AUSTRALIA’S version of the All Stars barn is setting its sights on the Harness Jewels for the first time.
In an hugely exciting twist, the Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin barn has officially expressed strong interest in the Jewels with untapped three-year-old trotter Alpha Male.
Stewart also raised the possibility of sending a couple of young pacers, but said she wanted to get through Bathurst’s huge Gold Crown meeting this weekend before naming them.
For the record, Stewart has Mach Dan in the Gold Crown Final and Jo Dina in the Gold Tiara Final .
No stable has been more dominant with young horses in Australian history than Stewart and Tonkin over the past five years.
It’s no secret Jewels organizers have been desperate to lure the power of the Stewart/Tonkin barn to the Jewels.
“At this stage it’s just an expression of interest, but Emma made it clear they were very serious about it when I talked to her yesterday,” HRNZ’s Darrin Williams said.
“This is about as exciting as it gets. It would be a milestone for the Jewels to have Australia’s top stable of young horses, arguably top stable full stop, come across and be part of the big day.”
Amazingly, the nicely-bred Alpha Male is the first trotter Stewart and Tonkin have trained together and he is already a star.
Alpha Male’s won three of his five starts and galloping has cost him winning the other two when second and third.
He’s learning quickly and put it all together to blow away a good field in the $60,000 Group One Need For Speed Final in a sizzling 1:56.9 mile rate at Melton on March 9.
The winning margin was 34.4 metres without being extended.
And Alpha Male would bring with him another big bonus for the Jewels, champion driver Chris Alford.
It is understood managing owner Justin Baker notified all Alpha Male’s owners by email yesterday just how strongly they wanted the Aussie invite to the Jewels.
The timing fits perfectly with Alpha Male slated for a Menangle raid for the New South Wales Trotters’ Derby on May 11 and the Jewels on June 1 at Addington.
The Aussie flavour for the Jewels is strong at the huge Bathurst Gold Crown meeting on Friday night.
Heading the charge of those to express Jewels interest for invites so far, including three-year-old Lochinvar Art and two-year-olds Mistery Road (unbeaten in four runs) and Major Bob (unbeaten in two runs).
Mistery Road and Major Bob clash in the $100,000 Group One Gold Crown Final, but have tricky draws. Mistery Road drew seven, while Major Bob is out of the draw after galloping away in his heat.
Boom Victorian Jilliby Nitro (gate eight) and Stewart’s Mach Dan (gate five) will also be huge players in the strongest Crown Final for many years.
Lochinvar Art will dominate betting from any draw in the Gold Chalice Final after his heat by 40 metres at Bathurst earlier this week.
It will still be a strong Final with Shoobee Doo looking good in his heat and the other heat winners Lets Go To Brazil and First String commanding respect.
But Lochinvar Art has the class after huge placings in the Victoria and New South Wales Derbys from bad draws this season.
Interestingly, he has “changed” stables at least in name with David Moran now listed as the trainer, replacing his partner Laura Crossland.
- ADAM HAMILTON