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Coolangatta: The Real Deal?


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Coolangatta: She came, she saw and she conquered

Coolangatta wins the Magic Millions 2YO Classic under jockey James McDonald. Picture: Grant Peters - Trackside Photography.Coolangatta wins the Magic Millions 2YO Classic under jockey James McDonald. Picture: Grant Peters – Trackside Photography.
 
 
By Trenton Akers
09:16pm • 15 January 2022
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The racecaller anointed her the hottest girl on the Gold Coast and Coolangatta might just be the hottest filly in racing after taking out the Magic Millions 2YO Classic in a ding-dong battle against Russian Conquest.

A raging odds-on favourite since markets opened, trainer Ciaron Maher has carried the weight of expectation with Coolangatta since her debut win in the Gimcrack in October but he delivered on the biggest stage to land the $2m race.

Maher and co-trainer David Eustace have done their best to keep a lid on the hype surrounding their filly in the lead up to the race while superstar jockey James McDonald has gone to great lengths to ensure he is free to ride her.

Acknowledging the long build up, Maher said Saturday’s triumph was more of a relief than anything as he now sets her for a Group 1 Golden Slipper campaign in the Sydney autumn carnival.

“There is a big team but this is what it is all about,” Maher said. “To win on the big days is what it is all about.

“It was a long build up with her, she was favourite for a long time. It’s a relief when they start those odds and eventually win.”

Rarely can a horse live up to the boom placed on it after one start but Maher has managed to maintain the rage with Coolangatta, who now has $1.4m next to her name after three starts for her group of prominent owners.

McDonald was cool, calm and collected when dealt barrier 13 and managed to get her one off the fence before the turn before confidently popping out three wide.

While she cruised up in her typically dominant fashion, there were nervous moments for favourite backers and connections when McDonald suddenly asked for her top effort.

The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Russian Conquest ($5.50) threw down the gauntlet under Kerrin McEvoy when she ranged up at the 300m mark, with the pair eventually clearing out on the rest of the field.

Just as she looked ready to roll the favourite however, McDonald dug deep into his bag of tricks to get a final effort out of Coolangatta which saw her find again and win in a tight finish.

“He might have gone a bit early,” Maher laughed. “When he went early he made me a little bit nervous.

“He is good under pressure, he is a great man and a great jockey and he knew what he had underneath him.”

McDonald cut short a lucrative trip to Hong Kong in December to ensure he would be back in Australia long enough to ride Coolangatta on Boxing Day and Saturday’s success is the culmination of a long-term plan.

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Coolangatta wins the Magic Millions 2YO Classic. Picture by Luke Marsden.

 

“She has been such a hyped horse,” McDonald said. “She has been a dominant favourite for a long time, it has been a big build up from a long way out, this makes it all worthwhile.

“The team does a great job with her, it doesn’t always work out but today it has. Barrier 13 was a blessing and it worked out beautifully.”

It caps off a golden year for McDonald, who before Saturday had never won a Magic Millions 2YO Classic, adding to his Melbourne Cup victory in November.

The victory is another big-race success for prominent owners Ozzie Kheir and Brae Sokolski who won the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Victorian Derby during the spring carnival.

“(This is) Every bit as good,” Sokolski said. “It’s so fulfilling because of the nature of it, you’re up against every other owner buying the yearlings hoping and dreaming of being here.

“I have been unlucky in this race in the past so to win one of these is just so good. She has been winning with her brilliance in her first two starts but today she won with heart which shows she has the courage of a champion.”

Bookmakers were quick to mark Coolangatta a $4 favourite for the Golden Slipper to be run on March 19.

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I reckon there is a lot of upside to this filly.  Still has a good frame to fill and the way she was cheekily annoying the commentators horse coming back to scale showed the race took nothing out of her at least mentally.

No wonder JMac will do anything to keep the ride!

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I couldn't believe how short the NZ filly was, about $26 if I recall correctly. Given her form and the form of some of the others I was expecting at least 80s. She was the lowest qualifier. 

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13 hours ago, Doomed said:

I couldn't believe how short the NZ filly was, about $26 if I recall correctly. Given her form and the form of some of the others I was expecting at least 80s. She was the lowest qualifier. 

She did run on in her previous start which was won by Coolangatta after not getting all the favours. As for being the lowest qualifier as often happens with these sweepstake races with all sorts of pathways into the field there were quite a few that got a soft entry into the field.

She put in a short stride and semi-stumbled at the turn and Prebble sat up on her.  I hope it was an over reaction rather than an injury as I reckon she'd pick up a good race over there especially in the autumn.

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7 hours ago, Chief Stipe said:

She put in a short stride and semi-stumbled at the turn and Prebble sat up on her.  I hope it was an over reaction rather than an injury as I reckon she'd pick up a good race over there especially in the autumn.

