Never wonder if Seymour’s Stephen Brown knows how to pick a winner.
With nine races to choose from, Brown opted to not waste any time with Heavenly Emperor, the only horse he had floated to town, giving himself a slightly later start than usual by setting his sights on the $60 000 Le Pine Funerals Handicap over 1600 m – the second race of the day.
From then on the four-year-old gelding, with Mitchell Aitken in the saddle, did the rest.
But not without giving Brown a few nervous moments, the trainer admitted post-race.
Coming out of gate 12, Heavenly Emperor quickly tracked down the 10-1 pacesetter Thought of That and then seemed content to be just off the pace for most of the mile before moving into the open as they turned for home.
When Aitken urged his mount forward, Brown felt the steam coming out of his ears – that wasn’t where he wanted his galloper that early in the race.
But as the two settled down for a mad dash to the line it became clear planning a late charge might not have been the best plan of the day.
Instead Aitken assessed the race on the spot and decided sooner was going to be much better than any other time.
The horses hit the line with Heavenly Emperor a half-head in front – and that was all it took to put the smile back on Brown’s face.
He happily confessed in his post-race interview he “wasn’t very impressed” when Aitken elected to come out from his cover to match the leader in what had been a quickly run race.
“I wasn’t very happy but it was the right move in the end,” Brown said.
“It turns out you had to be forward and if he had not done that, well you saw in the first race from that point on they didn’t change. They sorted themselves out for the rest of the race and that nearly happened here.
“I had already told the owners he would run one, two or three and they should back him each-way.
“I wasn’t 100 per cent confident (of the win) because he got clipped the other day and hadn’t come up the way I would like him too.
“But he is very fit and he has been working well.
“I probably want to give him another 1600 m to 1700 m and then step him up to 2000 m.
“We did take the crossover nose band off him. I don’t think he was ever a real big fan of it and it might have made a bit of difference, too.”
Other highlights at the meeting included doubles for trainer Michael Moroney and champion jockey Craig Williams.