Veteran trainer Richie Stephenson believes things have finally swung his way as he chases his first Toowoomba Cup.
Stephenson has won hundreds of races, many of them at Toowoomba’s Clifford Park, but the Cup has eluded him in 50 years of trying.
“And nothing would give me greater pleasure if I was to finally do it with Emphasis,” Stephenson said.
“He has been unlucky so many times but he always tries. I mean he only cost us $10,000 at a Darley dispersal sale and he has won nine races and more than $400,000.
“I think the horse and the owners deserve a feature Cup more than I do.”
Stephenson’s carefully laid plans to build up Emphasis to Saturday’s Cup (2000m) have hit a few hurdles.
The gelding won twice at 1600m before lumping 59kg into sixth place in the Listed Tattersall’s Members Cup on March 2.
Stephenson then planned to run him in the Gold Coast Stakes over 1800m on March 16 but had to scratch him because of a wet track.
The only option left was a 1500m-race at Eagle Farm a week later when Emphasis copped bad interference.
“He doesn’t like really wet tracks so the Gold Coast was out and then he had to come back in distance and really got cut in half at Eagle Farm,” Stephenson said.
“He was virtually knocked out of the race. But he has recovered well and things look brighter for Saturday.”
Stephenson said Emphasis would get his preferred racing surface, had a perfect barrier in three and was out to his pet distance.
“We are down in the weights to 55.5kg, his jockey Jim Orman is in form – what more can I say,” Stephenson said.
“A few of the better chances are drawn off the track and here is hoping.”