Horse Racing

Saturday racing in review

Sunlight (Gold Coast R7)
Sunlight was already in the Magic Millions Classic mix and she added significant strength to her claims with a dominant front-running display in the QTIS 2YO Handicap (1100m) at the Gold Coast. In putting nearest chaser Terminology away by 4.5L, the daughter of Zoustar clocked 1.02.48 for the 1100m – a new class record – and Luke Currie was easy on her through the line. Trainer Tony McEvoy described Sunlight as “a high class filly” and it’s hard to argue with that assessment based on today’s professional performance. 

Front Bar Fodder

RANDWICK

Hugie strikes early in mixed return 
The world’s best jockey Hugh Bowman was back in Sydney on Saturday for the first time since October and his fellow riders gave him a warm reception for his return at Randwick. 

Bowman had a strong book of rides and it didn’t take him long to boot home a winner, with victory aboard Fortensky in the third race of the day.  It was his only winner for the day however despite riding a couple of favourites. Scream Park ($ 2.80F) disappointed in the opener, finishing 4th in a small field after leading. The Ocean Park colt may not have been suited with the drop back from a mile to 1400m in a fast run race. Awesome Pluck ($ 1.65F) also struggled in the Highway Handicap. Bowman wasn’t keen to lead on the favourite, but caught three-wide with a muddling tempo he was forced to go forward to sit up on the pace. As was the case first-up however the big son of Pluck was very one-paced in the straight.

Aqua D’Ivina pushes case for Magic Millions start

Trainer Matthew Smith has some thinking to do over the next 48 hours regarding the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas after Aqua D’ivina recorded an impressive victory at Randwick. Aqua D’ivina is rated an $ 11 chance for next week’s rich race, but Smith holds some reservations about backing-up the Pierro filly.

“It might be a bit soon for her in terms of her preparation and the 1400m up there, tight track might not suit her.”

Pierata is the firm favourite for the Guineas at the Gold Coast at $ 3 with the Kris Lees-trained Sasso Corbaro the only other runner under double figures at $ 6.

Dunn breaks mini drought

Matt Dunn has dominated the Highway races, but it had been a barren spell by his lofty standards in the Highway Handicaps of late. His last winner had come at the end of October, but he put an end to the mini drought on Saturday with Runway Ready scoring a big victory. Awesome Pluck dominated the betting, but it was Runway Ready ($ 5) who dominated the race, sprinting clear at the 150m to score by 2.5 lengths. It provided Dunn with his 14th Highway win.

GOLD COAST

On to the Millions, but who wins?
There’s no doubt the biggest talking point out of today’s Gold Coast meeting was Sunlight’s commanding victory (see star performer) and what it means in terms of next Saturday’s Magic Millions Classic (1200m). Plenty of punters heaped praise on the exciting filly and William Hill reacted by shortening her from $ 6.50 into $ 4.80. But the bagmen didn’t think she did enough to surpass either Wyong Magic Millions winner Jonker ($ 3.80) or slick Queenslander Ef Troop ($ 4) in betting. The trio at the top of the market all enter the grand final on the back of big wins and regardless of which horse you fancy, it’s shaping up as a quality and highly-anticipated edition of the rich Gold Coast sprint.  

The fine red wine that is Jeff Lloyd
Queensland’s leading jockey Jeff Lloyd, now 56, continues to dominate his younger rivals in the sunshine state. The veteran rode a treble today and among them was a tactical beauty on Mishani Bullitt ($ 4.80), where he used initiative to take the lead after originally settling mid-field in the 1800m QTIS 3YO Handicap. Lloyd then finished the job by getting everything out of Mishani Bullitt late, which is something he does particularly well. Lloyd’s strong riding skills were also on show later in the day when he scored on Bat A Kat ($ 3.30F) in the 1200m QTIS 3YO Handicap and Plucky Girl ($ 5) in the Class 6 Plate (1400m). The senior rider is the clear top dog in Queensland’s jockey ranks and is tracking towards a third straight premiership.

Ex-Victorian scores for Schweida
Ex-Victorian Mighty Like has a reputation as a terrific fresh performer and he added to that with a win in his first start for Kelly Schweida in the 1200m Open Handicap. In holding off the fast-finishing Raido, who was humming late, the Queensland newcomer took his first-up record to 7:4-2-0.

AROUND THE GROUNDS 

Lever back a winner
Chad Lever returned to riding this week after a long lay-off following a fall at Scone back in August and he returned to the winners’ circle at Wyong. On paper it appeared an easy assignment for Lever riding Auerbach in the first on the card, with the Chris Waller-trained gelding sent around as the $ 1.55 favourite. Lever was made to work for it however with Auerbach requiring plenty of hard riding to get him home by a nose over Julie Magic.

Soothing gets the cash in the last

The money was right in the last at Wyong with Godolphin filly Soothing flogging her rivals in the Class 1 affair. The three-year-old, who was backed from $ 4 into $ 2.80 late in betting, came away to win by 3.5 lengths and looks ready for a trip to the city.


Heart attack for Ipswich favourite backers
Yes, it was only a 3YO BM70 at Ipswich but Trommelschlagen’s last-minute win as a $ 1.55F certainly caught our eye (black and pink ‘Heathcote’ silks). Hopefully those who took the shorts had enough on to pay for heart check-ups on Monday.

Four straight for apprentice Kirby at Esperance 
Brodie Kirby had a day out at Esperance Bay, claiming the first four races on the card. The 2kg claimer had success aboard Another Demon ($ 2.45F), Makuru ($ 14), Penalty Point ($ 3.5F) and Senorita Bonita ($ 2.75F). Kirby is having a fine season with 24 winners at a strike rate of 19 per cent. 

Punters Pearler

Jason Collet’s four-bagger at Randwick

Hugh Bowman might have been back in town however it was Jason Collett who took centre stage at Randwick. He enjoyed a day out booting home Aqua D’Invina, Futooh, Burradoo and Siren’s Fury.


Get in the Sea

Awesome Pluck
Is he a wet-tracker, a slow learner or just a myth? While it’s too early to tell, his performance as an odd-on favourite is still sea-worthy. Just like his first-up run, the $ 1.65 favourite offered little when the pressure went on in the straight.

Guard of Honour
Lost his bits 🍒  after his last campaign, but it might be all in vain. While he did produce a narrow win first-up at Muswellbrook, his run at Randwick was just OK. The $ 3 favourite was there to pounce at the 200m, but he was pretty once-paced over the final furlong to finish back in 5th.  

The Winners

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