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Canberra Horse of the Year to come down to final meeting

A fierce battle for Canberra Horse of the Year honours will come down to the TAB Federal (1206m) at Thoroughbred Park this Friday.

The 2022/2023 Canberra racing season has been dominated by Keith Dryden who sits atop the Trainers Premiership on 24 wins. Dryden’s ever consistent mare, Emma’s Gift, will enter the final meeting of the season in the box seat for Horse of the Year, having secured four wins and a second placing from her seven starts this season.

That record puts her one win above John Rolfe’s I Am Mamwaazel who has three wins and two seconds from six starts at Thoroughbred Park in 2022/2023.

The duo are set to faceoff in Friday’s feature on the Acton Track and have fittingly drawn alongside each other with I Am Mamwaazel to jump from barrier nine and Emma’s Gift in ten.

Emma’s Gift was a brilliant last start winner on what was the first race meeting held on the new Acton Track on Friday, 23 June.

Amongst those rooting for the mare by Delago Deluxe, is part owner, Canberra Raiders Coach, Ricky Stuart.

“It’s been a really fun journey.” Stuart said of his experience with Emma’s Gift. “She’s been a really good horse who has brought us a lot of success.”

Stuart’s foundation, the Ricky Stuart Foundation benefits from 10% of prizemoney won by Emma’s Gift, who is looking to add to her seven career victories.

“It’s a wonderful and generous gesture from a couple of old friends in Mick Houston and Pete Maloney, to donate 10% of her prizemoney.”

“The almost $20,000 has been raised through the horse has been wonderful but it’s more than that.” Stuart said.

“The positive publicity we’ve managed to attract through Emma’s Gift has been great and is something we really cherish.”

Emma’s Gift need only beat one horse to crown herself the Canberra Horse of the Year, John Rolfe’s I Am Mamwaazel.

The tough and consistent I Am Mamwaazel enters the TAB Federal first-up after a well-earned break.

The son of I Am Invincible was brilliant last preparation before being tipped out, registering three wins, two seconds and a fourth from his past six runs.

“With luck he probably could have won them all.” Rolfe said. “He’s ready to go again this Friday.”

“We’re going to roll forward with him, it’s all he knows. Michael (Heagney) will assess after the start but the plan will be get him out the front and out of trouble.”

I Am Mamwaazel will have to carry 62.5kg in what is a quality affair, but Rolfe is confident that it won’t be his undoing.

“He’s such a big, strong horse.” Rolfe said. “You look back at his recent runs and he’s carried that kind of weight and won, it won’t worry him at all.”

The TAB Federal, which will determine the Canberra Horse of the Year, is Race Six on Friday’s program and is due to jump at 3:45pm

Keith Dryden brings a strong team to Friday’s meeting as he looks to extend his lead in what will be his eighth Trainers Premiership.

Injured hoop Jeff Penza holds a commanding lead in the Jockeys Premiership (22 wins) and mathematically, cannot be caught by closest rival Alysha Collett (13 wins).

The Apprentice Jockey Premiership is still up for grabs will Molly Bourke in front on 6 wins for the season. Bourke isn’t riding at Friday’s meeting and will be hoping she has done enough with Damon Budler within striking distance on 5.5 wins.

Budler has three opportunities to clinch the title on Friday which would see him as Canberra Apprentice of the Year, two-years running.