Favorite backers were in the queue, but Tommy Berry had other ideas, his mount Highness running down favourite Spywire in the straight to take out the 2023 Wyong Magic Millions 2YO Classic.
The impeccably bred colt, a son of Snitzel from Diana’s Star and a $900k yearling, went into the $200,000 feature as $4.40 chance.
As the 1100m race evolved it looked like the Maher/Eustace stable had bagged a feature double, before Highness stormed home in the final stages to claim a narrow victory in a thrilling finish.
Trainer Michael Freedman was delighted with the win, believing the colt still has plenty to offer.
“He’s such a laid-back character, a bit showy in condition and still learning to be a racehorse,” Freedman said. “He did a lot of that today on raw ability and if he comes out if it well, we have ticket to the Gold Coast.
“He ran a good time which is a great indication with two-year-olds. He’ll need a trial between now and the Gold Coast race to keep him up to the mark.”
Berry said Highness was as “underdone as you’re going to see him” and has plenty more to give.
“The Gold Coast is going to suit him a bit better and winning this should switch him on.”
The winner sported the same colours as champion colt Capitalist and will be hoping to emulate his success taking out the 2YO Magic Millions Classic in January.
Runner up Spywire ($2.05) is also likely to push onto the Gold Coast, with Waterhouse/Bott runner Toque ($3.10) finishing third. Highness is now a $8 bet for the Gold Coast Classic on January 13.
The race wasn’t without controversy, Racing NSW stewards questioning Spywire’s jockey Tyler Schiller about his riding out his mount in the final 100m, before giving him the benefit of the doubt due to the margin but warning him about such actions in the future.
Spywire returned lame upon examination will require a veterinary clearance before any future trial or race.
While Maher/Eustace may have been denied a feature double, they trained the quinella in the $150,000 Magic Millions 3YO & 4YO Stakes with classy mare Royal Merchant staving off her fast-finishing stablemate Semana on the line.
Jason Collett partnered the winner, a $160,000 MM yearling, who has now amassed $725,970 in prizemoney.
He had the four-year-old mare perfectly positioned throughout, hitting the front in the straight and holding out a late challenge by Semana.
The Wyong win was Royal Merchant’s fifth from just 17 starts, including a Group 1 victory in The Goodwood at Morphetville in May before going out for spell.
The Wyong race looked a perfect starting point, and the mare didn’t disappoint pleasing both her stable and rider.
Assistant trainer Johann Gerard-Dubord said class had prevailed.
“She had blinkers for the first time, ended up in the perfect spot, travelled well and was good late,” he said. ‘Semana shows us nothing at trials or in trackwork but is a different horse on race day.
“They will both head to the Magic Millions now.”
Collett said Royal Merchant was “very sharp.”
“She’s had a let up and a trial and the set weights really suited her. She was well placed in this race.”
Royal Merchant was sent out $1.40 favorite, with Semana ($12) and Silentsar ($8.50) who was doing his best work late, third.
Kim Waugh had a memorable day training a double with Linguee ($26) taking out the 1300m WYONG LEAGUES CLUB GROUP PROVINCIAL BM68 & Bojangles ($3.50) the PBL LAW GROUP Midway BM64 over 1100m, the latter giving Berry a race to race double.
Waugh had been frustrated with Linguee continually drawing wide barriers but despite drawing wide in nine she decided to start her.
“She’s a lovely filly but she always draws terrible, it all worked out for her today. Tom (Sherry) rode her a treat. The owners deserve every winner they get. They put a lot of money into racing and it’s a nice Xmas present.”
She was equally impressed with progressive three-year-old Bojangles, who showed a super turn of foot in the final stages to grab victory on the line.
“She’s a good little horse. We bred him, my owners John Stewart & Robert Roulston, and I’m so happy they got a good horse.
“I don’t know how good he is yet, he’s impressive. Going from a maiden to a BM64 didn’t worry him, he’s a cool little cat.”
Waugh continued a great run with nine winners in just over a month and 14 for the season.
Sara Ryan kicked off the Magic Millions program with a winner in the first, her debutant How Much Better ($7.50) taking out the 1350m STAINLESS FX MAIDEN.
The All Too Hard colt is a half-brother to Ryan’s six-year-old Much Much Better, who has amassed more than $558,000 in his 32 starts.
“I only hope he’s as good as his brother,” Ryan said after the victory. “It was a gritty win today and there is still plenty of improvement to come. He’s a good horse and I’m excited about his future.”
The $220,000 yearling giving Ryan her 13th win for the season.
Rachel King put on a masterclass in the 2100m PRIDE EXCAVATIONS BM64 on the Brett Cavanough trained Supertrail ($10).
King rated the So You Think four-year-old perfectly, pinching a gap on her rivals around the 1000m mark, before going to the line strongly to win by a length.
Cavananaugh describing Supertrail after the race as a “progressive stayer.”
The $2.15 favorite Youthful finished strongly in second and is not far off another win.
More Than Ready mare Mistress dominated the 1600m GOLD COAST YEARLING SALE 3 – 16 JAN BM64 courtesy of a cool ride by Tyler Schiller.
Schiller struck a wall of horses as he turned into the straight but waited patiently until a gap appeared, the four-year-old showing a great turn of foot to speed away and win by two lengths.
“She’s a really good progressive filly, and hopefully she can get going now,” Schiller said.
Trained by John O’Shea, Mistress brought up her second win at start eight.
The $300,000 Magic Millions yearling, is raced by Milburn Creek’s John and Trish Muir,
There was plenty of praise for the condition of the track, with credit due to Phil Robinson & his team.