Champion Trainer Shocks with her ID22 Tip

07 December 2022
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CHAMPION trainer Emma Stewart has surprised by opting for outsider Mach Dan as the best chance from her army of runners in Saturday night’s Inter Dominion pacing final at Melton.

Stewart and partner Clayton Tonkin equalled the Inter Dominion record by qualifying a remarkable five of the 12 finalists in harness racing’s biggest race.

And Stewart said picking between them is a bit like picking your favourite child.

“I’m actually going for Mach Dan,” she said. “It’s partly with the heart because he’s a real favourite, but there’s a big chance the race will be run to suit him, as well.”

It’s a shock because Mach Dan is a $17 shot from the back row (gate 11), while Stewart and Tonkin’s two big guns – Honolua Bay (gate two) and Act Now (three) – have drawn ideally.

“They’ve got great draws for sure, but there is a lot of speed on that front row. There’s a chance they could really burn early and that would bring the backmarkers like Mach Dan right into it.

“Don’t forget it’s 2760m, the longest distance they’ve gone over in the series so far, so it could be a race for the stayers.”

Six of the seven pacers drawn the front line are noted for their gate speed.

Mach Dan will be driven by Stewart and Tonkin’s stable driver Mark Pitt, while David Moran is on Honolua Bay and Jodi Quinlan aboard Act Now.

Stewart expects both Honolua Bay and Act Now to be part of the early fireworks.

“Act Now is more versatile now, but I still think when it matters he is an out-and-out leader and he’s got the draw to try and find the front,” she said.

“He got a bit too keen in front last week, but was good enough to keep going and still win in track record time.

“If he finds the front and settles better, he’ll be very hard to beat. He’s such a hard horse to get past in front.

“Honolua Bay has really come of age. I still think he could be best sitting on them and sprinting late, but if he found the lead, he’d bowl along and really take some catching, too.”

Underlining Stewart’s depth in the race, she also warned Narutac Prince (gate eight, $17) and Beyond Delight (five, $41) could win with the right luck.

“Narutac Prince has the perfect draw from inside the back row. If he’s three or four back the pegs and sees daylight at the right time, he’ll be dangerous,” she said.

“And I think Beyond Delight is our forgotten runner. Sure, it’s not a great draw on paper, but not many horses have his sort of speed off a cold sit. If he had the last crack at them, he could cause an upset.”

Honolua Bay has grabbed slight favouritism at $2.70 from the easing Act Now ($2.25 to $2.80), while the big post-barrier draw move has been for Team McCarthy’s stayer Expensive Ego.

Expensive Ego “won” last year’s Sydney Inter Dominion final before being stripped of it on protest. He’s been crunched from $11 into $6.50 since Monday night’s barrier draw.

“He’s built through the series, which is how we planned it, and he’ll be as good as we can have him for the final,” driver Luke McCarthy said.

“But we know the enormity of trying to beat Emma and Clayton’s team given how amazing they’ve  been through the heats.”

·       Adam Hamilton is a paid contributor writing on harness racing for News Corp.

 

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