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    Stable’s record night . . . with nine winners Stable’s record night . . . with nine winners

    SUPER WIN: Petracca scores at Melton on Saturday night. PHOTO: Stuart McCormick.

    CHAMPION trainer Emma Stewart created a new record for winners at a single Victorian meeting when she triumphed in nine Vicbred Super Series semi-finals... Stable’s record night . . . with nine winners

    CHAMPION trainer Emma Stewart created a new record for winners at a single Victorian meeting when she triumphed in nine Vicbred Super Series semi-finals on Saturday night.

    Stewart’s Melton heroics equalled the Australian mark she set at Launceston last year and readies her for a mammoth night of Group 1 VSS finals next weekend.

    In all, the Cardigan horsewoman qualified 27 runners (excluding emergencies) for the elite level showdowns on September 16.

    Part of Stewart’s dominance on Saturday night was a clean sweep of the three-year-old semi-finals.

    Joyful kept her tilt at back-to-back Vicbred titles on track after an impressive performance in a clash with the fillies.

    The daughter of Always B Miki was buried three back the pegs behind stablemates Elysian Jay and Perfect In Pink, but driver James Herbertson got her off the inside at just the right time to finish over the top of sparring partner Sahara Breeze in the run to the line.

    In the end, Joyful had nearly 5m to spare over Sahara Breeze, with the pair well clear of third place-getter and roughie Paradise Valley.

    “She always travelled well and it took a little bit for her to click into gear, but she was strong to the line,” Herbertson said.

    “It was just a thing of getting her out and getting her rolling, just making sure she had clear running for the last couple of hundred (metres).

    “She’s a race mare and she knows what she’s doing.”

    Joyful won the two-year-old fillies’ final last year when she narrowly defeated Perfect In Pink.

    Techys Watching performed below par when a beaten favourite in last week’s heats at Ballarat, but capitalised on a hot early burn to land the opening Vicbred semi-final for the three-year-old colts and geldings.

    The speed battle – in a lead time of 42.2sec – took its toll in the concluding stages as leader The Real Sherlock folded up and odds-on chance Perfect Class – who was crossed at the start – went for the run along the sprint lane. But despite sitting parked, Techys Watching proved too tough, hitting the front and gripping on to defeat his stablemate in a close photo finish.

    So after an improved performance, can the son of Hes Watching win the final next weekend?

    “I’m sure he can,” driver Mark Pitt said.

    “He’s going to have to have a draw which is going to be a big thing in his favour, but even if he did draw bad I still think he’s a big chance.”

    Stewart closed the night in style when Petracca and Sweet Bella prevailed in respective races for the three-year-old boys and girls.

    They also completed a four-timer for Pitt.

    The star reinsman was full of praise for Petracca after he overcame a wide front row draw and mid-race move to thrash his rivals by nearly 20m.

    “There was a lot of speed underneath me, so I just thought I’d drop in and just drive the race to tempo,” he said.

    “He’s a beautiful horse.”

    Pitt led the final event on the card with Sweet Bella and the gun filly made it seven wins from seven career starts when she held off Michael Stanley’s Soho Seraphine and Kerryn Manning’s Surfingmakescents in a dash to the line.

    “She hasn’t had a tough run yet, so I expect her to be pretty strong leading into the final,” Pitt said.

    The first six horses across the line in each semi-final qualify for next Saturday night’s Group 1 finals at Melton, with the fastest seventh in each division progressing as the emergency.

    Draws for next weekend’s showdowns will be completed on Tuesday.

      – HRV Media

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    Michael Court

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