Late in May 2021, Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin had some fun…
Heading to Tabcorp Park Melton with runners in four Australian Pacing Gold Finals, the power couple left with three Group Ones winners.
Just for good measure, the Stewart/Tonkin camp also filled two quinellas and a trifecta in the features.
In what has been a dominating campaign, Stewart and Tonkin captured eight APG heats across the two age categories in recent weeks, including a clean sweep of the two-year-old qualifiers.
“It’s been a terrific series for the team, and most importantly, our owners,” Stewart said.
“Take Danny Zavitsanos for example, he’s a regular buyer at the sales and puts a lot into the sport, so seeing him win one of the Finals tonight is very satisfying.
“The same goes for every owner we have in the stable whether it is races like tonight’s APG Finals or a midweek meeting at a country track.”
Zavitsanos owns Lightning Dan which proved too good in the $125,000 decider for two-year-old colts and geldings.
With David Moran in the cart, Lightning Dan completed a two-metre win from his stablemate Khafaji.
Beach Villa rounded out the Stewart/Tonkin trifecta when a metre-and-a-half away third.
Lightning Dan rated 1:56.5 over 1720 metres to take his record to three wins and two placings from six starts for earnings of $83,990.
In an amazing result, Lightning Dan’s sister and stablemate, Tough Tilly, emulated her younger sibling by securing the $350,000 APG Final for three-year-old fillies an hour later.
Driven by Kate Gath, Tough Tilly was never seriously challenged on her way to a 12-metre win from her stablemate Joanna.
Anntonia was a metre-and-a-half away third in 1:52.5.
By Captaintreacherous, Lightning Dan and Tough Tilly are from broodmare gem Beninjurd.
An unraced sister to Stewart’s former top pacer Philadelphia Man, Beninjurd is also the dam of 2018 APG champion, Centenario.
Centenario, which won 11 of his 17 starts, was also prepared by Stewart before his untimely death.
Not to be forgotten, Irish Black Label kick-started proceedings for Stewart and Tonkin when she outclassed her opposition in the $125,000 Final for two-year-old fillies.
Also driven by Moran, Irish Black Label overcame a second row draw to score by a metre from her stablemate, Petillante.
Just Hope was seven-and-a-half metres away third in 1:55.4.
With each eligible for rich majors later in the year such as the Victoria Oaks, Breeders’ Crown and Vicbred Super Series, Stewart plans to give the winners a short break.