Emma’s the gift that keeps on giving

The Keith Dryden-trained Emma’s Gift just keeps on winning in the Ricky Stuart Foundation colours. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Some things are simply bigger than racing, and with so much prizemoney to be won these days, it’s refreshing when industry participants give back to worthwhile causes.

That’s certainly the case with the Keith Dryden-trained Emma’s Gift, which races in the Ricky Stuart Foundation colours.

In 2020, Stuart was invited by ‘a good bunch of mates’ to be involved with the then unnamed two-year-old. 

The Delago Deluxe mare that is out of De Prima Ballerina, was eventually named Emma’s Gift, with 10% of her prizemoney going directly to the Ricky Stuart Foundation. 

“It’s just really nice,” Stuart said. 

“A couple of blokes, Peter Maloney and Michael Houston, they got me in involved, and they are good mates of mine, and they spoke to me about the opportunity.

“For me, it’s about awareness as much as anything. It’s a chance to raise a bit of a profile for the foundation, and I think the horse has won 130 to 140 grand, and the boys have been kind enough to give the foundation 10%.

“Those types of contributions are terrific, and they get the community buying into it as well.”

Emma’s Gift has been a terrific earner for connections, racing 27 times for six wins and 10 minor placings, earning just shy of $145,000 in prizemoney. 

The five-year-old is in career-best form, winning three of her past four starts, including a last-start victory in the 1000m Benchmark 70 TAB Federal at Canberra on January 11. 

“Every time she wins, I get phone calls saying, ‘thanks for the tip’ and yes, my names on it, but I don’t own her, and it’s for the foundation,” Stuart laughed.

“I don’t get those calls when she loses, but it’s just great to see her raising awareness.”

The rugby league great and current Canberra Raiders coach was taken back by the gesture to name the mare after his daughter Emma, and he continues to be delighted when the popular Canberra galloper goes around in the Ricky Stuart Foundation colours.   

“The special connection is one; local blokes reaching out and wanting to name a horse after my daughter, and two; those same blokes wanting to help the foundation,” Stuart said. 

“Having the horse named Emma’s Gift is very kind and very generous. The boys are good people, and they do a lot around the community, and when they suggested to me to get involved, I felt very privileged and chuffed about the fact they were offering me the opportunity.”

Stuart and connections will have Emma’s Gift racing again at Canberra on Friday as she looks to register career-win number seven in the 1200m Benchmark 70 TAB Federal. 

Annie Dryden was pleased to have Stuart involved with Emma’s Gift, and she praised the ownership group for giving back to a good cause. 

“Keith and Emma’s Gift owners Peter Maloney, Greg McAllister and Michael Houston offer their continued support for the foundation. It is wonderful that the organisation has received 10% of $140000.00,” Dryden said. 

“The ownership has bred and raced a number of horses including Tougherthantherest, Prince Elliott, Prince Jacko.”

Hoofnote: The Ricky Stuart Foundation was created in 2011 with a clear mission to provide a voice for families and individuals with autism nationally. 

Ricky believes passionately in keeping families together, by ensuring that every individual with autism and their family has access to state-of-the-art respite facilities and best practice housing models.

The Ricky Stuart Foundation values equality, inclusion, acceptance and respect for everyone and the foundation’s vision is to create an inclusive and accepting Australia, through national educational and awareness campaigns and programs in our schools, workplaces, and community.

Canberra’s Thoroughbred Park continues to raise awareness of the Ricky Stuart Foundation, while raising money through their different race days and calcuttas.