AUSTRALIA’S first ever $10million race day delivered from every possible angle, with the 2016 Magic Millions a day to be savoured.
There can be no doubt the significant prizemoney injection brought a classier level of horse to the raceday.
Magic Millions have been selling champion horses for 30 years, but for purely economic reasons, the very best ones had tended to bypass the summer carnival on the Gold Coast to chase bigger prizes either side.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
While that still rings true for many horses, the huge money across the board clearly forced a re-think for some stables, while the horse that would ultimately prove Australia’s Champion 2YO stakes his credentials with a wonderful win in the MM 2YO Classic.
A look at the results across the day underlined the quality of horse flesh that played on Millions day.
Of the nine races run, three were taken by horses already successful at Group 1 level – Buffering, Tinto and Lucky Hussler.
The Guineas was won by Mahuta, a horse coming off successive Group 2 and 3 wins during the Melbourne spring carnival.
And the best guide to a meeting’s quality is gauged by what the horses do subsequently.
Buffering won the Al Quoz Sprint at his next start, carrying his earnings beyond the $7million mark.
Capitalist went on to join Dance Hero and Phelan Ready as the third horse to complete the MM-Golden Slipper double. And Mahuta returned to Melbourne to win another Group 2 race.
Fresh off his Melbourne Cup win with Prince Of Penzance, Darren Weir targeted the Gold Coast for the very first time with two of his spring stars.
Weir had been breaking records for a few seasons with his massive team in Victoria, but Queensland hadn’t been much of a consideration for him until the MM carnival took on a whole new aura with the suite of seven figure races.
Weir weighed up the option of giving his stable stars a spell or pressing on with their campaigns to have a crack at the monstrous money on the Gold Coast.
He and his clients were rewarded handsomely when Mahuta dominated the $2million MM Guineas and Lucky Hussler proved a class above in the $1Million MM Cup.
It was a masterclass from Weir as the duo swept a cool $1.8million between them.
Weir had never won a race at the Gold Coast but made up for lost time with the dynamic duo, capping a remarkable two months for the trainer after Prince Of Penzance’s Melbourne Cup.
“You have to pinch yourself a bit,” he said.
“It’s all about luck and you have to bring the right horses. I had a couple of others I could have brought up, but these were the two that looked best suited and we’ve come away with a couple of wins.
“It’s easy to say they were the best horses after the event.
“I guess they both had great form for the races they were in.
Weir then said he expects more Victorian trainers to target the $10million day following his success.
“The prizemoney is too good to ignore. I would think everyone will be having a crack at it from now on,” he said.
WHILE Capitalist became the shortest priced favourite in Magic Millions history, starting at $1.40, he was still overshadowed as the most popular winner of the day by local idol Buffering, who was never going to be beaten in the $1Million QTIS MM.
Trainer Rob Heathcote and his connections rated it one of the biggest thrills in the horse’s career.
“To be honest, it’s an enormous feeling of relief. The expectation was that he would come here and just win, but it’s never as simple as that,” Heathcote said.
“Hopefully he bought a lot of pleasure to Queenslanders in doing it. It’s a huge thrill to do it on his home turf. It’s not a Group 1, but it sure feels like it is.”
In the runner-up stall, trainer David Murphy felt like a Group 1 winner himself after Mister Booze did best of the rest behind The Buff.
“It’s bloody good second prizemoney so I couldn’t be happier,” Murphy said. “He ran the race of his life.”
The Magic Millions continues to be the benchmark sales company for selling champion two-year-olds.
In recent seasons Pierro and Vancouver became the champions of their age group with dominant Golden Slipper wins for Gai Waterhouse.
But despite being sold on the Gold Coast, both bypassed the Magic Millions.
It had become a trend that the best MM graduates were not amongst the combatants
Peter and Paul Snowden decided to change that in 2016.
Capitalist was the clear benchmark two-year-old of the early season, having replicated Pierro and Vancouver with success in the Breeders’ Plate.
Unlike that pair, he was given a shorter break and aimed at the $2million MM 2YO Classic.
Punters thought it a foregone conclusion and backed him in to $1.40 and despite a few concerns early for jockey Blake Shinn, he coasted home to win comfortably.
Snowden then made a very shrewd prediction.
“It’s doable,” he said of completing the Slipper double.
This article was authored by Nathan Exelby and originally appeared in 2017 Magic Millions Magazine. It has been republished with permission.