@Thomass you obviously didn't watch the race or you were wearing blinkers.  The word is she jarred up bad on the very firm track.  

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Richards was also lamenting Bright Blue Sky’s run in the A$2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) on Saturday.

“I think she got galloped on or took a bit of a rough stride and Brett (Prebble, jockey) may have overreacted. She seemed to come through the race well,” he said.

“Ashley Handley (travelling foreman) and our vet are pleased with how she has come through it all.

“Unfortunately, it is just one of those things that happens from time-to-time, jockeys have just got a split-second decision to make.

“We are disappointed with the way it all finished up because we had been happy with her. We will give her a break now and get her home and look forward to the next preparation with her.”

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1 hour ago, Chief Stipe said:

Richards was also lamenting Bright Blue Sky’s run in the A$2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) on Saturday.

“I think she got galloped on or took a bit of a rough stride and Brett (Prebble, jockey) may have overreacted. She seemed to come through the race well,” he said.

“Ashley Handley (travelling foreman) and our vet are pleased with how she has come through it all.

“Unfortunately, it is just one of those things that happens from time-to-time, jockeys have just got a split-second decision to make.

“We are disappointed with the way it all finished up because we had been happy with her. We will give her a break now and get her home and look forward to the next preparation with her.”

Shame as is probably the best 2yo in NZ & you would have to think would have been hard to beat in both G1 races. Seemed a strange decision to send her over for that race given the strength of 2yos in Australia.

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42 minutes ago, Huey said:

Shame as is probably the best 2yo in NZ & you would have to think would have been hard to beat in both G1 races. Seemed a strange decision to send her over for that race given the strength of 2yos in Australia.

She was bought with the intention of targeting the MM race.  As are most of the purchases by TA at the MM sale.  I guess TA are trying to crack the formula.  However there are so many weird rides by OZ Jockey's on TA or NZ horses.  Not sure why.  

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2 hours ago, Chief Stipe said:

She was bought with the intention of targeting the MM race.  As are most of the purchases by TA at the MM sale.  I guess TA are trying to crack the formula.  However there are so many weird rides by OZ Jockey's on TA or NZ horses.  Not sure why.  

Realise that, but despite the context our Group form is held in reality , you would have to think that a double G1 winning 2yo would be worth at least as much as the prizemoney of the MM? 

 

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1 hour ago, Huey said:

Realise that, but despite the context our Group form is held in reality , you would have to think that a double G1 winning 2yo would be worth at least as much as the prizemoney of the MM? 

 

What more than AUD$1.2m to the winner?  Are you suggesting that NZ Grp wins still rate highly?

If that was the case why don't OZ horses target NZ Grp races?

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2 hours ago, Chief Stipe said:

If that was the case why don't OZ horses target NZ Grp races?

Too cold and windy ? (you'd feel it a bit as a sailor) also beer not quite as good ?? . Gammalite gave it a crack anyway back in the day to look after you. (a few Group 1's in NZ ) and tried the beer too !!

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12 hours ago, Chief Stipe said:

What more than AUD$1.2m to the winner?  Are you suggesting that NZ Grp wins still rate highly?

If that was the case why don't OZ horses target NZ Grp races?

Avantage 

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1 hour ago, Chief Stipe said:

Uh?

Someone obviously rates the NZ Group form still to pay the money they did for her and MB , from memory both only won one Group race in Aus. in MB case I think it was a G1.

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1 hour ago, Huey said:

Someone obviously rates the NZ Group form still to pay the money they did for her and MB , from memory both only won one Group race in Aus. in MB case I think it was a G1.

Exactly, quite extraordinary prices for Avantage and Melody Belle based largely on NZ group form, so it obviously has more credibility than most of us think.

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4 hours ago, Huey said:

Someone obviously rates the NZ Group form still to pay the money they did for her and MB , from memory both only won one Group race in Aus. in MB case I think it was a G1.

Avantage was by Fastnet Rock, stamped her form in OZ and won races from 1000m to 2100m.  Appealing to OZ Studs.

Forgot to add she could run time.

Melody Belle by Darley Stallion Commands.

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1 hour ago, Chief Stipe said:

Avantage was by Fastnet Rock, stamped her form in OZ and won races from 1000m to 2100m.  Appealing to OZ Studs.

Forgot to add she could run time.

Melody Belle by Darley Stallion Commands.

This BBS also by Fastnet Rock from arguably one of the best female families in the studbook.

Avantage won 1 G3 in Aus & a nice enough 3rd behind Classique Legend who was on his way up, hardly something Aus studs are going to be paying $4m solely for. 

MB won 2 in Aus and her G1 over there was in a time honoured race during the Spring Carnival against very good horses, so one can understand the price paid for her.

Perhaps the idea is to breed from BBS and thats why they went for the MM . however I'd have thought a G1 on the CV was worth more than a restricted sales race ? 

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