Champion Trainer Shocks with her ID22 Tip

07 December 2022

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.


Related News

31 January 2023
Team Teal returns for 2023
The annual Team Teal campaign is back in 2023, with six weeks of fundraising initiatives across the Queensland harness racing industry to help aid ovarian and other gynaecological cancer research. From February 1 to March 15, the Queensland harness racing industry will unite to raise funds, with $200...
31 January 2023
Grant's trotters in fine form
MOUNT Fairy horseman Grant Forrest enjoyed a fruitful season with his team of horses last year netting a career best 33 winners. The new season has started just as well for the 36-year-old who has already trained four winners. Providing two of those victories this year is Forrest’s consistent trotter...
31 January 2023
Hewitt flying 'under the radar' in town
SHARING ownerships with some high-profile Canberra Raiders rugby league stars means ace Goulburn horseman Brad Hewitt can seldom fly ‘under the radar’ when he comes to town. Hewitt is back at Tabcorp Park Menangle this afternoon, hoping patience will pay dividends with two of his stable stars....
31 January 2023
Majestic Cruiser Confirmed for NZ Cup
AUSTRALIA’S hopes of a rare New Zealand Cup win have soared with a second raider confirmed. Multiple Group 1 winner Majestic Cruiser, already a feature race winner in NZ, is booked a flight from Sydney to Auckland on October 31. He will join last Saturday’s dominant Group 1 Victoria Cup winner...
30 January 2023
No Nukes Skipper mows down rivals in New Norfolk Cup
Junior driver Jacob Duggan scored the biggest win of his driving career when partnering with No Nukes Skipper to take out the Paul Belcher @ Roberts Real Estate New Norfolk Pacing Cup. The 2400m race was the first held on the Hobart gallops track since February 1997, and Duggan went into the race with...
Click for more