The best is yet to come

NZ HARNESS NEWS

The best is yet to come from impressive Winton winner The Empress.

That could be a scary thought for rival trainers after the Robin Swain trained filly produced a strong front-running mile victory on Thursday.

Punters who backed $2.10 favourite were given a scary thought of their own when the third favourite, Elegant Jewel, broke in front of the The Empress and put her and driver Brent Barclay in a tricky spot.

After Barclay extricated his filly safely out of that situation and they went on to win the race, Swain saw the light-hearted side of the incident.

“Brent said it was pretty touch and go, she had a murphy blind on so I am not sure if she saw it, but Brent did anyway,’’ he quipped.

The Empress’ backers were not given any more anxious moments after Barclay took her to the lead soon after the incident and she coasted to an easy two-and-a-quarter-length win.

Though her front running display was impressive, her trainer thinks she will be even better when sitting off the pace.

“It is probably not her go leading up, she is probably better from behind, but when you are a $2 favourite you have to put them in the race and if they are good enough they are good enough,” Swain said.

“Definitely chasing will be her go later on, I would say.”

“She is a nice type of filly and has a lovely way of going.”

“She has done everything for herself at this stage, I am not sure how good she is going to go, but she has shown enough potential to go a wee way I would think.”

The Empress will be aimed at the newly developed Ladyship Stakes graduation final at Gore, next month, for her second start.

She is likely to have a break after that race, Swain said.

The Empress has not made a journey to the races that is typical for a Southland maiden winner.

The Art Major filly was sold to her owners, Merv and Meg Butterworth, at a yearling sale in their home state of Victoria, before they sent her to New Zealand.

Though like many Southern winners, The Empress has Southland genes.

The three-year-old is from former Southern racemare Easton All Action, who was sold to Australia by Brian Norman.

The Empress’ win in race 2 started a hat-trick of wins for driver Brent Barclay.

He also won race 3 with Mighty Flying Art and race 4 with King Cassidy in race 5.

The Winton meeting’s feature event, the $12,000 Nugget Final, was won by Robyns Playboy.

The maiden three-year-old beat his race-winning rivals courtesy of a brilliant front-running drive by Craig Ferguson for trainer Ross Wilson.

- NZ HARNESS NEWS

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