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Image: Steve Hart
The first two-year-old races of the Sydney season have produced a pair of impressive winners

Ciaron Maher might have a languid drawl when he speaks but there is nothing slow about Coolangatta, who has lived up to her boom with a dynamic Gimcrack Stakes performance.

As he did 12 months ago aboard stablemate Enthaar, James McDonald settled Coolangatta trailing the speed and ensured she had plenty of galloping room as she extended down the outside to win with her ears pricked.

McDonald recalled the moment Maher rang him for the ride and said it was a typically casual conversation with the laidback trainer.

“I remember Ciaron ringing me for the ride, and you know how slow he is at talking,” McDonald said.

“There was a big pause on there then, ‘how you going?’. And then a pause and, ‘you want to ride a fast two-year-old?’. And he’s hit the nail on the head.”

Coolangatta ($2.50 fav) zipped through the 1000m course in a slick 56.78s and scored by 3-1/2 lengths over Drisana ($11) with Pantonario ($12) holding third another half-length away.

McDonald said the filly reminded him of last year’s Gimcrack winner Enthaar and was a natural racehorse.

“She’s exactly a cut and paste of Enthaar. Everything is similar about her, the way she acts and the way she gallops is very professional,” McDonald said.

“She’s just like an older horse to ride, except she does get a little bit fizzy.

“But as you’d expect for a young horse, she’s very enthusiastic. It’s hard to muck up rides like that when she’s so professional.”

Maher’s Sydney foreman Jack Bruce said Coolangatta had shown above-average ability from the outset and the stable planned to start mapping her path towards the Golden Slipper.

The Gary Portelli-trained Sejardan posted a stylish victory in the Breeders’ Plate (1000m) for the colts and geldings, overcoming a drama at the barriers and an interrupted passage in the straight.

The Sebring youngster got his foot caught in the stall and had to pass a pre-race veterinary examination before being cleared to start.

He settled in the second half of the field and Jason Collett had to navigate a path between runners before switching around heels but once into clear space, Sejardan ($10) pounced quickly to score by 1-1/4 lengths over Zambezi River ($7.50) with Emperor ($19) third.

Portelli said Sejardan, who finished second in his only trial, had just continued to improve.

“This fella has been one that’s crept up on us,” he said.

“He trialled nicely but then his work here in the week was spot-on and we thought, we’re bringing a horse ready to win.

“I didn’t have him set for the barrier trials, they’re set for race day.”

 
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