Stewart-Tonkin dominate Breeders Crown finals

By Adam Hamilton

Emerging superstar Captain Ravishing and champion mare Ladies In Red headlined another record-breaking night for the rampaging Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stable at the Breeders Crown at Melton, Victoria last night.

The power couple of Aussie harness won a staggering six of the 10 finals – five pacing and one trotting - something which has never been done before.

But it was firstly Ladies In Red and then Captain Ravishing who left everyone gasping.

Ladies In Red reaffirmed her greatness in the most stunning fashion when she sat outside stablemate and arch-rival Tough Tilly and thrashed her in the Group 3 Crown 4YO Mares’ final.

Tough Tilly, who had beaten Ladies In Red three times previously, was simply no match last night, finishing 13.1m away in second spot in a 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2240m

She ran her last three splits in driving rain in 28.4, 27.2 and 27.3sec to post her 22nd win from just 27 starts and edge close to $900,000 in earnings.

“She just felt fantastic tonight. She was absolutely cruising when I really went up to put the pressure on Tough Tilly,” driver David Moran.

“Sometimes she can switch off a bit when she gets to the front, but she really put them away tonight.”

Ladies In Red still has the Vicbred 4YO Mares’ series to come this year before a break and then the Ladyship and possibly Miracle Mile in Sydney in February/March.

As great as Ladies In Red was, Captain Ravishing’s win trumped her.

The three-year-old, having just his 12th start, sat parked on a wet track and smashed the 2240m track record set by Lochinvar Art in a Victoria Cup.

He blazed a 1min51.1sec mile rate – taking 0.3sec off the old mark – and roared away to win by a staggering 28.8m in the Crown 3YO colts and geldings final.

“It’s actually something special to sit behind a horse like this,” driver Mark Pitt said. “I’ve sat behind many good horses in Ride High and a few others. I think this one is top of the tree that I’ve sat behind.

“Despite all the work he did and times he ran, he was just cruising to the line.”

Stewart added: “He’s a lot better now than when he got beaten in the Derby. He’s stopped the goofing around.”

Captain Ravishing’s connections now have plenty to consider with races like the Chariots Of Fire in February, but also talk of a possible slot in the new $1 million Nullarbor at Gloucester Park in April.

Stewart and Tonkin’s other pacing wins came with the unbeaten Major Delight, who narrowly beat stablemate Tempting Tigress in the 2YO Fillies’ final, Encipher in the 3YO Fillies’, Act Now in the 4YO entires and geldings and Susan Is Her Name in the 2YO Trotting fillies’ final.

Kiwi interest was with Amore Vita who ran third to Encipher, Major Perry (10th to Captain Ravishing), Aldebaran Keepa who was third in the 3YO Trotting fillies’ final and Aroha Kenny who finished eighth in the 2YO Trotting Fillies' final.

The only pacing final Stewart and Tonkin didn’t win was the 2YO colts and geldings, which went to Russell and Nathan Jack and their brilliant colt School Captain.

Nathan Jack declared pre-race he was leading and holding the front and that’s what he did as School Captain blazed a 1min53.1sec mile rate for 2240m to relegate Stewart and Tonkin to second (Perfect Class), third (The Lost Storm) and fourth (Techys Watching).

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