Exclusive, who is the final's emergency, young trainer Blake Caruana scored his second career win as a trainer at Melton on Friday when Better Exclusive produced a long-odds victory in the Allied Express Pace Final (2240m, NR 56-66).

Caruana was ill and unable to make the track on Friday night, but would have had something to smile about as the horse dug deep to hold off runner-up Dan Fernando by a head on the line.

“Blake would have been jumping up and down in the bed, that’s for sure,” young driver Connor Ronan said.

“It was a big step up in class tonight. Three starts ago he won the equivalent to a C1 and then to win a race like this, where there are some very nice horses in it, it’s a credit to the team and the horse.”

HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

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