THEY’RE the superstars of Victorian harness racing at the moment.
And it didn’t take the powerful Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stable long to leave their mark on today’s Breeders Challenge finals with a lightning visit to Tabcorp Park Menangle.
Beautifully-bred colt Hardhitter (Chris Alford) found the front and showed a tonne of courage to hold off his rivals and score the gutsiest of wins, scoring by two and a half metres from the unlucky Lochinvar Art (Luke McCarthy) with Muscle Factory (Lauren Tritton) a neck back in third place.
Chris Alford doesn’t know how to drive a bad race and had little hesitation working his youngster early to find the lead with a 28s first split of the mile.
He then expertly backed off the speed with a 29.7 second split which left enough petrol in the tank for a sprint home in a last half of 53.9s (26.8 and 27.1s) for an impressive victory in the $100,000 Group One for two-year-old colts and geldings.
Hardhitter (Mach Three-Grace Robinson) is owned by a big group of enthusiastic partners including former HR Victoria CEO John Anderson, who explained it was a special thrill to race a horse with such a fabulous group of owners.
“There are so many people to thank, right from when Tanya and Ian Wood broke this horse in, Jacky Gibson and his mother Mary and the late John Gibson who bred this youngster and Peter Tonkin who put his hand up to buy him and keep all the other potential buyers at bay,” grinned Anderson.
“Actually I’m told this was the last horse that John Gibson bred before he sadly passed away.
“Chris Alford, as usual, drove the perfect race and this was a special thrill to win on a day like this.
“The Breeders Challenge and our own Breeders Crown day in Victoria are great days for the industry and success like this makes it ever more special.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION TELEPHONE CLUB MENANGLE RACING MANAGER DAVID WONSON ON (02) 4645-2200.