Emily Margaret will be out to cement the title of Southern Three-year-old Filly of the Year when she contests the Listed $50,000 BZB Airfreight Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton on April 6.
The Pins three-year-old, prepared on the Riccarton track by the husband and wife team of Kevin and Pam Hughes, brought up her fourth victory from 12 starts when she out-bobbed Vigor Winner in a close finish to Saturday’s Group 2 $100,000 Norwood Family Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham.
An emotional Kevin Hughes was pleasantly surprised to get the judge’s call in his favour as Emily Margaret and Vigor Winner went stride for stride over the final stages of the 1400m feature. He fought back tears as his thoughts turned to the victims of the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack, an atrocity committed in his home patch.
“It’s unbelievable, I thought we were second,” Hughes said.
“It’s great for her and great for the South Island. We’ve had a terrible time down there. This is fantastic.”
A last-start all-the-way winner of the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) at Wingatui on March 2, Emily Margaret showed she was no one-trick pony when coming from well off the pace on Saturday.
“She tries hard and there are not many times she hasn’t fronted up,” Hughes said.
“She missed the start today and I thought ‘Oh dear’, but she just stormed home. She did that second-up this year over 1000m but that was huge.
“It was a strong race and there were some very nice horses in the race. I thought there were half a dozen horses that could win it.”
Emily Margaret has had an extensive three-year-old preparation, which started back in September with victory in the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m), a leg of the NZB Southern Filly Of The Year Series.
Her connections are now keen to try the grey filly over a mile in the Airfreight Stakes, which is likely to be her last race in this campaign.
“We want to get the Filly of the Year down South, so we’ll have one more run,” Hughes said.
Emily Margaret defeated lightly-tried galloper Vigor Winner by a half-head, with favourite Dawn Patrol a short-neck away in third in a strong showing first-up from a break.