A number of barrier trials this week could have a significant bearing on Magic Millions betting after Saturday again failed to deliver a standout candidate for the $2 million 2YO Classic.
Ranch Hand became the second hotpot in as many weeks to bite the dust in Brisbane from the Chris Waller stable, falling to first starter Queen Of Wizardry and second starter Win Burn.
He followed Shaquero a week earlier.
Stewards noted Saturday night the Waller stable had reported Shaquero to be mildly lame following his B.J. McLachlan Stakes flop and he has since been treated.
Waller has Shaquero entered for a Gold Coast trial on Tuesday and also this Saturday’s Gold Nugget on the Gold Coast.
Waller has indicated Shaquero will contest one of the pair and needs to impress in order to press onto the Millions.
“He won’t go to the (Magic Millions) without one of the two,” Waller said.
The champion trainer’s MM favourite She’s All Class is scheduled to trial in Sydney today (Monday).
“She’s as good as gold and needs the hitout,” he said.
Waller said Ranch Hand won’t be ruled out of MM contention, but he’s not concerned if the Fastnet Rock colt misses a start, because he is going to be better with time.
Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace’s Fake Love is another MM candidate down to trial at the Coast on Tuesday, along with stablemate Away Game, who remains one of the top picks for the Guineas on January 16.
John Sargent’s Readily Availabull, winner of the Ballarat Clockwise Classic in November, is down to trial on Thursday.
The usual scrimmage to make the field is leaving a number of trainers edgy.
Chris Munce would like to go straight into the MM with Rhapsody Rose, who is in danger of being leapfrogged this weekend. The filly is 15th at the moment, or effectively 14th with Captivant (7th) not running.
Munce fears it still leaves the door open for three or more runners to leap ahead this weekend, so he will nominate for races and wait to decide.
Kelly Schweida’s Miss Hipstar is one place ahead of Rhapsody Rose, but is still a likely runner at the Gold Coast on Saturday, with the trainer liking the recent record of horses on the seven day back up in the Millions.
FLY-IN FLY-OUT WINDOW CLOSES FOR VICTORIAN HOOPS
Jockeys will no longer be permitted to fly in from Victoria for Queensland races on the same day after Racing Queensland adopted recommendations made by the state government on Saturday afternoon.
While the situation could change in coming days, pending any changes announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, for now it means any rider hoping to ride at Saturday’s Gold Coast meeting will have to arrive in Queensland at least a day before the meeting.
The decision is certain to affect a number of jockeys who had plans to ride at the Gold Coast this weekend and if the situation remains the same, will affect several more who plan to ride on Magic Millions Day the following week.
“If they are flying in from Victoria, the expectation from Racing Queensland, following the government’s advice, is they present for a COVID test and self-isolate until it’s negative,” a Racing Queensland spokesman said on Sunday.
Luke Currie and Glen Boss were two riders that flew in from Melbourne to ride at Eagle Farm on Saturday. That will not be permitted under the new direction.
Locally based jockeys Ben Thompson and Steph Thornton were caught in the net on Sunday after they went home to Victoria for Christmas, meaning they had to forfeit rides at the Sunshine Coast meeting.
There is no suggestion either did anything wrong, but the change in government recommendations and RQ’s adoption of those recommendations meant they were stood down Sunday morning.
“We travelled to Victoria and there was no issue in doing it. We were there for two days and returned Boxing Day,” Thompson said.
“Given the way things have worked out, we were told we were unable to ride (Sunday).
“We were told at 9.30. My bag was packed and I was set to leave an hour later.”
Thompson and Thornton were to be tested Sunday afternoon and hope to have their results back within a day and be cleared to ride at Doomben on Thursday.
LADBROKES WEEKEND REPORT
Best backed: Ranch Hand, Race 4: Accounted for over 85 per cent of the Ladbrokes hold.
Best result: Queen Of Wizardry, Race 4: Even Annabel Neasham seemed surprised when Queen Of Wizardry stormed home to win at big odds.
Worst result: Athiri, Race 9: A tough day for punters had a positive finish when Athiri saluted.
GOLD COAST, JAN 16
$5 She’s All Class
$6 Alpine Edge
$7 Ranch Hand
$11 Baby Wong, Fake Love
$13 Queen Of Wizardry
$15 Miss Hipstar
$19 Readily Availabull
$21 Finance Tycoon
$26 Astrologer, Journalism
Tuesday: Muswellbrook, Stony Creek
Wednesday: Rockhampton, Warwick Farm, Sandown Lakeside, Wangaratta, Bordertown, Pinjarra, Devonport (synthetic)
Thursday: Doomben, Wagga, Geelong, Geraldton
Friday: Sunshine Coast (night), Canterbury (night), Cranbourne (night), Port Macquarie, Orange, Stawell, Narrogin, Launceston
Saturday: Gold Coast, Randwick, Flemington, Murray Bridge, Ascot, Ipswich, Cairns, Emerald, Taroom, Kembla Grange, Werribee
Sunday: Sunshine Coast, Coffs Harbour, Nowra, Mornington, Warrnambool, Port Lincoln, Albany
“She carried on like a twit.”
— Trent Edmonds’ assessment of Smart ‘N’ Sexy’s first up demeanour, which brought her undone. She was a different gal putting it all together on Saturday.
THE TALKING POINT
Jamie Kah’s dominance in Melbourne. Trebles on Friday and Saturday have her flying high atop the Melbourne Premiership with a strike rate far superior to any of her rivals.
Bobby El-Issa jumped out of the jocks room in double quick time putting his hand up for the Soxagon ride and then proceeded to handle him perfectly. Made it a double for pick-ups after Snow Valley in the first.
THREE TO BACK
Beaufort Park, Race 2: Handled the class rise.
Indian Dreamer, Race 3: Monster effort to get as close as he did.
Wild Vixen, Race 9: Has to be some hope in the MM F & M off that.
Ranch Hand (Race 4): Another MM chance bites the dust.
Kisukano (Race 9): Remained rock solid in the market, but was in trouble a good way out. Well below her best.
Not many fireworks amongst the winners, but punters did steer clear of morning line favourites Racecourse Road, Love Express and Desert Lord, which all failed to flatter.