WHEN it comes to winning group 1 races, Emma Stewart has few peers.
Only New South Wales trainer Paul Fitzpatrick and West Australia’s Gary Hall senior have produced more over the past decade.
Fitzpatrick and Hall have each won 27 since 2001 – just five more than the Smythes Creek-based Stewart.
She sets out to add another to her tally at Melton harness races tomorrow night.
Stewart lines up six starters in two $20,000 Victoria Oaks heats, 2240m.
With an outstanding stable of three-year-old fillies over the past few years, Stewart has been able to make this classic a special focus.
Beauty Secret won the Oaks for Stewart two years ago.
In that season, Stewart just missed out on making a clean sweep of the three Oaks heats, with Beauty Secret and Shake It Mama winning heats, and Hexham Heartbeat running a close second in the other.
Although the ultimate success eluded her last season, she still won a heat with Our Femme Fatale and had two starters in the final.
Group 1 winner Whereibylong leads the stable’s assault on the opening heat tomorrow night.
Last season’s Australasian Breeders Crown 2yo fillies’ final winner has drawn the pole and will be joined by stablemates Celebrity Lass and Bettors Package.
Stewart’s presence in the second heat features Punch Line, Berisari and Our Petite Soeur, which is a half-sister to Our Femme Fatale.
Last-start Ballarat winner Bettors Downunder also contests the second heat for Ross Creek trainer Steve Loftus, while Glen Park trainer Bassie Steenhuis has Tallulah Bay engaged in the same event.
Stewart and Michael Stanley also have runners in $30,000 Australian Pacing Gold semi-finals for two-year-old colts and geldings, 1720m, at Melton.
Stanley has Passaic River and Soho Chicago, while Stewart has Ideal For Real and Atticus.
IT IS appropriate that the focus on fillies in the Victoria Oaks heats comes a day after Ballarat and District Trotting Club has its own annual Girls Night Out at Bray Raceway tonight.
The Karington Jewelry C1 Pace, 2200m, is the feature race, being restricted to reinswoman.
This season’s leading female driver in Victoria, Jodi Quinlan, has picked up a late drive on the Ron Jewell-trained Ruby Heart.
The nine-race program also has close ties to the Victoria Oaks, with two placegetters from last year’s Oaks final engaged.
Im Smouldering, which finished second to NSW champion Frith in the classic, lines up in the 4CYTE Equine C5-C6 Pace, 2200m.
The 2013 Oaks third placegetter Getya Wings Out gets an opportunity in an EK Bray Country Clubs Cup heat, 2200m, to make up for a couple runs below expectations.