By Glenn Davis
Trainer Ritchie Stephenson is hopeful of a breakthrough Stakes win from consistent galloper Emphasis in the Listed Member’s Cup at Doomben on Saturday.
Emphasis has tried five times to win at Listed level but his best result was at his first attempt when second to fellow Toowoomba galloper Cantbuybetter in the Member’s Cup at Doomben in May, 2017.
The performance earned him a shot at the Group 1 Doomben Cup at his next start but he failed to measure up behind the Kris Lees-trained Sense Of Occasion.
“He was well beaten in the Doomben Cup a few years ago but he wasn't disgraced as it was a very heavy track which didn't suit him," said 74-year-old Stephenson.
Emphasis has been in career best form with two wins and a third from his past three starts including his latest victory over 1600 metres at Doomben on February 16.
The son of Domesday has shown a distinct liking for Doomben and in particular for the extended mile where he has won four times and placed on another four occasions from 15 starts.
“He’s going well and has had a few goes trying to win a Stakes race so he probably deserves to win one,” Stephenson said.
“I bought him for $10,000 at a Darley tried horse sale and he’s won more than $415,000 in prizemoney.”
Stephenson has attributed much of Emphasis recent success to champion jockey Jeff Lloyd who has ridden the six-year-old at his past three starts.
“Jeff is a great rider and has been a big help with Emphasis. He’s got a wonderful judge of pace,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson has only a small team of nine horses in work at Toowoomba but is an icon in the region with 50 years of training behind him.
“I only have nine horses in work and I don’t take them to Brisbane unless I think they can win,” Stephenson said.
“He was a bit of a rogue when I first bought him off Darley but I always believed he could win a big race.”
Stephenson, who worked as a shearer and on cattle stations at Surat in central Queensland before taking up training, is hoping that race will be the $150,000 Toowoomba Cup on his home track at Clifford Park on April 6.
“I’ve had a number of starters over the years in the Toowoomba Cup and have been placed a few times but I’ve never won it,” he said.
“It’s be great to win it on my home track this year with Emphasis.”
Racing Queensland webnews February 27