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Image: Darren Winningham

The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Coolangatta has fended off a fast-finishing Russian Conquest to win the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic.

It took a brave pre-corner move from jockey James McDonald, but the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-prepared two-year-old filly Coolangatta ($1.95F) has proven too strong for her rivals in the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic on the Gold Coast.

The Written Tycoon progeny has staved off second favourite Russian Conquest ($6) by a neck, with Snitcat ($26) a further two and a quarter lengths back in third.

It was a peach of a ride by champion hoop James Mcdonald who was able to get across from barrier 10 to slot in a one-out one-back position upon settling, and get into a comfortable rhythm during the middle stages.

Not wanting to get blocked in with runners circling the field as they approached the turn, McDonald opted to to get going early three-wide off the heels of the leaders, a tactic that proved to be the winning difference.

Co-trainer Ciaron Maher was full of praise for McDonald, although he may have had a few hairy moments during the run.

“J Mac when he went a bit early I thought ‘oh god’, he made me a little nervous,” Maher said.

“He’s good under pressure, he’s a great man. A great job by the team.”

Part-owner Brae Sokolski was equally effusive of the ride by McDonald and was grateful he was able to navigate a perfect run from barrier ten.

“If it wasn’t James McDonald you couldn’t imagine it, but with him you expect it,” Sokolski said.

“Landing in that one-out one back was perfect, he was very confident he had a lot of horse under him.

“He took off nice and early and put them to the sword.”

As to McDonald himself, the pressure of riding an odds-on favourite in a big race like the Magic Millions was not lost on the Melbourne Cup winning hoop.

“It was a great thrill to ride such a dominant favourite in the race, it comes with big expectations,” McDonald said.

“I was glad to be able to aid her with a nice ride.

“Especially with a hype horse like she is, she’s been a dominant favourite for a long time.”

Coolangatta will now have a short spell before being aimed at the Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens on March 19. She is currently $4 favourite with the TAB for the $5 million feature.

 
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