Tough draw for Kiwi hope in Breeders Crown Final

By Adam Hamilton

Kiwi pacer Major Perry’s hopes of upsetting the Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin juggernaut for a second successive week have been cruelled by an awful draw in the $200,000 Breeders Crown 3YO colts and geldings final at Melton on Saturday night.

Major Perry’s semi-final win last Saturday night was the only win by a pacer not trained by Stewart and Tonkin across the eight pacing semis finals.

But repeating it from gate 11 and against series big guns Captain Ravishing (gate five) and Ripp (three) is a monstrous task for driver Josh Dickie.

Captain Ravishing, who has been stunning winning five of six runs since joining Stewart and Tonkin’s stable, is a $1.20 favourite.

“He’s getting better with every run,” Stewart warned. “He’s stopped that goofing around he was doing at (Victoria) Derby time and has won really well his past two starts. He’s very exciting and has so much speed.”

How competitive the race is will depend on Doug Hewitt’s tactics on Ripp. He beat home Captain Ravishing in the Derby final, but has been well beaten by that pacer in a heat and semi of the Crown.

But Ripp has blazing gate speed and should work to the front from his good draw (three).

Will Hewitt post Captain Ravishing when he comes looking for the front or surrender and take the trail?

Incredibly, Stewart and Tonkin could win all six major Breeders Crown pacing finals on Saturday night.

They have a staggering 24 of the 64 finalists across the six races.

And they have the favourite in all six finals and at least the first two in betting in five of those six.

Aside from Captain Ravishing, their amazing two year-old filly Major Delight is a $1.35 to win from the pole in her final. She’s unbeaten in eight starts.

“I think she’s better than Ladies In Red at the same stage,” Stewart said. “Her times and the way she’s doing it say so.

“I think she’s on her way to being better than Ladies In Red full-stop, if she stays sound because she is a big filly. She’s something special.”

Speaking of Ladies In Red, she is a $1.60 to win her 22nd race from just 27 starts in the Group 2 Crown 4YO Mares where stablemate and arch-rival Tough Tilly is $2.40 second elect.

Tough Tilly has beaten Ladies In Red three times and should lead from gate two, with Ladies In Red likely to sit parked from gate five.

“Tough Tilly will get her chance and she’s so hard to beat in front. I’d love to see her win, but I just think Ladies In Red might be too strong over the 2240m. It’ll be a great contest again, though,” Stewart said.

Stewart will carry some Kiwi hopes with recent stable addition Amore Vita drawing the pole in the Crown 3YO Fillies’ final.

“She can win, especially how the draw has turned out,” she said. “Encipher (gate two) will lead, but Amore Vita will be straight on her back without doing any work from the pole.

“At first, I thought she was a bit disappointing last week, Amore Vita, but her sectional times were amazing and she’ll be on the marker pegs this time. I think she’ll make a real race of it with Encipher.”

Stewart and Tonkin look most vulnerable in the Crown 2YO colts and geldings despite having four finalists, including the $2.20 favourite The Lost Storm (gate four) and $6.50 third elect Techys Watching (13).

That’s because Russell Jack’s Night School, who led throughout to inflict The Lost Storm’s only defeat three starts back, is drawn to lead again from gate two.

“That’s going to be a tricky one,” Stewart said. “We can’t beat School Captain for speed, he’s so fast, so I think we’ll have to turn it into a staying test, pour the pressure on a fair way out, to see how strong Night School is. It’s a risk, but it’s also probably our only winning chance.”

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