Fairytale finish for Magic Consol, but no Winx miracle likely
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Fairytale finish for Magic Consol, but no Winx miracle likely

Impressive: Magic Consol will contest the Cox Plate.

Impressive: Magic Consol will contest the Cox Plate.

Photo: AAP

Fairytales occasionally come true. But miracles? Outside of religious texts, that's another story altogether.

The connections of country-trained galloper Magic Consol enjoyed their once-in-a-lifetime fairytale on Saturday when the veteran caused a boilover in the day's feature event, the group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, winning narrowly from the Lloyd Williams import Homesman and the favourite Night's Watch from Darren Weir's stable.

That victory gives them a free ticket to be part of history with a guaranteed spot in the Cox Plate against Winx, as the wonder mare looks to win Australia's weight-for-age championship for a record fourth time.

But senior owner Peter McFarlane and trainer Paul Preusker were realistic about their prospects and have ruled out any chance of their nine-year-old becoming an unlikely challenger as Winx looks to race into history.

Quite simply, they don't believe in miracles.

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Magic Consol, who was winning for the third time in a row after two mid-winter successes, will, nonetheless, play a part on Winx's day of destiny and will look to play a lead role in one of Cox Plate day's main support events, the Crystal Mile.

That, says Preusker, is the logical target. He has now won three and been placed twice over The Valley's 1600-metre track and to ask him to take the leap to group 1 territory would be an unfair challenge.

He was ridden on Saturday by up-and-coming jockey Jordan Childs, not his regular partner Craig Williams, who had committed to Godolphin star Hartnell. However it had been on Williams' recommendation that Preusker stepped Magic Consol up to group 2 class in the first place.

''Craig got off him the last couple of times and said 'there's a good race in this fellow'," Preusker told RSN Radio on Sunday morning.

The trainer was not at The Valley on Saturday to enjoy his greatest triumph as he was in Adelaide saddling up another horse, but a day later his joy was just as great.

''The Crystal Mile was my next plan [rather than the Cox Plate]," he said. "We know this horse, he gives you everything, so we should keep him in a spot where he can do it.''

The Weir stable might have been out of luck with Night's Watch, whose chance was not helped with a slow start, but it still enjoyed a good day with horses who are set to have a big spring – Nature Strip, who took out the McEwen Stakes at group 2 level and Land of Plenty and Peaceful State, who quinellaed the listed 1200-metre handicap on the card.

The latter pair are right on track to chase group 1 glory in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield in a fortnight's time, while The Everest beckons for Nature Strip, who scorched to a track record over The Valley's 1000-metre course.

Weir has a terrific record in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes having won it twice in the past four years with Trust In A Gust and Stratum Star.

Both Land of Plenty – who was following up his first-up second in the Regal Roller Stakes at Caulfield with Saturday's win under Mark Zahra – and Peaceful State are likely types to follow in their footsteps.

The latter made ground late for John Allen and will take plenty of benefit from his first start since finishing down the track in the Queensland Guineas in June.

Nature Strip is the horse on everyone's lips, however, as the Weir camp wait to see if, as expected, he is confirmed as an Everest runner early this week.

For a horse who is such an excitement machine and who has such an excellent record – he has now won eight of his 11 starts – he still has plenty of doubters.

There were plenty who wanted to crab the narrow margin of his win over Houtzen on Saturday and others who are adamant that he will not stay 1200 metres, the distance of The Everest, in top-class company.

But Houtzen is no slouch: at two she won the Magic Millions and she has won twice over sprint trips in group 3 company. In addition she was only beaten by just over three lengths by Redzel in last year's inaugural Everest.

Weir and Saturday's rider Zahra are confident he will get the extra 200 metres, the jockey pointing out he had to use the gelding up early at The Valley to ensure he did not get boxed in from his No.1 barrier.

Had he been drawn wide, said Zahra, and been allowed to preserve energy by drifting across and blending into the race his victory margin might have been greater.

Michael Lynch, The Age's expert on soccer, has had extensive experience of high level journalism in the UK and Australia. Michael has covered the Socceroos through Asia, Europe and South America in their past three World Cup campaigns. He has also reported on Grands Prix and top class motor sport from Asia and Europe. He has won several national media awards for both sports and industry journalism.