An emotional Kevin Hughes was pleasantly surprised to get the judges call in his favour when his bonny filly Emily Margaret prevailed in a tight finish to the Gr.2 Norwood Family Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham on Saturday.
The Riccarton horseman, who trains in partnership with his wife Pam, 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,” Kevin 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), Emily Margaret showed she was no one-trick pony when coming from well off the pace today.
“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.
The trainer is keen to try the daughter of Pins over a mile in the Listed NZB Airfreight Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton on April 6.
“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.
Winning rider Robert Hannam was full of praise for the brave filly considering the race didn’t go to plan.
“The plan was not to go back, but I jumped okay and then we got squeezed early,” Hannam said.
“Then plan A and B went out the window, plans D and E came into effect. When I went through her form the other day, she had won a race from back. I sat back and I knew the outer part of the track was going to be better, so I just waited and gave her one run and she is pretty tough.” – NZ Racing Desk
Race Replay: Trentham Race 6 (Group 2 Norwood Family Wellington Guineas) - 16 March 2019