His daughter’s wedding and a shot at Group 1 glory will ensure Saturday is a memorable – if extremely hectic – day for giant-killing trainer Andy Stewart.
Retired teacher Stewart is taking aim at what would be an incredible second Group 1 triumph at The Meadows in 2016 when lightly-raced youngster Slick Ice (pictured) faces the biggest test of his 14-start career in the star-studded Australian Cup heats (Form Guide).
Slick Ice will be striving to emulate the Group 1-winning heroics of his litter brother Midwinter, which gave Stewart and his wife Judy a fairytale victory in the Silver Chief at the same venue on January 2 (Replay), storming to a massive upset at $41.
However, the Stewart’s attention will be very much divided, with their daughter Tania, after whom Slick Ice’s mother Tania Two Shoes is named, getting married on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve got a bit of juggling to do!” Judy laughed.
“Andy won’t let anyone else handle the dogs so he’s getting a leave pass from the reception for a couple of hours. Luckily Tania likes the dogs!”
Andy’s dual duties as trainer and father of the bride will be made a little easier with the wedding reception being held at the nearby Living Legends facility for former champion thoroughbreds.
“The wedding was planned 12 months ago and we’ve laughed about it many a time since, thinking wouldn’t it be funny if we had a runner in the Australian Cup heats and sure enough it’s come to fruition,” Andy said.
“Andy won’t let anyone else handle the dogs so he’s getting a leave pass from the reception for a couple of hours. Luckily Tania likes the dogs!” – JUDY STEWART
“We might have to hire some parents for the day!”
Slick Ice – which Tania named Harrison after television program The Voice winner Harrison Craig – will be a special guest at the wedding before heading to The Meadows where he’ll exit box five in the second of eight cut-throat Australian Cup heats.
While Slick Ice might currently be living in the shadow of Midwinter, which was forced out of last Saturday’s Group 1 Rookie Rebel due to injury, Stewart says there’s very little between the proudly homebred duo.
Slick Ice has an impressive eight from 14 record, including best of night 29.83 victories in heat (Replay) and final (Replay) of a fifth grade series at The Meadows before a close last start third in a Shepparton Cup heat (Replay).
“Slick Ice has been a little bit injury prone – he’s done two monkey muscles – but on times there’s not much between him and Midwinter,” Andy explained.
“Slick Ice is a real speedster early whereas Midwinter seems to pace himself and then explodes at the end of his races. Over the 525m I’d say Slick Ice would probably win but Midwinter would win over 600m.
“If Midwinter was as fast as Slick Ice or Slick Ice was as strong as Midwinter you’d have the perfect dog!
“Slick Ice has drawn box five on Saturday and let’s face it, these are the best dogs going around. But he’ll run straight and he’s run 17.67 up the back at The Meadows, so if he can get to the front they’ve got to catch him.
“It’ll be shut your eyes on the first corner but if he gets through I think he can really give it a shake. You won’t get $41 this time, that’s for sure!”
WATCH: Slick Ice scores a sensational win at The Meadows in January in 29.83sec.