Once again, the build-up to the $2 million Magic Millions Two-Year-Old Classic has shown that two-year-olds can test even the best of trainers.
In the last two Saturday metro meetings in Brisbane, champion trainer Chris Waller sent out Shaquero and Ranch Hand looking to enhance their Classic claims. Both had won on debut and the betting boards indicated that both were expected to go on with it on their way to the Classic.
In the Group 3 B J McLachlan. Shaquero, who had won the Breeders Plate handsomely on debut back in October, started favourite at $2.25. He never flattered and was soundly beaten by 7.50 lengths. Going into this race Shaquero was the ruling favourite for the Magic Millions Classic.
Then, on Saturday Ranch Hand, a recent Maiden winner on debut, was sent out at the restrictive odds of $1.40 at Eagle Farm. He too was beaten … this time by just over half-a-length.
One defeat … or one victory … doesn’t mean the end of the world or that everything is under control, but a loss, like that of Shaquero and Ranch Hand, does give cause for pause … a measured re-think if you like. No over-reaction but just a measured reassessment of where those two-year-olds stand and, only if necessary, a return to the drawing board.
Of course, there can always be a legitimate excuse for any disappointment.
The official stewards’ report for Ranch Hand’s race states: ‘Held up approaching the home turn and until approaching the 300m. When asked to explain the colt’s performance jockey N Rawiller stated that Ranch Hand over raced and in his opinion had a detrimental effect on its finishing effort, as he felt its run peaked near the 100m.’
Going back to the run of Shaquero and, quoting from that stewards’ report, ‘Began awkwardly. Over raced and raced green throughout. Performed below market expectations. Rider L Dittman stated the colt raced green and hung out from the 800m, however was disappointing. A post-race Veterinary examination revealed no abnormalities.’
Not that Waller is without other options.
The Waller trained She’s All Class currently tops the betting boards for the $2 million Magic Millions Classic.
Whether Shaquero and Ranch Hand will be there on the big day to tackle their more fancied stable companion remains to be seen.