Sydney raiders well placed to dominate Magic riches
Slap and go … Berrimilla responds for Hugh Bowman to win last year. Photo: Jenny Evans
WITH the ugly four-letter word "bias" hanging over the Gold Coast, cashing in on the Chris Waller phenomenon, including his promising two-year-old Calming Influence, looks attractive at Rosehill Gardens.
Waller, following his winless Saturday last week, has strong prospects in the first six events on his home circuit on Saturday.
Mind you, Rosehill, too, can produce a penchant for those placed up front, particularly when the rail is six metres out, Saturday's position, in hot weather but at least it is a bigger circuit with fewer runners than for the Queensland meeting.
"The only worry I have got is the state of the track here," Liam Birchley, trainer of Missy Longstocking in the Magic Millions for two-year-olds, told Racenet.
"It was ridiculously biased to frontrunners last year,'' he added. ''If you weren't in the top two or three in the run, you couldn't win."
While Missy Longstocking, unbeaten in four attempts, will be involved in a charge of the youthful brigade, a race hardly attractive to a good gamble, others with more experience which have raced against the pattern successfully, Bennetta (at $4 in Magic Millions for fillies and mares) and Stratford (at $8 in Magic Millions Cup), look more appealing.
"Punters have stepped into this last-start winner, plenty of money at $3.50 and shorter," Mark Cruickshank (Unibet) said of Bennetta, which came from the rear to score on a frontrunners' paradise at Canterbury last start. Bennetta was the only winner not in the first few early in the straight to triumph on the day.
Despite a last-start failure, Stratford was highlighted by Tom Waterhouse as the value bet. "Stratford is attempting to become the first horse to win three consecutive Magic Millions," he said. "Loves the track and willing to forgive last start in a leader-dominated Razor Sharp."
Stratford, which settled near the rear, finished last but the leaders sizzled home over the final 600 metres, and those giving a start had no chance at the Farm on December 22.
As Waterhouse pointed out, Stratford is comfortable indeed at the Gold Coast, and should be suited by the 1400m.
Verdict: Bennetta and Stratford.
Waller's success has been based more on European imports than two-year-olds but Calming Influence in the first promises to continue the trend this season started at Warwick Farm on Wednesday where the trainer scored with Mamwaazel.
Calming Influence beat Mamwaazel in a 900m Rosehill barrier trial on December 18 in fast time, prompting the specialist publication The Midweeker to report: "Railed to lead setting a solid speed. Held together in run to the post."
Others to consider against the filly are the more experienced Dream Forward and Shadowofyoursmile. Dream Forward is prepared by the in-form Darren Smith and possibly a lead comes from Kathy O'Hara handling that filly despite winning on Shadowofyoursmile last start.
Verdict: Calming Influence ($3.80).
The stablemate menace rears with Waller concerning Berrimilla, Silk Pins and Caesar's Princess in the third. Silk Pins, a three-year-old filly, is promising with group 1 form in New Zealand but failed at her only start here when Alysha Collett tried to pry an opening on her that was locked tight. Berrimilla was wide throughout at Warwick Farm on December 22. Caesar's Princess led and beat better-fancied Waller horses at Canterbury recently.
Verdict: Berrimilla ($4.60).
NO WAY REY
Some betting houses are taking a set against Havana Rey in the fourth. ''Had three runs this track and never finished in the placings," Michael Felgate (Centrebet) said in the Racenet poll. ''Not disgraced last time but with the weight and the odds, I'm willing to risk.''
Waller has High On Believing, solidly backed on Friday, against Havana Rey, while the three-year-old Ferment will have supporters. High On Believing was only eighth when resuming at Canterbury on December 29 but he usually improves considerably second-up. From three starts he has won twice at this stage of a preparation.
Verdict: High On Believing ($3.80).
Peter Mertens on Panko indicates trainer David Atkins has a serious rival for the Waller pair, Marden and Lucripetous, in the sixth. "Dave, he's a very smart man," Mertens told AAP. "I understand how he trains his horses, and he wouldn't call me if he didn't think it was a genuine chance. She's obviously a horse on the way up. Her last win, she came off a slow pace and had a good turn of foot. She's going to stay all right.'' The last engagement Mertens had in Sydney was the Bart Cummings-trained Sirmione in the 2008 Ranvet Stakes. However, Marden, with a 2kg claim for Alysha Collett, is fit and should get a good run from the two gate.
Verdict: Marden ($6).